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compete at an advantage with the cheap trash which was then disseminated with fiendish industry by the Jacobin and infidel party. A subscription was, of course, necessary, and this Mrs. More readily obtained. "The Cheap Repository," though intended expressly for the amelioration of the lower classes,—though "planus imperitis,"— is also "doctis probabilis." To our clerical readers it cannot be necessary to dwell at any great length on its merits. They know the advantage with which the portions of it published separately by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge have been dispersed in parochial schools. Mrs. Sarah More and other friends assisted in the composition of this work. The productions of the former are distinguished by the sign S., as those of Hannah are by Z. The "History of Mr. Fantom" is especially well adapted to the requirements of the present day, while the whole collection will be valuable and useful as long as human nature continues what it is. Much is drawn from fact ;to mention only one instance, "The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain" is true in all its circumstances, even to the locality. The " Mr. Johnson" is Sir James Stonhouse.
The Cheap Repository was kept up for three years. In the first year alone the sale was two millions. The labour of the work affected Mrs. More's health so seriously, that she abandoned it at the end of that time; and perceiving that it had made its way into circles for which it was not primarily intended, she printed it in three handsome volumes. It appears from a letter published by Mr. Roberts, that the Cheap Repository tracts were highly admired by the Rajah of Tanjore!
In the year 1799, Mrs. More again returned to the instruction of the higher and middling classes, in her " Strictures on Female Education;" but, with the exception of about three months in the year, which she spent, for the most part, in and about London, she was assiduously employed at this period in confirming and extending her system of parochial instruction. She continued, however, to experience the most senseless and determined opposition. At Wedmore, the clerk gave notice in church that a meeting of the farmers would take place the following Friday, for the purpose of devising the best means of resisting the scheme of the ladies. Mr. Drewitt, who preached, immediately gave notice of the intention of the ladies to commence operations the following Sunday. The schoolmaster not having taken out a licence, the farmers forthwith presented him in the Court of the Dean, whose peculiar the benefice is. Fortune-tellers were consulted on the tendencies of the school, and drunken farmers intruded on the proceedings.
The parish, however, where Mrs. More experienced her greatest difficulties, was that of Blagdon. As the " Blagdon Controversy" is so prominent a feature of Mrs. More's history, and, indeed, of the domestic history of the time, it would be impossible to pass it unnoticed. In entering on it, however, we are not unmindful of a voice which whispers—
"PericuloSK plenum opus alee
We shall therefore tread with very gentle and measured steps, and certainly do our best endeavour not to stir a single cinder. Such was the state of party spirit at that time, that, on the theatre of the controversy, persons holding opposite opinions on its merits could not be invited to meet each other; and our readers will readily pardon any deficiency of particulars resulting from unwillingness to reproduce so painful a state of society. Our facts therefore will be such only as both parties admit, followed by a summary of Mrs. More's letter on the subject to Bishop Beadon. We regret that our limits will not enable us to present our readers with that document in full.
At the repeated solicitations of the Rev. Thomas Bere, curate of Blagdon, and the parochial officers, Mrs. More and her sisters established a school in that parish. They felt that they had already sufficient demands on their strength and their funds; but the earnest entreaties of the people, and the extreme profligacy of the place, induced them to comprise Blagdon in their range. In no parish was the scheme more successful. Adults and children assembled in crowds to the readings, and before the plan had been tried three years, not a single criminal or prosecutor did Blagdon (once so opposite in its character) contribute to two sessions and two assizes. Mr. Bere, however, became displeased with the schoolmaster, Mr. Young, whom he called "a Calvinistic Methodist." Although Mrs. More was supported by the rector of the parish, who was not resident, she was too good a churchwoman to persist in conducting a religious establishment in opposition to the wishes of the resident parochial minister; and the work was suspended.
So warmly and generally was the matter taken up, that Mrs. More felt obliged to defend herself publicly; and this she did in the letter to which we have before alluded. In this letter she denies the charge of disaffection, by an appeal to her writings on the side of loyalty; she affirms that she never had any connexion with conventicles; that during her long residences in Bath and London, she had never once been tempted to visit even the most celebrated of the meeting-houses; nor had she ever strayed into any methodist meeting in the country: she denies having ever attempted to get Mr. Bere removed from his curacy; she states that the Monday meeting at her school was no sooner complained of than suppressed: and that when she heard that
Mr. Bere had censured the schools from the pulpit, she immediately offered to withdraw them, which Mr. Bere requested she would not do. She then goes on to mention Mr. Bere's opposition to the schoolmaster; a question which, being in London at the time, she offered to refer to Sir Abraham Elton; wliich Mr. Bere refused. She defends the character of Young, which, in ten years, she says, she had never found fanatical; of one only irregularity had she known him guilty, that of allowing some of the school-people to attempt extempore prayer, with which she was "highly displeased," and which she strongly reprimanded. She states that she had dismissed the school solely to disarm the hostility of Mr. Bere; but her object had not succeeded.
Mrs. More then enters on a statement of her own religious opinions; a subject to which we shall recur. She disclaims Calvinism; and says, "I have discharged two teachers for discovering a tendency to enthusiasm, and one for being accused of it, without discovering such tendency." In one instance, indeed, an inferior teacher was employed who was a Methodist; but he was engaged by the parish minister, on account of his regular attendance at church, and in the hope that he might be detached from the Methodists, and be the means of detaching others. This not being the case, he was dismissed, says Mrs. More, "with my full concurrence."
Mrs. More then warmly defends her political dnd religious principles from the charge of disaffection and sectarianism, and avows her zealous attachment to Church and State. She enters into the history of her , schools, not one of which did she "ever attempt to establish without the hearty concurrence of the clergyman of the parish;" and all of which had received " the full sanction of the late bishop." She details the books used in the schools; which are very similar to those now in use in National schools. She adverts to the advantages of her female clubs; and again affirms, in the most direct language, the soundness of her ecclesiastical views. "My attachment to the Established Church is, and ever has been, Entire, Cordial, Inviolable, and, till now, Unquestioned. Its Doctrine and Discipline I equally approve."
Mrs. More then objects to be tried by the individual and occasional delinquencies of her schoolmasters and teachers, and affirms that she has always promptly dismissed improper persons, and never taken any instructors, if possible, except on the recommendation of the minister and principal parishioners of the parish she was about to instruct. "I do not vindicate enthusiasm," she says; "I dread it. But can the possibility that a few should become enthusiasts be justly pleaded as an argument for giving them all up to actual vice and barbarism?"
The letter concludes with the following noble passage :—
If the grosser crimes alleged against me be true, lam not only unfit to be allowed to teach poor children to read, but I am unfit to be tolerated in any class of society. If, on the contrary, the heavier charges should prove not to be true, may it not furnish a presumption that the less are equally unfounded? There is scarcely any motive so pernicious, nor any hypocrisy so deep, to which my plans hnve not been attributed; yet I have neither improved my interest nor my fortune by tbem. I am not of a sex to expect preferment, nor of a temper to court favour; nor was I so ignorant of mankind, as to look for praise by a mean so little calculated to obtain it; though, perhaps, I did not reckon on such a degree of obloquy. If vanity were my motive, it has been properly punished. If hypocrisy, I am hastening fast to answer for it at a tribunal, compared with which all human opinion weighs very light indeed; in view of which the sacrifice which I have been called to make of health, peace, and reputation shrinks into nothing.
And now, my Lord, I come to what has been the ultimate object of this too tedious letter—a request to know what is your Lordship's pleasure? I have too high an opinion of your wisdom and candour to suspect the equity of your determination. I know too well what I owe to the station you fill, to dispute your authority, or to oppose your commands. If it be your will that my remaining schools should be abolished, I may lament your decision, but I will obey it. My deep reverence for the laws and institutions of my country, inspires me with a proportionate veneration for all constituted authorities, whether in Church or State. If I be not permitted to employ the 9hort remnant of my life (which has been nearly destroyed by these prolonged attacks,) in being, in any small measure and degree, actively useful, I will at least set my accusers an example of obedience to those superiors whom the providence of God has set over me, and whom next to Him, I am bound to obey.—Vol. III. pp. 138, 139.
The reply of the Bishop is given by Mr. Roberts. After expressing his entire conviction of the excellence of Mrs. More's motives and character, his Lordship adds,—
With respect to Sunday Schools, established upon the principles, and conducted upon the plan which you describe, I have no hesitation in saying that I think tliem admirably calculated to improve the morals of the lower classes of the people, and as such, entitled to the approbation and support of every friend to religion and good order. Do what we can, abuses will make their way into the best institutions, as, notwithstanding all your care and vigilance, you have found, and acknowledge to be the case of your own; but where the abuses are corrected as soon as discovered, they will not lessen the credit of the institutions themselves, in the opinion of any candid or considerate person. So far, therefore, from desiring that your remaining schools should be abolished, I heartily wish them success; and so long as they continue to be under the inspection and guidance of yourself, and the several parochial ministers where they are established, you may assure yourself they will have my protection, and every encouragement I can give them.—Vol. III. pp. 140, 141.
With this notice, defective for the reasons above stated, we dismiss "the Blagdon Controversy."
Tn 1802, Mrs More resolved to erect a more commodious habitation for herself and sisters. On a spot commanding a view of the most picturesque and agreeable character, about half a mile from Wrington, they accordingly built their new residence of Barley Wood, for which they shortly after entirely resigned their dwelling at Bath. Whether considered in its locality as central to the labours of the sisters, or regarded as adapted to cherish holy and devotional meditations, Barley Wood was a happy selection. The smiling richness of the exquisite valley beneath, brighter from the stern contrast of the bold and barren Mendips; the cheerful village, with its shapely tower of sober grey in fine relief on the brilliant and varied verdure; the channel and its rocks and promontories in the distance,—conspire to produce an effect which none could behold unmoved, even though they remembered not that they were musing amid scenes formerly inhabited by one who, when those scenes shall exist no more, shall, having turned many to righteousness, shine as the stars for ever and ever.*
(To be continued.)
Art. III.—Dissent not Schism. A Discourse delivered at the Poultry Chapel, December 12, 1834, at the Monthly Meeting of the Associated Ministers and Churches of the London Congregational Union, and printed at their request. By T. Binney. London: Joseph O. Robinson, Jun. 1835. Pp. 98.
If Dissent had been satisfied with putting forth all its energies in the path of christian duty, and in a spirit accordant with christian principle, however we might feel compelled to withhold our sanction from a system which we conscientiously believe to have originated in a worldly spirit, and to be opposed to peace and order, we should not have assumed an attitude of hostility. We would heartily rejoice at whatever good it might be the instrument of effecting; we would promote its schemes of benevolence, as far as we could do so without compromise of principle; and if we argued against the validity of its constitution, which might become necessary in maintaining the scriptural character of our own system, we should be careful to avoid every thing in tone or language which could reasonably offend.
It is not our fault that in the exercise of the apostolic injunction, "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good," we have been compelled to assume an attitude foreign to our habits and feelings. It is not our fault that we can no longer meet dissenters with the courtesies of christian kindness, and the forbearance of christian charity, but must array ourselves against them as against enemies thirsting and raging for our life blood. It is not our fault, if, acting in self-defence, we expose the follies, inconsistencies, and mischiefs of our calumniators; and while we parry the thrusts aimed at our own heart, teach them now and then that their own armour is not of proof.
At another time, we should quietly disregard the occasional attacks to which the ignorance or mistaken zeal of individuals might prompt
• Dan. xii. 3.