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Art. V.-1. Miss Sellon and the 'Sisters of Mercy.' An Exposure

of the Constitution, Rules, Religious Vicus, and Practical Working of their Society; obtained through a Sister who has recently seceded. By the Rev. JAMES SPURRELL, A.M., Vicar of Great

Shelford, Cambridgeshire. London: Hatchards. 2. Reply to a Tract by the Rev. J. SPURRELL, containing certain

Charges concerning the Society of the Sisters of Mercy of Deronport and Plymouth. By the SUPERIOR OF THE Society.

London: Masters. 3. A Letter to Miss Sellon, Superior of the Society of Sisters of

Mercy, at Plymouth. By HENRY, Lord Bishop of Exeter.

London: Murray. 4. A Rejoinder to the Reply of the Superior of the Society of the

Sisters of Mercy of Deronport and Plymouth, to a Pamphlet entitled, Miss Selon and the Sisters of Mercy :' by the Rev.

James Spurrell, A.M. By the same. London: Hatchards. 5. A Letter to the Rev. James Spurrell, A.M. By A MEMBER

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE. London: Masters. 6. Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Misery; or, Miss Sellon in the

Family. By the Rev. W. M. COLLIS, A.B., Curate of Melton

Mowbray. London: Hatchards. 7. Miss Sellon and the Sisters of Mercy. Further Statement of

the Rules, Constitution, and Working of the Society called The Sisters of Mercy,' together with an exact Rerieu of Miss Sellon's Reply. By DIANA A. G. CAMPBELL, a Novice lately seceded.

London: Hatchards. The reader will conjecture, from the list of books placed at our heading, what subject the next few pages will offer to his attention. Our notice of it shall be as short as possible, for more than one reason. In the first place, the acts of—if we may use the expression without offence to the Superior of the Sisterhood at Devonport—a young lady, are not usual material for the pages of a Review. We criticise the lady as authoress, when she comes out as such: we have seldom to do with her as actor. Any comment, therefore, upon her in that capacity is made at a great disadvantage. It is made at the expense of those natural feelings which, under ordinary circumstances, erect a barrier between her and the public: and the writer of the comment feels the effect of an unfavourable position, and anticipates his


reader's observation of it. There are other reasons why such a task is not an agreeable one.

We submit cheerfully, then, to a disadvantageous position. At the same time we must add, in justice to ourselves, that we could not have avoided it. What all the world talks about, a review is expected to notice. If no notice appears, the charge is made of negligence or cowardice. Whatever responsibility, therefore, there may be in bringing the acts of a zealous and noble-minded lady under public comment, belongs to the world at large, and not to ourselves. We can give no more publicity to the subject than it already possesses.

But after apologizing for commenting upon Miss Sellon's proceedings at all, we have next to apologize for the circumstance, that that comment will not be one of unmixed approval. We deeply regret this, more especially as we cannot but fear that some, for whose opinion we entertain a high respect, will consider such absence of entire and simple approval, as very misplaced in this quarter, and will make the remark, if not to others, at least to themselves, that we had better have said nothing, than said what did not amount to that.

To begin, then, with some remarks addressed to persons who have these feelings,-remarks on the general subject of criticism; for the objection they entertain falls under this general head.

A strong objection, then, is sometimes felt to criticism in one particular case, by persons who adopt a high and refined, though, perhaps, an over-tender and sensitive standard of humility. The case supposed is that in which a person of extraordinary Christian attainments and gifts, great self-denial and great spirituality of mind, is the subject of criticism. Such persons happily there are, in all ages of the world, and sometimes their schemes and labours bring them prominently before the public eye. In such cases, that is to say, where positive action is before us in the shape of objects pursued and undertakings carried on, there is necessarily room for criticism. But unhappily, the great body of those who have to form the judgment in such a case, are not of this extraordinary Christian stamp. Numbers of them may be good conscientious persons, doing their duty in that station of life in which Providence has placed them; but the many are necessarily ordinary. There is, therefore, in the present case, the ordinary Christian sitting as judge, while the extraordinary one appears before him to undergo judgment. Such a state of things, say these persons, is an anomalous and improper one; and they recommend in such a case the suspension of the operation of the critical faculty. It is not, they argue, for commonplace Christians to be forming a judgment upon those who are infinitely their superiors in self-denial, loftiness, and spirituality of life. They cannot comprehend their motives, or appreciate their aims. They judge them by some mixed, half Christian, half worldly, standard which they have adopted for themselves, and forget that that very standard incapacitates them for such a task. It is for such to put their minds into an attitude of respect simply. They cannot assume the critical office without offending against the first law of humility.

It must be admitted that this is, within certain limits, a very natural and just line of thought; nor is there, perhaps, any Clergyman of a parish, schoolmaster, or parent, who has not to fall back upon it as a basis of discipline, and a check to presumption and impertinence. But the absolute rule, that no inferior is ever to judge the conduct of a superior, is such an exaggeration of the natural law, as cannot, either in the department of reason or of practice, support the test of sober examination.

For let the persons who urge such a rule only consider what it involves in every judgment whatever made by one man upon another. We presume that they allow, in the first instance, that the power of forming a judgment upon man's character and conduct, was not implanted in us for no object whatever, but was intended for use. But what is the preliminary position which this rule makes essential for the performance of any act of judgment upon another, the inseparable condition of any use whatever of the faculty ? It obliges him to say that he thinks himself morally and spiritually better than the person who is the subject of judgment. Now it is, in the first place, questionable, if we insist upon strict right, whether any one man has a right to say absolutely that he is better than any other: for, however reasonable a conjecture he may form, he cannot know it as a fact; and till he knows it as a fact, he had better abstain from asserting it. And in that case the present rule would act immediately as a universal prohibitor and suppressor of the act of judgment in man. But allowing for the right of formal selfpreference in particular instances of comparison, in which an enormous and extreme moral disparity was apparent, very wide field would still be left in which the judgment would remain prohibited from exertion. For certainly no man has a right positively to assert himself to be better than another, except it is a very clear case—so clear as that there could be no disagreement about it among impartial judges of any class. Apparent difference of degree in goodness, where both belonged to the general class of good characters, even considerable difference, would be far from a sure basis for such a decision. And therefore the whole class of good men of all kinds, all welldisposed and respectable society, would be disqualified on this rule for forming any judgment upon conduct and character

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within their sphere. But lastly, even could we imagine the right to exist, and to a large extent, still the exertion of it is so invidious and so opposed to delicacy, modesty, and taste, that no right-minded person can bring himself to it. A higher law than that of justice interferes to prevent him. So here is a rule, according to which the only passage to the exercise of a certain faculty is made one which no well-disposed mind can take; a rule by which an act of judgment is thrown back upon a basis of presumption, no other being equal to supporting it.

But to the inconsistency of such a rule in reason, we must add some most injurious effects in practice. First, the effect is most injurious as regards the persons themselves whom it thus lifts above all the reach of criticism. There cannot be a more dangerous temptation, even to the highest and most spiritual minds, than the offer of such an unguarded and unchecked deference—a deference which tells them that with respect to them the reason has given up its natural functions; that they have nothing to do but to follow out their own ideas as they please, and that they are sure to be right. It was never intended that man should enjoy such a position as this. There is no despotism in morals. Every one, however high be his

, character and rank spiritual, should be considered under the jurisdiction of the moral and religious part of the community, 80 far as that they may call him to account for what he does, and examine and decide upon it, whether it is right or wrong. If persons are encouraged to regard the community as beneath them, they are put in a false position; and so far as their own minds accept this position, they receive moral harm. The general sense of mankind is the proper constitutional check upon the caprices and impetuosity of the individual; and if he throws it off, he deprives himself of a providential discipline. Moreover, such an elevation of the individual is very injurious as an example. It awakens the vanity of many a religious beginner. He aspires to a position which he sees placed before him as the reward of zeal and activity, and he is no sooner an aspirant than he forestalls the goal, and enjoys all the sentiment of such a position long before he has done anything to gain it. So trae is it, that where persons are not content with a virtue as nature has made it, they first spoil, and finally destroy it. The rule which we have been considering begins with an undue claim upon humility, and ends in the greatest encouragement to pride. There is first an exaggeration, and then a fall. The reason is deprived of its functions in order to deepen humility, and the result is a great snare to that very virtue, in the creation of a post too high for man, -as great a scandal and an offence as one man can put in another's path. It may be said, indeed, that


the mass are the gainers, though at the expense of those whom it elevates; for that the humility of the mass is not impaired by the arrogant use made of it by the few. But no one can seriously imagine that one party can be benefited by what is an undue scandal to the other. We are all one body, and what injures one is sooner or later injurious to the rest. If a certain form of the virtue of humility is found not to work well in the body, but to produce mischief upon strictly natural principles, then that form, we may depend upon it, is not the true and proper form of that virtue, but is an artificial form of it, invented by man, and therefore not a sound and proper humility even in those who exhibit it.

But it is of comparatively slight consequence, except to themselves, that some individuals should either in whole or in part lose the grace of humility. It is of great consequence, indeed, to all, that the moral sense of mankind should be preserved in integrity. But this rule, could we imagine it really in operation, would ultimately deprave and corrupt the moral sense of mankind. An act of judgment upon any proceeding of another is nothing but an exertion of the moral sense. Whenever an action takes place, it either agrees or disagrees with our idea of what is right. The perception of this agreement or disagreement by a person is his judgment. Whether he expresses it or not, if he definitely perceives it, he judges: the right of expression following upon the first principles of reason. This being the case, it is evident that if men cease to exert such judgment as we are speaking of, they cease to exert their moral sense. On coming across such and such phenomena of conduct which come before it, this faculty gives way and does not perform its functions: it is suppressed in deference to the same faculty in some other person. Now, remember, that in the present instance the party suppressing its moral sense is the community, the one whose sense is deferred to, the individual. The general result follows, that the moral sense of mankind at large is accommodated to that of individuals; made to coincide with the individual's in its whole scope and direction. But are individuals safe standards ? Is it right to entrust to their keeping and control the moral sense of mankind ? Certainly not: not even the noblest, wisest, and best are to be so far trusted. The individual's sense is partial and distorted; the body's alone is large and proportioned. The individual is soon exhausted, soon absorbed: the very attention to one duty often withdraws him from another, and in withdrawing him from it practically, lessens even his perception of it. He is entirely occupied in some limited field of labour, and thinks that the whole world ; his narrowness makes him eager, his eagerness makes him

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