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society, but there was no very perceptible improvement till the reign of George III. The professor of whist and quadrille was a regular attendant at the levees of fashionable ladies.

W rote Chesterfield to his son: 'It seems ridiculous to tell you, but it is most certainly true, that your dancing-master is at this time the man in all Europe of the greatest importance to you.' Among the entertainments in London, in 1730, we find a mad bull to be dressed up with fire-works and turned loose in the game place, a dog to be dressed up with fire-works over him, a bear to be let loose at the same time, and a cat to be tied to the bull's tail, a mad bull dressed up with fire-works to be baited. Such amusements were mingled with prize-fighting, and boxing-matches between women.

Gin had been discovered in 1684; in 1742, England consumed annually seven millions of gallons. Nine years later it was declared to be the principal sustenance (if it may so be called) of more than one hundred thousand people in the metropolis,' and that, 'should the drinking of this poison be continued at its present height during the next twenty years, there will, by that time, be very few of the common people left to drink it.?' A tax was imposed to stop the madness, but the minister, finding himself threatened with a riot, repealed it, declaring that in the present inflamed temper of the people, the Act could not be carried into execution without an armed force.'

The general level of humanity was little, if any, higher than that of the preceding generation. Executions, if not a public amusement, were at least a favorite public spectacle. In 1745, a ghastly row of rebel heads lined the top of Temple Bar. When Blackstone wrote, one hundred and sixty offences were punishable with death, and not infrequently ten or twelve culprits were hung on a single occasion. In every important quarter of the city were gallows, and on many of them corpses were left rotting in chains. Often the criminals were led to their doom intoxicated, and some of the most distinguished were first exhibited by the turnkeys at a shilling a head. Women convicted of murdering their husbands were publicly burned. Both men and women were still whipped at the tail of a cart through the streets.

1 Fielding: On the Late Increase of Robbers.


The impunity with which outrages were yet committed in London, it is difficult now to realize. Thieves organized with officers, a treasury, a commander-in-chief, and multiplied, though every six weeks they were carried to the gallows by the cart-load. • One is forced to travel,' it was said in 1751, even at noon, as if one were going to battle.' Perhaps no portion of English history has contributed so much to the romance of crime.

Religion.—Among the educated classes the main thing was to imitate the French,—their grace and dexterity, their sustained elegance, their glitter, their fine drawing-room polish. English literature has no sadder sentence than that in which Butler, in 1736, declares: “It is come, I know not how, to be taken for granted by many persons, that Christianity is not so much as a subject of inquiry; but that it is now at length discovered to be fictitious. And accordingly they treat it as if, in the present age, this were an agreed point among all people of discernment; and nothing remained but to set it up as a principal subject of mirth and ridicule, as it were by way of reprisals, for its having so long interrupted the pleasures of the world. In 1751, he speaks of the general decay of religion ‘in this nation, which is now observed by every one, and has been for some time the complaint of all serious persons'; and adds that 'the deplorable distinction of our age is an avowed scorn of religion in some, and a growing disregard of it in the generality.' Warburton mourned that he had lived to see the fatal crisis when religion had lost its hold on the minds of the people.' Religion, like literature, was cold and unspiritual. Preachers were more eager to denounce an absent adversary than to save the souls of those who heard them. Not enthusiasm and extravagance, but sobriety and good sense were the qualities most valued in the pulpit. *Discourses,' said Voltaire, “aiming at the pathetic and accompanied with violent gestures, would excite laughter in an English congregation. A sermon in France is a long declamation, scrupulously divided into three parts, and delivered with enthusiasm. In England, a sermon is a solid but sometimes dry dissertation, which a man reads to the people without gesture and without any particular exaltation of the voice.' We remember that Tillotson, the most authoritative of divines in his time, talked like a demonstrator of anatomy. Mark the style of his first sermon,The Wisdom of being Religious :

•These words consist of two propositions, which are not distinct in sense; ... So that they differ only as cause and effect, which by a metonymy, used in all sorts of authors, are frequently put one for another. . . . Having thus explained the words, I come now to consider the proposition contained in them, which is this: That religion is the best knowledge and wisdom. This I shall endeavor to make good these three ways:

1st. By a direct proof of it. 2d. By showing on the contrary the folly and ignorance of irreligion and wickedness.

3d. By vindicating religion from those common imputations which seem to charge it with ignorance or imprudence. I begin with the direct proof of this.'

Expositions, apologies, moral essays, while they supply rational motives to virtue, rarely kindle a living piety, and are utterly unable to reclaim the depraved. The heart is not touched by the dust that settles on the countenance. But between the dregs at the bottom and the foam at the top quietly coursed the genuine sap of the national life. Under the smoke, burning in silence, glowed the simple faith that never dies, soon to give evidence of its powerful vitality. The revival began with a small knot of Oxford students, whose master spirit was John Wesley. Their methodical regularity of life gained them the nick-name of Methodists. Breaking away from the settled habits of the clerical profession, they avoided all polemical and abstract reasoning, and preached, as they were moved by the spirit, the lost condition of every man born into the world; the eternal tortures which are the doom of the unconverted; justification by faith; free salvation by Christ; the necessity of personal regeneration; the imminence of death — doctrines which were now seldom heard from a Church of England pulpit. These they regarded as the cardinal tenets of the Christian religion, and taught them with a vehemence and fire that started the smouldering piety of the nation into flame. Their unstudied eloquence and their complete disregard of conventionalities contrasted with the polished and fastidious sermons that were the prevailing fashion of the time. Wesley, relying upon the Divine guidance, frequently opened the Bible at random for a text. He believed in the devil, saw God in the commonest events, heard supernatural noises. His father had been thrice pushed by a ghost. He declared that ‘a string of opinions is no more Christian faith than a string of beads is Christian holiness. Such convictions are able to turn emotion into madness, and render the madness contagious. At

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his death, he had eighty thousand disciples; now he has a million. The oratory of Whitefield, another of the Oxford society, was so impassioned that at times he was overcome by his tears, while half his audience were convulsed with sobs. His first sermon, as a bishop complained, 'drove fifteen people mad.' He instituted itinerant preaching, became a roving evangelist, sought the haunts of ignorance and vice, to deal out to their half-savage populations the 'bread of life. His rude auditors, numbering five, ten, fifteen, or even twenty thousand, were electrified. A few incidents will exemplify his peculiarities, and at the same time illustrate the characteristics of this reaction against the colorless, marble polish of the age. On one occasion, seeing the actor Shuter, who was then attracting much attention in the part of Ramble in the Rambler, seated in a front pew of the gallery, he turned suddenly towards him, and exclaimed: “And thou, too, poor Ramble, who hast rambled so far from Him, oh! cease thy ramblings and come to Jesus.' ‘God always makes use of strong passions,' he was accustomed to say, “for a great work,' and it was his object to rouse such passions to the highest point. Sometimes he would reproduce the condemnation scene as he had witnessed it in a court of justice. With tearful eyes and a trembling voice, he would begin, after a momentary pause: 'I am now going to put on the condemning cap. Sinner, I must do it. I must pronounce sentence upon you.' Then, with a dramatic change of tone, he thundered over his awe-struck hearers the solemn words: *Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!! On another occasion, to illustrate the peril of sinners, he described an old blind man deserted by his dog, tottering feebly over the desolate moor, vainly endeavoring to feel his way with the staff, drawing nearer and nearer to the verge of an awful precipice; and drew the picture so vividly that the urbane Chesterfield lost all selfpossession, and was heard to exclaim, ‘Good God! he is gone.' Preaching before seamen at New York, he adopted the familiar symbols of their occupation: Well, my boys, we have a clear sky, and are making fine headway over a smooth sea before a light breeze, and we shall soon lose sight of land. But what means this sudden lowering of the heavens, and that dark cloud arising from beneath the western horizon? Hark! don't you hear distant thunder? Don't you see those flashes of lightning?

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There is a storm gathering. Every man to his duty! How the waves arise and dash against the ship! The air is dark! the tempest rages! Our masts are gone! The ship is on her beamends! What next ?' "The long boat! take to the long boat!' shouted the excited crowd. His favorite maxim was, that a preacher, when he entered the pulpit, should look upon it as the last time he might preach, and the last time his people might hear.'

In this burning fervor of realization, began the revival of popular religion,—a revolt against the frigid and formal teaching, the easy-going indifference of the dominant church; and this reactionary movement, communicating its impulse to contemporary thought, is premonitory of the general return to rapture and imagination, the grand and the tragic.

Poetry. To arrange words in decasyllabic couplets so that the accents may fall correctly, that the rhymes may strike the ear strongly, that the lines may flow in unbroken cadence, is an art as mechanical as that of mending a shoe, and may be learned by any dunce who will never blunder on one happy thought or expression. Dryden suggested the art; Pope mastered it, and his brilliant success produced a host of dull imitators. His well chosen sounds and symmetrical rhythms were adopted as fashion and fine manners, wherein the point of excellence was not to alter the pattern, but to vary its details of color. Without his

powers, they affected his livery, till it became trite, then offensive. In their devotion to form, they forgot the spirit that warms it. Sense was

· Sacrificed to sound, And truth cut short to make the period round.' Poetry, impoverished, soulless, and hollow, was waiting for a new development.

A few assert their freedom, strike the key-note of a higher strain, and seem to give signs that the human mind is turning on its hinges,—that externals are not the true concern of the poet, that a pink doll is not a woman, that gallantry is not love, that amusement is not happiness, that

Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.'

Four poems mark the change, — Thomson's Seasons, Young's

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