Page images
PDF
EPUB

62

BELL IS HIGH AND DRY, rewards, including badges of merit,' orders' of merit, chains, medals, and expensive prizes,--scarcely less objectionable, have shared the same fate. Time has already set its seal upon the doings of both these men, and judgment has long since gone forth. But how different is the verdict to that which they so fondly anticipated! On all the peculiarities in which they gloried, men already pour contempt. The monitorial principle survives; but the trappings with which they encumbered it have long since proved worthless. Their pride is in the dust; their ambition, a vain show. Posterity will remember them rather as party leaders than as inventors or philanthropists; and succeeding generations will honour their zeal, their energy, and their perseverance under difficulties, rather than their wisdom, their genius, or their modesty.

In contemplating Dr. Bell as a beneficed clergyman, the mind is painfully affected in discovering no evidence whatever of spirituality of heart. He is always high and dry.' He has evidently more faith in natural philosophy, than in the gospel, as a means of evangelizing India. Principal M'Cormick writes expressing distrust of the well-meaning but ill-judging patrons of plans for the conversion of Gentoos, and ridicules the idea of attempting to teach Christianity to the natives of Bengal by preaching its doctrines

LANCASTER IS ENTHUSIASTIC.

63

slap-dash;' and faithless Dr. Bell, instead of rebuking his scepticism, replies, that without the power of working miracles - none can ever throw down the barriers which enclose their sacred shrines, or gain any converts whom a rational divine or pious Christian, who sets any value on a good life, would not blush to own.'

His theology, too, is more than questionable. He understands by our Saviour's declaration, that we must become little children’ in order to enter the kingdom of heaven,' that, among children, and from them, and by becoming as one of them, we are to learn those simple doctrines of nature and truth, innate in them, or which readily occur to their minds, as yet unbiassed by authority, prejudice, or custom.' And he calls this the school of nature and truth, pointed out by the Son of God.' We are by no means disposed to make any man an offender for a word; but we cannot help observing, that if Lancaster had expressed himself so incautiously, the friends of Dr. Bell would have eagerly seized upon the passage as conclusive evidence of a Socinianized mind.

Lancaster had his theological heresies, but they are of a totally different complexion. His perversions of Scripture are all mystical, and it is curious to observe how they blend

64

COLERIDGE TEACHES BOTH.

with his burning temperament. He is an Elijah,' a chosen vessel,' a David before Goliath-a Joshua before Jericho. Imaginative and excitable, he is always on fire; Bell, very rarely, except when defending “his system. The former often manifests heat without light; but the latter, as a Christian, never warms--all is cold as death. Coleridge, in one of his letters to Bell, unconsciously reads his friend a lesson when he observes, 'A man who has nothing better than prudence is fit for no world to come :' he might have had poor Lancaster in his

eye

when he added, and he who does not possess it in full activity is as unfit for the present world.' Both might have profited by his conclusion. • What then shall we say? Have both prudence and the moral sense, but subordinate the former to the latter; and so possess the flexibility and address of the serpent, to glide through the brakes and jungles of this life, with the wings of a dove to carry us upward to a better.'

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

LANCASTER's lack of prudence was happily supplied by a little band of men, now all gone to their reward, who, at great personal sacrifice, nobly came forward in the hour of need, and saved the schools he had established from utter and irremediable ruin. On two or three of these departed worthies we must bestow a passing notice.

William Corsion, the simple-minded author of the little volume already referred to, was once well known as the party who introduced into this country the manufacture of British leghorn. Having shown that, instead of being imported, as heretofore, from Italy and France, it might be manufactured by our own poor, he opened a warehouse for its sale on Ludgate-hill. The discovery attracted much notice. The Society of Arts' pronounced the invention a national benefit, and rewarded the inventor with a gold medal. The · Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor' also noticed this valuable branch of manufacture in their reports. After many vicissitudes, some of

66

CORSTON MOVED AT DEPTFORD,

which obliged him more than once to compound with his creditors, he eventually succeeded in his undertaking, and, after a long and laborious life, retired on a small property to his native village of Fincham, in Norfolk, where, at a very early period of his career, he had established a school for poor children. It is due to this good and honourable man to state, that after emerging from pecuniary difficulties, he called his creditors together, and, with rare probity, paid every debt in full.

William Corston was a Moravian by religious profession, a man of tender spirit and of warm affections. We have often heard him relate, with brimming eyes, the circumstance which first led him to take so deep an interest in the education of poor children. • I was going,' he used to say, when I was about twenty years of age, through Buttlane, Deptford, when I heard voices singing, and looking up, saw a board on which was inscribed, To the glory of God and the benefit of poor children. This school was erected by Dean Stanhope.' I stood looking and musing upon it, when the voices of the children so affected me, that tears flowed down my cheeks, and the prayer immediately arose in my heart, Oh that it may please God that I may have it in my power one day

« PreviousContinue »