Page images

even scrupling to charge them clamorously with being rebels, and that for language which would be deemed, in our house of commons, not only venial but perfectly constitutional.

be made by the Turks. To the report that the Greeks are to be aided by an American squadron, we do not attach any credit.


SPAIN. We observe with satisfaction the operation of a more moderate The plan for the reduction of the spirit in the Spanish Cortes, and a five per cents. has been carried into greater degree of order and tranquilli. complete effect. For every 100l. of 5 ty in the capital, and throughout the per cent. stock, the holder will receive country, than prevailed a few months 105l. of 4 per cents, irredeemable for ago. The separation of Spanish Ame- seven years. The united stock of those rica, with the exception of Cuba and who have dissented from the governPorto Rico, from the mother country, ment proposal, amounts only to about seems now to be nearly universal, and 2,600,000l., and notice has been given will, we doubt not, prove final. Even to the holders that they will be paid off the Spanish part of St. Domingo has at par. Manyof them would now,withthrown off its dependence, and is like-out doubt, be glad to retract their disly, it is said, to form an union with the Haytian Republic; an event which is rendered more probable by the nature of its population, a large majority of whom consists of Free Blacks and People of Colour.

PORTUGAL. Things seem likewise fast tending in the Brazils to a separation from Portugal. The Brazilian troops, in concert with the colonists, have forced the Portuguese regiments employed to garrison the different fortified places to embark for Europe; refusing at the same time to permit some troops, which had arrived from Lisbon, to land. The colony is thus freed from the control of the mother country, and will probably proceed to assert its independence. The Prince Royal is still detained at Rio de Janeiro.

TURKEY.-The same uncertainty seems still to envelop the relations of this country. The newspapers have been sanguine in their anticipations of a peaceful arrangement of the subsisting differences between the Porte and Russia; but the only ground they appear to have for this confidence is, that no authoritative declarations of a hostile character have been promulgated on either side. It is true no hostile manifestoes have as yet indicated the approach of war; but we are greatly mistaken if the quiet but unceasing preparations of both parties do not almost as certainly mark their common expectations, as if war had been loudly threatened.

The refractory Pacha of Albania has at length been delivered up to the Turkish forces employed in the siege of Joannina, and his head sent to the Sultan. The army thus liberated will doubtless be employed against the Greeks, to subdue whose rebellion a powerful effort, it is said, is about to

sent, as, at the present market-price of stocks, they are losers by their determination. The same plan of reduction is to be extended to the Irish 5 per cent. stock.

The debates in the house of commons on various financial questions, and particularly on the Estimates for the year, have been unusually protracted. In addition to the regular opposition of the Whig party, and the pertinacious, and sometimes ill-judged, though on the whole useful efforts of Mr. Hume, to enforce retrenchment, the ministry have had to encounter, on some occasions, the dissent of many of the country gentlemen who have usually supported their measures, but whom the distresses of the agricultural interest, and the universal clamour for a diminished expenditure, have of late rendered more rigid in their notions of economy.

In a debate on a motion of Mr. Calcraft, gradually to abolish the salt tax, ministers succeeded in resisting it only by a majority of four votes, in a house consisting of 334 members. This small majority, amounting almost to a defeat, speaks so strongly the sentiments of the country on the question, that we would hope government will be inclined, before long, to give up this most onerous and impolitic tax, which, besides its interference with many of the most important branches of the national industry, has the farther odium of pressing with unequal severity on those who are least able to bear it.

A more successful effort was made by the regular opposition, strengthened by many country and neutral members, on the motion of Sir Matthew Ridley, for the reduction of two of the six junior lords of the Admiralty. The actual saving, in this instance, was al

lowed to be of but trifling amount; but the offices being considered unnecessary, the house seemed determined to manifest its recognition of the principle of abolishing every superflous appointment. On the division, therefore, 182 voted for Sir M. Ridley's motion, and only 123 against it; being a majority of 54 against ministers.

This motion was followed by another for the reduction of one of the two postmasters-general, each of whom receives a salary of 2500l. a-year, although it could not be denied, that with respect to one of them the office was a sinecure. The motion, however, was negatived by a majority of 25, many of the same country gentlemen who had voted for the reduction of the less questionable appointments at the Admiralty Board opposing the abolition of the second postmastergeneral, although all parties seemed to concur in considering the office, in point of utility, as altogther superHuous. It is difficult to conceive the motive for this sudden change of conduct. We are ourselves disposed to attribute it to the mischievous influence of party spirit, producing a fear of giving undue weight to the opposition, if measures proposed by them, however right and reasonable, should be successively carried against ministers. An alarm of this kind appears to have seized some of the independent country gentlemen immediately after the successful effort of patriotism by which they had extinguished two lords of the Admiralty; and before a week passes, they are found strenuously supporting a perfectly different view of the obligations of Parliament! The principal argument used to defend the second postmaster-general against the economists was, that in these days of increased light, when public opinion, not to say popular delusion, has gained a force unknown to former times, such appointments are absolutely necessary for maintaining the due influence of the crown. Supposing this argument to be just, how came these gentlemen to be insensible to its force, when, a few evenings before, they placed their extinguisher over the heads of two lords of the Admiralty? How came they to overlook it when they concurred, on various occasions, with Mr. Banks in his measures for abolishing useless offices? Do they not see that whatever truth there is in it, applies as strongly (if not much more strongly) against all

those reductions in our naval and military establishments, and in the different public offices, which have this very year been effected by ministers, as against the abolition of the sinecure appointment of a second postmastergeneral? We are the more anxious to express our opinion of this argument, because it is perhaps the first time it has been distinctly and openly avowed, by public men, that useless and expensive offices are to be retained with the direct view of upholding the influence of the crown in Parliament. And even if such a principle were more constitutional than we think it is, (and for ourselves we regard it as most unconstitutional,) it surely was not very wise to select the present moment for its enunciation. We do not deny that the government ought to possess a large share of influence; but then it should be that legitimate influence which arises from their patronage of offices required by the exigencies of the state, and with a view to the public good; from the collection and administration of a revenue of sixty millions of money; from a large army and navy; from all the multiplied civil and judicial appointments in the United Kingdom, and in our extensive colonial possessions; and from the support of a large share of the patronage of our immense empire in India. With such vast means of fair and legitimate influence, it surely cannot with truth be said, that government have not rewards enough in their gift to carry on the business of the state, or that they are under the necessity, in order to enable them to do so, to resort to the awkward, invidious, and expensive expedient of unnecessary official appointments. And do they not, in fact, lose more in one direction by the odium which such questionable modes of increasing their influence excite, than they gain in another by a few votes that may be invariably relied on in the house of commons?

Great retrenchments have been making,by ministers themselves, in the treasury, and in various other offices under government; and they propose to carry their plans of economy into every department of the state. The king has himself graciously directed a reduction in various parts of his establishment, which will amount to a saving of 30,000/.; and the retrenchments from the civil list, and in the different government offices, are ex

pected to form an aggregate of 200,000l. and by degrees a still larger amount. These retrenchments must be viewed with considerable satisfaction; but they seem in a great degree to stultify he reasoning employed for the preservation of the second postmastergeneralship. For our own parts, we regret that the reductions should have fallen so heavily on clerks with small salaries, who can ill support a diminution of income; and we should have preferred seeing 2500!. saved to the public by the suppression of the above office, to the subduction of 10l. from each of 250 clerks.

We are sorry to report some symptoms of insubordination among a part of the peasantry in Norfolk and Suf folk, whose displeasure seemed directed chiefly against the use of machinery. We allude to the circumstance with a view to remind those of the country clergy and gentry who peruse our pages, of the peculiar duty incumbent upon them, at the present moment, of watching against the first risings of a discontented or factious spirit in themselves or those under heir influence. Whatever part of the community happens, for a time, to be in a state of depression, is apt to cool in its loyal and Christian principles. The landed interest has long supported a character for attachment to the civil and religious institutions of the country; and on the whole is per

haps far less likely to become unfriendly or indifferent to them than some other classes of the community. But it must be remembered that till lately the agricultural interest has had little comparatively to try the strength of its principles. Now therefore, when considerable depression is felt among its members, it behoves the clergy in particular, who are closely connected, by means of their tithes, with this portion of society, to guard against. the first inroads of a complaining or factious spirit. We notice the point, chiefly because, in some of the late proceedings of agricultural meetings, observations were made by some leading members of the landed interest, in a strain very different from what we had been accustomed to hear in those quarters. We do not by any means regret that country gentlemen should become staunch advocates for retrenchment and econo

my; but let them beware of enlisting as the partizans of a systematic opposition, or of throwing unnecessary difficulties in the way of those who are appointed to conduct the affairs of state.

The condition of Ireland remains much as before. An inquiry is about to be instituted in Parliament into the tithe-system in that country, which we trust may lead to some beneficial arrangement as respects that fruitful source of ill-will and litigation.


S.; W. C.; F.; W.; VERIDICUS; F. S.; G. E. L.; CHRISTIANUS; H.; C. W.; RESPONDENS; S. F.; and A CONSTANT READER, are under consideration.

It is not our plan to insert Obituaries, or papers as "original communications," which have appeared, or are announced, to appear, in other periodical publications.

Bean's Family Prayers, or Cotteril's, or Jeuks's revised by Mr. Simeon, would probably answer our correspondent's purpose.

A CONSTANT READER may procure information on the subject of his inquiry from the publications of the National Society, the British and Foreign School Society, &c.

We have not received the work mentioned by B. C.

A LANCASHIRE CURATE may send his donation of books for the Calcutta College Library, to the Secretary of the Society for propagating the Gospel, St. Mar tin's Library, London.

We have left Mr. Bugg's papers at the publisher's; also the packet of A CONSTANT. FEMALE READER.

Much religious and literary intelligence arrived too late.

[blocks in formation]

P. 76, col. 2. line 35, for it, read my interpretation of John iii. 5.


No. 244.]


APRIL, 1822. [No. 4. Vol. XXII.


Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. T has been a very frequent remark that the life of a good parish priest is more useful in the reality, than entertaining in the posthumous narration. Being confined for the most part to one sphere of ministerial exertion, and consisting in the repetition of duties, which, however important, are still nearly uniform, it presents little, comparatively speaking, to gratify curiosity, or to excite expectation. Those at least who require the stimulus of amusement will turn from the history of one who has "kept the noiseless tenor of his way" in a course of pastoral usefulness and activity, to divert themselves with the memoirs of the statesman, the warrior, or the navigator; to ollow the footsteps of the traveller through distant countries, and amongst barbarous tribes; or perhaps to attend on the adventures of some imaginary hero, whom the skill of the novelist has dressed up in the colours of nature or the tinsel of romance.

But the life of an exemplary Christian minister, while it always communicates instruction, which is more than can be said of the writings just mentioned, is not always incapable of affording entertainment. Peculiarity of character, for example, may make amends for the want of variety of incident. It is this circumstance which renders the life of Skelton one of the most amusing pieces of biography, in modern times. There the eccentric Irishman is constantly seen in contact with the faithful minister of the sanctuary; and this combiCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 244.

nation, though it may not be at all times the most happy, certainly gives a relief to the picture that wonderfully increases its effect.

Among Christian pastors who have adorned their profession by piety, fidelity, and zeal, there will be found no one, perhaps, whose history better deserves to be recorded than the late Mr. Fletcher, the far-famed Vicar of Madeley. His life, independently of those peculiarities of character which render it an interesting exhibition to the philosophic observer of mankind, affords more variety than we usually meet with in the career of a minister of the Gospel. And even the circumstance of his having been a foreigner, naturalized as it were upon English ground, attracts attention by its rarity; and adds something to the interest which the view of his talents, virtues, and attainments is so well calculated to excite.

It is my intention, in the present paper, to offer some observations upon this extraordinary man. In attempting to delineate his life and character, I shall select my incidents chiefly from the last published biographical memoir of Mr. Fletcher, recently given to the world by the Rev. R. Cox, Perpetual Curate of St. Leonard's, Bridgenorth. I am not aware that Mr. Cox has added much to the stock of materials amassed by Mr. Benson, Mr. Gilpin, and other memorialists of Mr. Fletcher. Indeed, his work is professedly a compilation; so much so that he often incorporates the words as well as the facts of his originals in his narrative, wherever they seemed pro

2 C

per to his purpose. Still his memoir is the best that has appeared; Mr. Gilpin's consisting of only detached memoranda, and Mr. Benson's being liable to consider able exception, as those of your readers will recollect who have perused your Review of it in your volume for 1805, p. 349. As a sober Christian, Mr. Cox has not represented his hero as the subject of miraculous deliverances, though doubtless his life affords, as does that of many an unrecorded individual, some remarkable instances of the constant presence of a merciful superintending Providence; as a lover of peace, he has abstained from interlarding his narrative with unprofitable controversies; and as a consistent churchman, he has not been indifferent to, much less extolled, those parts of Mr. Fletcher's conduct which were open to censure on the score of ecclesiastical discipline. On these grounds, such a narrative as Mr. Cox has drawn up was much wanted, notwithstanding the several memoirs of Mr. Fletcher which have been already written. I will only add in this age of book-making, that Mr. Cox's narrative has the merit of comprizing much in a little, and giving the purchaser the full value of his money, in solid matter of fact and interesting information.

I shall first present your readers with a rapid sketch of Mr. Fletcher's life, and then proceed to offer some reflections on his character, interwoven with a few of the most interesting anecdotes which are related of him.

It is well known that his original name was Jean Guillaume de la Flechere. He was born at Nyon, in Switzerland, in the year 1729, of respectable, and even distinguished parentage; his family being, by the report of one of his nephews, allied to the house of Sardinia. His father had been an officer in the French service. The childhood of Fletcher appears to have been distinguished by tokens of reflection

and piety, very unusual at that
period of life. At an early age, he
was sent to the university of Ge-
neva, where he soon became re-
markable by his talents and appli-
cation. He frequently spent the
greater part of the night in study.
At the same time, his constitution
was vigorous and active.
He was
fond of fencing and swimming; and
he excelled particularly in the lat-
ter accomplishment. After going
through the usual course of study,
at the university, he was sent by
his father to Leutzbourg, where he
studied German, and, after leaving
that place, remained for some time
at home, engaged in learning He-
brew, and reading mathematics.
He had evinced a disposition to
enter the church, to which his
parents were not averse; but, feel-
ing some conscientious scruples on
the subject, particularly respecting
the Calvinism of the Geneva Arti-
cles, he directed his views towards
the army. This was a profession
by no means unsuited to his per-
sonal courage, and the natural vi-
vacity of his temper. He had an
uncle in the Dutch service, who had
procured bim a commission. But
the ratification of peace soon after-
wards cooled his military ardour;
and, having now no particular en-
gagement, he visited England, partly
to improve himself in literature,
and partly with the hope of obtain-
ing some situation for his support.
This visit to our country seems to
have been a tide in his affairs,
which, under Providence, deter-
mined the future current of his life.
He was recommended to a Mr.
Burchell, in Hertfordshire, under
whose direction he studied the Eng-
lish language and polite literature.
Being a younger son, and his pro-
vision slender, he was induced to ac-
cept a situation, in which he might
support himself, without being a bur-
den to his family, and accordingly,
he engaged himself as tutor in the
family of Mr. Hill, M.P. for Shrews-

His views now opened again gra

« PreviousContinue »