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had a crime for every misfortune that could befal any of her acquaintance; and when she heard of a robbery or a murder, would enlarge more on the guilt of the suffering person than on that of the thief or the assassin. In short, “she is so good a Christian that whatever happens to herself is a trial, and whatever happens to her neighbours a judgment.” Addison taxes Herodotus and Plutarch with very often applying their judgments as impertinently as this old woman, though their manner of relating them makes the folly itself appear venerable; indeed most historians, as well Christian as pagan, he holds to be chargeable with the same “idle superstition,” and with the habit of speaking of ill success, unforeseen disasters, and terrible events, as if they had been let into the secrets of Providence, and “made acquainted with that private conduct by which the world is governed.” Several of our own historians in particular, he says, one would think must have had many
fault which provokes them than if you cut off a man's finger because he made a bad use of his tongue.
Says Deacon Soper in one of Dr. Holmes's books, “Judge Tileston died, you remember, within a month after he had his great ball, twelve year ago, and some thought it was in the natur' of a judgment. If a man happen to be struck dead the night after he'd been givin' a ball, I shouldn't call it a judgment, I should call it a coincidence.”
There is an observable note in Mr. Robert Bell's Life of Canning, adverting to the only too expressive mot about Ireland and the Irish difficulty, that constant quantity,—that the best thing that could happen to her would be just to sink her under water for four-and-twenty hours. “It is a strange thing," writes Mr. Bell, “and something awful to think of, that poor Sir Joseph Yorke, who made use of this wild observation, was drowned in the Southampton Water." Charity calls that a coincidence, but the tone of the note rather tends to surmise a possible judgment, or at least might seem to sanction such an inference on the part of any good, or wild, Irishman.
In reference to the disease which prematurely ended the days of Dr. John Reid, “secular” critics own that there was no doubt a striking coincidence in his suffering the greatest pain in those nerves upon whose functions his experiments had thrown the greatest light; but while calling it “ pardon. able" for Dr. Reid himself to refer to this as a “judgment” for the suffering he had inflicted by his experiments on the lower animals, they pronounced it to be the reverse of creditable to his biographer, Dr. G. Wilson, either as a Christian or as a philosopher (and the author of Religio Chemici was both) to echo the morbid and perhaps momentary feeling of the sufferer, admitting, as he does, at the same time, that not only was cruelty abhorrent to his friend's disposition, but that pain was always as much minimised as was consistent with the object in view.
revelations of this kind made to them. Our old English monks seldom let any of their kings depart in peace who had endeavoured to diminish the power or wealth of which the ecclesiastics were in those days possessed. “In short, read one of the chronicles written by an author of this frame of mind, and you would think you were reading a history of the kings of Israel or Judah, where the historians were actually inspired, and where, by a particular scheme of Providence, the kings were distinguished by judgments or blessings, according as they promoted idolatry or the worship of the true God.” One of the Rev. Cotton Mather's Remarkable Judgments of God on Several Sorts of Offenders is the case of a lay preacher, who, invited in the absence of a “godly minister" to supply his place by reading a printed sermon to the congregation, fell instead to preaching one of his own, which unduly magnified the right of “private brethren publickly to prophesie. While he was thus in the midst of his exercise, God smote him with horrible madness; he was taken ravingly distracted; the people were forced with violent hands to carry him home. ... I will not mention his name.” The next cases referred to by Cotton Mather are the judgments on the “abominable sacrilege” of not paying the ministers' salaries.Remarking
i See Section V. of the Professor at the Breakfast-table.
Anthony-Wood gives a special entry in his Diary, March 31, 1661, to a plurality of mishaps that had occurred in the cath. ch. of Ch. Ch. (Oxon.) during a recent celebration of the eucharist, and adds: “All these accidents happening together did cause much discourse in the universitie and citie ; and the phanatics, being ready to catch at anything that seemed evill, made a foule story of it, as if it had been a judgment that had befallen the loyal clergy."
Writing about the earthquakes that were the town talk in the spring of 1750, Horace Walpole refers to certain vicious classes as taking them up on the foot of judgments, and can't refrain from adding : “ The clergy, who have had no windfalls for a long season, have driven horse and foot into the opinion.” (Walpole to Mann, April 2, 1750.) Earl Stanhope notes as one effect of the great earthquake at Lisbon, in 1755, the prohibition of the London masquerades, it being feared that the continuance of those diversions might draw down the same calamity on England which Portugal had just sustained ; while, on the other hand, a pamphlet was published at Madrid to prove that this calamity was allowed to befal the Portuguese solely on account of their connection with the heretic English.
incidentally that of death beds there are seldom well authenticated accounts, Hartley Coleridge adds: “Nothing in Foxe's martyrology is so apocryphal as his tales of judgments upon the persecutors.” There is a sermon of South's, marked by his usual strong and hale good sense, having for its subject The Misapplication of God's Judgments, in which he breaks out into the note of exclamation : “What unreasonable unchristian censures ! Such a one, for being of such a way, that is, perhaps, for following his conscience and the church, is fallen sick, another dead, another struck suddenly ; in most of which the very matter of the report has been contrary. And if people talk of judgments, I think it is a great judgment to be delivered over to report lies, and yet a greater to believe them.” But suppose things were really so, he goes on to say, and that the very curse of Egypt were come upon us, even so far as to have one struck dead in every family, yet “what art thou, O man, that durst to pry into the secrecies of thy Maker's proceedings, or condemn another's servant who stands or falls to his own master? How dares any man put his own sense upon God's actions ? which, though it may happen to be true in itself, yet is certainly uncharitable in him; and that man will one day find it but a poor gain who hits upon truth with the loss of charity.”
In John Howie of Lochgoin's “Scots Worthies,” there is a postscript or appendix, headed, “ The Judgment and Justice of
The great fire at Constantinople in 1823 was, by the more zealous of the Mussulmans, maintained to be a judgment for their sins, the only way to propitiate the Almighty being to massacre the Christians.
The terrible inundation at St. Petersburg in 1824 was regarded by the people as a judgment of Heaven for not having assisted their Christian brethren during their recent and frightful persecution by the Turks; while the Czar appears to have taken it to be a punishment for personal sins of his in domestic life.
Twenty thousand persons are said to have perished in the earthquake which devastated Caraccas and other cities of ex-Spanish America in 1812; and vast numbers who had been active in the cause of the insurrection thought they beheld in this event the evident hand of Providence and the just punishment of their sins in breaking off from their allegiance to Spain, an impression which the priestly party as naturally as studiously encouraged.
God Exemplified,” in Wicked Lives and Miserable Deaths, to wit, of Remarkable Apostates and Bloody Persecutors. In the account here given of the martyrs' sufferings, as Sir Walter Scott has remarked, such inflictions are mentioned only as trials permitted by Providence, for the better and brighter display of their faith and constancy of principle. But when similar affictions befel the opposite party, they are imputed to the direct vengeance of Heaven upon their impiety. “If, indeed, the life of any person obnoxious to the historian's censures happened to have passed in unusual prosperity, the mere fact of its being finally concluded by death is assumed as an undeniable token of the judgment of Heaven, and, to render the conclusion inevitable, his last scene is generally garnished with some singular circumstances. 2 Mr. Robert Chambers gives a paragraph in his Traditions of Edinburgh, to that Duke William (of Queensberry) who was, “in the eyes of the common people, a “persecutor,' that is, one siding against the Presbyterian cause”; and who is said, “in one of their favourite books,” to have died of the morbus pediculosus, by way of a judgment upon him for his wickedness, whereas, in reality, he died of some ordinary fever. Duke James, his son, ever memorable as the main instrument in carrying through the Union, was the father of an idiot, “ of the most unhappy sort, rabid and gluttonous," who killed a boy with whomhe was left alone in the house, and was found eating his flesh, half roasted by the kitchen fire. “This horrid act of his [Duke James's] child, was, according to the common people, the judgment of God upon him for his wicked concern in the Union—the greatest blessing, as it has happened, that ever was conferred upon Scotland by any statesman." Macaulay is severe on those of the nonjuring divines who pursued Queen Mary to the grave with invectives; who declared her death to be evidently a judgment for her crime; who dwelt much on wonderful coincidences of time,—James II. having been driven from his palace and country in Christmas week, and in Christmas week Mary had died. “There could be no doubt that if the secrets of Providence were disclosed to us, we should find that the turns of the daughter's complaint, in December 1694, bore an exact analogy to the turns of the father's fortune in December 1688.” It was at midnight that the father ran away from Rochester, and at midnight it was that the daughter expired. The Whig historian adds that the Whigs soon had an opportunity of retaliating; they triumphantly related that a scrivener in the Borough, a staunch friend of hereditary right, while exulting in the judgment which had overtaken the Queen, had himself fallen down dead in a fit.
1 See his Notes to Letter XI. of Redgauntlet.
2 Thus the Duke of Lauderdale is said, not through old age but immense corpulence, to have become so sunk in spirits, “ that his heart was not the bigness of a walnut."
When Mr. Bradley, the mathematician, who had assisted Lords Macclesfield and Chesterfield in bringing about the reform of the calendar, lay a-dying of a lingering illness, the common people ascribed his sufferings to a judgment from Heaven for having taken part in that “impious undertaking.” When Lord Clive died by his own hand, in 1774, “some men of real piety and genius so far forgot the maxims both of religion and philosophy as confidently to ascribe the mournful event to the just judgment of God.” It is rather rhetorically than with ethical purpose that Mr. de Quincey says of Shelley : “In storms unwillingly created by himself he lived ; in a storm cited by the finger of God he died”; for the critic himself takes exception to another critic's “ attempt to fathom the unfathomable" in this particular instance, while he admits the temptation to be undoubtedly great, even in minds not superstitious, to read a significance and a silent personality in “ such a fate applied to such a defier of the Christian heavens.” Accordingly, while declining to read a “judgment” in the catastrophe which befel Alastor in his skiff, De Quincey recognises a “solemn appeal to the thoughtful, in a death of so much terrific grandeur following upon defiances of such unparalleled audacity.”] No
1.“Æschylus acknowledged the same sense of mysterious awe, and all antiquity acknowledged it, in the story of Amphiaraus.”-See she Seven against Thebes.