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usual order of human affairs, it could often be the object. I approve of it as a disposition to wish, and, as opportunity may occur, to desire and do good, rather than harm, to those with whom we are quite unconnected.”
It would appear, from this kind of language, that a desire of promoting the universal good were a pardonable weakness, rather than a fundamental principle of ethics ; that the particular affections were incapable of excess; and that they never wanted the corrective of a more generous and exalted feeling. In a subsequent part of his sermon, Dr. Parr atones a little for this over-zealous depreciation of the principle of universal benevolence : but he nowhere states the particular affections to derive their value and their limits from their subservience to a more extensive philanthropy. He does not show us that they exist only as virtues, from their instrumentality in promoting the general good ; and that, to preserve their true character, they should be frequently referred to that principle as their proper criterion.
In the latter part of his sermon, Dr. Parr combats the general objections of Mr. Turgot to all charitable institutions, with considerable vigour and success. To say that an institution is necessarily bad, because it will not always be administered with the same zeal, proves a little too much : for it is an objection to political and religious, as well as to charitable institutions ; and, from a lively apprehension of the fluctuating characters of those who govern, would leave the world without any government at all. It is better there should be an asylum for the mad, and a hospital for the wounded, if they were to squander away 50 per cent. of their income, than that they should be disgusted with sore limbs, and shocked by straw-crowned monarchs in the streets. All institutions of this kind must suffer the risk of being governed by more or less of probity and talents. The good which one active character effects, and the wise order which he establishes, may outlive him for a long period; and we all hate each other's crimes, by which we gain nothing, so much, that in proportion as public opinion acquires ascendency in any particular country, every public institution becomes more and more guaranteed from abuse.
Upon the whole, this sermon is rather the production of what is called a sensible, than of a very acute man ; of a man certainly more remarkable for his learning than his originality. It refutes the very refutable positions of Mr. Godwin, without placing the doctrine of benevolence in a clear light; and it almost leaves us to suppose, that the particular affections are themselves ultimate principles of action, instead of convenient instruments of a more general principle.
The style is such, as to give a general impression of heaviness to the whole sermon. The Doctor is never simple and natural for a single instant. Everything smells of the rhetorician.
He never appears to forget himself, or to be hurried by his subject into obvious language. Every expression seems to be the result of artifice and intention; and as to the worthy dedicatees, the Lord Mayor and Alder
men, unless the sermon be done into English by a person of honour, they may perhaps be flattered by the Doctor's politeness, but they can never be much edified by his meaning. Dr. Parr seems to think, that eloquence consists not in an exuberance of beautiful images-not in simple and sublime conceptions—not in the feelings of the passions ; but in a studious arrangement of sonorous, exotic, and sesquipedal words : a very ancient error, which corrupts the style of young, and wearies the patience of sensible men. In some of his combinations of words the Doctor is singularly unhappy. We have the din of superficial cavaliers, the prancings of giddy ostentation, fluttering vanity. hissing scorn, dank"clod, &c. &c. &c. The following intrusion of a technical word into a pathetic description renders the whole passage almost ludicrous.
"Within a few days, mute was the tongue that uttered these celestial sounds, and the hand which signed your indenture lay cold and motionless in the dark and dreary chambers of death.”
In page 16, Dr. Parr, speaking of the indentures of the Hospital, a subject (as we should have thought) little calculated for rhetorical panegyric, says of them,
“ If the writer of whom I am speaking, had perused, as I have, your indentures and your rules, he would have found in them seriousness without austerity, earnestness without extravagance, good sense without the trickeries of art, good language without the trappings of rhetoric, and the firmness of conscious worth, rather than the prancings of giddy ostentation.”
The latter member of this eloge would not be wholly unintelligible, if applied to a spirited coach horse ; but we have never yet witnessed the phenomenon of a prancing indenture.
It is not our intention to follow Dr. Parr through the copious and varied learning of his notes; in the perusal of which we have been as much delighted with the richness of his acquisitions, the vigour of his understanding, and the genuine goodness of his heart, as we have been amused with his ludicrous self-importance, and the miraculous simplicity of his character. We would rather recommend it to the Doctor to publish an annual list of worthies as a kind of stimulus to literary men; to be included in which, will unquestionably be considered as great an honour, as for a commoner to be elevated to the peerage. A line of Greek, a line of Latin, or no line at all, subsequent to each name, will distinguish with sufficient accuracy, the shades of merit, and the degree of immortality conferred.
Why should Dr. Parr confine this eulogomania to the literary characters of this island alone? In the university of Benares, in the lettered kingdom of Ava, among the Mandarins at Pekin, there must, doubtless, be many men who have the eloquence of Báppovos, * the feels ing of Taldwpos, and the judgment of sumpos, of whom Dr. Parr might be happy to say, that they have profundity without obscurity-perspicuity without prolixity-ornament without glare—terseness without barrenness-penetration without subtlety-comprehensiveness without digression-and a great number of other things without a great number of other things.
* Πάντες μεν σοφοί. εγώ δεΏκηρον μεν σέβω, θαυμάζω δε Βάρρουον, και φιλώ Ταίλωρον, See Lucian in Vita Dæmonact. vol. ii. p. 394—(Dr. Parr's note.)
In spite of 32 pages of very close printing, in defence of the University of Oxford, is it, or is it not true, that very many of its professors enjoy ample salaries, without reading any lectures at all? The character of particular colleges will certainly vary with the character of their governors; but the University of Oxford so far differs from Dr. Parr in the commendation he has bestowed upon its state of public education, that they have, since the publication of his book, we believe, and forty years after Mr. Gibbon's residence, completely abolished their very ludicrous and disgraceful exercises for degrees, and have substituted in their place a system of exertion, and a scale of academical honours, calculated (we are willing to hope) to produce the happiest effects.
We were very sorry, in reading Dr. Parr's note on the Universities, to meet with the following passage:
“Ill would it become me tamely and silently to acquiesce in the strictures of this formidable accuser upon a seminary to which I owe many obligations, though I left it, as must not be dissembled, before the usual time, and, in truth, had been almost compelled to leave it, not by the want of a proper education, for I had arrived at the first place in the first form at Harrow School, when I was not quite fourteen -not by the want of useful tutors, for mine were eminently able, and to me had been uniformly kind-not by the want of ambition, for I had begun to look up ardently and anxiously to academical distinctionsnot by the want of attachment to the place, for I regarded it then, as I continue to regard it now, with the fondest and most unfeigned affection-but by another want, which it were necessary to name, and for the supply of which, after some hesitation, I determined to provide by patient toil and resolute self-denial, when I had not completed my twentieth year. I ceased, therefore, to reside, with an aching heart": I looked back with mingled feelings of regret and humiliation to advantages of which I could no longer partake, and honours to which I could no longer aspire."
To those who know the truly honourable and respectable character of Dr. Parr, the vast extent of his learning, and the unadulterated benevolence of his nature, such an account cannot but be very affecting, in spite of the bad taste in which it is communicated. How painful to . reflect, that a truly devout and attentive minister, a strenuous defender of the church establishment, and by far the most learned man of his day, should be permitted to languish on a little paltry curacy in Warwickshire !
Dii meliora, &c., &C.
DR, RENNEL'S DISCOURSES,
Discourses on Various Subjects. By THOMAS RENNEL, D.D., Master of the
Temple. Rivington, London. WE
E have no modern sermons in the English language that can becon:
sidered as very eloquent. The merits of Blair (by far the most popular writer of sermons within the last century) are plain good sense, a happy application of scriptural quotation, and a clear harmonious style, richly tinged with scriptural language. He generally leaves his readers pleased with his judgment, and his just observations on human conduct, without ever rising so high as to touch the great passions, or kindle any enthusiasm in favour of virtue. For eloquence we must ascend as high as the days of Barrow and Jeremy Taylor : and even there, while we are delighted with their energy, their copiousness, and their fancy, we are in danger of being suffocated by a redundance which abhors all discrimination; which compares till it perplexes, and illustrates till it confounds.
To the Qases of Tillotson, Sherlock, and Atterbury, we must wade through many a barren page, in which the weary Christian can descry nothing all around him but a dreary expanse of trite sentiments and languid words.
The great object of modern sermons is to hazard nothing ; their characteristic is, decent debility ; which alike guards their authors from ludicrous errors, and precludes them from striking beauties. Every man of sense, in taking up an English sermon, expects to find it a tedious essay, full of common-place morality: and if the fulfilment of such expectations be meritorious, the clergy have certainly the merit of not disappointing their readers. Yet it is curious to consider, how a body of men so well educated, and so magnificently endowed as the English clergy, should distinguish themselves so little in a species of composition to which it is their peculiar duty, as well as their ordinary habit, to attend. To solve this difficulty, it should be remembered, that the eloquence of the Bar and of the Senate force themselves into notice, power, and wealth-that the penalty which an individual client pays for choosing a bad advocate, is the loss of his cause—that a prime minister must infallibly suffer in the estimation of the public, who neglects to conciliate eloquent men, and trusts the defence of his measures to those who have not adequate talents for that purpose, whereas, the only evil which accrues from the promotion of a clergyman to the pulpit, which he has no ability to fill as he ought, is the fatigue of the audience, and the discredit of that species of public instruction; an evil so general, that no individual patron would dream
of sacrificing to it his particular interest. The clergy are generally appointed to their situations by those who have no interest that they should please the audience before whom they speak; while the very
; reverse is the case in the eloquence of the Bar, and of Parliament. We by no means would be understood to say, that the clergy should owe their promotion principally to their eloquence, or that eloquence ever could, consistently with the constitution of the English Church, be made á common cause of preferment. In pointing out the total want of connection between the privilege of preaching, and the power of preaching well, we are giving no opinion as to whether it might, or might not be remedied; but merely stating a fact. Pulpit discourses have insensibly dwindled from speaking to reading; a practice, of itself, sufficient to stifle every germ of eloquence. It is only by the fresh feelings of the heart, that mankind can be powerfully affected. What can be more ludicrous, than an orator delivering stale indignation, and fervour of a week old ; turning over whole pages of violent passions, written out in German text ; reading the tropes and apostrophes into which he is hurried by the ardour of his mind; and so affected at a preconcerted line and page, that he is unable to proceed any further !
The prejudices of the English nation have proceeded a good deal from their hatred to the French; and, because that country is the native soil of elegance, animation, and grace, a certain patriotic solidity, and loyal awkwardness, have become the characteristics of this ; so that an adventurous preacher is afraid of violating the ancient tranquillity of the pulpit; and the audience are commonly apt to consider the man who tires them less than usual, as a trifler, or a charlatan.
Of British education, the study of eloquence makes little or no part. The exterior graces of a speaker are despised ; and debating societies (admirable institutions, under proper regulations) would hardly be tolerated either at Oxford or Cambridge. It is commonly answered to any animadversions upon the eloquence of the English pulpit, that a clergyman is to recommend himself, not by his eloquence, but by the purity of his life, and the soundness of his doctrine ; an objection good enough, if any connection could be pointed out between eloquence, heresy, and dissipation : but if it is possible for a man to live well
, preach well, and teach well, at the same time, such objections, resting only upon a supposed incompatibility of these good qualities, are duller than the dulness they defend.
The clergy are apt to shelter themselves under the plea, that subjects so exhausted are utterly incapable of novelty; and in the very strictest sense of the word novelty, meaning that which was never said before, at any time, or in any place, this may be true enough of the first principles of morals; but the modes of expanding, illustrating, and enforcing a particular theme are capable of infinite variety; and, if they were not, this might be a very good reason for preaching common-place sermons, but is a very bad one for publishing them.
We had great hopes, that Dr. Rennel's Sermons would have proved an exception to the character we have given of sermons in general : and we have read through his present volume with a conviction rather