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sington Hall during eleven years of its then owner's absence, and addressed to me in consequence of my wish that she would furnish some remembrances of the family and place.
"Nov. 29, 1830....Every reminiscence connected with Tissington is interesting to me; and I should never tire of the subject, for many circumstances and feelings endeared the place to me; and I will put things relating to it upon paper, as they arise to my recollection.... Mr. Graves was singular and rough in his appearance and manners.... Mrs. Fitzherbert's memory was respected at Tissington long after her death....The village in general retained few traces of religious instruction; though the poor were in general respectable in their habits, and remarkably respectful and grateful to their superiors. The old woman I alluded to' (in a previous conversation) "was a striking example of piety. She inhabited a small space within four outer walls, and a low roof. It just contained her bed and chair, had one poor window with the panes broken or stuffed with rag or paper. She was very deaf, and bowed down by infirmity more than age. She always reminded me of the woman in the Gospel, who would but touch the hem of Christ's garment to be made whole. She had no relation or friend at all congenial. She sat always bending over her little fire, with her Bible on her knee; or a stocking knitting in her hand. She laboured hard to earn a scanty subsistence. She never asked charity from any one; and we lived some years in the village without hearing of her, and when we did it was accidentally. Whenever she was able to get so far, she attended church and the sacrament; but there was no minister to visit or give her comfort. She was humble in all her words, and seemed to think most meanly of her
self; and said once, in a letter, that she had been called indeed at the eleventh hour: though from her neighbours I understood she had always been a blameless character; and been deemed an inoffensive and excellent creature, by those who could not estimate any change in her religious views. Her letters would not do her jus tice; because, not being able to write herself, she employed the village school-mistress, who could not understand her religious feelings; and therefore they express more her strong sense of attachment and gratitude for trivial kindnesses than the grounds of her faith and hope. In one, after stating that she had suffered from the coming in of the land-flood during the winter, and that Sir Henry Fitzherbert had promised to prevent its doing so in future, she adds, there is no earthly thing I can desire more; from a person almost destitute of every common comfort, I thought an awful reproof to the unthankful and discontented of all ranks. This letter I have preserved, with some others, also mentioning kindnesses from the Fitzherberts."
Although my friend does not consider this person's piety as re sulting from any direct connexion with Mrs. F. and Miss Boothby, the last of whom died indeed thirty-nine years before my correspondent and her mother became tenants of Tissington; I feel willing to believe that such an eminent example of religion was a remote consequence of the prayers and exertions of those who had long since entered into rest. Apart from this, it is, however, useful to record an instance, also in humble life, where religion flourished, as it would appear, unsupported, if not opposed, by surrounding circumstances.
The discerning reader of the letters inserted into this memorial will judge how far I am accurate
in thinking that Dr. Johnson owed, under God, much of his religion to the two excellent women, whose characters I have been enabled to elucidate from a source never before opened to public curiosity. And here, in looking back on the seventy-five years which have passed away since the death of Hill Boothby, it is highly instructive to a serious mind to contemplate, amidst the confusions of the present day, the solid and devotional character of her religion. Had she wandered from the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus, and justly offended the mind of Johnson by some unripe and exclusive scheme of prophetical interpretation; or by demanding his assent to rash speculations on the person of Christ; or by requiring his full credence in a modern miracle; and, if she had done all this, or any part of it, to the neglect of awakening his soul to eternal realities; she would have lost that influence which, however imperfectly, she actually possessed over the mind of her great friend. As it was, the only shew of objection he made to her system was, that her favourite books merely spoke old doctrines in a new form; and which was a virtual admission of their truth. And his only complaint about her personal religion appears to have been, that she was too much absorbed in her aspirations after eternal life-she was a bigot and an enthusiast. For to such an extent did a certain jealousy of her principles vulgarise even the intellect of Dr. Johnson, that he was obliged to betake himself to such vague and indefinite phrase ology as is common to the most illiterate objector. It is, at the same time, evident from his own letters, and from his prayer on her death, that he was convinced of the truth and efficacy of her principles. And I, for one, cannot doubt, but that throughout
his after life, and when he was living almost exclusively with men of the world, the religion which he exhibited-with all its irregularities, inconsistencies, and even deformities*-was, in its elements, what he had gathered, not from books and the society of theologians, but, in part at least, from one whom he blamed for spiritual excess. He could not,
as already intimated, shelter his objections to her doctrine under the plea that it was combined with rashness in speculation, with positiveness and credulity, and therefore so enfeebled, by its alliances, as to forfeit all claim to be examined; but he felt, that she believed and obeyed where too many only professed and resisted. And so will it ever be! Many of the religionists of the present times fail of their object, by presenting to an infidel world, in many a lamentable instance, an actual premium upon derision and hostility. Good men may, indeed, have, from the contagion of the day, their several shares of error and delusion; but in proportion to the reality of their faith in Jesus Christ will it be surely evident that their main strength resides in the undisputed verities of the everlasting Gospel. Other points they may hold, or agitate; but there will be a perpetual recurrence to such plain and saving truths as are essential to the peace and happiness of the servants of God. On these the excellent woman who, as it is here argued, formed much of what existed of pure religion in the soul of Johnson, lived; and supported by these, she died. And precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints !—I have visited her tomb; and, without professing what my emotions were, I know what they ought to have been. Had she indeed been a personal
I refer the reader to the portrait of Dr. Johnson so faithfully sketched in the ninth Letter of Foster's fourth Essay.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I FEEL very grateful to those who are in authority over us, for having issued a public form of prayer on the disturbances which have afflicted every Christian and patriotic mind. It is often a difficult point to determine when circumstances are such as to render the issuing of a special form, or the proclamation of a fast or thanksgiving, desirable; and of late years our rulers have usually inclined to the negative side, which is always the safer where the occasion is not such as to carry the public sentiment with the measure. All of us, perhaps, can remember occasions on which prayers, thanksgivings, or fasts, were popularly viewed only as party expressions of feeling, and therefore failed of their intended effect, and even excited displeasure or derision. The present-may I rather say the lateexigency, I, for one, think justified the measure, and the prayers issued are such as must have interested every devout worshipper. The first, indeed, is rather loosely
worded, and not sufficiently pointed; some words, or phrases, also may be thought not the best selected, such as the epithet "turbulent," and beseeching the Almay be mighty that the disturbers "recalled to a sense of their duty"a somewhat cold expression for a prayer. But I should be grieved to enter on such hypercriticisms where the object, the petitions, and the whole spirit are so excellent.
It is not stated whether the form is to be used only once, or for how many weeks, or till countermanded, or at the discretion of the clergyman. Many clergymen, I believe, have read it once, and then laid it aside; others continue to use it; and each pleads that he is right. And then, with regard to the location of the prayer, it is directed to be read "immediately before the Litany," when the Litany is used, and at other times before the prayer for all conditions of men. But what is meant by "immediately before the Litany?" Does it mean after the third collect, and before the anthem or Psalm ? This cannot be, for three reasons : namely, because then it is not "immediately" before the Litany, the anthem or Psalm intervening; secondly, because it would thus be read at cathedrals in the side desk, and not "between the porch and the altar," where, I presume, it was intended to be used; and, thirdly, because this would not be the corresponding place to that fixed on when the Litany is not read, for then it comes after the "prayer for the clergy and people," and not after the third collect, which is three prayers before; and it would be incongruous to read it one day before the anthem, and the next several prayers after.
The prayer, then, must be meant to be read literally "immediately before the Litany," that is, after the Psalm or anthem, and in cathedrals at the eagle. But is it not strange to open the litany service
with two occasional prayers; and then, after we have offered these two prayers, to begin the invocation, instead of introducing them at the usual and proper place, at the conclusion of the Litany? In the forms at the end of the Prayer-book, namely, the Fifth of November, Charles the Martyr, the Restoration, and the Accession, those prayers which are rubrically connected with the Litany are directed to be read "in the end" of it, after the collect, "We humbly beseech thee." And this would have been the proper place for the new state prayers, if they were intended to be connected with the Litany. If they were not intended to be connected with the Litany, then the place would be after the third collect; but then this would be the same morning and evening, and whether the Litany was read or not; whereas we have the direction in the latter case to read them before the prayer for all conditions of men.
There is, therefore, some incongruity which I cannot comprehend, and am almost ready to think that the king's printer has, by mistake, substituted "before" for "after." The occasion may probably have passed away before this can reach the eye of your readers; but the insertion of these remarks may still be useful with reference to future occasions. Things of this sort are not the weightier matters of the law, but still they ought to be explicit and " in order."
ON POST-APOSTOLIC MIRACLES.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
THE religious world is much indebted to you for your seasonable and judicious remarks on the subject of modern miracles. In religion, no less than in politics, a dangerous degree of excitement
seems to prevail; and your endeavour to restrain it within the bounds of sober-mindedness, deserves the thanks of every wellwisher to the cause of order and of truth. The evil might, no doubt, be left to cure itself by its own excess: but who can calculate the effects of the paroxysm, or contemplate without dismay the probable extent of the reaction which would ensue ?
But there is, however, one position of yours to which I cannot accede. I am not prepared to admit that there is no sufficient proof that any miracle has been wrought since the Apostolic age. Let us not, for the sake of avoiding enthusiasm, rush inconsiderately into the opposite extreme. A priori, there appears to be no reason why powers which were not confined to the Apostles should be withdrawn immediately upon their death, and while the circumstances which originally called for them still remained the same. How long this was the case, I do not pretend to define. Bishop Douglas thinks that miracles ceased with the age of Christian inspiration, that is, according to him, soon after the commencement of the second century; because, in his opinion, their sole end was to prove the Divine mission, by which he means the actual inspiration of the teachers of the Gospel. For my part, I do not see why miracles might not be employed as a proof of the truth of the religion apart from the inspiration of its teachers; that is, why uninspired teachers might not be empowered to perform them until the evidence of those which had been wrought by the Founder and his inspired successors of the Apostolic age had been fully published and authenticated. I conceive it to have been necessary for the propagation of the Gospel, that miracles should continue at least until their place could be supplied by the power of moral evidence. The learned Dodwell
extends their continuance to the establishment of Christianity by the civil power, and others, among whom is Mosheim, to a still later period.
But you hold that there is "no sufficient proof" of any miracle whatever after the Apostolic age. Do you then mean to controvert the confessedly miraculous interposition which frustrated Julian's attempt to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem? Or do you, as I rather believe, only mean to deny that any have been wrought since that age by human agency? If so, I answer that we have credible testimony to their performance from several of the early fathers, particularly Irenæus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Minutius Felix, and Origen; who, in their controversies with heretics and unbelievers, appealed to them as matters of public notoriety, and often as occurring within the sphere of their personal knowledge. True, it has been said that the Fathers were weak-minded men, who were ready to believe whatever served their cause: but I know not on what ground we can deny them the character of honest witnesses as to matters of fact, and the then state of the church. Bishop Douglas indeed esteems their testimony on this point unsatisfactory; and I am willing to admit that in some cases they might be deceived: but he does not, in my opinion, allow their due weight to declarations and claims made in behalf of an unpopular, nay, a persecuted religion, in the face of an inquiring age, and in defiance of learned and subtle adversaries, who, to the best of my recollection, opposed them, not by denial, much less by refutation, but either by ascribing them to magic, or by setting up rival claims on their own side, such as we find in the extraordinary actions attributed to Pythagoras, Vespasian, and Apollonius Tyaneus.
in confining to the Apostolic age the exercise of the supernatural powers originally belonging to the church. But I hold the correctness of our respective views on this subject to be totally unconnected both with the credibility of the Scripture miracles on the one hand, and that of modern miracles on the other. To the former I
I cannot, then, agree with you
yield an exalted and undisputed preeminence in point of certainty as well as importance; and separate them accordingly, "by a wide line of distinction from all human narratives." To the latter I attach no credit, because there is every reason to believe that, in all cases where the facts are truly stated, parallel instances may be found among the operations of mere natural causes. Reason and experience alike persuade us that the power of working miracles has long ago departed. The very abuse of the claim to this power committed by the abettors of the pious frauds and "lying wonders' of superstition and imposture, might sufficiently account for its having been withdrawn, if no other reason could be imagined; for "God is not mocked" with impunity. But in truth, miracles ceased when they had served their purpose. They were necessary at first to complete the evidence of Christianity; to form the subject matter of one department of that testimony on which the faith of after ages was to rest, as well as to carry conviction to the minds of the existing generation; and it is therefore probable that they were gradually discontinued in proportion as the evidence of Scripture miracles became available for these ends; that is, in proportion as it was fully known and established. Christianity is now left to work its way by the strength of this ancient and unimpeachable evidence, which to an unprejudiced reasoner is no less convincing than the daily occurrence of new wonders; while a prejudiced mind