Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

around him.-In short, too proud to complain-too dignified to solicit favours too sanguine to despair, and at all times too much occupied and delighted with his labours, he prefers living in retirement and quiet on poetry, and one humble meal a day, to exertion, bustle, pecuniary warfare and luxury throughout the year. These, Sir, I am confident are the efficient causes of poets being poor in purse and rich in mental pleasures, beyond any other description of men, and it may puzzle even philosophers to decide which, on the whole, are the most happy. But with regard to Misfortune it is quite different.

I have already said, that the misfortunes of poets, (I mean real poets, not versifiers,) happen not till after their death, and I conceive that little is necessary to support what is too well illustrated daily. When a poet has had the good fortune to obtain public fame, he may safely date from that period his memorial misfortunes, when he can no longer prevent them. He may assure himself, that with whatever labour and ease he has established his character as a poet and as a good man while living, many evidences will be produced to disprove this after he is gone, and to tarnish and obscure it; that in proportion to its former splendour will be the avidity to pull it down. Should a few careless scraps, written during the influence of bad health, low spirits, peevishness, or unguarded vivacity, have escaped his pen, and found admittance to the repositories of his acquaintance, -should the frequent and familiar communications of epistolary correspondence between friends and intimates have been preserved, or should the occasional sallies of an agitated moment have been treasured up in the memory of those who accidentally heard them in company, all will be kindly and anxiously brought forward, as testimonials of his genius, and as unequivocal proofs of his expansive

[ocr errors]

mind!-Nay, should even ribaldry, indecency, or the most contemptible effusions of an unguarded moment, have disgraced his muse, and been studiously kept out of his works while living, there will be many judicious critics, and still more interested compilers, who by way of conferring additional honours on a celebrated character, will range the whole kingdom round to obtain what ought to be committed to the flames, but what they are ambitious to erect as a monument to his declining fame, and as an infamous inscription on his tombstone!If these are not misfortunes, and such as no human precaution can prevent, I confess, Sir, I am yet to learn what the word implies.

I have been led to these observations by what, I confess, considering the prudence, good sense, and good taste of the Editor of the Scots Magazine, surprised me not a little, namely, the insertion of two poetical pieces in your last number, which I am inclined to think you had not sufficiently considered previous to their admission into your well-conducted and useful Miscellany. These pieces are announced, by an anonymous correspondent, as the production of the "im-, mortal Burns," and no doubt this incomparable judge and critic conceived them as highly honourable to the poet's fame and character.-Poor Burns! with all the faults, and errors, of your life, there was little occasion to grub up these contemptible weeds, and plant them in your garden!-Many such could have been produced, but the humanity and judgment of former Editors consigned them to the dunghill. Judicious and cautious, however, as these Editors have been, there are others who, regardless of the reputation of an admired writer, and indifferent to the opinions of the world, think of nothing but raking together all the trash they can collect from this unfortunate quarter, with no other view than to put

put a few hundreds in their own pockets!-Resting on the established fame of a celebrated character; they build their hopes and expectations on the avidity of a voracious public, ready to gulp down whatever is presented to them, seasoned with the name of the Ayrshire ploughman; and for the purpose of obtaining their favourite object, pretend to be governed by no other motive than a love for the memory of the deceased, and an admiration of what they are altogether unqualified to appreciate. Such, Sir, is the fate of poets, and such are the misfortunes attached to celebrity!-what a fortunate circumstance would it be for posterity, were there a tribunal established for the protection of literary fame, and for the punishment of those whose grasping avarice blight the fair blossoms that genius has blown, in the sequestered vale of the Muses! As matters stand at present, to obtain fame is dangerous, and to be a son of Genius a real misfortune.

Atticus.

[blocks in formation]

entirely in their own power to reme» dy all the inconveniencies incident to their situation. To expose the absurdity and temerity of both these propositions, to the conviction of every candid and unprejudiced mind, a few observations will suffice.

The scope of" Theophilus's" argument to establish the first of these propositions, namely," that of all classes in the community, expectant clergymen have the least reason to complain,"-is the following: "That the poorer they are, the nearer they approach to the real character of evangelical ministers; that the profession of Christianity is made a tool of to procure a competent portion of this world's goods :-and that the probationers of the ministry, who testify any anxiety to obtain a living in the Church, are wolves in sheeps clothing, and consequently the repeated disappointment of their hopes is the just reward of their perfidious hypocrisy."

Such is the sum and substance of this argument.

In the present artificial state of society, no fact appears more unquestionable, than that some suitable provision, or adequate means of support, is absolutely necessary to obtain respectability, or secure the esteem of our fellow-citizens.

Contempt is the certain and unavoidable consequence of abject depen

dence. However bright, therefore, the

character, or however splendid the talents of the preacher, if he be doomed to poverty and dependence, the influence of his instructions must be proportionally limited. Nothing is more consonant both to reason and scripture, than that "the labourer is wor thy of his hire, and, that they who preach the gospel ought to live by the gospel."

Besides, do not all the labour and fatigue which they have surmounted, to qualify themselves for announcing to us the gospel of peace, demand our gratitude and support? Do not their

at an

indefatigable pains and toils, by night and by day, for a dozen of years University, to promote our eternal interests, entitle them at least to legal and adequate remuneration? That they cannot, in general, be actuated by interested motives, is abundantly evident, from this consideration; that the same time, expence, and exertions, employed in any other profession, would have justly entitled them to expect a far superior degree of wealth and affluence.

"Theophilus," it appears to me, has been peculiarly unfortunate, in his attempt to blast the justly-earned reputation of a highly useful and respectable class of our fellow-citizens, to whom, and to the establishment of parish schools, the natives of Scotland are principally indebted, for the preeminence they enjoy, among the nations of Europe, in learning, industry, and virtue.

But how does T. establish his second proposition, that "expectant clergymen have it in their own power to remedy all the inconveniencies incident to their situation?" "If they are real Christians," (T. is extremely incredulous on this subject,) "he would persuade them to commence their ministerial labours as soon as they are qualified." Is T. so ignorant of our Church establishment, as not to know, that a preacher of the gospel cannot commence his ministerial functions until he is invested with a charge, or regularly inducted to a living?" If his hearers cannot furnish him with food and raiment," continues T., " let him work with his hands; and if he is in want, let him apply to his Great Master." Though I am no "stipend hunter," I must confess all this is "very unintelligible" to me; but were I to hazard a conjecture, I would presume, that T. intended that the clergy should be fed with "manna from heaven!" a discovery which would no doubt gratify some of our west-country landholders, and might even make a con

spicuous figure in the preamble to an Act of Parliament.

It is evidently impossible, that the candidates for the ministry, labouring under invidious exclusion, and manifold discouragement, should be able to bestow that undivided attention on the studies and qualifications essentially requisite for those, who are "rightly to divide the word of truth.” To have such an order of men amongst us, (as is judiciously remarked by Mr. Simplex, who had the merit of introducing this subject to the public notice in your Miscellany for April 1807,) without adequate provision, employment, or friends, is degrading to our National Church, and the most infallible method of undermining her respectability; and, finally, exposing her to the contempt of the public. It is, in fact, an anomaly in Church Establishments. Neither the Episcopal Church in England nor Scotland, confer holy orders, without the certainty. of immediate provision: and even the dissenters from the Establishment, aware of the absurdity of licensing men to preach the gospel, without either provision or employment in the way of their profession, give immediate appointments to their preachers on obtaining a licence. And would it be believed, that the Church of Scotland alone, so eminent for the general knowledge and personal respectability of her members, should be so blindly inattentive to the interest of those who are hereafter to support her dignity, and guide our children in the paths of eternal felicity, when we of this generation shall be laid in the dust! Shall our reverend Professors of Divinity, from a mistaken principle of philanthropy, be inore sedulous in patronizing Foreign Missions-Foundling Hospitals and Magdalen Asylums, than in ameliorating the condition of those, on whom the moral and religious character-the present and future happiness of ourselves and our posterity depend? Shall they evince more anxiety

ety in procuring situations of trust and confidence, for half-reclaimed prostitutes, and the "very dregs of the community," to the exclusion of the more deserving; than in forwarding the views and promoting the interests of those, who, after long and laborious exertions, have qualified themselves for the arduous and important office of the ministry of the gospel.

Would not the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland be more laudably and usefully employed, in devising means for supporting their probationers in a suitable manner?—a measure which stands recommended on the immutable principles of justice and equity!

The splendid monuments reared by public beneficence, to promote the comfort of the orphan-the lame-the blind-and the insane; as they are the glory of our country, and our age, need not my tribute of admiration and of praise; but with regard to the pernicious tendency of some other of our charitable institutions, on which so much money has been expended, I cordially concur in opinion with your correspondent Mr S. Institutions which encourage a mother to forsake her child, when it most demands her fostering care, are certainly of equivocal utility; and as an enlightened philosopher of the present day has judiciously observed, "The prevention of an occasional child-murder from false shame, is dearly purchased by the sacrifice of the best feelings of the hu inan heart."

[blocks in formation]

counts of their success, it cannot be disguised, that they have totally failed. "The Hindoo and the Chinese in the bosom of civilization," have been as inflexible to the efforts of a thousand missionaries, as the African and the American in the barren desart: nor can any thing but failure and disappointment be prognosticated, while the missionaries testify more anxiety to procure followers to the ignorant theories, and scholastic dogmas of a sect, than converts to the religion of the New Testament.

Were but the half of the money annually expended in this hopeless service, applied to the important purpose of establishing a fund for supporting the regular probationers of the Church, it would sufficiently remedy this palpable defect in our National Establishment.

But the Church of Scotland, though not overflowing in wealth, has no occasion to have recourse to any such extrinsic expedients for the support of her own members. She is fortunately possessed of abundant means within herself, of accomplishing this desirable object, and I trust that the period is not far distant, when some eligible mode of wiping away this stain of our National Church shall be submitted to the competent courts.

The plan proposed by Candidus, (See Scots Mag. for August 1807.) for employing the preachers of our Church, by establishing missions in the Highlands of Scotland, with salaries of fifty pounds per annum, appears to me liable to many objections. The inadequacy of the provision;-the refusal of the landed proprietors, even to furnish the reasonable "accommodation of a plain house to live in, a place of worship, with as much ground, during their incumbency, as will maintain a horse and two cows," (see Appendices to the Sermons preached before the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge in 1792-3, &c.) together with the al

most

most insurmountable obstacle of acquiring a competent knowledge of the Celtic tongue, essentially necessary to all who would successfully embark in this rugged task; are circumstances sufficient to render nugatory the bestconcerted scheme for accomplishing this object.

The establishment of missionary ministers in those parts of the Highlands and islands, where they are most peculiarly needed, and the general dissemination of the Bible in the Gaelic language, form primary and legitimate objects in the plan of the

Society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge," and the prose cution of this laudable undertaking may be safely confided to the judicious management of the directors.

[ocr errors]

Haying occupied so much more of your room than I intended, but which I trust the importance of the subject will justify, I conclude with suggesting the propriety of an application to the legislature, (if necessary,) for empowering the church to appropriate the vacant stipend, as a fund for supporting her junior members ;-and that the preachers residing within the boundaries of each presbytery in Scotland, in cases of vacancy, be appointed by the presbytery, in regular rotation, to supply the vacant parishes with a sermon every Sunday, until clergymen be formally inducted to the livings.Thus the preachers of the gospel would be occasionally employed in the way of their profession;—the members of the church would never be under the necessity of leaving their own parishes without sermon, to supply those that may be vacant, and the stipend would be devoted to more useful and beneficial purposes, than the secular appropriation of the titular, or the guzzling of a bench of magistrates!

I am, Sir,

Your very obedient Servant,
A BORDERER.

Feb. 11th 1808,

Account of the rising out of the Sea of the Island of SANTORINI.

Concluded from page 117.

ON the 9th September, the two

isles, the white and the black, in consequence of each increasing in. breadth, began to join, and to form only a single body. After this junction, the south-west extremity of the isle increased no more, either in length or height, whilst the eastern extremity continued very sensibly to increase in length. Of all the openings of which I have spoken, there were now only four which threw up fire. Sometimes smoke issued with impetuosity, from them all together, sometimes only from one or two, sometimes with noise, and sometimes without, but almost always with hissings, which might have been taken for the sounds made by the different strings of an organ, and sometimes for the howlings, of wild beasts.

12th September.-The subterraneous noise, which seemed likely to be less violent, from being divided thro' these four openings, never was either so frequent or so dreadful, as this and the following days. The great shocks redoubled, and like the discharge of a great and numerous artillery, were heard ten or twelve times in twentyfour hours; and a moment after, there issued from the great mouth, stones of an enormous bulk, red as fire, which fell at a considerable distance in the sea. These great shocks were always accompanied with a thick smoke, which flew to the sky, in the figure of waves, and which, when it dispersed, scattered every where great clouds of ashes, some of which were conveyed so far as Anasi, twenty-five miles distant from Santorini. I had the curiosity to collect some of these ashes; they appeared of a colour between white and black. I threw some of them, which had the figure and grain of fine powder, into the fire, to see what

« EdellinenJatka »