Page images

but on another's understanding. But your paper shall never be exposed to the judgment of such persons.

I blush when you plead in excuse for delay your want of sufficient readiness in the Latin tongue: what, then, I ask myself, must be your judgment of me, whose style, compared with yours, is so uncouth? All your let ters, even though written in haste, are not only pure and terse, but also lively and elegant. If such displease you, I can easily determine what opinion you must have of mine. Yet relying on your friendship, I freely write to you whatever comes uppermost; still assured of your kindness which can overlook my defects. But if, in future, you continue to offer such an apology, I shall be still more timid in writing to you. So you perceive that such an excuse will be least of all admitted from you. But if your engagements forbid an earlier attention to your correspondents, I cannot allow myself to urge your more speedy replies, to the prejudice of more important concerns; but rather wish you to wait for a season of leisure. Write what and when you will to me, it will be most agreeable; nor can I fail to acknowledge your late speedy communication of two letters.

[blocks in formation]


[blocks in formation]

incorruptible and eternal; man's nature is frail and perishing: God's purpose is without the shadow of a change; man's purpose is fleeting as his sensations, and variable as the circumstances which induce them. All which God designs must be ful filled; but man's intentions, even his noblest and his steadiest, are often brought to a swift and eternal close.

“How striking are the proofs which the passing hour constantly brings us of the frailty of man! How little dependence can be placed on any thing that is human! How baseless is the hope which rests even on all that is most noble, dignified and permanent in our nature: on talent, integrity, experience, wisdom, benignity!

"It was at the commencement of this very month, last year, that the

nation was plunged in mourning for the loss of the illustrious Princess, who, because her excellences commanded the respect, was lamented by the hearts of a free people. The beginning of the present month is marked by the death of a personage who acted on the theatre of life a most distinguished and important part, and who is associated, in our imagination, with all of what we can conceive as venerable, noble, wise and good.

"It were an absurd attempt in me to endeavour to draw the character, whether public or private, of Romilly -I who have been but most transiently in his society; who have enjoyed but rarely the privilege of listening to the impressive accents of his voice, and who know no more of him than all the nation knows, that he was, in the truest sense of those words, a husband, a father, a patriot!

"Who will put his trust in man, or anticipate with confidence the accomplishment of the noblest purposes of the noblest of his race? Were the rights of the nation with daring or with subtle hand invaded, every one expected to find Romilly in the foremost rank of its defenders! Was the private citizen oppressed? He looked, and he never looked in vain, to Romilly. Was the man of misfortune weighed down to the dust by sorrow succeeding sorrow, bitter and more bitter did the walls of his prison deepen the wretchedness of his heart, distracted by expectations blasted, property lost, children beggared, home despoiled of its comforts and in desolation-the voice, the name of Romilly forbade him to despair. Touched by his hand, the door of his prison opened, and, recalled by him to hope and to exertion, he held on his way, if not rejoicing, at least with cheering anticipations of the future. Even the poor criminal blessed him, and had more cause to bless him than he comprehended; for he would have made the law which doomed him to a violent death, the destroyer, not of his life, but of his vices!

"The great man who has been snatched thus suddenly from useful ness and life, by a dispensation so tremendous, was not only a man of principle, but was so nobly distinguished for adherence to principle, that baseness itself would have blushed

at the attempt to lure him from the path of rectitude. Incorruptible integrity was the cardinal virtue of his life. Of the cause of reform he was a temperate, but firm, steady and enlightened advocate. Attached to the glorious institutions of his country, he thought, and he justly thought, that the best evidence he could give of his veneration for them was to endeavour to make them in practice what they are in theory, and to remove the corruptions, by the influence of which the whole intention of their founders is frustrated. When, in his place among our legislators, he spoke on this subject, the ear drank in his words with greediness, and the understanding, which was not convinced, was enlightened by his arguments, and the will, which was not altered from its purpose, was at least shaken in its corfidence. While in his impressive manner he poured forth the thoughts of his luminous and experienced mind, all who listened to him, felt that they flowed not only from an unclouded intellect, but from a pure heart. And this, or all occasions, his political opponents were emulous to acknowledge. I say opponents, for enemies he had none.

"That reform which he endea voured to effect in the House, of which he was so distinguished a member, he wished with equal earnestness to extend to our penal code. In this work of humanity and justice he was an indefatigable labourer. No trouble how interminable soever deterred him-no failure wearied him. It was as though the defeat which would have extinguished the zeal of others, served but to feed the flame of his benevolence.

"The names of his opponents in this cause, will go down to posterity, at least to a certain distance, with his own, affording an instructive contrast. Gradually, however, the shades of oblivion will deepen on those “unhonoured" names, till, to the succeeding generations of men, they will be as though they had never been-the best fate their best friends can wish them-while he will have taken his place among those illustrious dead who will live in the memory of the wise and good, till the last record of our country shall have perished, to guide the youthful and to animate the

experienced philanthropist, associated with More, Raleigh, Bacon, Hampden, Sydney, Milton, Fox and Franklin.

"Of the folly and wickedness of that usurpation which attempts to hold in bondage the understanding and the conscience, and with bold and impious intrusion to interpose between the mind of man and its Creator, he was deeply sensible. His views of religious liberty were the enlarged and enlightened principles of the Christian philosopher. Those principles, who could illustrate or defend like him! How often, while dwelling on this theme, has he filled our hearts with admiration, and poured light and conviction on minds, the profoundness of whose ignorance, and the inveteracy of whose prejudices, have served but to brighten the glory of his victory! How often has his mild and dignified rebuke shamed the political religionist, and the religious bigot, from their unhallowed purposes, and taught the friends of the abolition of all pains and penaltics inflicted on account of religion, that in enlisting him in their cause, they engaged not an advocate merely, but a man-acquainted with the principles of his own nature, honouring and fearing his God, and, therefore, respecting and holding sacred the rights of his


"After the slumber of years, the monster Persecution, as if roused by the strange sounds which were at that time heard in a neighbouring country, started from its lair, and issued forth, with fangs already died in blood, to its wonted work. Its first step (for it never moves but to destroy) was death; but that first step caught the eye of Romilly, watchful from his elevated station for the welfare of his race, and the cry of its first victim reached across the ocean to his ear. It was as if, in reward for his unexampled efforts in the cause of benevolence, the God of mercy had armed that man with a portion of his own power. He spake the monster paused-he stretched out his hand

to crush it-it was no more.

"And now he himself is silent in the dust. His purposes and his works are brought to a sudden and mournful termination. That he whose reason

was so clear and strong; whose views were so enlarged; whose feelings were so generous; whose passions were so well controlled; whose heart, the discipline of so many years of joy and sorrow and vicissitude and privation should seem to have trained to endurance, should have been unable to sustain the calamity with which he was visited, terrible as it was, may appear inexplicable. But if we do not know from experience, we may learn sufficiently from example, the utter impotence of philosophy when the bitterness of sorrow invades the heart, and especially when it is made to see and feel and dwell upon that desolation, which the withering hand of death can produce, and near which no hope of earthly origin can take root and blossom. And religion,

where was thy sustaining energy; where were thy divine consolations? Was he a stranger to thy nature? Did he not know thy sweetness and thy power? He did. At the throne of his heavenly Father he was a secret, and there is every reason to believe, a devout worshiper; and in his closet, when no earthly eye was on him, his thoughts ascended above the things of earth, and dwelt on immortality. This we know. But why that fever of the brain should have been permitted to assail him, and suddenly and completely to obliterate from his mind all memory that he was a father, a patriot and a Christian, we do not know. It becomes us to be still, and to remember that there is One who knoweth the end from the beginning.

"And we need all the consolation which this truth is capable of imparting.

We were looking forward with delight to the exertions of this highlygifted individual, in the approaching meeting of the legislators of our coun

"There were found among the private papers of this admirable man several prayers in his own hand-writing, which appear to have been composed by himself, and to have been used by him in his private devotions, together with some papers containing his reflections on various religious

topics, so as to place, beyond all question,

the fact, that his mind, wonderfully as it was ccupied, was not inattentive to subjects of this nature. This I have learnt from authority, upon the correctness of which I can depend."

try. Our hearts were cheerful. We saw that he had succeeded in exciting such a general and deep interest in the cause both of the youthful and of the aged poor, in the cause of the prisoner, in the cause of the criminal, in the cause of the persecuted and oppressed of all classes and all climes, that the claims of humanity and justice must have become known, and, therefore, have been acknowledged. We saw, assembling around him to aid his exertions, men whose name is honour, whose countenance is strength, and whose union is victory. When we first heard of his death, our hearts sunk within us. We felt as though the very foundation of the fabric of mercy, which we saw rising up in majesty and strength, were suddenly and completely destroyed. Never till that moment did we appear to ourselves to have recognized the true extent of his influence in promoting the cause of knowledge, liberty and benevolence in general and never till then did we seem to have estimated it properly, even in regard to those parts of the great cause which he selected for his peculiar care. We felt as though the cause must now indeed stand still. But we know it cannot be. Its advancement does not depend on human agency alone, otherwise it might fail. Man is but the instrument: God's is the master-hand that directs it. One instrument may fail in effecting so much as we expected, but it accomplishes its allotted work, and then gives place to others, whose operation is more effectual. The labourers, covered with honour, rest from their work; the work goes ou. He whose work it is, and who has the sole direction of it, is immutable and omnipotent. And, as it regards the present, we see that it must go on, for we see the new instruments which he has raised up to promote it. We know the spirits finely touched, and to fine issues,' which remain to us, the associates and coadjutors of that noble spirit which has left our world. They will prove, by emulating its conduct, that they possess a kindred nature, and are worthy to rejoin it in that celestial world in which the flame of benevolence will glow more steadily and brightly; and the bliss be perfect,

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

AMONG the many claims which

the Monthly Repository has upon the favour of the public, I consider, as not the least important, that it contains so many historical and biographical notices, that will be found of the greatest service to any future historian of Nonconformity. But where shall we find a man with the research of Neal, or the extensive biographical information of Calamy, who, as a collector and publisher of original biography, is surpassed only by his contemporary and antagonist, the Oxford antiquary, and the veteran in their pursuits of the present day,

the learned and laborious Author of the "Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century"? I wish to obtain permission to have recorded on your pages, the names of the ministers who voted on the famous question, of the year 1719, at Salters' Hall. The names of those who were on the side of freedom of inquiry are given in the Memoirs of Whiston. The following list varies only in one point, namely, in wanting the name of John Shef field, which stands next to that of Dr. Oldfield in Whiston's catalogue. The two lists are preserved in some family memoirs, by a gentleman who was long a very respectable and judicious member of Dr. Benson's congregation, with whose account of the affair in question the names may be introduced.

"In the year 1719, the Dissenters having been at ease for a few years since the death of Queen Anne, began to quarrel among themselves about orthodoxy in speculation. Some hotheaded people at Exeter opened the scene, spurred on by two or three over-zealously affected ministers in London; which occasioned an assembly of divines of the Three Denominations of Protestant Dissenters, to meet at Salters' Hall, in order to send pacific advices to the people at Exeter. But a great number of the ministers, not content with sending their advice,

* P. 220.

conclusion of the debate it was carried by a majority of six, [Whiston says four,] in near one hundred and twenty against subscribing. A learned and pious bishop, Dr. Benjamin Hoadly, who had been baited several years himself, by several of his own clergy, for printing and preaching against persecution in matters of religion, was pleased to say on this occasion, that it was the first convocation or assembly of divines, since the time of the apostles, that had carried a question for liberty."

were for tacking thereto a subscription to their opinions and faith, in respect to what is commonly called the Trinity; in words of human form and invention; viz. in the words of the first of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, and the answers to the fifth and sixth questions in the Assembly's Catechism. This occasioned great and tumultuary disputes and altercations, not proper to be mentioned, but what has always happened (with shame be it spoken) in ecclesiastical meetings of all sects and parties of Christians. At the Against requiring Subscrip- Samuel Savage Samuel Highmore Robert Lamb


John Oldfield

John Billingsley

William Harris

Simon Brown

John Evans

John Hughes Thomas Sleigh John Savage Samuel Wright Benjamin Grosvenor John Ratcliff Samuel Rosewell Jos. Jenkins

Moses Lowinan

Jos. Burroughs
John Ingram
Thomas Leavenby

George Smith
Lewis Douglas
Jere. Hunt
Samuel Baker
Thomas Petkin
John Gale
Isaac Kimber
Clerk Oldsworthy
Richard Rigby
Thomas Kirby
Edward Bearne
Samuel Chandler
William Sheffield
Nathaniel Hodges
Robert Billio
Thomas Slater
James Read

Henry Read

William Hooker, Jun.

Richard Biscoe

Jos. Bennet

Benjamin Avery

Jos. Baker

B. Andrews Atkinson Gabriel Barber Nathaniel Lardner William Jacomb

Amos Harrison
John Bradley
Samuel Clarke
Daniel Burgess
John Cornish
Thomas Newman
Quintus Naylor
John Sherman
Richard Parkes
Samuel Oldfield
John Cambden
Nathaniel Foxwell
John Conder
Thomas Simmonds
David Jennings
John Eaton

Ob. Hughes

Arthur Shallett
Richard Tuddeman
E. Roscoe

James Richardson
Matthew Kendall
William Bush
Christopher Taylor
Thomas Cotton

For Subscribing.

Jeremiah Smith
William Lorimer
Samuel Pomfret
William Tong
B. Robinson
Thomas Reynolds
Thomas Bradbury
Jos. Hill

Thomas Harrison
Daniel Wilcox
John Newman
Jabez Earle
Thomas Lloyd
James Wood
George Davy
John Skeepe
John Sladen

[blocks in formation]

William Curtis
James Mathews
Za. Merrill
John Beaumont
Francis Freeman
David Rees
Thomas Mitchell
John Nesbit
Robert Bragge
Matthew Clerk
Thomas Ridgley
John Noble
John Asty
Edward Wallin
John Foxon
Ja. Alderson
John Cumming
John Killinghall
Ja. Galloway
J. Lewis

Thomas Dewhurst
Isaac Bates
Mark Key

William Chapman
Samuel Harris
Thomas Masters
Edward Ridgway

Abraham Mulliner
William Hooker, Sen.

Pastors in the Country.
William Bushnell
Stephen Crisp
Peter Goodwin
George Burnett

Preachers Licensed
Horman Hood
William McClatchy

Philip Gibbs
William Benson
John Tomms
Peter Bradbury
Thomas Charlton
Henry Francis
Jos. Tate

Richard Glover
Emanuel Ellerken.

mised continuation of that valuable work is much desired; and by no one more than by your present Correspondent, A. R. Y.

« PreviousContinue »