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and, in 1736, the statute of James I. was solemnly repealed throughout Great Britain.
One solitary crime more was committed at Würzburg in Bavaria—a town which had early and long been infamous for the cruelty of its witch-finding magistrates. In 1749, when the subject was almost forgotten every where else, a young woman named Maria Sanger, was, to the horror of all Europe, burnt alive in that town, on a charge of having bewitched the nuns of a neighbouring convent. This was the last execution for witchcraft which ever took place in a civilized country. It is clear, from the lamentable instances cited by Mr Mackay, that the superstition is still very common among the ignorant peasantry of most European countries; but we trust that we are justified in taking leave of the subject, with the emphatic words of the good man who vainly withstood the mania in its outbreak.
Well, thanks be to God, this wretched and cowardly infidelity, since the preaching of the Gospel, is already in part forgotten; 6 and no doubt the illusions which yet remain, will in a short time, by the grace of God, be detected and vanish away."
We might say much upon the extraordinary facts which we have related, but we shall confine ourselves to a single remark. We think, then, that they convey a most impressive, and, at the present moment, a most useful and seasonable warning, both of the guilt and danger incurred by the unreasoning submission of the human conscience to any human authority; and of the inveterate tendency of mankind to this serious fault. The delusions of which we have been speaking, absurd and revolting as they now appear, were perhaps as strongly supported by authority as any in history. The belief in witchcraft, for instance, is now only a subject of ridicule or of horror; but let our readers consider how it appeared to a submissive son of the Church two centuries ago. The opinions of the most learned divines, the united testimony of saints and fathers, the most plausible quotations from Scripture—every thing was in its favour, except common sense and common humanity. If ever there was a dogma, quod semper, quod ubique, quod omnibus, receptum est, it was this, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Rome, Lambeth, and Geneva, all joined in the cry; and all joined in excommunicating the heretic who failed to echo it. How easy it must have been for an indolent or timid ruler, more anxious for his own selfish peace of mind than for the lives of his subjects, to quiet his conscience by resting on this united authority! How easy to delude himself by the sophism, that though his reason told him he was committing murder, yet his reason also told him he was more fallible than the Universal Church, which assured him
he was only doing justice! How easy, when the crime was over, and the natural emotion of pity and remorse was forgotten, to persuade himself that he had achieved a painful triumph over his feelings, and was experiencing the peace of a good conscience! On the other hand, how difficult and doubtful was the contrary course! How painful to a humble and scrupulous man to set up his reason against the voice of the Church, and declare that neither priests, saints, nor fathers, should induce him to burn people whose guilt he did not think clear! What solemn appeals to antiquity, what shuddering remonstrances, what mournful lamentations, would not such audacity have called forth! The present age has seen attempts to decide questions, not less important to the temporal happiness of mankind, by similar argu
Whether those arguments have been employed in a good or bad cause, we shall not enquire; for our opinion of the responsibility incurred by such as are guided by their influence, is in either case equally strong:
But if the delusions of which we speak, are proofs of the mischief done by a perverse blindness to the lights of reason-a sinful disregard of the voice of the inward man—a cowardly shrinking from all responsibility—they are doubly proofs of their powerful influence over the majority of mankind. Our readers need not be reminded, that there are many good and learned men now among us, who recommend this frame of mind as the safest and wisest on many important questions. We have heard, we confess with surprise, their praises of what they call a childlike faith. But this is a matter of opinion, not of fact. What strikes us as really unaccountable, is their assertion, that the contrary faults prevail—that a restless, enquiring, self-relying spirit, is becoming common throughout the world. We heartily wish, that the reproach were a just one. At Rome, where men surrender their reason to a Church which professes to be infallible, or in Hindostan, where they submit to the tyranny of Castes which have existed 2000 years, such a complaint might be thought unreasonable. But what shall we call it in a country, where every advantage of light and knowledge can only induce a minority to think for themselves ? What shall we call it in England, where, in the absence of more imposing delusions, every Ranter, every Muggletonian, every professor of unknown tongues, finds means to collect around him his little knot of submissive dupes? We know no blindness more singular, than that which points to the absurdities of certain English Sectarians as instances of the injurious effects of the right of private judgment; and which will not perceive that those men go astray, precisely because they have refused to exercise that right-because they had rather blunder
passively on, after the first knave or madman who crosses their path, than calmly and perseveringly use the faculties which God has given them. We never remark their lamentable errors, without seeing in them a new and striking example of that mysterious tendency to slavish idolatry-to the interposition of some visible guide and interpreter between man and his Creator-which has in all ages corrupted the purity of religion, and which even the miraculous presence of the Almighty has been found insufficient to subdue. The freedom of the intellect has in England produced great and admirable results; but its very successes have rendered more conspicuous the inveterate distaste of common minds to its exercise. If the Egyptian and the Greek, who bowed in the time-honoured fanes of Isis or Minerva, were idolaterswhat shall we say of the Protestant, who, rather than have no idol at all, falls down and worships the calf which his own hands have made?
We ought, perhaps, to apologise for a digression, which may at first sight seem but slightly connected with our subject. But we are confident that every reader who takes this view of the extraordinary facts so industriously and laudably collected by Mr Mackay, will regard them as full of warning and instruction, equally as of curious interest. They will convince him of the fallacy of a mode of reasoning, which was the main support of the most sanguinary delusion ever known in Christendom; and they will warn him of the formidable fascinations of a prejudice, which, for two hundred consecutive years, made men more reluc. tant to confront authority with argument, than to see their wives and daughters burnt before their eyes.
Art. IX.-1. The Life of Isaac Milner, D.D., F.R.S., Dean of
Carlisle, President of Queen's College, and Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge ; comprising a portion of his Correspondence and other Writings, hitherto unpublished.
By his Niece, Mary Milner. 8vo. London. 2. Memoir of the Life and Correspondence of John Lord Teignmouth. By his Son, LORD TEIGNMOUTH.
2 vols. 8vo. London : 1843.
IN n one of those collections of Essays which have recently been
detached from the main body of this Journal, (we following herein the policy of Constantine and of Charlemagne, when dividing their otherwise too extensive Empires into distinct though associated sovereignties,) there occur certain pleasant allusions, already rendered obscure by the lapse of time, to a religious sect or society, which, as it appears, was flourishing in this realm in the reign of George III. What subtle theories, what clouds of learned dust, might have been raised by future Binghams, and Du Pins yet unborn, to determine what was The Patent Christianity, and what The Clapham Sect of the nineteenth century, had not the fair and the noble authors before us appeared to dispel, or at least to mitigate, the darkness ! Something, indeed, had been done aforetime. The antiquities of Clapham, had they not been written in the Britannia of Mr Lysons ? Her beauties, had they not inspired the muse of Mr Robins ? But it was reserved for Mrs Milner, and for Lord Teignmouth, to throw such light on her social and ecclesiastical state as will render our facetious colleague * intelligible to future generations. Treading in their steps, and aided by their information, it shall be our endeavour to clear up still more fully, for the benefit of ages yet to come, this passage in the ecclesiastical history of the age which has just passed away,
Though living amidst the throes of Empires, and the fall of Dynasties, men are not merely warriors and politicians. Even in such times they buy and sell, build and plant, marry and are given in marriage. And thus it happened, that during the war with revolutionary France, Henry Thornton, the then representative in Parliament of the borough of Southwark, having become a busband, became also the owner of a spacious mansion on the confines of the villa-cinctured common of Clapham.
It is difficult to consider the suburban retirement of a wealthy
* The Rev. Sydney Smith
banker esthetically, (as the Germans have it ;) but, in this instance, the intervention of William Pitt imparted some dignity to an occurrence otherwise so unpoetical. He dismissed for a moment his budgets and his subsidies, for the amusement of planning an oval saloon to be added to this newly purchased residence. It arose at his bidding, and yet remains, perhaps a solitary monument of the architectural skill of that imperial mind. Lofty and symmetrical, it was curiously wainscoted with books on every side, except where it opened on a far-extended lawn, reposing beneath the giant arms of aged elms and massive tulip-trees.
Few of the designs of the great Minister were equally successful. Erè many years had elapsed, the chamber he had thus projected became the scene of enjoyments which, amidst his proudest triumphs, he might well have envied, and witnessed the growth of projects more majestic than any which ever engaged the deliberations of his Cabinet. For there, at the close of each succeeding day, drew together a group of playful children, and with them a knot of legislators, rehearsing, in sport or earnestly, some approaching debate; or travellers from distant lands ; or circumnavigators of the worlds of literature and science; or the Pastor of the neighbouring Church, whose look announced him as the channel through which benedictions passed to earth from heaven; and, not seldom, a youth who listened, while he seemed to read the book spread out before him. There also was still a matronly presence, controlling, animating, and harmonizing the elements of this little world, by a kindly spell, of which none could trace the working, though the charm was confessed by all. Dissolved in endless discourse, or rather in audible soliloquy, flowing from springs deep and inexhaustible, the lord of this wellpeopled enclosure rejoiced over it with a contagious joy. few paces, indeed, he might traverse the whole extent of that patriarchal dominion. But within those narrow precincts were his Porch, his Studio, bis Judgment-Seat, his Oratory, and the • Church that was in his house,' the reduced, but not imperfect resemblance of that innumerable company which his Catholic spirit embraced and loved, under all the varying forms which conceal their union from each other, and from the world. Discord never agitated that tranquil home; lassitude never brooded over it.' Those demons quailed at the aspect of a man in whose heart peace had found a resting-place, though his intellect was incapable of repose.
Henry was the second son of John Thornton, a merchant, renowned in his generation for a munificence more than princely, and commended to the reverence of posterity by the letters and the
vetry of Cowper. The father was one of those rare men, in whom