Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

praise for his learning and piety shall not be reluctantly bestowed.

- In the course of his notice of the useful establishments at Leeds, the Doctor tells us, that the “ National School is a convenient and handsome edifice, adapted for the instruction of 320 poor boys, and 180 poor girls, on Dr. Bell's, or the Madras system, and has been erected on the scite of the tithe barn belonging to the rectory of Leeds, and near to the parish church.” We sincerely join in the commendation applied to the late vicar of Leeds, the Rev. P. Haddon, (with whom we were not wholly unacquainted), and the other lessees of these premises, and we heartily wish success to the undertaking ; but among the designed omissions, which are very frequent in this work, from feelings which, least of all should be indulged with regard to charitable institutions devoted to public instruction, we are sorry to see that of the Lancasterian establishment, although it had the priority in point of time, and although the very existence of the former probably depended on the competition excited by the latter, not a syllable is mentioned.

The Doctor next proceeds to narrate the history of the town ; and here it is extremely remarkable that he gives no account of the arts, manufactures and commerce, as they have been conducted with such extraordinary ability and success in this place and its neighbourhood. We may, in some degree, account for his neglect in this particular, as at length, when he approaches the close of his work, (vol. ii. p. 380.) sensible probably of this deficiency, he acknowledges his little partiality to manufactures, and, in his usual contemptuous style, he adverts to “ the inquisitiveness and petulance, the licentiousness and presumption of the manufacturer.' In the generality of his unsocial disposition, he even comprehends the peaceful - labourer in the field, whose habitudes he describes under the terms “the heavy ox-like stupidity of the mere husbandman.” There is no class or order of society, the higher distinctions, and the members of the church excepted, that in some form or other has not the misfortune to be exposed to the derision of the Vicar of Whaley and Rector of Heysham. In the part of the publication to which we are now referring, he pours forth his lamentations over one of the most beneficial improvements of modern times, good roads, which has rendered communication throughout the kingdom both easy and safe, and has facilitated that intercourse which is absolutely necessary to the prosperity of every trading country. His notions of authority are so very peculiar, that we cannot avoid quoting, for the amusement of the reader the following curious argumentative observations, in the course of which he boldly recommends that power be trusted in as few bands as possible, and that large emoluments be conferred for its exercise.

After a though it may appear paradoxical, the fact is certainly true, that danger in travelling is proportionably increased as the appearance of it is removed. In the state of the roads at that time swiftness was impossible, and necessity itself taught a lesson of caution and circumspection both to man and beast. The returns of coroner's inquests within these districts for the last fifty years would prove, I am persuaded, that the increased number of casualties is much greater than the increase of population. If the suber and prudent can travel now with greater security than heretofore, which is very doubtful, the lower orders of people are never prudent, and not always sober. Lay out before such thoughtless creatures a road like a race-course and you produce races innumerable, in which a fall is not like that of a slow beast under its burden, but productive almost of sudden death.

“ The modern device of turnpike roads has been productive of an anomalous mode of authority grounded on no very deep or clear views of human nature. The trust of managing these concerns is committed to numerous bodies of men unpaid, and therefore not compellable to act, and when acting, liable to no account of their conduct. This is wrong in every point of view, for, in the first place, fear of reproach is a much stronger principle than a sepse of duty; but fear of reproach wben divided among a multitude is reduced almost to nothing. In the next place these persons, at least those of them who are most forward in their exertions, are chosen out of a class of society above a trifling remuneration, and beneath that high feeling of honour which keeps men within the line of duty from the very sense of independence. True policy dictates a conduct the very reverse of this : trust power in as few hands as possible, pay them well for the discharge of their duty, and punish

them severely for the wilful breach of it. To this it may be objected that the magistrates, against whom there is surely no general cause of complaint, are themselves unpaid. I answer, that they are paid. How? not by the despicable or pernicious consideration of money, God forbid ! but by the possession of power and influence in their respective neighbourhoods, and by the consciousness, I trust, that such power is for the most part impartially exercised, and such influence beneficially employed. It must also be added, in order to take off the force of the comparison, that magistrates either act singly or in very small numbers together, and therefore the blame, whenever deserved, falls with much greater weight upon individuals, to

say nothing of the general expectation arising from their station in life.” (p. 81-82, vol. ii.)

He almost justifies the commotion to which he alludes in a former passage, and we should even be inclined to conclude, from his language, that he himself would have been disposed to head “the rude and undisciplined rabble of the north,” on the occasion of the infraction of the rights he advocates.

“ Notwithstanding,” says he, “the deplorable state of the highways, which continued to the earlier years of many persons yet liv. ing, we have seen that the first attempt to erect a toll-bar occasioned an insurrection. Neither am I quite sure that the origival attempt was perfectly equitable. To intercept an ancient highway, to distrain upon a man for the purchase of a convenience which he does not desire, and to debar him from the use bis ar ent accommodation, bad as it was, because he will not pay for a better, has certainly an arbitrary aspect, at which the rude and undisciplined rabble of the north would naturally revolt. And singular as the opinion may seem at present after the objection has been so long forgotten, I am not persuaded that the undertakers were not bound in justice to leave the old highways, and the option of pavement on the new, open to the traveller. (p. 82, vol. ii.)

The notions of the editor with respect to the violent proceeding which took place subsequent to the inter-regnum, we introduce, in order to shew the dexterity with which he would have" weeded out by degrees" the noxious plants that had so long taken root in the garden of the church. These notions are illustrated by a few gleanings from Calamy and others on this subject, but which appear to us to be too partially and carelessly selected, to render it necessary to subjoin them. «." After se large an account of the ecclesiastical establishment in this parish, something is due to the memory of those who after the restoration of King Charles the Second withdrew or were expelled from it. The terms of conformity on that occasion were purposely narrowed, in order to exclude, many of the old ministers, who, by remaining in possession of their pulpits, would have had too much influence over the minds of the people. In this rigorous and exclusive requirement the government were justified by the necessity of the case ; many of these men were avowedly hostile to the new govertiment, and therefore deservedly excluded; but the real hardship was that of the Presbyterians, who really wished well to a limited monarchy, but could not bring themselves to submit to the impositions (as they deemed them) of an episcopal hierarchy. After all, the consequences of this exclusion to the interests of religion were

tremendous, for not only did it lay the foundation of almost all the sects which at this moment divide and distract the English nation, but the present and instantaneous effects of it were visible and scandalous. The excluded ministers, little short of 2000 in number, were indefatigable in their ministry, strict in their conversation, and not unlearned in their own system of theology. For such an host of preachers, excluded at a short warning and on a single day, it was impossible to find competent successors. This might have been foreseen, and should have been considered; they might have been weeded out by degrees, they might have been prohibited under severe penalties from preaching on political subjects, and when that great essential was secured, they might perhaps have been indulged as to the omission of some forms and observances reasonably exacted of those who were to follow, and who had been educated in the principles of conformity. The evil, however, was less felt in the parish of Leeds, than almost any other populous town, as the church continued to be supplied by a succession of pious and able men, no way inferior to their ejected brethren." (p. 93, vol. ii.)

After quitting the immediate precincts of the town of Leeds, the author crosses the river to Holbeck, and here he finds a change, although indicating the rapid growth of industry, and the extensive enlargement of commerce and population, not at all agreeable to his wishes. To our author's account of this township, he observes, “ little is to be added, and that little is no very pleasant subject for a topographer. Less than half a century ago, it was a detached village, chiefly inhabited by clothiers, with an interval of many pleasant fields, planted about with tall poplars, by which it was separated from the town. From this tract verdure and vegetation are now fled, and the smoke of it ascendeth to heaven! The curate's house," he adds pathetically,“ till within the last thirty years, in a quiet and open situation, has partaken of the general calamity.' Of Hunslet he expresses himself in the next local division with equal sensibility, as if, in the disease of his feelings, he had entirely forgotten all that constituted the commercial glory of this envied nation. “ A greater change," he says, “can scarcely be conceived in the character and appearance of the place, now and of old. Under the Gascoignes and the Nevils the features of Hunslet were a great manor house and park, a slender and obsequious popula. tion; a feeble and unskilful husbandry; but quiet, cleanliness, and repose. I need not expose the contrast.

Very different is the spirit with which the author, Mr. Thoresby, refers to trading pursuits, and their consequences; he every where speaks with satisfaction of the rise and improvement of manufacturers, with regret of any omissions he has made as to the biography of the opulent and worthy families who have promoted them, and he ransacks both 'sacred and profane history to shew the dignity of commerce, and the honours and advantages with which both in ancient and modern times, it has been attended. We only notice this to shew, that the editor can find no apology in the sentiments of his author for his abandonment of whatever is most creditable to the district of which he treats, and most lucra. tive to the country to which he belongs, and that so far from his work being a valuable addition to the former, in those departments which are most essential, it is, as far as his authority and influence go, a subtraction, and the mortification he expresses at the population and ingenuity of Holbeck, Hunslet, and several other situations, will shew that it is professedly intended to be so.

Liable to the same objection is his meagre account of the flourishing and opulent trading towns of Bradford and Huddersfield; he confines bịs observations on the productive labours of the first to a very few words, and to the employ, ments of the latter he devotes a single line. With what courtesy he disposes of another considerable hive of our northern industry we will next examine. After observing that the manners of the inhabitants of Halifax partake of the character of the soil, rugged and untractable, and ridiculing the tincture of early puritanism in the christian names of the people, he says, “ In the remoter parts of the parish, and particularly on the

confines of Lancashire, where old fanilies, the great correctors of barbarism, either have never existed, or have long been extinct, the state of manners and morals is, perhaps, more degraded than in any part of the island. Ignorant and savage, yet cunning and attentive to their own interests, under few restraints from law, and fewer from conscience, it is a singular phænomenon that almost all the people are, under one denomination or other, religionists. A striking instance, I will not say of the tendency of separation to produce immorality, but of the inefficacy of multiplied' and discordant modes of worship to correct it. In fact, as far as any evidence can be collected on the subject, they were neither better nor worse before the reformation; they were no better when all were nominally members of the church of England. Coupled with their other propensities, the inherent baseness of their natures, is perhaps a blessing: they do not appear to have courage for atrocious crimes; poaching and petty larcenies are most congenial to their dispositions.

Breeding too from generation to generation among themselves, with scarcely any foreign admixtures, the lowest orders have

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »