Page images

"If these indeed were ordinary times, and our difficulties such as might be postponed, it might be safe, as no doubt it would be seemly, that your Lordship's government should defer to opinions of so high authority but it is not safe. What your Lordship has said, in regard to the State, holds much more true in the concerns of the Church. It is not safe, in days of jealous remark, to leave any anomaly or abuse in institutions which we wish should stand. The true strength of the Church is its full efficiency for its highest work. If any dignitary is paid without working, he injures the Church. If he receives an extravagant income, his superfluity is not only a waste, but a hazard; for it points against the Church an artillery of public attack, and weakens its strength in public regard. No doubt it is hazardous to touch these questions; but it is ruinous to evade them. Therefore it is that we entreat your Lordship rather to look to the signs of the times, than to defer to authority, however grave. The dissatisfaction caused by the anomalies that prevail in the Church is deep; it is widely spread among the clergy; it is shared by the laity; and it is felt the most by those who are the warmest friends of the Church."

It is plain, from all that is passing before us, that the time is coming for an extensive rearrangement of Ecclesiastical property. The public mind is quite ripe for measures of this kind: and they cannot be long delayed. It remains, therefore, for those who are desirous of seeing the Church made more really efficient, to take all opportunities in their power for bringing forward and urging those points which are of the highest importance, and which are in danger of being forgotten. Some of those who are loudest and most persevering in their attacks upon Church defects or abuses, look only to increase the numbers of the parochial clergy, and are wholly indifferent or else hostile to any such increase in the hierarchy, as would be essential to the efficiency of the Church. Such statesmen as Sir James Graham, look on the bishop's office as little more than a sinecure. Now, where such gross errors are prevalent amongst public men, who will have to decide on Church questions, most assuredly it is the urgent duty of Churchmen to ask, and urge, and petition again and again, for what they believe essential to the proper working of her Church. If every man who wishes for an increase in the episcopate does not petition Parliament or his bishop on the subject, he may have to reflect hereafter, that his apathy or negligence may have been the cause of the Church's want of success in asking for what is indispensable to her. These Church questions are such, that activity on the part of Churchmen is certain to lead to a successful issue. Let them only push forward their claims, with sufficient unanimity, and they cannot fail, in the long run, to obtain what they seek for.

We trust that Churchmen will not lose sight of the necessity of petitioning for an addition to the episcopate. This question is at present in abeyance, owing to the opposition of a small knot of radicals to Lord John Russell's proposal for adding four new sees. The opposition has not been forgotten, and the minister apparently dreads to bring forward his proposal again. But will the Church let the question go to rest, or be content to depend on the convenience of Lord John Russell in a matter of this kind? We trust we may say, that such will not be the case. The Church Unions, at least, are pledged to bring it forward; and this will secure its not being altogether forgotten and put aside. They are not dependent on the ministry of the day; and whether that ministry be Whig, or Peelite, or Protectionist, they will look to the accomplishment of Church objects,

There are two questions of vital importance, which the Plan takes no notice of, and on which Mr. Colquhoun's pamphlet is also silent. We refer to the necessity of obtaining some additional securities from the Crown, that persons appointed to the episcopal office shall possess fitting qualifications-that this important office shall not be made the reward of mere political and family services, or a means of gratifying any body or set of men; but that religious qualifications shall be sought for that a person to be named a bishop, shall be chosen with as much care for his fitness and efficiency, as the general of an army, or a judge in one of the courts of law.

The other question on which the Plan is silent, is that which is perhaps, more than any other, essentially connected with the reform of our discipline. We refer to the question of Church legislation. Plausible as might have been in former times the theory of those who would represent Parliament as the sole and sufficient legislative body in Church matters, to talk of any such theory now as applicable to our condition, would be perfectly absurd, when Parliament comprises sectarians of all kinds, including Romanists. There are many subjects of the very highest importance, which it would be absolute profanation to bring before such an assembly. Legislation, therefore, except on the merest externals of discipline, is impossible; and even these are put off and neglected amidst the crush of worldly and political business. The Church, in any of her more delicate and sacred interests, cannot obtain a hearing in Parliament. The atmosphere is unsuited to them. We have therefore only to seek for the restitution of an Ecclesiastical legislature, in such a shape as is suited to the present age. We have perused on this subject a very interesting and valuable pamphlet, the title of which will be found at the head of these pages, and which brings together the

sentiments of men of all schools in the Church, in favour of some revival of synodal meetings. Mr. Wright is an advocate, under certain limitations, for the admission of the laity into Ecclesiastical synods, which is actually carried out in the American Church. The desirableness of any such arrangement depends wholly, in our opinion, on the principle of selection; for the presence of lay deputies elected by universal suffrage, without regard to qualifications, might be just as mischievous, as the presence of faithful and religious laymen would be beneficial. Every thing here depends on details. We recommend Mr. Wright's pamphlet to the attention of the clergy.

ART. IV. Histoire des Girondins, par MONSIEUR DE LAMARTINE. 8 vols. Paris, 1848.

THE Princesse de Lamballe had excited some pity in the bosom of the brutal ruffians Hébert and Lhuilier, who presided over that bloody mockery of a tribunal which God, in his inscrutable wisdom, permitted to scourge Paris in the month of September, 1792.

The extraordinary beauty, the mixed courage and gentleness, the noble bearing, and the winning graces of this "angelic apparition," so wrought upon these butchers, travestying the part of judges, that they sought to spare her life.

A man placing his hand on her lips, to stifle the exclamation of horror which the fear of death could not suppress, conducted her with difficulty over a heap of mangled carcases; and the peril seemed to have been passed, when a barber-boy, "drunken with wine and carnage," raised with the point of his pike the cap which covered the princesse's head, and, in doing so, drew blood from her forehead: the accident was fatal to her. At the sight of blood, the murderers who stood by rushed with the real glee of cannibals upon this image of unoffending loveliness, and tore it in pieces, with those circumstances of unheard-of and ferocious cruelty, which it was reserved for the actors in the French Revolution to invent and to exercise.

This is one, and not the least striking, of the terrible incidents in the appalling History before us; and it is one which the characteristic excellences of M. De Lamartine's style place in full relief before our eyes. (1. 25. c. 16, 17.)

When we heard that the publication of the work before us had greatly contributed to produce the Revolution which France has undergone, our astonishment was most unfeigned, and our thoughts involuntarily turned to the scene which we have just described as the only imaginable solution of so strange a phenomenon. It is not only "the sight of means to do ill-deeds" that "makes ill-deeds done;" the recital has upon certain minds the same effect: the publicity given by the newspapers to acts of extraordinary atrocity, is known to fill some minds with a kind of frenzy to commit the same. We remember being told by a person, who discharged the duties of Under-Secretary of State with honour to himself and advantage to the country, that the police thought they could

always trace the increase of any particularly atrocious crime to this cause. The recital roused the dormant appetite for sin, as the sight of blood became an irresistible temptation to those human tigers. By the same awful and mysterious process must the History we have been reading have operated upon those whom it excited to reproduce, or to run the faintest risk of reproducing horrors, the like of which, neither before nor since, God be thanked! has it ever entered into the heart of man to conceive, much less to perpetrate.

[ocr errors]

The deep interest attaching to this momentous epoch in the destinies of mankind, the dramatic skill of the narrative, the poetry and pathetic eloquence of the style, have been scarcely sufficient to prevent us from laying down in sickening disgust and horror the description of scenes which appear as if they ought to have been written in blood. If Danton himself exclaimed with horror at the propositions of Marat, "More blood! more blood! ever more blood!" what must be the feeling of those who now read of the hundred victims offered daily in Paris to “la sainte guillotine?" of the massacres "en masse at Lyons, by the agency of cannon and grape-shot? of the incredible cruelty of the "noyades" at Nantes, by the fiend Carrier? and the unutterable wickedness of Fouché, at Lyons? All these-and, alas! more--are painted by M. De Lamartine with a vividness of colouring which we have never seen surpassed. And if his power is great in placing these general scenes before our eyes, still more to be admired is it, when he describes the martyrdom of the individual sufferer. We rise from the perusal with the feeling that we have ourselves been present at the spectacle, every circumstance of which appears to be graven upon our heart. We are ready to cry aloud with


ἀφρήτωρ, ἀθέμιστος, ἀνέστιός ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος,
ὃς πολέμου ἔραται ἐπιδημίου, ὀκρυόεντος.

Il. ix. 63.

But that these scenes should have generated any other inclination in the minds of French readers, than that of resolving to shun as a pestilence any measures, with even an apparent tendency to cause them to be re-acted, does surely denote a most unhealthy, depraved, irregular, irreligious state of general sentiment in that volcanic country.

It will be said that this is not a fair statement: that the desire excited by M. De Lamartine's work is not to imitate the crimes of the Jacobins, but to emulate the virtues of the Girondins; to realize and secure those liberties to their country, for the sake of which those heroic persons shed their blood upon the scaffold.

« PreviousContinue »