Images de page

the evil course of the voluptuary and the bloody career of the warrior are to be traced to this source; but I believe that the works of painting and sculpture have often contributed to animate and perfect such characters! We ought not, however, on this account, to condemn those arts which have in many instances nobly contributed to the cause of humanity and virtue; but rather desire that the splendid talents which distinguish our schools of art were occupied on subjects not only unexceptionable as to their decency and morality, but calculated to promote in a positive and direct manner, public morals and public happiness.

Under an impression of the great consequence of that subject which is advocated in the Herald of Peace, I should rejoice to see the Arts engaged in the same benignant cause; and that whenever scenes of War and martial glory (falsely so called) did engage the attention of the artist, it should be with a determined purpose to expose the cruel and anti-christian nature of the former, and the empty pretensions of the latter.

I have been led to make these observations, in consequence of a cursory view of the last exhibition of pictures at Somerset House; an exhibition which attracts the notice of many thousands of persons annually, and may be therefore made the means ofextensively producing much good or evil on the minds of the spectators.

The first picture which attracted my attention, as connected with Peace and War, was the Gazette, by R. Farrier, with the following striking and appropriate motto inserted in the catalogue

A nation's greenest laurels are entwined With cypress, that o'erhangs the social hearth,

And casts a shade too deep to be dispelled By all the glare of victory;-Poor recompense!

A public triumph for a broken heart..


The scene is the interior of a cottage. Two females, perhaps a mother with her widowed daughter, are sitting near the window; the latter with raised eyes and petrified look, destitute even of the sad relief which tears and utterance afford, appears a living monument of distress. The former affectionately holds the hand of the mourner, and regards her with anxious but silent solicitude. (Job ii, 13.) The fatal gazette which brought the heart-rending intelliligence lies upon the table.

Such pictures as these, speak volumes to the feeling and enlightened mind; and they are admirably calculated to produce detestation of a practice, so pregnant with wretchedness and woe! Never shall I forget an Engraving entitled the Dead Soldier, which I saw when a boy, and which I doubt not, many of the readers of the Herald are acquainted with. A picture that cannot be viewed without the deepest interest, and a feeling of thrilling horror.

A fine portrait of the Duke of Bedford, by Sir T. Lawrence, brought afresh to my recollection the duel in which that nobleman was lately engaged, and excited the secret exclamation, "With what painful emations would this portrait have been regarded by the friends of his Grace, if he had fallen in the barbarous and unnatural contest to which by his example he has unhappily given a sanction!"

The Battle of Strigonium, by A. Cooper, is a striking, and I fear too faithful a representation of the horrid passions to which mortal warfare gives birth. The hero of the scene is represented as seizing the Turkish standard with one hand, while with the other he is about to cleave the skull of the standard-bearer. The savage fierceness of Sir Thomas, afterwards Lord Arundel, of Wardour, is forcibly pourtrayed. A fine display this, of the success of a Christian hero over the turbaned infi-de!! Nor are the subordinate parts

[ocr errors]

of the picture deficient in horrid description. A little to the right, in the same group, another of the Christian knights is seen thrusting his spear into the struggling body of a wretched Musselman, who lies helpless on the ground. The weapon is represented as bent by the force employed to pierce the resisting victim of vindictive rage.

The Veteran's Glory, by W. Kidd. An old Scotch soldier, whose life has been spared amid the scenes of carnage and devastation attendant upon War, is here represented as enjoying the blessings of Peace in the bosom of his family. I could not avoid wishing that the comparison between the horror of the one occupation, and tranquil joys of the other, had been productive of more beneficial effects than the painting leads us to suppose is often the case. But alas! the poor old gentleman, instead of teaching the children to read and write, is occupied as their drill sergeant. One little urchin is going through the manual exercise, while his younger brother is performing the part of drummer.

Chelsea Pensioners, by Wilkie.What a contrast in delineation of -feeling is here exhibited, when compared with the melancholy subject of the Gazette, by Farrier; an unmixed emotion of joy and exultation pervades this bright and animated scene, where the glorious intelligence from Waterloo is just announced. This is certainly a fine painting, and expresses very forcibly, and in great variety, the unmixed feelings of gratification and delight which animate the diversified countenances of the lively groups in the composition, and who are either military men, or persons connected with the profession. All this is quite in character. It is their trade. They live by it. And those fatal wounds which inflict wretchedness and death upon thousands, are pregnant with glory and promotion to some of the fortunate survivors.

I had purposed extending my re

[blocks in formation]

Caution to Seconds or Bottle-holders. [Extract from Aris's Birmingham Gazette for Monday, July 29, 1822.] Ar the Berkshire Assizes, on Monday, W. Franklin was tried for the charge of manslaughter. The case arose out of a pugilistic contest, which lasted for an hour and a half. The surgeon who examined the body he died of apoplexy, brought on by of the deceased, was of opinion that the exertion of the contest, as there but a considerable effusion of blood were no external marks of violence, upon the brain. The prisoner was judge, before whom the trial took accordingly acquitted. The learned place, remarked, "that though he had no very great objection to men trying their strength in battle, when they quarrelled, yet there was somethem to fight so long after they were thing exceedingly brutal in allowing exhausted, and when the worst conHe therefore warned the witness who sequences might be apprehended. was second to the deceased, and all

parties concerned, that by a recent Act of Parliament they were liable to the punishment of transportation for life; and he would have them beware how they permitted or engaged in a conflict of this aggravated character again, for there were perlaw should be enforced against sons who would take care that the them."

To the Editor of the Herald of Peace. THE annexed paragraph from Aris's Gazette, is, perhaps, deserving of some remark in the pages of the Herald, as being in a considerable

degree calculated to counteract the endeavours which it is the object of the friends of peace to promote. I 'must confess to have been greatly surprised on first perusing the passage, and in consequence read it over repeatedly before I was convinced I was not mistaken. I know not who presided at the trial alluded to, but let him be who he may, such an expression proceeding from a judge of assize in his judicial capacity, whilst sitting in a British court of justice, can scarcely be too strongly reprobated, because it gives a sanction to a practice as brutal as it is anti-christian. That any person of respectability should say," he had no very great objection to men trying their strength in battle when they quarrelled," is more than I could have anticipated in the nineteenth century; but that a judge should make use of language of that nature, surprises me beyond measure.


Boxing, independent of being subversive of many Gospel injunctions, is in its nature so barbarous, that one might suppose no civilized people would lend it their authority; yet in a country where the greatest efforts are making for the dissemination of the Scriptures for Christianizing the heathen, and for educating the poor, Boxing is connived at, is allowed, is sanctioned from the bench, provided the parties do not fight long after they are exhausted." If this be right, let us at least be consistent. Let us withhold our Scriptures, recall our missionaries, and permit the untutored savage, who "sees his God in clouds, and hears him in the winds," to remain untutored still. I have no desire to discourage these beneficent undertakings; but that, whilst we are zealously engaged in promoting the eternal good of our fellow-creatures abroad, we may not overlook the vices of our own country, but do our utmost to exterminate the enemies of our own house, and of our native land; and above all, when

customs brutal and barbarous, and opposed to the divine law, are tolerated and sanctioned by those who hold judicial stations, as in the case now before us, that then, unawed by power, we exert all our ability firmly to oppose such customs, and endeavour to check their demoralizing influence: for men are sufficiently disposed to indulge their vicious propensities, without the sanction of those who administer the laws. I am, &c. W. P. T.

Strictures on a passage in Mrs. Hannah More's Practical Piely.

To the Editor of the Herald of Peace.

SIR,-Nothing affords a stronger support to popular delusion and error than the countenance which it receives from persons of unquestionable virtue and piety, who are by such conduct pulling down with one hand what they are building up with the other. And though charity obliges us to attribute this inconsistency to the unwitting but powerful influence of prejudice, and not to any evil design; yet it claims the most serious attention: for the period will sooner or later arrive, when the delusive veil will be torn from the eyes of such persons, and their conduct presented to them in its true light; and then it will be an awful reflection, that they have been, in such instances, opposing the establishment of the kingdom of the Redeemer in the hearts of men, and in the earth. These remarks have been induced, and it is with real concern that I say it, by the following passage in Mrs. Hannah More's Practical Piety, vol. i. p. 162.


"There are three requisites to our proper enjoyment of every earthly blessing which God bestows on us a thankful reflection on the goodness of the giver, a deep sense of the unworthiness of the receiver, and a sober recollection of the precarious tenure by which we hold it; the

[ocr errors]

first would make us grateful, the second humble, the last moderate.

"But how seldom do we receive his favours in this spirit! As if religious gratitude were to be confined to the appointed days of public thanksgiving, how rarely in common society do we hear any recognition of Omnipotence even in those striking and heart-rejoicing occasions, when with his own right hand, and with his holy arın, he has gotten himself the victory. Let us never detract from the merit of our valiant leaders, but rather honour them the more for this manifestation of divine power in their favour, but let us never lose sight of him who teacheth their hands to war, and their fingers to fight.' Let us never forget that he is the rock, that his work is perfect, and all his ways are judgment.'

"How many seem to shew not only their want of affiance in God, but that he is not in all their thoughts,' by projecting their affairs without any reference to him, by setting out on the stock of their own unassisted wisdom, contriving and acting independently of God; expecting prosperity in the event, without seeking his direction in the outset, and taking to themselves the whole honour of the success, with out any recognition of his hand; do they not thus virtually imitate what Sophocles makes his blustering Atheist (Ajax) boast, Let other men expect to conquer with the assistance of the Gods, I intend to gain honour without them.'

"The Christian will rather rejoice to ascribe the glory of his prosperity to the same hand to which our own manly Queen gladly ascribed her signal victory. When after the defeat of the Armada, impiously termed Invincible, her enemies, in order to lower the value of her agency, alleged that the victory was not owing to her, but to God, who had raised the storm; she heroically declared that the visible interference of Ged

in her favour was that part of the success from which she derived the truest honour."

That the rise and fall of states and kingdoms are under the control of the Almighty Sovereign of the Universe, will be admitted by all who acknowledge his superintending providence over the affairs of men. That the pride and ambition of the wicked, are also in his hands made the instruments of his wrath against sin and sinners, is equally certain from the Scriptures. But what has the Christian to do with these things? he cannot draw the sword without so far renouncing the Christian character, for all war is anti-christian. The bloody contests between nations are striking proofs of the wrath of man, which worketh not the righteousness of God, and consequently they may, to the enemy of all righteousness, be " heart-rejoicing occasions," but to the meek and humble Christian, who sees in them every Christian virtue trampled under foot, they can only be occasions of sorrow and mourning.

[ocr errors]

To make the great Eternal a party in the sanguinary disputes between nations, as though he were the God of the one and not of the other, is little short of impiety; either of the parties is equally acceptable in his sight, that is, both are alike violating the Christian law of love, both are guilty of injuring and murdering their neighbour. To justify the practice of war by passages in the Old Testament, which were only applicable to the Jewish Theocracy, is as erroneous in Theology, as it would be erroneous in morals to appeal to the Mosaic law in justification of polygamy and divorce in the present day. Into this error the author of the foregoing passage has fallen, an error as dangerous as it is delusive, as it gives to war a divine sanction; whereas it is, in every form, directly opposed to the Christian spirit of love, meekness, and forbearance, which spirit is well delineated by

Mrs. Hannah More in the following passage.

"A religion was wanted which should be of general application. Christianity happily accommodated itself to the common exigence. It furnished an adequate supply to the universal want. Instead of perpetual but unexpiating sacrifices to appease imaginary deities,

Gods such as guilt makes welcome, it presents 'one oblation, once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.' It presents one consistent scheme of morals, growing out of one uniform system of doctrines, one perfect rule of practice, depending on one principle of faith; it offers grace to direct the one and to assist the other. It encircles the whole sphere of duty with the broad and golden zone of coalescing charity, stamped with the beautiful inscription, A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another.' Christianity instead of destroying the distinctions of rank, or breaking in on the regulations of society, by this universal precept, furnishes new fences to its order, additional security to its repose, and fresh strength to its subordinations.

"The precept of doing to others as we would they should do unto us, is so clear and undeniable a duty, that the light of nature had impressed it upon many on whom the light of Revelation had never shone. A Roman Emperor caused it to be engraved on his plate. The first Incas of Peru taught it as one of their most indispensable rules; but it received its highest sanction and fullest confirmation from those Divine lips which stamped its importance in the Christian code by the broad declaration, this is the law and the prophets;' thus establishing a legitimate and regulated self-love as the standard of our social conduct, as both the rule of charity and the law of equity. How lamentably do, men

[ocr errors]

depart from this obvious and intelligible principle, when they vindicate their unkindness or their injustice, by making what others actually do to them, their own measure of retribution, instead of what they would that others should do.

"Were this universal requisition uniformly observed, the whole frame of society would be cemented and consolidated into one indissoluble bond of universal brotherhood. This divinely enacted law is the seminal principle of justice, charity, patience, forbearance, in short, of all social virtue. That it does not produce these excellent effects, is not owing to any defect in the principle, but in our corrupt nature, which so reluctantly, so imperfectly obeys it. If it were conscientiously adopted, and substantially acted upon, received in its very spirit, and obeyed from the ground of the heart, human laws might be abrogated, courts of justice abolished, and treatises of morality burnt: War would be no longer an art, nor military tactics a science. We should suffer long and be kind, and so far from seeking that which is another's, we should not even seek our own.',"

Is it possible, I fancy I hear the reader exclaim, that these excellent Christian sentiments can be written by the same pen as the former extracts, which gave to War a divine sanction? Yes, it is not only possible that it should be produced by the same pen, but it is actually in the same work, and in p. 211 of the same volume. Such are the inconsistencies into which persons of piety are sometimes betrayed, How the ingenious author would attempt to reconcile these two passages is difficult to say, except it were by making that politically right which is morally wrong; by admitting that a Christian ruler may order acts to be done, which if done by a Christian man would be robbery and murder. With men, such distinctions may be approved; but they are incompatible with the simplicity and

« PrécédentContinuer »