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I have taken the information from Brown's “ MEMOIRS OF HOWARD;"
Dixon's “ MEMOIRS OF JOHN HOWARD;” and the “ LIFE OF JOHN HOWARD,” by Rev. J. Field.
The first is the source of the fullest information. Mr. Dixon has reduced
this into a smaller compass, and made it far more agreeable.
We cannot but regard it as a sign of the favour of God to England, that from a very early period she has enjoyed the services of eminently good men. Ever since the introduction of Christianity, there have been raised up from time to time, men of worth to do good in their generation. We have a golden chain of such names, stretching from the earliest period to our own. Some of these have filled obscure stations,--some, like Alfred, the highest. They have been found in all professions : in the cell of the monk, like the venerable Bede; in the bishop's chair, like Grosstête ; in the calling of the pastor, like Wickliffe ; in the rank of the noble, like Lord Cobham ; in the country gentle..
man's estate, like Hampden and Evelyn ; in the workshop of the mechanic, and the thrift of the tradesman. It would be an interesting employment to trace out this our Catena Patrum ; for these are indeed the true fathers of our national character and institutions.
It ought to be noticed, that these persons were not the mere creations of our institutions. Their services were rather the cause of them, than their consequence. There ran down our history two great streams of effort, in distinct channels : the one the political effort of earnest and independent men; the other, the moral energy which springs out of faithful and Christian hearts. These efforts often concurred to the same end; and, in truth, we owe to their union many of the most precious of our rights, which, it may confidently be said, would never have been won, had not the political energy received force, consistency, and perseverance from the religious principle.
But though the political effort has thus often derived vigour from the religious feeling, no movements of the former have availed to overlay or arrest the latter. It runs, and has its source, independently of politics. There have been long, dreary periods in our political history, in which public truth and virtue seemed to have left the land. Such was the season which followed the great rebellion. Yet in the reign of a profligate king, in the heart of a depraved court, in the ranks of a demoralized nobility, there were cha
racters living and moving as pure as the highest Christian principle could make them. There were Lady Godolphin, and Lady Russell, and Lord Russell, —names for which any age may be grateful.
The century which followed, especially the first half of it, was scarcely an improvement upon that deplorable reign. It was not so openly profligate, but it was as depraved. Under the cover of some outward decency, there was as little moral as political worth. In the reigns of the two first Georges, as in those of the preceding Stuarts, the court was notorious for its immorality; statesmen were corrupt; both the public and the private life of the higher classes was lax, if not dissolute; religion was at the best an affair of speculation, a very questioning and questionable theology. And the general state of the public mind corresponded with this. There was, indeed, a decline of the great excitement which had existed. Parties were broken down; conspiracy ceased to be attractive; men were prosperous, and therefore satisfied with the prevailing order of things. There was less treason, but there was also little principle. Personal intrigue and faction were the business of statesmen. Wits made light of everything, over the tables of Will's Coffee-house, - poets scoffed with Dryden and Pope, -divines speculated with Clarke, or were unscrupulous as Atterbury and Swift-philosophers circulated the infidel views of Bolingbroke or Hobbes,--and, during an age