P: 58] should have reflected that a Montbly Reviewer may not be able, with all his wits about him, to express, in the compass of four or five lines, the precise meaning which his Author has at large conveyed, perhaps in as many pages; so as to escape the piercing cye of an author, or of an attentive and warm friend. The Reviewer's meaning, in these two fentences, would, however, to a less (tria reader, most probably appear to be this: that Dr. Dun. can originally conceived a desire of mixing in the Priestleyan controversy respecting the Soul; but wished to divert the attention of the Public from the metapbysical confideration of the subject.

In fact, the Reviewer, in the firit of these two sentences, uses the phrase—“ the late controversy concerning the materiality of the foul”-merely as a general name or title, by which he meant to design the controversy respecting the foul: and it is not a “ palpable abfurdity," as our Correspondent chooses to express himself, to say that Dr. Duncan wilhed to write on the subje&t; though he disliked the metapbyfical turn which the controversy had taken. But even the passage, literally taken, can scarce, except by the captious, be said to involve a palpable absurdity. A man may surely “ conceive a deSare of offering his sentiments on the subje&tof a metaphysical con. troversy; and yet, very confiftently, wish to diffuade the Pablic from attending to the subje& herciofore metapbysically treated ; and may recommend a better mode of treating it. If this implies an absurdity, the guilt is Dr. Duncan's, not the Reviewer's.

Our Correspondent makes a remark likewise on our note at the bottom of p. 6o; where he thinks we have left too much to the fagacity of our Readers. The Reviewer has not, at present, access to the book itself; but would willingly here fubjoin the context wich.. which our Correspondent has favoured us in his letter, were is there presented in such a manner as to throw light upon thé subject. B...y.

... T. S. recommends to our notice, a miscellaneous publica. tion, by Mr. Charles Graham, of Penrith. The book has not been advertised for sale in London; but if it should fall in our way; we muft, in course, mention it to our Readers : meantime, the specimen which this Correspondent hach sent us, excites no impatience in us 10 peruse the other compositions of a person whose natural capacity So evidently wants the advantages of literary cultivation. Without those advantages, it cannot be expected that illiterate mechanics will ever arrive at any eminence in the republic of letters; or that their writings should be considered as a valuable addition to our li. braries : which are, indeed, greatly over-ftocked with the compofi. tions of minor poets, and minor prose-writers, of every elafs and denomination.

+++ We acknowledge the receipt of Bi's communications, but he has mistaken the plan of the Monthly Review. Our Journal is pos fupported by contributions from persons unknown.

1 Our Correspondent's expresion,



M A Y,

AY, 1780.


10 s. 6 d.

ART. I. Tbe Hiftory of the Establishment of the Reformation of Reli

gion in Scotland. By Gilbert Scuart, LL. D. 4to. Boards. Murray. 1780.

F all events in the history of Scotland, the reformation of


When we consider the nature and magnitude of the event itself, the wonderful means by which it was effected, and the many extraordinary circumstances by which it was accompanied, there is reason to expect that, as this great revolution is susceptible of a high degree of historical ornament, it ought to have been treated with the most industrious exertions of cultivated genius. But if a subject peculiarly adapted to entertain the fancy, and to interest the passions of the reader, should not have met with an eloquent, it was still to be wished that it should meet with a comprehensive and an impartial historian. Yet in the gencral histories of Scotland, the introduction of the reformed religion is not explained with that circumstantial minuteness which the subject requires ; and in the books written professedly concerning ecclesiastical affairs, there is often an improper mixture of dice and controversy, which renders the perusal of them tiresome and disagreeable to the generality of readers. In order to remedy these defects, Dr. Stuart has given to the Public the performance before us, in which it has been his earnest endeavour' to exercise that precision, which is not usually expected from the general historian, and that impartiality wbich is never to be found in the apologist of a faction.'

The origin, progress, and final establidhment of opinions, which produced a total change in the religious, and a considerable change in the civil state of half the nations of Europe, have been illustrated by the ingenious labours of several of the most VoL, LXII.



eminent modern historians. The great and general causes of the reformation are to be discovered in the absurd doctrines of Popery, the profligate lives of priests, and the rapid diffufion of knowledge, which, after the invention of printing, took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These causes operated alike in the several countries of Europe which embraced the reformed faith ; but the particular mode of reformation adopted by each community, depended on a series of events, which, as they are less palpable and obvious, have generally escaped obfervation. To point out, and to explain the events of this kind which immediately produced the ecclesiastical establishment peculiar to Scotland, is the principal subject of the work before us; which, we will venture to pronounce, is the clearest and most comprehensive, as well as the most entertaining performance that we have met with respecting this important branch of history.

In explaining the immediate and particular caufes of reforma. tion, great attention ought to be paid to the characters of the principal agents employed by Providence to effect this remarkable revolution. Dr. Stuart has bestowed on this part of his subject the attention which it deserves, and he displays equal industry and ingenuity in describing the motives, manners, and character of the persons introduced on the scene of action. As a specimen of his abilities in this way, we shall take the liberty of inserting his character of Lord James Stuart, who was the chief promoter of reformation in Scotland.

• This illustrious man was the natural son of James V. by Mar. garet, the daughter of John Lord Ereskine. He had been appointed, at an early age, to the priory of St. Andrews ; but he poffefsed not that pacific mind, which, uninterested in the present world, delights to look to the future, and to busy itself in the indolent formalities of devotion. The activity of his nature compelled him to seek agita. tion and employment; the perturbed period in which he lived supplied him with scenes of action; and the eminence of his abilities displayed itself. He discovered a passion for liberty and a zeal for religion ; and he diftinguilhed him felf by an openness and fincerity of carriage. These popular qualities pleased the Congregation, and procured to him their confidence. The love of liberty, however, was not, in him, the effect of patriotism, but of pride ; his zeal for religion was a political virtue ; and under the appearance of openness and fincerity, he could conceal more securely bis purposes. Power was the idol which he worshipped ; and he was ready to acquire it by methods the most criminal. He was bold, firm, and penetrating. His various mind fitted him alike for intrigue and for war. He was destined to flourith in the midst of difficulties. His fagacity enabled him to foresee dangers, his prudence to prepare for them, and his fortitude to surmount them. To his talents, his genius, and his resources, Scotland is indebted for the Reformation.


But by. this memorable atchievement, he meant nothing more than to advance himself in the road to greatness. To this point all his actions were directed. It gave the linits to his generoficy, which has been extolled as unbounded. His praise, his carefies, and his services, his diffimulation, his perfidiousnefs, and his enmities. were all sacrifices to ambition: and miscarriage, which has ravished fo many laurels from great men, did not tarnish his glory. His success was so conspicuous, that he seemed to have the command of fortune.'

From the merit of this specimen we are led to regret that the Author has not attempted to give a delineation of the character of the famous John Knox. Dr. S. has probably restrained himself from this undertaking, because Knox had been so often painted by former writers, of great reputation. We could wish, however, that he had still added a few strokes of his pencil, which, we are persuaded, would not have hurt the resemblance, and which, indeed, was to have been expected on this uccafion, as Knox is so capital a figure in a reformation piece, that he has a just title to be placed in the foreground, and to be drawn at full length.

Dr. S. discovers a happy talent for relating political transa actions and debates; of which we have a striking example in his account of the project of the Queen Regent, for introducing a ftanding army into Scotland. . ' In another improvement, which the Queen Regent attempted by the advice of her French council, the manners and genius of the nation were not sufficiently confulted. There are precautions and institutions of great utility in themselves, which do not suit particuJar conditions of society, and which pohticians and statesmen cannot establish with propriety or success, till circumftances and time have pointed out and illustrated their expediency. Though a standing army had been long familiar to the French, there could be nothing so impracticable as its iniroduction at this time into Scotland, which was governed by the free and peculiar maxims of the feudal law. Yet the Queen Regent was induced to venture the experiment. It was proposed that the poffeffions of every proprietor of land in the kingdom should be valued and entered into registers; and that a proportional payment should be made by each. The application of ihis fund was to maintain a regular and standing bidy of soldiers. This guard or army, it was urged, being at all times in readiness to march against an enemy, would protect effectually the frontiers ; and there would no longer be any necessity for the nobles to be continually in motion on every rumour of hoftility or incurfion from English invaders. No art, however, or argument, could recommend these measures. A perpetual tax and a standing army were conceived to be the genuine characteristics of despotism. All ranks of men considered themselves to be insulted and abused; and three hundred tenants of the crown assembling at Edinburgh, and giving way to their indignation, sent their remonftrances to the Queen Re. gent in a strong and expreflive language.



[ocr errors]

« They informed her, that their ancestors had been able not only to prote& Scotland, but to acquire renown by carrying their arms into England. They were not degenerated from their ancestors ; and England was now less powerful. No necesity exifted for a humiliating taxation, and for bands of mercenaries. The lives and eltates of all the landed proprietors of the nation were at its call. Soldiers, allured with pay, had no sentiment of honour. It was a wild infatuation to confide in them in preference to men who fought for every thing that was most dear to them, their country, their reputation, their families, their fortunes. Money was a feeble tie of duty, and the service it bought was cold and languid. And, if mere cenaries, when they archieved their best, were ineffe&tual and without zeal as a defence and a barrier, it ought to be remembered that this defence or this barrier, weak as it was, could not be relied upon as certain and secure. A higher bribe could compass its treachery; and the kings of England knew how to apply their treasures. In consenting to the elevation of the Queen Regent, they had expressed the good opinion they entertained of her ; but whatever confidence they might repose in the rectitude of her intentions, they were not fure that this tax, and this army, for which she was so anxious, would not be abused by their own princes. From such innovations the most destructive calamities might proceed. They respected their conttitution as sacred ; and in its fability they acknowledged a decisive proof of the wisdom with which it had been framed. They could not, therefore, submit to any mockery of its forms, and were not disposed to surrender any of their natural or political rights. If the fundamental principles of their compact and union were invaded, they would yield to the duties which they owed to themselves and te posterity ; and, drawing their swords, would employ them to uphold that venerable fabric, which had been built and cemented by the valour and the blood of their ancestors.'

We shall not attempt to give any fummary of the transactions which, in the course of about thirty years, led to the final settlement of the Presbyterian form of worship in Scotland ; an event which happened in the beginning of the year fifteen hundred and fixty-one. There is a rapidity in Dr. Stuart's narration which makes it agreeable to read, but renders it difficult to abridge his work. We Thall therefore conclude this Article with the sensible, manly, and spirited reflections which we find at the end of this instructive and entertaining history.

• I have thus endeavoured to describe the rise, progress, and esta. blishment of the Reformation in Scotland; employing a narrative wbich aims at fimplicity, and which is ambitious to record ihe truth. From the order and the laws of our nature it perpetually happens that advantages are mixed with misfortune. The conficts which led to a purer religion, while they excite, under one aspect, the liveliest transports of joy, create, in another, a mournful fentiment of sym., pathy and compassion. Amidst the felicities which were obtained, and the trophies which were won, we deplore the melancholy ravages of the pasions, and weep over the ruins of ancient magnificence. But while the contentions and the ferments of men, even in the road



« ElőzőTovább »