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know how numerous and great these were, that they may the more readily give her credit for the eminence of her sanctity. The depravity, the weakness, inconsistency, and folly of human nature, is most glaringly conspicuous in this preface, wherein she repents, “ looks back on the city,” wishes to forsake her sins, yet sins again, hates and loves her former ways, wants to be virtuous and receive her reward without being really so, and to be thought holy without washing herself from her sin. · The whole of this conduct is explicable only on this principle, namely, an overweaning opinion of her own merit, which much artfulness and cunning are employed to conceal, and an insuperable vanity and love of adulation, which impelled her, as by an irresistible necessity, to live on in her old habits, and to repeat the sin of the republication of tragedies, a new species of instruction and amusement, which, at the same time, she maintains, in others, to be sinful and immoral. But she is now converted to non-descriptism ; and perhaps made her “election sure,” being likely no more to “ fall “ back.” The dramas, sacred and profane, were a considerable addition to the bulk, and, therefore, to the price of the copy-right; and what vestal or monk ever abstained from sin when tempted by money!
Lest my reader, who may not have perused, or not have by him, our author's works, should doubt the justice of my criticism, I transcribe a paragraph from the preface to 3d vol. p. 14.
« This observation adopted into practice might, it is pre“ sumed, effectually abolish the qualifying language of many " of the more sober frequenters of the theatre, that they go “ but seldom, and never but to a good play.' We give these “ moderate and discreet persons all due praise for compara“ tive sobriety. But while they go at all, the principle is " the same; for they sanction, by going sometimes, a diver“sion which is not to be defended on strict christian prin
ciples. Indeed their acknowledging that it should be buť “ sparingly frequented, probably arises from a conviction “ that it is not quite right.
“ I have already remarked, that it is not the object of this " address to parsue the usual track of attacking bad plays, " of which the more prudent and virtuous seldom vindicate " the principle, though they do not always scrupulously avoid “ attending the exhibition. I impose rather on myself the “ unpopular task of animadverting on the dangerous effects " of those which come under the description of good plays; “ for from those chiefly arises the danger (if danger there be) " to good people.”
“ It is generally the leading object of the poet to erect a " standard of Honour in direct opposition to the standard of “ christianity. Honour is the religion of tragedy. Love, “ jealousy, hatred, ambition, pride, revenge, are too often " elevated into the rank of splendid virtues, and form a daz
zling system of worldly morality, in direct contradiction “ to the spirit of that religion whose characteristics are cha“ rity, meekness, peaceableness, long-suffering, gentle“ ness, forgiveness. The fruits of the spirit and the “ fruits of the stage, if the parallel were followed up, as it
might easily be, would, perhaps exhibit, as pointed a con“trast as human imagination could conceive."
“ People are told—and from whose mouth do they hear “ it? That blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek and the “ peace-makers.' Will not these and such like humbling “ propositions, delivered one day in seven only, in all the "sober and beautiful simplicity of our church, with all the « force of truth indeed, but with all its plainness also, be is
more than counter-balanced by the speedy and much more “ frequent recurrence of the nightly exhibition, whose pre“ cise object it too often is, not only to preach, but to per“ sonify doctrines in diametrical and studied opposition to
poverty of spirit, to purity, to meekness, forbearance, « and forgiveness. Doctrines, not simply expressed, as “ those of the Sunday are, in the naked form of axioms, “ principles, and precepts, but realized, embodied, made “ alive, furnished with organs, clothed, decorated, brought “ into lively discourse, into interesting action ; enforced “ with all the energy of passion, adorned with all the graces “ of language, and exhibited with every aid of emphatical “ delivery, every attraction of appropriate gesture.
Το “ such a complicated temptation is it wise voluntarily, “ studiously, unnecessarily to expose frail and erring crea6 tures? Is not the conflict too severe? Is not the com
petition too unequal?”
“ And it is perhaps one of the most invincible objec“tions to many tragedies, otherwise not very exception“ able, that the awful and tremendous name of the infi
nitely glorious God is shamefully, and almost inces“santly introduced in various scenes, both in the way of “ asseveration and of invocation."
“ I purposely forbear in this place repeating any of those
higher arguments drawn from the utter irreconcileable“ness of this indulgence of the fancy, of this gratification “ of the senses, this unbounded roving of the thoughts, “ with the divine injunction of bringing 'every thought « into the obedience of Christ."
“ It is the concomitant pageantry, it is the splendour of “ the spectacle, and even the show of the spectators :“ these are the circumstances which altogether fill the the“ atre—which altogether produce the effect-which altogether create the danger. These give a pernicious force
" to sentiments which, when read, merely explain the mysz "sterious action of the human heart; but which when thus “uttered, thus accompanied, become contagious and de“structive. These, in short, make up a scene of tempta“ tation and seduction, of over-wrought voluptuousness, “and unnerving pleasure, which surely ill accords with “' working out our salvation with fear and trembling,' “ or with that frame of mind which implies that the 66 world is crucified to us, and we to the world.”
In this manner H. More writes respecting the immorality and corrupting tendency of theatrical amusements, of which she herself was once so fond, and from which she cannot now entirely wean herself.
Of its voluptuousness, amatory scenes, profligacy, its temptations, its seductions to a thousand follies, wickedness, & even crimes, she writes with all her force, and in the very same introduction or preface to her plays, which she republishes at a time of life when amatory scenes and voluptuousness are supposed to have little attraction, she permits plays to be read; it “ does “not appear,” she says, “necessary to debar accomplished young ladies." In plain terms,“ accom
plished young ladies," may partake of “ volup“ tuousness, amatory scenes, and follies," and go to the Devil, for the “ preface,” she adds,“ is not ad“ dressed to the gay and dissolute; to such as
profess themselves to be lovers of pleasure more “ than lovers of God;' but it is addressed to the “ more sober-minded, to those who believe the gospel
of Jesus Christ; who wish to be enlightened by “ its doctrines, to be governed by its precepts, “ and who profess to be ' seeking a better country,
even a heavenly one."
Mrs. H. More might have as well addressed the public in this manner, and said, good folks! I have a little ship arrived from the Levant, with the plague on board, but the goods are of an excellent quality; but, nevertheless, as she is mine, and opium and coffee are likely to fetch a good price, though it would be illegal and wrong to suffer
any other vessel to unload, and import the pest for the destruction of his Majesty's subjects, I must have my ship immediately delivered, without performing any quarantine.
If H. More really believes in christianity (of which I am persuaded she does not believe a word) and at the same time believes what she so copiously and forcibly declares, the deleterious effects of tragedy and comedy on the morals of the people, even the most serious, what other epithets than diabolical and hypocritical can be applied to her name, who advertiseth, selleth, and publicly administereth the poison. But perhaps for the criminality of this act, as well as for the rest of her transactions, there may be some salvo reserved for her conscience in the non-descript system of christianity. We know that most crimes are remissible to those who profess sincerely their species of orthodoxy. She must have some mode of satisfying her mind in her grAND-SCHEME ; for they make higher pretensions to the keys than even the Vicar of Christ himself.
The writer of these remarks will be happy if he shall discover that he has misunderstood his author, for he would have believed it on no other