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Sketch of the Life, Character, &'c. of the late Francis Webó, Esq. deavour to state as accurately as my nent more generally attends robbery, recollection will permit.
than in this country. Having fulilled Travelling in Germany to the place the object of his mission he returned of his destination, he was one day to England, but how much time overtaken by the shades of night be elapsed before he was again employed fore he could reach the town where in a diplomatic capacity I cannot dehe had proposed to sleep. He there- termine. After the peace of Amiens, fore stopped at a solitary inn on the however, in 1802, when Mr. Jackson road. His bed-room was an inner was sent on his embassy to France, chamber. He had the precaution, not (Napoleon Bonaparte being then only only to lock his door, but also to secure Chief Consul) Mr. Webb was apit by some other contrivance. As he pointed his Secretary ; but the state travelled armed, he put his sword and of his health obliged him to return at a brace of pistols, which he had with the end of a few weeks. During the him, on the table. He kept a light short time he was in Paris, his office burning in his chamber, and instead leading him to frequent intercourse of undressing, he merely took off his with those persons who then made the coat, and wrapping himself up in his most conspicuous figures in the French roquelaure, lay down on the bed. In government, his penetrating, genius the space of about two hours, he was enabled him to acquire considerable roused by the sound of steps in the knowledge of their characters and poouter room, and a violent push at his litical views, of which he used afterdoor. He immediately started up, tookwards to communicate to his friends his sword in one hand and a pistol in many interesting particulars. the other, and calling with a loud From this period he retired wholly thundering voice to these disturbers of from public life. His places of resihis repose to desist, he told them, dence have been various within the last " the first that entered was a dead thirty years. He took a house in the man, and that he was prepared to en- neighbourhool of Crewkerne, where counter with half a dozel of them." he lived for a short time and attended Upon this they thought proper to with the religious services of his beloved draw. He then made the door still friend, and, if I mistake not, quondamn more secure, and expecting another fellow-student in the Daventry Acaattempt, gave neither sleep, to his demy, the late Rev. Wm. Blake, to eyes nor slumber to his eyelids," but whom was peculiarly applicable the sat down, waiting and preparing his character which the Apostle John gives mind for whatever might happen. In of a pious and amiable “ Demeabout an hour, he heard what appear- trius hath good report of all men, and ed to hiin a greater number of footsteps of the truth itself.” For some years in the outer chamber than before, and Mr. Webb resided at Litchet, a pleaimmediately an assault was made at his sant village between Poule and Ware. door with so much violence as would ham, and became an attendant on the have forced it open in an instant, had worship of the Unitarian Dissenters it not been for the additional security (I use the term Unitarian in its most which his prudence had devised. He extensive signification, as distinguishagain addressed them as before, when ing from Trinitarian) either in the the villains retreated, some of them former or latter place. Quitting Litchuttering the most horrid imprecations. et in 1809, he went to Norton sub As soon as the day began to dawn, he Haindon, in the neighbourhood of called his servants, and before he left South Petherton. In 1811 he removed the house told the attendant that he to Lufton, in the vicinity of Yeovil, a wished to speak with his master, who delightful retreat which Mr. Webb however excused himself from making would gladly have retained to the end his appearance by pretending he was of his life. Whilst in this place he very ill in bed.' When Mr. Webb joined the society of Unitarian Disa came to the next town he waited on senters in the town last mentioned, the magistrate and acquainted him under the pastoral care of my highlywith the transaction, who promised valued friend, the Rev. S. Fawceit. that notice should be taken of it, and His residence being a parsonage house, congratulated him on his deliverance and the clergyman to whom it belonged from so imminent danger of losing giving him notice to quit it, his remobis life ; for murdering on the Couti- val to Barrington, in 1814, was the
Sk etch of the Life, Character, &'c. of the late Francis Webb, Esq. 191 Last stage of his eventfal journey,which; utile et jocundum. His stock of inas you have already announced, was formation seemed to be inexhaustible. terminated on August 2, 1815, in There was in his conversation always either the 80th or 31st year of his age. something new and interesting: About two years before his death he In manners, Mr. Webb had the adbecame a member of the Western Uni dress of the polished gentleman. In tarian Society, and at its meeting in stature, he appeared to be not less than Ycovil in 1814, when the late venera- six feet high; of an athletic make; ble Dr. Toulmin preached, a respect. well proportioned; upright in his gait, able company of gentlemen dined to. with a fine, open, manly countenance, gether, and Mr. Webb was requested expressive both of intelligence and to take the chair. This office he dis- good humour. charged with much propriety, and with The writings of Mr. Webb which more spirit than might have been ex- have appeared before the public, (few pected in a person on the verge of four- in nuinber) evince a lively imaginascore. He declared, that “ though he tion, elegant taste, an enlightened had often presided at different meet- mind, and rativnal, fervent piety. The ings, he never did it with so much best Greek and Roman classics were pleasure and satisfaction, as on the familiar to him, and his memory was present occasion.”
so retentive as enabled him to make No man ever possessed a more inde- appropriate quotations from them on pendent mind than the subject of these all subjects. His allusions to them remarks. He never hesitated to think and the heathen mythology indeed are freely on all subjects of human inquiry, so frequent, as to cast a veil of obscurity and to speak unreservedly on proper over some parts of his poetic composioccasions what he thought. In poli- tions, except to those who are themtical sentiments he was a staunch selves well versed in classic lore. The Whig, though this did not prevent same however may be said of his fahim from esteeming, a conscientious yourite Milton, and many other poets ; Tory; in religion, a Unitarian Protes. but which I think cannot be jus:ly tani Dissenter, though of too liberal ranked among their greatest exceland enlarged a mind to confine his lences. Besides the two volumes of friendly regards, much less the Divine sermons already mentioned, in the favour and future salvation, to those year 1790 he' published a quarto merely of his own denomination. He pamphlet of poems, on Wisdom, on was a man of a delicate moral taste and the Deity, and on Genius, the two strong feelings, which led him 10 per- first in blank verse, and the third in ceive clearly and to expose forcibly the rhyme, enriched with many valuable deformity and baseness of vice in notes, containing the sentiments of whomsoever found. A mean, cringing, the most celebrated ancients on these time-serving disposition his soul utter- sublime and important subjects. In ly abhorred; while he could not re- the year 1811, appeared from the same frain from expressing, in terms of rap- pen, a Poem, termed Somerset, writ. ture, his approbation of noble, gene- ten in blank verse, with the spirit of a tous, disinterested actions.
young Poet, (though he Cui pudor, et justitiæ soror
has pluck'd my pinions,") and an enIncorrupta fides, nudaque veritas.
thusiastic admirer of Nature, through
HORACE. which he delighted to look up to Na. And where will equal justice find,
ture's God. The following lines will Where steady faith and naked truth, illustrate the truth of this observation, So generous and so great a mind? and furnish a specimen of his poetic
powers and devotional feelings. Warm in his friendships, he was ready, if occasion required, to make the Hail, Nature! in whose various works apgreatest sacrifices to them. His bene- pears voleuce also prompted him to serve
The fair-drawn transcript of the Mind
Divine. any person who needed his aid to the In Thee, whate'er is beautiful, sublime, best of his abilities, some pleasing in- With correspondent transport we behold. stances of which are known to the I worship thee without Idolatry. present writer.
His companionable Paying 'Thee homage, I my hoinage pay, powers were of the first class, and no To Him who form'd thee thus to be ador'd man knew better how to unite the The Universe his Temple- buman hearts
192 Sketch of the Life, Character, &c. of the late Francis Webb, Esg. The Altars whence the incense should illustrate respecting the harmony of arise
“This work," says he, “was To Him who fills all space; whose Spirit first undertaken merely for amusement, pure
when the author, from bodily indispoInspires the mind with thought, and guides sition, was unable to exercise his mind the hand,
by more serious study and closer appliElse all unable to direct the plume,
cation. The subject ever was, from That Auttring strives to wing his praise, From this terrene, up to the radiant Sun,
his earliest days unto those of his preThro' all the countless orbs which tame in sent very advanced years, pleasing and heav'n,
attractive. He feels indeed at the If flight it could sustain. But Seraph's present moment of recital, though with wing
abated energy, the rapture which be Would fail; and all too weak an Angel's experienced when, in the course of his voice
juvenile studies, that beam of celestial To hymn His glory, and His praise pro- light was first darted into his mind claim.
from the great luminary of science, P. 42.
Sir Isaac Newton, in the astonishing A year or two before his death, and beautiful discovery, that a ray of Mr. Webb amused himself with pre- light transınitted through a prism, paring a curious work, which he terms exactly answered in its differently rePanharmonicon. It consists of a large fracted colours, to the divisions of a engraved plate, (delineated by his inge- musical chord; or in other words, that nious friend, Mr. John Nicholetts of the breadth of the seven original coSouth Petherton,) with a quarto pam. lours, were in the same proportion, as phlet, designed as an illustration of it. the seven musical intervals of the The author states it as his object, to octave. And further delighted was he prove that “the principles of Harmony with the no less wonderful discovery, more or less prevail throughout the that if we suppose anusical chords exwhole sytem of Nature, but more es- tended from the Sun to each Planet, in pecially in the human frame; and that order that these chords may become where these principles can be applied unison, it will be requisite to increasc to works of art, they excite the pleasing or diminish their tension, in exactly and satisfying ideas of proportion and the same proportion, as would be suffibeauty."
cient to render the gravities of the If it be true, as here maintained, Planets equal.” Webb's Parhon. p. 1. that there is an harinonious connexion As Mr. Webb was delighted in trabetween lines of beauty in natural ob- cing out the beauty and harmony of jects, and notes of music, it is evident the natural world, so he believed, and that the latter, should the mode of the persuasion afforded him still subapplication be correctly ascertained, limer pleasure, that causes were in would greatly contribute to exact pro- operation, appointed by the Sovereign portions in the Painter's delineations. Lord of Nature and Parent of Good, To prove that this is not a merely tending to correct the disorders of the speculative idea, devoid of all utility to moral world, and finally to produce society, Mr. Webb makes his appeal universal virtue and happiness, the to a well-attested fact. The ingenious beauty and harmony of the moral creaartist, the late Giles Hussey, Esq. of tion of God, almighty, all-wise, and Marnhull
, in the County of Dorset, infinitely benevolent. What indeed (who died suddenly in 1788,) an in- were his sentiments respecting the timate friend of our author, used to result of the gracious plan of the corroct and iinprove his drawings by divine government, the final glorious applying them to the musical scale.
consummation devoutly to be wishIlis mode of doing it is particularly ed," appears from the concluding lines pointed out in a letter* of this cele. of his Poem on the Deity. brated painter. Mr. Webb, it appears, Nought can He will, but good and what adopted in younger life the sentiment
He wills which he endeavours to prove and Must come to pass. All creatures in degree,
Answering his great idea, rise to good This letter, which I hope other readers Through countless forms and changes; and can understand better than myself, is also at last, inserted in the late edition of Hutchins's Looking complacent on his mighty Works, History of Dorset.
As on creation's morn be duokt, and smild,
Copy of a Letter from Dr. Watts to the Rev. Mr. Alexander.
(While shouted all the Sons of God for joy) ally proved that Irenæus believed the Pronouncing all was good, th’Alínighty proper Deity of Christ. As I fres Sire
quently make remarks in perusing the His awful consecrating nod shall give
books I read, I have taken the freedom Of final Approbation; and his Sons,
to do the same thing with regard to The sacred Hierarchies of Heav'n, shall sing this book : but having left both your Triumphant Hallelujahs! Man shall join;
book and these papers in the country, The Consummation of his mighty works, Triumphant sing, when perfected the plan I cannot possibly send them by your Of sovereign Love—and God is All in all, friend. If you come to London this WEBB's Poems, p. 33. year, I should he very glad to talk
them over with you, and enter into Should this very imperfect sketch of some further disquisitions on the same the life, character and writings of the subject. late Francis Webb, Esq. be in the With regard to Irenæus, the only least degree interesting to your readers, thing I shall mention at present, is that and induce any of them, qualified for you have made it evident, beyond all the undertaking, to favour the public contradiction, that Irenæus supposed with a more particular and correct ac- the Logos, or divine nature of Christ, count of this ingenious aud excellent to be the very vēs or mind of the man, the design of this communication Father, and in that sense to be the will be fully answered.
Father himself, as in one place you I am, Mr. Editor,
yourself express it : and this is maniYours most respectfully, festly the sense of Irenæus in many THOMAS HOWE.
There are also other passages
places. N.B. Mr. Webb has left a widow in Irenæus wherein the Logos is reprebehind him of a very advanced age, sented as the Son of God, and as a still residing at Barrington in Somerset- distinct person, or distinct conscions shire,
mind or spirit.
Now I beg leave to inquire, 1st, A Letter of Dr. Watts, hitherto un. Why the last of these senses, i. t. the
published, on the Deity of Christ. Son of God, may not be interpreted Comníunicated by the Rev. J. into a figurative personality, and so Kentish.
be reduced to the as well as Birmingham, March 5th, 1816. the first of these senses, viz. the Sir,
vās, be raised up to a real, proper, THE autograph of the subjoined distinct personality, and so reduced to lineal descendant of the gentleman* to much reason for the one interpretation whom it was addressed : and I ain as for the other? I cannot but think permitted by its respectablc owner to that it is much more intelligible to retranscribe it for your pages. It's con present the vâs or mind of God in a tents suggest many a reflection : 1 sub- personal manner (which is very agreemitit however, without a comment, to able to the Scriptural idiom) than to the attention of your readers.
make a real, proper, distinct person In the copy the orthography varies become the vôs of the Father, or the from that of the original, which other- Father himself, as Irenæus speaks. wise is exactly followed.
2. If Irenæus cannot be reconciled Yours, &c.
to himself this way, whether the proJOHN KENTISH.
posal of reconciliation which I have Cory of a Letter from Dr. Watts to offered, Dissertation 4. Sec!, 7, does
the Rev. Mr. Alexander. not bid as fair for it as any thing else? Rev. Sir,
Or, in the third place, whether I return you thanks for your Essay there is any need of reconciling Ireon Irenæus, wherein you have effectu 10 limself ? For he is weak
* The Rey, John Alexander, of Stratford enough to speak inconsistencies some upon Avon, afterwards of Ireland, and father
times, or at least to speak words withof the Rev. John Alexander, of Birming-out
any ideas. han. A short notice of the elder Mr. A.
Now the same thing which you will be found in the Biographia Britannica, have proved, and I grant, concerning (edited by Dr. Kippis), in a communica- Irenæus may be manifested concern tion towards the end of the article Benson ; ing several other of the primilive, fawhere also is a fuller account of the son. thers; if any man would search into
194 Public Characler of the late Rev. Joshua Tuulmin, D.D. them with that diligence as you have things of God: and I think both done into Irenæus ; and I might make these have been counted orthodoxy the very sanie remarks concerning these two hundred years. I am very them. They sometimes express them- sure that I can bring citations from selves like the Arians, sometimes like several great writers, who have been the Sabellians. Now the query is, counted very orthodox, to countenance which of their ways of speaking must and support both these explications ; be reduced to the other, and interpre- though of the scholastic account of geted by the other ? I know no intelligi- neration and procession I have no idea. ble medium but what I have proposed, Dear Sir, let us not always be conDissert. 4. Sect. 7.
tent to keep these great points of our With regard to the different expli- holy religion in a mysterious darkness, cations of the doctrine of the Trinity, if it be possible to obtain ideas of what I am very much of your mind ; that is, we believe. But if there be any scripit is necessary to distinguish the doc- ture which declares this doctrine to be trine itself from the human explicati. entirely unintelligible, I will then ons. Let us but suppose a divine com- cheerfully acquiesce in the sacred demunion between the Sacred Three termination of scripture, and submit sufficient 10 answer the divine titles to believe propositions without ideas. and characters and honours given them. In the mean time, I shall be very glad in Scripture, and a sufficient distinction to receive any hints from Mr. Alexto answer their several offices, and this ander which may give me occasion to is abundantly enough for our salva- relinquish any opinions which I have tipa ; though we be much at a loss proposed : for I acknowledge I am still about any farther determination. an inquirer into truth, and ready to
Yet, amongst men of learning and learn. inquiry, methinks 'tis not enough to say You may assure yourself, Sir, in. that God is an infinite spirit, which affairs that relate to your great work, we all confess, and that the Sacred and in all other Christian offices, Three are one God, which we confess
I am, Sir, also, and yet that we cannot tell Your most obedient servant, whether the Sacred Three be one infi
J. WATTS. nite spirit or three infinite spirits. I From the Lady Abney's, in Lime would fain come something nearer to Street, London, April 18, 1727. ideas. If we content ourselves with mere sounds without ideas, we may believe any thing: but if we seek after
Public Character of the late Rev. ideas, I think we must come to this
Joshua Toulmin, D.D. determination, viz. that the great God (From the Sermon on his death, preached is either one conscious mind or spirit,
at Plymouth, by the Rev. Israel Worsor he is three conscious minds or spirits.
ley, and prefixed to “ Observations on Now I have such arguments against
the Presbyterian Societies of England, the latter that I cannot at present as
&c.” a duodecimno volume, just published.] sent to it. If therefore God be one THE
NHE case of our friend, whose infinite spirit, the word and Holy death we now contemplate, with Ghost must either be the same whole mixed emotions of concern and of firm and entire infinite spirit, with some. Christian hope, furnishes a striking relative distinctions, or they must be instance of the sufferings of an upright gome really distinct principles in the man in the faithful discharge of his one infinite spirit, and as much distinct duty. as it is possible: now either of these
In order to form a proper opinion two lasi agrees with my way of think of the sufferings of himself, and of ing: perhaps both these may be joined many others who were embarked in together; and there are some places the sacred cause of integrity and of of scripture wherein the word and spi- truth, at a period when this country rit may be represented as the same en- was not prepared to do them justice or tire godhead under relative distinctions, to hearken to their inspired voices, your and other places of scripture where recollection must be carried back at they may be represented as distinct least twenty years of your lives, or perprinciples of agency in the same one haps a few inore.* About that time a godhead. These are the best ideas I can yet arrive at, after all my humble and diligent searches into these deep the year 1792.
• The period to which tis refers, was