James D Reichel.

Trial of the Rev. Edward Irving, M.A.; a cento of criticism online

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" I pr'jthee take Uic cork out of th\ mouth, that I miij drink
I by tidings."

As You Like It.

^ixtl) lEtiition*


Prinicd h\j Shacki'lt mil ^Irrowsmilh, Johnson's-i'ourt, Fleet Street






Wedmsday, Wth Sept. 1823.

Mr. Chahman — Heyday ! What have we
got here ? " The Trial of the Rev. Edward

Excuniner — A remarkably pleasant and
amusing ;V?w d esprit indeed, gentlemen.

Times — Very smart and clever I must

Courier — And very amusing.

Lit. Chron. — The speeches are much to
tlie point.

Courier. — And the cross examination of
the witnesses most insfenious !

Examiner — Yes, particularly happy, {aside)
Yours especially, Mr. Courier.



vi ■ PREFACE .

Lit. Chron. — And the defence most elo-
quent and powerful.

Examiner — And the squibbery in the re-
porting' department light and easy.

John Bull — A bit of foolery methinks, but
Avithal, remarkably smart, and well done.

Timea — Let me add too, as not its least
praise ; so free from all malignity.

John Bw//— Liberal egad ! [aside) Show'n
up to the life, and yet the first to praise,

Mr. Chairman — Well, gentlemen, you seem
all to be pretty much agreed in opinion —
I presume Mr. Secretary may enter it as
the award of the Board

Times — That it deaerves general circulation.

Examiner — And forms a pleasant and use-
fid pasquinade lor those ivho are anxious to
have all sides of the question.

Star — And is the only thing worth reading
that has been written on the subject of Mr.

}fr. Chairman — Let judgment be entered
up arcortlinglv.




The King, at the Instance of Jacob Oldstyli;,
Clerk, V. the Rev, Edward Irving, M. A.

From the extra,ordiiiary interest which this case
excited, the doors of the Court were no sooner
opened than it was filled in every part to excess,
by an assemblage of persons of the first rank and
distinction in the country. On the bench beside
the Chief Justice, sat the Lord Chancellor and his
brother Lord Stowell, Earl Liverpool, Earl Grey,
Marquis of LansdoAvne, Lord Erskine, Right Hon.
Sir William Grant, Mr. Justice Bayley, Sir James
Mackintosh, Mr. Canning, Mr. Peel, Mr. Hus-
kisson, Mr. Tierney, Mr. Brougham ; and at the
extremities of the bench, but railed off from the
others (for in the Court of Common Sense it is
not as in other Courts), the Duke of Somerset,
Lord Kenyon, Sir Gerard Noel, Sir Harcourt
Lees, Mr. Peter Moore, Mr. Parkins, Romeo


Coatt's, mid Dr. Dinwidtlic Earl Grosvenor was
j)iii into a l)()x by liimself, and the prayer-book
placml out olliis reach. The galleries were almost
entirely tilled with elegantly dressed ladies, ad-
mitted by tickets from the Lady Patronesses at
Alinack's. All its best blood was there. Among
a iiowd of persons attending below the bench to
gi\e evidence, were most of the active literary
characters about town connected with the periodi-
cal press ; and for reasons developed in the course
of the proceedings, it is necessary that we here
enumerate theu* names, as far as they were known
to us. We observed Dr. Stodart and Mr. Barnes
side by side ; Mr. Jerdan, Mr. Mudford, Mr. Haz-
litt, Mr. Cobbett, Lieut. Col. Torrens, Mr. Soane,
Sir Kichard Phillips, Pierce Egan, Rev. Ingram
Cobbin, Rev. George Redford, Mr. Black, Dr.
Dreghorn, Mr. Thomas Campbell, Mr. Byerley,
Mr. Gifford, Mr. Haynes, Mr. Wooler, Mr. Coul-
ston, Mr. David Booth, Mr. D. W. Harvey, Rev.
Mr. pMuder, Rev. Mr. Knox, Mr. Theod. Plook,
Paul Potter, Dr. Walsh, Mr. Robinson, Mr. Josiah
Conder, Mr. William Jones, Mr. Bell, Mr. Wal-
lace, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Gale Jones, Mr. R. Hunt,
and Mr. Moody (not the Judy,)

Mr. Serjeant Bishop appeared for the prosecu-
tion, along with whom were Mr. Parsons and Mr.

The defendant conducted his own case, assisted
by Mr. Counsellor Phillips. Mr. Irving maintained
throughout a verv firm and collected demeanour.


He seems to be about thirty-five years of age, and
nearly six feet high. The general contour of his
countenance is intellectual, though somewhat
coarse, his complexion very dark, his hair black
and bushy, whiskers tremendous. As one of his
many critics has observ^ed, ** he would undoubt-
edly be a very handsome man," only he squints

The list of the special jurors being called over,
the following gentlemen answered to their names :
— Alderman Sir Jaimes Shaw, Bart., Alderman
Birch, Alderman Key, James Mill, Esq., Dr.
Alexander Crombie, A. Strahan, Esq., A. J.
Valpy, Esq., Horace Twiss, Esq. M. P.

The defendant having prayed a tales, the jury
was completed by the following names from the
common jury list. Mr. Thomas Underwood,
Mr. Richard Taylor, Mr. Hurcombe, Mr. T.
C. Hansard.


Mr. Macvicar opened the case to the jury. The
present, he said, was a prosecution instituted at
the instance of Mr. Jacob Oldstyle, Clerk, against
the Rev. Edward Irving, Minister of the Cale-
donian Church or Chapel, in Cross Street, Hatton
Garden. The indictment was laid on seven dif-
ferent counts.

First, For being ugly.

Second, For being a merry-andrew.

Thirdy For being a common quack.

Fourth, For being a common brawler.

Fifth, Vol- being a common swearer.

Sixtli, Vov being of very common understanding.

And, Seventh, For following divisive courses,
subversive of the discipline of the order to which
he belongs, and contrary to the principles of
Christian fellowship and charity.

Mr. Serjeant Bishop, said, that he would not
detain the court w'ith any long harangue. He saw
so many gentlemen of far higher talents than he
could pretend to, so many lights of the age, in
waiting, who would be called upon to state to the
jury what they knew of the case, that it would
be presumption in him to pre-occupy their minds
with anything he could offer on the subject. He
would state merely in vindication of his client,
Mr. Jacob Oldstyle, that he had not instituted
this prosecution from any feeling of personal re-
sentment towards Mr. Irving, nor from any vain
ho])e of gaining a name to himself, by measuring
his strength with the great boar of the forest. —
He appeared here, not on his own account alone,
but in the name and the behalf of the whole gene-
ration of the Oldstyles. He did not claim to be
the best of the family, and therefore of right their
Champion, but being the oldest among them, he
had been called upon to stand forward and defend
their common interests, from the rude assaults
which Mr. Irving, in his ugliness and quackery,
and divisive-mindedness, had made upon them.
He loved his famil)-, and could noi refuse, though

bending under a load of years, to make this hum-
ble effort, ere he died, to wipe off the stain at-
tempted to be fixed on their name and reputation.
The Learned Serjeant, said, that he would now
proceed to call the witnesses who would prove
the different charges, which his learned friend,
Mr. Macvicar, had so clearly and explicitly laid
before them. [Here some twenty voices from the
body of the court cried out Stop ! Stop ! and a
portly gentleman with spectacles, pushing forward
to the Learned Serjeant, whispered something in
his ear.]

Mr. Serjeant Bishop. " My Lord, it has been
just intimated to me, that it will be an unpleasant
circumstance to many gentlemen who are here to
give evidence, and may withal be attended with
dangerous consequences, if they are called by their
individual names into the witness box. I need
scarcely remind the court of the melancholy fate
of Mr. Scott. The gentlemen are all in one way or
another connected with different periodical works,
and it is their wish, I understand, that each should
be called by the name of the work to which he
belongs. Tliey have brought Masks with them,
which, with the leave of the court, they will put
on during examination."

Mr. Cohhett. " Not I, my Lord, thank God, I
want no mask."

Mr. Wooler. " Nor L"

Dr. Dreghorn (aside). " Brazen faces need no

Chief Justice. *' It is a novel application, cer-
tainly. At common sense, however, we want no
precedents to justify us in doing what seems right
and proper. Let it be as the gentlemen please ;
each may mask or not, as he likes. It would be
a shocking tiling were any person to catch harm
from his appearance here to-day, in aid of the
ends of justice.'*

The Editor of the Times was then called, and
examined by Mr. Parsons.

You are editor of The Times journal ? — Yes.

It is the leading journal of Europe, is it not? —

How do you take the lead. Sir ?

By guarding the candid and enlightened public
against extravagant pretensions, wherever and
whenever we meet with them.

All sorts of pretensions ?

No, Sir. I would beg leave to say, there
is a fashion in every thing — in wigs and bon-
nets, in poetry and novel writing, and lastly, in
actors and preachers. All this is matter of course ;
and while things go on in the ordinary way —
while wigs do not accumulate their ciu'ls into per-
riwigs — nor bonnets swell into coal-scuttles —
while our popular poets scribble only one poem,
and our popular romancers only two novels a
year — while our actors are content with one new
reading in a play of Shakespeare j and our preach-
ers aim at no praises beyond that of the regular
IVequenters of fashionable chapels j we, I say xce^

Sir, are disposed to let things pass, and allow tlie
" candid and enlightened public" to be pleased in
their own way.

Do you know any thing of the defendant, Mr.
Irving ? Have you allowed him to pass ?

Oh dear, no ! The case is quite different with
Mr. Irving. His popularity. Sir, absolutely fright-
ened us. Sir, " from our propriety." When we
learnt that statesmen and quack doctors, old
ladies and judges, young ladies and students at
law, all flocked with equal eagerness to hear this
Caledonian orator : we became curious to know
what could be the attractions to collect together
such an heterogeneous mass.

And so you went to hear him preach ?

Not only went to hear him preach. Sir, but read
all that he had written.

Did you find out, then, what his attractions are ?

After a serious consideration, I must profess,
that we were utterly unable to discover. We were,
in our own minds — (for we hate, Sir, to think
with the minds of other people) — fully convinced
that Mr. Irving is a man of very ordinary talents ;
that his understanding is weak in its grasp, and
limited in its observation ; and that his taste is of
the very lowest order of badly-instructed school-

You are aware that Mr. Irving was assistant to
the celebrated Dr. Chalmers, of Glasgow : did it
strike you, that he is of the same school ?

Of the same school, Sir ! He is an imitator of
the doctor's, indeed : but no more like the proto-

lv})f, t ha 11 the inflated frog in the fahle was like
(he bull he strove to resemble. For the energy
of tlioiiixht of the original, he gives us nothing
but rumbling and distorted common-places ; for
tlic im})assioned and expressive diction of his
master, we have nothing but antitheses without
point, and epithets without distinctness ; while the
poor and insignificant idea, wrapt up in a heap of
tinsel and clumsy phraseology, looks like " the
lady in the lobster," or a mouse under a canopy
of state.

Give us, pray, a specimen of his quality.

" Obeij the Scriptures, or you perish. You
may despise the honour done you by the Majesty
above ; you may spurn the sovereignty of Al-
mighty God ; you may revolt from Creation's
universal rule, to bow before its creator, and
stand in momentary rebellion against its ordi-
nances ;" and so forth. " But come at length
it will, when revenge shall array herself to go
forth, and anguish shall attend her, and from the
wheels of their chariot ruin and dismay shall
shoot far and wide among the enemies of the
king, whose desolation shall not tarry, and whose
destruction, as the wings of the whirlwind, shall
be swit't, hopeless as the conclusion of eternity,
and the reversion of doom. Then around the
fiery conclave of the wasteful pit the clang of grief
shall ring, and the Jlinty heart, which repelled
tender mercy, shall strike its fangs into its proper
bosom ;•' and so on. All, all shall pass away !
And instead shall come the level lake that burneth,

and the solitary dungeon, and tlie desolate bosom,
and the throes and tossings of horror and hope-
lessness, and the worm that dieth not, and the
fire that is not quenched. 'Tis written, 'tis writ-
ten, 'tis sealed of heaven, and a few years shall
reveal it all. Be assured, it is even so to happen
to the despisers of holy writ : with this in arrear,
what boots liberty, pleasure, enjoyment — all
within the hour-glass of time, on the round earth's
continent, all the sensibilities of life, all the pow-
ers of man, all the attractions of woman ! "

And this, you think, is the lady in a lobster ?

Yes, I would fearlessly ask. Sir, whether a boy
at any public school would not have his exercise
flung in his face — (a smile from Lord Grosvenor)
— if he presented such trash to his master. We
absolutely felt ashamed, and began to distrust our
own judgment, when we found that we had one
idea in common with such a turgid and shallow
declaimer. Surely, surely (said we to ourselves),
it cannot be long before this bubble bursts.

And all this you stated to the public ? — Yes.

Did you find that your exposure of the defen-
dant's pretensions had the effect of putting an
end to the public delusion ?

Quite the reverse. The crowds which thronged
to the Caledonian chapel, instantly doubled. The
scene which Cross-street, Hatton-garden, pre-
sented on the following Sunday, beggared all de-
scription. It was quite a Vanity Fair. Not one
half of the assembled multitude could force their
way into the sanctum sanctorum. Even we, our-



selves, were shut out among the vulgar herd. For
till' entertainment of the excluded, however, there
was Mr. Basil Montague, preaching peace and re-
signation from a window ; and the once celebrated
Jionieo ('oates acting the part of trumpeter from
the steps of the church, extolling Mr. Irving as
the prodigy of prodigies, and abusing the Times
lor declaring that Mr. Irving was not " the god
of their idolatry." We laughed heartily at the

From what text did Mr. Romeo discourse ?

Proverbs vii. 7* *' And behold, among the
simple ones, I discovered a young man void of
understanding" — (much laughter).

Did you on this, make any other attempt to
bring back the public to reason ?

Yes, we did once more enter our protest in the
name of good sense and common sense, against his
fustian phraseology, his pigmy ideas, mounted on
stilts, and all the other little tricks by which a
mean understanding endeavours to acquire the
character of depth and dignity of thought.

Cross-examined 0^ Mr. Phillips.

Are you not. Sir, in the practice of inserting
articles in your journal as from yourself, when
they are, in fact, written by others ?— Yes, when
clever/^ written.

Is not Mr. Cobbett in the habit of supplying
you with clever articles occasionally ?

Mr. Cobbett ! never, Sir : we should take shame


to ourselves if we polluted our pages with any
tiling from the pen of that arch mountebank
and impostor.

But on your oath, Sir, did not Mr. Cobbett
write those articles on the late Queen, which
gained your paper so much of the bubble repu-
tation ?

A lie — an odious lie, upon my soul a d d

lie. (Accompanied with great violence of gesti-

Keep your temper. Sir. Was it not so reported
at least?

Yes. The old ruffian gave it out himself, that
he had written them ; but it was all a base and
wicked invention of his own.

I must nevertheless ask you whether it was not
this very same Mr. Cobbett who wrote the criti-
cisms which you have repeated here to-day on
Mr. Irving ?

No, Sir ; no earthly consideration could ever
induce us to insert a syllable from the pen of that
rascally grave-stealer, on any subject whatever.

Mr. PJiillips. But Mr. Cobbett, your are per-
haps aware, has done you the honour of agreeing
witli you in opinion as to the present case ?

Honour, Sir ! I know nothing about it ; I am
no reader of his trash.

And yet you quote him at times ?

Yes, the blustering blockhead will start across
our path now and then, when we like to stir him
up with our long pole a little, for the diversion of
the public. But he is so nauseous a dog, that

when wc fiavc any thing to quote from him, we
never defile our pens with the task, but toss him
lo the compositors, that they may print from his
own detestable pages.

Admirable delicacy, indeed ! Now, Sir, let me
ask you, who have so freely condemned Mr. Irving
as a man of mean nnderstanding, whether you have
not at the same time condemned Sir Walter Scott
as a uriter of no imagination ? — Yes, I have.

And Lord Byron, as destitute of all poetical
talent ?— Yes.

Enough, Sir, you may go down.

I AM going dow?i, Sir.

T/ic Editor of the Courier cjcamined hy

Mr. Macvicar.

Mr. Macvicar (handing to the witness a copy of

the Courier of Thursday, July 17, 1823). Is that

a genuine copy of the Courier newspaper for

Thursday, the 17 th of July ? — It is.

It contains, I see, an article on the subject of
the controversy about Mr. Irving — is that your
writing ? — It is.

Had you heard Mr. Irving when you wrote it?
No ; as there observed we had not heard the
gentleman, and until we could do so without fight-
ing our way into his churcii, we were resolved to
remain contented with what we could hear of him.
You were enabled, however, to express an opi-
nion of liis merits?

Yes ; from specimens which appeared in the
Morning Chronicle (the only paper we read ex-


cept our own) of what he liad deUvered in the
pulpit, we were enabled to say, that he was the
last preacher to whom we should choose to listen.
What he uttered seemed to be a mere mass of
gaudy, glittering words, without matter or method.
What eifect the mode of his delivery could have
upon the tinsel of his language, we could not
know, but we felt satisfied that if he could not
reach the minds of his congregation, his influence
on their ears and eyes would soon find its proper

Were these all your objections ?
No. We were given to understand that he made
the pulpit a theatre for coarse attacks upon indi-
viduals. Now we hold it to be the business of a
clergyman simply to expound the word of God,
to enforce the precepts of religion, and to animate
his fellow Christians in the pursuit of moral duty.
He is not to level his rebukes at persons, for what
he may consider as an aberration from strict pro-
priety of conduct ; such a practice would convert
a sacred place of worship into a hot-bed of angry
passions and mutual animosities. Still less ought
a preacher to fulminate ex cathedra petulant cen-
sures upon literary effusions.

What do you particularly allude to ?
We had seen in the papers of the day some
foolish, illiberal, and greatly misplaced remarks of
his upon the " Vision of Judgment," by our friend
Southey, and its ribald parody, by Lord Byron.
Do people, we asked, and again ask, go to church
to hear trash like this ?

Q. You concluded, I observe, with a prophecy ?


Yes. J said then, and now I repeat, that by
acts like these, and by a fustian Ossianic phraseo-
logy, Mr. Irving may for a time draw crowds, but
I venture to predict, that unless he betakes him-
self to a sounder and purer method of pulpit ora-
tory, the new church which tliere is a talk of build-
ing for him will not be wanted half so much as he
will want a congregation.

Cross-examined hy Mr. Phillips.

Look at that paper, Sir, and tell the Jury what
it is.

It is a copy of the Courier of Monday, July 7*

Older by ten days than the Courier you have
just been quoting? — Yes.

You there give an account of Mr. Trving*s
preaching at Hatton Garden on the day preced-
ing, as if you had been present ? — Yes.

You say the chapel was crowded to suffocation — •
that the heat was so intolerable that some stout-
hearted men were absolutely fainting, and were
obliged to be carried out of the crowd ; all which
things you of course saw ? — Yes.

You describe Mr. Irving's person — his bushy
hair — his large whiskers — his unfortunate squint ?

You say his prayers and his reading are very
impressive, and that his sermon was a masterpiece
of oratory y and full of sound doctrine ? — Yes.

And yet ten days after, you say you had 7iot
heard the gentleman, and tliat his sermons are


a mere mass of gli tiering, gaudy *words, xvithout
matter or method? — Yes.

I have nothing more to say to you, Su'. Good
God ! that by such witnesses as this my noble-
minded cHent should be borne down and reviled !

^-examined hy Mr. Macvicar.

You can perhaps explain how this extraordinary
discrepancy arises ?

Quite easily, Sir. I have occasion to make fre-
quent visits to Paris, and it was during one of these
that the prior article, which Mr. Phillips rests so
much upon, was written by an assistant, who, as
my friend of VEtoile, says, has got un fete Jbible
ejctremement. (Much laughter,) Why, Sir, it was
the same gentleman with the weak head, who
sounded the famous retreat of the French behind
the Ebro, while at the very moment I was at Paris,
receiving instructions from the French ministers
to do all I could to make the public believe that
the game was all up with the Spaniards. He is
constantly committing blunders of this sort.

He-examined hy Mr. Phillips.

On your oath. Sir, did not you find, on yor.r
return from Paris, a letter lying from your friend
Southey, chiding you for praising to the skies in
your journal, a man who had called his Vision of
Judgment '* a most nauseous and unformed abor-


tion ; vile, unprincipled, and unmeaning ; a bra-
zen-faced piece of political cant?"

Mr. Macvicar submitted, that Mr. Phillips was
not at liberty to prove a Mrritten document by pa-
role evidence. Notice should have been given to
produce the letter.

Mr. Phillips declined pressing the question.

Mr, William Cobhett examined by Mr. Parsons.

Have you heard the defendant, Mr. Irving,
preach ?

I never go after fools. Sir.

Perhaps, Mr. Cobbett, you *' keep a fool of
your own," and then think yourself " wise ?" (A

Perhaps not, Mr. Jackanapes.

Come now, Cobbett, don't be angry ; you are
all on our side, you know ; tell us, then, how you
came to kriow all about this Caledonian prodigy ?

Why, I will tell you. — My friend William Hone,
since he took to writing about Apocryphas and
Mysteries, has become as pious and dreaming a
noodle as any lank-haired fanatic in all England.
It was only the other day he told me, that in mak-
ing his famous defence on the three trials, which
every body knows was a stammer and a halt all
through, he verily thought he had the gift of
tongues given unto him ! The man is sadly gone.
He can speak to you about nothing but the Mac-
cabees, and Habbakuk, and Mahaleel, and Jero-


boam, and Relioboam, and goes moreover to
church as regularly as my Lord Bexley, or that
saintly gentleman, Mr. Butterworth. The God of
his idolatry at present is Mr. Irving, on whose mi-
nistry^ as the poor man calls it, he attends every
Sabbath, with all his pretty little chubby children ;
and it is from him I have heard more than enough
about this " Scotch dealer out of brimstone and

Chief Justice, Mr. Cobbett, this is harsh lan-
guage to use of a minister of the gospel.

Mr. Cobbett. I like, my Lord, to call things
by their right names ; a cat, as the old adage goes,
is but a cat all the world over.

Mr, Parsons. What, then, is the opinion, Mr.
Cobbett, that you have formed of Mr. Irving
and his preaching ?

Every body. Sir, must know that ; for every
body reads Cobbett j the very children must have,
got it by heart.

Well, but a good thing, you know, can't be
repeated too often — once more if you please ?

Well, then — " The exhibition now going on at
Hatton-garden every Sunday, is far more con-
temptible than any thing ever seen in the Catholic
church. I have heard, indeed, of the women

Online LibraryJames D ReichelTrial of the Rev. Edward Irving, M.A.; a cento of criticism → online text (page 1 of 24)