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TO BE READ AT LEAST ONCE.
TO OUR PATRONS.
THE ECLECTIC MAGAZINE is now the only Monthly repository of Foreign Literature in the country; and having absorbed every thing else of the kind, it stands unrivalled, and is, truly, an Eclectic Magazine. Its plates have always been unequalled; and, by a special agreement with Mr. Sartain, whose execution in this line surpasses that of all others, they will in future be even superior to those already given. The Engravings are considered, by many, worth the price of the work.
To those who have taken Campbell's Semi-Monthly heretofore, we now send the Eclectic Magazine monthly, hoping they will be satisfied with the change. The Eclectic is conducted very much on the same plan with the other, but contains more matter, the printed page being larger. After consultation, we are disposed to think that a monthly issue of such a work is preferable to any greater frequency, and will be generally acceptable.
The last four numbers of the Semi-monthly have been made up of the matter of the Eclectic, so that subscribers to the former have had a fair opportunity of judging of the character of the latter. They will excuse the repetition of one or two short articles, which, under the circumstances, could not well be prevented.
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We beg leave to remind many of our old subscribers, that they are indebted to us for the Museum of 1843, as well as for the Magazine of 1844, and would help us much by prompt payment. We presume all are now aware that the Museum has not been published since January.
Our intention, hereafter, is to issue promptly, on the FIRST DAY of each month, waiting for the arrival of the steamers, which leave Liverpool on the 4th of each month, and bring us our Magazines. Thus we shall always furnish fresh matter, selecting for Oct. 1, from the September Magazines, and so on.
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THE CLAPHAM SECT, OR THE COTERIE yet unborn, to determine what was The
IN one of those collections of Essays which have recently been detached from the main body of this Journal (we following herein the policy of Constantine and of Charlemagne, when dividing their otherwise too extensive Empires into distinct though associated sovereignties), there occur certain pleasant allusions, already rendered obscure by the lapse of time, to a religious sect or society, which, as it appears, was flourishing in this realm in the reign of George III. What subtle theories, what clouds of learned dust, might have been raised by future Binghams, and Du Pins | SEPTEMBER, 1844. 1
Patent Christianity, and what The Clapham Sect of the nineteenth century, had not the fair and the noble authors before us
appeared to dispel, or at least to mitigate, the darkness! Something, indeed, had been done aforetime. The antiquities of Clapham, had they not been written in the Britannia of Mr. Lysons? Her beauties, had they not inspired the muse of Mr. Robins? But it was reserved for Mrs. Milner, and for Lord Teignmouth, to throw such light on her social and ecclesiastical state as will render our facetious colleague intelligible to future generations. Treading in their steps, and aided by their information, it shall be our endeavor to clear up still more fully, for the benefit of ages yet to come, this passage in the ecclesiastical history of the age which has just passed away.
Though living amidst the throes of Empires, and the fall of Dynasties, men are not merely warriors and politicians. Even in such times they buy and sell, build and plant, marry and are given in marriage. And thus it happened, that during the war with revolutionary France, Henry Thornton, the then representative in Parliament
*The Rev. Sydney Smith.
of the borough of Southwark, having become a husband, became also the owner of a spacious mansion on the confines of the villa-cinctured common of Clapham.
It is difficult to consider the suburban retirement of a wealthy banker esthetically (as the Germans have it); but, in this instance, the intervention of William Pitt imparted some dignity to an occurrence otherwise so unpoetical. He dismissed for a moment his budgets and his subsidies, for the amusement of planning an oval saloon to be added to this newly purchased residence. It arose at his bidding, and yet remains, perhaps a solitary monument of the architectural skill of that imperial mind. Lofty and symmetrical, it was curiously wainscoted with books on every side, except where it opened on a far-extended lawn, reposing beneath the giant arms of aged elms and massive tulip trees.
embraced and loved, under all the varying forms which conceal their union from each other, and from the world. Discord never agitated that tranquil home; lassitude never brooded over it. Those demons quailed at the aspect of a man in whose heart peace had found a resting-place, though his intellect was incapable of repose.
Henry was the second son of John Thornton, a merchant renowned in his generation for a munificence more. than princely, and commended to the reverence of posterity by the letters and the poetry of Cowper. The father was one of those rare men, in whom the desire to relieve distress assumes the form of a master passion; and if faith be due to tradition, he indulged it with a disdain, alternately ludicrous and sublime, of the good advice which the eccentric have to undergo from the judicious. Conscious of no aims but such as might Few of the designs of the great Minister invite the scrutiny of God and man, he purwere equally successful. Ere many years sued them after his own fearless fashionhad elapsed, the chamber he had thus pro- yielding to every honest impulse, relishing jected became the scene of enjoyments a frolic when it fell in his way, choosing which, amidst his proudest triumphs, he his associates in scorn of mere worldly premight well have envied, and witnessed the cepts, and worshipping with any fellowgrowth of projects more majestic than any Christian whose heart beat in unison with which ever engaged the deliberations of his own, however inharmonious might be his Cabinet. For there, at the close of each some of the articles of their respective succeeding day, drew together a group of creeds. playful children, and with them a knot of His son was the heir of his benevolence, legislators, rehearsing, in sport or earnestly, but not of his peculiarities. If Lavater had some approaching debate; or travellers been summoned to divine the occupation from distant lands; or circumnavigators of of Henry Thornton, he would probably the worlds of literature and science; or the have assigned to him the highest rank Pastor of the neighboring Church, whose among the Judges of his native land. Brows look announced him as the channel through capacious and serene, a scrutinizing eye, which benedictions passed to earth from and lips slightly separated, as of one who heaven; and, not seldom, a youth who list- listens and prepares to speak, were the true ened, while he seemed to read the book interpreters of the informing mind within. spread out before him. There also was It was a countenance on which were graven still a matronly presence, controlling, ani- the traces of an industry alike quiet and mating, and harmonizing the elements of persevering, of a self-possession unassailable this little world, by a kindly spell, of which by any strong excitement, and of an undernone could trace the working, though the standing keen to detect, and comprehensive charm was confessed by all. Dissolved in to reconcile distinctions. The judicial, endless discourse, or rather in audible so- like the poetical nature, is a birthright; liloquy, flowing from springs deep and in- and by that imprescriptible title he possessexhaustible, the lord of this well-peopled ed it. Forensic debates were indeed beenclosure rejoiced over it with a contagious yond his province; but even in Westminster joy. In a few paces, indeed, he might tra- Hall, the noblest of her temples, Themis verse the whole extent of that patriarchal had no more devoted worshipper. To indominion. But within those narrow pre-vestigate the great controversies of his own cincts were his Porch, his Studio, his Judgment-Seat, his Oratory, and 'the Church that was in his house,'-the reduced but not imperfect resemblance of that innumerable company which his Catholic spirit
and of all former times, was the chosen employment, to pronounce sentence in them the dear delight, of his leisure hours.
Nothing which fell within the range of his observation. escaped this curious in
quiry. His own duties, motives, and habits, the characters of those whom he loved best, the intellectual resources and powers of his various friends and companions, the prepossessions, hereditary or conventional, to which he or they were subject, the maxims of society, the dogmas of the Church, the problems which were engaging the attention of Parliament or of political economists, and those which affected his own enterprises-all passed in review before him, and were all in their turn adjudicated with the grave impartiality which the keeper of the great seal is expected to exhibit. Truth, the foe of falsehood-truth, the antagonist of error-and truth, the exorcist of ambiguity-was the object of his supreme homage; and so reverential were the vows offered by him at her shrine, that he abjured the communion of those less earnest worshippers, who throw over her the veil of fiction, or place her in epigrammatic attitudes, or disguise her beneath the mask of wit or drollery. To contemplate truth in the purest light, and in her own fair proportions, he was content that she should be unadorned by any beauties but such as belong to her celestial nature, and are inseparable from it. Hence his disquisitions did not always escape the reproach of drought and tediousness, or avoided it only by the cheerful tone and pungent sense with which they were conducted. He had as little pretension to the colloquial eloquence as to the multifarious learning and transcendental *revelations of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Yet the pilgrimages to Clapham and to Highgate were made with rival zeal, and the relics brought back from each were regarded as of almost equal sanctity. If the philosophical poet dismissed his audience under the spell of theories compassing all knowledge, and of imagery peopling all space, the practical philosopher sent his hearers to their homes instructed in a doctrine, cheerful, genial, and active-a doctrine which taught them to be sociable and busy, to augment to the utmost of their power the joint stock of human happiness, and freely to take, and freely to enjoy, the share assigned to each by the conditions of that universal partnership. And well did the teacher illustrate his own maxims. The law of social duty, as expounded in his domestic academy, was never expounded more clearly or more impressively than by his habitual example.
Having inherited an estate, which, though not splendid, was enough for the
support of his commercial credit, he adjudged that it ought never to be increased by accumulation nor diminished by sumptuousness; and he lived and died in the rigid practice of this decision. In the division of his income between himself and the poor, the share he originally assigned to them was nearly six-sevenths of the whole; and as appeared after his death, from accounts kept with the most minute commercial accuracy, the amount expended by him in one of his earlier years, for the relief of distress, considerably exceeded nine thousand pounds. When he had become the head of a family, he reviewed this decree, and thenceforward regarded himself as trustee for the miserable, to the extent only of one-third of his whole expenditure. The same faithful record showed that the smallest annual payment ever made by him on this account, amounted to two thousand pounds. As a legislator, he had condemned the unequal pressure of the direct taxes on the rich and the poor; but instead of solacing his defeat with the narcotic of virtuous indignation combined with discreet parsimony, he silently raised his own contribution to the level of his speech. Tidings of the commercial failure of a near kinsman embarked him at once on an inquiry, how far he was obliged to indemnify those who might have given credit to his relative, in a reliance, however unauthorized, on his own resources; and again the coffers of the banker were unlocked by the astuteness of the casuist. A mercantile partnership (many a year has passed since the disclosure could injure or affect any one), which, without his knowledge, had obtained from his firm large and improvident advances, became so helplessly embarrassed, that their bankruptcy was pressed on him as the only chance of averting from his own house the most serious disasters. He overruled the proposal, on the ground that they whose rashness had given to their debtors an unmerited credit, had no right to call on others to divide with them the consequent loss. To the last farthing he therefore discharged the liabilities of the insolvents, at a cost of which his own share exceeded twenty thousand pounds. Yet he was then declining in health, and the father of nine young children. Enamored of truth, the living spirit of justice, he yielded the allegiance of the heart to justice, the outward form of truth. The law engraven on the tablet of his conscience, and executed by the ministry of his affections, was strictly interpreted