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Thoresby had wholly abandoned the gentleness of his nature, and employed the language of indignation and abhorrence at this free-thinker; but his reproof was the most mild that could be resorted to, and was coupled with terms of the highest commendation: “ I am particularly pleased,” he remarks,“ with one expression in your's, that there were no parties in the republic of letters, for I am, as you kindly observe, an honest man, (let me add, simple and plain-hearted,) and can converse with great ease and satisfaction, with both high and low (though I would wish all distinctions. were laid aside,) and have correspondents of all denominations, but you will pardon me for wishing that a gentleman of so much humanity, learning, and curiosity, was in one point more of the sentiments of the catholic church. Pardon, Sir, this single expression, as proceeding from the affectionate desires of a simple recluse in his country cell, where he prays for peace and truth, and the welfare of all mankind.' 4. The first volume is divided into two parts; the one consists of what is properly called the topography of the town and parish of Leeds; and the other is a catalogue of the antiquities, and of the natural and artificial rarities of Mr. Ralph Thoresby, the author. The former commences with an account of the town and manor of Leeds, and then proeeeds to the different places assigned to the parochial limits, all tending to shew the comparatively bumble condition of these rich and populous districts at the close of the seventeenth, and commencement of the eighteenth century, when this production was indited. The greater proportion, by far, is devoted to the pedigrees of the principal families of the neighbourhood, and we cannot even get over the description given in the first page without the intrusion of these genealogies, the introduction of which would afford
very little entertainment or instruction to the generality of readers. : We should have thought that the editor might have incorporated the addenda of his own with the body of the work, connecting the respective subjects with the local circumstances to which they belong; but it will have been seen by an extract we have before supplied, that this gentleman was principally influenced by the “ importunate demand of the present generation for the integrity of an original text,” and for this he has endured the reprinting of the “ sepulchral trash;" and such is his apology for not doing what the author would certainly have taken the trouble to do, had he possessed the same opportunity. With
regard to the "sepulchral trash,” we have a motive assigned for his disinclination to such researches in his History and Antiquity of the Deanery of Craven. “ This work,” he says, " is far from containing a complete collection of the epitaphs. The author, indeed, would have had the countenance of some of his predecessors had he opened a correspondence with sextons and parish-clerks, for an entire assortment of these wares. But from such undistinguishing accumulation of sepulchral trash,' indifference, economy, and taste, alike revolted.” (He might have avoided throwing mire even at the lay brethren of his own order.) “ These,” he continues, indulging in another way the same splenetic temper," are consigned to some future biographer; who, at the distance perhaps of two centuries, view. ing the figures of the last generation through the mists of antiquity, may behold them dilated into giants of wisdom and virtue. Distance and indistinctness are great sources of the sublime.”
With regard to the Musæum Thoresbyanum, we have no doubt that it ought wholly to have been excluded, notwithstanding the notes and additions for which the learned editor takes credit, and which notes are, as in the former part of the same volume, very few in number, “rari nantes in gurgite vasto," and not worth the little space they occupy. It is a melancholy truth for the purchasers, that this frivo. lous catalogue of an antiquarian, who lived an hundred years ago, and which was sold long since by auction for 4501., should have been again intruded, with all the decorations of type, margin and paper, and with the embellishments of a respectable artist, for no one purpose but to magnify the bulk of the concern, and the charge of this expensive undertaking. At least, so far, this castration" of the original text (to repeat the delicate expression of the .editor) would have been endured without pain, and submitted to without injurious consequences. If the regard to the preservation of the 5 original text”. is to preserve the record of the puerilities (or 6 anilities," as Dr. Whita ker has it) of such a credulous collector as he describes Mr.
Thoresby to be, we hope this mischievous partiality for originals will be abandoned, as otherwise our libraries will be filled with materials yet more degrading and offensive than the -- sepulcbral trash” supplied by sextops and parish clerks, to which and to whom the doctor expresses such a violent antipathy.
Mr. Thoresby having left the historical part of his work
unfinished, it was the more desirable that this, which forms the most interesting portion of the undertaking, should be completed, and in the second volume, to which we are now proceeding, this purpose has been in some respects very minutely and ably accomplished, and with a patience of research, as well as a boldness of execution, that does great credit to the learned compiler. The editor, in this second yolume, does not strictly confine himself to the limits of his author, but he extends his illustrations, as we before intimated, to the tract of country denominated by Bede Loidis and Elmete, which is supposed to include the lower portions of Aire-dale and Wharfe-dale, together with the entire vale of Calder, in the county of York. He does not even confine himself wholly to these limits, but from Bradford he proceeds to Halifax, bearing upon Whalley, in order that he may connect the present with his former enquiries, which, with the history of Craven, already mentioned, will supply information regarding more than one-fourth part of the extensive county of York.
« This tract," he says, “ though not strongly marked by nature, is far from being deficient in natural beauties. It embraces a portion (almost the lowest, and therefore at least the most fertile portion) of thrée northern vallies, watered by the Calder, the Are, and the Wharf. Commencing with the junction of the two former at Castleford, it pursues the line of the first to the point at which, after a course of twenty miles, it issues from the eastern extremity of the parish of Halifax. From Castleford the Are traced upward bý Leeds, the principal subject of this work, conducts us to the point at which in that vailey the history of Craven terminated to the south. Stretching in the next place over the high grounds which bound the vallies of Are and Wharf, this enquiry will extend to Harwood (a 'scene of elegance and antiquity sufficiently important to justify a wider deviation,) and ranging to the northern extremity of the parish of Otley, will terminate, for a similar reason, with the limits of Ilkley. At the extremity of the parish of Bradford it will attach upon the parish of Whalley, and therefore connect itself with another work; but the connection would have been more complete had not the extensive and interesting parish of Halifax, unquestionably a portion of the great Saxon parish of Dewsbury, and consequently the whole vale of Calder up to its source near my own residence, been forestalled by the sluggish labours of its own antiquary. In adopting a plan so comprehensive, I willingly submit to the necessity which it imposes of treating the several subjects less in detail thau has become fashionable'in works of modern topography." (p. 1, 'vol. ii.)
So much for the limits with respect to space; on the restrictions the editor imposed upon himself with regard to method, he thus speaks under the influence of his natural asperity.
“In former works I have been accused, and I plead guilty to the charge, of having given too much importance to objects comparatively trilling. This inherent sin of antiquaries, besides the great evil of producing bulky volumes on subjects scarcely interesting beyond the confines of a single parish, is attended by another transgression against the rules of good taste, namely, that of conferring almost equal importance on all subjects, so that instead of exalting the meau, which is impossible, it depresses by the stupid equality of its regards what is really great. On the other hand, it is not brevity alone, even though purchased by the rejection of trifling details, that will be able to confer interest on a topographical work. The wretched things which, if they were more brief than they are, would be nothing,—things entitling themselves Guides, Tours, Descriptions, &c. must not be permitted to boast themselves in the absence of prolixity. They are at an infinite distance between the dullest details of regular topography. Ignorance of the subject begetting perpetual misnomers, mistakes in chronelogy and in situation, together with imbecility and cloudiness of understanding, no more permit such trash to aspire to the name of topography, than a verger of a cathedral is allowed to rank with antiquaries.” (p. 2, vol ii.)
The Dr. in enumerating the different persons who were educated at the Grammar School at Leeds, mentions Mr. Theophilus Lindsey, vicar of Catterick, as 6 an honest and amiable man, but of perplexed understanding and scrupulous conscience, who forsook his former connections and the church of England for an Unitarian chapel in Essexstreet.” Whether a scrupulous conscience be among the crimes that the reverend editor should impute to Mr. Theophilus Lindsey, it is not at all our business or inclination to enquire, but in justice to this venerable dissenter, who is described here to be of a perplexed understanding, we ought to say, that if he were pre-eminent for any qualities, it was for the clearness, strength and soundness of his understanding, which he has abundantly exhibited, both in his discourses and writings. He was so far of a scrupulous conscience, that he was guilty of another offence into wbich the editor is in no danger of falling; he resigned his vicarage, and its emoluments, with very flattering, expectations of preferment, and when afterwards with his wife he arrived in town, bis whole property, real or personal, was reduced to two shillings and sixpence.
This Vicar of Whalley, in his account of the parish of Birstall, adverts to another distinguished personage of the same persuasion in these terms:-“ It deserves to be recorded that at Fieldhead, near Birstall, in 1733, was born Dr. Joseph Priestly, of whom it is not easy to decide whether his writings have been more serviceable to philosophy, or more pernicious to religion." If Dr. Whitaker had taken the trouble to peruse both the philosophical and religious works of this ingenious and intelligent person, he would not have subjected him to this invidious notice.
A recluse scholar, who has confined his attention to topographical antiquities, may require to be informed, that there were few branches of human pursuit to the growth and luxuriance of which Dr. Priestly did not in some way contribute, and of pneumatic chemistry, applied so largely in arts and manufactures, in medicine, and in domestic life, he is the parent and founder; grounding his discoveries on fact and experiment, he was enabled to detain, examine, decompose, and restore the most subtle fluid in nature; and he, in a more substantial sense than that which was in the contemplation of the poet,
Gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.” With respect to his attainments in the learned languages, his controversy with Dr. Horsley is before the public, and perhaps we are of opinion, as far as we can presume to form a judgment between such competitors, that in the Greek the bishop was more “ at home;" but we know that a student more laborious was never known than his opponent, and a more successful one has rarely been found; yet, unlike many scholars of the present age, who, in disease of mind and body, in pride and indolence, gout and plethora, close a morning of glory by an evening of darkness, he could say with the Athenian lawgiver,
Σοφίας μεν γαρ ήν ομολογομενως ερασης ός γε και πρεσβυτερος ών
έλεγε γηραςκειν άει πολλα διδασκομενος.” When we saw this veteran in philosophy and erudition, at an advanced period of life, in the town which is the central point of Dr. Whitaker's circle of inquiry, he was busily engaged in reading throughout the Old Testament in the original Hebrew and Chaldee for the third time. Let the Vicar of Whalley and Rector of Heysham, say as much of his own respect for the sacred writings, and our mede of
CRIT. Rev. VOL. IV, Dec. 1816. 4 M