Page images

district, Dr. H. found a respectable library; and in the more select collection of his wife, a woman distinguished for piety, were observed · Hervey's Meditations, Newton on the Pro

phecies, Blair's Lectures on Christ's Sermon on the Mount, • Sherlock on Death, &c.' The Sysselmand has substituted, in his family, the reading of the historical books of Scripture, for that (which, it seems, is still very general) of the romantic pagan histories denominated Sagas. The description of this magistrate's method of family worship, introduces a highly gratifying, but, by comparison with our own country, mortifying statement, respecting the habits of the Icelanders in general.

• The exercise of domestic worship is attended to, in almost every family in Iceland, from Michaelmas to Easter. During the summer months the family are so scattered, and the time of their returning from their various employments so different, that it is almost impossible for them to worship God in a collective capacity ; yet there are many families, whose piety is more lively and zealous, that make con science of it the whole year round.'

There being no public service in the vicinity of the station in this. valley where our Author happened to be on the Sunday, he ascended an eminence for the purpose of solitary devotion, and was reading in the Psalms, when, he says,

• I heard the notes of harmony behind me; which, on turning about, I found proceeded from a cottage at a little distance, The inhabitants, consisting of two families, had collected together for the exercise of social worship, and were sending up the melody of praise to the God of salvation. This practice is universal on the island, When there is no public service, the members of each family, (or where there are more families they combine) join in singing several hymns; read the gospel and epistle for the day, a prayer

or two, and one of Vidalin's hymns. Where the Bible exists, it is brought for. ward; and several chapters of it are read by the young people in the family. What an encouragement for the distribution of the Scriptures !

• The inhabitants of the district of Eyafiord, are described as the most enlightened and intelligent on the island. They pay great attention to the education of their children; and from the superior fertility of their soil, they are better supplied with the means of obtaining books for their instruction; at the head of wbich books, however, it had hitherto been out of the power of many of them to place the Bible. This will not appear strange when we advert to the circumstance mentioned in this part of the book before us, and which has already been introduced among the many curious anecdotes circulated respecting the Bible, that previously to Dr. Henderson's visit to the north of Iceland, there bad been a long and earnest dispute between a ehurch on the mainland and one in the island of Grimsey, at Teconcile myself to the administration of baptism according to the prescribed order of the Prayer-book, by which I should be bound to return God thanks, that the infant so baptized was regenerated with the Holy Spirit of God, received for his own child by adoption, and incorporated into his holy church; when, in truth, it was to be the business of my ministry to shew that every person was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity, unless his understanding was enlightened, and his heart renewed, by the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit.'

Lord and Lady Manners, however, much to their honour, although disappointed at his decision, continued to extend to bio their friendship. Mr. Morris soon after joined the Baptist denomination, which has been indebted to the Baptismal ritual of the Church of England for many similar accessions In 1776, he was ordained to the pastoral office at Woodrow, near Amersham, in Buckinghamshire, and subsequently removed to Amersham, where he continued till his death. Here, as the means of • support wbich his little flock were able to afford him was very slender,' be carried on an extensive business.

• In 1789, about fourteen years after his coming to Amersham, he conceived the project of establishing a cotton manufactory in the town. With this view he entered into partnership with Messrs. John and Tha * mas Hailey, and soon began building. By his own personal labour and superintendence, he fitted up all the apparatus of machinery necessary for spinning, weaving, and bleaching. In all manner of brass and iron work he was remarkably ingenious and clever, though quite self-taught. He constructed many philosophical machines, some of which he sold, and others kept for his own use; which he not only put together, as a watch-maker does the machinery of a time-piece, but he actually wrought a great part of the brass and iron work with his own hands.' p. 58.

He also applied himself to Japd-surveying and architecture with considerable success. The meeting-house of Mr. Douglas at Reading, as well as that at Amersbam, together with some large breweries, manufactories, and other buildings at the latter place, were erected by Mr. Morris, on his owo plan. Such a man could not fail to be highly respected. We are accordingly inforined, that his influence, in the neighbourhood in which he lived, was considerable among all parties. He closed a long life of usefulness, July 28th, 1817, in the 71st year of his age. A very high testiinony to his Christian character, is given in the present volume, by one of his brother ministers, who preached bis funeral sermon.

Mr. Godwin deserves the thanks of the religious public, for the very interesting compilation which he has furnished, as well as for the cheap form in which it is given, by which means it will, we hope, obtain an extensive circulation. The Editor modestly disclaims any pretensions to literary excellence, but the work stands in no need of an apology.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Art. VI. Letters from Illinois. By Morris Birkbeck, Author of

“ Notes on a journey through France,” and of “ Notes on a

“ “ Journey in America,” &c. 8vo. pp. vii. 114. Price 5s. 1818. THESE Letters were originally written either to intimate

friends, or in reply to applications for advice or information made to the Author, by strangers who were desirous of trying as a cure for discontent, the remedy of emigration, wbich he represents as having, in his own case, succeeded to admiration, Mr. Birkbeck has been induced to publish them, in the hope ' that, as a collection, they may be useful to others, as well as to • the individuals to whom they were severally addressed.?

To any person seriously contemplating an exile from the • land of his fathers,' the minutely specific information contained in these Letters, will be invaluable. To general readers they may appear rather barren of interest, as they offer little to gratify curiosity, in addition to the details given in the Author's « Notes on bis journey.

The date of the latest of these letters, carries down the history of the infant colony to—we were going to say, Lady Day; but so Popish a designation bas doubtless no place in the Illinois calendar; neither would Quarter-day sound less obsolete in the ears of these independent Back-woods' inen. • Think of a

country,' exclaims Citizen Birkbeck, without excisemen, or

assessors, or collectors, or receivers-general, or informers • or paupers! The date of the latest Letter, is, March 26th ult. at which period, the colony was beginning to assume, as the spring advanced, ' a most encouraging aspect.' The Author must be allowed to give his own account of affairs.

• Our English friends are gathering round us; and so far from being solitary, and doleful, and desolate in this remote region, you must reverse all this to form any notion of our condition.

• The toil and the difficulty, and even the dangers, attending the removal of a family from the hills of Surrey to the prairies of Nlinois are considerable ; and the responsibility is felt, at every step, a load upon the spirits of a father, for which his honest intentions are not at all times a sufficient counterpoise. To have passed through an this harmless, and even triumphantly, to have secured a retreat for ourselves, and then, turning our backs upon care and anxiety, to be employed in smoothing the way, and preparing a happy resting place for other weary pilgrims, is an enjoyment which I did not cala culate upon when we quitted our old home.

«« A lodge in some vast wilderness" was the exchange we contemplated; fortifying our minds against the privations we were to experience, by a comparison with the evils we hoped to retire from : and now, instead of burying ourselves in a boundless forest, among wild animals, human and brute, we are taking possession of a cheerful abode, to be surrounded by well informed and prosperous neighbours. How sincerely do I wish you and yours could be


[ocr errors]

among them, without the pain of moving and the perils of the journey!' pp. 90–91.

Mr. Birkbeck's plan of colonising extensively, with a special ( view to the relief of his suffering countrymen of the lower * orders,' had not, however, proved as yet successful. He had transmitted to Congress, a memorial, soliciting the grant (by purchase) of some unsurveyed land twenty miles north of his own settlement, to which he might be able to invite any number of his countrymen, with the view of forming a distinct colony; but there was reason to fear that, together with several similar petitions, it had proved abortive on the ground of general objections, certainly of no great weight, or at least not in appli. cation to the present case.

All that Mr. B. had in view, was, as he himself states it, to open an asylum, in which English ' emigrants with capital, might provide for Englislı errigrants * noithout it;' the title of the lands to remain in the United States until the purchase should be completed by actual settlers. A considerable number of emigrants may still, he conceives, be benefited by the arrangements pow in train for their reception on a contracted scale.

Our Author was waiting, with some impatience, for the season of commencing farming operations. He was to begin work in March, and hoped to be settled early in May, in a convenient temporary dwelling, formed of a range of cabins of ten rooms, which his family would occupy until he could accomplish his purpose of building a more substantial house. Materials were in forwardness for constructing a wind-inill, which was expected to be in order in time to grind the fruits of the ensuing harvest. Steam-boats had already begun to ply on the Wabash, and a naval establishment occupied the attention of our Colonists themselves. We Americans,' says Mr. B. facetiously, 'must have a Davy.'

• We are forming two pirogues out of large poplars, with which we propose to navigate the Wabash: by lashing them together, and laying planks across both, we shall have a roomy deck, besides good covered stowage in both, and take a bulky as well as a heavy cargo. And we hope to have a shipping port at the mouth of Bonpas, a considerable stream which falls into the Wabash at the point where the latter makes a bold bend to the West, and approaches within a few miles of our prairie.'

Thus established in this · land of liberty and bope,' our Author speaks of life as appearing to bim there only too valuable, from • the wonderful efficiency of every well-directed effort.'

• Such is the field of delightful action lying before me, that I am ready to regret the years wasted in the support of taxes and pauperism, and to grieve that I am growing old now that a really useful career seems just beginning. I am happier, much happier in my prospects :

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I feel that I am doing well for my family, and the privations L an. ticipated seem to vanish before us. Yet England was never so dear to me as it is now in the recollection : being no longer under the base dominion of her oligarchy, I can think of my native country, and her noble institutions, apart from her politics. pp. 9, 22.

Thus far the picture is certainly highly pleasing, nor do we roubt the truth of the colouring. Cordially do we wish that Mr. Birkbeck may see his most sanguine anticipations exceeded! in the growing prosperity of his infant colony. But he hiinself invites our attention to his plan in a point of view which cannot fail to excite some painful regrets. He asks— What think you

of a community not only without an established religion, but 6 of whom a larger proportion profess no particular religion, . and think as little about the machinery of it, as you know was 6 the case with myself?' If by an established religion, Mr. B. meant simply, a religious establishment, and by the machinery of religion, a State apparatus, and a pompous ritual, we shoulei, of course, have little fault to find with his policy: but the indications which these Letters, as well as Mr. B.'s former publications, afford, of his decided irreligion, are too unequivocal to be mistaken. The following is the only account he gives of the state of the community in his neighbourhood in respect to religion.

• What in some places is esteemed a decent conformity with practices which we despise, is here altogether unnecessary. There are, however, some sectaries even here, with more of enthusiasm than good temper; but their zeal finds sufficient vent in loud preaching and praying. The Court-house is used by all persuasions, indifferently, as a place of worship; any acknowledged preacher who announces himself for a Sunday or other day, may always collect an

a audience, and rave or reason as he sees meet. When the weather is favourable, few Sundays pass without something of the sort. It is remarkable that they generally deliver themselves with that chaunting cadence you have heard among the quakers, This is Christmas day, and seems to be kept as a pure holiday-merely a day of relaxation and amusement: those that choose, observe it religiously ; but the public opinion does not lean that way, and the law is silent on the subject. After this deplorable account, you will not wonder when you hear of earthquakes and tornados amongst us.' pp. 23–24.

• Now, having this “ upward road” thus clear before us, when we shall have settled ourselves in our cabins, and fixed ourselves to our minds as to this world, what sort of a garb, think you, shall we assume as candidates for the next ?- To my very soul I wish that we might assume none, but the character of men who desire to keep their conscience void of offence towards God and towards man : “ Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.Another foolish wish! you will say. We shall have people anong us, I dare say, who will undertake to teach religion; the most arrogant of all pretensions, I should be apt to call it, had not frequent observation convinced me

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »