« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
painful and weary route from its very commencement, and had often had them actually in sight, at the moment when they fancied themselves in temporary security. They were now once more bound, and conducted back to the prison from which they had at so great a risk escaped. Here again the character of the Japanese is placed in a surprisingly amiable point of view. No exultation over these unhappy captives, it seems, was manifested; no reproach was uttered. Every one manifested commiseration, and many of the women shed tears, offering them provisions as they passed through the villages!! On their return to the Castle, a repast was served up to them as usual, and they were afterwards conducted into the Hail of Justice, to be examined respecting their escape.
All the officers having taken their places the Bunyo entered. No change was perceptible in his countenance. He maintained his accustomed cheerfulness, and expressed not the slightest displeasure at our conduct. Having taken his seat, he enquired, in his usual benevolent manner, what had induced us to escape? I requested the interpreter to state to the Bunyo, that, before I answered his question, I wished to inform him that I alone was guilty, and had forced the rest to fly with me; which they were obliged to do; for a refusal to obey my orders would render them liable to severe punishment, should they ever return to Russia. I further declared, that they might put me to death, but that it would be unjust to injure a hair of the head of any of my companions. The Bunyo replied, that if the Japanese thought fit to put me to death, they would do so without any suggestion on my part; but that if on the contrary they did not see the necessity of such a proceeding, all my entreaties would be of no avail.' Vol. ii. p. 43.
With this obliging assurance the worthy Bunyo proceeded to question the Russians as to the manner of their escape, at what hour they had left the house, what course they had pursued, how far they proceeded each day, what articles and provisions they had carried with them, &c. Nothing could be more impartial or dispassionate than this examination; in the course of which, the Bunyo took pains to ascertain in what degree any attempt to escape from confinement was considered in Europe as criminal or disgraceful, and at the end of it, he made, through the aid of the Interpreter, the following speech.
Had you been natives of Japan, and secretly escaped from your prison, the consequence might have been fatal to you; but as you are foreigners, and ignorant of the Japanese laws, and more particu larly as you did not escape with a view to injure the Japanese, but for the sake of returning to your native country, which it is natural you should prefer to every other, our good opinion of you remains unaltered. The Bunyo cannot be answerable for the way in which the government may view your conduct; but he will still continue
to exert all his endeavours to gain permission for you to return to Russia.' Vol. ii. p. 50.
Until the determination of the Japanese Government respecting the Russians could be known, it was necessary, according to the established laws, to treat them as criminals. Still, the severity of their imprisonment was softened as much as possible by a thousand acts of kindness. We cannot undertake to follow our Author through all the vexatious delays which arose partly from the conduct of Mr. Moor, who, under the influence as it should seem of mental derangement, did every thing in his power to injure his fellow prisoners, and to discredit the statement they made in their defence, and partly owing to a most singular combination of circumstances, which tended, though very undeservedly, to place their actions in a suspicious point of view. Through the persevering anxiety of Captain Rikord, who had succeeded Golownin in the command of the Diana, and the laudable exertions of the Russian Government, they terminated in their happy deliverance. The Japanese, who had, we are told, exhorted the Russians in their affliction to rely on the goodness of a Supreme Being, now shewed their sympathy by causing prayers to be put up for their safe voyage, in all their temples for five days! Where shall we find a counterpart to this pious and amiable conduct? That of the Lewchewers themselves did not come up to it.
We must now take our leave of good Captain Golownin, whose volumes have afforded us at least some entertainment, and could we feel a perfect confidence in the correctness of his representations, would tend very materially to alter our estimate of the much injured and singular people whom he describes.
Art. IX. 1. Altham and his Wife, a Domestic Tale, 12mo. pp. 198. London. 1818.
2. Lucy Smith; or the Young Maid and her Mother's Bible, a Tale. By the Author of Village Histories, 12mo. pp. 28. Price 4d. or 3s. 6d. per dozen. dozen. London. 1818.
T is not always easy to decide when the utter worthlessness of a publication should exempt it from being dragged forth to notice. A specious title may procure for such works a circulation to some extent, before their real character is ascertained, and on this account it seems doubtful how far they should be considered as beneath our critical notice.
These two works, although of very different literary pretensions, have one common and obvious design; a design in which it has been by no means unfrequent for the church-bigot and the infidel to be found concurring. They are distinguished from each other chiefly in this respect, that the one belongs to
that class of Tales designed for the lower classes, which are usually styled Tracts; the other to that class of Tracts designed for the higher and middle classes, which assume the denomination of Tales. Both come under the general head of Fictions, for how humble soever be the effort of imagination requisite for their production, they are both purely imaginative. As to their moral character, the Tract is the most plausible in its design, but appears to be the most wilfully false and injurious in its representations, and, as being addressed to the lower classes, the most dangerous in its tendency. The Tale seems to be innocent of any moral design; its malignity has no definite object, no purpose but the gratification arising from its own exercise, as being intimately connected, in certain minds, with the emotions of taste.
In compliment to the lady-author, we shall first despatch the smaller Tract. Our readers will anticipate the general nature of its contents from the following advertisement.
The Author disclaims, in the most solemn manner, any intention of casting the least general reflection on the respectable body of Dissenters, by relating the incident which will be found in these pages.
If any apology were necessary for publishing a circumstance which really happened, it might be found in referring to the false and fabricated circumstances published by many, with the sole purpose of injuring those who never injured or interfered with them. If such men have disseminated deliberate falsehoods for the sake of drawing poor people from the Church, by bringing "railing accusations" against the clergy, it would not be inconsistent with charity to publish truths, in order to keep them faithful to it. But such feelings the writer disclaims; and she hopes that all sober Christians, of whatever community, will join with her in deprecating those abuses of religion which are gaining ground, and those abusers of it, who disgrace their profession, wherever found.
Two most material facts it is requested the reader will keep in mind. Religion, or what is called so, never made a more rapid progress than of late; yet the circumstance is remarkable and alarming, that, according to the Report of the House of Commons, it appeared that, in the course of ten years, crimes over the kingdom had increased three times to their former amount. Among other causes, may not one be, the system of omitting, or obliquely vilifying morals?
The rising generation has been marked with particular depravity: without venturing for an instant to impute this circumstance to any mode of education different from that pursued by the Church, it is at least a consoling and triumphant fact, that none of these crimes have been traced to the children educated in the National Schools.' pp. v-vii.
We shall not stay to notice these vague and foolish assertions. It must be remarked, however, that the Author evidently wishes it to be understood, that while other writers, (what writers she
is careful not even by the remotest hint to specify,) have been guilty of circulating deliberate falsehoods against the Church, the incident she is about to record, is simple fact. The first paragraph in the Tale confirms this impression.
To record the passing events that occur in humble life, is not, I trust, without utility, particularly in these times, when books and tracts of a dangerous tendency are circulated with a perseverance almost incredible, among the labouring poor. The sad effects which the distempered views of religion had upon the mind of a young and artless girl, it will be my business to record in the following pages.' p. 1.
The incident' is briefly as follows. Lucy Smith was the only daughter of a small freeholder who, as well as his wife, had been' religiously brought up in the good old Church of England principles; and under the guidance of such worthy people, we 'cannot wonder that she grew up religious, kind-hearted, and 'affectionate, in the highest degree, to her parents.' In her eighteenth year, she lost her mother, but was comforted by the friends who came to look at the corpse, with the assurance that the placidity of the countenance denoted without a doubt that she was then happy. This is apparently introduced as an amiable specimen of Christian charity. Soon after this, she formed an intimacy with a neighbouring family of Dissenters, in disregard of her good mother's cautions, and one fine Sunday afternoon, she was seduced by them into an act of further disobedience to her injunctions, by attending the service of the meeting curiosity, and the urgent entreaties of her friends,
(most unhappily for her,) overcame her scruples.' This visit naturally led' to an acquaintance with the minister whom she frequently met at the house of her new associates.
• Religion was always the topic of conversation, and he soon convinced this poor timid girl that she had no chance of salvation if she still persisted in going to church, and hearing formal prayers, and more particularly the Lord's Prayer. Lucy started at this assertion: "How can that be wrong," said she "which our Saviour himself taught his disciples to use?"-" It is, however, wrong," said the preacher; "and therefore we never suffer it to be read in our chapel." p. 13.
Lucy returns home disheartened and bewildered, and on the next Sunday, stays away from church to read the various tracts` given her by her indefatigable friends.' She carefully conceals from her father the change in her sentiments, which the perusal of these tracts of course produced; but it soon displayed She becomes indolent, sullen, and a itself in her conduct. slattern, poring all day over books adapted to excite fanatical feelings,' and to all the entreaties and threats of her father on the subject of her going with him to church, obstinately
indifferent. The poor man too late lamented his weakness in allowing of any intimacy with the chapel people.' The dissenting minister, however, we are told, rejoiced in all this, and told her she was suffering for righteousness sake. He gains at length such an ascendancy over her mind, that she is persuaded to part with all her little store of money to satisfy his repeated importunites, and finally, at his suggestion, to rob her own father of four guineas, for the purpose of contributing to his necessities. The farmer discovers the theft: his suspicion immediately falls upon his daughter, who, overcome with horror and remorse, falls senseless at his feet, and finally loses her intellects, which she never recovers. The minister is ultimately obliged to leave the neighbourhood, but persists in asserting his 'perfect right' to the money given him by Lucy, on the ground, that'the labourer is worthy of his hire.'
In the leading circumstances of the history of Lucy Smith, we see fully exemplified the sad effects of turning aside from plain scriptural doctrine, to listen to the wild dogmas of fanatics, who always interpret Scripture as it suits their system of thinking; and that want of charity, which they so loudly complain of not being shown them by members of the Established Church, forms too often a striking part in their own character; otherwise, why all that bitterness against it, and that eager zeal to convince the ignorant and unwary, that no safety is within its pale, and by their bewildering and gloomy doctrines producing despair and madness?' p. 27.
Far be it from us to fasten upon the class to whom this lady would wish to be understood as belonging, the odium of sanctioning, in any way, this tissue of clumsy falsehoods. As to the lady herself, she is evidently gone far out of the reach of our expostulations. The supposition that a fact in any of its circumstances approaching to the incident described, ever occurred, would avail nothing in extenuation of the baseness of her misrepresentations, since the fact is brought forward as a specimen illustrating the general tendency of dissent. But the circumstances are put together in too bungling a manner to deceive a person for a moment with the semblance of truth. The writer talks of Lucy neglecting her Bible after she had been converted, for the self-interpreting Bible officiously provided for her by her spiritual guide.' She is, it is evident, totally ignorant of the nature of the only work bearing that title, which is commonly known by the name of Brown's Bible; but then, Brown's Bible is not Mant's Bible. Again: Lucy is represented as having been told, that prayer for Divine grace' avails nothing ' against God's eternal decrees: an idea stolen, perhaps, from archbishop Sancroft's Fur Prædestinatus. The worst of it, indeed, is, that after all, this silly production can lay so little claim to originality, its calumnies being as stale and trite as they are wicked and injurious,