« PreviousContinue »
sincerity; or else must allow all to be members of this union. who make a certain profession, even though, in the esteem of their fellow-professors, making that profession most unworthily. The candidate's heart must be filled with Christ's heavenly spirit, and his life must be conformed to Christ's divine example; or, whether this be the case or not, he must profess it is. Mr. Tayler calls it attractive and beautiful,' if a church 'require no outward token of a man's Christianity before admission to membership,' p. 262.; and we suppose, therefore, that the foregoing profession is all that ought to be required. Yet the candidate may be a supporter of what Mr. Tayler calls 'sacerdotal usurpation,' which on the same page, p. 6., he most satisfactorily identifies with heathenism;' and he may, therefore, compel his fellow-candidates to pay 'church-rate,' claim the exclusive right of educating them, assume superiority over them, disdain equal intercourse with them, and virtually deny their Christian brotherhood, see page 44: or he may be a presbyterian resolved on a full development of presbyterianism, a system which, as Mr. Tayler amply shows, is at least as exclusive as prelacy, and requires for its full display, nationalism, and such ascendency as forbids to independents the free exercise of their principles or he may happen to think it very self-conceited and presumptuous, when Mr. Tayler, on p. 476, confines the elements embraced in the spirit of Christ, to three; and he may insist upon the introduction of thirty more, as essential, in his view, as the three: or he may deem it very dogmatical and arbitrary, that a free inquirer, like Mr. Tayler, should insist on three, especially on two of them, the first and the third: or, rejecting Christianity altogether, he may quote Mr. Tayler's own apologetic words for Deists, on p. 425; their intellectual constitution may have been less fitted for the clear and firm apprehension of truth; but that is no ground for moral imputation, excepting so far as this infirmity can be shown to have resulted from the wilful indulgence of passion or prejudice.' Varieties like these, however, are discrepances impalpable and indiscernible when compared with the great 'religious sentiment' common, or asserted to be common, to all the candidates alike. They all say they have it; and, doubtless, they are all honourable men. They have it, therefore, and are bound to give each other correspondent credit for it. And though at sight of their reciprocated courtesies, Atheists may multiply, pronouncing Christian union the greatest lie the world has ever seen, and longing for an hour when the earth may be cleansed from its polluting nuisance, and man be for ever freed from the demoralizing presence of religious sentiment;' yet shall candour,' brotherhood,' 'sympathy,' and all the mawkish vocabulary of the school
of Unitarian free inquiry, be whispered still, and echoed to and fro, till eternity shall rectify it all.
We had designed a course of more logical and sedate argument in opposition to Mr. Tayler's scheme of Christian union. But an early impression has become our firm conviction, that Mr. Tayler has never regarded his own scheme as practicable. We even fear that he has chiefly wished to expose as bigotry, that, whatever it may be, which restrains the Calvinistic Congregationalists from religious union with the Unitarians. If our fear be just, we would suggest to Mr. Tayler, that instead of acting towards us in a spirit inconsistent with his own profession of human sympathy, he should apply himself to remove the obstructions which forbid our forming such a union. We have humanity enough to desire it if just and true; and till it so appear, we have fortitude enough to endure the Unitarians' reproaches. Mr. Tayler knows, or he should know, that the 'religious sentiment' of which he speaks as naturally common to us all, is not, in our esteem, a sentiment that really honours God or is agreeable to Him; nor do we think that an acceptable feeling of religion distinguishes the mind till God by his own immediate operation, during the action of Christian truth upon the intellect, has renewed' it. True religious union, then, in our esteem, can be enjoyed by those only who have experienced this renewal; and it can be honestly professed only where the professors believe each in this renewal of the others. But a profession of renewal is no more sufficient to generate such faith, than a profession of the indwelling of natural religious sentiment' is sufficient, and we have seen that it is not, to secure confidence in its genuineness and sincerity. A test, then, there must be, call it by what name we may; or, rather, as Owen says, 'None but those who give evidence of being regenerated, or holy persons, ought to be received or counted fit members of visible churches.' The evidence required, now, must be such as is depicted by the hand of God, and is illustrated by the state and the experience of those who were 'in Christ before us.' What God requires we discern through the same medium which discovers to us the necessity of regeneration. We see that necessity asserted, and we find that evidence described, in the Bible; and, as the discovery is made, a correspondent change is experienced by ourselves. We did not see and feel thus always: but we now do; and necessity is laid on us to act accordingly. The evidence, then, that we require for visible religious union is not just a doctrinal confession; or moral strength, completeness, or refinement; or a description of spiritual experience like our own; or a promise of submission to ecclesiastical conventionalisms; or any or all of such things to a certain definite
extent but it is summarily such a manifestation, in one way or another, of the workings of the inner man in relation to what God has shown in the scriptures to ourselves, as leads us to conclude, that in circumstances like our own the manifestation would be like our own, and that in the most favoured circumstances the manifestation would correspond to the fullest evidence exhibited in the scriptures. If, now, Mr. Tayler should convince us that our apprehension of God's mind and will in the gospel, is a mere delusion; or that our experience of his renewal of our minds is altogether fanciful; he might then succeed in comprehending us in such a union as he advocates. Meanwhile, efforts on his part to rectify our supposed errors would be regarded as more brotherly, than efforts which appear designed to expose us as bigoted and inhumane; especially as Mr. Tayler is very well aware that to us, with our apprehensions and experience, the call of humanity is second only to the call of godliness, that we avoid a union our comprehension in which would tend, we think, no less to conceal saving truth from man, than to dishonour the sovereignty and the holiness of God. We love Unitarians too well to take a part in what, we think, would deepen their delusions.
Art. II.-The Comic History of England. By Gilbert A'Beckett. Illustrated by Leech. London: Punch Office, 85, Fleet-street; and all booksellers. 1846. Numbers I-IV.
THE Wood-cut which adorns the cover of each number of this publication is 'Clio instructing the young British Lion in History.' The young British Lion' is a little jacketted boy of leonine features, who is seated on the knee, and drinking in the instructions of Clio-a muse, in a morning gown and flaunting bonnet, displaying, with many smiles, a roll of caricatures. This small engraving prefigures appropriately enough the book likely to be produced by the pencil and pen of John Leech and Gilbert A'Beckett.
This work is likely to be a history of England in comic pictures-a history decked in puns and witticisms. We have not had, since Gillray, any better political caricaturist than Mr. John Leech. The caricaturist of Punch' is at the head of his department of his art. Less refined, elegant, and correct than H.B., whose likenesses are only surpassed by the calotypes of Mr. D. O. Hill, of Edinburgh, John Leech is greatly superior to all his rivals in the highest qualities of his art-the originality and power of his wit and humour. H.B. was a reformer
of the art of caricature. He showed how compatible his art could be with refinement, kindliness, and good nature. Personal bitterness or rancour there is none in his sketches. Though we miss from the prints of Leech the air of refinement which pervades those of H. B., the qualities which suit them so gracefully for the drawing-room table, the want is made up by the presence of a higher and nobler moral influence. There is more moral purpose in John Leech. He is in earnest to do good. He seems animated by the spirit of that democracy which is at one with philanthropy. To delight the elegant talkers of the drawing-room seems to be the ambition of H. B., while the purpose of Leech is to excite scorn against everything base, unmanly, and unjust. In moral qualities H. B. was a great improvement on Gillray, and Leech rises above H. B. in the same noble superiority. In mere genius both are surpassed by Gillray, to whom even George Cruickshank, the king of caricaturists, has not come up. Gillray, the grotesque splendors of whose genius have been surpassed by no artist, was a man utterly severed and alienated from all morality, all humanity, all principle, all religion. His fierce sarcasms are animated by mere disdain and derision, and this greatly gifted lost spirit scattered abroad such malignant fancies as might be sported in Pandemonium. Grandeur and coarse humour are as closely associated in his prints, as if all the expressions of all the faces of a grinning match were permanently calotyped on sheet lightning. His fancy soared into regions of beauty and loftiuess, and sported with the manifold glories of sunrises and sunsets-of rainbows, solar and lunar-and of wind-lashed seas-only to blend with them the mockeries of a despairing fiend to whom there was no holiness in the skies and no lovingness on the earth. Inferior though all caricaturists are to Gillray in intellectual gifts, all are superior to him in moral spirit. Himself a Jacobin, who sold his genius to the aristocracy, a man who for the wants of his body deprived his soul of all connection with the fountain of life-duty and God,-Gillray saw a similar disruption in all the universe. A vapour, as of sulphur, made the sun unbeneficent to him. In his power of invention, in his wild magnificence of fancy, even Hogarth was less lavishly endowed. But the satanic mark is on nearly all the sketches of Gillray. He lived an outcast from the decencies of society. Privately he could drink on his knees the health of David the Jacobin painter, while publicly he was working along with Canning and Gifford against the progress of liberty and equality. Meagre and malicious as was the spirit of even John Kay, the Edinburgh caricaturist, contemporary with Gillray, his works are more entitled to complacency, for he evidently had a delight
in producing true and characteristic likenesses. Gillray cared for nothing but the indulgence of his own wild and wilful fancies. No wonder though insanity darkened the last years of a genius without principles, without affections, without purposes, without self-respect. No wonder though the last accounts. we find of him state that the gentlemen of White's Club were shocked by seeing his head sticking between the iron bars of the attic in No. 27, St. James's-street, in which he was confined insane for the last five years of his life.
We honour Leech for his moral courage. Prince Albert, the husband of our deservedly popular Queen, has repeatedly disgraced himself by indulging in effeminate sportsmanship with small rebuke from the Press, with the brave exception of Mr. John Leech, the caricaturist of 'Punch.' It was a service all the more honourable to hold up to contempt this royal introduction of cruel and effeminate sportsmanship into this country that the flunkey portion of the public is disposed to resent such truthful dealings with royalty. The whole plush world is indignant at freedoms with royal personages. Leech has a strong feeling within him for what is true, right, and fair. The Royal Fagin of France' is a powerful caricature. Seldom has the general opinion of the public been more happily hit off than by Mr. Leech with reference to the premier in the print in which the queen is made to express her fear that Lord John is not strong enough for the place, and in the one in which he is displayed in clothes, robe, and hat, a world too large for him, the costume of his office-'It isn't just a fit, but we shall see how he gets on.' Though we presume to think that Mr. Leech would be improved by studying the refinement of H. B., we acknowledge the beautiful is seldom entirely absent from his sketches. However, as he pursues his art, his taste will become more elegant, his invention will grow richer through the improving influence of the moral purpose which distinguishes him ;-for a moral purpose in an artist, whether of the pencil or of the pen, is blessed in many ways-doubly blessed, it blesses himself and the public-trebly blessed, it makes art a servant of duty.
We cannot praise the illustrations of the first four numbers of the Comic History.' They are mere trash. They are unworthy of Mr. Leech, and most unworthy of his subject. Occupying a relation to comic pictures like that of pantomime to comedy, they are scarcely worthy of the attention of children. Their absurdity predominates over their humour- and absurdity is more painful than laughable. Yet there is abundant scope and matter for pictorial satire in English history. Legitimate butts for caricatures abound among the deeds and sayings, manners and customs of our ancestors. History has been made