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extent it is lawful for the christian minister to mix in the business or in the pleasures of the world, the error against which he should be most careful to guard is that'of When we were admitted into the Priesthood, we bound ourselves, if not by an express, yet by an implied promise, *" to give ourselves wholly to that office whereunto it had pleased" God to call us, so that, as much as lay in us, we would apply ourselves wholly to that one thing and draw all nur cares and studies that way. The mode in which we discharge the obligation thus contracted is the criterion, by which men of all classes, but especially those in the inferior ranks of life, estimate our sincerity. If at the very time that we are in our diso courses enlarging upon the infinite superiority of heavenly to earthly interests, and inculcating the necessity of constant and earnest endeavours to abstract the thoughts from the present scene and to fix them upon" eternity--if at this very time we show in our conduct a restless anxiety for worldly riches and distinction, or an immoderate eagerness in the pursuit of worldly pleasures, can wë be surprised that our hearers, observing how much our behaviour is at variance with our exhortations, begin to suspect that we are not ourselves in reality persuaded of the truth of doctrines, to which we allow so slight an influence over our practice ?
It must indeed be admitted that the world is nor unfrequently most unreasonable in its expectations ; it requires from the clergy sacrifices of their worldly interests wholly incompatible with the obligation under which they, no less than the rest of the community, are placed of making a suitable provision for their families ; it requires from them such an entire dedication both of their mental and bodily powers to the duties of their profession, as would allow them no opportunities of relaxation and preclude them from every amusement, however, innocent and blameless in its nature. Is it incumbent upon them to comply with these extravagant 'expectations ? By no means. " 'In our concessions to the feelings and opinions of the world we must not exceed certain limits, nor allow them to interfere with any positive duty which we owe either to ourselves or others. It can scarcely be necessary for me to remark that the suggestions, which I am now offering, have reference solely to that class of actions which are by moralists termed indif: ferent.
Actions, however, which considered in themselves are indifferent, may assume a character of positive good or evil, when viewed in connexion with the effects produced by them on the minds of others. Whether I shall enforce a particular right, or engage in certain amusements and pursuits, may, as far as regards the nature
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of the acts themselves, be a matter of indifference. But it ceases to be so, if the world has attached to the enforcement of that right a notion of harshness and oppression, or has .connected with those amusements and pursuits an idea of levity and dissipation. The influence, which religion possesses among the members of any community, must in a great measure depend upon the respect and affection with which they regard its teachers. The christian minister will pause, therefore, before he does any act which can have even a remote tendency to excite feelings of an opposite description; or which, by inducing men to doubt the sincerity of his belief in the doctrines which he teaches, may indispose them to the cordial reception of the doctrines themselves. Knowing that it is his first duty to win all men to the cause of righteousness, he will not be too nice in weighing the reasonableness of the sacrifices either of interest or inclination which they require from him, but will be ready to condescend to their infirmities and prejudices. In per using the writings of the New Testament no circumstance appears to me more clearly to evince the divine inspiration of the authors, than their intimate acquaintance with human nature, and the admirable adaptation of the rules, which they lay down for the conduct of life, to the various relations in which man is placed with respect to his fellow creatures. Were I required to produce an instance in confirmation of this remark, I would refer to the caution, delivered by St. Paul to the Roman converts for their guidance upon certain points which the gospel had left indifferent, '“ Let not your good be evil spoken of.".
I have now touched upon all the topics which appear to me particularly to demand your attention. I cannot, however, conclude my present address without reminding you, that the object of these stated meetings between the clergy and their Diocesan is to afford him an opportunity, not merely of offering them such advice as the circumstances of the Church may seem to him to require, but also of receiving from them such information as may enable him more effectually to administer the important office with which he is invested. If then there be any suggestions which may tend in your opinions: to promote either the interests of religion, or your own individual comfort, (which, as far as my sense of duty will allow me, I shall ever be most anxious to consult), let me beg you, my reverend-brethren, to communicate them frankly and without reserve, assuring yourselves that they will receive on my part an attentive and favorable consideration.
REV. W. L. BOWLES,
IN REPLY TO HIS LETTER TO
THOMAS CAMPBELL, ESQ.
AND TO HIS TWO LETTERS TO
THE RIGHT HON. LORD BYRON;
A VINDICATION OF THEIR DEFENCE OF THE
POETICAL CHARACTER OF POPE,
AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE OF POÉTICAL IMAGES, AND OF THE CHARACTERISTIC QUALITIES THAT DISTINGUISH POETRY
FROM ALL OTHER SPECIES OF WRITING.
How greatly then have you erred, when you transfer the whole of the poetry to the images or subject. I am aware, that you affect to assign a part of it to the execution. « Let me not, however," you say, “ be considered as thinking that the subject alone constitutes poetical excellency. The execution is to be taken into consideration at the same time." Here you seem as usual, to have studied ambiguity of expression. The unwary reader might be led to suppose, that by the “execution” being taken into “ consideration," you meant, that a part of the “poetical excellency" was to be ascribed to the execution. But you had no intention of conceding so much to the powers of the artist. Apprehending, however, that your readers would not be satisfied with a theory that ascribed no part of the “poetical excellency" to the execution, you thought to get over the difficulty, by using a form of expression, which would incline them to think you granted one half to the subject, and the other to the execution. You were, however, wise enough to know, that taking the subject into consideration was one thing, and admitting its claim to a share in constituting poetical excellency, was another; and accordingly, the consideration you came to was, to reject all claims of the kind; for immediately afterwards you add, “ the subject and the execution are equally to be considered; the one respecting the poetry, the other, the art and powers of the poet. The poetical subject, and the arts and talent of the poet, should always be kept in mind; and, I imagine it is for want of observing this rule, that so much has been said, and so little understood, of the real ground of Pope's character as a poet.” What a pity you did not perceive, that the rule by which you wish to direct us in judging of Pope's poetical character, is infinitely more difficult to be understood than what it attempts to explain. Who can possibly elicit any thing like meaning out of the passage which I have now quoted ? “The subject and the execution," you say, "are equally to be considered; the one respecting the poetry ; the other, the art and powers of the poet." So far we are told nothing ; for it serves no purpose to know, that we are to take these things into consideration, without knowing for what end, or in what point of view we are to consider them. The remainder of the passage gives no explanation. « The poetical subject and the arts and talent of the poet should always be kept in mind.” We are now just as wise as we were before. We may, indeed, keep these matters in mind as long as we please; but till we know why they are to be kept in mind, we gain but little by the tenacity of our memory. And yet, without another word on the subject, you tell us, it is for want of observing this rule, that so much has been said, and so little understood, of the real grounds of Pope's character as a poet. But where, in the name of common sense, is the “ rule" that we should observe, and that is to guide us through this mysterious and poetical character? We are told in one place, to consider the subject and the execution, and in another, to keep them in mind; and here is the grand rule that is to give us a clue to the real ground of Pope's poetical character. You complain that you have been misunderstood by Mr. Campbell, that you have been misunderstood by the writer of the Critique on your invariable principles of poetry, in the Quarterly Review, that you have been misunderstood by Mr. Gilchrist, and finally that you have been misunderstood by Lord Byron. But can you seriously complain of being misunderstood, when you write what conveys no meaning ? Where the meaning is enveloped in mystery, every reader is left to guess at it as well as he can, and if he should not happen “ to hit the nail on the head," and guess exactly what you mean, who is in fault? You must therefore study perspicuity of expression, before you complain of being misunderstood. The best writers have been led to support erroneous principles; but then no person was at a loss to discover what these principles were; for an erroneous proposition contains nothing in itself that renders the expression of it obscure. If I maintain, that two and two make five, I maintain what is erroneous; but then my meaning is as clearly understood, as if I said that two and two make four. You would, therefore, be excusable, had you merely advocated false principles, for the greatest writers have done so before you ; but I know not whether it be possible to excuse a writer, whose language is as unintelligible as his principles are erroneous.
I believe, however, we can get a clue to this mysterious passage from the sentence with which it commences, “Let me not, however, be considered as thinking that the subject alone constitutes poetical excellency.” From this we are evidently to conclude, that something else must co-operate with the subject before it becomes poetical, and this something we imagine we discover,