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When the Presbyterians came into power, they displayed a persecuting zeal uncontrouled by those political consi. derations, which should at least have obliged them to tolerate sectaries equally adverse with themselves to episcopacy. Cromwell, whose interests connected him with the independents, and who, besides, appears to have been tolerant by principle, interposed to moderate their severity: it is well known that he saved the life of the Socinian Biddle, by banishing him to the Scilly isles, with a pension for his maintenance.
The persecution which the Presbyterians retaliated upon the episcopalians, was returned upon them with usury after the Restoration, and has continued to press on them, with more or less weight, ever since that period. The actual infliction of penalties for nonconformity has varied according to political events; but the spirit of the predominant party was fully displayed near the close of the reign of the weak and bigotted Ann, whose death alone, and the succession of the House of Hanover, could have saved the Dissenters from a renewal of the worst oppressions of the reign of Charles II. How far, indeed, the opposition of an Established Clergy to the toleration of separatists is owing to religious zeal, and how far to jealousy respecting their dignities and emolu. ments, will always be questionable, but when the lait y join them, no personal ohject being at stake, the motive cannot be doubted When the Earl of Nottingham, after writing a book against Arianism, brought in a Bill to inflict heavy pains and penalties on the oppugners of the Trinitarian doctrines, he might claim full credit for sincere bigotry.
A review of the whole matter above stated, which might have been much extended by a larger reference to historical facts, will apparently justify the following conclusions :That when the ad. herents of one religion persecute those of another merely on ac. count of the exclusive truth of their own, and its infinite import. ance to the welfare of mankind, no other limit can be assigned to the duration or degree of such persecution, than that of accomplishing its purpose, which is, the extirpation of error: so that the very purity of its motives renders it incapable of lenity or relaxation : That, on the other hand, a persecution the objects of which are political, will be limited by the views of that policy, which will change according to circumstances; and if experience has shewn that religious persecution has always been detrimental to the civil interests of a country, it may be expected that the time will come when statesmen will be sufficiently enlightened en. tirely to put an ond to it. This desirable termination would sooner and more certainly be effected, if men, retaining their religious fervour, were to receive it as an irrefragable maxim, that human power has nothing to do in matters of religion further than
a regard to decency and morality require; and that, consequently, every interference on its part to give a preponderance to one system of faith over another is highly unjust and criminal. But it is to be feared, that the zealots for peculiar doctrines will be unwilling to admit the truth of this maxim, at least so long as they expect power will be on their side; and if the present pe. riod is marked by unusual zeal for such doctrines, it will be ina incumbent on the friends of liberty, civil and religious, closely to watch its machinations. Such a zeal is by nature intolerant, and only wears the mask of moderation when under controul. It can hardly be supposed that they who consign all who differ from them to eternal punishment in another world, would refrain from bestowing a little chastisement upon them in this world, were the rod put into their hands.
Art. VIII.-On the Genius and Character of Hogarth ; with
some Remarks on a Passage in the Writings of the late Mr. Barry.
One of the earliest and noblest enjoyments I had when a boy was in the contemplation of those capital prints by Hogarth, the Har. lot's and Rake's Progresses, which, along with some others, hung upon the walls of a great hall in an old-fashioned house in shire, and seemed the solitary tenants (with myself) of that antiquated and life-deserted apartment.
Recollection of the manner in which those prints used to affect me, has often made me wonder, when I have heard Hogarth dea scribed as a mere comic painter, as one whose chief ambition was to raise a laugh. To deny that there are throughout the prints which I have mentioned circumstances introduced of a laughable tendency, would be to run counter to the common notions of man. kind; but to suppose that in their ruling character they appeal chiefly to the risible faculty, and not first and foremost to the very heart of man, its best and most serious feelings, would be to mistake no less grossly their aim and purpose. A set of severer Satires (for they are not so much Comedies, which they have been likened to, as they are strong and masculine Satires) less mingled with any thing of mere fun, were never written upon pa. per, or graven upon copper. They resemble Juvenal, or the sa. tiric touches in Timon of Athens.
I was pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who being asked which book he esteemed most in his library, answered, —- Shak. speare :" being asked which he esteemed next best, replied,
Hogarth.” His graphic representations are indeed books: they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at,---his prints we read.
In pursuance of this parallel, I have sometimes entertained myself with comparing the Timon of Athens of Shakspeare (which I have just mentioned) and Hogarth’s Rake's Progress together. The story, the moral, in both is nearly the same. The wild course of riot and extravagance, ending in the one with driving the Pro. digal from the society of men into the solitude of the deserts, and in the other with conducting the Rake through his several stages of dissipation into the still more complete desolations of the mad. house, in the play and in the picture are described with almost equal force and nature. The levee of the Rake, which forms the subject of the second plate in the series, is almost a transcript of Timon's Levee in the opening scene of that play. We find a de. dicating poet, and other similar characters, in both.
The concluding scene in the Rake's Progress is perhaps superior to the last scenes of Timon. If we seek for something of kindred excellence in poetry, it must be in the scenes of Lear's beginning madness, where the King and the Fool and the 'i'om-o'. Bedlam conspire to produce such a medley of mirth checked by misery, and misery rebuked by mirth ; where the society of those
“strange bed-fellows” which misfortunes have brought Lear acquainted with, so finely sets forth the destitute state of the mo. narch, while the lunatic bans of the one, and the disjointed sayings and wild but pregnant allusions of the other, so wonderfully sympathize with that confusion, which they seem to assist in the production of, in the senses of that “ child.changed father.”
In the scene in Bedlam, which terminates the Rake's Progress, we find the same assortment of the ludicrous with the terrible. Here is desperate madness, the overturning of originally strong thinking faculties, at which we shudder, as we contemplate the duration and pressure of affliction which it must have asked to de. stroy such a building ;-and here is the gradual hurtless lapse in. to idiocy, of faculties, which at their best of times never having been strong, we look upon the consummation of their decay with no more of pity than is consistent with a smile. The mad taylor, the poor driveller that has gone out of his wits (and truly he appears to have had po great journey to go to get past their con. fines) for the love of Charming Betty Careless, -- these half. laughable scarce-pitiable objects take off from the horror which the principal figure would of itself raise, at the same time that they assist the feeling of the scene by contributing to the general notion of its subject :
Madness, thou chaos of the brain,
Mechanic Fancy, that can build
Would split the shaking sides of spleen *. Is it carrying the spirit of comparison to excess to remark, that in the poor kneeling weeping female, who accompanies her se. ducer in his sad decay, there is something analogous to Kent, or Caius, as he delights rather to be called, in Leur,—the noblest pat. tern of virtue which even Shakspeare has conceived,—who fol. lows his royal master in banishment, that had pronounced his ba. nishment, and forgetful at once of his wrongs and dignities, taking on himself the disguise of a menial, retains his fidelity to the figure, his loyalty to the carcass, the shadow, the shell and empty husk of Lear?
In the perusal of a book, or of a picture, much of the impres. sion which we receive depends upon the habit of mind which we bring with us to such perusal. The same circumstance may make one person laugh, which shall render another very serious; or in the same person the first impression may be corrected by after. thought. The misemployed incongruous characters at the Har. lot's Funeral, on a superficial inspection, provoke to laughter; but when we have sacrificed the first emotion to levity, a very different frame of mind succeeds, or the painter has lost half his purpose. I never look at that wonderful assemblage of depraved beings, who, without a grain of reverence or pity in their perverted minds, are performing the sacred exteriors of duty to the relicks of their departed partner in folly, but I am as much moved to sympathy from the very want of it in them, as I should be by the finest representation of a virtuous death-bed surrounded by real mourners, pious children, weeping friends,-perhaps more by the very contrast.
What reflexions does it not awake, of the dread. ful heartless state in which the “ creature (a female too) must have lived, who in death wants the accompaniment of one genuine tear. That wretch who is removing the lid of the coffin to gaze upon the corpse
with a face which indicates a perfect negation of all goodness or womanhood--the hypocrite Parson and his demure partner—all the fiendish group-to a thoughtful mind present a moral emblem more affecting than if the poor friendless carcass had been depicted as thrown out to the woods, where wolves had assisted at its obsequies, itself furnishing forth its own funeral banquet.
* Lives inscribed under the plate.
It is easy to laugh at such incongruities as are met together in this picture,—incongruous objects, being of the very essence of laughter, but surely the laugh is far different in its kind from that thoughtless species to which we are moved by mere farce and grotesque. We laugh when Ferdinand Count Fathom, at the first sight of the white cliffs of Britain, feels his heart yearn with filial fondness towards the land of his progenitors, which he is coming to fleece and plunder;-We smile at the exquisite irony of the passage,--but if we are not led on by such passages to some more salutary feeling than - laughter, we are very negligent perusers of them in book or picture.
It is the fashion with those who cry up the great Historical School in this country, at the head of which Sir Joshua Reynolds is placed, to exclude Hogarth from that school, as an artist of an inferior and vulgar class. Those persons seem to me to confound the painting of subjects in common or vulgar life with the being a vulgar artist. The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture, would alone unvulgarize every subject which he might choose. Let us take the lowest of his subjects, the print called Gin Lane. Here is plenty of poverty and low stuff to disgust upon a superficial view; and accordingly, a cold spectator feels him. self immediately disgusted and repelled. I have seen many turn away from it, not being able to bear it.
The same persons would perhaps have looked with great complacency upon Pous. sin's celebrated picture of the Plague at Athens *. Disease and Death and bewildering 'Terror, in Athenian garments, are endurable, and come, as the delicate critics express it, within the “limits of pleasurable sensation.” But the scenes of their own St. Giles's, delineated by their own countryman, are too shocking to think of. Yet if we could abstract our minds from the fascinat, ing colours of the picture, and forget the coarse execution (in şome respects) of the print, intended as it was to be a cheap plate, accessible to the poorer sort of people, for whose instruction it was done, I think we could have no hesitation in conferring the palm of superior genius upon Hogarth, comparing this work of his with Poussin's picture. There is more of imagination in it that power which draws all things to one,—which makes things animate and inanimate, beings with their attributes, subjects and their accessaries, take one colour, and serve to one effect. Every thing in the print, to use a vulgar expression, . tells. Every part is full of “ strange images of death.” It is perfectly amazing and astounding to look at. Not only the two prominent figures, the woman and the half-dead man, which are as terrible as any thing which Michael Angelo ever drew, but
** At the late Mr. Hope's, in Cavendish-square.