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heaven, to claim that promise of him which he perceived well was due to a Divine power, that had assisted him in his troubles.”
Our author's patience, as may be supposed, fails him during the dry and endless recital of the obscure wars and petty negotiations of the heptarchy. “I am sensible,” ys he, * how wearisome it may likely be to read of so many
bare and reasonless actions, so many names of kings one after another, acting little more than mute persons in a scene : neither do I care to wrinkle the smoothness of history with rugged names of places unknown, better harp'd at in Camden, and other chorographers.”. The fifth book begins thus :
“ The sum of things in this island, or the best part thereof, reduced now under the power of one man; and him, one of the worthiest, which, as far as can be found in good authors, was by none attained at any time here before, unless in fables ; men might with some reason have expected from such union, peace and plenty, greatness, and the flourishing of all estates and degrees: but far the contrary fell out soon after ; invasion, spoil, desolation, slaughter of many, slavery of the rest, by the forcible landing of a fierce nation.
Which invasion, perhaps, had the heptarchy stood divided as it was, had either not been attempted, or not uneasily resisted; while each prince and people, excited by their nearest concernments, had more industriously defended their own bounds, than depending on the neglect of a deputed governor, sent oft-times from the remote residence of a secure monarch. Though as it fell out in those troubles, the lesser kingdoms revolting from the West Saxon yoke, and not aiding each other, too much concerned with their own safety, it came to no better pass; while severally, they sought to repell the danger nigh at hand, rather than jointly to prevent it far off. But when God hath decreed servitude on a sinful nation, fitted by their own vices for no condition but servile, all estates of government are alike unable to avoid it. God had purposed to punish our instrumental punishers, though now Christians, by other heathen, according to his Divine retaliation; invasion for invasion, spoil for spoil, destruction for destruction. The Saxons were now full as wicked as the Britons were at their arrival, broken with luxury and sloth, either secular or superstitious; for laying aside the exercise of arms, and the study of all virtuous knowledge, some betook them to over-worldly or vicious practice, others to religious idleness and solitude, which brought forth nothing but vain and delusive visions ; easily perceived such, by their commanding of things, either not belonging to the gospel, or utterly forbidden ceremonies, relics, monasteries, masses, idols, add to these ostentation of alms, got oft-times by rapine and oppression, or intermixed with violent and lustful deeds, sometimes prodigally bestowed as the expiation of cruelty and bloodshed. What longer suffering could there be, when religion itself grew so void of sincerity, and the greatest shews of purity were impured ?"
The story of Canute and his courtiers is worth extraction, on account of the dignified plainness with which it is narrated.
“ I must not omit one remarkable action done by him, as Huntingdon reports it, with great scene of circumstance and emphatical expression, to shew the small power of kings in respect of God; which, unless to court-parasites, needed no such laborious demonstration. He caused his royal seat to be set on the shore, while the tide was coming in; and with all the state that royalty could put into his countenance, said thus to the sea : Thou, sea, belongest to me, and the land whereon I sit, is mine; nor hath any one unpunished, resisted my commands : I charge thee come no further upon my land, neither presume to wet the feet of thy sovereign lord.' But the sea, as before, came rolling on, and without reverence, both wet and dashed him. Whereat the king quickly rising, wished all about him to behold and consider the weak and frivolous power of a king, and that none indeed deserved the name of a king, but he, whose eternal laws both heaven, earth, and sea, obey. A truth, so evident of itself, as I said before, that unless to shame his court-flatterers, who would not else be convinced, Canute needed not to have gone wet-shod home. The best is, from that time forth he never would wear a crown, esteeming earthly royalty contemptible and vain.”
The sixth and last book, which conducts the history down to the Norman conquest, concludes in the usual strain ; and with this we shall close our quotations.
“ Thus, the English, while they agreed not about the choice of their native king, were constrained to take the yoke of an outlandish conqueror. With what minds, and by what course of life they had fitted themselves for this servitude, William of Malmesbury spares not to lay open. Not a few years before the Normans came, the clergy, though in Edward the Confessor's days, had lost all good literature and religion, scarce able to read and understand their Latin service: he was a miracle to others who knew his grammar. The monks went clad in fine stuffs, and made no difference what they eat; which, though in itself no fault, yet, to their consciences, was irreligious. The great men given to gluttony and dissolute life, made a prey of the common people, abusing their daughters whom they had in service, then turning them off to the stews; the meaner sort tippling together night and day, spent all they had in drunkenness, attended with other vices which effeminate men's minds. Whence it came to pass, that carried on with fury and rashness, more than any true fortitude or skill of war, they gave to William, their conqueror, so easy a conquest. Not but that some few of all sorts were much better among them, but such was the generality. And as the long suffering of God permits bad men to enjoy prosperous days with the good, so‘his severity oft times exempts not good men from their share in evil times with the bad.
“ If these were the causes of such misery and thraldom to those our ancestors, with what better close can be concluded, than here, in fit season, to remember this age, in the midst of her security, to fear from like vices without amendment the revolution of like calamities."
ART. VI.-Memoirs : containing the Lives of several Ladies of
Great Britain. A History of Antiquities, Productions of Nature and Monuments of Art. Observations on the Christian Religion, as professed by the Established Church, and Dissenters of every Denomination. Remarks on the Writings of the greatest English Divines : with a variety of Disquisitions and Opinions relative to Criticism and Manners; and many extraordinary Actions. 2 vols. 12mo. London, 1769,
Although as individuals we may have our own opinions on subjects of religion, in our character of Retrospective Re. viewers we belong to no sect, we recognize no party.
The system we profess, and the tenets we hold, are amalgamated in the philosophic spirit of retrospection-in that character we have no predilection for the theology of the church of England, the opinions of Methodism, the dogmas of Calvinism, or the notions of Unitarianism. Each of them, when it becomes necessary in the course of our labours, will meet with a candid statement of its principles, and if discussion should be unavoidable, it will be conducted with the calm and quiet temper which characterises spectators rather than partisans.-But both as individuals and reviewers we shall always, we trust, advocate the equal right of every man to promulgate and defend his own conscientious convictions, and controvert the opinions of those who are opposed to him. This is a maxim, which we believe few will dispute in theory-laid down as a general principle, without any direct practical application, it appears reasonable and just, and would probably be admitted by most persons without hesitation as an indisputable common-place notion; but when they are called upon to practise this principle-when they feel that it interferes with, and presses hard upon their own opinions-it is lamentably pared away and qualified, to suit their own ideas. Dissent from their opinion, is like the invasion of their private property-is regarded in the same light as an attack against the title of their estate; as if their opinions were a part of themselves, or they had a special property in truth, which
gave them the sole right, as well as the power, to defend her against all adversaries. Truth is as much common property
as the air we breathe, or the sunshine we enjoy. The meanest living soul has an equal right to seek her divine countenance, to participate in her exalted blessings. And no man, however learned, however wise, has a right to assume that he has the sole knowledge of her, or arrogate to himself the exclusive enjoyment of her favours.
Although we are disposed to think that liberality towards adversaries in matters of opinion has become more diffused of late, than it was in the year 1755, when these Memoirs first made their appearance in the world, we are not quite sure that without some explanation like that contained in the preceding paragraphs, we might not be subjected, as well as their author, to the imputation of scepticism or infidelity. Those who accused our author of being an infidel, we should imagine could never have read his book, which contains the most ardent vindication of the authenticity of the scriptures.
The editor of the General Biographical Dictionary has, in addition to this charge, and with the same obliquity of mental vision, discovered that Mr. Amory was insane; and has not only abridged his life in the new edition of that work, but actually hesitated whether he should even record the name of the author of two of the most extraordinary productions of British intellect-namely, the one before us, and The Life of John Buncle. If a deep veneration for the New Testament, an intense conviction of its truth, and an incessant labour to spread abroad its glorious precepts and promises, constitute an infidel, then Mr. Amory was an infidel.-Ifavivacious temperament, a social heart, great erudition, and acute reasoning powers, united in one, by sect a Unitarian, denote insanity, then, too, was Mr. Amory insane. -Insane, indeed! we would, a thousand thousand times rather be gifted with the insanity that produced this book, than with such faculties as made the discovery of his being so. The same thing may be said, and is said, of every person who pursues an object with enthusiastic ardour. Was not this assertion founded on bis theological opinions, or the manner in which he had promulgated and enforced them? Impressed with a deep conviction of what he conceived to be an important truth-a truth of vital consequence to the purity of that religion in which he was a sincere believer, and of which he was an eloquent and zealous defender, he kept his eye steadily fixed upon that mighty object, from which he never in reality turned aside; and when he did so in appearance, it was only for the purpose of re-introducing the all-engrossing topic with new attractions.
And attractive indeed he has made not only his religion, but his book, which abounds with the most kindly and social feelings, and which is distinguished by the most benign and Christian-like spirit. His bitterness towards the Athanasian
creed, and the vehemence with which he is carried along by the spirit of controversy, sometimes lead him to treat its professors, or the monks, as he calls the clergymen, with somewhat too little ceremony. But this is very seldom, and he is continually speaking in terms of the highest praise of those prelates, who were previously, or during his own time, ornaments of the established church and of human nature.
These Memoirs are, in fact, neither more nor less than a Unitarian romance; all the interlocutors, as well as the author himself, being zealous Unitarians. The design was evidently to diffuse the author's principles, and is as singular as its execution is entertaining. He has selected the female sex, of whom he appears to have been the most devoted admirer, as the chief medium of circulating them. Wherever fortune casts him, a storm drives him, or business calls him, in the north of Yorkshire, the fells of Westmoreland, the barren Hebrides, or elsewhere, he is sure to meet with rare specimens of feminine perfection,-all equally beautiful, charming, moral, and intellectual Christians; and, what is more to his satisfaction, all of them of the same sentiments in religion as himself. A small part only, however, of the ladies intended to have been celebrated, are introduced to us in these Memoirs, which the author originally intended should have extended to eight volumes.
The Life of John Buncle, indeed, may be considered as in some measure a continuation of them ; with this difference, that it contains much more of the author, and is written in a warmer spirit
The most important personage in this collection is Mrs. Marinda Benlow, whom the author casually meets in one of his wanderings in Westmoreland; then Miss Bruce, in whom he discovers the daughter of his old friend Jack Bruce. Of this lady, with an account of whom the Memoirs commence, he gives the following lively description.
“ When I came up to the house, the first figure I saw was the lady whose story I am going to relate. She had the charms of an angel, but her dress was quite plain and clean, like a country maid. Her person appeared faultless, and of the middle size; between the disagreeable extremes: her face a sweet oval, and her complexion the brunette of the bright rich kind : her mouth, like a rose-bud, that is just beginning to blow, and a fugitive dimple, by fits, would lighten and disappear: the finest passions were always passing in her face; and in her long, even, chesnut eyes, there was a fluid fire, sufficient for half a dozen pair."
This lady was equally excellent as a musician, or a painter, a theologian, or mathematician-could with equal ease confute Dr. Burnet's Objections to Locke's Essay on the Human Under