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the resident clergymen and principal landed proprietors, or other individuals of influence and respectability within their limits, of certain general queries directed to the extent and boundaries, the produce and cultivation, divisions and subdivisions of property, names of freeholders and other proprietors, of every district, with the state of the parochial registers and the church evidences, and any particulars of local interest to be extracted from them. The returns to these circulars, which would not fail to be very numerous and important, though not in all instances of equal minuteness and accuracy, ought to be deposited in some place of easy access, with every facility of reference by way of index and arrangement; and this, which might be accomplished at a very trifling expense to the funds of the institution, would be productive of a saving to the countyhistorian, of time, labour, and expense almost incalculable, and place him at once in a situation from which he might expect (that which no conductor of similar undertakings can look forward to with any reasonable hope or confidence) some return of profit to compensate for years devoted to the pursuit of his object.
That object, indeed, constitutes in its very pursuit, to the ardent and zealous antiquary, the full reward of its attainment; and, without any further insisting in this place on the importance and dignity of the object, its utility to the ends of general history and political science, or its connexion with the laws and constitution of the country, we shall indulge only in a few remarks on the attraction and interest which the study itself holds out to those initiated in its mysteries. Who can trace, without imbibing somewhat of a correspondent enthusiasm, the sentences with which the ardent and rejuvenescent Sexagenarian (whose labours have since been so unfortunately terminated) commences his latest undertaking, the mere announcement of which, from its magnitude, might deter the youngest and most enterprising !
"In the year 1811, the author of the History of Craven, oppressed by sickness, and its concomitant despondency, took a lingering and reluctant leave of topography. At the close of that work he supposed himself to be standing on one of the Cold Kald Heads, which offered an ample view of those mountains and plains of Richmondshire. He beheld with the eye of fond imagination the "Roman Bracchium," with its summer camp. Beneath appeared the gray towns of Nappay, while, bounding over the rocks of Aysgarth, the Ure conducted him to another Bolton, pregnant with facts and recollections. Immediately beyond rose the proud towers of the Nevilles, at Middleham; and, far to the North-east, the Norman Keep of Richmond, begirt with its mo. nastic accompaniments. In a vale to the East the arches of Coverham
distinctly presented themselves. In the fertile meadows beneath appeared the fragments of Joreval, and Tanfield far beyond, in whose church repose, beneath magnificent tombs, the Marmions of real history.
"Time was (he added in the same tone of despondency) when such a scene would have inspired and dictated another work. But the recollection of advancing years and declining health checked at once the unreasonable impulse, and compelled him to resign a History of Richmondshire to some younger and more vigorous antiquary, on whom he would willingly have bestowed, had it been in his power, whatever portion he might possess of two qualifications indispensable to a true topographer-namely, perseverance and enthusiasm.
"In the course of six years no such young and vigorous antiquary' has appeared to accept the gift, or to exert the qualifications; but in the mean time by a singular blessing of Providence, the strength and spirits of the author have been renewed; and his whole constitution has undergone a kind of rejuvenescence. Imagination, curiosity, and the spirit of research, have, in his breast, become as active as ever. Locomotion and change of scene relieve the tedium, and remove the inconveniences of unremitted study: the assistance of skilful artists at once excites and gratifies the writer; and instead of shrinking, as he once did, from the toil of a History of Richmondshire, considered as a whole, he now dares to regard it as the auspicious commencement of a still greater undertaking, as an opening to more extended research, and more copious illustration."
Let it not be considered that we have transgressed the limits of our jurisdiction as "retrospective" critics, in making these copious references to recent publications, and to those even which are actually in the course of issuing from the press. The theme of all is antiquity-the delight engendered by them, that which results from the exercise of our reflective facultiestheir tendency, to excite to similar pursuits and similar gratifications. However, as we began with the venerable Father of British Topography, we will conclude with one of his earliest and most enthusiastic disciples, thinking that we cannot furnish a vindication of those pursuits which we are advocating, more complete for the uninitiated and sceptical, or more congenial with our own present feelings, than that contained in the dedicatory epistle prefixed by good Bishop Kennett to his "Parochial Antiquities."
"As to the performance, I am under the concern to vindicate it from the slights and ridicules that may be cast upon it by idle witty people, who think all history to be scraps, and all antiquity to be dust and rubbish. I say this only-next to the immediate discharge of my holy office, I know not how in any course of studies I could have better served my patron, my people, and my successors, than by preserving the memoirs of this parish and the adjoining parts, which before
lay remote from common notice, and in few years had been buried in unsearchable oblivion. If the present age be too much immersed in cares or pleasures, to take any relish, or to make any use of these discoveries; I then appeal to posterity: for I believe the times will come, when persons of better inclination will arise, who will be glad to find any collection of this nature; and will be ready to supply the defects, and carry on the continuation of it.
"I doubt there is but one argument against such historical attempts: that is, men have degenerated from the piety, and integrity, and industry of their forefathers, and therefore do not love to be upbraided with the memory of them; and lead such a vicious, at least such an useless life, that they desire no other mercy from after ages but silence and oblivion; and therefore must fear and hate that sort of learning, which may hereafter call them fools, and other proper names. So that antiquity has indeed the like enemies with religion; those despise it who are sensible they live contrary to the rules and examples of it.
"Whereas men would have some appetite to the notice of ancient things and persons, if they had the spirit to improve the acts and imitate the virtues of their good old ancestors. And they would delight to read any account of former ages, if they could themselves hope to make any figure in future story.
"This, Sir, makes me confident, that whoever are fond to be ignorant of past times; yet your family, and all the long descendants from it, will ever prize antiquities, and love a faithful relation of any matters of fact. For will not your posterity rejoice to find upon record the good and laudable deeds of their predecessors? Will it not divert them to read how the first baronet of their name raised a beautiful and regular seat at Amersden? How he kept there a hospitable and well-governed house, and by his prudence and charity reformed a rude and licentious people? How he rescued the patronage of this church from the hands of one, whose principals betrayed him into no affection for it? How he twice conferred the same church with no regard to interest or importunity? How, out of his own proper soil, he enlarged the bounds of the church-yard; and made a like addition to the adjoining garden of the vicar? How, by his countenance and kind endeavours he recovered an estate (before embezzled) to the proper pious use of supporting and adorning the parish church? How he was pleased to accept a share in that new trust, and what a conscience he made in the discharge of it? How just he was to the interest and honour of his other church at Burcester ? How he filled it with an incumbent of exemplary goodness and serviceable learning? And how he made it a greater beauty of holiness, by giving a very noble service of communion-plate and all other decent ornaments for the Lord's table and the pulpit?
"When they come to the history of his son and heir, what fuller satisfaction will they have, in reading his character of virtue and honor, of generosity and public spirit! How will it please them to observe that he had an early education to good principles and good letters?— That he always showed a respect to scholars, a reverence to divines,
and a veneration to the Church of England; and that even his good nature could not betray him into a kind opinion of any other sect or party! That he managed his private affairs with discretion and ease; and administered public justice in calmness and with courage. That he was often projecting and promoting the strength and beauty of his parish-church, and set an example of constant access to and good behaviour in it? That he was encouraging and assisting the improvement of the vicar's manse, and making some augmentation to his slender portion of the glebe? That in a neighbouring church of his patronage, for the two first turns of presentation, he referred the choice of fit persons to the sole judgment of the bishop, and by such deference did his lordship and himself most particular honour? And how will it please them to be put in remembrance of a great many other good and glorious actions, which I might now foretell, and they will hereafter find completed?
"And I have the vanity to hope, that some of those who shall succeed in the benefice I now enjoy, will be glad to recollect, that they had a certain predecessor, who seemed to have some zeal for the good estate of his church and parish, who was at some charge and pains to search into histories and records, upon no other motive, but the love of his parochial charge, and the benefit of posterity."
And again, in his preface
"I am sensible there be some who slight and despise this sort of learning, and represent it to be a dry, barren, monkish study. I leave such to their dear enjoyments of ignorance and ease. But I dare assure any wise and sober man, that historical antiquities, especially a search into the notices of our own nations, do deserve and well reward the pains of any English student; will make him understand the state of former ages, the constitution of governments, the fundamental reasons of equity and law, the rise and succession of doctrines and opinions, the original of ancient and composition of modern tongues, the tenures of property, the maxims of policy, the rites of religion, the characters of virtue and vice, and indeed the nature of mankind. I wish the excellent parts of many other writers were not spent upon more frivolous arguments, where, by subtleties, and cavils, and controverting quibbles, they serve only to weaken Christianity, and (what were otherwise pardonable) to expose one another."
There are many in whom, although not falling under the worthy bishop's censure as lovers of "ease and ignorance," a smile may fairly be excited by the adulatory strain of his panegyric, and the spirit of some of his remarks, certainly, in no small degree, at variance with modern liberality; but there are none who will not recognize in the above passages the genuine enthusiasm of antiquarian genius, and few who will not be amused by the pictures which they present of the character and modes
of thinking of a century past. In the Patron of Amersden, as represented by the glowing portraiture of the author, we may see the Sir Roger de Coverley of the Spectator, divested, indeed, of his whimsical peculiarities. But, if it be remarked that the bishop's observations apply to the study of history and antiquities in general, and not to that particular branch of it which is the subject of our present contemplation, we may answer, that there is none among them that does not also apply to topographical science, and may not lawfully be appropriated by the intelligent county historian.
In an age peculiarly marked for the advancement of those sciences which depend upon calculation and abstract reasoning, we feel the more strongly disposed to promote and encourage pursuits connected with feelings, which, in contemplation of the past or the future, induce an occasional forgetfulness of "the ignorant present." The influence of local attachments is closely interwoven with the most exalted qualities of the human understanding, which find room to unfold themselves and expatiate within the narrowest limits. The solitary vale of an unknown and nameless river -a sequestered rural parish -- or the territory of an extinguished and forgotten lordship, may furnish recollections of the deepest interest and strongest attraction. Politicians may despise, and utilitarians ridicule the speculations we would cultivate; but the man of true genius and comprehensive intellect will admit their wise and beneficial tendency, while he venerates the feelings which they are calculated to indulge and animate.
We do not precisely know in what region of the skull Messrs. Gall and Spurzheim have thought proper to place the organ of locality; but, unless it is immediately contiguous to, and almost undistinguishable from, that wide province in their map, to which they have assigned the appellation of "Imaginativeness," we are fully persuaded that they are misinformed on the subject, and that the chart of their discoveries has yet to undergo very material correction. Homer, whose venerable forehead (in the well-known Towneley marble) exhibits so magnificent an expansion of the imaginative faculty, is no less deserving of being ranked as the first of topographers than as the first of poets; and Sir Walter Scott, who (as we have been assured by a member of the Phrenological Society) bears testimony hardly less cogent to the truth of the theory, is a living example of the union of the poetical and topographical faculties at least equally irresistible.
But, if we even coincided in opinion with those who form the lowest estimate of its positive advantages, we should still think that the delight of the pursuit (at least, as it has been