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object for the hand of scorn to point its slow and moving finger at-think no more of the happiness and tranquillity of your former state I have destroyed then for ever; but never mind-don't don't make yourself uneasy-here is a draft upon my banker, it will be paid at sight-there is no better man in the city.I can see you think I am mocking you, Gentlemen, and well you may; but it is the very pith and marrow of this cause."
ART.XI-The Quarterly Review. Nos. 25 and 26. April and July, 1815.
MAN is an imitative being; and this instinctive principle is displayed in his earliest actions. It excites the physical powers of his nature, and developes the latent energies of his mind. In its future progress, aided by those faculties which its exercise has unfolded, it stimulates to deeds of high daring, in the varied pursuits of life. Having secured by its influence, the consciousness of successful effort, it promotes the discoveries of science and the inventions of art; and thus raises the standard of excellence through progressive degrees of elevation.
We are constantly surrounded by the practical effects of imitation, in the ordinary intercourse of society. The successive and indefinite improvement of those arts which provide for the accommodation and enjoyments of life, and which minister to our essential comforts, or embellish the scenes of luxury and opulence, may be traced to the influence of the imitative principle. The divisions of mechanical labor, and the processes that simplify its operations or extend its power, are the natural results of this mental energy. It provokes the rivalry of genius, and enlarges the sphere of competition. It works with equal force even in the departments of literature, where the instruments and the materials are purely intellectual. The amazing increase in the number of those to whom the labor of mind is indispensably requisite, has greatly tended to widen the range of scientific and philosophical contention. A successful project is sure to be imitated; no letters of patent can prevent it; and imitation is generally followed by real or imaginary improve
It is not difficult, on this principle, to account for the origin of the Quarterly Review. Its precursor in this fashionable department of criticism had been most amply rewarded by its speculation: we use the term in its commercial sense. The
scheme answered well; and as there are always some to be found, ready for every good work in this way, it was not surprising that another and a similar speculation should commence, with hopes of immediate attraction, and ultimate success. If we may compare the labors of the head with those of the feet, (and we mean no reflection on either extremity) we may expect to hear of other competitors doing far greater wonders, than have yet been achieved in the walks of literature, as well as on the stadia of Blackheath and Rochester! All of us are Peripatetics, and go our round solely for the good of the public.
The Edinburgh Reviewers had risen to notoriety and fame, by the boldness and independence of their opinions; the intellect which distinguished their political declamation; and the natural, manly, and powerful eloquence with which they stated and explained their arguments. They might often be wrong in the principles they adopted, or incautious in the arrangement of their premises. Their induction of facts might frequently be tray partiality and precipitation; and their prophetic anticipations prove as "baseless as the fabric of a vision." But with all. these deductions, the most tenacious and attached partisans of government must have felt, that mere complaint and censure could neither suppress nor counteract the influence of their political opposition; and that other and more legitimate methods of resistance were necessary, to diminish the effect of their antiministerial lucubrations.
There can be no doubt that, whatever might be the calculations of proprietors and publishers, as to their own ultimate advantage in the concern, political feeling was the principal motive in which the Quarterly Review originated... The cause of government required its literary journal, as well as its daily chronicles; and under the unquestionable auspices of ministerial influence, and court patronage, it was introduced to the notice of the world.
4.I 110. TS 5
But politics had not the exclusive influence in forming the arrangements of this new judicatory in the republic of letters. The unmixed national partialities, and dishonorable antipathies of the northern tribunal, had been, on various occasions, most ungenerously displayed. While "prophets of their own" were. blessed with every aspiration of devout eulogy, they seemed to pronounce an anathema, on all without their pale 3 and a poet, or a mathematician, who had not the good fortune of a Caledonian origin, seldom experienced either justice or mercy at their bar. It was high time that another court of review?
should be established, for the benefit of appellants, and for the sake of securing a more equitable and impartial verdict.
It is needless to say that religious and ecclesiastical predilections had also their share in the business. A great majority of those who are the zealous supporters of our church establishment, side with government on the subject of politics. It is well that they do, and have been accustomed to do so; the safety of Britain, and the deliverance of Europe, are owing, far more than to any other human cause, to the open countenance, the prompt encouragement, and the substantial aid, which their principles led them to give to our rulers during the late mighty conflict of nations. Candor, however, calls upon us to confess that it is not unnatural for those who secede from the religion of the state, to have a less portion of attachment to the party in power, than such as are more abundantly rewarded by their devotion. It is evident that the Edinburgh Reviewers have no prejudices in favor of any specific form of religion. They now and then speak of themselves as "good and honest Presbyterians," while all the time they care nothing at all about the matter; and if compunctious visitations occasionally lead them to betray some measure of respect for Christianity, those visitations are but northern lights, which shed on the subject, a cold, uncertain, fluctuating, transient illumination. On the other hand, the Quarterly Reviewers are as much attached to the religion, as to the government of their country. They are, according to the modern standard, orthodox churchmen-strongly opposed to "false doctrine, heresy, and schism," as well as to" sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion ;" and very prone to conclude, that where the first three deadly sins appear, the last three are not far off. They are advocates for the divine rights of kings and bishops, and sometimes even of reviewers! and had they lived in the fifteenth century, some of them would have been canonised for their occasional support of the tiara and the Vatican! The manner in which they have been known to conduct their defence of the English hierarchy, and their opposition to non-conformity, might once have been applied with great force and consistency, to the suppression of Protestantism itself, and the vindication of despotism in both church and state. But in yiewing this matter, the necessity of a strong counteraction must always be kept in mind, as an excuse for any thing that may wear the appearance of excess.
On this principle alone it is, that the complexion of their observations on a measure proposed not long since, by Lord Sid
mouth, but which the current of popular prejudice defeated, can be justified. Far be it from us to sanction fanaticism, or to justify the evasion of civil duties by fraudulent and dishonorable artifices: and all will allow that a man's qualifications to perform not merely the most sacred, but in many cases the most difficult of duties, ought for the sake of his own respectability as well as the satisfaction of those whom he has to intruct, to be duly sifted and ascertained. That measure was projected at a crisis of peculiar emergency in our late conflicts; when union was essential to our safety; when the moral influence of the law of toleration had begun to pervade the united kingdom; and when innovating experiments on this delicate subject of national policy, might have been fraught with disastrous consequences. It naturally suggested itself to a reflecting mind, that, whatever might be the specific shape of the proposed "amendment," and however the limitations might be modified, they would in some measure counteract the spirit of existing laws; that, independently of this prima facie objection, no abuses of sufficient magnitude could be adduced, to warrant the adoption of restrictive measures at such a juncture; that they did not occur so much among the bodies of dissentients, as among the unprincipled, who belonged to no party; and that remedies might easily be devised, without any encroachment on that original staute, which it was the design of this new measure, to "amend and explain." We were especially delighted to find the highest episcopal authority in the empire standing up in parliament in support of tolerant and enlightened principles. Was it possible to forget that the mitre of Canterbury had once shed its honors on the brow of Laud, and not rejoice that within the limits of our horizon, the sun of persecution seemed to have set for ever?-The Quarterly Reviewers, as friends to the national hierarchy, must remember-that the moderation of an establishment is its principal security in a country where knowledge is generally diffused, and civil liberty secured by the constitution of its government; and that nothing but complete toleration can so counteract the natural tendencies of a great ecclesiastical establishment, as to render it perfectly consonant with the genius of such a constitution.
The journal to which we refer, has on several occasions betrayed too much sectarian asperity, in its attacks on Dissenters. We are not disposed to advocate the cause of separation; but if ever it became the friends of the establishment to be moderate and conciliating, such is at present their "bounden duty." The ill-directed attempts of some daily journalists, to promote the
interests of the church, and the government, by railing accusations, hard words, soft arguments and despicable insinuations, against the loyalty and patriotism of the whole body of Dissenters; the implication of their benevolent measures to relieve by sympathy and charity the sufferings of our Protestant brethren, in the serious but altogether unfounded and calumniating charge of political and factious designs; and the construction put upon their motives, in supporting Lancasterian Schools and Bible Societies, as if all these efforts proceeded from a systematic conspiracy to overturn the church-must be far more injurious to our national establishment, than to those who secede from it. If a falsehood be sufficiently monstrous, it will do no harm— except to the characters of those who are industrious in its circulation; and on this principle, we are persuaded that much of the abuse which has now and then been sanctioned by such respectable authorities as the Quarterly Reviewers, against those who are the victims of a misplaced obloquy, in so many of the periodical publications of the age, has contributed neither to the interests of the Review itself, nor to the greater security of the cause which they have endeavoured to support.
It has been reiterated that the Church is in danger-We believe that it is in some danger, but that that danger depends, not certainly on the principles and practices of Dissenters; but more or less on the spirit, temper, and conduct, of some of its headstrong advocates; though chiefly on a cause distinctly and satisfactorily pointed out in a preceding article in this number of our journal. It is unquestionable, that the literary and intellectual respectability of the English Dissenters is rising in proportion to their numerical importance. It will be morally and physically impossible to suppress them, either by clamor or force; and it is obviously the policy, as well as the duty, of enlightened churchmen to imitate their zeal, and as far as possible to secure, on general principles, their active coopera tion in promoting what is of infinitely greater importance than any sectarian objects-the vital interests of religion and morality, The best method of counteraction, is to neutralise what is evil, by amalgamating with every thing that is good; and by the practical display of mild, conciliating and tolerant principles towards all who differ from us. The storm of passion will only make them wrap their garments of prejudice more closely around them; but the sun-shine of kindly and benevolent feeling will melt them to corresponding affections, and relax most effectually the tenacity of their grasp.