« VorigeDoorgaan »
some things worthy of being preserved. The following letters passed between them subsequently to Mr. Belsham's publication of his Letter to Lord Sidmouth.
Rev. Robert Aspland to Rev. Thomas Belsham.
Hackney, June 25, 1811. “Dear Sir,--I have great pleasure in conveying to you a letter from our young people, in acknowledgment of your kindness in presenting them with a copy of the Calm Inquiry. It is, I need not add, wholly their own; and it will, I am sure, gratify you at least, as a declaration of their attachment to the great principles of your excellent volume.
“I have to thank you for the Letter to Lord Sidmouth, though I am persuaded I shall not give you offence by saying, that I am not prepared to think either so favourably of his Lordship’s intentions,* or so unfavourably of the exertions of the Dissenters,t as you appear to think. I judge of Lord Sidmouth's views from his various motions and prefatory speeches, and particularly from his opening speech on bringing forward the business this session, in which, as was remarked to us by the Marquis of Lansdowne, when we waited upon him, he openly declared hostility to the Dissenters.
"I cannot see that we owe his Lordship either apology or reparation. His Bill, as far as it was declaratory of the intent of the Toleration Act, was erroneous, and some of its provisions were vexatious and intolerable. And from his Bill only could we judge of his design ; though I doubt not that, after the expression of public opinion, it would have been modified in a Committee. But what can we think of a Bill, amending the Toleration Act at the present day, which repealed no one penal statute ?
* Mr. Belsham states (p. 3) Lord Sidmouth's intentions to have been, exclude from the Christian ministry the ignorant and the vicious ; to extend the benefits of legal toleration to many respectable persons who are now protected only by connivance; to render the law intelligible and uniform; and to make it imperative upon the magistrate in the cases to which the statute was intended to apply.” At p. 39, he avows his conviction that Lord Sidmouth's "objects were reasonable and important, and that his intentions were upright, honourable and liberal."
+ Mr. Belsham's Letter opens with a satirical description of some of the extravagances of the opponents of the Bill, of which the following is a specimen : “Some among us, of more than ordinary penetration, clearly foresaw that your Lordship would never rest satisfied till you had obtained a revival of the famous Writ de Hæretico Comburendo; and were persuaded that, like Bishop Gardiner, of pious and merciful memory, your Lordship’s appetite would be whetted by the odour of a roasted heretic.”Pp. 1, 2.
The celebrated Sydney Smith did not share Mr. Belsham's respect for Lord Sidmouth, or his ridicule of Nonconformist fears. In one of his masterly articles in the “ Edinburgh Review," his opinion is thus stated : " If a prudent man sees a child playing with a porcelain cup of great value, he takes the vessel out of his hand, pats him on the head, tells him his mamma will be sorry if it is broken, and gently cheats him into the use of some less precious substitute. Why will Lord Sidmouth meddle with the Toleration Act, when there are so many other subjects in which his abilities might be so eminently useful ; when enclosure bills are drawn up with such scandalous negligence; turnpike roads so shame. fully neglected ; and public conveyances illegitimately loaded in the face of day, and in defiance of the wisest legislative provisions. We confess our trepidation at seeing the Toleration Act in the hands of Lord Sidmouth, and should be very glad if it were fairly back in the Statute-book, and the sedulity of this well-meaning nobleman diverted into another channel. The alarm and suspicion of the Dissenters upon these measures is wise and rational. They are right to consider the Toleration Act as their palladium.”_Works of Sydney Smith, Vol. I. p. 233.
“I fear the way in which you speak of the uneducated• amongst our teachers will pain the feelings of these individuals, who, to say the least, are doing good where learned men could not find their way. To hurt their minds was not, I know, your design, and being fully assured of this, I venture to make the above remark.
“No apology, I trust, is necessary for what I have written; but if any be required, your candour will suggest one for me in the interest which I have taken in this affair, and in the concern I entertain for the reputation of those with whom I have particularly acted.
“I am, dear Sir, yours very respectfully,
“ ROBERT ASPLAND. * P.S. I have been for some time meditating a publication on the Sidmouth affair. Should I proceed and give my thoughts to the public, I may possibly refer to your Letter ; but in doing so, I shall not forget the respect which is due to you from the friends of freedom, or lose the diffidence with which I in particular should dissent from your opinions." Rev. Thomas Belsham to Rev. Robert Aspland.
Hackney, June 25, 1811. “ My dear Sir, I am much obliged to the young persons of your congregation for their kind and respectful letter. I am glad that the Summary of Lectures originally drawn up for their use was acceptable to them. And it will give me unspeakable satisfaction if, in concurrence with your active exertions, it should be the means of promoting truth and virtue among the rising generation in your flourishing society.
“I do not wonder, nor am I at all offended, at your disapprobation of many things in my Letter to Lord Sidmouth. I wrote with extreme reluctance, knowing the offence it would give to many; but I wrote from a sense of duty, to obviate as far as lay in my power the foul and, as I think, unjust aspersions which were cast upon Lord Sidmouth's character. And upon this subject I regarded myself as more competent to judge than many others, because I was acquainted with facts which could not be known to them.
“ I heard Lord Sidmouth's opening speech, and I will take upon me to say, in opposition to Lord Lansdowne, that it was not a declaration of hostility to the Dissenters. On the contrary, he evidently expected that his Bill would have been acceptable to the general body of Dissenters, with very
few exceptions, and was astonished to find how unpopular it was. It is true, it does not repeal penal laws, nor does the Toleration Act itself. The Act of W. and M. exempts persons who comply with its conditions from certain penalties. The Act of 19 of Geo. III. comprehends many who could not be benefited by the Act of Wm. and Mary; but Lord Sidmouth’s Bill extends the provisions of the 19th of Geo. III. It protects many who are at present unprotected, and it makes the Act imperative upon the magistrate, which many now consider as discretional. These are, unquestionably, great advantages; but they are countervailed by the exclusion from toleration of those who could not obtain certificates, and by the absurdity and vexatious nature of the certificates themselves.
“You very naturally observe that 'from his Bill only we could judge of his design, though, after the expression of public opinion, it would have been modified in the Committee. I happen to know that, antecedently to any the least suspicion of the opposition which would be made to the Bill, he was ready to have introduced many material changes; viz., to have thrown out all the
At p. 19, Mr. Belsham writes, “After having tried his gifts till he is tired, honest John will return in peace to his bodkin or his awl, perhaps convinced that he has mistaken his vocation, or more probably denouncing the vengeance of Heaven upon the ungodly crew who refuse to listen to the admonitions of so divine a teacher."
clauses relating to probationers, and to have altered the wording of the certificates, so as to have made them as unexceptionable as possible. There was scarcely an alteration which could be suggested to which he was unwilling to accede, so desirous was he of making his Bill acceptable to the Dissenters, and all this before he dreamed of the opposition he met with. But this, though known to me, could not be known to the public, which, therefore, must judge by appearances, and that judgment must of course be harsh. It appeared to me, therefore, that justice to Lord Sidmouth required that I, who knew his sentiments, should attempt his vindication.
“He is excessively hurt at being charged with a design to abridge the Toleration Act. He certainly did not design it. His views of it were too contracted; but his design was to extend it upon the whole.
“ He was ignorant, but appeared to me desirous to be informed, and to listen to reason. He needs instruction rather than rebuke.
“Certificates are so customary in the Establishment, that he had no suspicion that they could give offence to the Dissenters. It is plain that he is an entire stranger to the habits, feelings and prejudices of the Dissenters; he wants, and is willing, to be set right.
" I acknowledge that my expressions against illiterate preachers are strong, but my argument required it. "I wished to state and prove that even the miserable fanatics who could obtain no testimonials to their character and talents ought not to be exposed to the penal laws. I am obliged to state the worst supposable case.
“I wished the opposition to the Bill to have been conducted by the Committee of Deputies and by the general body, which I have no doubt would have been ultimately successful. I dread lest the energies of your Committees should be retaliated upon us another day by the clamour of—The Church is in danger !-I have often wished that I had not gone to the opening speech; but having heard it, and having by my subsequent communication with Lord Sidmouth acquired, as I think, a distinct knowledge of his views and principles, I could not in justice withhold my testimony to his character, though I was sensible it would give much offence. You, my dear Sir, have the same right to publish your ideas on the subject, which I doubt not you will do with your usual candour.
“I am, very sincerely yours,
“ THOMAS BELSHAM."
Was sounding sweetly on the murderer's ear,
Of that Almighty Judge who counts each tear
The joyful words are heard, “Servant, well done ;
Enter thy Master's joy, and cast out fear.”
May we possess, blest saint, like Heaven-sent power
Undaunted, though temptations round us lower-
“HISTORY OF THE HEBREW MONARCHY." SIR, The zeal of your correspondent whose penumbra is "A Unitarian Minister," has outrun his discretion in his animadversion upon the reason assigned by the author of “The History of the Hebrew Monarchy” for considering the persons employed in the drudgery of procuring and conveying the materials for Solomon's temple as slaves, or at least treated as slaves, when he says, p. 130, “ As the same word is used concerning the task-work of these slaves as concerning the Israelitish service in Egypt,” &c. The author has not mentioned the word, but it is not yay, which occurs at the end of the account in 2 Chron. ii. 18, nor isso, which occurs at the close of the account, 1 Kings ix. 23; but bao, which, notwithstanding the occasional metaphorical use of it in the Old Testament, I apprehend no minister of any denomination can find to have any other sense than that attributed to it by the author. I am afraid that iw, though it means princes, the name used for the overseers both in Egypt and in Judea, favours the author's representation of the condition of the labourers, and might have been translate sers. At least, D'OXID has a very ugly look, and a very soft translation in the words “to set the people a work," 2Chron. ii. 18, where Piscator renders it, “qui urgerent adigendo ad opus populum istum.” The writer of the account, 1 Kings ix. 22, uses even 73 evidently, to our translators, in its hardest sense, for they make it signify slave-labour; “but of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen." After all, the humanity of Solomon will want more to be said in its defence than any honest man can say, to save its reputation; and it is a comfort to the really humane and philanthropic to know that the labourers employed in rebuilding the temple were well paid and well fed. See Ezra üi. 7. I think now it must be confessed that there is “ a surplusage of” far more than "ten to one,” that Solomon's materials were purchased with the stripes and groans and sufferings of the unhappy gangs driven to their oppressive work. I say nothing of the heavens tumbling, for I am sure your correspondent would agree in all that.
H. H. P.
PUBLIC OPINION AND TASTE. LORD BACON noticed, among his curious speculations, that the uttermost parts of shadows always seem to tremble; which he explains by the fluttering of little motes in the sunshine,—the shadows move because the medium moveth. And so it is with shadows thrown by genius along the surface of public opinion ; none, however broad or golden, continue unbroken. The fight fancies and caprices of men-motes in the sunshine of taste-disturb the repose of the most majestic outlines. The reputation of the poet, the painter and the divme, is discomposed by the atmospheric influences of fashion ; their invention, grace or sublimity, remain the same, for time cannot reduce their proportions ; but the reflections are not suffered to be still; the shadows move because the medium moveth. Thus the orb of Shakespere is obscured by the glittering lamp of Farquhar, and the solemnity of Taylor is scattered by the agile footstep of Sprat.-WILLMOTT's Bishop Taylor, pp. 300, 301.
An American Dictionary of the English Language, containing the whole Voca
bulary of the First Edition, in two volumes quarto; the entire Corrections and Improvements of the Second Edition, in two volumes royal
octavo : to which is prefixed an Introductory Dissertation on the Origin, History and Connection of the Languages of Western Asia and Europe, with an Explanation of the Principles on which Languages are formed. By Noah Webster, LL.D. Revised and Enlarged by Chauncey A. Goodrich, Professor in Yale College. Springfield, Mass.—G. and C. Merriam. 1848.
THERE is no work which requires a greater variety of knowledge and more soundness of judgment on the part of its author than a Dictionary. To make a collection of such words as constitute the real basis of the language, and to reject those which are corrupt and vulgar; to trace the etymology of the original terms, and to discriminate every shade of meaning that has since been attached to them; to give such full and precise definitions as will leave no doubt as to the sense in which each term is used; and to exhibit the pronunciation in such a manner as to overcome the imperfections of our very defective alphabet and our anomalous orthography—this, it must be acknowledged, demands no common amount of talent, learning and patience; and he who performs this task in a satisfactory manner may well be esteemed a benefactor to the literature of his country. This is a work, too, which can never be said to be finally completed; for, as arts and sciences advance, and the relations of society are extended, so is the vocabulary of a living language proportionably enlarged, and it is necessary that the additions which are made to it should from time to time be recorded. However valuable and however complete, then, any Dictionary may be when it is published, it eventually grows out of date, and corrections and additions are called for proportioned to the advances which have been made.
Of all this Professor Goodrich appears to have been well aware. The Dictionary of his father-in-law, Dr. Webster, had been well received in England, and had become the standard of the language in the United States of America ; but he was sensible that it still admitted of improvement, and required to be brought down to the present state of science and of knowledge. Accordingly, in putting forth a new edition of the work, he has sought aid from every quarter where it was most likely to be found, consulting not only treatises of established reputation in each department, but those living writers and Professors who might be supposed to be most conversant with each particular subject. To add to the utility of the work, illustration and description have in many instances taken the place of mere definition, and a large amount of information has been imparted, though in a condensed form, such as is not usually found in Dictionaries, and for which recourse must be had to Cyclopædias or professed treatises on particular branches of science. Take, for instance, the word Telescope, which Johnson contents himself with giving the derivation of and then defining, “A long glass, by which distant objects are viewed," illustrating this by a single quotation from Watts. But in this new edition of Webster we have an account of it long enough to occupy nearly a page in a common octavo volume: first we have the etymology, more full and clear than Johnson; then the definition, “An optical instrument employed in viewing distant objects, as the heavenly bodies;" then an account of how it assists the eye, and what are its principal parts ; and lastly (what is not found in the old editions of Webster), a succinct, but sufficiently distinctive, description of the Reflecting, the Refracting, the Galilean, the Gregorian, the Herschelian and the Newtonian telescopes.
Another improvement on the old Dictionaries is the explanation of compound verbs, and of phrases and idioms, such as TO DRAW, back, in, off, on,