صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]


gans acted plays in honour of their false gods, the Christians could not assist at them without the stain of idolatry: that a decent play cannot be called absolutely a proximate occasion of sin, but may become such relatively to certain individuals on account of their personal fragility; and that such, admonished by their own experience, are bound to fly a danger which, though it may be remote to others, is to them proximate: finally, that there cannot be any positive judgment nor any fixed or constant rule respecting theatres; since the lawfulness or unlawfulness of them may vary at every moment, according as scenic representations are agreeable or repugnant to good mo


Four Years in France.

and gaiety are the best things in the world to make the blood circulate and distribute equally the animal heat. Enough has been said to you on the subject of scruples, and you have admitted the reasonableness of what has been said: I had hoped they were gone for ever. You are a great comfort and blessing to me: be satisfied with yourself. You were at confession and communion five days ago: has any thing occurred since, on which you would consult you director?' He replied,' No, nothing.' This we afterwards remembered with great comfort."-pp. 341, 342.

The reader has already seen by what means the painful emotions which pressed upon this interesting young man at Stoneyhurst were removed. The wound had been healed slightly; and there were those, not himself, who frowned upon every serious effort to scrutinize a mind disturbed by a consciousness of sin. His parent immediately finds a solution of the mysterious re-visitation in natural causes, and seems to bid him fly at once to the world for a cure; and argues, at the same time, that a recent act of confession and communion might remove all fear of guilt. We have, therefore, before us, the painful spectacle of a tender parent, led away by the false system which he had embraced, persevering in diverting the thoughts of his child from one of the most important duties of religion, selfexamination. A psychologist from a German university would have pursued exactly the same plan, and prescribed a similar remedythe expulsion of gloomy thoughts, by the ties and pastimes of the world. If our convert had accurately distinguished between scruples founded on false estimates of duty, and such as were the fruits of a really tender conscience; if he had defined the several dimensions of the gnat and the camel, and thence shown the inconsistencies of men who select their own vices and virtues, as taste or constitutional temperament may direct; we might have given the casuist some credit for a wisely be applied to any species of evil, so as to management of his patient's case. But there justify a man for approaching the vilest sources runs through the whole story an anxiety, on of contamination, on the plea that his peril the part of the convert, to explain away the was not absolute, but barely relative; that the purity and strictness of the Gospel. He is an mischief would be remote, and by no means advocate, for example, for theatrical entertain- proximate. We are not speaking of the accuments; and even, in this very instance, as op-racy of the logic which a libertine might thus posed to his son, who steadfastly shunned, and employ; but of the facility with which he to his dying day, every allurement to the play- would apply a flexible rule to purposes of licenhouse. Of the convert's sophistry on this sub- tiousness. If the rule in question needed an ject the following is a specimen :illustration, the conduct of the Italian clergy is in point; they retire before the ballet; and then, we have a cardinal, who is presumed to attend private theatricals without any offence to his conscience: and of course he is doing right. The convert's manner of defending the stage sinks him deeper in the mire of the system, than if he had been quite silent. He writes like a person who wishes to defend himself against a foreseen attack, and is also well aware of the feebleness of his defensive weapons. This protector of his new faith might reasonably say of a certain physician, who deceived him, "I did not place more reliance on him on account of his devotion; knowing that devotion is but too often another mode of selfdeceit."

"In Italy I was instructed, that there exists no excommunication of actors by the universal church, but only by the decrees of some particular dioceses, in remote ages, when the scenic art was reputed infamous on account of the representations, then almost always contrary to good morals: that they who exercise the profession of actors are guilty of great sin, if they exhibit on the stage any thing shameful or obscene, but not otherwise: that there exist indeed sentences of the holy see and of general councils against scenic representations, but that they refer always to such as may be indecent and contrary to sound morality that the Fathers condemn the theatres of their time, not only because of the indecencies there represented, but also because, as the Pa

But the day of poor Kenelmʼs dissoluti

[ocr errors]

"Priests go to plays in Italy, generally retiring before the ballet. I have seen a cardinal at a private theatre: that it was a private theatre, was a circumstance of some importance in point of decorum, but of none in point of morality, concerning which it is fair to presume that his eminence entertained no doubt or scruple."-pp. 313, 314.

The subject of the stage affords standing matter of debate to such moralists as square their opinions by their passions; but it could not have been previously supposed that any one, so deeply versed in theological casuistry as the convert, could have considered the inquiry as an open question. The thing is either right or wrong; and a conscientious man ought, at least, to walk on the safe side. But among the strange involutions of the paragaie-graphs last cited, there is an evident attempt to settle the controversy by chronology and geography; we are also informed, that purity and impurity have their alternations; while the author deludes himself, and might delude many, by playing upon the terms absolute and relative, remote and proximate; leaving the attendant at a theatre to measure its temptations by the make of his own character. All this is wretched reasoning, and might obvious

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

Four Years in France.


rived. He expired with apparent tranquillity, although surrounded by the usual pageantries of the Latin church; and certainly under circumstances extremely unfavourable to the development of religious feeling. He appears to have maintained to the end of his life, a seriousness of character, occasionally showing itself in devotional expressions; and far superior, we incline to suppose, to any thing related of him in the narrative. How bitter is the reflection forced upon us, as in imagination we contemplate his dying hours, that his aspirations after immortal life were discouraged by those who ought to have been his guides to immortality; by his nearest relatives, and his spiritual advisers! that his real foes, however kind their attention, were those of his own house! It seems, however, that one of these opponents is desirous of proving the felicity of the departed, by intimations conveyed by a vision.

"In the night between the 30th and 31st of October, thirty entire days after the death of Kenelm, his parents retired late to rest; in fact, at one o'clock of the morning of the 31st. As they were composing themselves to sleep, they heard a noise as of the breaking of a small stick. To me this noise seemed to proceed from the cabinet or dressing-room behind the bed; my wife heard it as from the commode or drawers opposite the foot of the bed. We asked each other what the noise might be, and compared what we had heard. Within a minute, my wife, who had raised herself in her bed, asked me 'What light is that?' I saw no light, and asked, 'Where?' 'On the drawers, brighter than any candle.' She proceeded to describe what she saw: 'Now it rises and grows larger. How beautifully bright! brighter than the most brilliant star. What can it mean? it is very strange you don't see it.' I thought so too; but to encourage her, said, 'Compose yourself; it can mean no harm.' She went on: It still rises and grows larger; now it turns to the window-it takes the form of a dove with the wings spread out-it has a bright glory all around it-it looks steadily at me-it speaks to my heart, and tells me that my dear Henry is happy-it fixes a piercing look on me, as if it would make me feel what it means. Now I know he is happy, and shall lament no more for him. There-now it has disappeared." Though I had not seen the light, I could see the face of my wife while she was looking at it, and the tears glittering as if a bright light passed through them while they fell down her cheeks. The French word would be ébrillantées. There still remained a suf fused light in the room, particularly on the wall above the drawers, as of the reflection of a nearly extinguished fire. This was observed by both of us. It lasted about five minutes, growing gradually fainter, and at length failing entirely. While looking at this suffused and darkish red light, and reasoning with myself how or why the bright light had not been seen by me, I remarked on the floor by the open door of the cabinet, the reflection of a veilleuse or small night lamp. These lights are made of a single thread of cotton half an inch long, steeped in melted wax, and when dry, inserted in little flat pieces of cork, which are

floated, while the cotton is burning, in a small
quantity of oil. This night-lamp was placed
in the remotest corner of the dressing-room,
which went the whole length of the bed-room.
I saw its reflection on the floor only, and only
so far as the open door permitted it to be seen.
'This,' said I, cannot be the cause of the suf-
fused light; still less can it have been the
cause of the bright one.' While I was looking
first at the suffused light, then at the reflection
of the lamp, the former disappeared: it was
plain, therefore, that it had not been caused by
the latter.


[ocr errors]

"In the morning we visited the tomb of our departed son, and returned thanks to God. During the whole of the scene which I have described, which lasted about half a quarter of an hour, my wife's behaviour was sufficiently composed and collected, was consistent and rational, free from affectation or enthusiasm. A sudden and transient apparition of an illuminated dove with a glory might be considered as the work of fancy; but here this appearance was prepared for, and followed by circumstances, in which the imagination could have no part. The attention of her who was to see the vision was directed by the noise preceding it, to the place where it first appeared; while I was roused by the same noise, but heard by me in a different part of the chamber, as if I were to be, as in the main I was, a witness only. I repeat, the suffused light was seen by us both for four or five minutes. Besides the form which the bright light assumed to the eyes of my wife, the circumstance of its being seen by one of the parties only without weakening the force of her testimony, is conclusive against its being either a natural or artificial light; and her testimony, aided by mine, as to the concomitant circumstances, proves it to have been a supernatural one. The house looked into a court; there was no house opposite from which lamp or candle could be seen; the moon, whatever witty people may be inclined to say of the influence of the moon in this case, was but four days old; besides, the window shutters were closed and excluded all lights, artificial or natural.

"To use the words of a learned, rational, and respectable old man, the curé of St. Agricol, to whom I related the matter, 'Ce qu'on voit on voit.' True,-what one sees, one sees; but the Scripture, with that intimate knowledge of human nature evident in its every page, speaks of some who will not be persuaded even though one rose from the dead.'

"The term of thirty days has been observed in the cathedral church as that at the end of which revelations have sometimes been made of the happiness of departed souls."—pp. 377381.

[ocr errors]

A monk in the last days of his dotage, and after half a century's confinement within a monastery, might be forgiven for stating the rule of the church respecting supernatural visitations. He might also not be blamed if he was totally unacquainted with optical illusions, and the operation of various physical causes, under circumstances, and at a time when wonders are expected, and where trifles are magnified into miracles. The convert himself accounts for the preservation of St. Benezet's

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Four Years in France.


luxuriant growth of the thorns and the thistle; while the vine alone bears the grape, and the fig-tree its own luscious produce.

The author's preface is dated March, 1826; nearly seven and twenty years since his absorption into the papal system. What melio

body by the agency of water, in producing adipocire; but we scarcely know whether he is in jest or earnest. Of late years, good sense, aided by matters of fact and practical experiment, has dashed from its pedestal many an idol of the superstitious. Invisible girls may now-a-days be seen; and the statue of Mem-ration his mind may have undergone during non-if it be the original-at length emits the last two or three years, we have no means sounds perfectly inaudible. Ferriar and Hib- of knowing. The present examination of his bert have examined spectral appearances with conduct, as given to the world by himself, inas little remorse as has been shown by the geo- volves, as we trust, no violation of the delicacy logist, who finds the caves of fairies and genii due to a living writer; since nothing is asto be composed of argillaceous schistus and sumed, on this occasion, affecting his personal basalt; while the German giant of the Broken character, but what is directly deduced from has been mashed to tatters by the mace of M. his own published confessions. We certainly Haue.* We regret, however, to have mark- consider that no Romanist who had seriously ed, under the pretensions of a falsely enlight- examined into our author's deep acquaintance ened philosophy, many guilty endeavours to with scriptural theology would have supposed discredit the miracles of Revelation itself, and his communion to have drawn a prize, when to intimate the credulous weakness of such this aspirant was rebaptized by one of its persons as believe in their reality; and who priests. Yet, it may be here remembered, also believe that the Divine Agent in such that when Henrietta, daughter of Charles the cases has no where signified his determination First, and duchess of Orleans, was carried to never again to appeal to human sense by great her grave, the eloquent Bossuet pronounced a signs and wonders. We shall not go out of funeral oration; in which, as far as we recolour way to interfere with the faith of those lect, he declaimed on what he called the acwho suppose themselves to be in possession of complishment of the times of confusion-meancredible proof of recent visitations from the ing the troubles in England-in the restoration' spiritual world; but our present subject of com- of the princess to the bosom of the Catholic plaint is, the passive and puerile prostration Church. If history be faithful, and if, as of the convert's understanding before the Burke said, it keeps an awful record of human strange decisions of his adopted mother. How actions, this daughter of England, who was ulcould a professor of the faith of Christ, min- timately poisoned by her husband in a fit of gled though that faith may be with much false jealousy, ought to have been received with and foolish sophistry, resort to a nocturnal emotions, not of triumph, but of shame; and blaze of light, and the alleged undefined figure if a man of Bossuet's genius and attainments of a dove, for comfort on the death of a son? was so enslaved by ecclesiastical and court inThe assurance of the Gospel is, "Blessed are fluence, as to prostitute his talents by eulogisthe dead which die in the Lord, from hence- ing one of the children of infamy, how can we forth: Yea, saith the Spirit; that they may wonder at the eagerness displayed by religionrest from their labours; and their works do ists of all persuasions, to swell their numbers follow them." Had consolation, in the instance by recruits from other parties, without any sebefore us, been derived from a legitimate rious scrutiny of their proselyte's motives, source, we think that the parents of Henry or even of their personal character! But this Kenelm would have drawn their portion from is conversion—a term by which, when we read the remembrance of their child's character; its application in the awakening appeals of marked as it was-we do not say with what such men as Baxter and Alleine, we are taught degree of distinctness-by the operations of an to understand the transition of the soul from awakened conscience, and by many hopeful the darkness, helplessness, and guilt of nature, symptoms of a devotional mind in the prospect to the light and power, and sanctifying influof death and eternity. When good men die, ences of the Holy Ghost. "Repent ye," said the feeling of their pious survivors is, that the St. Peter-not his assumed successors-" and departed gave testimony, on this side of the be converted, that your sins may be blotted grave, of their meetness for the kingdom of out, when the times of refreshing shall come glory. The evidence is not posthumous, but from the presence of the Lord." Here is the retrospective. eonsequence of a true transformation, the obliteration of guilt, and the promise of Divine consolations, proceeding from the Saviour himself. We do not aspire to give a definite interpretation of the last clause of this admonition; but "times of refreshing" doubtless are afforded to all such as are sound converts to the faith of Christ crucified. The subject of conversion is, indeed, so fruitful in mistake and perversion, when touched by unskilful hands, that our most practical divines guard and fence it around with all their caution and care. They usually commence their definitions of the word, by stating what it is not; and, having made this negative preparation in order to defend it from the first and most natural mode of abuse proceed to tell mb.

After the above extracts and comments, we leave to the reader's decision the question, FROM what, and ro what, was our narrator converted? Must we not reply, From one shadow to another? His work illustrates the emptiness of all religion, so called, which is not productive of active and consistent holiness. Exactly the same exposure might have been might have been made, had the convert originally belonged to the Roman Catholic party, and deserted to the opposite camp. "By their fruits ye shall know them," is a test applicable to every member of the universal visible church; since, throughout its various enclosures may be found the

* See Christ. Observ. for 1813, p. 806


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


but minutely, slowly, elaborately; as though
they were determined, if possible, to leave no
possible avenue for the intrusion of insincerity,
no space of unoccupied ground, where the
pocrite might plant his foot and claim a station
among the heirs of the heavenly kingdom.
But why do holy men exercise all their cau-
tionary wisdom on this subject, but, as one
reason, from their self-knowledge having pain-
fully taught them the danger of persons too
hastily assuming their conversion even before
they well knew the difference between change
of religious theory and a renovation of the
mind. Let the reader compare with the detail
of "conversion" now before us, such speci-
mens of spiritual auto-biography as have been
so acceptably given to the Christian world by
Baxter, Newton, Scott, and other able minis-
ters of the New Testament; and he will feel-
or we compassionate him if he does not feel
as if he were suddenly transported from a drea-
ry, waste, and frozen wilderness, into a region
of exuberant beauty;

An Adventure at Shirauz.

"The reproach
Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field
Laughs with abundance; and the land, once

Or fertile only in its own disgrace,
Exults to see its thistly curse repeal'd."


saith unto the churches." We are, in truth, called upon. to compute our gains; to give in an inventory of the treasures we possess, as hy-members of an anti-papal church. When Henry the Fourth of France went over to the Catholic side, while the Duke of Sully, the adviser who recommended him to resort to this policy, remained with the Huguenots to his death, the king lost nothing by his change, and the duke gained nothing by his adherence; in either case, we mean, as affecting their principles and conduct. In a subordinate sense, he that was righteous, was righteous still; and he that was filthy, was filthy still. But "we have not so learned Christ, if"—and we must by no means omit to guard the assumption by the Apostle's cautionary hint,-"if we have here been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; that we put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our mind." It is thus, indeed, that the Gospel brings us to the main point, whither we would direct our own progress, and the course of all who mingle with the confusion of the times; namely, to conversion, to a practical turning away from sin and the world, to the holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Neither let any one encourage the risings of apprehension, as though, in drawing this inference, we were touching, with a hostile hand, the cross of the Son of God, and disparaging the doctrine of justification by faith in his blood and righteousness. It is one of the paradoxes of Christianity, that, in proportion to a believer's reliance upon the sacrifice and death of Christ for salpas-vation, is his obedience to the law of Christ. As the Gospel is a religion of motives, it is a religion also of action; and the cause and the consequences are perfectly correlative.

Of such unspeakable importance is it to form
a right estimate of what is meant by conver-
sion; and to ascertain, so far as human sagaci-
ty enlightened from above can discern spirits,
who are real converts; that we question whe-
ther any thing better distinguishes the wise
and faithful shepherd from the foolish and
faithless, than such preaching, and such
toral vigilance, as perpetually connect them-
selves with these great inquiries.


The complexion, also, of the times, and the agitation of the controversy between the Papal and Reformed churches, might well lead us to recur to the primary and vital principles of Christianity; and thence to their actual influence on the character of the age. We do not live at a period when we are suffered to sleep at our posts. Our real friends, on the one side; and on the other, our opponents and rivals, ask us, as Protestants, to show the value of our religion. If the former would awaken us in order to our salvation, and the latter disturb us with a view to enjoy our embarrassment and to profit themselves at our expense, by whatever means we are stirred up and put into motion, let us strive to show, that, in the purest and noblest sense, we are CONVERTED; and this will be our sword and shield in the day of battle, and on the field of that Armageddon where the powers of light and darkness are perhaps already mustering their hosts. Let us listen to what was addressed to one of the earliest churches: "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous, therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock! He hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit

[ocr errors]

From the Asiatic Journal.

AN ADVENTURE AT SHIRAUZ. NINE or ten years ago, I happened to spend a few weeks in Shirauz. I will not say they were the most agreeable of my life; but assuredly I have passed many less pleasant. Being in some degree clothed with an official character, I enjoyed more freedom than is usually allowed to ordinary travellers; not that Persia is an intolerant or bigoted country,— far from it: boys and raggamuffins will occasionally insult a Feringhee, and even pelt him with stones; but there is not much risk in taking summary vengeance upon the offender's carcass, provided the outrage be real and unprovoked.

Shirauz is (or rather was, for recent visiters tell us that the earthquakes have changed its climate as well as its aspect) a delicious place. At about seven miles from the city, you enter a beautiful valley, emerging from hilly defiles. Fertility smiles around, and perfumes impregnate the air. Within the walls of Shirauz are gardens and fountains, and in the suburbs groves of citron and orange, with vineyards and rivulets, where the indolent voluptuaries

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

of the city repose upon couches of rose-blossoms, as they listen to the enchanting notes of the Persian nightingales, whilst inhaling from the caleoon the fragrant and exhilarating smoke. Such is the influence of the climate, in the more temperate season of the year and of the day, that existence, mere existence, is felt to be a luxury. Shall we then account the Persians a brutified, unintellectual race, because we hear of their resigning themselves sometimes to the gratification which results from the indulgence of bodily languor, as if they were mere sensualists, and incapable of mental effort? Henry Martyn, the clebrated missionary (of whom I shall have more to speak anon), who had many advantages to assist him in forming a right estimate of the Persian character, says: "The people are clever and intelligent, and more calculated to become great and powerful than any of the nations of the East, had they a good government and the Christian religion."

In truth, Persian society, good Persian society, introduces an observant European, qualified by a familiarity with the language and manners, to the knowledge of many characters, which would be admired in the circles of our own country; I mean men of excellent parts, cultivated understandings, and fine taste. I could appeal to the testimony of one individual on this point, who has had abundant opportunities to study the Persians,-I mean Sir John Malcolm: I have heard him speak in the most favourable terms of the better classes in Persia.

another, which was the only rule of human con-
duct. A graver reasoner endeavoured to re-
buke both speakers. He dwelt upon the ne-
cessity of our being accountable to the Being
who made and preserved the world; observed
that a sense of religion alone could effectually
restrain mankind from the commission of acts
inimical to the general good; and quoted many
maxims from Sadi and the poets, ending with
a passage from the Pand-nameh: "if you
would escape the flames of hell, purify your-
self with the water of piety; if you would
walk in the paths of happiness, let the lamp of
devotion guide your footsteps!"

Amongst the guests was a person who took but little part in these mock encounters, which seemed to me to be chiefly expedients for the display of wit and repartee. He was a man below the middle age, of a serious countenance and mild deportment. He did not appear to be on terms of intimacy with any but the entertainer. They called him Mahomed Rahem. I thought he frequently observed me with great attention, and watched every word that I uttered, especially when the subject just referred to was discussing. Once I expressed myself with some levity; I fear I was a little corrupted by the example of those around me, many of whom made no scruple of jesting upon points, which ought, in their estimation at least, to have been exempt from ridicule. This individual fixed his eyes upon me with so peculiar an expression of surprise, regret, and reproof, that I was struck to the very soul, and felt a strange mysterious wonder who this person could be. He perceived that he had unintentionally excited my suspicion, and consequently avoided my looks; but whenever our glances did meet, each of us was evidently disordered by the collision. I asked privately of one of the party if he knew the person who had so strangely interested me. He told me that he had been educated for a moollah, but had never officiated; that he was a man of considerable learning, and much respected, but was particularly reserved and somewhat eccentric in his habits. He lived retired, and seldom visited even his most intimate friends. My informant added that his only inducement to join the party had been the expectation of meeting an Englishman, as he was extremely attached to the English nation, and had studied our language and learning.


Having received an invitation to dine (or rather sup) with a Persian party in the city, I accordingly went, and found a number of guests assembled. The banquet was served in a court, decorated with flowers, sub dio. The conversation was varied, grave and gay, chiefly of the latter complexion. Poetry was often the subject; sometimes philosophy, sometimes politics, prevailed. Amongst the topics discussed, religion was one. There are so many sects in Persia, especially if we include the free-thinking classes, who dabble in religious subjects by way of amusement merely, that the questions which frequently grow out of such a discussion constitute no trifling resource for conversation. I was called upon, though with perfect good breeding and politeness, to give an account of the tenets of our faith, and I confess I felt myself sometimes embarrassed by the pointed queries of my companions. I soon found that I could best parry their attacks by opposing one of my antagonists against the other. One of the guests, whom I had never before seen, appeared to be a sceptic; he doubted of every thing; he declared he was not convinced that the scene before him was real; he even maintained the probability of the whole of what we suppose is cognizable by our senses, being an illusion. Another sportively remarked that there was nothing real but enjoyment; he argued (evidently in jest) that pleasure was the greatest good which human beings could desire; that, therefore, pleasure was the only subject worthy of a man, and his pursuit of it was justifiable, to whatever length it carried him, provided he did not interfere with the pleasure of

This information mightily increased my curiosity, which I determined to seek an opportunity of gratifying, by conversing with the object of it. But he was by no means so forward as I expected. He acknowledged that he knew a little of the English language, but he preferred expressing himself in Persian. He spoke but little, and rather coldly.

The day after the entertainment, I paid a visit to the person at whose house it had been given, and spoke to him of Mahomed Rahem. He said he was a much esteemed friend of his, and offered, without waiting for my solicitation, to take me to visit him. I suppressed my joy at the offer, and the ensuing morning was fixed for the interview.

Mahomed Rahem resided in the suburbs of Shirauz. My introducer, whose name was Meerza Reeza, informed me that I should be

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »