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THE ORIGINAL EDITION AND THE ENLARGED EDITION OF ARBOUIN's “ DISSERTATIONS
ON THE REGENERATE LIFE."
The enlarged edition of this work was reviewed by us in No. 13; and our remarks gave occasion to a correspondent, under the signature of “Philo-Arbouin,” to rebuke us by saying, “ This is a criticism that I never expected to have seen on the writings of so celestially minded a man as the late Mr. Arbouin." Why the composition of the writings of a celestially minded man should be beyond criticism, the writer does not attempt to shew; but he proceeds to remark that comparisons are odious, and then, in defiance of his own canon, as it appears to us, not only to make a comparison between the mind of Mr. Arbouin, and that of the editor of the enlarged edition, the Rev. W. Mason, but to make such a comparison as, according to our view of the doctrines of the New Church, no Christian is entitled to make of another, involving as it does a judgment of another's internal state. With all deference, as Philo-Arbouin professed to found his opinion upon the writings of the parties, we would refer him to Mr. Mason's last edition of his Help to Devotion, that he may judge whether that work presents no traces of a heavenly character; and whether his singular conclusion is either charitable or accurate, that “ Mr. Mason is as unfit to amend a work of Mr. Arbouin's, as a spiritual angel is unfit to instruct or amend (!) a celestial one.”
On referring to the review of the original edition of this work in 1813, as directed by Philo-Arbouin, we find the reviewer justly remarking, that “the title of "Meditations' would probably have described its character better than that which the author has adopted.” Now certainly the practical, as well as the doctrinal additions of Mr. Mason, make the work much better to agree with the title, Dissertations, which it bears.
Because of the inconvenience of admitting objections to our reviews on no specified ground, and in consequence of the writer's unmerited harshness towards an old servant of the church, to whom some gratitude is due for laborious services, to which also may be added, the inexpediency of dealing out discouragement to useful literary efforts, we hesitated to insert Philo-Arbouin's communication. We are, however, now compelled to advert to it, in consequence of receiving from Mr. Mason a defence of himself against the censure implied in an advertisement on our cover of "Arbouin's Regenerate Life, restored to the freshness and simplicity in which it was originally written." As Mr.
N. S. NO. 25.- VOL. 3,
Mason is not lengthy, we think it only fair that he should be allowed to plead his own cause : and this, we beg to say, out of, regard to our readers, must exclude all further controversy on the subject in the Magazine. Mr. Mason says,
“ I feel it incumbent on me to request that any one who can do so will point out to me by letter a single sentence of the original work which, in my edition, has been altered for the worse. What is implied by “freshness and simplicity' seems to me a matter of fancy; but a New Churchman who is more a man of judgment than of fancy, as he ought to be, should inquire with himself in the sight of God whether the numerous, important, and useful truths presented in my edition, and which do not appear in the original work, are not something more solid than the indefinite things meant by “freshness and simplicity. If it is meant to be insinuated that my edition has assumed the opposite aspect of aridity and complexiiy, I may be pardoned for saying that this is contrary to every testimony which I have received from persons of undeniable talent and judgment. I hope the New Church public will at least pardon this endeavour to meet a sinister, but not the less injurious, attempt to injure a professedly improved and more useful edition of an admirable work. Of course I have no objection to the republication of the original work of Mr. Arbouin for the use of those who prefer it; but this might have been done without an implied aspersion of my humble, and, as I had thought, hitherto generally esteemed successful, and certainly altogether disinterested and single-minded endeavour. I had thought that such an endeavour would have had a sufficient hold on the gratitude of my brethren (judging of their feelings from my own) to have guarded me from such a recompense as this of my labours, which, it may be obvious, were neither small nor unanxious. The absence of a candid and grateful acceptance of generally esteemed successful efforts of our writers, is the sure way to discourage an important element in the advancement of the church. Nothing can more clearly indicate a low state of mind than the absence of gratitude for labours undertaken solely for the eternal benefit of mankind.
“Allow me to add, that respect for Mr. Arbouin's memory renders me unwilling to enter on the task, as well as its unsuitability for your pages, of shewing that the alterations I have made are advisable; but I beg permission to present the verdict (dated Oct. 1839), which was communicated to me by a gentleman well known in the church as a most acute and uncompromising critic. "Your Arbouin we read every Sunday evening, comparing it with the original, with much pleasure, and do not doubt its utility. On some occasions you have made him less graceful, but generally more definite, and sometimes strong by clearness where he was feeble by obscurity.'
“ If this verdict be a just one (Mr. Mason continues), I can only say that my endeavour was justified, and my labour has met its recompense in the success of the object I contemplated." London.
Scenes of Joy and Woe. Scene I. The Blessed Apparition. By EVAN
RHYSE. 18mo. pp. 90. London, Newbery; Glasgow, Goyder. The time seems approaching when the New Church, in addition to
the literature of the day, which will unavoidably often contain ideas that are unpleasing, from being based on a false philosophy, will have a sufficient and healthful supply of its own works. The want of this has long been felt. Latterly something has been effected towards producing books suitable for our children ; and now we have an offering which our youth may welcome, with a promise that it shall be followed up, annually or oftener, according to the reception which this, the first scene of a series, experiences.
As the path selected by the author is, to a certain extent, an untrodden one, it needs not be a matter of surprise if he has not been wholly successful. He appears to us to possess ample powers, but not to have had much practice, at least in the line he has now chosen. While reading it, we felt that his reflections and remarks bore too great a proportion to the narrative parts of the tale. It is not so much that we wished any thing omitted, as to have been supplied with a greater variety of incident, which doubtless the author could readily furnish. These however are trifling drawbacks; and they are much more than counterbalanced by the good sense and purity of sentiment with which the work abounds.
The hero, Edward Haldane, an only child, was educated at home, and was thus thrown much into the company of men.
This led to a premature development of the peculiarities of his character. He possessed an active mind and strong affections. His religious views were enlightened, and were greatly influenced by his having, when very young, read portions of the writings of Swedenborg. We give the following extract, both as a sample of the tale and as shewing the writer's style.
Haldane's youth was altogether of an uncommon character. Outwardly, indeed, there had not been, till of late years, many unwonted protuberances on his path ; but there was that within him which lent a strange colouring to circumstances, which in themselves seemed nothing more than the most ordinary occurences of life. easily be supposed that in such a soul love was omnipotent, and that, when an earthly object was found fitted to call forth a manifestation of that indwelling holiness, all other joys, all other cares, all other interests, would be absorbed in that one passion. In very early youth, Haldane did find such an object; namely, Miss Eliza Medwyn, daughter to Mr. Medwyn, of Churchvale, a rich merchant, who had retired from the fever of mercantile affairs, to enjoy the seclusion of his beautiful domain ; and often through the winding avenues and shady groves of that lovely retreat did Haldane stray with the amiable object of his sincere affection. This intimacy continued for several years, and yet Haldane never ventured to speak of love. The terms of increasing friendship, however, with which the family regarded him, had almost fixed his resolution to make known his feelings, when Miss Medwyn was seized with a severe illness, which terminated in her death.
Haldane followed his first love to the grave, and still his visits to Churchvale were continued. It was now his only consolation to visit the places she had loved, and to be in the company of those who had known the departed. The household at Churchvale consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Medwyn, and Jessie their younger and now their only daughter, who was as yet but a child ; one son they had, their first-born; but he, being in the army, was seldom an inmate of the family mansion. Jessie Medwyn was a beautiful child, and long had Haldane loved her with an almost paternal love. Had Eliza lived and become his wife, Jessie would have dwelt with them and blest them with her pure joy, till some other flower arose to supply her place ; and sometimes a strange thought passed over Haldane's mind—“Was it possible he could love his own child better ?" In one sense, Jessie was indeed his child, and in a sense, highly exalted ; she was his spiritual child-he had been a worker under God in the creation of her soul, and to him she owed those peculiar refinements she possessed so abundantly, and which placed her so far above most other children of her own age. There is a spiritual relationship, as well a natural relationship; the latter ceases with the present life, but the other is eternal. After Miss Medwyn's death, Haldane's affection for the little Jesse seemed even to increase, and, at the same time, to become some. what changed in its character. Often while he gazed upon her, the semblance of deep thought became visible in his aspect, and, although none spoke, many there were who wondered how it was possible he could take so much interest in a child. For many days subsequent to that melancholy event which had wrought so great a change at Churchvale, Haldane and Jessie were incapacitated for those glad sports in which they had been accustomed to share. In time, however, although the departed was never forgotten, they ceased to weep and to sigh, and once more smiled and gamboled in the summer sun ; for they knew that Eliza was happy in heaven.
About a year after the departure of Miss Medwyn, Haldane's life was again changed by the death of his only remaining parent, an aged father, whose worldly affairs had, of late, become much confused, and a sequestration taking place immediately subsequent to his decease, his son was left utterly portionless. Edward might have lived long enough at Churchvale, for the Medwyns loved him : but he was young-he wished to do something for himself, and, finally, he determined to seek his fortune on some distant shore. At length the day arrived on which Edward Haldane was to leave his native land—that land round which every past recollection, the sweetest and the saddest, were inseparably wreathed. The Medwyns accompanied him to the place of embarkation, a fine bay, some miles out of port, were the ship lay waiting for the wind. Jessie was now in her eleventh year, and a very tall girl of her age. She looked sad that day, and seemed to feel her loss, although she spoke not, on the departure of her friend. He had been more than a brother to her-perhaps no intercourse with one so young had ever been so like the intercourse of love. And how felt Haldane ? It was the day of his departure from all the dear scenes of his youth, and from that young and beautiful girl who seemed the spirit of the whole. All the departed charms of the lost Eliza seemed now beginning to revive in Jessie, who bore a remarkable likeness to her, and to become blended with certain additional attractions more wonderful and more inexplicable still ; for Jessie Medwyn was indeed a lovely child, replete with that indefinable grace and beatitude which one would suppose too pure and too heavenly ever to fade away. Such outward beauty, however, is but emblematical of the real loveliness of the spirit ; and emblems are
in time, while realities are in eternity. When they reached the sea-side a breeze was visible on the water, and the vessel was just preparing to get under weigh. A boat was soon procured to take Haldane on board, and but one moment remained to bid adieu to his beloved friends, for many years at least, if not for ever. He first shook hands with Mr. and Mrs. Medwyn, and then, coming to Jessie, he said, " Be good, Jessie, and you will be happy ; think of me sometimes I will never forget you,” kissed her, and departed.
Haldane stood on the deck of the ship, and looked once more on his forsaken land. There was a slight shower-Jessie had left the carriage, and was standing, with some other people, beneath the side of a vessel that was there repairing; the sun shone beauteously around her through the sparkling rain. For a moment, Haldane turned round to view the aspect of the heavens. A heavy sound was heard, and a fearful cry. He looked back on the scene of love. The props of the vessel on shore had given way, and many human beings lay mangled beneath its deadly pressure. Jessie had stood next the keel! Haldane did not faint—he could weep; he sought out the berth allotted to him in the ship, and threw himself on the bed in unutterable despair.
During an absence of some years he is subjected to various temptations, some of which, by Divine assistance, he successfully resists, while to others he yields, and has to repent of his folly. He retains inviolate his attachment to his native land, and returns to it with the wealth he has acquired abroad. On landing he quickly recognizes many well known spots apparently unaltered since he last saw them. Great changes however have taken place at Churchvale, to which he feels irresistibly attached, notwithstanding the departure to another world of those he had held so dear. Here he ultimately encounters “ The Blessed Apparition ;” for the particulars of which, however; we beg to refer our readers to the work itself, only remarking in conclusion, that those who can read it through without tears must be made of sterner stuff than we are.
Conversations on Spiritual Subjects, for the use of Children. By Miss
ANN AUGUSTA GRAY, Authoress of “ Clara.” 32mo. 64pp.
London: W. Newbery; Glasgow: S. and A. Goyder. Alfred ; or, Goodness better than Knowledge. By UNCLE GEORGE,
Author of Tommy Johnson.” 32mo. 32pp. Same publishers. THESE publications are a continuation of the very useful series of children's books, brought out by the New Church press at Glasgow. That the first is " by the authoress of Clara,” will be a sufficient recommendation to all who have read that delightful little work. It is twice the size and price of Clara, and, we think, suited for children of a more advanced age than those for whom Clara is designed.
Our readers, we are sure, would be gratified were we to indulge in