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weekly visits to Mr. Vernon were continued ; I still investigated the subject, with constantly increasing earnestness. Yet I was unaltered ; and even when Mr. Bright read the history of the proceedings to the congregation, I felt no regret at my share in them ; but, on the contrary, rejoiced in anticipating the future triumphs of Unitarianism.—Here, however, my triumphs ceased.
Almost inmediately afterwards, my doubts returned with tenfold force. I read; I was perplexed. Often, very often, I wished that I had not begun the inquiry. I prayed for illumination ; but I found my mind daily becoming more and more unsettled. I have now lying before me a sheet of paper, on which I wrote down some of the thoughts of this period, while under their more immediate pressure, as if to relieve my mind by thus divulging them ; for they were disclosed to no human ear. I copy from them this passage : “ If the attainment of truth be not the result, I am sure that the state of mind in which I have been for some time past is not to be envied.”
I think that it was about this time that you returned home. When I advanced to shake hands with you after the close of the service, you may remember that you said to me, “Why, Doctor, you look pale.” Pale I was, I have no doubt: for my mind was full of thoughts that chafed each other like a troubled sea ; and your return, and the vivid recollection of the letters which it excited, had not tended to calm the agitation. In addition to this, I had been in the habit of pursuing the inquiry, night after night, to a very late hour.
Such continued to be the state of my mind during the latter end of September and the whole of October. Towards the latter end of this month, the evidence for the doctrines which I had hitherto so strenuously opposed seemed progressively to increase. But it was not until this very week that conviction came; and that my mind, unhesitatingly and thankfully, accepted the doctrines of the supreme divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; of atonement, or reconciliation, by His precious blood ; and of the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit.
I do not, my dear Sir, say it by way of commending my earnestness in the inquiry, but I say it in justice to the opinions that I have embraced, that, since this investigation began, I have regularly gone through the New Testament as far as the Epistle to the Hebrews; (the Gospel of John I have read through twice ;) that not only every text which has been differently interpreted, occurring in this large portion of the New Testament, but also all those referred to in the controversial volumes mentioned below, were carefully compared with the original, with the Improved Version, with Mr. Belsham’s explanation in his “ Calm Inquiry," and frequently with Dr. Carpenter's“Unitarianism the Doctrine of the Gospel ;” and that the references to the Psalms, and the prophetical Scriptures, which occurred in the New Testament, or the other writings alluded to, were also examined in Dr. Priestley's Notes on the Scriptures. For I am not possessed of, nor have I seen, (with, I think, one exception, in which Dr. Campbell's Annotations on Matt. xxii. 41, et seq., were shown to me,) one orthodox commentary on the Scriptures. The controversial books, on that side, which I have used in this inquiry, are Mr. Wardlaw's two books ;* Simpson's Plea for the Divinity of Jesus (of which, at this very moment, not even a third part is cut open); Dr. Lawrence's Critical Reflections, &c., on the Unitarian Version (on which,
* “ Discourses on the Principal Points of the Socinian Controversy," and “ Unitarianism incapable of Vindication.”
I will pause to observe, that they first settled my mind as to the authenticity of the introductory chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke); a Sermon on the Atonement, by Mr. Hull; Six Letters by Dr. Pye Smith to Mr. Belsham; and notes taken down from two sermons preached by Mr. (I believe now, Dr.) Chalmers, of Glasgow, upon the following texts : Psalm lxxxv. 10, and Rom. viii. 7. Yet these few helps to the better understanding of the holy Scripture, though counteracted by the volumes above cited, by long association, by frequent references to other Unitarian volumes in my collection, and by the various arguments on that side, which memory was constantly suggesting, have ultimately led me to the conclusion above stated. But I should grossly belie my own heart, and should think myself guilty of odious ingratitude to the Father of lights, from wbom cometh down every good and perfect gift, if I did not avow my conviction, that to these means the teaching of the Holy Spirit has been superadded : for I can, in His presence, affirm that, during the latter part of the inquiry more particularly, the Scriptures of truth were never opened by me without profound and fervent prayer for illumination ; and almost always with reference to our Lord's promise in St. Luke xi. 13. Indeed, my dear Sir and friend, I was in earnest. A change so awful, so unexpected, I may add so improbable, which four months ago I should myself have said was impossible, has deeply and solemnly impressed my mind. That I must encounter much ridicule, in consequence of this change, I fully expect. I am sure that I well deserve it; for no person could have burst out more loudly against such an alteration in the views of another than myself. Nor ought I to omit to add, that my excellent friend, Mr. Vernon, while I was communicating to him the conviction that I had received, and my expectation of being ridiculed for such a change, observed to me, that I certainly must expect it; but he hoped that I was prepared to forgive it. I trust that I shall be enabled to do so.
Upon reviewing this last sentence, my dear Sir, I feel myself bound to say, that, in stating this, I hope not to be understood as anticipating anything of the sort from you, or from your venerable colleague. No! however you may pity my delusion, I feel assured that you will do justice to my motives.
My dear Sir, I have extended this letter to a much greater length than I had any expectation of doing when I began it. I began it with alluding to my regard and my respect for you. Will it be deemed inconsistent with either, if I venture to conclude with a most affectionate wish and prayer, that you and yours, and all who are near and dear to you, may receive every earthly blessing, and may be brought to the knowledge of the truth? I feel it to be my duty to conclude thus, and I shall stand excused. And O how much is that wish enkindled when I recollect the seriousness and solemnity of your manner in prayer, and your impressiveness in preaching ! How do I wish that endowments of such value were consecrated to those views which I have received ! But I feel myself getting upon tender ground. It is difficult to word such a wish without appearing arrogant, or impertinent, or presumptuous; and yet nothing is farther from my heart than either of these feelings. Believe me to be, sincere regard,
Yours, my dear Sir,
J. E. STOCK.
THE PRINCESSES OF ENGLAND.*
BETWEEN history, strictly so called, and biography, there is a strongly marked distinction. The latter relates to individuals. Their public as well as their private life may be set forth in the narrative, but always with, reference to the individual. He is the central figure of the group. All else that may be introduced is subordinate and accessory to the principal object of the picture. Public affairs are mentioned, not because they are public, but because they are illustrative of individual character; and if this is illustrated more clearly by the events of private life, a place in the narrative is given them proportioned to their importance. History, on the contrary, introduces individuals only as contributing to the orderly relation of public events. It is the biography of a society, a nation. Individuals must, of course, be the agents of the recorded transactions; but the narrative only looks at their actions so far as they constitute the visible life of the aggregate body considered in its corporate character. History, therefore, is always clearly distinct from biography ; but biography is not always equally distinct from history. There are persons whose private life is scarcely distinguishable from that of any of their numerous contemporaries. All men must eat and drink, must have raiment and lodging. But the want of interest in the private life of such persons is amply supplied by their inseparable connexion with public affairs. The main current of the stream of their life is identified with the subjects which it is the office of the historian to describe ; and the difficulty is overcome by the adoption of a title for the work well-known in English literature, “ The Life and Times of such-a-one.” The autobiography of Bishop Burnet is thus styled, “ The History of his Life and Times.” The lives of great Statesmen and Generals thus belong to history. A biography of either Napoleon or Wellington would be a history of Europe during the period in which they lived. Each department has its peculiar excellences. Biography traces the development of principles in the formation and manifestation of personal character, and follows the path of the individual, both when it proceeds along the highway of public events, and when it deviates into regions before untrodden. History takes up the development of social or national character as exhibited in public opinions, feelings, and transactions ; although, for the complete illustration of these in the effects which they produce, the enclosures of private life must be entered ; but even then the reference is rather to the mode of living of classes than of individuals. Still, there is a border-land between the two departments sharing in the characteristics of each: and works of thisclass, though less philosophical than history,less lively than biography, will be, for general readers, without being less instructive, yet more interesting and attractive, and therefore, in most cases, more extensively popular. In our own days of extended reading, several of this kind have been published ; and it is a fact deserving notice, that of these some of the
* " Lives of the Princesses of Eogland, fronı the Norman Conquest. By Mary Anne Everett Green, Editor of the Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies." " 8vo. Two Volumes. Vol. i., pp. xiv, 412.—If it were customary in England, as it is in France, to append to the name acquired by marriage that belonging to the family, as Mad. A. née B., it would not be necessary to give our readers the information, (which many of them no doubt possess,) that Mrs. Green is the grandaughter of the late venerable James Wood, and the daughter of the Rev. Robert Wood. We are glad to notice this valuable contribution to our English historical literature from a member of the Wesleyan family.
best have proceeded from the hands of females. Nor is there anything in this unnatural. History demands to be written in a bolder style, and with a more extensive acquaintance with public affairs, both in their facts and principles. Historical biographies require a nicer discrimination in the selection and arrangement of details, and more delicacy of handling in depicting them ; not to say a knowledge of what belongs both to cuisine and costume, not ordinarily found in those who are nevertheless familiar with all that relates to politics, diplomacy, and war. We question whether an author (to keep up the almost disused grammatical distinction of forms) could have given us those descriptions of the private life and court of Napoleon and Josephine with which the lively Duchess D’Abrantes has furnished the public ; or whether an authoress could have written the History of Europe like Mr. Alison. Arcades ambo, it is true ; but it is also true, Non omnia possumus omnes. The reception which Miss Strickland's “Queens of England” has experienced proves both the popularity of such works when well executed, and the power of the pen of a female to execute them well. And now, closely following the “Queens of England," we have the “ Princesses of England,” likewise from a female pen, and deserving popularity not less than its almost immediate predecessor. We are not sure whether, in that delicaey and fineness of touch required in the description of the matters which belong more peculiarly to the province in which the female reigns supreme, the prize must not be awarded to Mrs. Green. She certainly has given us a work of most extensive and minute research, and collected a vast amount of various information, some of it referring to particulars which, if an author had not overlooked them, he could not so have seized on their peculiar features as to describe them with the microscopic accuracy of detail
, and harmony and completeness of finish, as has been done by Mrs. Green. Her Lives are often historically valuable; they have likewise all the interest which belongs to well-written biographies. And it is one great excellence of these volumes, that the pictures they contain are evidently those of individuals. Even the reader who is not prepared to judge of the value of the histories, will at once see the naturalness of the portraits. Moving in the same round of courtly ceremony, they are not all alike. Any reader may distinguish one from another, and each from all. And still higher praise belongs to them. Of Miss Strickland the politics and the religion plainly belong to the Tractarian school. Mrs. Green's politics (never obtruded on the reader) are always English, her religion evangelically Protestant. She has evidently written from the heart; and her heart is neither sectarian, bigoted, nor latitudinarian.
We purpose, in the course of a paper or two, to give, without farther observation, a few miscellaneous extracts, both illustrating the character and style of the work, and relating to subjects of general interest.
Our first extract will show the manner in which the religious, under the fully-established dominion of Romanism, were accustomed to think and speak on the subject of religion. The reader will perceive the mixture of right feeling with erroneous views, which, in the early periods of our national history, were so common. Cæcilia, daughter of William the Conqueror, was devoted to a conventual life from her infancy, and took the veil in the Abbey of the Holy Trinity, at Caen, in Normandy. When Matilda, the Abbess, through the infirmities of old age, began to feel unequal to the duties of her office, the Princess Cæcilia, not only from her royal birth, but also from her piety and learning, was fixed upon as the VOL. VL-FOURTH SERIES.
future Abbess, and prepared for the responsible position by the aid she afforded to the venerable lady who had long and worthily occupied it. When Matilda died, in June, 1112, a circular letter was addressed to the Nuns of various convents in England and France, informing them of the event. The letter is preserved in Mabillon, and Mrs. Green gives a portion of it, which, with her brief introduction, we lay before the reader. DEATH-BED OF MATILDA, ABBESS OF THE HOLY TRINITY CONVENT, AT CAEN.
“It is probable that the office of composing this document would devolve on the Princess Cæcilia, as Abbess elect, and the most learned of the community; and as it gives an interesting idea of the conventual habits of the times, an extract, containing a description of the death-bed scene of the Abbess Matilda, is subjoined. The original is written in Latin, which, if it cannot boast of classic elegance, is still distinguished by chasteness and purity of style.
«•In her extreme old age, when the glory of nature had long since passed away, she was seized with a grievous sickness, and for four days agonised with continual pain. Feeling her dissolution approaching, she commanded her children, whom she had brought up in love and piety, to be called around her; and the truths which she had ever taught, she inculcated to the last. Having discoursed much on the subject of religion, after receiving the most desirable unction of the sacred oil, and the life-giving communion of the body and blood of our Lord, amidst the embraces of the matrons, and the sighs and sobs of the virgins, she passed gloriously away from life to reign with Christ for ever. She died in the forty-fourth year of her preferment, on the 6th of July, in confession of the Christian faith, old and full of days. The loving care of her daughters buried her with all solemnity within the walls of her monastery, that in death she might still remain in the spot which in life she had never deserted. The most splendid funeral of our mother was performed after the example of that of the blessed Pope Martin—the voices of the funeral chanters were ever and anon stifled by their weeping, yet the tears of the weepers were blended with songs.
“«Since, however, no one can escape the evil conversation of this world untainted by some slight stain, which may be purified by prayers and alms, we beseech you, by the emotions of fraternal love, and by the mercies of the Christian religion, that whatever wound our departed mother may have received in this world, where vices, like wild beasts, beset our path, you will heal by your prayers and liberality to the poor. Also our sisters, and all those of both sexes whose names are annexed, we commend to your diligent love. Matilda, Queen of England, foundress of our monastery, Adelaide, Matilda, and Constance, her daughters,' &c. Here follow the names of thirty-one Nuns and four Priests of the convent; those belonging to the community who had died since its foundation.
“The letter concludes by exhorting the faithful to assist the sisterhood likewise with pecuniary donations, in order that they may be enabled to keep up the former state of the monastery. This appears a strange request, when we consider the richness of its endowments; but is easily accounted for by the fact that, after the death of the Conqueror, many even of those nobles who had signed the foundation-charter, by which they bound themselves to protect it, had plundered its lands and seized its revenues,—Henry, the youngest son of King William, being one of the number.” (Page 10.)
The last paragraph will show, that whatever rapacity was exhibited by the English Protestant nobility in the days of Henry VIII., in the spolia