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and Cambridge as defective and confined : and more likely to confirm the human mind in an attachment to ancient errors than to open it to the reception, or to stimulate it to the discovery, of truth. Hence he not only established in his Oratory weekly disputations, on subjects relating to theology, morals, and literature, for the conduct of which he drew up an admirable set of rules; but also conceived the idea of connecting with his system an enlarged course of liberal education, of which he proposed himself as principal, to superintend the labours of professors, of ability and acquirements, competent to this important task. In short, let not Mr. Brougham and Sir James Mackintosh be startled, when we apprise them, that Orator Henley, in the year 1726, projected a LONDON UNIVERSITY. On the expedience, and indeed the necessity, of such an Institution, he thus descants in his opening sermon.
Pass we now to our Academical undertaking, the subserviency of which to Religion will justify the immediate display we think ourselves obliged to give of it.
“Its design is no less than that of an universal school of science and letters, in theory and practice, for instruction, exercise, and accomplishment, in all the parts of them.”
* The want of an University in this capital has been often deplored.
“Europe is the general seat of politeness, and this is the only Metropolis which is destitute of an University.
“Its advantage would outweigh every objection; it would be improved by the opportunities of converse and intercourse, the residence of the Court, which is, or ought be, the supreme standard of elegancy-the variety of tastes, pursuits, characters, professions, and a thousand other enlargements.
“ The defects, the narrowness, of our usual education might here expect a more probable cure.
“Licentiousness of manners might here be checked by the same restraint, and put under as wholesome discipline, as we experience it elsewhere.
“Nor could it be thought an injury to others, unless they be looked upon as privileged marts of learning, exclusive of other places for the distribution of it, which would be a common injury to all mankind.
"They are bodies corporate, vested by the crown with certain immunities. To invade their rights and to exercise their jurisdiction, to confer their legal qualifications, would be an unnatural offer. But to discharge the office of a preceptor in the sciences they ought to teach, is no encroachment on their tenure: it is rather an enforcement to their main concern, and an addition to their glory.
“But it is our aim to redress the complaints of misconduct in their institution, as well as to supply in some measure the absence of an University in this great city.
“Some exceptions have been taken on this head, which demand a remedy, and should therefore be excused in the mention. Bigotry to a set of notions, a confined way of thinking, a negligence of some of the
most useful and polite arts; a management by interest and party, more than an encouragement of genius and industry; a forbidding loftiness and austerity in the ruling part, which tends rather to lessen the relish of virtue and discipline than to promote it, and an enslaving of youth to tests, subscriptions, and forms, which they neither understand, nor believe, nor approve; these and other complaints, with the train of ill consequences flowing from each of them, we would employ our humble endeavours, with the utmost submission, to rectify.
“But our intention is still more extensive; to diffuse a taste of literature and just thinking among persons of all ranks and capacities, without the profusion of time and expense, which must attend a more formal application.”
In an appendix to a publication of Henley's, entitled “A Defence of the Oratory,” we find a programme of the course of study, laid down for this projected seminary of learning. It is very comprehensive, promises very largely, and engages, in a moderately short period of time, to enable the pupil to judge and dispute de omni scibili. A favorite object with the projector was what he called the revival of ancient eloquence.
“The word of God,” says he in his opening Sermon, " should be the savour of life; but inaction is the image of death. Surely, some awful politician, a foe to the energy of preaching, introduced it. Unhappy he, whom neither our schools nor Universities teach to speak, to look, or to move, or even to read properly! To action, all the renown of the ancient orators was owing. This was the great secret, the wonder, the charm, of the famous old eloquence. It was this that shook the Areopagus, the Forum, the Capitol. It was with this, O Demosthenes and Tully! that ye lightened and gave your thunder. Here all the beauties of inusic and painting are united. Nature is its rule, and art its accomplishment; all the rhetoricians have ever recommended it, and all just speakers have ever practised it. No man ever cavilled at action, but he used it, though perhaps awkwardly, while he railed against it; nor can any be a foe to it, who is a friend to common sense, and a judge of truth and nature.”
Henley's University made a figure upon paper, but no where else. We must not, however, look for the cause of its failure in the essence of its scheme. Some twenty years ago, the late Doctor Solomon, of Balm of Gilead memory, established, in the town of Liverpool, a daily newspaper, which lived for a few months, and was then given up for want of encouragement. This experiment cost the Doctor a considerable sum of money, on which circumstance we once heard him remark to a good-natured friend, who kindly reminded him of its failure, “Sir, the project was a good one. Liverpool can support a daily paper; but I was not the man to make it succeed. A newspaper, sir, is a literary production, and I spent a thousand pounds or more in
finding out, that my name, though it will recommend the Balm of Gilead, will damn a literary publication.” So we say of a London University : the project is good, but Henley was not the man to make it succeed. Under the auspices of the able and influential men who have of late undertaken its execution, we hope it will go on and prosper. In the mean time, let Henley receive his due meed of praise for his early conception of such an institution, and let it be observed that the reasons which he alleges for the expediency of its establishment in the metropolis, are precisely the same as those which have been detailed with so much skill and energy in a journal of our times, of great and deserved celebrity.
Henley experienced the fate of all reformers. He excited against himself a still more numerous host of enemies than before. As he did not spare the church, the church did not spare him. As a professed dissenter, the toleration act shielded him against ecclesiastical censures. When he ceased to be a preacher of the establishment, the jurisdiction of his diocesan over him was at an end. The surrender of his living was the price of his spiritual freedom. But the militant divines, whose ranks he had quitted, exercised against him that unsparing hostility, to which all dissenters are deemed to be justly subject. They renewed their impeachments against his moral character ; but he averred that their imputations were as false as they were malignant. They still more loudly than before stigmatized his mode of delivery as theatrical; but he replied that he had adopted it before he had ever seen a theatre, and shrewdly asked, as there were enough of religious dormitories in the metropolis, why should he be blamed for providing one place of worship where people were kept awake?
In his Guide to the Oratory, the new heresiarch boldly beat up his enemies' quarters. His chief antagonist was Dr. Cobden, chaplain of Somerset House, of whom he says, "this heavy-headed lump of theology has, by an unconnected jumble of stupid rbimes, buried Mr. Addison's memory much deeper than it was in the power of the grave-digger to inter his body.”. Dr. Trapp, it should seem, had also animadverted upon his principles and proceedings, and he struck a body-blow against the luckless professor of poetry, by quoting, in reference to his celebrated translation of Virgil, the following epigram written by Dr. Evans, of St. John's College, Oxford.
“Read the Commandments, Trapp ; translate no further ;
For there 'tis written- cao thou shalt commit no murther.”
A third opponent appeared in the person of one Wingfield, whom he had formerly employed as his amanuensis, but whom he had been obliged to discharge, as he alleges, “ both for
his indolence, and his ignorance in writing false Latin and spelling false English.” Against this quondam humble coadjutor in his studies, he brings a more serious imputation, by thus giving warning to those whom it might concern, of his book-collecting propensities—" whenever he is trusted alone in a gentleman's study, if not looked narrowly after, he will certainly make a library of his own pocket. Probatum est.” In this manner the orator carried on the war of words, and certainly was a match for his opponents in the culling of those flowers of rhetoric which are said to flourish at Billingsgate. What little argument was used on this occasion was certainly on his side. He was vilified for exercising the right of private judgment in religion, and the defence of the right of private judgment was an easy task to the shrewdness and practical good sense of Henley, who proceeded boldly in his design, and kept his Oratory open, and preached to numerous audiences, for many years.
He did not, however, become the founder of a religious sect. In the long list of Protestant heresies which a tain wag of a priest last year read to his astonished flock in a Catholic chapel in Ireland, we do not find, ranking even with Muggletonians, the tribe of Henleyarians. In point of fact, the orator did not possess the qualifications requisite to organize and to establish a religious sect. He had little or no enthusiasm; so that whatever dogmas he propounded, he laid them down without any appearance of zeal. There was also an indefiniteness in his opinions, which threw suspicion upon his sincerity. His discourses might rise to the pathos of moral exhortation, but they were destitute of that mystical raving which is known among religionists by the name of
unction,” and contained none of those soul-stirring passages, which warm the affections, or alarm the fears, of the commonalty. He was no wholesale dealer in damnation, and did not make heaven or hell the alternative consequence of belief or disbelief in his doctrine. Instead of contracting, he widened, the meshes of his creed ; and, consequently, if, in his character of fisher for men, he facilitated their entrance into the net of his Church, he also facilitated their exit out of it. As he advanced in his theological career, he dwelt more and more on the praises of reason.
“ The religion professed here,” says he, in a sermon preached in the year 1748, " is that of a RATIONALIST; a practiser of universal right reason, to his capacity, on all occasions.” Now, in the establishment and confirmation of sects, zeal and passion will beat reason hollow ; for, in the affair of religion, men in general want not to be enlightened, but to be moved. Besides, Henley affected no austerity in his manners and conduct. He “came eating and drinking ;"—he partook of the pleasures and amusements of life with an eagerness incompatible with the character of a religious reformer. However magnificent, then, were the ornaments of his conventicle, however gorgeous was the array of his priestly robes—(and in the rubrick to the eucharist, he recommends the use of the “ splendid vestment,”) however graceful was his action, and however tuneful his voice, as his system was not founded on definitive principle, nor recommended by those powerful motives which reach the heart, he failed in his attempt to establish an independent church, as he did in his scheme of an university; and prolonged his existence as a preacher only by the excitement of the public curiosity, which he stimulated by regular advertisements of the subjects which he intended to discuss on each successive Sunday. To render his services the more attractive, he frequently preached upon topics suggested by the transactions of the day, which also formed a more legitimate subject for a lecture and conference wbich he held on the Wednesday evenings in each week. In these lectures, he professed, in his “ programme,” to hold a reading on some learned or polite subject, formed on the most natural deduction, to complete a course of human knowledge in the most just and regular method.” Though he did not long continue to hold those week-day meetings, he frequently quitted the field of theology on the Sunday, to treat of those miscellaneous topics which the just taste and correct feeling of the generality of modern divines have excluded from the pulpit; and from time to time harangued upon the political questions which then agitated the public mind. In his handling of these dangerous subjects, he gave outrage to the ministry, whose proceedings he seems to have catechized with so much severity, that, in the year 1746, some of their adherents repaired one Sunday evening to the Oratory, where they interrupted the preacher with contumelious language, drew their swords upon those who attempted to turn them
out, and forcibly put an end to the service; thus, as Henley pointedly observed,
breaking the laws to preserve the state. Illegal proceedings like this, are attended with little peril to those who break the peace on the side of power. In such cases, the never-failing recipe is to anticipate the complaint of the injured party. In pursuance of this approved method, the rioters circulated a paper purporting to be a record of certain seditious expressions which had been uttered by the orator in the course of his sermons. They also lodged an information against him in the office of Lord Chesterfield, who was then Secretary of State for the home department, and who forth with issued a warrant for the seizure of the orator and his papers; but after a short