Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

1829.]

Antient Mansion at Shrewsbury.-Rev. S. Crowther.

MR. URBAN,

Shrewsbury, Dec. 7. HAT the habitations of our ancestors, as well as the edifices

THAT which they raised for the purpose of religious worship, are equally deserving of our notice, whether viewed as remains of art, or monuments of their labour and ingenuity, we have full proof, by the attention which is manifested in your Miscellany to every subject that has a tendency to illustrate the manners and customs of our forefathers. Under such an impression, I take the liberty of sending you the annexed view of a curious timber house situated at the bottom of the Wyle Cop, adjoining the East or English Bridge in the town of Shrewsbury, which has been taken down during the present year. (See Plate I.)

The mansion is supposed to have been erected in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by William Jones, an alderman and opulent draper of the town, and father of Thomas Jones, esq. six times Bailiff, and first Mayor of Shrewsbury. ·

The building was spacious and rude, its exterior, unlike the generality of our ancient mansions, being void of the usual carved ornaments, grotesque heads, &c. The entrance from the street was by a remarkably low archway, which led to a small area surrounded by the house and its former appendages, and formed a communication to a few smaller buildings adjoining the river side, which were doubtless the warehouses of the original occupier of the house.

A portion of the great chamber or withdrawing room remained nearly in its original state, having a large chimney piece adorned with grotesque carving, and a variety of devices and armorial bearings in plaster displayed upon the ceiling, and, with the other principal apartments, fronted the street. Yours, &c.

H. PIDGEON.

Mr. URBAN, Bremhill, Dec. 3.,

It has bewobserved by the mov has been observed by the Rev.

preached at Christ Church, Newgatestreet, of the late, Mr. Crowther,"that his tender spirit NEVER RECOVERED THE OPPRESSION he suffered, at Winchester, from the TYRANNY OF THE ELDER BOYS! if he had not to GENT. MAG. December, 1829.

489

date from it much of his subsequent ill-health!!"

This is something like what is stated by Neal, who says, that a Puritan Clergyman had his days shortened by what he suffered from prelatical persecution, he dying at upwards of eighty!!

Now, Sir, being at Winchester with Crowther, I assert that I never saw any oppression, except in one instance, in six years, among two hundred boys; and those who inflicted this one uppression, on complaint to the Warden, were expelled instantly.

How many have died since by such oppression, I know not; but poor Crowther must have been a long time dying; and as I have never been in robust health, it may be said, if any mention of so humble a Wykechamist may be made after death, that I "never recovered the oppression I suffered at school." You shall have at least, during life, my hand to the contrary; and I

shall add, that dining and sitting next to this identical MR. CROWTHER at, a Wykechamist meeting in London,-having never met him from the time of our being at school, he spoke with delighted reminiscence of those days, and it would be singular indeed that he should have come to dine with his oppressors, so many years afterwards, if he " never recovered the oppression he suffered!"

These charges in general are too despicable to notice; but the name under which they are published, has induced me not to withhold my own, and to be somewhat more particular.

Mr. Wilson says, "his (Mr. Crowther's) TENDER spirit, like Cowper's,

never recovered the OPPRESSION under which he suffered from the tyranny of the ELDER boys!!"

I was the senior of the ELDER BOYS, when he was junior; and I defy any human being to say that from me, as one of the oppressors, he ever heard an unkind word, or that one junior boy ever received any thing but protection. Many now alive were elder boys with me at the time, some in the highest stations; and I can say the same of them.

As this accusation has been publicly made, I shall here give the names of all those elder boys, some of whom

490

Winchester School.-Literary Speculations.

caused Mr. Crowther "to die so slowly!"-The names of these elder boys were, Bowles, Eccles, Gabell (late Head Master), Lee, Heath, Holles, Runwa, Elliot, Newhouse, Tyrwhit (late Sir Thomas Jones), Howley (Archbishop of Canterbury), Hawes, to whom I am indebted for anecdotes in my present researches, Le Breton, Hamley, Bingham, Maundrel, Heathcote (Arch

deacon of Winchester), Kirby.

Having given the names of these oppressors, I can testify against Mr. Wilson's statement, as publicly as he has not hesitated to make it.

I have one more observation to offer. Crowther remained at Winchester till 1788. Can a reflecting human being imagine if, in his junior year, he had received such treatment as is inferred,—that this "meek" boy should have said not one word to his father or mother, or that they should have made no representation, and what a monster of a mamma must she have been, to have sent the "meek" boy back again to his oppressors! in order that a most respectable character -doubtless from some misapprehension should be left, forty years afterwards, to cry out "Murder!!"

However such statements may be calculated to amuse and edify the Mayor and Aldermen of London, I believe there is no one who knows any thing about the matter, who would not say with me, INCREDULUS ODI!

From a letter from the Junior in my chamber, and Crowther's friend at New College, I extract the following passage: Of the six Præfects you mention, I will engage that four of them (yourself, Lee, Hamley, and Howley,) never hurt the hair of a junior boy's head. Of the others, I have no particular remembrance; but I repeat that, having left Crowther a stout boy at Winchester in 1785, and KNOWING HIM WELL afterwards at College (New College), I have NO REASON

WHATEVER TO BELIEVE A WORD OF

THE STATEMENT PUBLISHED!! I knew Crowther very well, both at WINTON and OXFORD!!"

Yours, &c. W. L. BOWLES P.S. Since the above was printed, I have received a communication from Mr. Wilson. Though I have felt it a public duty to answer his public statement, I am bound to say his let

[Dec.

ter was every thing I could expect from a gentleman and Christian; but my opinions are unaltered.

SPECULATIONS ON LITERARY
PLEASURES.-No. XIX.
(Continued from p. 417.)

Ν

IN allusion to the subject which terminated our speculation in the former number, it may, in view of the desolations which cover the face of

Iceland, be objected by some, that the argument in Archbishop King's 3d chapter of the Goodness and Benevolence of God, as indicated in the economy of our planet, stands invali

dated.

The speculations, which in the times of the ancient Greek sages, Anaximander and Xenophanes, prevailed in physics and theology, are still urged by the philosophers of these times, and sometimes inferences derogatory to Divine Benevolence are drawn. In this our own age, as indeed in most others, the discoveries of the geognost, the naturalist, and the astronomer, are often made the basis of assumptions invalidating certain points in revelation, and what we know of the Divine attributes.

The inauspicious aspect of Iceland may, therefore, be cited by some of these philosophers, on the present occasion. The vain sceptic, arrogating to himself that right of judging which none save a higher than tension to use, might probably urge in human intelligence has any just prefull view of the gloomy and chaotic aspect of the extensive districts which diversifies almost the whole face of that island, that an argument here may be superinduced of the improvidence of nature, and the inadaptation of the means to the end. An answer, however, might be found to a position of this kind. It is conjectured, and with much appearance of reason, that that very extensive island, reared in the midst of the ocean, had its origin from marine volcanoes, and hence its prominent characteristic features would seem not so much intended for the support of mankind, as to subserve certain probable effects in the physiology of that part of our globe, unknown to us. This is beyond question possi ble; while it is granted, on the other

1829.]

Speculations on Literary Pleasures.

hand, that the inauspicious nature of its soils are discouraging to any other hypothesis. In the language of an intelligent observer of those regions, "there is no quarter of the globe in which we find crowded within the same extent of surface such a number of ignivomous mountains, so many boiling springs, or such immense tracks of lava, as here arrest the attention of the traveller. The general aspect of the country is the most rugged and dreary imaginable. On every side appear marks of confusion and devastation, or the tremendous sources of these evils, in the yawning craters of huge and menacing volcanoes. Nor is the mind of a spectator relieved from the disagreeable emotion arising from reflection ou the subterraneous fires which are raging beneath him, by a temporary survey of the huge mountains of perpetual ice by which he is surrounded.” And here, whilst contemplating this terrestrial arena of many and complicated relations, this scene of earth, with its ordained economy, imagination, though framed in her happiest mould, is continually bewildered and astounded. Des Cartes, we are told, "raised his eyes to the heavens, and grasped the universe in one comprehensive idea, all its parts disposed with equal wisdom and simplicity by an Eternal Lawgiver. Amid this stupendous assemblage he seeks a centre."

The student, in like manner, casts his eyes about him, and surveys his own immediate neighbourhood, and sees that the work of accurately exploring the most inconsiderable nook in the illimitable empire which nature opens to his view, demands a period equal to the allotted term of hu. man life. The individual mind, therefore, can only glance at the infinitely varied system which science unfolds, and rise to general corollaries from the teachings of analogical infereuce. Filled with the survey, he rejects with disdain the cold positions of presuming sciolists, whose arrogance of reason is continually baffled by alleged infractions of Nature's harmonies, as preestablished in their own understandings, and gives utterance to the language of his heart in the enthusiasm of a more generous philosophy. Such aspirations have been adopted, amongst others, by Lord Shaftesbury. This nobleman, from certain delinquencies in his writings, has been considered a

491

mong the number of the proscribed. Occasionally an impugner of certain things which, as believers in Revelation, we hold sacred, he yet cannot be classed with the school of Hume without manifest injustice, as the cold philosophy of the last had no parallel in the author of the "Characteristics." In surveying, then, the wide empire of Physics, instead of arraigning when we do not understand, we are constantly ready to indulge rather in the magnificent apostrophes of Lord Shaftesbury, and follow him when he says, "Let us not, my friend, thus betray our own ignorance, but consider where we are, and in what a universe! Think of the many parts of the vast machine in which we have so little insight, and of which it is impossible we should know the ends and uses,-when, instead of seeing the highest pendants, we see only some lower deck, and are, in this dark case of flesh, confined even to the hold, and meanest station of the vessel."-"O glorious Nature!" he afterwards exclaims, "supremely fair and sovereignly good! O thou impowering Deity, supreme Creator! Thee I invoke, and Thee alone adore! Thy Being is boundless, unsearchable, impenetrable! In thy immensity all thought is lost, fancy gives over its flight, and wearied imagination spends itself in vain, finding no coast nor limit of this ocean, nor, in the widest track through which it soars,—one point yet nearer the circumference than the first centre whence it parted."

The philosophical Ptolinus, upwards of sixteen centuries since, piously soliloquizes with a sentiment not always used by the modern investigator: "Ás he who diligently surveys the heavens, and contemplates the splendour of the stars, should immediately think upon and search after their Artificer, so it is requisite that he who beholds and admires the intelligible world, should diligently inquire after its Author, investigating who he is, and where he resides, and how he produced such an offspring as intellect, a son beautiful and pure, and full of his ineffable Sire."

The pious heart, expanding with the boundless survey which the system we inhabit presents, glows with the warmth of writers such as these, and disdains the callous and calculating carpings of him who prostrates the power of Deity to the level of his own understanding. In an atmosphere of

492

Speculations on Literary Pleasures.

unclouded serenity, when the black tempests of wintry vapours, or the tremendous magazines of heaven's sublime artillery, have "forgot to rage," and left creation to repose, an illimitable expanse of bright ether unfolds upon our optics,-regions of space, which stretch far beyond our system, excite thoughts concerning unknown spheres, perhaps other and higher modes of rational and animate existence; and when thus relaxing from closer inquiries, we give the rein to imaginations which mathematical admeasurements and computations have excited, we are constrained often to admire the wisdom of an all-provident Deity, as displayed in these to us his remoter provinces of empire. As the borealis within the arctic circle of our planet, so the luminous ring which describes the circumference of the planet Saturn, subserves to the comfort and felicity of those tribes who live within the sphere of its influence; and in like manner it may be conjectured, that the atmosphere which surrounds the planet Mercury is of so dense a nature as to resist the overwhelming influence of the sun's rays.

Like the veins and stratification of our native planet, beyond an inconsiderable depth, the upper regions of our atmosphere lie as yet equally without the sphere of our knowledge. The borealis; the metallic and mineral showers which frequently arrest the observation of the curious; the meteor, in all its fiery shapes, have been individually the subjects of frequent hypothesis; but theories connected with them are by no means placed on a basis every way satisfactory. The eye of sense, wandering aloft, ascends through these immediate spaces surrounding our planet, measures the magnitude, mutual distances, and relative motions of the luminaries which assail its notice, and, powerfully aided by science, endeavours at length to grapple with ideas of space and bulk too mighty and vast for imagination to conceive. Wrapt in intensity of thought, curiosity is ever busied in framing her thousand hypotheses, while surveying either with the unassisted organ, or through the "nightly tube," the trembling firmament glowing with the fires of unnumbered stars. And yet, in reference to the state of our knowledge, it is a consideration well calculated to teach a lesson of

[Dec.

humility to the boasted triumphs of modern science, that, after all the discoveries, from the days of Copernicus to those of Herschel, which have tended to raise the rank and order of astronomical speculations to something more approximating coherency and grandeur, our highest flights of specu lative knowledge terminate in a bare computation of bulk, motion, and relative distances. Actual calculation founded on experiment, through the medium of artificial glasses, has indeed, all know, demonstrated that the pla nets, and by analogy all the myriads which swell this midnight pomp," are vast globes of fire, the probable bases of animate, unknown existences, and not, as of yore, supposed created for the sole purpose of lighting a solitary world.

[ocr errors]

The speculative visions, and the theories which have, in a full and luxuriant flow of fancy, been fastened upon these amazing discoveries, have of course varied with the degree of intelligence and of judgment in him who contemplates them. But Chalmers *, amongst others, has sometimes winged his pegasus to a flight bordering on the last extremity of hyperbole and fiction. And the effects of pushing hypothesis so far as to anticipate, in all the sheer extravagance of uncurbed fancy, the peopling of such remote territories, not exactly in idea, as splendid visions of worlds and systems which may possibly exist in immensity, but treated as the actually demonstrated results of philosophical enquiry, are obvious. When this is done, and arguments designed to refute certain corollaries deduced from these visions, seriously addressed to judgment and reason, the attempt may be thought highly injudicious. When a writer, not content with endeavouring to reconcile positions in Religion with established facts in Philosophy, pushes imagination far beyond the legitimated basis of his syllogism, we do not always regard him as a sound casuist. We, on the contrary, are disposed occasionally to think that he deals rather in “poetry" than "philosophy," and cannot always implicitly accompany him in his logical postulates, when we mistrust the validity of his assumption. Chal

Dr. Chalmers, author of a series of "Discourses on the modern Astronomy in communion with Revelation."

1829.]

Speculations on Literary Pleasures,

mers's book, however, has doubtless been attended with good; but in his treatment of the grand argument, which it is intended, as it should seem, to set for ever at rest, he presses his illustrations often into regions of pure visionary hypothesis. These subjects open a field of inquiry difficult for the human mind to expatiate in; but it may be thought, with some reason, that if Dr. Chalmers had himself, on every occasion, accurately observed the sober and chastized method which in the second chapter of his work he so much admires in Sir Isaac Newton, he would not, in some of his subsequent chapters, have advanced sometimes into the ne plus ultra of extravagance, while eliciting the alleged arguments of infidels in order to their refutation; or gratuitously indulging in visions of the imagination not more licentious than the rhapsodies of his style.

But his book, as already intimated, is calculated, in certain quarters, to do much good, in showing that astronomical objections to Revelation are not entitled to all the triumph which they think they have a right to claim. Whiston, it is true, a century ago, endeavoured, though with a style and genius certainly far less poetical than that of the Aberdeen Professor, to reconcile the Mosaic "Cosmogony with the discoveries of Newton and Copernicus, and the numerous great men who have trod in their steps. With what success he has speculated upon this interesting question, which involves, to the eye of curious enquiry, topics of such absorbing tendency, his readers will judge. And it will, on the other hand, it may be said, strike most of these readers of any intellectual research, as rather singular, that in the history of our literature for the last century and a half, the point of this alleged discrepancy has been so little agitated in the writings of our most eminent controversialists.

From the early days of Xenophanes, Anaximander, and Leucippus, among the Greeks, the founders respectively of celebrated systems, to those of Buffon, the Abbé de La Pluchère, and the celebrated Linnæus, the empire of Physics has been the subject of engrossing attention among that part of mankind who have learned, at once, to think with any vigour, and feel with sensibility. From crude and visionary speculation, their progressive

493

insight into nature has been gradually building up to a standard comparatively of very distinguished excellence. And it must be owned that there are few great subjects of innumerable details in the whole circle of human inquiry, which are more calculated to fill up the high pleasures of contemplative retirement.

Looking on either side about us, "above, beneath, around," mankind has always been prominently caught by the objects which strike them as the most useful and the most splendid. These objects, contiguous or remote, immensely great or inconceivably attenuated and minute, have caught the attention and engaged the faculties of intelligent society, from the time that men first began to think; and they have usually, in their study, elevated to a pious and devotional frame of mind. Whether with Boyle, who, attentive to the phenomena evolved by the vast and variegated system of Physics, of which he was almost the first experimentalist, pursued his labours in that frame and temper of mind, in which the humility of the pious Christian is recognized;-whether with Boyle or Torricelli we study the general and mutually connecting links of natural philosophy;-whether with those eminent discoverers of modern times, Beccaria, Canton, Watson, and Franklin, we watch the phenomena of that most wonderful of all fluids, the electric ;whether with Priestley and Davy we bury ourselves in amalgams, and mark the process of affinities and oxyds, the imponderosity which unaccountably attaches to certain bodies, and the mysterious transmutations of the laboratory; whether with Tournafort or the celebrated Linnæus, and his distinguished disciples, Banks, Solander, and Ellis, we analyse and classify the exhaustless productions of the vegetable world; or with their powerful auxiliaries in the study and classification of insects, Kirby and Spencer, survey the wonderfully attenuated order of entomology;-whether with Ray or Derham, or the very learn. ed and ingenious author of "Micrographia Illustrata," we descend into the wonders of the little world, and mark the “ endless involution and extent" of "things animate," which lie impervious to our naked organs, a universe of life hid from the observation of mankind;-whether, again, with

« VorigeDoorgaan »