Page images

from Keswick, which is more than a mile, for such a journey must be a severe task to the aged and infirm in the dark.

Having a reverence for the catholic church and its ordinances, I cannot refrain from sending to the good people of Keswick an extract from a letter of a bishop (who was almost a native of their country, and who lived within sight of it,) to a clergyman who had it in contemplation to have an evening lecture. Bishop Wilson says

“ Your scheme, as you call it, if suffered to take place, would be attended with more evil consequences than I have now time to mention or, I hope, than you have thought of; otherwise you would sure have consulted your bishop before you would have suffered it so much as to have been spoken of. I will not run headlong into your schemes, which would in a great measure set aside the express duties of catechizing, bound upon us by laws, rubricks, and canons ; which if performed, as they should be, with seriousness and pains in explaining the several parts of the catechism, would be of more use to the souls both of the learned and ignorant, than the very best sermon out of the pulpit. This, I say,-after a serious, plain, and practical sermon in the morning. — will answer all the ends of instruction without an afternoon sermon.”Wilson's Works, vol. i. p. 174.

I hope that even yet “ to think of Bishop Wilson with veneration is only to agree with all the Christian world," and I therefore send the above extract with the greater confidence. If a layman might speak of the clergy, I would say that there is a very great want of respect for ecclesiastical discipline among them. I particularly mean as far as acting without episcopal authority, and that it prevails most in the north of England and in that part of Wales where the clergy have not had academic educations. I am, Sir, your very obedient servant,



SIR-I am led to trouble you from having this day seen the pamphlet in which Mr. King, of Hull, renews his defence of Milner's Church History against the “strictures” and “ notes” of my learned friend, Mr. Maitland.

For any one who thinks with Mr. Maitland to interfere in a controversy in which he is a champion, would be, to say the least, a piece of gratuitous pugnacity. And, accordingly, when a few months ago I published a tract on “the Opinions of the Paulicians," I endeavoured expressly to guard against the impression that my “remarks had been put together with a reference to the recent controversy about the literary value of Milner's History." I may therefore, I trust, fairly say that I did not thrust myself into this controversy. It is not my wish to do so now. The few observations with which I now trouble you will merely regard myself.

On pp. 27, 28, of Mr. King's letter to Mr. Maitland we find the following passage :

“ Those who knew what Milner was, and what his History had effected, might be allowed to plead — Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it. But to such a plea we have your definitive reply; ' The design was as noble as the execution was feeble and defective. And yet, Sir, from that day to the present, no one has arisen to give effect to this magnificent design. In your judgment, however, it would have been better unattempted than done as it has been done by Milner! Will any one else subscribe to that judgment? Your friend,—I do not say your panegyrist,-Mr. Dowling, whose tract on the Paulicians is highly commended in the British Magazine,' says, tható at the time he wrote, and for many years after, there was no one in this country who could have written such a history better than he did.' Have any of Milner's friends challenged for him so high a meed of praise ? Suppose the History defective, yet if it was the best that any writer of his age or country could produce, he is placed at once, by the verdict of one of your most able friends, at the head of his class, as having done that which no one else could have executed better.”

As Mr. King deems it necessary thus publicly to call upon me, I can of course have no objection to reply. He is quite welcome to my “verdict,” such as it is, but he must be good enough to take it with my own interpretation. I have no hesitation, then, in declaring my opinion that Milner's book is not only useless, but pernicious. Useless, as furnishing, in proportion to its bulk, very little useful or authentic information ; and pernicious, not only as abounding in false views of church history, but as preventing inquiring persons from betaking themselves to works of a higher character. How Mr. King could suppose that the observation I made, in the note to which he has referred, contained anything expressive of approbation of Milner as a historian, or opposed to the view which Mr. Maitland takes of his merits in that capacity, I cannot possibly conceive. A man is not the less ignorant because he happens to be ignorant in company. What I asserted was what no one denies,-namely, that in the latter half of the last century there was among our divines a general, and I suppose I may say a shameful, ignorance of church history. I said that it was “ the best apology for Milner” that he did but partake of the common ignorance of ecclesiastical subjects. And it certainly is something to his credit that he knew more of this branch of literature than a number of men who were in other respects vastly his superiors. But it is a very different thing to say that a man is the least incompetent among a number of incompetent persons, and to say that he is a competent person. A man may know more about the structure of the human body than all the rest of the people in the parish, and yet be very little qualified to write a treatise on anatomy.

I do not exactly understand what Mr. King intends to convey by the terms in which he thinks proper to speak of me. But I should like to inform him, that as it is my cherished privilege to be the “friend” of Mr. Maitland, so I deem it no imputation on my taste or judgment to be styled his “panegyrist.” The terms in which I spoke of my respected friend in my “ Letter on the Paulicians," were not I trust unbecoming a clergyman, or a man of letters. And I. believe I did but express in what I said the general feeling of those who take an interest in ecclesiastical studies.

As I should be sorry to intrude to any length on your pages, which are usually so much better occupied, I will make but one more remark. As Mr. King has deemed it necessary to notice me, I should have been much better satisfied if he had done so with a view to the argument of my pamphlet, than in a way thus purely personal, and which I suppose he means to be sarcastic. And I would desire to address to him the words of the very learned Dr. James (Appendix to the Reader, prefixed to his “ Corruptions of the Fathers,")—“ If that small treatise of mine has been so happy as to light into his hands ..... I would intreat him ..... either ingenuously to acknowledge the truth of what I have written, or modestly (according to his wont) to shew the contrary; avoiding unnecessary speeches and convitiatory arguments, which do but ingender strife.” I have the honour to be, with great respect, Sir,

Your obedient servant, Gloucester, January 18, 1836.


INJUSTICE TOWARD THE CLERGY. Dear Sir,—I think there can hardly be any objection on the score of politics, if you shall judge it otherwise worth while to draw attention to the following “leader" in the “ Times" newspaper of Saturday,

• This will be a convenient place for a reply to another part of Mr. King's letter.

To the Rev. 1. King. Sır,– I feel it necessary to notice two points in your letter to Mr. Maitland just published. At page 7, you state that the whole controversy sprung out of Mr. Maitland's work called “ Facts and Documents," and in proof of this you state that I adduced no other authority for my assertion as to Milner's powers and views. You establish this point by referring to a letter of mine published in the “ Christian Observer," in October, 1834, in which I refer to Mr. Maitland's work, and then add that if you have overturned this work of Mr. Maitland's you have cleared the field of all that I thought decisive of the question in its original form. Your object in making this statement as a controversialist is a very obvious one. You wish to shew that no one but Mr. Maitland has thought ill of Milner, or at least that subsequent charges against Milner have been made on Mr. Maitland's sole authority. But really this is a most groundless assertion. I should never be ashamed of speaking on Mr. Maitland's sole authority. But when I spoke of Milner, I had never read Mr. Maitland's work, and had not the pleasure of knowing him. I do not set up myself as any authority, but my opinion of Milner (right or wrong) was formed from my own careful study of parts of his work. I confess my surprise at your referring to what I said in the “ Christian Observer," as if I was there alleging authorities for my assertions, when you must be aware that I was simply expressing my surprise that the few words which I said should be so harshly handled, while a long and regular bill of indictment against Milner by Mr. Maitland had been passed over in silence for two or three years. Thus your fact is without foundation. But, were it true, your proof of it would still be a mere fallacy. The reasoning by which you prove that Mr. Maitland's book was my sole authority,—viz. because I refer to it,appears, at least, to me to be of as little value as your fact itself. I did not think it necessary to adduce authorities; but I could say with truth, that in the course of four days in the autumn of 1834, no less than four men of letters, of very different education and opinions, separately expressed to me exactly the same opinion of Milner's work as I had myself expressed.

In page 8, you state, on the evidence of a few words iv the “ Christian Observer," (viz., that I had some facts in my possession proving Milner's inaccuracy,) that I had then seen Mr. Maitland's second pamphlet in an unfinished state. Not only had I not seen it then, but I am quite confident that not a word of it was written, that the plan of it was not formed, nor the resolution taken that a second pamphlet should be written. It is not because these matters are of any great consequence in themselves that I notice them. But as you appear to me to be pursuing a controversy in a very unusual spirit, it is really only common justice to shew that you have hazarded assertions devoid of foundation. Surely this is strange in one whose leading topic of invective is the groundless and inaccurate assertions of his adversary.

I am, Sir, your faithful servant, H. J. Rose. VOL. IX.-Feb. 1836.

2 A

[ocr errors]

Jan. 16. An opening sentence has expressed disapprobation of the manner in which

peerages, with their attendant coronets, are showered wantonly down,” pro re nata, on the law :

“Now, (says the editor, in continuation,) while ministers are thus honouring one profession which thrives by the dissensions of mankind, is it not also painful to reflect, that they are in an equal degree [qu. how much more than equal ?) striving to sink and depreciate another which exists by diffusing peace and comfort ? The men who are to be peered and pensioned are undoubtedly distinguished in the profession to which they belong ; so are there men in the church of the same original state in society, who passed through the same education, contended for the same prizes in the same universities, were even more frequently the victors; but, having in these days of infidelity fixed upon the less favoured profession, these are to be degraded and vilified, and those exalted. This, we say, is an unnatural state of society-talents do not find their just level—it inflicts injustice, and must lead to greater evils.”

In noticing the above passage, it is not my intention to render homage to the “ Times.” In this passage, indeed, I think that the reasoning is weaker than is usual with that journal, and the ground taken low and inadequate. What, then, is the value of the passage, and why is it entitled to attention ? Simply for this—as an acknowledgment extorted from what the world (or “the public") is pleased to look upon as high authority, of a sure consequence to the best interests of pure religion in this kingdom, from the modern course of treating church and clergy, of which far wiser, better principled, and really well-informed advocates have given warning ever so often in vain. So far it is well that the “ leading journal of Europe" should have at length discovered that a persevering course of injurious treatment of the church indicates “an unnatural state of society," and “must lead to greater evils.” To be sure it must; and the most in: fluentially mischievous of those evils—to wit, the substitution, by degrees, as rapid as can be accomplished, of an inferior class (or staple) of clergy-is precisely that which all the church's adversaries most desire, and most unceasingly endeavour to accomplish. By the way, we shall discover too late how powerful a help has been unwittingly afforded to such designs by the late iniquitous and scandalous exposure of every clergyman's professional income, accomplished by authoritative questions and authorized publications. The subject is too painful to pursue further ; I therefore content myself with remaining, dear Sir, yours truly,

R. B.



SIR,- I have some reason to complain of the part in which you, as Editor, take, in not merely controverting those remarks of mine which apply to you, but also appending your assumption, that “W.F.H.”is well able to answer the “main points” of my letter which relate to him. The main point of that letter is a complaint of misrepresentation, that we considered the subject of the above day to be the first translation" of the scriptures into English. What answer "W. F. H." can give remains to be seen; but it is rather too much to pronounce judgment, and prepossess your readers, upon a mere assumption

that he will be able to controvert my positive assertion of my own intention, and the avowed (and, as I think, unquestionable) intention of Mr. Horne, who originated the suggestion, to commemorate the subject mentioned in the imprint of Coverdale's Bible—the first printed translation of the whole scriptures in English.

Having neither leisure nor inclination to enter at large into this matter, I shall do little more than advert to those points in which you (probably through my want of perspicuity) have misconceived my arguments, and reasoned upon their application to matters to which I have not applied them.

I have not applied the first canon as an argument for fixing any particular day for the above purpose, but simply in answer to “W. F. 8.'s” statement, that nothing was to be done without authority. I told him that he chose the subject of his sermon any Sunday without authority. That was something ; but that if he must have authority, he might have it for this subject four times a-vear, by the first canon; and there was no reason why he might not take that subject on the 4th of October as well as any other day.

I do not consider the press as the organ of the church ," and I think that if the clergy are weak enough to succumb to it, they will fall self-betrayed. But I do hold the press to be an effective and lawful organ, for spreading the knowledge of facts, and inferences to be drawn from those facts. Those facts and inferences thus spread were—that the 4th of October, 1835, was the third centenary of the printing of the first entire copy of the Scriptures in English; that in these times causes similar to those which called for the first appointment of the first canon called for a compliance with its provisions; that by a singular coincidence, the above day of the year fell on a Sunday ; that this coincidence gave every clergyman that thought fit a favourable opportunity of acting in the spirit of the canon, and reviving his compliance with its provisions.

You concede that no appointment was made, no special service dictated but you regard the affair as an attempt" to appoint. What others did i know not; but certainly I did not attempt" to appoint a festival. Nay, more, I conceive that the coincidence of the day in question falling on Sunday, rendered an appointment, by competent authority, (much more an attempt at appointment by unlawful means,) not only unnecessary, but, in the circumstances of these times, inexpedient; and, under that view, and for other reasons, not necessary to discuss here, I think that your scheme of petitioning the episcopal bench to appoint would have been very imprudent, and quite as objectionable, in fact, as you seem to consider ours in form. The opportunity of noticing the circumstance presented itself without any appointment. It was remarked, and each man might profit, or not, by it as he pleased.

If the affair assumes the form of an appointment, or an attempt,-a thing, I believe, utterly disclaimed by the parties,--it will be in no small degree owing to the indiscreet efforts of those who, after it had passed, endeavoured to invest it with that character.

I could have wished that your answer and “ W. F.H.” had appeared simultaneously, for had I known the nature of the answer, you expect, from him, I might have acknowledged the justice, or replied to the fallacies, of it. But as it is, I cannot afford any more time for this controversy; and shall have the disadvantage not only of two upon one, but also of receiving his second broadside, without an opportunity of answering it. I am, &c.,

LUTHER. One feeling I have always had, and will frankly give you the full benefit of its admission-viz., that in this affair I went close to the verge of our liberty, but did not overstep it; that I, moreover, went closer to that verge than, in ordinary times, I would have chosen to have done. But the present crisis, I contend, and all the circumstances of the case, justified our taking the utmost limits of our lawful discretion. The effect, as far as it went, was good, and would have been better if more extensive.

« PreviousContinue »