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from observing, that the mosaic portrait which, with considerable ingenuity, the
Reviewer has framed out of hints and scraps in his letters and writings, is much such a likeness as might be expected to come out from such a process. From an expression in one of his letters it is gathered, that his temperament was by nature 'indolent'; while, from other parts of his writings, it is shrewdly concluded that he was “irritable’; and from another letter, that he was “ unsocial.' But some allowance', it is added, “is to be
made for a little habitual spleen in a man, who, conscious of ‘high superiority, was depressed by circumstances below his natural level of life. For such a person, so placed, not to kick against the pricks, would indeed have been a spectacle of protracted self-denial of the rarest merit, but was one which required a degree of virtue unreasonable to expect?!* The sarcastic candour, the insolent condescension of this allowance', harmonizes with the palpable unfairness of making a good man's confessions or complaints the basis of an estimate of his character. Upon this principle, some of the most useful men that ever lived, might be convicted of unprofitableness; and some of the holiest, of impurity of motive. To impute indolence and irritability, as distinguishing characteristics, to a man suffering under an inSternal apparatus of torture ', to whom exertion was pain, and in whom placidity was fortitude, is unjust and unfeeling. To call an individual unsocial, who was the life of society, who delighted in the company of his friends, and retreated only from display and debate, is not only unjust, but absurd. But, not content with this, the Reviewer must needs devise a fictitious cause for the supposititious infirmity, and ascribe the habitual spleen of the surly, discontented, lazy being he has imagined, to a depression of fortune, or rather, to the conscious degradation of being condemned, as a Dissenter, to a position below his natural level! Of this depression, Mr. Hall was assuredly unconscious. He had a mind infinitely superior to the creeping baseness and littleness which the supposition of this Reviewer betrays. He never coveted wealth; and, in consecrating himself to the Christian ministry among the Dissenters, he could never have dreamed of attaining higher eminence and dignity than he attained. The fame and consideration which he enjoyed, might have gratified an ambitious man; but he esteemed “the reproach of Christ " greater riches than the treasures of a hierarchy, purchased by what he would have deemed apostasy t. What degree of virtue it might be
* Quarterly Rev. p. 131.
+ Dr. Mansel, afterwards Bishop of Bristol, endeavoured to persuade Mr. Hall, through a common friend, to conform to the Established Church, in which he would not long have wanted preferment; VOL. IX.-N.S.
unreasonable to expect in such a person, we will not undertake to decide ; but the Reviewer ought to have recollected, before he ventured to misapply the language of Scripture, that to “kick against the pricks“ is descriptive of the conduct of the persecutor, not the persecuted; of the bigot, armed with sacerdotal power, not of the despised objects of his intolerance.
To return to the narrative. In the beginning of 1799, Mr. Hall had the gratification of renewing personal intercourse with his friend Mackintosh, who, being about to deliver his course of lectures at Lincoln's-Inn Hall, on the Law of Nature and Nations, spent a few months at Cambridge, for the purpose of consulting the university and other public libraries. Dr. Parr came to Cambridge on a visit to his friends at the same time; and Mr. Hall often spent his evenings with these two eminent men and a few members of the university who were invited to their select parties. It is a remarkable coincidence, that the Author of the Vindicie Gallice, and the Author of the “Apology for the Freedom of the Press”, both embarked, about the same time, upon the stormy sea of political debate. In both, a generous love of liberty, combined with the ardour of genius and the immaturity of youth, gave birth to a brilliant performance, which their riper judgement condemned, without any abandonment of their early principles. To both, political celebrity became a source of inconvenience, and subsequently exposed them to a charge, utterly unfounded, of political apostasy. Both, in their juvenile productions, had assailed the opinions, while they had, in some measure, imitated the style, or caught the spirit of Burke. And now about the same period, time having wrought a similar modification upon the opinions of the two friends, without any concert between them, we find Mackintosh preparing those lectures which were the chief source of his permanent reputation, and Hall preaching his splendid philippic against infidelity. That sermon was no hasty production, but, as Dr. Gregory assures us, the deliberate result of a confirmed belief, that the most strenuous efforts were required to repel mischief so awfully and insidiously diffused.' We cannot but think it highly probable, however, that his renewed intercourse with Mackintosh in the preceding year, had some effect, both in exciting him to the effort, and in influencing the tone of his sentiments, not less effect, perhaps, than Mackintosh's visit to Beaconsfield is supposed to have had upon him. After the publication of the sermon upon infidelity, which met with unanticipated and extraordinary applause, Mackintosh thus writes to his friend, Hall.
but Mr. Hall, much to the honour of his integrity, declined the invitation.' Christian Observer.
<“ He (Windham) had recommended the sermon to Lord Grenville, who seemed sceptical about any thing good coming from the pastor of a Baptist congregation, especially at Cambridge. This, you see, is the unhappy impression which Priestley has made, and which, if you proceed as you have so nobly begun, you will assuredly efface. But
will never do all the good which it is in your power to do, unless you assert your own importance, and call to mind, that, as the Dissenters have no man comparable to you, it is your province to guide them, and not to be guided by their ignorance and bigotry. I am almost sorry you thought any apology due to those senseless bigots who blamed you for compassion towards the clergy of France, as innocent sufferers and as martyrs of the Christian faith, during the most barbarous persecution that has fallen upon Christianity, perhaps since its origin, but certainly since its establishment by Constantine. ... I own I thought well of Horsley when I found him, in his charge, call these unhappy men our Christian brethren, the bishops and clergy of the persecuted Church of France. This is the language of truth. This is the spirit of Christianity."' p. 66.
But Mr. Hall, in his “Apology”, had attacked Horsley for this very language, with great acrimony, contrasting the extreme tenderness the Protestant Prelate professed for the fallen Church of France, with his malignity towards Dissenters. In employing similar language in his sermon, seven years afterwards, he must have recollected this, and have felt that he had laid himself open to the charge of inconsistency *. It might be urged, that he had attacked Horsley for his intolerance, rather than for his charity,
* We have elsewhere exposed the injustice of the charge of political inconsistency brought against Mr. Hall by his detractors. (Ecl. Rev. Vol. VII. p. 419.) The change was not in his political principles, but in his manner of holding and advocating them. It was the change, not of vacillation, but of maturity. That between his early productions and his later writings there should nevertheless be a marked difference of tone and spirit, and sometimes an apparent contrariety of sentiment, is no more than might be expected from the circumstances of his life, and his progression in wisdom and sanctity. But what shall we say to the despicable industry which has employed itself in studying his works for the express purpose of malignantly exhibiting all the contradictions of opinion which they can be made to furnish, under the pretence, that the unworthy and disgusting task was forced upon the Reviewer in self-defence', because Dr. Gregory has presumed to reprint, in a complete edition of Mr. Hall's works, the unripe speculations of his youth': Such is the conduct which the Quarterly Reviewer has chosen to adopt! We envy neither his head nor his heart. Few persons, we imagine, whose minds are not envenomed by bigotry, will think that any production of Mr. Hall's ought to have been suppressed in a collection of his works, where the errors of his early opinions are at once corrected and neutralized by the more serious and mature productions of his riper years.
--for his insolent invectives against his fellow-Protestants in this country, rather than for his sympathy with the fallen Church of France. Still, it must be concluded, that, like Mackintosh, he had somewhat changed his political views, undeceived by the terrific issue of those events which he had hailed as the downfal of an odious despotism; and we are led to presume, that these two eminent men must, when they met at Cambridge, have compared, and mutually reinforced their sentiments upon these topics. Mr. Mackintosh, we are told, continued to evince both the steadiness of his friendship for Mr. Hall, and the high value which he set upon this sermon, by frequently quoting and applying it to the elucidation of the topics introduced in his lectures at Lincoln's Inn. Many of his auditors were in consequence induced to visit Cambridge, to listen to the pulpit instructions of the individual of whom they heard so much ; and no fewer than fifty or sixty members of the university might often be seen at the Baptist place of worship.
• None of these circumstances, however', says Dr. Gregory, 'were permitted to draw Mr. Hall aside from his ordinary course. His studies, his public duties, his pastoral visits, were each assigned their natural place as before. If there was any change, it was manifest in his increased watchfulness over himself, and, perhaps, in giving a rather more critical complexion than before to certain portions of his morning expositions, and in always concluding them with such strong practical appeals as might be suited to a congregation of mixed character.'
In this meridian of his fame, if not of his usefulness, a cloud arose, which for a while enveloped his faculties in the darkness of disease, and occasioned his disappearance from the scene of his celebrity. Early in 1803, the pain in his back increased both in intenseness and continuity, depriving him almost always of refreshing sleep, and depressing his spirits to an unusual degree. Horse exercise was recommended; but the benefit which he seemed at first to derive from it, was transient; and at length, a state of high nervous excitement was induced, the effect of bodily disorder acting upon a mind overstrained, which terminated in an awful eclipse of his reason. • He who had so long been the
theme of universal admiration, became the subject of as extensive a sympathy.' This event occurred in November, 1804. Mr. Hall was placed under the care of Dr. Arnold, of Leicester, whose attention, with the blessing of God, in about two months, restored him to society. In April, 1805, he resumed his ministerial functions; but a return of his old pain with aggravated severity, in the same year, was followed by a relapse, which again withdrew him from public duty. Under the judicious care of the late Dr. Cox, of Bristol, he soon regained the complete balance of his mental powers; but it was now deemed requisite to his
permanent recovery, that he should resign the pastoral office at Cambridge, and, for at least a year, abstain from preaching, and avoid all strong excitement. Thus terminated a connexion which had subsisted, with the happiest results, for fifteen years; but the mutual attachment between the pastor and his flock survived his removal, and remained undiminished till his death *,
The effect of these Divine chastisements upon Mr. Hall's feelings and character, the reader will anticipate; but we shall extract the statement of his friend and biographer.
· Two visitations of so humiliating a calamity within the compass of a year, deeply affected Mr. Hall's mind. Happily, however, for himself and for the world, his spirits soon recovered their wonted tone; and the permanent impression on his character was exclusively religious. His own decided impression was, that, however vivid his convictions of religious truth and of the necessity of a consistent course of evangelical obedience had formerly been, and however correct his doctrinal sentiments during the last four or five years, yet, that he did not undergo a thorough transformation of character, a complete renewal of his heart and affections, until the first of these seizures. Some of his Cambridge friends, who visited him at Shelford, previously to his removal to Dr. Arnold's, and witnessed his deep prostration of soul while he read the fifty-first psalm, and made each verse the subject of penitent confession and of a distinct prayer, were rather inclined to concur with him as to the correctness of the opinion. Be this, however, as it may, (and the wonderful revelations of “ the great day” can alone remove the doubt,) there can be no question that from this period he seemed more to live under the prevailing recollection of his entire dependence upon God; that his habits were more devotional than they had ever before been, his exercises more fervent and more elevated.
• In a letter written to his friend Mr. Phillips, of Clapham, after his recovery, he thus adverts to his afflictions.
“I cannot look back upon the events which have befallen me, without admiration and gratitude. I am a monument of the goodness and of the severity of God. My sufferings have been extreme, and the kindness of God, in interposing in my behalf, unspeakable. Pray for me, my dear friend, that I may retain an indelible sense of the mercies received, and that the inconceivable afflictions I have undergone, may work for me the peaceable fruits of righteousness.' I am often afraid lest it should be with me as with the ancient Israelites, who, after they had sung the praises of God, soon forgot his works.” O! that a life so signally redeemed from destruction, may be as signally employed in that which is alone the true end of life, the service of God. But my heart is like a deceitful bow,' continually prone to
Among other substantial marks of their gratitude and attachment, his Cambridge friends purchased for him, during his illness, a liberal life annuity, and raised a further sum, to be at his own disposal at death.