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évidence but that of his own senses, the book being now before him, in proportion as he laments the discovery of a female of great and noisy pretensions, but whose mental character till now has not been known, acting with so much duplicity and on so depraved principles. The clergy once censured Pope for his Essay on Man, doubting the sincerity of his faith ; what will they now think of Hannah More, whose principles are so ambiguous and secret, and who is detected in a GRAND-SCHEME of creating a schism in the church.
It is always pleasant to see the wicked repentant; to see a sinner the apologist of virtue. But there are strange, false, temporary conversions in the modern world. It is reduced to a system, directed by rules, taught as an art. They talk of their grace with vanity and pride, and of their conversion as of a change in their circumstances, a prize in the lottery, or the succession to an estate, But publicly to vend the balm of Gilead, and poisonous and deleterious drugs from the same shop, and praise and dispraise both, proves that the seller loves money above all things. If she wishes to be considered as an honest person, acting in any way consistently with her professions, as making any distinction between virtue and vice, impudence and modesty, she will immediately cancel that preface and her dramas, or, preserving them, renounce her supererogatory professions of religion. “ Sell, madam, all that thou “ hast,” buy them up and burn them, otherwise thy name, as it does now, will continue to stink in the nostrils of all consistent, honest persons, and be what you seem so desirous of appearing, a saint ; or continue what, from this act and your former and late conduct, you seem really to be, more plausible than sincere.
Fathers! Mothers! Guardians! Governors! and Governesses! H. More descants on virtue and piety, writes against the stage, players and play-wrights, as wicked and destructive of religion and morals, ruinous to the souls and bodies of those who write, read, act, and see the spectacles; and yet she has written, seen acted, and now in her old age republisheth her own plays ! Whether H. More's writings are calculated to do more good than evil, is a question of no great solvable difficulty.
After displaying all her eloquence and ingenuity in condemning all dramatic works whatever, she directly insults the human understanding, by justifying the perusal of them in the closet; as if that which she calls a poison, taken publicly, would be a salutary and safe medicine swallowed in private. “ The passing over vir“tuous plays,” she says in page 42,“ merely be
cause they are in a dramatic form, would be an “ instance of scrupulosity, which one might ven“ ture to say no well-informed conscience could suggest.
It is much to be feared, from many of her transactions, that her conscience is very elastic.
“ Women especially, (she tells us) whose walk in life is
so circumscribed, and whose avenues of information are “so few, may, I conceive, learn to know the world with “ less danger, and to study human nature with more ad
vantage, from the perusal of selected parts of this in“ comparable genius (Shakespeare) than from most other “ attainable sources.
What are we to infer from all this? That women with great caution should have a selection of dramatic works, because more is dangerous to their mental and bodily purity; to their minds by reading them in private, to both mind and body in the representation. Are we, or are we not, to consider her mind, in whatever state her body may be, as contaminated? Has she not written dramatically, seen her own and other people's works acted, been behind the scenes, associated with the histrionic faculty? Has she not, to use her own words (p. 44) conceived, imagined, and represented in private, all possible ideas, situations, actions, and attitudes, which “ make up a scene “ of temptation and seduction, of over-wrought “ voluptuousness, and unnerving pleasure, which “ surely ill accord with ' working out our own sal“vation with fear and trembling?” Her who thus describes her own knowledge, and tells us she has so experienced it, we must consider, like Solomon, to have “chosen wisdom,” and to have gone through all situations and scenes, to attain her wisdom and knowledge. Are we then to be wicked as preparatory to piety and virtue ; and is it necessary to do evil that good may come of it? Her knowledge, by her own account, seems not to be compatible with innocence. H. More, were Lady Mac Sarcasm dead and gone, I declare I will not have you as my wife, my companion, or my friend. I hate duplicity.
The inconsistent lady concludes her preface
“ The stage is by universal consent allowed to be no in“ different thing. The impressions it makes on the mind, “ are deep and strong ; deeper and stronger perhaps than are “ made by any other amusement. If then such impres“sions be in the general hostile to christianity, the whole “ resolves itself into this short question-Should a christian frequent it?" I ask her, should a christian, an “ evangelical
christian," write and publish plays and tragedies? Alas! I fear she brought forth this work at least, without conception.
That her Percy contains a few, and but a few, good sentiments, the just critic will not deny. The language is bold and strong, but not always chaste. There is no plot, and she labours going about to introduce a sentiment. Horror is sometimes excited, fear never, it is “ without
hope," and no sympathy is felt. There is a preparation for the catastrophe, but it clears off like an approaching fit of sneezing, which tantalizeth and never exonerates the brain, but dies
away; at last it comes so feebly that we come away disgusted. What virtue was intended to be commended by this piece, the reader must use good glasses to discover.
Let the reader take the following specimens of our lady in tragedy; they are the best I could find.
Only to colour fraud and license murder,
“ 'Tis not the crosier, nor the pontiff's robe, “ Nor outward show, nor form of sanctity, “ Nor Palestine destroy'd, nor Jordan's banks “ Delug'd with blood of slaughter'd infidels, “ No, nor th' extinction of the Eastern world, " Nor all the wild, pernicious, bigot rage “ Of mad crusades, can bribe that Pow'r, who sees " The motive with the act. O blind to think “ Fanatic wars can please the Prince of Peace ! “ He who erects his altar in the heart, ** Abhoi's the sacrifice of human blood, “ And hates the false devotion of that zeal " Which massacres the world he died to save." The reader will, no doubt, remember her“ im
pious rage” to promote the present warin Village Politics, and every where. . “ No pull me down “works," she says in Village Politics; but she moves heaven and earth, and privately accuses Mr. Bere, to turn him out, and bring her own disciple in“ to get a new constitution !” “ Pretend liberty of “conscience, and then shoot at and hang the parsons, for being conscientious.” Ibid.
SIR HUBERT. “ Percy, thou hast seen the musk-rose newly blown “ Disclose its bashful beauties to the sun ; “ When lo ! a chilling storm at once descends, “ Sweeps all its blushing glories to the dust, “ Bows its fair head, and blasts its op'ning charms. “ So droop'd the maid, beneath the cruel weight “Of my sad tale."