Изображения страниц

scriptural, and practical christianity of the Church of England ; without mystic trances, or supernatural visitations without scholastic dogmas, or metaphysical refinements--without a sullen creed, which limits God's mercy, and without an antinomial system, which is a “ Drawcansir" against cards, &c.; and a dormouse against malice or murder, and the “ WORKS OF HIM" of whom certain great writers know so little !

God forbid I should attempt to confine all excellence to the Church ; that would be cxclusionary indeed. Of the great body of conscientious dissenters no one has a higher opinion than myself. I speak with respect and love of the Moravians, who are second to none in adorning their profession in all things ; whose mora) education, whose works, at home and abroad, speak for them more than I can, though what I say, I say most warmly, having such an establishment in my own parish, to whose educated änd Christian minister I am indebted for years of confidential intercourse. I speak with respect of all who preach so as to humble the sinner, exalt the Saviour-never omitting the fruits of the SPIRIT. Yet it were to be wished that the Methodists remembered the extraordinary confession of Wesley, “ that he feared, in constant wailing for the work, they had paid too little attention to the word, of God.”. Of the exemplary Quakers I can only say, like the Moravians, their light shines before men; and the admirable method of instruction laid down in the visit of Mrs. Fry to the gaols, is such as every friend to morals and religion must approve.

I have said the Church of England teaches and blends with public instruction the Ten Commandments. What will a Christian legislator think of a great part of religious population studiously excluding these and

the Lord's prayer ? What will he think of the doctrine, that the Ten Commandments are utterly useless, unless God, by supernatural revelation, brings them to the heart?

A case of early and peculiar youthful depravity came before me in the last year as magistrate (for I am not yet enlightened suffici. ently to think the duties of a conscientious magistrate and clergyman incompatible). Struck with the peculiar kind of hardness in the disposition of the young man who was brought before me, first for most cruelly beating his own mother, and next for a felony, I enquired of his mother how he had been instructed; she told me “ when he was a child he always went with her to meeting.

I knew he never heard the Lord's Prayer or the Commandments there. I asked, with mildness, whether he had heard any lesson

· The Moravians, indeed, strictly speaking, are NOT DISSENTITS: they ASSENT to the doctrine, form, and apostolical origin of the Church of England, as much as any one within that church.

of morality there ; she said he heard the Gospel! and took great delight in it till about twelve years old! Since that time Satan had got possession of him, and she could do nothing but pray to the Lord ! If the Lord did not make him better, it was no use for his father or mother to try! A married sister soon after came to speak with me, in consequence of his being committed on account of the offence, for which he was tried at the Salisbury assizes. I asked her if she had ever told him how pointedly God had said “ Thou shalt not steal ?” she seriously replied, “ that, thank God, he had brought the Commandments to her heart, but it was no use to teach the Commandments unless God brought them to the heart ; which, in time, God might do to the heart of her brother !”

Now, Sir, these are not particular cases, they very frequently occur in a thousand instances, and are well known among those who are conversant with a certain class of religionists. Nor do I speak in disparagement of the general character of any religious people ; but I bring such facts forward to show that the mode adopted by the National Church, and pursued in the National Schools, is the best to train up a child in religious and moral duties. Far less do I wish to cast the most distant reflection on the British and Foreign Schools. Their mode of instruction is, I have no doubt, moral as well as religious; but it must be excellent indeed, if it be better than the usual mode of instruction in the Church of England : and for the beneficial effects of this instruction, I call your attention to the fact of a statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury—that not one of the youthful delinquents with which London swarms has been traced to the NATIONAL Schools!

Without making invidious comparisons, then, I would wish temperately to vindicate that mode of early instruction which has been found beneficial since almost the time of the Reformation ; and of which we may judge by ITS FRUITS. Its object is to produce not the conceited, and, as it is called, EXPERIMENTAL "professor," but the practical Christian ; and the influence of the Church of England in forming amiable, exalted, and, in higher life, truly Christian characters, may be seen in such men as Nelson, Locke, Izaac Walton, Evelyn, Abraham Cowley, to say nothing of the host of its own excellent and accomplished writers, and thousands who keep the “noiseless tenor of their way," in humble life, within its pale. Although the poor laws have well-nigh palsied the heart of moral respectability and independence, even now, look at many a country village : the father, decently dressed, appears at Church, with his child by his side; or the mother, leaning over its head, with her arm upon its neck, points out the passage in the prayer book as the clergyman reads it. The very suushinc and incense of a summer Sabbath morning is not so beautiful, and so grateful to the heart, as this spectacle ! and yet the busy and distempered fanatic scatters in the church-yard his doggrel verses on the “ Churchman's Sunday,” to impress on the enlightened villager, that those who go to the “ Town of MORALITY to church” will never go to heaven.'

I know you will not, and trust no one will, who reads this, suppose for one moment I could wish to prevent any one from worshipping God his own way. No! I only wish to show, temperately, the advantage of encouraging the schools to which not one crime has hitherto been traced, extensive as they are; that you, and those who, perhaps, think with you, would do us justice, if not show us kinduess ; and that that mode of early instruction should not be reviled, which a long trial of its effects has almost consecrated, which combines faith, morality, and obedience to laws, and which was imposed by those at least as wise and good as the best and the wisest of the generation in which we live.

This I am sure of, that the manufacturing districts, where the population habitually despise the clergyman, however exemplary his life and conduct, who imbibe their divinity from other instructors, are much worse in point of morals than those districts (which they call still in darkness), where the divinity of such books as I have mentioned, the savings of “ black dwarfs and yellow dwarfs,” and even the solemn sarcasm and portentous lucubrations of the second Jeremy, have not yet reached. And I know that when the report of the Commissioners is published, the character of the clergy will be placed beyond the reach of the shafts of two-penny calumnian tors.

Mr. Brougham himself has cheerfully borne witness to the readiness with which they all come forward to answer queries addressed to them relating to charities, and the general attestation to, and the public confirmation of, their character, will be one of the benefits for which, Sir, the nation, and the clergy in particular, will have to thank Him.

I pray God, that when you and I shall be mouldered in the dust, the ark which enshrines, in this country, religious, moral, and social happiness, may never perish till that day, when all, whatever may be the difference of their station or talents, shall stand before their great Taskmaster !!

I am, most respectfully,
Your sincere and obedient Servant,

WM. L. BOWLES. 'It may, perhaps, be inferred from this, that the attachment of my own parishioners is diminished : so far, however, is this from being the case, that I have great satisfaction in having it in my power to state that my congregation is considerably more numerous than the church can, with convenience, accommodate.


Into the account of the causes of crimes must be taken, at the present moment, the want of employment, and the consequent low rate of wages. A poor man should earn twelve shillings a week, instead of eight. Nor can I omit the circumstance, that ten millions of acres are unCULTIVATED in this country, and that twelve millions of money have gone, during the last year, to pay the la borers of other countries for that, which our own fields should have been made to supply.

I know the delicacy and difficulty attending any discussion of this topic; but it will be sufficient to have touched on it.

In our gaols, what appears universally to be admitted, the most necessary provisions, are, the separation and classification of criminals---constant industrious employnient-religious instructionand, if possible, some refuge or means of employment when the prisoner returns to society, lest absolute want compels him again to break the laws.

Frequency of Capital Convictions. I was witness, this day, March 11, to eleven capital convictions. In this number were four boys, not more than 13 or 14. After judgment was passed, I went to the gaol, and saw them as they entered : only one seemed affected, and the boys absolutely laughed, saying, it was 'as well to laugh as cry:

All these were convinced, notwithstanding the conviction, that they should only have, what they call “ seven pen'worth ;" a cant expression for seven years' transportation to Botany Bay. When this communication is announced to them, it is generally received with expressions of that is what I expected; I am very glad of it.” --For myself, I profess to have no other guides of judgment than · common sense and common humanity; but the prisoners know, that if, according to the law, they must be condemned—not two out of ten will be hanged, and transportation is a matter of exultation.

Transportation is even to many a bounty, and the condemnation to death loses its awful and most solemn effect, as the law itself is infinitely more severe than the administration !

Those who had been acquitted, at these assizes, were discharged, men, boys, and women together, at six o'clock in the evening ; come twenty, some thirty or forty miles from home, and without a

penny. Twenty-two of the whole list were under the age of twenty.

The circumstance which I would wish to press on the attention of every humane person, is this : though only two were left for execution, seventeen persons, in the whole, were CONDEMNED at these assizes TO DEATH! Two women were put on their trial for the same offence; but as it appeared to the Judge that no possible guilt could be attached to one of them, she was taken from the bar during the trial. The scene I shall not hastily forget: I had remarked the earnest agony of this poor girl's countenance. When, during the course of the trial, she heard something mentioned about acquittal, her countenance was lifted up with an expression of eager and most earnest solicitude. She was doubtful whether it: was possible that the humane observations of the Judge could apply to her; she leaned over, with a flush in her pale face, and spoke to the jailer ; who, in a whisper, confirmed her hope. She fell down instantly insensible, and was taken from the Court in strong hysterics, from the impression of the awful scene, and the narrow escape she had. She was taken back to the prison with the other felons; and though pronounced “not guilty," detained till the Judges left town; and she was among the number of those, who, at that time in the evening, had to pass over a wild down of thirty or forty miles to their home.

I was too late to give such assistance as I should have instantly done to fellow creatures under these circumstances, nor did I know their situation till the next morning. Neither humanity, nor even the letter of the law, sanction this detention ! On enquiry of the jailer concerning the girl, whose appearance was so impressive at her trial, he told me, to show the necessity of classification, that for the first eight or ten days after she came to the gaol she appeared almost heart-broken; but after this could talk and swear as well as the rest !!

Whilst we point out what appear to be the chief causes of the increased criminality of the present day, let us not forget ONE MOST MATERIAL CIRCUMSTANCE : owing to a better regulated and more active police, there are twenty detections of crime, at least in London, when, twenty years ago, there were not ten; and after all, if the INCREASE perceived may be owing to the greater number of offenders, some appearance of that increase may be owing to the more vigilant activity of the police.

Atrocious depravity.--I have been credibly informed, that when the woman who was condemned at Winchester for the murder of her husband, was brought to the place of execution, she preserved the same tone of assurance, and said, “they might do what they pleased with her, as she was one of the elect!"

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »