Изображения страниц

to the crown. When we arraign any man at the bar of our judgment, for conduct deemed reprehensible, justice requires that we should take into our consideration, before we condemn him, the times in which he lived, the circumstances under which he was placed, and the various actuating motives by which he was governed. To apply this to the case before us, we should remember, that the idea of regal succession, in strict lineal descent, had but very little hold on the national mind during any period of the Tudor dynasty. Henry bequeathed the crown to his daughters in reversion; but, as they had both been declared illegitimate by act of parliament, their right evidently rested on the legislative power conveyed to the king for its disposal.

As Edward professed his intention to procure the same sanction for subverting that arrangement, and as the Lady Jane stood next in the succession after the princesses, there would not appear, to persons living in those days, so violent a departure from acknowledged right as strikes us, with our widely different and more constitutional views of the question. The oath sworn by Cranmer and the other executors to fulfil the late king's will, ought, we think, to have proved an insuperable bar to so palpable a departure from it, and it actually caused the Archbishop long to hesitate before he acquiesced; but whatever might be the real cause of his yielding at last, we do not believe that it was in order to assist a petty intrigue, on the part of Northumberland, to elevate his family at the expense of justice and equity. He was far more likely to be shaken by the consequences which he well knew would ensue on the accession of the bigot Mary, -the subversion of the fair fabric of a scripturally constituted church, and the probable reversion to the errors of Rome.

We might have offered, had limits permitted, some remarks



the interesting character of the amiable Edward, but his life is too well known to render it necessary. His biographers have detailed various striking illustrations of his personal piety, and, considering his youthful age, of the solidity of his mind. Even when a child, he entertained a peculiar veneration for the book of God.

"So powerful indeed was the reverecorded word, that when a play-fellow rence imbibed by the royal youth for God's once laid a Bible on the floor, in order to give him the means of reaching something above his head, he not only refused to avail himself of such a help, but also capable of using the Book of Life for an expressed his displeasure, at being thought end so trifling." p. 2.

As he ripened in years, he imbibed a sincere regard for the pure principles of the Reformation, together with a knowledge of the points at issue between the two churches, not usual to his age or station. But the most striking traits of the youthful monarch's character were humility, and an earnest desire to fulfil the duties of his exalted rank. His remarks to Bishop Ridley, on his sermon respecting the duties incumbent on those whom Providence elevates above their fellowbeings, exemplify this very strongly.

"Edward was much affected by this discourse, and after dinner he desired the preacher should wait on him in the great gallery of the palace. When Ridley obeyThe king however mildly said, 'Be covered the call, he was, as usual, bare-headed. ed, my lord, and take a seat by me. I have to thank you most heartily for the excellent sermon which you preached this morning. In what you said I feel myself more concerned than any other person; for my means are the greatest, and my station is the highest in the kingdom: I therefore beseech you give your counsel as to how I may best perform the duty which you have shewn to be incumbent upon me.' The bishop was so much overpowered by this unexpected display of goodness, that after sitting for a short interval he burst into he replied, that indeed the city of London tears. At length, mastering his emotion, afforded ample room for the exercise of benevolence, but that he could wish, before pointing out any particular channel for the royal bounty, to consult the civic authorities. Edward approved this suggestion, and immediately furnished the prelate with a letter demanding the requi

site information. A committee of the citizens was in consequence formed; and in its report the indigent were distributed into three classes, the young, the diseased, and the idle. For the effectual relief. of the unfortunate persons under the first two designations, King Henry's grants to the Blue-coat and St. Bartholomew's hospitals were confirmed, and additional sums were supplied to these establishments. For the relief and reformation of the idle, the royal palace of Bridewell was appropriated and endowed." pp. 752, 753.

How much might have been anticipated from the riper years of such a sovereign, guided by the

wise counsels of Cranmer! how much of human woe and suffering, in the dark and dreary reign of his persecuting sister, would have been spared! But "the ways of God are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts."

We have been carried on so far

by the engrossing nature of our subject, as almost to have lost sight of the work under our review. We

consider it highly creditable to Mr. Soames's reading and research; and, although we fear we should differ from him on some important points of doctrine, if his statements were sufficiently explicit to allow of our perfectly collecting his sentiments, this does not prevent our appreciating the value of his work as an historical composition. We hope that he will proceed in his labours. A

In illustration of this remark, we might notice the author's statement respecting the article on "predestination to life," that "God has foreseen from all eternity the character of every moral agent in the great human family; and that he has mercifully determined upon guiding through earthly goodness, to heavenly joys, those who are fitted for the opera tions of his grace." Surely, whatever may be the Scripture doctrine, or the doctrine of our church, respecting" predestination to life," this supposition of foreseen merit or fitness in man accords with neither, Such a sentiment, we fear, involves very inadequate notions respecting the character of original sin, the natural inability of man to turn to God, and the doctrine of Divine agency as explained by our own church. There is indeed to our minds a considerable defectiveness of statement

very important portion of our ecclesiastical annals yet remains before him, which will demand all his diligence, and which, if placed before the public in a pleasing form, will, we doubt not, prove acceptable and beneficial. But, in order to attain this desirable end, we would recommend him to compress his materials into a smaller compass, and to avoid those digressions which have increased the size, (and, we may add, the expense) of the present volume beyond what we conceive the subject demanded. If he assign to the remaining important periods a space proportionable to that which he has occupied with the short reign of Edward, he will defeat his purpose, and his ensuing volume will become so large as to deter those from reading it for whom it is professedly intended, and whom

it is well calculated to interest and benefit.

Memoirs of a West-India Planter ; published from an original Manuscript; with a Preface and additional Details. By the Rev. JOHN RILAND, M. A. Curate of Yoxall, Staffordshire. London. 1827. 5s.

THE Anti-slavery cause has called forth, as well it deserved, persons of all ranks, and minds and talents of every order, in its defence. Those who consult merely the coldest abstractions of the understanding will find an ample fund of argument and of fact, political, statistical, moral, and economical, to shew the fearfully calamitous effects of slavery; while those who think that on such a question, the warmest feelings of humanity, and the sacred dictates of religion may allowably exercise no feeble sway, will be utterly overwhelmed with the mass of heartrending details which have been elicited on this afflicting question.

wherever there occurs a reference to these Poets, philosophers, statesmen, political economists, and divines, have

and kindred points of doctrine.

all, in their respective spheres, opened most powerful attacks upon this pestiferous and many headed hydra. We should indeed be fearful of poets, and their allies the writers of fictitious narratives, pouring in their lighter troops in such a contest, if they were not amply supported from van to rear, from flank to centre, by the weighty arms of solid argument and impregnable truth. But thus guarded, thus entrenched, we have already more than once hailed the writers of such works as "Outalissi," "The System," and the authors of various little moral tales and dialogues on the evils of slavery, as valuable coadjutors in this great cause. They have not written fictions but well ascertained and deeply affecting truths; for the convenient exhibition of which a slight web of fictitious narrative is woven together, but which have not been allowed to

be coloured or distorted by being thus inserted into a connecting tissue.

Of this class is the work before us. The "Memoirs, published from an original Manuscript," are but slight, and are avowedly only parabolical, for the sake of giving the reader at once a faithful and an affecting picture of West-Indian slavery, and of inducing him to exert his just portion of influence and exertion for its extermination. The author has exhibited powers of conception and description which shew that, had the production of a merely interesting tale been his object, he could have succeeded to no slight extent in impressing the imagination and the heart of his readers. But to write a novel was not his object. He appears in the far higher character of a minister of Christ, endeavouring to awaken his countrymen, especially those who are interested in other works of Christian charity, to the enormity of a system which exists only by their sufferance or rather by their active support—and which it is their duty promptly to examine into and

to abolish. He collects his facts from friends or opponents, wherever he can find them, with no other stipulation than that facts they must be, and facts strongly bearing upon the details of his own highly able arguments. Of such facts he has amassed a most convincing and affecting collection, and he has made a powerful use of them, either as direct quotations, or by embodying them in the substance of his narrative; and even then generally with such references as bear out the truth of his details.

We have just remarked, that the respected author makes an especial appeal to all persons who are interested in other works of Christian charity, to come forward in this also. Let our readers weigh well the following remarks upon this subject.

mystery. I mean the apathy, and even the impatience and irritability, manifested, with regard to the abolition, by numbers of the Christian philanthropists of these busy times. Their conduct is a direct contrast to the spirit awakened throughout their own body, when the cause of the African was first debated. In 1787, their exertions in favour of the Negroes were unanimous, rapid, and efficient. In 1827, they are either slumbering on their arms; or, in effect, subsidising the colo nists. The circumstance is more extraordinary, as we live in days when activity in doing good-whatever be the motiveis become fashionable. Never was the machinery of benevolence worked with greater skill, precision, and perseverance. But, in some quarters, the cause of the slaves is forgotten, or ridiculed; or it is even opposed by persons so intensely absorbed in schemes of charity, as-for so the accusation runs-to postpone their domestic and more imperative duties till to-morrow. Is this because the abolitionists cannot bring forward, on their hustings, stories of triumph equivalent to the splendid success announced at the anniversaries of Missionary and Bible societies? Alas! our details are too generally those of languid operation, of retrograde movements, and even of confusion and discomfiture! And why-but for one reason, because we have so few auxiliaries!

"The subject presents also another

"Let it be at length recollected, that the Slave Trade and Slavery are identical; that the earnestness once displayed by the moralists of this county, to annihilate

the commerce in human beings, ought to have been continued against the oppression of the same beings, either as transferred from a slave-ship to a slave-colony, or as descended from the exiles of Africa, and inheritors of their affliction. I think,' said the late Right Honourable William Windham, that too much distinction has been made between two things so closely connected with each other, as Slavery and the Slave Trade. They are in essence one and the same, and in their nature equally objectionable." pp. vii, viii.

[ocr errors]

We fear that Mr. Riland has too much cause to make this appeal. The friends of religion, generally speaking, have not done all they ought, or all they could, to promote either the temporal or the spiritual interests of the many hundreds of thousands of their ignorant and oppressed fellow-creatures, confined in our slave colonies. Many well disposed and religious laymen hang back, because their pastors do not urge upon them the importance of the subject; while their pastors refrain from so doing lest, it is said, "they should injure their ministry." But we have already dwelt so often and so recently upon this topic, that we will not dilate again upon it at present. We will only add, that we believe that nothing is more injurious to the usefulness of a minister of Christ than a hollow compromise with any disposition or practice which he knows or suspects to be wrong, but which he also knows to have a powerful advocate in the interests or prejudices of an influential portion of his flock. A West-India merchant or planter, who is truly a religious man, would not really think the worse of his pastor, or be less edified by his ministrations, because he found him faithful in stating what he conceived to be his sins or his duties, however different his own estimate might be upon the subject.

But the planter has a legal property in his slave; and would you interfere with legal property? On this most Christian legality let us hear Mr. Riland; only premising, that, as the whole nation has been guilty in sanctioning a truly pirati

cal system, we do not mean to assert that the expense of reparation ought not, in its just proportion, to be borne by all the culprits, as well as by the party most directly concerned. What that just proportion may be is not our present question; though we firmly believe, that whatever share of guilt was contracted by the government, or parliament, or the public, of past days, they were little more than unwitting instruments to work measures, devised and proposed by the West-India interest, and borne along triumphantly, by the powerful weight of West India power, and influence, and property. But to return to Mr. Riland on the legitimacy of the caption and detention.

"Let the inhabitants of this enlightenfrom their recent liberation of European ed empire take a lesson of consistency bondsmen among the Algerines. When Lord Exmouth succeeded, by the bombardment of their fortress, in bringing a despot to terms, what would Europe have said, had he insisted merely upon the exin chains? Among those victims, "there tinction of piracy, and left the captives might have been some even of our own countrymen; taken, we will suppose, in Algerine commander, who had ventured a Lisbon packet, by some enterprising to steer through the Straits of Gibraltar, and to cruize at the very mouth of the Tagus. We may faintly imagine, what throughout the empire at the news, that thunders of indignation would have rolled even a single British family should have been manacled, branded, bastinadoed, and worked in a gang of White slaves under a deniable, that an Algerine crew have as Moorish driver. It is nevertheless unnational and as moral a right to carry away, from the chain-pier at Brighton, a party of fashionables into African bondage; as we Christian Protestants, posTrade; or now retain, in continuing the sessed ourselves in the days of the Slave arrangements of a slave-cultured plantation." pp. viii, ix.

Mr. Riland continues to press home the question upon the friends of religion, in the following expostulation.

pretensions; and numbers among us are spiritually vain of their country, as having shone so brilliantly, in their view, as the light of the world, and the glory of all the success of our great society in disperlands. One source of this vanity has been sing millions of copies of the Scriptures.

"We are a nation of high religious

[ocr errors]

But, if those Scriptures be true, what is the meaning of such passages as denounce the vengeance of God upon the oppressor? We may suggest to the incredulous reader, the expediency of studying in the retirement of his closet, only the few following texts; Exodus xxii. 21-24; Jeremiah v. 25-29; xxi. 12; xx. 3, 13 --17; Ezekiel xxii. 7, 9, 12-14, 2)—31; Zechariah vii. 9-14; Joel iii. 3, 4, 7, 8; James v. 1-6; Rev. xviii. 13; as a scanty example of the many so thickly strewn throughout the book of God; and of asking himself, after the examination of each, Lord, is it I?' He may not be a planter, neither a planter's agent. But in those national affairs which involve religion-and our subject is one of themneutrality is guilt. It is among the signs of the times' which men of serious minds will observe well, that our students of prophecy appear to pass over prophetic denunciations against oppression; as though these might be forgotten in their calculations on the decline and fall of empires, and in their hopes or anxieties respecting the destiny of our own country. The author of Babylon and Infidelity foredoomed of God '—a book not to be mentioned without admiration and gratitude, whatever may be its writer's mistakes, either as a theorist or rhetorician-may be particularized as, in this view, deficient. Mr. Irving tells fearful things in respect to what, as he and many others think, may come upon this land. But will the sorrowful crying of our captives, their sighs and groans, and their bursts of convulsive grief, never be heard in the day, and before the day, when God arises to shake terribly the earth, and when he makes inquisition for blood? It is a solemn question; and we ought to be prepared to answer it." pp. xxiv, xxv.

Let those who are seriously anxious for the extension of Christianity and the salvation of the souls of men, weigh well the following argument.

"Dr. Paley has pointedly owned the very partial recognition, and almost the non-existence, of Christianity in colonial economy; and has closed his statement by expressing a hope, that what the Gospel once did in an idolatrous empire, it may still accomplish in islands colonized, for ages, by people professing to believe in Jesus Christ! He has, of course, anticipated our main position, that Christianity and slavery that is, be it distinctly understood, the cart-whip, demoralizing slavery of the West Indies; and not the milder modifications of bondage, existing by suffrage under the Jewish Theocracy; neither such as are known among the nations of Africa-cannot coexist. They are principles inevitably destructive of each other." pp. xii, xiii.

But slavery is not what it was." In answer to this palliation we might re-quote sheet after sheet of Mr. Riland's authorities and citations. Our readers, we hope, will peruse them for themselves. To our minds, even were it proved that the draught of bitterness is some, what diluted, which practically, we fear, is not the fact, yet still slavery ever is and must be bitter.

"Even if I were to allow, well said Bishop Horsely, that the slaves in the West Indies receive, from the liberality of the planters, all the alleviations which their condition will admit, yet I would say, that they cannot be otherwise than miserable; for, if you were to pamper them with the most exquisite delicacies, or put them to rest on a bed of roses, a slave will still be a slave.' (Speech in the house of lords, June 10, 1806.) ” pp. 213, 214.


We shall not detail the planter's memoirs, which, as we have said, are but a vehicle for matters of fact. They are comprised in a few notices of his birth and infant education, or mis-education, in the West Indies; his early removal to England; his school-boy memoranda; his return to the colonies, and the scenes he there witnessed; with his final settlement in England, and his becoming a zealous advocate for the abolition of slavery.

We present a few specimens of the narrative. They at once illustrate the direful effects of slavery, and the intellectual and moral powers of the author in reprobating it.

The following is his account of a poor old blind Black man, whom he finds when at school in England.

"I shall now relate parts of Cæsar's history; not in his language, neither as detailed at one interview; but as digested by myself-without, I trust, any material inaccuracy-from what he told at various times, either to me alone, or in the com pany of others. I was born,' said Caesar, 'in a kingdom of Africa far distant from the coast. My birth-place, was a village situated in the midst of a thick wood; through which there was a narrow winding path, not easily to be found by the enemy: I say, the enemy; because, remote though we were from the seashore, the slave-traders, by means of their agents, made frequent incursions into our

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »