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As to the stile of censure into which he is occasionally betrayed, in controverting the opinions of Mr. Bryant, it cannot be denied that it is too unceremonious, especially when
an hunc sequeris? Shall we accept Mr. Bryant's reveries, or Mr. Willet's facts?"
The author of the Dissertation, p. 39, infers the nonexistence of Troy, because " Demetrius Scepsius, a native of Troas, also Hesticas Alexandrinus, and the geographer Strabo, an Asiatick, with several others, could never upon enquiry find out where the city could possibly have stood." Mr. Wakefield opposes to this argument a fact of ocular and personal experience. Flawford Church, a solitary building in the fields, about five miles from Nottingham, was one of the most celebrated and spacious structures of its kind, with three or four exceptions, in that county. When I was at school in that neighbourhood, in the year 1766, the building was ruinous, but burial service was occasionally performed in it by my master, a clergyman, now living. I have been several times in the church myself to see some ancient monuments of crusaders, mentioned by Thoroton in his history. To prevent accidents, it was entirely demolished, and the steeple thrown down by some colliers from Lord Middleton's pits at Wollaton. In the year 1784, or 5, I went with two others to contemplate the spot where this romantic pile had stood. Exactly as I knew the place, we could only ascertain it, and that after much diligent speculation, by the protuberant lines which marked out the main walls, and a few hillocks of stone, completely covered with grass and moss. Such obliteration had time occasioned, ¿ χρόνος πανδαμάτωρ, in no longer a period than that employed by Isocrates in the composition of his panegyric."
"Letter," &c. pp. 10, 12.
addressed to such a venerable and distinguished scholar. But Mr. Wakefield, from his eagerness of composition, was often liable to adopt expressions which he accommodated to a sense widely different from their usual acceptation. This remark, equally applicable to the generality of his works, is abundantly confirmed by the conclusion of the letter.
"And here, sir, I shall close my summary review indeed of your Dissertation on the war of Troy, but, as I persuade myself, sufficiently circumstantial and prolix for the purpose under contemplation: a review, conducted with a freedom congenial to my life and manners, but without malignity, which is a stranger to my breast with a respect bordering on reverence for your various and profound erudition, by which I have been so often delighted and improved; but with no compassion for learned extravagances, no not the dreams of Jove himself! It is a defect of judgment, not a distemper of the heart; the casual aberration of a rapid pen, not intentional hostility; if I have sprinkled more salt through the preceding pages than what was needful to preserve such a frail fabric as an occasional pamphlet of a disregarded writer from present insipidity and speedy putrefaction.
"Believe me, sir, with every sanguine
wish for the continued serenity of the evening of your life, and the peaceful enjoyment of your great literary honours, so generally paid, and so justly due, your ardent admirer and sincere friend."
In this year (1797) was published "A Practical View of the prevailing religious system of Professed Christians in the higher and middle classes in this country, contrasted with real Christianity, by William Wilberforce, Esq."
Mr. Wakefield was as zealous as this gentleman could possibly be for the abolition of that disgrace of humanity and civilization the African Slave Trade.' Yet upon other questions no two persons could easily be found, firm believers in revelation and both lovers of their country, whose opinions were more at variance.
In the popular treatise which we have mentioned are many valuable remarks and very just views of the importance of religious principle. At the same time the ingenious and amiable author appears uot a little devoted to "all the priest and all the nurse has taught." Yet, when he would recommend Christianity as entitled "to a serious examination" from
See "Mem." i. 193-196.
unbelievers; this writer can adopt more liberal ideas. He claims "Locke and Newton," notwithstanding their heretical pravity, as his fellow-christians, classing them with great propriety among those, who by the reach of their understandings, or the extent of their knowledge, and by the freedom too of their minds, and their daring to combat existing prejudices, have called forth the respect and admiration of mankind."
In his political character this gentleman was an almost uniform supporter of Mr. Pitt's administration, and particularly of his measures in conducting the late destructive war. Nor did any of the domestic severities of that administration seem to excite a suspicion in his breast that Christian benevolence was in the least violated even by men whom, with all his partiality, he could not have considered as generally influenced by Christian principles.
Soon after the appearance of the work we
"Practical View" 2d Ed. 467. When Mr. Wilberforce (Ibid p. 474) described Sceptics and Unitarians as natural allies, could a person of his information be ignorant that Locke and Newton were well known to have exploded what he assumes as the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel," and to have been almost if not altogether Unitarians? This inaccuracy, not to say unfairness, is by no means peculiar to Mr. Wilberforce.
have mentioned, Mr. Wakefield brought out "A Letter to William Wilberforce, Esq. on the subject of his late Publication," which quickly passed to a second edition.
His respect for the author's intention, hist character of the performance, and the design which he proposed in the publication of this Letter, we shall state in his own words.
"Your attention to religious subjects, in the midst of a corrupt and faithless generation, is regarded with more honour and approbation by none of your warmest friends than by your opponent: nor, I believe, have your thoughts since we were contemporaries once at Cambridge, and before that period, been more intensely occupied in the same speculations and pursuits than mine. Our conclusions, however, from these diligent researches prove not only different but totally contradictory: yet, I presume your purposes and affections to have been equally pure, equally zealous, and equally dispassionate with my own.
But, sir, my leading motive to this public and free address had its origin in that countenance, which the favourable opinion of your character very generally entertained, as a sincere and pious Christian has reflected on the political conduct of those statesmen, whose views you have promoted with eagerness and