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edition of Practical Education' is quoted (vol. ji. p. 404,) as disavowing the design of laying down a system of education founded on morality exclusive of religion ;' and, in page 405, is repeated a letter to Dr. Rees, in answer to some criticism on this subject in
the Encyclopædia, in which Mr. Edgeworth says, ..That he is convinced that religious obligation (-observe the periphrasis-)
is indispensably necessary in the education of all descriptions of people in every part of the world, and that religion, in the large sense of the noord, is the only bond of society.'
Now in the first place, we presume that religion here could, at best, only mean religion according to the definition just before given, and which we have seen, is any thing but Christianity; but for fear any doubt should exist upon that point, the words, “large sense of the word and in every part of the world,' are introduced to place Christianity in the same line with Judaism, Mohaininetanism, Brahminism, and those superstitions which degrade human nature, though they all act as some degree of restraint on human vices, . in every part of the world.?
And even if he had given the word religion a better meaning, what is his conclusion—that it is necessary to salvation ? No; that it leads to a future state ? No; but that it is the only bond of society—a mere political engine.
Miss Edgeworth is so sore upon this subject, that there is nothing, in the way of innuendo and inference and circunlocution, omitted, to give what, we fear, must be felt to be a false colouring to it; for instance, in page 4 of vol. ii. she states• That many distinguished members, and some of the most respected dig. nitaries of the established church, bonoured Mr. Edgeworth with their esteem and private friendship. This could not have been had they believed him to be either an open or a concealed enemy to Christianity, or had they conceived it to be his design to lay down a system of education founded upon morality, exclusive of religion.'
And she proceeds to instance the solemnity with which, as a magistrate, he administered an oath, and his receiving the confession of a papist criminal, when party bigotry denied admittance to the Catholic priest. Now instead of all this argumentation, and these facts from which we are to draw such favourable inferences, why does not Miss Edgeworth say in one sentence, . my father was a Christian, and he brought me and his other children up in the belief of a future life and a redeeming Saviour ! These two lines would have rendered unnecessary av hundred pages of shuffling.
And what does the acquaintance of dignitaries of the church prove, their external esteem, and, in the ordinary meaning of the words, their private friendship ?-nothing to this point : no one ever supposed, that Mr. Edgeworth was so notorious and offensive an
infidel as to deserve to be put out of the pale of society; there was nothing in his manners or conduct in society, as to religion, to justify any peculiar observation upon him ; and even as an author, his fault is that of omission; and, indeed, if he had not been put forward as the Bicon of education, and as a model for husbands and fathers, it would not have been necessary for us to go into this subject with so much earnestness, an earnestness which we confess is much increased by the evasions and equivocations with which we see, or fancy we see, that his real sentiments are disguised.
What proof of Christianity is the decorous administration of an : oath? It may be a proof of a general supposition of a Supreme Being. It may be a proof of good taste, good sense, propriety and obedience to 'he laws; but nothing more. What proof is the charitable attendance on a Catholic criminal ?-of a kind heart, and nothing more; for if it proved any thing beyond this, it would prove that Mr. Edgeworth was a papist, and believed the peculiar superstitions of that scct. Miss Edgeworth must have been hard pushed for evidence when she has recourse to such as this.
But she collects all her force to assure us that
"No man could be more sensible than he was of the consolatory fortifying influence of the Christian religion, in sustaining the miod in adversity, poverty, and age ; no man knew better its power to carry hope and peace in the hour of death to the pepitent criminal **** Nor did he ever weaken in any heart, in which it ever existed that which he considered as the greatest blessiug that a human creature can enjoy--firm religious faith and hope.'--vol. ii. p. 407.
These sentences, if they stood alone, written spontaneously, and untainted by all the shifts and equivocations on the subject which we have observed, would be perhaps considered as satisfactory; but we have been put on our guard, and must look at them more narrowly.
In the first place we observe that Mr. Edgeworth, when defending himself on this very charge, says nothing like this; he never, we believe, distinguishes the Christian religion, from religion in its large sense, and in every part of the world;' and we might, therefore, if necessary set his own against his daughter's evidence. But it is not necessary; she does not say a syllable about his own personal faith in this doctrine; she says of him what might be said by any deist or infidel, that the worldly effect of the Christian religion is obvious and highly advantageous to society; she dwells upon its human effects, which every mau sees and acknowledges, namely, its power of sustaining the mind in adversity and sorrow-its support to the condemned criminal-its consolation to those who rely upon it. These are mere facts, which every one sees, and which Hume or Voltaire could not, and do not deny ; but, that such a
reliance is well founded, rational, just that is what Hume and Voltaire would deny, and that is what Mr. and Miss Edgeworth do pot affirm. To see and acknowledge the effects of any thing in third persons is one thing ; to feel the effects one's self is another ; the former is but the exertion of common observation and common candour; the latter is an internal conscientious conviction ; in short, the former is consistent with deism or paganism, the latter is the distinction of a Christian.
It will not, we hope, be thought, that we have invidiously or unnecessarily introduced this subject. It forms so prominent a feature in Miss Edgeworth's work and in Mr. Edgeworth's Life, that we could not pass it over in silence, and we could not mention it without stating our impressions, and the reasons which produced them. We should have not imputed it as blame (though we should have regretted it as a misfortune) if the minds of Mr. and Miss Edgeworth had been so constituted as not to be able to believe, in the great doctrines of Christianity-belief is not in our own power; and if they were not Christians, we should applaud the good sense and delicacy with which in their former works, and indeed in this, they have taken care not to give any offence by the ostentatious production of intidel opinions--but when we see, what we think, a design to induce us to believe the thing which is not to represent Mr. Edgeworth as a Christian, and to justify as Christian doctrines and practices things which are certainly not so—when we find a system of education rejecting the Christian doctrines from its schools, and yet are told that the author of that system is a Christian, it becomes a duty to pull off the mask, under which Mr. Edgeworth's system and principles might be received without that caution and suspicion to which, in this particular, they are liable.
If, after all, we have been mistaken as to Mr. Edgeworth's religion, it is the fault of himself and his daughter. Three words would, as we have already said, have rendered all this discussion unnecessary; three words may yet clear up the difficulty, and if Miss Edgeworth, in her next work, is able to say, with confidence, my father was a Christian, she will do a pious office to his memory, and no inconsiderable good to mankind; and no one will be more pleased than ourselves to find that her inaccurate modes of expression had confirmed an error into which her father's own avowals had originally led us.
We have now done our painful task; and, on the whole, our greatest objection to the work is, that it must lower Mr. Edgeworth's reputation, and not raise that of his daughter. There is much to blame, and little to praise in what they, with a mistaken and selfdeceptive partiality, record of him—his own share of the work is silly, trivial, vain, and inaccurate ; hers, by its own pompous claims
to approbation, fails of what a more modest exposition would have obtained, and might have been entitled to. Mr. Edgeworth had some ingenuity, great liveliness, great activity, a large share of good sense, (particularly when he wrote,) of good nature, and of good temper-he was a prudent and just landlord, a kind husband, (except to his second wife,) an affectionate parent ; but he was superficial ; not well founded in any branch of knowledge, yet dabbling in all :-as a mechanic he shewed no originality, but some powers of application--as a public man he was hasty, injudicious, inconsistent, and only not mischievous : in society we must, notwithstanding Miss Edgeworth's dutiful partiality, venture to say that he was as disagreeable as loquacity, egotism and a little tinge now and then of indelicacy could make him ; but with all these drawbacks, his life was, as far as we have heard or seen, on the whole, more useful, more respectable than the representation which is here given of it. For his reputation these two volumes of biography ought to be forgotten. " It is a mistaken tribute of vanity and filial piety, which almost justifies the superstition of our German ancestors, that monuments were onerous to the dead.
Art. XII.-1. The Church in Danger; a Statement of the Cause,
and of the probable Means of averting that Danger. Attempt
ted by the Rev. Richard Yates, B. D. 2. The Basis of National Welfare : considered in Reference chiefly
to the Prosperity of Britain, and Safety of the Church of Eng
land. Ry the Rev. Richard Yates. 3. Substance of the Speech delivered by the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, on Monday the 16th of March 1818, on proposing a Grant of One Million for Providing Additional Places of Public
Worship in England. 4. A Sketch of the History of Churches in England, to which is add
ed a Sermon on the Honours of God in Places of Public Worship. By John Brewster, M. A. Rector of Egglescliffe and Vicar of Greatham in the County of Durham. 5. A Letter to the Righi Honourable the Earl of Liverpool on
that Part of the Speech of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, which recommended the Attention of Parliament to the
Deficiency in the Number of Places of Public Worship belonging - toihe Established Church. By James Elmes, Architect. 3. New Churches, considered with respect to the Opportunities they
offer for the Encouragement of Painting. By B. R. Haydon. A NEW novel of American manufacture has reached us from Boston ; the writer assumes the character of an English wo
hat part of recommember of By Jampect to the
man, and lays the scene of her fiction in the vale of Keswick. Fietitious tales are good for something when they convey information concerning the age and country wherein they have been written : and, as the Troy Book throws more light upon the age of Caxton than of king Priam, so does this little tale represent, unwittingly, the state of America in one most important point, when it speaks of England. “After the lapse of some years,' it says, “ in which a parish has been vacant, and when the voice of prayer and the songs of praise have only been heard at long intervals, it may readily be supposed that the revival of religious institutions occasions a kind of jubilee among the people. Hence it appears that, because of the want of a religious establishment in America, when a minister dies years sometimes elapse before his place can be supplied ! And this is confirmed by what the writer supposes to have happened at Keswick, in a passage not the less amusing for its attention to local circumstances. •A year had passed since her husband's death, and yet the living of Keswick was vacant. During this time, there had been some sabbaths in which divine service was performed, and the good Bishop of Landaff had not forgotten the people of Keswick. Two young gentle. men from Carlisle had also officiated there."
• In the United States,' says Mr. Bristed, there is no national church established, no lay-patronage, no system of tithes. The people call and support their minister ; few churches having sufficient funds to dispense with the necessity of contribution by the congregation. The law enforces the contract between the pastor and his flock, and requires the people to pay the stipulated salary so long as the ciergyman performs his parochial duty according to the agreement between him and his parishioners. The general government has no power to interfere with or regulate the religion of the Union ; and the States generally bave not legislated farther than to incorporate, with certain restrictions, such religious bodies as have applied for charters. In consequence of this entire indifference on the part of the state governments, full one third of our whole population are destitute of all religious ordinances, and a much greater proportion in our southern and western districts.'.
Such is the state of things in America ; and the consequences are thus described by the same able and meritorious writer : . The late President Dwight declared in 1812, that there were three millions of souls in the United States entirely destitute of all religi. ous ordinances and worship. It is also asserted by good authority, that in the southern and western states' societies exist, built on the model of Transalpine Clubs in Italy, and the atheistic assemblies of France and Germany ; and, like them, incessantly labouring to root out every vestige of Christianity. So that in the lapse of a few years we are in danger of being overrun with unbaptized infidels, the most atrocious and remorseless banditti that infest and desolate human society.'