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write her Memoirs ? why her family should publish them? why any body should read them? and still more, why any body should review them? The last query is the only one of the party which stands the slightest chance of a satisfactory solution; and to that, therefore, we shall at once proceed.
Mrs. Catharine, the daughter of a Yorkshire clergyman named Harrison, was an intimate friend of Theophilus Lindsey, who succeeded her father in the living of Catterick, and subsequently resigned his preferment, and forsook his church, and became the founder of the Essex-Street Meeting-House. Catharine followed his example, and hence, in ber own eyes at least, she became a personage of considerable importance, whose life must needs be written for the instruction of pos. terity. She performed her task with good humour and garrality. A consequential, bustling body, we doubt not she must have been, and the fifty chapters into which she has divided her common-place adventures and singularly uninteresting story, and the Appendix and the Supplement which have been subjoined by survivors, and the notice of her frequent communications to the Monthly Repository, and the incessant allusions to her relationship to a great baronet in the WestRiding, are so many proofs that Mr. Lindsey, and Mr. Well-beloved, did not always make humble disciples. We have no doubt, however that in the present instance the Disciple was sincere, tolerably free from sectarian spirit, and a well-behaved, useful member of the community. But she does not exhibit much acquaintance with the controversy whics deprived the Church of her support. And it is with the view of shewing the sort of character which goes to the formation of an Unitarian, and the sort of instruction which Mr. Lindsey communicated to his converts, that we notice the present volume.
It presents us with no formal vindication of the writer's tenets, but we get an insight here and there into the depth of her knowledge, the accuracy of her reasoning, and the purity of her taste. Her conversion took place at an early age.
“ When my brother was eight years old, he was sent to a public school at Scorton, of which my father was one of the governors. There were many children there whose parents were members of the Kirk of Scotland, one of whom, who came from Dumfries, happened to be my brother's bed-fellow. •I charge you,' said my father to him, if you ever hear any of your companions laugh at little Wilson for not saying the same prayers, or repeating the same catechism which you have been taught, that you
do not join them; Presbyterians, if they are virtuous and pious, ought to be as
creed for many
much esteemed as if they were church people. I knew not what the term meant, but I set it down in my mind, that Presbyterians were not to be despised for being such; and afterwards, when I became able to generalize my ideas, I thence derived an important lesson of candour, respecting those who might differ from myself in religious opinions. This circumstance, together with the following conversation, which I happened to hear between
father and soine other person, whom I do not recollect, when I was about eleven or twelve
my years, in respect of two material articles.
There can be no doubt,' said my father, that our Saviour Christ, was that great personage who existed with God before all ages, by whom he made the worlds, and who repeatedly appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I instantly and eagerly imbibed this sentiment; this, I thought, is the very truth, I will trouble myself no more about understanding the meaning of a Trinity in Unity (about which my mind had really been perplexed,) and from that moment, without knowing the meaning of the word, I became what is called an high Arian." P. 31.
The infantine perplexities of Mrs. Cappe were shared by still younger girls. The only daughter of a deceased friend was placed under her care by the surviving parent, Mr. Winn, a Baron of the Scotch Exchequer; and the child was about five years old when the following circumstance occurred :
“ The Baron had desired that during his absence, I would hear her the Church catechism; and one morning as she was repeating it, coming to the exposition there given of what is called the Apostles' Creed, namely, First I learn to believe in God the Father -secondly, in God the Son--thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost'she paused of her own accord, and counting with her little fingers,
one two, three; now how is this my Bible says there is but one God, and my catechism says there are three.' 'My dear, wherever they contradict each other, you must depend upon your Bible.' – Oh, very well,' she replied, and seemed perfectly satisfied. This conversation I did not fail, after his return, to repeat to her father, commenting upon it as it appeared to deserve." P. 183.
We trust that the Baron commented in his turn. Nor indeed can we help hoping that the anecdote is fabricated. We should think it more excusable to invent such a story as the preceding, for the sake of being witty against the Cate. chism ; than to palm off'so gross and so insidious a falsehood upon little Miss Winn. Will our modern Unitarians applaud this abominable breach of trust? The readers will probably be surprised to find that the
most eminent biblical critic, and moral theologian of the last age, is now introduced to them in the person of Mr. Joseph Cappe. His preaching in the first place, got him a good wife.
“But my greatest enjoyment was on the Sunday, in attending Mr. Cappe's chapel, in St. Saviour Gate. In that summer were preached by him the series of Sermons on the Providence and Government of God, which I afterwards prevailed upon him to publish, and which I have no difficulty in saying, exhibit a more just and comprehensive view of this great and momentous subject, than is any where else to be met with. It was my constant practice after I left chapel, to analyze the discourse, and to put down, as accurately as I was able, the general impression it produced. This was not only useful, to excite in my own mind at the time, a greater degree of attention, but also to imprint the subject afterwards more effectually on my memory, and it has eventually been productive of a far more important, because more extensive advantage; an advantage then, indeed, perfectly unforeseen, but to which I shall advert in its proper place.” P. 227.
The advantage here alluded to, is that Mrs. Cappe was better able to transcribe, arrange, and correct these immortal sermons, when her husband was aflicted with a paralytic seizure. With a foresight almost præternatural, she married him for this very purpose.
“ Attached as I had long been to Mr. Cappe, and preferring his society to that of any other person, this was not the sole 'cause of my becoming his wife. I had long deeply regretted, in common with many others, that his invaluable Scripture researches, and other fine compositions should for ever lie buried in a short-hand which had been composed by himself, and which was unintelligible to every other person. I knew but too well, that his health was not such, had he been disposed to it, as should enable him to transcribe them himself, consistently with the other duties which necessarily arose out of his situation; and I hoped that if I became a member of his family, I might in this respect be of use to him, and at the same time eventually confer an important benefit on the rising generation. There are those, perhaps, who will find it difficult to believe that this motive had any weight in the scale, and others who will deem it altogether romantic and visionary; it is, however, the simple truth ; and I have long esteemed it a kind and merciful arrangement of that wise and good Providence, which alone foresees the coming event, that my mind should have been tlus influenced.” P. 243.
Now we beg leave positively to assure the family and friends of Mrs. Cappe--that we have no difficulty whatsoever in believing this important fact--nor shall we presume to
apply the epithets romantic and visionary to so solemn a per. sonage as the lamented auto-biographer. We might perhaps have thought such conduct somewhat absurd, if we had suffered ourselves to be led away by our ignorance of the preacher's merits. But as bis sermons are
" the most just and comprehensive” in the world, and his disquisitions, as witness the following assurance, are some day or other to be highly admired, we cannot be too grateful to Mrs. Cappe for her share in their preservation.
« In the following May, 1802, I had the satisfaction of publishing the Dissertations and Memoir, in two octavo volumes, which had supplied me, in the preceding year, with so much interesting occupation. Prefixed to them is a portrait of the venerable author, which I caused to be engraved from the striking picture already mentioned ; it is a likeness, certainly, but by no means does equal justice to the fine expression of countenance preserved in the picture itself.
“These Dissertations have excited considerable attention among a few enquiring persons, but the time is not yet come when their value will be fully understood, and consequently, when they will obtain their merited celebrity: One singular thing has happened to them; they have upon the whole, been quite as well received by a few liberal and learned clergymen of the Establishment, if not better than by professed Unitarian Dissenters." P. 319.
“ I had been much occupied during the greater part of this year, in preparing for the press a series of Notes of my late husband's, on the four Gospels, formerly transcribed from his shorthand papers, and from the margin of different Bibles. The dictating from these had soothed many a long hour of languor and debility, which would otherwise have hung heavily upon him, and had doubly endeared them to me, as well on that account as for their own intrinsic merit. I considered their importance as being such, that I felt very desirous that others should benefit from them as well as myself; and I conceived that their extensive circulation would best be promoted, by endeavouring to interweave the narrative of the four Evangelists into one.connected history, in their own words; placing the Notes at the bottom of the page, and dividing the whole into sections; adding at the end of each such reflections as might arise in my own mind, from a careful and serious perusal of each section. My first design was to publish the work in quarto, placing the book, chapter, and verse, from which the nar. ratives were taken, in columns, by the side of the history; but not being able to take the whole risk of the expence of publishing upon myself, I was dissuaded by my bookseller from this attempt, and advised ta publish in octavo; merely placing the name of the book, chapter, and verse, at the head of each section; and this was done accordingly, and the book was published in April, 1809.
G VOL. XX. JULY, 1823.
" When I considered the important light thrown upon various parts of the sacred Volume, and particularly on many of the conversations of our divine Master, by these Notes-o the result of many a year of serious and patient investigation, on the part of one, whose single object was the development of Scriptural truth whose early youth and declining age, were alike devoted to the careful study of the Scriptures in the original languages, under the deepest sense of their unspeakable importance; of one, whose in. vestigations bore always the stamp of profound thought, of deep piety, and of original genius,-1 was led to flatter myself that their acceptableness would be great, and their circulation wide and extensive. When, however, I stepped out of my closet, and took but a transient survey of the busy world around me; of the fears, the prejudices, and the enthusiasm of many; the indiffer, ence, if not absolute scepticism of more, and especially of a great portion of the literary public, for whose use these Notes were prin: cipally calculated; when I looked into the popular histories of such eloquent, specious writers as Gibbon and Hume, and many others, and saw how their genius and erudition, conforming to the false philosophy, careless habits, and dissipated manners of the age, had insensibly undermined all desire of religious knowledge and improvement, I was led to anticipate what has actually hap. pened, that many would not look into the book, and that of the few who did, the greater part would not give themselves the trou, ble of reading it. The periodical publications of the day are, in general, a pretty good criterion of the popularity of the subject treated, and here the indication was most infavourable ; for with the exception of an article in the Monthly Repository for May, 1810, written in a high strain of praise, and duly appreciating the value and importance of the Notes; and of one in the Eclectic Review for 1810, speaking highly of the Reflections, hardly, any notice has been taken of the publication. Thus discouraged, I shall not attempt in my life-time, to bring forward another edition ; but perhaps I may endeavour, if I should be able, being fully per. suaded of its real intrinsic value, to prepare a quarto edition for the press, on the plan originally proposed; which my executors may publish hereafter, if they should think it likely to get into circula. tion*. The light thrown upon many difficult passages in these Notes, is surely invaluable; particularly on the celebrated con. versation of our Lord with Nicodemus, with the woman of Samaria, and many others. Of the Reflections it may not become me to speak; yet, as this will not appear before the public whilst the writer can have any interest in its approbation or censure, I may be allowed to say, that on a careful re-perusal, I think they can hardly be attentively read, without exciting additional interest in the character of Him, who, to adopt his own energetic, but highly
* " The Author abandoned this design ; but at the time of her death was engaged in reprinting the Reflections in a cheap form, chiefly for the use of Tract Societies." - ED.