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himself is concerned, we have no fear. Dalton will never be forgotten. He is the second Newton of English physics, and will go down to posterity along with the first. Men will think of them together, and compare them to the double stars which a later astronomy has unfolded to our view—each a sun, shedding light on the other ; both stars of the first magnitude, revolving round, and pointing towards a great centre, which they equally make manifest and obey: even Him who is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all things.
ART. VI. (1.) An Essay on the History of the English Government and
Constitution, from the Reign of Henry VII, to the Present Time.
By LORD John RUSSELL. 8vo. London. (2.) Life of Lord William Russell. 2 vols. 8vo. London. (3.) Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht. 2 vols.
4to. London. (4.) The Causes of the French Revolution. 8vo. London. (5.) What have the Whigs done? 8vo. London.
It has fallen to the house of Bedford to be conspicuously associated with the history of the religion and liberty of this country. In the times of the Reformation, during the civil war, and, above all, in the struggle to save the ark of civil and religious freedom towards the close of the reign of Charles II., the genius of that house was felt as a potent influence in public affairs.
Lord John Russell inherits most of the higher qualities belonging to his ancestors. In capacity, and in general culture, he is greater than the greatest of them. What he has done as an author, is overshadowed and forgotten by reason of the much greater prominence which he has obtained in the public eye as a statesman. His writings, however, warrant the conclusion, that, had he chosen to steer his course at a distance from the vortex of politics, and given himself to comparative ease and quietude as a man of letters, he might have risen to eminence in that department. His Essay on the English Constitution,' —the production of his early life, gave unequivocal token of the taste and capacity which might have led to such distinction. His Life of Lord William Russell' exhibited the same varied knowledge, the same disciplined intellect, and the same literary aptitude, but all in a higher tone of maturity. His • Memoirs
of the Affairs of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht,' relate to a section of modern history which interested men previously to the outbreak of the French Revolution, but which seemed to drop at once from their thoughts as that astounding event and its consequences began to develop themselves. The subject, accordingly, was not well chosen, except for persons of calm and aristocratic tastes, more disposed to meditate on the repose and tameness of the past, than to sympathize with the onwardness and energy of the present. But the execution of the work evinced a large acquaintance with European affairs subsequent to the death of Louis XIV., much political sagacity, and that greater command of language which comes as the natural result of greater practice in composition. His lordship's subsequent essay on the causes of the French revolution may be regarded as a supplementary chapter to the preceding work. It shows that the philosophy, the literature, and the state of society generally in France, which propelled affairs towards the crisis of the Revolution, were not only topics about which the author had read considerably, but matters on which he had bestowed some patient reflection.
In respect to literature, however, as in respect to some other things, his lordship's achievements would have been more conventional than natural; more correct than profound; evincing more of the caution which avoids great mistakes, than of the boldness which strikes out a new path. He might have improved somewhat on the school of Addison and Pope, but, in regard to style, he would have been moulded by it, and in regard to compass of thought, he would never have ventured far in advance of it. With a considerable portion of the progressive spirit, he would not have failed to unite a stately worship of the old land-marks. In all his voyaging, he would have resembled those early mariners, who, wanting the compass, were distrustful of the frail bark beneath them, and always made their way within sight of land—men who might have continued to navigate the old world, but could never have signalized themselves as discoverers of the new.
With regard to that one quality of a statesman, without which every other must be untrustworthy, we deem Lord John Russell to be above fair impeachment. We believe him to be an honest man. No amount of popular misconception, no strength of party invective, has sufficed to produce in us the slightest misgiving in regard to his strict political integrity. We are glad to know that the gentlemen among the frequenters of St. Stephen's, of whom so much cannot be said, need no further instruction on that point. All parties of that description have
had proof enough that his lordship is not a man to their purpose. He does not touch the unclean thing. In some instances he has drawn the line between the conventional and the absolute in political morality, at a point which we should not ourselves have chosen. But the distinction made, we doubt not, has commended itself, upon the whole, to his own moral judgment. The casuistry of some state questions may be simple enough. Their justice or injustice may be seen at a glance. But the greater number of such questions are not of that order. In general, the wheat and the tares grow up strangely together, so that many an honest man-ay, and many a wise man, too-may be led to the conclusion, that to root out one without destroying the other would be found impossible. Leaving all fair space open to difference of judgment from this cause, we believe that the character left to posterity by Lord John Russell will be, in respect to integrity, of a high order.
It would have been, as we assuredly think, much better for him, and much better for his country, had there been more decision in his denunciation of some abuses; and had his comniendation of some great principles been more frequent and more earnest--such as would have carried more manifest heart along with it. Of course, if it were well that his lordship should have spoken more strongly on such occasions, it would have been well if his policy in relation to such matters had evinced greater promptitude and greater vigour. But if he has not conformed himself strictly to our moral standard at such times, we can believe that he has been obedient to his own.
To touch on religion, in its relation to a living statesman, may be to enter upon delicate ground. But Lord John Russell has not scrupled to favour the world with some expression of his views on that subject, and it cannot be amiss to scrutinize what is thus submitted to scrutiny. His lordship's views concerning the different sections of religion in this country, present one very material phase of his own character. The course of his policy also, has been much influenced by those views.
The last chapter in the second volume of the Memoirs of Affairs in Europe,' is occupied with a view of the state of religion in England during the former half of the eighteenth century. This retrospect embraces remarks on the condition of the church of England during that interval, and on the rise, progress, and character of methodism. According to the showing of his lordship, the great belligerent churchmen of those times, whose shades are made to pass in succession before his readers, were men so intent on their particular controversies, as to have left the body of the nation in a wretched condition of ignorance, immo
rality, and irreligion. But the remedy for this neglect, as supplied by the zeal of methodism, is regarded as being on the whole worse than the disease. The labours of Whitfield and Wesley are described as producing a kind of paroxysm, the immediate effects of which were rather injurious than beneficial, while it was sure of being followed by lassitude, and by great moral and religious mischief. Some passages are given, which are meant to exhibit the more favourable view of that great religious movement, and of the character of the extraordinary men by whom it was originated and sustained; but the unfavourable greatly preponderates, and the general conclusion is as we have stated it.
It is to be regretted, that a writer possessing the candour and discernment of Lord John Russell, should have deemed himself safe, on a subject of this nature, in trusting to such guides as Southey's Life of Wesley, and Nightingale's Portraiture of Methodism.' Still more is it to be regretted that his own mind should have performed its office so feebly in regard to the materials which even those writers, together with the facts corning within his own observation, must have supplied. We should have been happy to have seen him distinguish, in the spirit of a high Christian philosophy, between the wisdom and the folly, the good and the evil, of the great moral revolution which was assuredly brought about among the people of this country by the labours of those said Methodists.
We see the errors, and some other faults of graver import, which belong to the earlier history of methodism, no less clearly than his lordship has seen them; but we see the truth and the goodness that were in it, as greatly outweighing their opposites. We regard that memorable outbreak against the heartless formalism, and the low profligacy of the times, not only as having given a new moral and religious character to the English people, but as having extended its leaven of improvement to classes far above the multitude. By elevating the poor, it has done much towards shaming the rich into better conduct. If our courts and baronial halls are not the homes of that factious selfishness, of that everlasting frivolity, or of that infidel licentiousness, which prevailed in them during the greater part of the last century, we owe this improvement in high places, to improvement which began much lower down. The regeneration which took place among the lowest, contributed to enforce a moral reformation upon the highest. The pulpit of methodism, moreover, has had its favourable influence on all other pulpits. Thus the character of methodism has given a strong impress—an impress greatly for the better, to our national character. We deny not that it had its
extravagances—we deny not that it has them still; but what is the chaff to the wheat ? Admitting nearly all that may be alleged against it, it has been the means of disposing millions of our people, who would otherwise have passed their life in sheer worldliness, or in the lowest vice, to give themselves to instruction, to the cultivation of high comparative moral feeling, and to the influence of those elevating affections which have respect to the Infinite and the Eternal. What philosophy has ever raised the mind of the rude multitudes of men after this manner? What established church has ever so done, except as it has become a preacher of doctrines, and has been animated by a feeling, which, we fear, his lordship would be too ready to describe as very methodistical ?
In short, we do not mean to conceal that we have long regarded the tone of would-be philosophy, in which some classes of men in this country are wont to express themselves, concerning the religion of all persons who appear to be more in earnest on that subject than themselves, with no small measure of dissatisfaction. The shallowness which frequently assumes the air of wisdom on such occasions, is to us very pitiable. The ample candour often evinced by such persons in favour of those who are enemies of religion, or of those who profess it in some of its most corrupt forms, stands in singular contrast with the want of such kindly discrimination, when evangelical piety is the matter to be judged. The philosophy which fails to see a preponderance of good even in methodism, is not a sound philosophy. It argues great want of perception, or of humane feeling, when the lesser evil is allowed to prevent men from perceiving its relation to a greater good.
We have felt constrained to make these observations, because the remarks of Lord John Russell on this subject are opposed to the distinctive truths of evangelical religion, as certainly as to some peculiarities which have been grafted on those truths by methodism. Christianity, in his view, does not seem to include anything of the supernatural. The religion of a Christian, on the theory of his lordship, is to consist in the purely natural influence of revealed wisdom on the susceptibilities of the mind. The church of England is regarded as adapted, in an eminent degree, to sustain this sober kind of goodness, while all sects are in danger of verging upon extravagance.
Puritanism, that gloomy vortex which was to attract so many of the manliest spirits * of the seventeenth century, his lordship has estimated more justly. The reason of this distinction is obvious. Puritanism was allied with far higher intellectual qualities than
Edinburgh Review, Oct. 1844, p. 396.