« НазадПродовжити »
Maura, and Paxo; and at length, after passing a few days at Parga, took leave of the coast of Epirus and the Ionian Islands, for the Italian shores on bis return home.
It is hardly worth while, perhaps, to notice some slight defects of style in the present volumes. Mr. Hughes's chief fault is a redundancy both in his descriptions and his phrases: he, for instance, always ascends up and descends down, surrenders up, &c. ; anathema is very needlessly coupled with curse, and harem is explained to signify apartment of the . women.' His language, as we have had occasion to remark, is much too fine: thus we are told, that' Ali's heart is harder • than flint, and not a single rill from the fount of mercy flows
into his soul.' We have met with several instances of palpable repetition, and must complain that the total disregard of compression displayed in the composition, often becomes very wearisome. The contents of the two volumes might with great advantage be got into the compass of one, by means of scarcely any other retrenchments than those of style, and the bringing together all the information relating to one point, which the reader has often to collect from different chapters or different volumes. It would, we think, have been a more judicious arrangement, too, if the historical sketches, instead of interrupting the topographical narrative, had been reserved for an appendix. These hints the Author will, perhaps, not disdain to attend to in the event of his work reaching an octavo edition. In the meantime, he will accept our thanks for the interesting and not unimportant information for which we are indebted to him. The plates, chiefly from Mr. Cotterell's drawings, are highly illustrative. Art. III. 1. Sermons. By the Rev. Charles Robert Maturin, Curate of
St. Peter's, Dublin. 8vo. 12s. London. 1819. 2. Melmoth, the Wanderer: a Tale. By the Author of " Bertram," a
Tragedy. 4 vols, 12mo. London. 1820. THE "HE case of Mr. Maturin does not assist the argument of
those who plead, in behalf of ecclesiastical establishments, that they secure patronage to talent, and offer the effectual means of enlisting it in the service of religion. He is unquestionably a man of genius and high attainments, and yet we find him under the necessity of applying to sources of emolument by no means suited to the character of a clergyman. Romances, novels, and dramas are, emphatically, the literature of the world: they at once draw their illustrations from its various scenes and vicissitudes, and address themselves to those depraved and debilitated habits of thinking and feeling which limit themselves to the present state as their proper and only sphere. To this frame of mind all such writings exclusively minister; they are “ of the earth, earthly;" and, as connected only with the lower
world, it is altogether unseemly that they should originate with an individual whose high office it is to wean his fellow men from the vanities and passions of the present life, and to direct their affections and their aims towards the life to come. Yet, to these unprofitable and injurious occupations has Mr. Maturin been urged, if our information be accurate, by the exigencies of a family, and by the insufficiency of the income derived from his professional exertions. Wbile men of doubtful character who can command private or state patronage, find easy access to high preferment, an individual of undouhted talent and correct life, is compelled to descend to these unworthy means of improving his situation, by the barriers wbich in of a secularized church are opposed to bis advancement.
Not that we consider these circumstances as justifying Mr. Maturin in the election which he has made of an obnoxious department of literature; still less can we hold him innocent on the weightier accusation of having made a stimulating appeal to the darker passions of our nature. Our recollection of his works is not sufficiently distinct to enable us, even were we prompted to it by inclination, to pass them in minute review for the purpose of establishing this charge ; but we can recal quite enough both of their spirit and details, to take away all hesitation in affirming, that their style and manner bear no trace of the rich and pregnant simplicity of English genius. His cast of invention and composition is foreign and meretricious, with much of the murky extravagance, and a full share of the corrupt and exaggerated sensibility of the German school.* Still, they are the productions of a mind of great though misdirected powers; in the midst of unnatural excitement, there are passages of redeeming beauty and feeling; and while surrounded by a whole chaos of absurdity, we have been frequently struck with conceptions of the greatest force and splendour. Montorio was the first and the most striking of these publications : its story is of the grossest improbability both in its invention and its conduct, but it contains seenes and descriptions strongly wrought up, and admirably finished. His subsequent efforts have, perhaps, contained a larger proportion of his characteristic defects; but they are not without traces of the master-hand. The speech of old De Lacey in the Wild Irish Boy, is an admirable transcript of the hurried and impassioned eloquence of an aged semi-savage; and the following description of a clergyman is, with some abatements, so excellently executed, that we shall copy part of the extract which we made from the work when it passed through our hands some years since.
* For our review of " Bertram," see Eclectic Review, N. S. Vol. VI. p. 379.
His name was Corbett. He had been a curate six and forty years. He sought not to be any thing else. The religion he professed had taught him, 'having food and raiment, to be therewith content,' and the same inAuence extending to his habits, had enabled him by temperance and prudence, to obtain all he thought necessary in life........He never read prayers; he prayed--and with such deep and fervent feeling, with emphasis so obviously suggested, not by the art, but by the nature of supplication ; with pauses so strongly marked by solemnity of recollection, and a suspension of the act, without a suspension of the feeling, that his congregation almost unconsciously joined in the responses which were originally intended for their utterance, and felt the force of habit and of indolence yield to the holy energy with which he poured out his petitions. I never heard man preach as he did. He was a scholar to whom few I have ever met were superior. He was a man delighting in conversation, in which, if light, he would amuse, and if argumentative, he could instruct, more than any other man I ever listened to.
But in the pulpit, he laid aside the wisdom of words, and the weapons of fleshly warfare altogether. That he was a scholar you felt not; that he was a man of rich imagination, or of strong reasoning powers ; you felt not that he or his discourse could be referred to any class of mind or composition that could assist you to judge of them in a temporal sense. felt irresistibly that he was a believer, pleading with the power of cone viction ; that he was a religionist, speaking from experience, commending a life he lived, and a felicity he felt; that he spoke and acted on principles which, though beyond the range of existence, were not beyond the range of reality; principles which he made present and vivid and substantial, alike by the force of eloquence and the force of example. He was a speaker who, of all others I ever heard, succeeded most in averting your attention from himself to his subject. It was long after his sermon had concluded that you could think of the preacher-like the priest in the Jewish hierarchy, he disappeared in the cloud of incense himself sent up........ Though his positions were strong and important, they were clothed in a language whose peculiar and providential felicity is, that it is the universal language, the first language that religion talks to the ear of infancy, the language that genius reverences, and ignorance understands, the language of the poet and of the saint, the language of divinity and of the heart, the language of the Scriptures. He spoke as a father pleading with a wayward child; he spoke as a judge with a criminal, to confess and be forgiven ; as a guide with a wanderer, to return and to rest. When he finished his sermon, it was not with Cowper's ! wellbred whisper. He appeared for some time engaged in prayer:: When be came down and walked among us, though the thunder of his eloquence was hushed, his countenance spoke still. He had descended from the mount, but his visage retained the brightness of that high place.If I write of this man, I shall write volumes.
In the volume before us, there is so much of what is excellent, as to give us additional cause for lamenting that the fine faculties of its Author should be degraded to apy labour inferior to VOL. XIV. N.S.
the high pursuits of his profession. As a whole, these sermons are written in a purer taste than any other of his productions; and they contain passages of great richness, beauty, and vigour. As a theologian, indeed, Mr. Maturin has much to acquire. His views seem to be sufficiently clear and correct as far as they extend, but their range is limited; they fall short of that ampler sphere where the mind taught from above, and deeply imbued with the glory and blessedness of Divine truth, delights to expatiate. Mr. M. is strangely fearful of committing himself: he frequently exhibits the doctrines of the Gospel with fidelity and feeling, but he seems restlessly anxious to satisfy his hearers that he is guiltless of Puritanism.' He occasionally indulges himself in a dignified sneer at enthusiasm, and ventures on a little commonplace slang about the lungs of the preachers of the conventicle.' All this is excessively weak : a good cause rejects it, and it will utterly fail of assisting a bad one. Among the Puritans of the conventicle, there are not a few who are somewhat more than a match for Mr. M. in the fair field of polemics. But we suspect that be is fully aware of this, and that he well knows what weapons are best suited to the infirmity of his cause, and to the measure of his own controversial skill. We can scarcely recollect elsewhere a piece of argument so signal in debility as the sermon professing to offer reasons for preferring the commu
nion of the Church of England.' It opens in a very interesting manner.
• The strongest characteristic of man is his mutability—it is marked in every action of life, whether public or domestic -it affects him in every pursuit, whether of business or of pleasure; all that he does has the love of change inscribed on it ; it is the only epitaph that all his buried pursuits, and all their buried pursuers may bear, from bim who exchanged Paradise for a desert world, to the babe of yesterday who weeps for å toy, and the moment he has obtained, resigns it for another. In pleasure, the taste for variety is but too natural, for the very effect of pleasure is to satiate, and nothing but novelty can stimulate the palled appetite, whose artificial orgasm, wearied with indulgence, demands excitement; but our rage for variety extends to other objects-to every object—to all that occupies--to all that interests. The beggar feels it when he wanders from hovel to hovel, as much as the conqueror when he traverses from region to region ; yet both find only weariness in the change, for both find only a repetition of circumstances without a renewal of excitement from them. Singular contrast between internal restlessness and external uniformity! The fire buros within us, but life refuses fresh fuel. This passion, so universally acknowledged and felt, would be comparatively harmless, if we indulged it only in our pleasures; but it becomes perilous and mischievous in the extreme, when we permit it to extend its range, and operate on the institutions of society and the forms of government. It is still worse when we suffer it to rage among
the principles of religion, and try its insane strength against the powers of the world to come.'
But what bearing have these observations, in the general accuracy of which every body will acquiesce, on the main question? Why, says Mr. Maturin, 'the rage for novelty alone • has filled a hundred conventicles ! This is a pure gratis dictum, and is just as fairly urged by the Romanists against the English Hierarchy, as by the latter against the Dissenters: He then proceeds to propose two short tests :'- If any
religion is exclusive, that religion must be unscriptural and The religion thut is opposite to intellectual cultivation, 'must be false. To the first of these points, let Mr. Maturin himself look : it is neither more nor less than the foundationstone of all establishments. To the second it is enough to reply, that the great body of English Dissenters utterly reject the imputation. After a most illiberally expressed regret that nonconformists have been entrusted with what he is pleased to term
power,' he proceeds, under an empty disclaimer of profes
sional pedantry,' to laud and magnify the ' venerable fabric and admirable constitution of the Established Church. He starts at score.
• The great obvious advantage that the Church of England possesses is, that she has in her homilies, her liturgy, and her articles, a standard that can neither be removed nor shaken, an unalterable test of the soundness of her doctrines. This is an advantage inestimable! If her children wander, to this they can be recalled if they murmur against her, by this let her be tried, and she shall be justified. Is this an advantage to be claimed by the rambling followers of an unorganized meeting, where the creed of the day depends on the preacher, where contradiction, error, and absurdity, may succeed each other without detection or rebuke, because they have no standard for their opinions. The Scriptures they have, doubtless—but of the Scripture every stubborn fanatic will deem himself as good a judge, and as sound an interpreter, as his brother or his pastor; ay, and his confidence and obstinacy will be in the direct proportion of his ignorance. Such is the invaluable distinction of having a standard for doctrines and opinions.'
We defy Mr. Maturin himself to read this passage deliberately, without a feeling of shame that such a wretched scrap of self-contradictory absurdity should be on record against him. The Homilies and Articles a criterion of opinion, and the Scriptures either no standard at all, or an unsafe and uncertain one! But to what must the Articles themselves be referred for trial, but to the Scriptures? Is Mr. M. prepared, then, to affirm, that a secondary can supersede a primary authority? But he seems to think that the doctrinal documents of bis Church are more intelligible and less evasible than the deciarations and definitions of the inspired writings. Wo will not