Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

labour under the same mistake with myself.- I am, my dear Sir, your's very sincerely,

“ John Higgins."

As to the facts of the story, the writer is able to offer a very satisfactory proof of their correctness. The Rev. Mr. Hughes, one of the estimable secretaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society, in company with another friend, visited the spot where this interesting young woman formerly resided, and interrogated the brother (who had read the tract,) whether the circu ustances of the story were precisely the same as they are there related ? To this he replied, there was only one fact that was misrepresented. Being asked, with some degree of anxiety, what that fact was, he observed, that Mr. Richmond had described a vine trained near the side of the window, whereas it was not a vine, but an apple-tree. If historic truth had never been more seriously violated than in this instance, the credibility of facts would seldom have been impeached. Seven cities would not have contended for the honour of Homer's birth. The Trojan war would not have been the subject of a grave literary discussion ; nor would the supposed antiquity of the Chinese empire have furnished the intidel wits of France with an occasion to question the authority of the Mosaic statement.

We have thought it important to adduce these testimonies to the character of Mr. Richmond's tracts, being aware of a disposition in the minds of some to identify them with a class of publications which profess to convey religious truth under the garb of fiction. We do not mean to discuss the propriety of such a vehicle of instruction; but we wish to distinguish these publications from the writings of our friend, who sought his materials, not in the regions of fancy, but in the less questionable sources of fact and reality. We consider Mr. Richmond to have been excelled by no writer in this species of composition. To a style simple, elegant, and full of pathos, he united a spirit of Christian love, which transfused its sweetness into every thought and expression ; and his imagination, rich and powerful, .being purified by “a live coal from the altar," was consecrated in all its varied exercises, to the glory of God and the true interests of man. While, if his fancy sparkled with the beautiful tints of the rainbow, it was only to fix the gaze of the admirer on the heavenly world.

We cannot conclude these remarks without adverting to two editions of the “ Dairyman's Daughter,” published in America;

[ocr errors]

the one by the Philadelphia Sunday and Adult School Union, and the other by the New England Tract Society, at Boston.

On comparing these editions with the English copies of the same work, we were surprised to find numerous instances of omission or alteration. The American editions differ from each other, as well as from the English tract. Surely an author and the public have a right to expect from an editor a faithful adherence to the original ; or at least that he should apprise the reader of alterations, and assign a reason for making them. But in the instance before us, the foreign tracts, though they bear the name of Mr. Richmond, are far from being his own work. The first letter of the Dairyman's Daughter, which contains her religious principles, is wholly omitted; the interesting fact relating to the burial service is suppressed; no less than nineteen pages of the narrative are reinoved ; and in short, there are so many omissions, transpositions, and alterations, that the reader would with difficulty recognise the real features of the character of the pious daughter of the Dairyman. We cannot but complain of this gross mutilation of our friend's interesting memoir, as an imposition on the reader, and an injustice to the author's reputation.

Without intending to impugn the integrity of our American brethren, or to assign motives for their conduct, we must express our regret; considering, as we do, such interpolations and false presentments to be both injurious to the memory of an author, a misrepresentation of his principles, and an interference with his design, by no means consistent with fair and honourable feeling; and we cannot but hope that the evil complained of will be corrected in subsequent editions. The justness of these remarks must plead our excuse (if any be needful,) for their introduction into this place.*

A very useful method,” says Archbishop Secker, “ of spreading the knowledge of religion, is by distributing, or procuring to be distributed, such pious books, especially to the poorer sort, as are best suited to their capacities and circumstances. Much good may be done in this way, to considerable numbers at once, in a more acceptable manner, for a trifling expense.”

With similar views and sentiments to those expressed by the venerable Archbishop, a number of pions persons, more than twenty years ago, formed an association, which they called

* Since writing the above, we have seen an American edition, published at Philadelphia, in the year 1827, which, we are happy to say, is in every respect conformable to the original.

It was

The Religious Tract Society.” Publications like those of Mr. Richmond, could not fail to attract the notice of such an institution : and his well-known liberality, together with the high estimation in which his character was held, induced the committee of that society to make proposals to him, of becoming one of their secretaries. At that time the institution had no churchrepresentative, though the committee was composed of persons of all denominations. The secretaries were the Rev. Joseph Hughes, and the Rev. Dr. Steinkopff, well known from their connexion with the British and Foreign Bible Society. By the accession of Mr. Richmond, it was justly expected that the society would derive increased wisdom in its counsels, and vigour and unity in its operations. The editor well remembers the circumstances of this application, and the reasons which induced Mr. Richmond to accept the office of joint secretary. It was a proposition which required serious deliberation.

On the one hand, Mr. Richmond considered that a strong prejudice was known to exist against the society, not only amongst the enemies of true piety, but also among some of its friends. supposed to consist almost exclusively of Dissenters, and its tracts were regarded with jealousy and suspicion. To accept this offer, he feared, might identify him with dissent (though he was ever warmly attached to the doctrines and discipline of his own church,) and might endanger his usefulness in the legitimate field of his labours. On the other hand, he recognised in the institution many claims to his regard. Its object was the same which lay near to his own heart, the circulation of tracts, and the revival of the doctrines of the Reformation. He saw in the connexion, an opportunity of extending his usefulness; and certain pledges and securities seemed alone to be wanting, to allow of the co-operation of a conscientious churchman. He thought that under the sanction of a sufficient guarantee against the introduction of peculiarities, there was no just reason for his refusal of the office proposed to him; and that by his acceptance of the secretaryship, he might even promote the interests of his own church, by preventing the circulation of tracts hostile to her opinions, as well as advance the common cause of true religion. The required guarantee was given : Mr. Richmond yielded to the wishes of the Tract Society; and from that period to the day of his death, he had no reason to complain that the engagement was violated in a single instance.

Mr. Richmond's decision may give occasion to a difference of opinion. By some he may be censured, by most persons his conduct will be approved and admired. Those who consider a union with Dissenters, under any circumstances, as a virtual surrender of principle, and a violation of ecclesiastical discipline, will condemn his connexion with the Tract Society ; but we have never been convinced that a union on common ground with any part of the family of Christ, is an act of treason against our own church. The union requires not a surrender of principle, but of prejudice; it requires no compromise of forms, but it does require a just estimation of the essential truths of salvation. We confess it has ever appeared to us a strange inconsistency, that the most zealous opponents to the union of true Christians, upon common principles, , should themselves have united with Lutherans, and employed them as their agents to plant churches, and disseminate religious knowledge, and that for a long period of time; though, in discipline wholly, and partly in doctrine, those agents differ from their own establishment. The allusion will be readily understood. We do not mean to recriminate in the spirit of hostility ; but we must be allowed to protest against the unfairness of denouncing their brethren of the Church of England, for uniting with Dissenters in the propagation of our common Christianity, where both discipline and peculiarities of creed are excluded, by mutual consent, and collision is consequently avoided.

From this vindication of our friend, we turn to the important results of the Tract Society. Every part of the globe has been the scene of its operations ; and from every country the most pleasing testimonies of approbation and usefulness have been received. Bishops and archbishops, emperors and kings, ministers of the Reformed, and even of the Roman Catholic Church, have been loud in its praises. We regret that the limits of this Memoir will not allow us to insert numerous interesting proofs of the Divine favour, attendant on the publications of the Society. We must refer the reader to the summary of proceedings for the last twenty years, published in one volume, by the Tract Society, and which contains a most satisfactory vindication of the character of the tracts, and of the design of the institution.

We have purposely omitted numerous testimonies to the usefulness of Mr. Richmond's tracts, received from almost every part of Great Britain, as well as from many foreign countries (so numerous, indeed, that they would fill several chapters,) lest we should seem to depart from that Christian modesty so conspicuous in the character of their author. We hope the candid reader will pardon what the warmth of our affection has dictated; and the more readily, when he remembers that all that we have said of the man magnifies the grace of God which was in him, and wrought effectually by him.

CHAPTER XI. His appointment as chaplain to the Duke of Kent-Mrs. Rich

mond's illness-New school-room--Report of his son's death-Embarrassment, arising from his publication of "the Fathers of the English Church"--Interview with the Emperor of Russia-Letters to and from his Imperial Majesty-Princess Metstchersky-Letters to Mrs. Livius-- Verses written on the marriage of a friend's daughter.

Among the distinguished characters who gave the sanction of their rank and influence to the public institutions of this country, his late Royal Highness the Duke of_Kent is pre-eminently entitled to our grateful remembrance. Every religious and benevolent undertaking found in him a powerful friend and patron. He was the avowed advocate of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He was the patron also of the Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews. He usually attended, and took the chair, at the anniversaries of the numerous public charities which confer so much honour on the city of London; on which occasions Mr. Richmond often met his Royal Highness, and by the intervention of a common friend, became one of his chaplains.

In the discharge of his functions, Mr. Richmond was sometimes required to officiate at Kensington palace. On one of these occasions, the Duke and Duchess and their retinue were present. His Royal Highness heard Mr. Richmond's sermon with profound attention ; and when the service was concluded, he was pleased to express his approbation of the impressive, scriptural, and faithful truths which he had heard ; adding, that he fully concurred in their importance, and wished to feel their influence. At the same time he inquired how he had attained so remarkable a fluency in the expression of his ideas; and asked whether his discourse had been committed to memory.

Mr. Riebmond replied in the negative ; and said that he usually committed to paper a few leading heads of his subject, but he modestly ascribed his ready utterance to the effect of habit. His Royal Highness expressed a hope that he would preach at the

« AnteriorContinuar »