Слике страница
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


| up the hole with carth, so that the old

man might be said to be burnt and MR. EDITOR.

baried alive. Two of the children SIR, I have transcribed the follow-were present, one seven and the other ing from a periodical work published eight years old ; and they alone, of all in 1788 ; should it be agreeable to the the spectators, appeared to be affectdesign of the Imperial Magazine, its ed. As to the women, they went home insertion will oblige,

with the greatest sang froid. Such an Yours, affectionately, event being an object of glory to the

relations; the day on which a wretchHollinwood, July 19, 1821.

ed victim to superstition is thus self

devoted, is a day of triumph to his Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman whole family." in Calcutta, to his Father in London.

“ I have lately been an eye witness of a most melancholy transaction, the

ATHEISM AN ABSURDITY. sad consequence of the ignorance and superstition that reign in Indostan. I saw an aged man throw himself into One of the arguments used to prove the a pit ten feet deep, and half full of existence of a God, is this wherecombustibles, wbich bad been set on ever there is a manifest contrivance fire. This man made himself a volun- and design, there is, or there must tary victim, to preserve, as he thought, have been, an agent who could conthe lives of his children, who were at trive and design: but in the appearthe time attacked by a dangerous and ances of nature in general, and in the epidemical distemper.

construction of the human frame in “ When this distemper breaks out particular, there is manifest contriamong the Hindoos, they believe, most vance and design; therefore there is, religiously, that one of them must die or there must have been, some agent, to save the rest. This poor man was who bas designed and contrived the thoroughly persuaded that the lives of appearances of nature in general, and his children could not be preserved if the construction of the human frame he did not offer himself up as a sacri- in particular.” I have seen an objecfice for them. I used every argumenttion started against this argument, of with himself, his wife, his brothers, which the following is an accurate and sisters, to convince them of the copy, absurdity of such an opinion, and the "The Theists assert that the strucguilt of suicide, but in vain; they were ture of the universe in general proves deaf to my reasons; and, thinking at its divine original; that the being last that I intended to prevent by force called man, displays so much conthis horrible sacrifice, they threw them- trivance and design, both in the faculselves at my feet, and begged, with ties of mind and body, that he must tears in their eyes, that I would not have been created by a superior beingoppose the resolution of the old man! Ia being possessed of greater power

* The self-devoted victim being and wisdom than himself. Granted. seated on the brink of the pit, raised | What follows? If man, possessing his hands to heaven, and prayed with moderate power and wisdom, would great fervour. After he had remained not have existed unless he bad been half an hour in that posture, four of created by a being superior to himself, his nearest relations help him on his much less could that being have ex. legs, and walked with him five times isted unless be had been created by a round the pit, all of them calling upon still superior being—that being by Mam and Setaram, two of their saints. another, and so on, ad infinitum--the During this ceremony,the women were difficulty increasing tenfold with every tearing their hair, beating their breasts, link of the chain. Thus the very arguand roaring in a most horrible man- ment wbich tends to prove that God ner. The four relations at last let go created material and rational beings, their hold of the old man, who imme- proves at the same time, a fortiori, that diately threw himself into the pit, and he himself must have been created, not a groan was heard from him. The li. e, it proves nothing at all.".! bystanders had each a spade in his Upon the argument, and upon this hand, and immediately began to fill | objection or reply made to it, I bez

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

leave' to submit the following obser- as the argument rests exclusively upon vations :

the former. A material substance 1. All that the argument proves, all with contrivance in its organization, that the argument professes to prove, proves that there must have been a is, not that ihe being who made nature, contriver; and if that being who conand made man, is benevolent, or holy, trived, be also material, and organized, or wise, or even powerful; but simply, and contrived; he must, for the same that there is a being who can contrive, reason, have resulted from another who has made nature, and the body of being who can contrive. But it does man. I consider, therefore, that those not follow, that because a material terms in the objection which ascribe substance, contrived in its organizawisdom, superiority, &c. to the being tion, must have had a contriver, that, whose existence is denied, however therefore, that contriver is a material they may affect other arguments, affect substance: on the contrary, it is not this.

asserted that that contriver is unorga2. The argament ascribes to the nized and immaterial; and, conseappearances of nature, and to the quently, this argument, which proves body of man, no qualities of excellence, the existence of such a being, by no perfection, exquisiteness, &c.; it sim- means proves that he was either ply ascribes to them the character of created or contrived. intention, contrivance, and design. After making these observations, I So that to say the contriver does not beg leave to pursue the argument in a exist, because the contrivance is not somewhat different way.' perfect, is saying nothing that touches The first proposition, viz. “ Wherethe argument. I do not say that the ever there is manifest contrivance and contrivance is perfect, but that there is | design, there is, or there must have a contrivance. I do not argue to the been, an agent who could contrive and perfection of the contriver, but to his design," I regard as self-evident; a existence.

proposition to which the Atheist him3. That which the argument rests self does not object. We can as well upon, and that which it alone needs, conceive an effect existing without a is the contrived organization of material cause, as conceive a contrivance exsubstances. I did not know that the isting without a contriver. But the advocates for the existence of God second proposition, viz. “ That in the had ever argued that existence from appearances of nature in general, and mind or spirit as their data. Dr. Paley in the construction of the human frame does not. He may refer to the faculty in particular, there is manifest conof thinking, to prove or illustrate the trivance and design,” is that which attributes of God; but the proof of his the Atheist treats as vulnerable and falexistence the rests wholly upon the lacious. It is not now my object, and adaptation and contrivance in the neither is it necessary to adduce numeorganization of material substances; rous instances from animated nature, to and certainly nothing more is neces- prove that in that nature there is plan sary, at least nothing more is used in and device, an ingenious arrangement the argument under consideration. of parts, and an adaptation of means When, therefore, the objector says, to an end-one shall suffice. If any * that the being called man displays man can sit down, and examine with so much contrivance and design, both the eye of science and philosophy the in the faculties of his mind and body," structure and operation of the eye; if he is either replying to an argument he can have a clear perception of the totally distinct from that before us, or position, purposes, action, movement, he is introducing a ground of sophism. &c. of its cornea, its humours, its I greatly suspect the latter. I do not pupil, its fibres, its retina, and its attribute contrivance to the faculties nerve; and if with this scientific exaof the mind. I say nothing about mination, and this clear perception, he either the mind or its faculties; they can assert that the eye manifests no form a subject concerning which no- contrivance, presents no ingenuity of thing is here predicated

structure, no accommodation of means Upon close inspection, the fallacy to an end, with such a man the arguof the reply will be found to lie here ment is at an end-he must assert on, the objector confounds organized sub and none can contradict him-he is stances with faculties of mind; where- entrenched in the last resource of a


Atheism an Absurdity.

916 anaccrocorervencorererererererer.........noorevermore puerile argument, a mere ipse dixit! | be the author of rational souls, as well We conceive then, that the conclusion as organized bodies, it is still required is invincible; and that it follows, with to show reason why he himself is not all the evidence of sound reasoning, caused and produced? why, as the “ that there is, or there must have human spirit has resulted from sone been, some being who has devised spirit, that spirit has not resulted and contrived the works of nature in from some other spirit, and so on ad general, and the body of man in par- infinitum ? ticular."

I believe the person, who maintains It is now the business of sound the non-existence of Deity, will reaargument, and true philosophy, to dily, nay exultingly allow, that the discover the agent who has thus in- subject now resolves itself into this vented and contrived. We have be- question,-" Is the chain of causes fore us a manifest purpose and design; and effects eternal, or is there a first this design must have resulted from cause?It is to me utterly inconchance, or from necessity, or from ceivable, that without a first cause, some being possessing intelligence there could ever have been any cause and power. Design, resulting from at all. To this it will be answered, chance, is a contradiction in terms. that I might as well say, that there Necessity cannot be the contriver; would be no duration, because there for, if necessity have any existence at was no first duration. But the cases all, it only exists as a law ; but law are not parallel-duration is uncaused, cannot devise, cannot act; it is only simple, indivisible, and infinitea rule by which a something else de- causes and effects are caused, disvises or acts. This design then must tinct, and divisible, or at least they have resulted from some agent, from are not one. But I do not stand upon some cause, possessing intelligence this ground; and neither have I any and power.

thing to do with the common alluUp to this stage of the argument, Isions to “ a suspended chain, and a hope it may be pronounced clear and string of blind men.” I flatter myself safe. Of the being possessing intelli- I have hold of something more solid gence and power, whose existence we and argumentative than either. There hope is legitimately made to appear, must be a first cause; for an eternal we say, that either he is uncaused and chain of causes and effects involves a eternal, or he is the produce of some gross contradiction. The following is other being. I am aware that the my proof:Atheist will suppose he is overturning No axiom in geometry is more all my preceding argumentation, by clear than the following positions,-of proving or saying that this being him- two things, one of which causes, and self must have been caused by some the other is caused by it; that which other being, and that being by some causes, must exist before that which is other, and so on ad infinitum. But if caused. If there are two things, and it can be made out that this involves one of them existed before the other, a gross contradiction, the point is both cannot be eternal. That which gained.

is true of every part must be true of To my own satisfaction, and, I have the whole. Now, here is a chain of the vanity to think, to the satisfaction causes and effects, i. e, a succession of of every close and impartial reasoner, things producing, and of things proit has been fully shown, that it cannot duced ; and it is allowed, that the be argued, that this being was formed things which produce existed before and was contrived, on the same ground the things produced ; and both are that we argue that the works of nature asserted to be eternal; consequently, were contrived and formed: the works one eternal thing must have existed of nature are material, and mechani- before another eternal thing, which cally organized; and from that, it is is absurd. Take any one thing that inferred, that they must have emanated causes, and the immediate thing that from a being possessed of invention is caused by it, and it is allowed that and power; but that being himself is the former must exist before the supposed to be immaterial and un- latter; and what is thus allowed of organized, and it does not follow from the thing that causes, and the thing any thing in the argument, that he is that is caused, is allowed of every pot so. But as this being is allowed to thing that causes and every thing that

[ocr errors]

On the Sonnets of the Rev. Wm. Lisle Bowles.

[ocr errors]

is caused; and yet it is asserted that the unaffected effusions of an amiable both are eternal? i. e. that one does and classical mind. They do not aim and does not exist before the other, at loftiness of thought, nor at that high-which is a contradiction.

wrought versification which is so conThe gentleman, whose reasonings spicuous in the present day, but they gave birth to the observations contain-are the sweetest that ever were writed in these pages, is represented as ten. They indicate a heart susceptible an eminent mathematician: he is of the tenderest impressions; they distherefore perfectly familiar with this play the workings of pure sympathy, axiom,-" Things equal to one and and that pensiveness of thought which the same are equal to one another." | pervades the whole, and renders them Let eternity be the thing given. Now a source of the truest pleasure. They if causes, i. e. the things which cause, were his first compositions, and this are equal in their daration to eternity, will in some way account for the mei.e. are eternal and effects, i. e. lancholy feeling with which they are things caused, are equal in their dura- imbued. It is something peculiar to tion to eternity, i. e, are eternal ;-tbe a youthful and tender heart to contemthings which are caused must be equal plate the world before it as a scene of in their duration, i.e. must have an trouble, and ever to have an idea of existence parallel with the things approaching trial. The imagination which cause, which is impossible. It is then warm, the passions are in their follows, that causes and effects cannot spring, and the best sympathies of huboth be eternal,-it follows, that the man nature have not been warped by chain of causes and effects is not eter- the cares and anxieties of the world. ernal,-it follows, that there must be a It sees the many too often sacrificed to First Cause.

the few; it reads that even men of ge

nius have perished through poverty ON THE SONNETS OF The Rev. WM. and neglect; and it is ever ready to LISLE BOWLES.

conclude, that although even some of

the worthless may gather the lilies and · MR. EDITOR.

roses, yet the briars and brambles in Sir,-It may seem an useless occupa- | the path of life are all that remain for tion to make any remarks upon those it. Much of this is doubtless imagiwritings which have obtained an emi- native, but it has been felt by almost nentstation in the literature ofourcoun

in the literature ofourcoun- every youthful poet. try; their merits have been discussed, Many of Mr. Bowles's sonnets seem and there is in the general butonc opini- to have been produced by such sensaon as it regards them. Yet it not unfre- tions: there is, however, a wide differquently happens, that while the best ence between those feelings which and more elaborate productions of a arise from tender reflections upon huwriter may be fully known and appre-manity, and the cold gloom of misanciated, a few pieces are in some de- thropy. The one casts a calm and gree overlooked, from their forming steady light around it; the other is but a small portion of his labours. Mr. the irresistible stroke of lightning. Bowles has written much, his writings The one, if it sometimes deepens the have gone forth into the world, and colours in the picture of life, discloses they cannot now be either lowered by to us scenes of inimitable beauty; the criticism, or exalted by panegyric. other represents all as the desolating There is one part, however, and it is blast of the hot simoom. The one tells hut a small part of his works, which al- us of the world as it is; the other as it though on its first publication it receiv is not. There is surely nothing cened no small share of the commendation surable in this sadness, arising from it merited, is not now perhaps so ge such views of life; for how often has nerally known. I mean his Sonnets. the band of genius been raised in vain, They were the first I ever read, and while the voice of ignorance bas prenever sball I forget the impression vailed; and bow many a youth deserythey made; they seem to me more as ing of the good opinion of mankind, the recollections of days that are past, has been suffered to remain almost and in each do I discover one of the unnoticed, while the wicked heart and friends of my early years.

the vacant mind has succeeded. BeMr. Bowles's sonnets are written in sides, the evils which exist in the the purely sentimental style, they are world furnish sufficient materials for

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

To think that time so soon each sweet devours;

1 To think so soon life's first endearments fail, fore cannot be strange that so much of

And we are still misled by hope's smooth tale, our best poetry has this train of pen. I Wbo, like a flatterer, when the bappiest hours siveness tbroughout. In some of the Are past, and most we wish her cheering lay,

Will fly as faithless and as fleet as they. sonnets before us, however, there is a tinge of the happiest feelings blended Every one must see the beauty of with this; and they appear to bave these lines, and have at some season been penned in moments when the experienced the feelings they convey. heart could fondly dwell on the days There is a melancholy pleasure in rethat were past, although it well knew visiting those scenes where we have they were never to return.

been happy-perhaps too happy-and The path of no one is ever so barren of dwelling on the recollection of those a desart, but that there is at least we loved, when they are gone, never, some floweret to gladden him on his never to return. The paths we once way, if it be but a wild one; and there traced bring them more vividly to our is scarcely any man who would sacri- | imagination, and place before us all fice the remembrance of some endear- that sweet, but short-lived friendship, ing scene, could it buy bim forgetful- all those thousand acts of kindness ness for every moment of misery he which the heart ever remembers, and has endured. How many fond asso- would not willingly forget. Such asciations, how many tender recollec- sociations give us to feel that although tions, how many sweet resting places time may steal from us objects upon in his journey througb life, cannot the which we had hung our hopes, and rob most destitute look back upon, and us of many a tender endearment, that feel that the evil has not always over-there is at least something of peace to balanced the good. If Mr. Bowles bas be gathered even from our sorrows. not in these beautiful specimens given I will instance another sonnet from us any of the elevation of Milton, or Mr. Bowles, in a different strain, and the strength of Wordsworth, he has upon a subject that has not often been touched upon those tender strings so sweetly treated.which vibrate in every bosom, and struck the general chord of humanity. | Poverty! though from thine haggard eye,

Tby obeerless mien, of every charm bereft, He has awakened those feelings which Thy sbeerless

Thy brow, that Hope's last traces long have are common to every heart, and while

left, other writings are prais'd for their lof-Vain fortune's feeble sons with terror Ay;

I love thy solitary baunts to seek: ty conceptions, these will be loved,

For Pity, reckless of her own distress, and cherished, and wept over.

And Patience, in the pall of wretchedness, It would be unnecessary here to

That turns to the bleak storm ber faded cheek,

And Piety, that never told her wrong, make any remarks on the proper struo And meek Content, whose griefs no more rebel, ture of the sonnet, or of its fitness for

And Genius, warbling sweet ber saddest song,

And Sorrow, listening to a lost friend's knell, the English language. Mr. Words- |

Long banish'd froin the world's insulting throng, worth has completely triumphed over With tbee and thy unfriended offspring dwell. the difficulty usually attached to the legitimate sonnet, of which he has gi- That this is an universal picture, we ven many specimens: we must recol- are not required to believe, but there lect, however, that it is with him in the are instances in which it will apply with hand of a master. It appears to be all its force. It is the province of popeculiarly adapted for the develop- etry to exaggerate, and not merely to ment of melancholy feeling, and by its describe things as they are, but as the restriction to fourteen lines, to be well heart in its happiest moments would suited for the expression of a single have them to be. Mr. Bowles always idea. But it is time to give an extract casts a beautiful halo around scenes from Mr. Bowles, and the following the most trying in themselves, and, by will perhaps shew how far these re a divine alchemy, renders them a marks are correct.

source of the tenderest thoughts. His

sonnets are not composed of thoughts As o'er these bills I take my silent rounds, that breathe, and words that burn," Still on that vision which is flown I dwell;

but they are the poetry of the heart, On images I lov'd-alas, how well! Now past, and but remember'd like sweet sound and such as will ever find admittance of yesterday.-Yet in my breast I keep Such recollections, painful though they seem,

to the susceptible mind. There is And hours of joy retrace; 'till from my dream much beauty and delicacy of feeling I wake, and find them not; then I could weep in the following:

« ПретходнаНастави »