if admonitions and censures had no effect, they were seconded by the magistrates with coercion and punishment.

“It therefore appears from ecclesiastical history, that the right of inflicting shame by publick censure has been always considered as inherent in the church; and that this right was not conferred by the civil power; for it was exercised when the civil power operated against it. By the civil power it was never taken away; for the Christian magistrate interposed his office, not to rescue sinners from censure, but to supply more powerful means of reformation; to add pain where shame was insufficient; and when men were proclaimed unworthy of the society of the faithful, to restrain them by imprisonment from spreading abroad the contagion of wickedness.

“ It is not improbable that from this acknowledged power of publick censure grew in time the practice of auricular confession. Those who dreaded the blast of publick reprehension were willing to submit themselves to the priest by a private accusation of themselves, and to obtain a reconciliation with the church by a kind of clandestine absolution and invisible penance; conditions with which the priest would, in times of ignorance and corruption, easily comply, as they increased his influence, by adding the knowledge of secret sins to that of notorious offences, and enlarged his authority, by making him the sole arbiter of the terms of reconcilement.

From this bondage the Reformation set us free. The minister has no longer power to press into the retirements of conscience, to torture us by interrogatories, or put himself in possession of our secrets and our lives. But though we have thus controlled his usurpations, his just and original power remains unimpaired. He may still see, though he may not pry; he may yet hear, though he may not question. And that knowledge which his eyes and ears force upon him it is still his duty to use, for the benefit of his flock. A father who lives near a wicked neighbour may forbid a son to frequent his company. A minister who has in his congregation a man of open and scandalous wickedness may warn his parishioners to shun his conversation. To warn them is not only lawful, but not to warn them would be criminal. He may warn them one by one in friendly converse, or by a parochial visitation. But if he may warn each man singly, what shall forbid him to warn them all together? Of that which is to be made known to all, how is there any difference whether it be communicated to each singly, or to all together? What is known to all must necessarily be publick. Whether it shall be publick at once, or publick by degrees, is the only question. And of a sudden and solemn publication the impression is deeper, and the warning more effectual.

“ It may easily be urged, if a minister be thus left at liberty to delate sinners from the pulpit, and to publish at will the crimes of a


parishioner, he may often blast the innocent, and distress the timorous. He

may be suspicious, and condemn without evidence; he may be rash, and judge without examination ; he may be severe, and treat slight offences with too much harshness; he may be malignant and partial, and gratify his private interest or resentment under the shelter of his pastoral character.

“Of all this there is possibility, and of all this there is danger. But if possibility of evil be to exclude good, no good ever can be done. If nothing is to be attempted in which there is danger, we must all sink into hopeless inactivity. The evils that may be feared from this practice arise not from any defect in the institution, but from the infirmities of human nature. Power, in whatever hands it is placed, will be sometimes improperly exerted; yet courts of law must judge, though they will sometimes judge amiss. A father must instruct his children, though he himself may often want instruction. A minister must censure sinners, though his censure may be sometimes erroneous by want of judgment, and sometimes unjust by want of honesty.

“ If we examine the circumstances of the present case, we shall find the sentence neither erroneous nor unjust; we shall find no breach of private confidence, no intrusion into secret transactions. The fact was notorious and indubitable; so easy to be proved, that no proof was desired. The act was base and treacherous, the perpetration insolent and open, and the example naturally mischievous. The minister, however, being retired and recluse, had not yet heard what was publickly known throughout the parish ; and on occasion of a publick election, warned his people, according to his duty, against the crimes which publick elections frequently produce. His warning was felt by one of his parishioners as pointed particularly at himself. But instead of producing, as might be wished, private compunction and immediate reformation, it kindled only rage and resentment. He charged his minister, in a publick paper, with scandal, defamation, and falsehood. The minister, thus reproached, had his own character to yindicate, upon which his pastoral authority must necessarily depend. To be charged with a defamatory lie is an injury which no man patiently endures in common life. To be charged with polluting the pastoral office with scandal and falsehood was a violation of character still more atrocious, as it affected not only his personal but his clerical veracity. His indignation naturally rose in proportion to his honesty, and, with all the fortitude of injured honesty, he dared this calumniator in the church, and at once exonerated himself from censure, and rescued his flock from deception and from danger. The man whom he accuses pretends not to be innocent; or at least only pretends; for he declines a trial. The crime of which he is accused has frequent opportunities and strong

[ocr errors]

temptations. It has already spread far, with much depravation of private morals, and much injury to publick happiness. To warn the people, therefore, against it was not wanton and officious, but necessary and pastoral.

“ What then is the fault with which this worthy minister is charged? He has usurped no dominion over conscience. He has exerted no authority in support of doubtful and controverted opinions. He has not dragged into light a bashful and corrigible sinner, His censure was directed against a breach of morality, against an act which no man justifies. The man who appropriated this censure to himself is evidently and notoriously guilty. His consciousness of his own wickedness incited him to attack his faithful reprover with open insolence and printed accusations. Such an attack made defence necessary; and we hope it will be at last decided that the means of defence were just and lawful.”

No. VII.

[Dr. Johnson's Letters to Mrs. Thrale, giving an Account of the Journey to the Hebrides.

As these letters have been thought the best Dr. Johnson ever wrote, and been by some persons preferred even to his elaborate account of the Journey," it is thought that they will be acceptable to the reader in this place, as they could not have been introduced into the text.]

“ 12th August, 1773. “We left London on Friday the 6th, not very early, and travelled without

any memorable accident through a country which I had seen before. In the evening I was not well, and was forced to stop at Stilton, one stage short of Stamford, where we intended to have lodged.

“On the 7th, we passed through Stamford and Grantham, and dined at Newark, where I had only time to observe that the marketplace was uncommonly spacious and neat. In London we should call it a square, though the sides were neither straight nor parallel. We

e came at night to Doncaster, and went to church in the morning, where Chambers found the monument of Robert of Doncaster, who says on his stone something like this: "What I gave, that I have; what I spent, that I had; what I left, that I lost.' So saith Robert of Doncaster, who reigned in the world sixty-seven years, and all that time lived not one. Here we were invited to dinner, and therefore made no great haste away.

“We reached York however that night. I was much disordered

with old complaints. Next morning we saw the Minster, an edifice of loftiness and elegance equal to the highest hopes of architecture. I remember nothing but the dome of St. Paul's that can be compared with the middle walk. The Chapter-house is a circular building, very stately, but I think excelled by the Chapter-house of Lincoln.

“ I then went to see the ruins of the Abbey, which are almost vanished, and I remember nothing of them distinct.

“ The next visit was to the jail, which they call the castle ; a fabrick built lately, such is terrestrial mutability, out of the materials of the ruined abbey. The under jailor was very officious to show his fetters, in which there was no contrivance. The head jailor came in, and seeing me look I suppose fatigued, offered me wine, and when I went away would not suffer his servant to take money. The jail is accounted the best in the kingdom, and you find the jailor deserving of his dignity.

“ We dined at York, and went on to Northallerton, a place of which I know nothing, but that it afforded us a lodging on Monday night, and about two hundred and seventy years ago gave birth to Roger Ascham.

“ Next morning we changed our horses at Darlington, where Mr. Cornelius Harrison, a cousin-german of mine, was perpetual curate. He was the only one of my relations who ever rose in fortune above penury, or in character above neglect.

The church is built crosswise, with a fine spire, and might invite a traveller to survey it, but I perhaps wanted vigour, and thought I wanted time.

“ The next stage brought us to Durham, a place of which Mr. Thrale bad me take particular notice. The bishop's palace has the appearance of an old fendal castle built upon an eminence, and looking down

upon the river, upon which was formerly thrown a drawbridge, as I supposed to be raised at night, lest the Scots should

pass it.

“ The cathedral has a massiness and solidity such as I have seen in no other place; it rather awes than pleases, as it strikes with a kind of gigantick dignity, and aspires to no other praise than that of rocky solidity and indeterminate duration. I had none of my friends resident, and therefore saw but little. The library is mean and scanty.

“ At Durham, beside all expectation, I met an old friend: Miss Fordyce is married there to a physician. We met, I think, with honest kindness on both sides. I thought her much decayed, and having since heard that the banker had involved her husband in his extensive ruin, I cannot forbear to think that I saw in her withered features more impression of sorrow than of time.

“Qua terra patet, fera regnat Erinnys.”-Ovid, Met. i. 241.

[ocr errors]

“ He that wanders about the world sees new forms of human misery, and if he chances to meet an old friend, meets a face darkened with troubles.

“ On Tuesday night we came hither ; yesterday I took some care of myself, and to-day I am quite polite. I have been taking a view of all that could be shown me, and find that all very near to nothing. You have often heard me complain of finding myself disappointed by books of travels ; I am afraid travel itself will end likewise in disappointment. One town, one country, is very like another. Civilized nations have the same customs, and barbarous nations have the same nature. There are indeed minute discriminations both of places and of manners, which perhaps are not wanting of curiosity, but which a traveller seldom stays long enough to investigate and compare. The dull utterly neglect them, the acute see a little, and supply the rest with fancy and conjecture.

“I shall set out again to-morrow, but I shall not, I am afraid, see Alnwick, for Dr. Percy is not there. I hope to lodge to-morrow night at Berwick, and the next at Edinburgh, where I shall direct Mr. Drummond, bookseller at Ossian's-head, to take care of my letters.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

“ ]5th Augusto

I am “ Thus far I had written at Newcastle. I forgot to send it. now at Edinburgh ; and have been this day running about. I run

pretty well.”

“ Edinburgh, 17th August, 1773. « On the 13th I left Newcastle, and in the afternoon came to Alnwick, where we were treated with great civility by the duke. I went through the apartments, walked on the wall, and climbed the towers. That night we lay at Belford, and on the next night came to Edinburgh. On Sunday (15th) I went to the English chapel. After dinner, Dr. Robertson came in, and promised to show me the place. On Monday I saw their public buildings. The cathedral, which I told Robertson I wished to see because it had once been a church, the courts of justice, the parliament-house, the advocate's library, the repository of records, the college and its library, and the palace, particularly the old tower where the king of Scotland seized David Rizzio in the queen's presence. Most of their buildings are very mean; and the whole town bears some resemblance to the old part of Birmingham.

“ Boswell has very handsome and spacious rooms; level with the ground on one side of the house, and on the other four stories high.

“ At dinner on Monday were the Duchess of Douglas, an old lady who talks broad Scotch with a paralytick voice, and is scarce understood by her own countrymen ; the Lord Chief Baron, Sir Adolphus Oughton, and many more.


there was such a conflux of

« ElőzőTovább »