Page images
[ocr errors]

the congregation. Uncommon courage was given both to preacher and hearers. I prayed for support and deliverance, and was heard. For just as they approached us with looks full of resentment, I know not by what accident, they quarrelled among themselves, threw down their staff, and went their way, leaving, however, many of their company behind, who, before we had done, I trust, were brought over to join the besieged party. I think I continued in praying, preaching, and singing (for the noise was too great, at times, to preach) about three hours. We then retired to the Tabernacle, where thousands flocked—we were determined to pray down the booths; but blessed be God, more substantial work was done. At a moderate computation, I received (I believe) a thousand notes from persons under conviction; and soon after, upwards of three hundred were received into the society in one day. Some I married, that had lived together without marriage; one man had exchanged his wife for another, and given fourteen shillings in exchange. Numbers, that seemed, as it were, to have been bred up for Tyburn, were, at that time, plucked as firebrands out of the burning. “I cannot help adding, that several little boys and girls, who were fond of sitting round me on the pulpit, while I preached, and handing to me people's notes, though they were often pelted with eggs, dirt, &c. thrown at me, never once gave way; but, on the contrary, every time I was struck, turned up their little weeping eyes, and seemed to wish they could receive the blows for me. God make them, in their growing years, great and living martyrs for him who, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, perfects praise.”—London edition, p. 101.

The fact of the thousand notes received on this occasion from persons affected by his preaching, gives no bad conception of the impression produced by the attempt.

In the year 1742 we find him in Scotland, where he describes the people as sitting “unwearied till two in the morning to hear sermons, disregarding the weather. You could scarce walk a yard without treading on some of them, either rejoicing in God for mercies received, or crying out for more.” From St. Gennis, in Cornwall, we find him also about this period writing thus:– ‘Arrows of conviction flew so thick, and so fast, and such an universal weeping prevailed from one end of the congregation to the other, that their minister could not help going from seat to seat to encourage the wounded souls.” From Birmingham he writes thus:—‘It is near eleven at night. I have preached five times, and weak as I am, through Christ strengthening me, 1 could preach five times more.”

In 1744, we find him once more in America, preaching with his accustomed eagerness, and prosecuting his plan for the orphan school. Among the expedients for promoting its interests we are surprized to hear him notice the ‘purchase of a few negroes.” How is it that the eyes of religion did not sooner open upon the profligacy of this traffic in blood?—His solicitude for the souls of men at the same period is of a less questionable nature. He writes from America—‘I have omitted preaching one night to oblige my friends, that they may not charge me with murdering 'myself; but I hope yet to die in the pulpit, or soon after I come out of it. Weak as I was, and have been, I was enabled to travel eleven hundred miles, and preach daily.” Upon his return to England, in 1748, his first acquaintance with Lady Huntingdon was formed. An anecdote is recorded at this period of his life of another notable individual, so characteristic of the man, that we cannot help extracting it. The Earl of Chesterfield, with a whole circle of grandees, attended to hear him preach at Lady Huntingdon's. Having heard him once, they desired to hear him again... “I therefore preached again, he says, “in the evening, and went home never more surprized at any incident in my life. All behaved quite well, and were in a degree affected. The Earl thanked me, and said, “Sir, I will not tell you what I shall tell others, how I approve of you.”” 'Mr. Whitefield adds, “In all time of my wealth, good Lord deliver me!” In the interval between this time and 1756 our biographer carries him through the greatest part of England, Wales, Ireland and America. In the year 1754, he was detained for a time at Lisbon, and witnessed the solemnities of Easter in the Romish church. The effect of this pageantry upon a self-constituted reformer even of the reformed, may be conceived. Something, he says, he did learn from the preachers at Lisbon ; and the authority of, perhaps, one of the most impressive preachers that ever mounted the pulpit is upon this point worthy of attention. ‘The action of the preacher is,” he observes, ‘graceful.”—“Vividi oculi—vividae manus—omnia vivida.” Perhaps our English preachers would do well to be a little more fervent in their addresses. They have truth on their side, why should superstition and falsehood run away with all that is pathetie and affecting? The testimony borne by Hume to the talent of Mr. Whitefield's own pulpit addresses is stated in a note, and is too curious to be passed over. “He is said Mr. Hume, “the most ingenious preacher I ever heard. It is worth while to go twenty miles to hear him.” He then repeated a passage which he himself had heard. “After a solemn pause, Mr. Whitefield thus addressed his audience: “The attendant angel is just about to leave the threshold, and ascend to heaven. And shall he ascend and not bear with him the news of one sinner, among all this multitude, reclaimed from the error of his ways * To give the greater effect to his exclamation, he stamped with his foot, lifted up his hands and eyes to

heaven, and, with gushing eyes, cried aloud—“Stop, Gabriel ! stop !—ere you enter the sacred portals, and yet carry with you the news of one sinner converted to God.”” In 1762, his frame appeared for a time to be sinking under his exertions, but he soon resumed his work. Upon his recovery, he writes to express his joy at being able, as he terms it, to take the field again. “Mounts,’ says he, “are the best pulpits, and the heavens the best sounding boards. Oh for power equal to my will, I would fly from pole to pole publishing the everlasting gospel of the Son of God!’ In July 1769, he embarked the seventh and last time for America, and, at length, in the rapid career of his voluntary apostleship, broke down prematurely as to age, under his accumulated burthens. It is to be expected that a man so admired and condemned should have very opposite portraits presented of him to the world; and, in fact, according as prejudice has turned the glass one way, or enthusiasm the other, his virtues and talents have been diminished or magnified at pleasure. Forty years may be supposed to have pretty much cleared the medium through which he is contemplated, and we may now hope, in some measure, to see and to paint him as he really was. He was then, we think, truly devout; a man of boundless zeal, of warm feelings, of great honesty, of singular disinterestedness; and, as to talents, of prodigal imagination, a dexterous reasoner, and a considerable orator; on the other hand, he was impatient, without foresight, sometimes high-minded, insensible of the worth of discipline, occasionally harsh, restless, coarse in his taste, enthusiastic in his judgment of events, and often in his explanation of scripture. These opposite qualities not only met together in his mind, but existed there in very large proportions. He was a man made upon a gigantic scale; his very defects were masculine and powerful. He reminds us of one of those stern figures which cross the eye in the landscapes of Salvator Rosa, extravagantly spirited, and wildly great. It is characteristic of such men to overleap difficulties, but then it is also characteristic of them to overlook consequences; and the fact is, that none have done more than Mr. Whitefield, and few have seen less what they were doing. He is gone, however, to a tribunal where, perhaps, the excesses of zeal are less severely punished than its deficiencies; and the delinquencies of the head less visited than those of the heart. While he lived, the obtrusiveness of his faults might have inclined us to a judgment disproportionately harsh. But now that he is brought before us, like the kings of Egypt, for judgment, we must take care to administer deliberate justice, without forgetting the claims of charity.

f riko M. The L.A. Bel, LE ASSEMBLE E.

A brief abstract from Miss Edgeworth's new work “Tales of
Fashionable Life.”

THIS indefatigable and almost inimitable authoress, inimitable at least in one walk of novel writing, after excelling the Behns and the d'Anoys of former times, in the ease and elegance of her tales, seems inclined to rival them even in the number of their productions, having now presented the public with three additional volumes, making six of her Tales of Fashionable Life.—The whole of her fourth volume is occupied with


In the delineation of whose character, and the developement of whose story, she professes to expose one of the most common defects of mankind, “the being infirm of purpose,” and being thereby at the mercy of the artful, or at the disposal of accident. The hero of this tale is in his twentieth year when it opens, and on the way to his own home from college, accompanied by his tutor, Mr. Russel, who though but a few years older than his pupil, had not only been his preceptor, but had also been his intimate friend. Mr. Russel is highly amiable, accomplished, learned, and very handsome ; but of Vivian, it may be said, as Russel tells him, “The weakness of which I accuse you, is not a weakness of the understanding. I find no fault either with the logical or the mathematical part of it. It is not erroneous either in the power of judging of consequences, or of estimating the comparative value of objects,” but this was accompanied with a facility of disposition which led him to be acted upon always by the immediate impulse. These two friends then, if not the Pylades and Orestes of the authoress, are a kind of counterpart of joseph and Charles Surface, under certain changes of disposition and circumstances. Russel is designed for the church; but Vivian is heir to a large fortune, and left an orphan, paternally, at an early age, and the friends are now on their way to join Lady Mary, at Vivian Hall, an elegant modern mansion built where an antique one once stood, and in the vicinity of Glistonbury Castle an ancient Gothic mansion with all the erection of towers, turrets, battlements and gateways. In order to elucidate her first position, and to elicit her moral, Miss Edgeworth carries her hero through all the scenes of castle building, a county election, a love affair, politics, &c. &c.—But to the tale. On their arrival at the Hall, they were received by Lady Mary, who is quite the woman of fashion, but possessed of virtuous sentiments, with ardent feelings which oftener lead her wrong than right, by impelling her to a too hasty mode of producing in her son that character and cast of sentiment which she wished for. Her expectations are enthusiastic, and she indulges herself in pleasing anticipations of the time when he should make his appearance in the fashionable and in the political world, foreseeing the respect that would be paid her by matrons who had daughters to dispose of, and, by senators and ministers who would wish to attach to their own party such a rising orator. . But her expectations were extravagant, and, indeed, opposed in the outset by Vivian's sudden affection for Miss Selina Sidney, the orphan daughter of a Colonel, and who, though not dependent on, was at that time resident with Lady Mary. An accident betrays, or rather evinces Vivian's predilection, and Lady Mary becomes highly offended with Selina; but the lovely girl, though attached to him, clears herself from all suspicion of unworthy connivance, and leaves the Hall, to the great regret of Vivian, who at length sets out on his travels, accompanied by Russel, after obtaining his mother's consent to wed his favourite fair, if his passion withstands the effects of absence. He returns, on coming of age, as enamoured as ever, but the wedding is delayed until the arrival of one of his trustees from abroad, in order to complete the marriage settlements; and in the mean time Russel, who chooses not to be dependant on his friend, being chosen as tutor to Lord Lidhurst, son to the Earl of Glistonbury, at the Castle; the whole family go there to introduce him, when Vivian is so struck with its Gothic beauty, not having seen it for some years, that he becomes a modern improver, and determines to turn his modern mansion into an antique castle. At this visit he sees Lord Glistonbury, who is scarcely past the meridian of life, yet in spite of his gay and debonair manner, looks old, as if paying for the libertinism of his youth by early decripitude. He is easy, gay, and affable, but quite the modern politician; there is a plausibility in all he says, though if examined it is merely nonsense; his maxims common-place; his wit repetition; and his opinions adopted, not formed. Lady Glistonbury is a starched prude; her eldest daughter, Lady Sarah, resembles her; Miss Strictland is a counterpart ; and the whole three think of nothing but how to “square their elbows,” whilst the gay, sprightly, and girlish Lady Julia forms a perfect contrast, as much at least as the frigid superintendance of Miss Strictland will permit her. With this family it was that Lady Mary wished Vivian to form a matrimonial connection, but that is now become impossible; although a report of his engagements with Lady Sarah, soon takes place, in consequence of the death of

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »