« PreviousContinue »
to take them quite according to the valuation which he has chosen to set upon them.
It would be hard measure to say, that Mr. Wilderspin is absolutely a charlatan; but his present volume, nevertheless, is written in the very spirit of charlatanism. Every body has failed except Mr. Wilderspin : but Mr. Wilderspin is a miracle, and his schemes and undertakings are the eighth wonder of the world. He is evidently " first, last, midst, and without end,” in his own estimation.
Here, then, is one reason why we regret that this book should have been written. We might mention several others. It would be unfair to deny, that it contains, interspersed at no distant intervals, some practical observations of considerable value. But, as a whole, it is a sad failure. It is at once ambitious and slovenly--full of portentous self-conceit and astonishing ignorance :--most aspiring in its plan, and most negligent in its execution. And as the matter is rambling and undigested, so the tone appears to us to be, in a peculiar degree, flippant and vulgar; for instance :
Such a melée as two hundred children of all ages and both sexes would exhibit, in a normal school too, would be worth seeing. Please God, if I live to see this plan at work, I'll have a peep at them, and witness the teaching of the clever fellow who could instruct such pupils with advantage, and in a way in which they ought to be taught in a normal establishment, under the sanction of no lower personages than the ministers of her Majesty's government.—P. 273.
Mr. Wilderspin informs us, in another place, that he has "not aimed at fine writing, but plain writing," And so far well. Yet, whatever else Mr. Wilderspin may be competent to teach, we can hardly think that he is calculated to be a master in style.
He aims, however, at poetry as well as prose, How far the following verses are original we do not pretend to know: but whether Mr. Wilderspin has the honour of having made them, or whether he has merely borrowed and adopted them in the intense fervour of his admiration, we are sure that our readers will duly appreciate their beauties, when they consider that they are intended, not only to assist the memory, and improve the poetical taste, but also to give “ lessons on grammar."
"Verbs tell of something being done
ON THE VERB.
To what higher level can national education ever hope to rise ? Or what more can be desired for the rising generation of Great Britain, when they have once been instructed that “there are three kind" of these wonderful verbs, which tell of something being done.
Till the fourth line relieved us from our suspense, we were afraid that for some fault or misfortune, not easily to be conjectured by the uninitiated, Mr. Wilderspin intended, in the plenitude of his authority, altogether to exclude and abolish the passive voice: and we must still suppose, that for things which have been done, or will be done, he has invented other and more appropriate parts of speech.
It was our wish to have made extracts from the better portions of the volume; but, unhappily, even in those places where the remarks are evidently the result of personal experience, or are most distin guished for their cleverness or their good sense, the composition is so loose and unmethodical, as likewise so marred and disfigured by the intrusion of a repulsive egotism, that we must give up the attempt. The subjoined quotation is a fair specimen of the strange incongruities, the odd mixture of acuteness and puerility observable throughout the publication,
Education will be worthless, unless it has a tendency to decrease crime, to elevate our nature, improve our morals, and promote love and charity, and increase true religion amongst ns. Let mothers and teachers understand, that no child can be properly trained by himself, so as to be made a valuable and useful member of society, and also a good moral and religious character. Man being a social being, must be well trained in community; it is evidently a law of the Creator that it should be so; all those children brought up with brothers and sisters are less petulant, and more sociable, than those brought up alone, and more fit to associate with others, and have less of the selfish principle than the latter.
Neither is an adult fit society for an infant, no, not even the mother ; for parents are very apt to think that if they indulge their children to the utmost of iheir power, and give them every thing they wish for, they are treating them with the utmost possible kindness; this, I am sorry to say, is a common but a very dangerous error. The following are facts in support of what I have now advanced, which were witnessed by myself, so that I can with justice testify to their truth.
A mother, for some time past, has been in the habit of indulging her child, aged two years and six months, with pieces of cigars, in order to keep him quiet; and he has become so initiated into this practice, that every day after dinner he calls for his usual allowance, and will not take a denial. When he gets one, it must be lighted, if not he will stamp with his feet, and raise such a disturbance in the house that the poor mother is obliged to comply, and he actually consumes the greater part of it before he leaves off. The method taken is different from that usually practised, for instead of inhaling the smoke he blows it from him. Thus we perceive, that if allowed to follow the same track for some time, the practice will grow with his growth and strengthen with his strength, and the proper training of the youth will be subverted by one who ought rather to watch that which will in future form his moral character.--Pp. 50, 51.
But let us stop. It is out of our power to speak of this work at once favourably and honestly: yet, at the same time, many recollections forbid us to treat it with any unnecessary severity, though padded, as it is, with all sorts of devices to swell its thickness, and eked out at the end by a very large portion of Lord Brougham's Letter on National Education, as if Mr. Wilderspin was condescending to confer notoriety and immortality on the production of the Lord Ex-chancellor. We can assure him, that we are quite as anxious as he can be for the success of infant schools; and we should be glad, on some accounts, to see them more generally established, with the requisite changes and adaptations for the children of the higher and middle classes.
Here, however, we have no room to enlarge on such topics. We must conclude with once more reminding Mr. Wilderspin that no man was ever written down by any one except himself; but that he has been doing a good deal to accomplish, in his own case, this undesirable object. It is a pity that, in many instances, he has not been somewhat more like his own curious “subjunctive, doubting still ;" instead of assuming a manner so self-confident, dogmatical, and dictatorial. In the great business of education, he has been a serviceable pioneer ; but he is not calculated to be a leader, or, as he calls himself, a legislator.” The Wilderspinian dynasty is extinct. The work has passed into the hands of men, who, with an equal share of moral enthusiasm, have more judgment and discretion, higher and deeper views, more comprehensive and more systematic knowledge: inasmuch as they have enjoyed opportunities of penetrating further into the true philosophy of the subject, and have themselves received a more enlarged and finished education.
LITERARY REPORT. A Course of Plain Sermons on the Church and her Gifts. With a Preface and
Occasional Notes. By the Rev. Francis Fulford, M.A., Rectorof Trowbridge, Wilts; Chaplain to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester, and late Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. Vol. II. London : Rivingtons. 18-10.
Pp. lvii. 243. In this volume there is much to praise and something to blame. Like many others who at the present day are labouring to "restore forgotten truth,” the writer has well exposed some of the prevailing errors of the time, and endeavoured to substitute sounder opinions in their stead. But we question whether he has not brought some of these “ forgotten truths" too prominently forward, and placed them where they obscure (we will not say distort) doctrines of even more importance. Church communion, with its “ gifts and privileges," is of inestimable value; the sacraments are channels of rich grace; but the Bible contains much besides these.
The following passage from a sermon entitled, “The Church the Teacher of her Children,” will give the reader some idea of the style and tone of these discourses, and at the same time open the way for one or two remarks :
We know how common it is to hear of such and such persons baving, as it is termed, changed their views of religion, adopring some fresh system; and not only individuals, but whole societies not unfrequently do the same. And if men's opinions on the truths of revelation and religious matters are to depend simply upon the chance systems of their own forination, not only will they inevitably fail, from their natural infirmities, of arriving at any unity of belief, and, therefore, must, for the most part, miss "the truth,” which is one, but they will, not improbably, each fall away farther and farther from that truth ; which they profess to seek, and insensibly find themselves opposed to many great Catholic verities which once they gladly and thankfully believed. Truths which are to be weighed ard gauged by our own opinions, necessarily change with the changing views and sentiments of individuals, or of the age in which they live. While truths, taught as by some power without.--something beyond and independent of our own minds, remain the same; though we may be subject to manifold infirmities, and though the age in which we live may be flooded with error. Thus the Catholic Church speaks to us, as she spake to our fathers, Religion, as we term it, has flourished, and again has withered in successive generations ; fanaticism abounded in the times of the Puritans, it was succeeded by indifference ; and in the last century, a rationalist and infidel spirit manifested itself, such as we see now again budding forth. Now amidst these fluctuations of the public mind, the Church is the ground and pillar of the truth ; and, moreover, those who despise her steady light, and run wildly after every dazzling meteor that dances before them, are little aware how much even those, who dissent from her, are indebted to the Church for that portion of the truth which they yet retain.-Pp. 95, 99.
These are just remarks, and well expressed. There is something, however, rather too vague for practice in the phrase—the teaching of the Catholic Church. The creeds indeed literally embody the idea; but for the details of instruction, the teaching of our own branch of the Catholic Church must be the light by which we read the Scriptures. Those may demur to this rule who deny our church's catholicity, or her purity; but not those, who, like Mr. Fulford, uphold both. Now every one knows in what terms our church embodies the doctrine of the justification of man in her articles and homilies, and how agreeable her definitions are to the letter, and, we firmly believe, the spirit of Scripture. But is there not an apparent difference between her teaching, and such unqualified expressions as the following ?
Our faith must, if it be a sound faith, iead us to the sacraments, and open our eyes to see their excellence ; and coming to Christ in baptism, we are, through faith in his promise, justified by means of the grace conveyed to us in that ordinance.-P. 131.
When we speak of the salvation of Christ, it means, in the first place, deliverance from that state of condemnation, under the curse of which we are born into the world as children of Adam, and is specially signified by the term justification, as St. Paul writes to the Romans, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." This ordinarily takes place at baptism, when we are first brought into the covenant of the Gospel. ---P. 165.
Connected with the same subject, Mr. Fulford has these remarks :
People, according to their idea of being saved by some abstract notion of faith, expect to have Christ's merits and righteousness imputed to them, and set down to their account, without any regard to their own personal holiness ; and consequently, the mortification of the body of sin, the laying aside every weight, the discipline of the temper and heart, are considered quite as unnecessary as they are distasteful to their unsangtified wills.”—P. 134.
This fact, however, need not terrify us from stating scripture doctrine in scripture terms. The truth is, the wish to be saved by a notion, without holiness, is not peculiar to any system, and may be as fatal to those who are ever looking back to their baptism, and not on it, as to the most rigid Calvinist, or the wildest Antinomian.
We have read with doubt several other passages in this book, e.g.
Independently of the sacred volume itself, the perpetual priesthood, the altar, the Bacraments, the form of sound words, &c.-P. 29. What is the altar in addition to the sacraments?-but we are conscious that we have dwelt too long on the unfavourable side. We wish our space would allow us to make some extracts from the many parts which have pleased us, and especially from the last three ser..ons, which are particularly valuable.
Įleber ; Records of the Poor ; Lays from the Prophets ; and other Poems. By
Thomas Ragg. London: Longman and Co.' 12mo. 1840. Pp. 236. Were this the first publication by Mr. Ragg, as it is not by many, it might be looked on as quite extraordinary, since he represents himself as "a working mechanic,” for there are pieces in it, which would not disgrace many high names, on the roll of established poets. The more ambitious attempt in the volume we consider a failure. The framework of “ Heber" is ill imagined, and there is no verisimilitude in the picture, (if such may be expected concerning a post-mundane race of beings;) though much of the execution is clever and exciting. The author's powers are better adapted for shorter flights; and we can with pleasure point out as admirable, "Gather ripe fruits, O Death"-" Autumn""The Indigent Widow's Appeal”—and “I'm going home." Occasional incorrectness of language was to be expected from a self-taught writer, but we imagine that much improvement must have gradually taken place in this respect, judging from an early and sadly ungrammatical production which closes the work. It is on a subject of too great moment to the author to be discussed as a mere matter of poetry, and fitter for the anvil of the theologian than the lyre of the melodist." From his more legitimate efforts we hope to quote samples which may entice such of our readers as love the haunts of song, to encourage an apparently worthy son of the muses, who here proves that he is imaginative, loyal, and pure minded; and imbued with a deep sense of religion, which has given birth to many of his most powerful compositions. As an instance of his simple expression of feeling we offer a stanza from “ The Poet's Lament.”
The happy dreams of childhood,
How beautiful are they,
To cramp fond Fancy's play,
When truth illumes the way.-P. 18.
The earth is full of love, albeit the storms
A Practical Discourse of Religious Assemblies ; by William Sherlock, D.D.,
Dean of St. Paul's, Master of the Temple, and Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty. A New Edition ; with a Preface by Rev. HENRY Melvill, B.D., Minister of Camden Chapel, Camberwell; and Chaplain to the Tower of
London. London: Burns. 1840. Pp. xxiv. 293. This timely reprint forms one of the volumes of “ The Englishman's Library," in which series, it has, we think, been judiciously inserted. The name of Dean Sherlock, together with the attractive form in which it is presented to the public, will doubtless bring many acquainted with a treatise, convincing by its reasoning, persuasive by its earnestness, and on subjects deeply important to the spiritual welfare both of individuals and churches.
It has seemed to the writer of this notice, (says Mr. Melvill, in a well-written preface,) that the republication of Sherlock's Practical Discourse of Religious AssemVlies, while it is calculated to be useful to all classes, might do something to strengthen the hands of numbers of his brethren, who have more than the missionary's work to do, in endeavouring to reclaim the moral wastes with which our own country is deformed. The grounds on which public worship should be maintained are here so forcibly stated; the benefits to be expected from it are so clearly exhibited; the objections, whether of the irreligious or the schismatical, are so fairly met and so fully answered; that the work is a sort of storehouse of weapons for the minister who has to deal with ungodliness which would deride churches, and with dissent which would substitute conventicles.
And there is one advantage attending the republication of such a work, in preference to the embodying the same sentiments in any new book. Men will commonly hearken with less prejudice to the dead than the living ; opinions which they would reject at once if advanced by one of their contemporaries, secure something of an audience when produced from old authors whose names are held in general respect.