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that he cannot give up these strong temptations tugging at his heart; why not extend more charity to others, and shew more candour in speaking of himself? There is either a good deal of bigoted intolerance with a deplorable want of self-knowledge in all this; or at least an equal degree of cant and quackery.
To whichever cause we are to attribute this hyperbolical tone, we hold it certain he could not have adopted it, if he had been a little man. But his imposing figure and dignified manner enable him to hazard sentiments or assertions that would be fatal to others. His controversial daring is backed by his bodily prowess ; and by bringing his intellectual pretensions boldly into a line with his physical accomplishments, he, indeed, presents a very formidable front to the sceptic or the scoffer. Take a cubit from his stature, and his whole manner resolves itself into an impertinence. But with that addition, he overcrows the town, brówbeats their prejudices, and bullies them out of their senses, and is not afraid of being contradicted by any one less than himself. It may be said, that individuals with great personal defects have made a considerable figure as public speakers; and Mr. Wilberforce, among others, may be held out as an instance. Nothing can
be more insignificant as to mere outward appearance, and yet he is listened to in the House of Commons. But he does not wield it, he does not insult or bully it. He leads by following opinion, he trims, he shifts, he glides on the silvery sounds of his undulating, flexible, cautiously modulated voice, winding his way betwixt heaven and earth, now courting popularity, now calling servility to his aid, and with a large estate, the “saints,” and the population of Yorkshire to swell his influence, never venturing on the forlorn hope, or doing any thing more than “hitting the house between wind and water.” Yet he is probably a cleverer man than Mr. Irving.
There is a Mr. Fox, a Dissenting Minister, as fluent a speaker, with a sweeter voice and a more animated and beneficent countenance than Mr. Irving, who expresses himself with manly spirit at a public meeting, takes a hand at whist, and is the darling of his congregation; but he is no more, because he is diminutive in person. His head is not seen above the crowd the length of a street off. He is the Duke of Sussex in miniature, but the Duke of Sussex does not go to hear him preach, as he attends Mr. Irving, who rises up against him like a martello tower, and is nothing loth to confront the spirit of a man of genius with the bloodroyal. We allow there are, or may be, talents sufficient to produce this equality without a single personal advantage; but we deny that this would be the effect of any that our great preacher possesses.
We conceive it not improbable that the consciousness of muscular power, that the admiration of his person by strangers might first have inspired Mr. Irving with an ambition to be something, intellectually speaking, and have given him confidence to attempt the greatest things. He has not failed for want of courage. The public, as well as the fair, are won by a show of gallantry. Mr. Irving has shrunk from no opinion, however paradoxical. He has scrupled to avow no sentiment, however obnoxious. He has revived exploded prejudices, he has scouted prevailing fashions. He has opposed the spirit of the age, and not consulted the esprit de corps. He has brought back the doctrines of Calvinism in all their inveteracy, and relaxed the inveteracy of his northern accents. He has turned religion and the Caledonian Chapel topsy-turvy. He has held a play-book in one hand, and a Bible in the other, and quoted Shakspeare and Melancthon in the same breath. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is
no longer, with his grafting, a dry withered stump; it shoots its branches to the skies, and hangs out its blossoms to the gale
Miraturque novos fructus, et non sua poma." He has taken the thorns and briars of scholastic divinity, and garlanded them with the flowers of modern literature. He has done all this, relying on the strength of a remarkably fine person and manner, and through that he has succeeded-otherwise he would have perished miserably
Dr. Chalmers is not by any means so good a looking man, nor so accomplished a speaker as Mr. Irving; yet he at one time almost equalled his oratorical celebrity, and certainly paved the way for him. He has therefore more merit than his admired pupil, as he has done as much with fewer means. He has more scope of intellect and more intensity of purpose. Both his matter and his manner, setting aside his face and figure, are more impressive. Take the volume of “ Sermons on Astronomy,” by Dr. Chalmers, and the “Four Orations for the Oracles of God” which Mr. Irving lately published, and we apprehend there can be no comparison as to their success. The first ran like wild-fire through the country, were the
darlings of watering-places, were laid in the windows of inns,* and were to be met with in all places of public resort; while the “ Orations” get on but slowly, on Milton's stilts, and are pompously announced as in a Third Edition. We believe the fairest and fondest of his admirers would rather see and hear Mr. Irving than read him. The reason is, that the groundwork of his compositions is trashy and hackneyed, though set off by extravagant metaphors, and an affected phraseology; that without the turn of his head and wave of his hand, his periods have nothing in them; and that he himself is the only idea with which he has yet enriched the public mind! He must play off his
person, as Orator Henley used to dazzle his hearers with his diamond-ring. The small frontispiece prefixed to the “Orations” does not serve to convey an adequate idea of the magnitude of the man, nor of the ease and freedom of his motions in the pulpit. How different is Dr. Chalmers! He is like'“a monkey-preacher” to the other. He cannot boast
* We remember finding the volume in the orchard at Burford-bridge near Boxhill, and passing a whole and very delightful morning in reading it, without quitting the shade of an apple-tree. We have not been able to pay Mr. Irving's back the same compliment of reading it at a sitting.