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on me by name, but when I got up to speak, all my ideas left me; and after stammering out a few words about “schism, and Apostolical succession,” my feelings so overpowered me, that I was obliged to sit down, and I believe I should have fainted but for the timely relief of tears.
Oh, dear brother, what did I not endure! You must pity me indeed, for I was in a most miserable plight. My tears, however, roused some sound-hearted friends to protect me, and Dr, Birch at last found his tongue. I know not what he said, for all then became an uproar; several got up to speak together; one or two jumped on the table. Some cried out, “ Divide, divide,” others - No division.” Dr. Birch roared out like a lion, “ The Church is in danger ;” but after a great deal of shouting and calling to order, Arden and his party left the room, about a score altogether as well as I could make out, and thus it came to pass that nothing was determined, for the party broke up in confusion, bringing to a close the most disagreeable day of my life.
Yours ever, &c.
From FRANCIS EMERSON to the Reverend
Athanasian College, Cambridge. MY DEAR UNCLE,
Your letter received by me last Monday has been very acceptable, for it gives me full permission to unburthen my mind on subjects which are to me of paramount importance; and you will perceive that I shall avail myself of the permission without reserve, by freely stating all those doubts that have arisen in
mind respecting the Church of England. If in making these remarks I should use great plainness of speech, I am sure you will forgive me, for my object is to tell the truth as far as I know it, and to ascertain it where I know it not. It is my hope that you and my uncle Lucifer will as freely answer all my objections, and that your answers may be more duly weighed. I propose to confine my remarks to one subject in each letter, whereby we shall be able fully to consider each question separately without confusion.
Your question about the real state of the morals of this university I will now answer before I pro
ceed to more interesting matters. I find that the society amongst the young men here requires a very close inspection before any one can give an opinion respecting it. There are many parties, if I may so term them; that is, the habits of the Gownsmen vary according to their inclinations ; and so distinct are these parties, that I am persuaded many young men here of serious and studious dispositions have not the slightest knowledge of what is going on all around them. The idle and the profligate constitute the majority; eating and drinking, riding out on horseback, lounging in the streets, and killing time, are the occupations of the idle. Then there is a party of reading men, the majority of whom are very sober and temperate in their habits, and indeed many of them are decidedly religious and sincere Christians. Some, however, of the reading men are sons of pleasure, only they manage their immorality in a more prudent and secret manner than the spendthrifts and the profligates who seek to figure in conspicuous intemperance. There is a party of elegants, gentlemen who study to be very refined in their. manners, and who carefully avoid every excess, because it is supposed to taint that aristocratical dignity which is their idol. These youths are very luxurious in their habits, very exclusive in their friendships, and very proud and contemptuous in their demeanour. Their expenditure is great, and their debts frequently much greater than their expenditure.
The Simeonites are, generally speaking, studious men, and make open profession of serious religion ; their religion does not always bear an amiable aspect, nor is it always sincere, but there are many good men amongst them.
There is another party of religious gownsmen who keep aloof from the Simeonites, and who have their own private meetings, for they do not approve of all they see in the general body of the Simeonites. To this party, if to any, I belong. Our meetings vary from a dozen to near thirty. The tendency of this party is certainly to Nonconformity.
There are a few professed Dissenters, who keep quite secluded. I do not know one of them excepting by report. This is a tolerably correct sketch of the society of Cambridge. I hear very terrible stories of the worst gownsmen, for I often make inquiries about their proceedings, but with my own eyes I have as yet seen nothing beyond nightly uproars in the streets, and sincerely hope I never may. One or two of my schoolfellows are amongst the worst, and from them I receive such accounts of nocturnal proceedings as I wish not to believe. That any one should deny the existence of much disorder in the moral state of this University is quite surprising, and I do not see how it could possibly be otherwise than it is, seeing all the temptations which are thrown in the way of the young men; but I will not undertake to confirm all that is stated in B.'s pamphlet, indeed I think he has written with too much acrimony, and I feel persuaded that his provoking style has driven some people to deny a great deal which they would not have denied had he put forth his statements in a different form.
Perhaps the best evidence of the real state of morals amongst the gownsmen would be by gaining access to the tradesmen's books, the expenditure and debts of the young gentlemen would then be seen in a way not to be denied ; but this I presume is a sort of evidence that not even an act of Parliament would venture to demand.
The external and surface view of Cambridge is much better than I expected to find it, and the reading men are certainly a numerous body.
Having thus given an impartial account of the morals of the University, I must finish this letter by expressing my very great repugnance to the system of worship enforced here; and on this subject I suppose it is lawful to speak freely, since Lord Stanley himself has in the House of Commons spoken of the University worship with unmeasured reprobation. We are compelled here to go four .mornings and four evenings to chapel every week, but what a profanation of God's worship are these shameful meetings! Only conceive two or three hundred young men forced unwillingly to chape!