« ForrigeFortsett »
greater. We grieve to mention the name of Sir Walter Scott. Of no man could it be more truly said, that
“ Born for the universe, he narrowed his mind,
And to party gave up, what was meant for mankind.” When he made his eagle spring from obscurity to the full blaze of the public eye, what a glorious field was before him! His refined and cultivated mind must have been disabused of the gross errors and prejudices that spread their foul vapours over less developed intellects. He had caught general attention. The maudlin and extravagant romance, the prosing novel of the old school, that dragged its slow length along through eight or nine volumes, requiring a list of dramatis personæ like a play bill, to keep names and characters in memory—both these sunk at once before the beauty, the sustained interest, the deep and concentrated power of his admirable works. The public looked eagerly to him for amusement and instruction. Then might the “Great Unknown” have bent his powerful mind to a worthy task—that of weeding out the rank roots of bigotry and prejudice. Then might he have won a glorious name by directing the popular energies and sympathies to the despised and insulted professors of the ancient faith, and lent his aid to remove the foul blot of intolerance from the character of the nation. He chose another
He lowered himself to confirm old bigotry and old prejudice. He pandered to the unmerited and unsparing hatred and contempt showered down upon the Catholic religion, and those who hold by its tenets. He devoted one entire novel, “ The Monastery," and part of “ The Abbot,” to the vile pur
of describing Catholic clergymen, and doctrines, not as they were, or are, but as they have been slanderously and calumniously represented. He puts in the mouths of his Catholic characters the most atrocious sentiments and maxims, even the thread-bare calumny that “the end justifies the means," and, from his own false representation, deduces arguments against the slandered religion. The same bad and shameful animus pervades a great proportion of his other writings, whether in poetry or prose. And his example has led on a myriad of writers of less note to follow the same unworthy course: but it would be trespassing upon the time and patience of the reader, to record even the names of those who, at an humble distance, copy his faults and his vices, while they vainly endeavour to imitate those qualities that have rendered him illustrious.
We have said that this “no-popery" under current is slackening—in time we may hope that it will disappear. Even among those who are at present the advocates of religious exclusion and
oppression, the enlightened portion of them must see the inutility, for any good purpose, of attacks upon the religion of those who differ from them. Such attacks can effect nothing but to add to the inveteracy of the antagonist opinions, and to keep up a continual source of social bitterness. These things being so, it surely is time for liberal men to be liberal on the subject of religion, as upon all others. To them it can be of no use to endeavour to perpetuate bad feeling and prejudice. The liberal cause is based upon a better and a holier support,—the great principle inculcated by the Divine precept—that of universal benevolence. To profess to have this in view, and yet to foster and encourage a practice that is likely to awaken the bitterest and fiercest feelings of our nature, is to be, in fact, recreants to the principles of which such loud profession is made.
One word, and we conclude. There is a very serious consideration that does not appear to enter the minds of those who are continually assailing, directly or indirectly, the Catholic religion. Should we, the Catholics, allow ourselves to be so far irritated as to think of retaliation, what acrimony of dispute, what angry controversy, what splitting up of the liberal party, and general confusion would ensue. Yet we have as strong convictions upon religious subjects as any men, or class of men, can have. We have our own ideas of the multitude of creeds differing from ours; we entertain those ideas strongly, conscientiously, and ineffaceably. Our convictions may even rival in strength and sincerity the opinions of Lord Howick; but we see neither the necessity nor the charity, of trumpeting them forth to the universal world. In private life, friends of opposite political persuasions will, while on other subjects the greatest confidence and freedom of communication exists, carefully avoid the topic upon which they disagree, respecting what they deem each other's mistaken opinions. They know by their individual feelings, that severe and cutting remarks or ridicule, will irritate but not convince; and anxious to keep up their mutual good will, they studiously avoid the point of difference. Why should not this example be followed up in public life, in the case of religious opinions? Men are men, in public as in private. They have the same passions—the same tenacity in their convictions—the same dislike to have these last attacked and condemned. They cannot regard him as a comrade, who, on a political question, combats at their side against the common foe, but, in the pauses of the combat, turns his weapon against themselves on account of a difference of religious belief. The Catholics have not retaliated hitherto—they have borne in mind that the best evidence of sincerity in any faith, is in the practice of that charity which should be the groundwork of all—they have
patiently borne these attacks, insults, and slanders; and, with untiring generosity, they forgive and seek to forget them. But human patience has limits, and even they may be forced to retaliate. Then will indeed be the triumph of the common enemy, who will see their darling object accomplished, in the divisions among the friends of freedom and of the human race. avoid this calamity-let us pass over in silence the matters on which we cannot agree, and join heart and hand when we meet upon common ground. The 'Tory enemy present a firm and compact front—no dissension, no disunion among them—they are watchful and ever vigilant; and though inferior in strength, as in the justice of their cause, a single breach in our ranks may admit their united phalanx, and spread destruction and dismay. If we must have a comparison of creeds, let not the controversy be in words, let us try to prove in acts which creed is best-which enforces and inculcates strongest and most constantly, the great guiding principles of charity and universal benevolence.
Art. IV.-Théorie Analytique des Probabilités. Par M. le
Marquis de Laplace, &c. &c. 3ème édition. Paris. 1820.
pected to baffle the mathematician, it would be chance. The same might have been said of the motions of the heavenly bodies; not at the time when the first rude theories sufficiently well represented the results of still ruder observations, but while successive improvements in the latter department were overthrowing the successive attempts at the improvement of the former. In truth, the notion of chance, probability, likelihood, or by whatever name it may be called, is as much of its own nature the object of mathematical reasoning, as force or colour : it contains in itself a distinct applieation of the notion of relative magnitude; it is more or less, and the only difficulty (as in many other cases) lies in the assignment of the test of quantity, hovo much more or less.
Worse understood than any of the applications of mathematics, a science has been growing for a century and a half, which must end by playing even a more important part in the adjustment of social relations, than astronomy in international communication. We make this assertion most deliberately and most positively, to be controverted by some who are at least as well able to judge as ourselves, to be looked upon with derision by others, and with doubt by most educated men. If the public mind has not been made to feel that the preceding prophecy is actually in process of fulfilment, it is because one primary agent has not yet been awakened to a sense of the importance of his share in the work. The mathematician has done his part, and a more difficult task he never had: the statesman is only just awakened to so much as a disposition to accumulate some of the data which are necessary. We speak especially of England, and by the English statesman we now begin to understand all the monied and educated part of the English public. Among the liberties in which we pride ourselves, is that of refusing to the executive all the information which is necessary for it to know the country, or at least, a very considerable portion of the statistics necessary for large legislation. And yet we expect ministers to be accurately informed upon the bearings of every measure they propose, at a period when it is demonstrable that the greater portion of the community neither knows, nor has the means of being told, within twelve per cent., what its stake in the national property amounts to. This is a curious assertion, and we proceed to make it good.
All who hold life incomes, whether salaries or professional emoluments, and all who expect reversions, have a tenure which depends for its value upon two things—the average duration of life at every age (the mathematician will understand that we do not fall into the common error); and the rate of interest which money will obtain. As to the second, who will undertake to say what rate of interest actually is made, not by large companies, always ready with means of investment, or by clever men of business, who live in the metropolis, but by the average transactions of all who use money throughout the country? Let us only suppose it to be a question of one per cent. ; that is, that it lies somewhere, say between 3 and 4 per cent. (if 31 and 4f be taken, it will hardly affect the final result). Now, with regard to the first point, all are agreed that the Northampton Tables are below the general average at present existing, and the Government Tables above it. The latter are so near to the Carlisle Tables, that, for our present rough purpose, the two need hardly be distinguished. What stress we are to lay on the following circumstance we hardly know, but if we take the results of a neighbouring country, Belgium, where statistical enquiries are in a state of rapid prosecution, we find the general average of the whole country to be extremely near to the mean between the Northampton and Carlisle Tables. As follows:
This agreement is remarkably close, but it is useless. We have not the means of forming an opinion as to whether life in Belgium much exceeds or falls short of that in England. By a rough calculation for the age of 40, made from M. Ansell's Table*, we find 244 for the mean duration of life at that age; but we are not prepared to go farther into the subject. Incidentally, we may press upon those who are actually engaged in such matters, the propriety of taking steps to ascertain what is the proper mean between the Carlisle and Northampton tables which represents the grand average of English life.
Resuming our subject, we conceive the great extremes of the question to be represented by the Carlisle table at 3 per cent. : and the Northampton table at 4 per cent.
That is to say, 13 and 17 years' purchase are the limits of the remaining value of a life income in the hands of a person aged 40, supposed to have just received a year's income. Taking 15 years as the mean, we think he must be a bold man who will undertake to pronounce, for the whole country, where between 14 and 16 years the truth would lie. Or, one man with another throughout England, the value of existing interests cannot be pronounced upon within 12 per cent. * Th
able refers entirely to the labouring classes, members of Friendly Societies. It is from the work published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.