« הקודםהמשך »
harmless amusement? What more unnecessary for us now to discuss. innocent than innocent recreation? We deal with facts as we find them, What more sober than a sober tra- and, to all who value supremely gedy? And where can be the im- their eternal salvation, those facts morality of a good moral playp” are abundantly lucid. Men are Something very like this is often ashamed to be disciples of Jesus heard, with a tautological iteration Christ: otherwise there would be which takes for granted the very little room for any discussion, to points to be proved, and gives no prove that our theatrical entertainbetter reason to show that the de- ments are utterly opposed to the precated practice is lawful than a spirit of our holy' religion. gratuitous assumption that it is so. Still, however, as plausible exBut after all such arguments, it is cuses are currently offered in palliaquite certain that the great body of tion of this popular immorality, we religious and exemplary persons in ought to feel very grateful to those, every age have instinctively avoided who, like the author whose work and condemned many of the recrea- lies before us, have exerted themtions current in ordinary society, selves with great zeal and diligence especially play-going, and with a to guard the publick against this inrange of prohibition proportioned sidious snare. Mr. Best has long to their own advancing spirituality been honourably distinguished in of character. This, to say the least, this cause, in the sphere and neighis no hopeful presumption in favour bourhood of his ministrations; and of the litigated indulgences. his labours, as we understand, have,
It must to a Christian mind be by the blessing of God, been attendargument sufficient against thea- ed with signal success. For about trical amusements—as such amuse- fourteen years, we believe, he has ments ever have been, and are ever preached an annual sermon on the likely to be conducted—that these subject; and his faithful arguments things are not of the Father, but of and appeals have attracted great the world. A higher, a more con
attention in Sheffield, and powervincing, a more affecting reason, fully tended, it is said, to open the cannot surely, and needs not be, eyes of the publick as to the serious produced. If any man will gravely evils of stage entertainments, and argue, that these things are not of to diminish the dumber of attendthe world, and are of the Father, it ants upon them. Several of his diswill then be requisite to show by courses have, we believe, been pubfacts that his hypothesis is untena- lished either as tracts or in the local ble: but till then we feel inclined newspapers; but the present colto take the matter for granted; for lection is printed with the author's sure we are, that if it is to be de- permission by an individual, once cided by the sensibilities of a spi- much attached to the drama, but ritually-minded man, there will be who, having been convinced by Mr. no difference of opinion. It is only Best's arguments, is anxious that because “all men have not faith, they should be brought under the and those who have not, proffer ar- consideration of others who have guments in excuse for their world. not yet seriously reflected upon the liness of spirit, that any question subject. The publication being thus needs be held upon a matter so ob. extorted from the author, not by his vious as the unchristian and demo. own estimate of its value, but imralizing character of the stage. partially, and for the publick bepeWhat it might be under certain fit, we should receive it with indul. supposed circumstances of refine- gence, if it needed it: but it needs ment, which never have practically it not, as it is throughout an honest, existed, or are likely to exist, it is scriptural, reasonable, and, we may Vol. IX.Ch. Adv.
add, not exaggerated appeal; sim- persons of the greatest intellectual prople, earnest, convincing, and well mise are generally the first to feel this worthy of a faithful minister of Je. pernicious effect of theatrical amuse
ment. sus Christ.
“ Here then is another reason why all We proceed to cite a few of the who truly desire to act consistently with writer's arguments.
their professed principles, will carefully The following passage in the first abstain from such amusements; because sermon relates to the point which sobriety and spirituality of mind which we have above touched upon the Sacred Scriptures so earnestly enforce, namely, the contrariety of the the. and for the preservation of which the most atre to that spirituality of mind serious Christian has constant need to which is an essential part of the watch and pray that he enter not into Christian character.
temptation." pp. 15–17.
The author then specifies several "No man can have a good hope that he is going to heaven, unless he has a
graces; such as humility, growing taste and tendency of mind for contentment, and a forgiving spithose things which are to constitute his rit; and shows how directly the future employment and happiness. Now, stage tends to weaken and destroy I would not condemn the theatre because them, and to foster the contrary it does not promote these feelings, but because it is incompatible with them ;
dispositions. The very virtues of the two things cannot subsist together;— the drama, he shows, are antiand if any individual, possessing spiritual christian; so that even the avowfeelings and heavenly desires, were to edly good man of the play, the moattend the theatre, its direct and sure effect would be to deaden and destroy. imitation, is opposed to the Chris
ral man, the man who is held
up for posed to spirituality of mind, I would not tian character as exhibited in the refer particularly to the injurious effect word of God, and to the image of which would be produced upon the reli. that Saviour who hath left us an exgious feelings by the company--the con. versation—the gaiety of the general scene, ample that we should tread in his because the theatre shares this evil with steps. The spirit, the maxims, the almost every other species of worldly dis. objects, the motives of the applaudsipation; but I would refer to the pecu. ed dramatick character are irreconliar gratification of the stage-its own cilable to the mind that was in proper pleasure.-Tbe mind is power: Christ Jesus, and to the course of fully affected by some creation of a vain fancy--the feelings are roused-the pas. his holy life. What then shall we sions stimulated the imagination heated; say of the less reputable characters? and during this paroxysm of mental ex. In the second sermon, from the citement, life is transformed into a dream, test “ Fools inake a mock at sin," and is embellished with various impracti. cable and unattainable pleasures, and the we find many proofs of this
proposcenes which are spread before the ardent sition in its application to the stage. and youthful mind are as flattering as they will any friend of theatrical amuseare false; and when this intellectual fever ments undertake to confute the folsubsides
, it leaves the mind relaxed lowing statement? If he will, our nary employments, and sick of sober re pages shall be open to his reply. alities, and, like an appetite vitiated by “I fear not to affirm, that it is one main highly seasoned food, requiring a con. part of the business of the stage 'to make stant succession of stimulants; and hence a mock at sin.' Sin is there treated light. that ardent and insatiable desire after the ly and in jest:- The sacred names of God works of novel-writers, dramatists, and the profane oath--the dreadful words every and any kind of composition which "hell' and . damnation'-impure allusions is calculated to pamper and please the all these are uttered as flippantly and as imagination, which an attendance on the unscrupulously, as though it were no theatre often excites and always strength. crime to take God's name in vain—to triens in young persons; and this desire will file and sport with eternal punishment, and be in proportion to the quickness of per. to defile the imagination.-And are they ception and susceptibility of excitement, not beard with gay and careless indiffer. which the mind possesses; so that young ence, if not with applause and admiration? What can these things mean, but either tenderest feelings;-much to interest the that sin is not that abominable thing which cultivated mind;
-there is every thing of the Bible describes it to be,-or that God outward decoration, and beauty of lanwill not require it, or that he hath forgot. guage, to catch and to gratify the eye and ten, and hideth his face and will never see the ear;-and together with all this, moral it? What must be the effect of such lessons and virtuous sentiments are inter. scenes, but to familiarize the mind to the spersed here and there, which serve to thought and practice of sin ?-to weaken lull and to pacify the conscience. All the sense of its deformity and danger- these circumstances conspire to spread to break down the remaining scruples over the theatre a most dangerous fascito sear the conscience-and to embolden nation. Under all this show of harmless the hesitating youth to commit it with dar. mirth and innocent gratification, however, ing presumption, and with a high hand ? It are concealed the most destructive evils." is the sure tendency of the theatre to pp. 63, 64. cause sin to be considered rather as a thing to be laughed at, than as a great We are frequently told of the and dreadful evil to be constantly bated excellent sentiments inculcated in and feared and fed from.” pp. 34, 35.
plays; the scraps of high-toned moNor is this the whole, or the rality, and magnanimous virtue and
exalted sentiment. Mr. Best does worst; for sin is not only made a mock of, but is gloried in, and espe- not deny this; or that in the motley cially the sin of licentious profli. assemblage at the theatre there are gacy. We shall not sully our pages and good estimation in society.
to be found persons of character with proofs; but no man can deny But he justly adds : the fact.
The third sermon shows that the “ These circumstances, instead of paltheatre is inconsistent with the liating, only increase the evil, and render duty of loving God with all our
it much more to be dreaded. Were the
sentiments taught on the stage uniformly hearts, and our neighbour as our.
and unequivocally contrary to the moral. selves; of the former part of which ity of the Bible;-—did the frequenters of it were proof enough that the cha- the theatre consist only of the abandoned racter of God is holiness, and of and the profligate;-then, this engine of the latter, that the theatre is a de. Satan would not be half so successful as
it is found to be. In such a case there structive engine of vice and immo- would be comparatively little need for me rality.
to warn the young persons of this conIn the fourth sermon, on the di- gregation against frequenting such a yinely taught prayer, Lead us not place; you would shun it as you shun the into temptation, we find the follow. brosser scenes of shameless wickedness,
of which you hear and read with unfeigning passage. Let the frequenter of ed abhorrence
:-but the mixture of a the play, after reading it, say whe- little good with much evil; the interther he can continue his accustom- spersing of a few correct sentiments with ed gratification, and yet honestly that mass of moral poison whose only efpray not to be led into temptation. fect can be to call into active exercise the
depravity of the heart; the countenance “There are few dangers so much to be and support of a few estimable, and, as dreaded as those which arise from the far as worldly virtue goes, excellent peropening of a theatre. Were impiety and sons; all this serves as a lure to draw impurity to appear in all their naked, un. many to the theatre, who could not other. disguised, and exceeding sinfulness - also as an apology to their consciences
wise have been persuaded to enter it, and they would be less perilous. But the the. when they are there; it furnishes a plauatre conceals its mischief and its wicked sible argument to the advocates of the ness under a specious and imposing mask. stage, and is employed to sanction and It seems to offer nothing but harmless en sanctify all the abominable things with tertainment;-it comes with very plausi- which it is connected.” pp. 139, 140. ble pretences ;-it makes very fair profes. sions;-it is one of those wiles of the devil, In answer to the charge of proin which he has discovered in a peculiar faneness and sporting with sacred manner, what the Bible calls bis subtlety. In these amusements there is much things on the stage, it is often reto entice and entrapr-much to excite the plied, that the reprobation or ridicule is not directed against religion moral impression of the scene be or virtue, but only against hypocrisy doubtful?' Some, however, may and mean and odious vices under a profess to doubt it; and may adsanctified garb. But does not every duce their own case in proof that the man of common understanding per- effect is not so practically evil as is ceive what is the real, and we scru- represented. To such persons we ple not to say meditated, effect of fear we must reply with our author, this alleged wholesome reprobation that and ridicule. Mr. Best truly de
“ They give a very plain proof that scribes it:
they must have already sustained no small “I do not mean that God and the Bible, injury; since their moral sensibilities are and the awful realities of eternity, are
become so far blunted, as to permit them openly and avowedly set at nought, and to witness the scenes and listen to the senscorned and insulted. Blessed be God, timents, which they must hear and see, such is the influence and ascendency at any evening's performance, in any which religion has gained in this country, theatre, without feeling with indignant that, perhaps, a large promiscuous as
shame, that their better principles had sembly could no where be collected, in been outraged, and their sense of propriwhich this could be done without calling ety,grossly insulted, and painfully offendforth a general expression of disgust and ed." p. 254. reprobation. But, at the theatre, the ef
“I might confidently appeal to the refect is produced, more indirectly indeed, collections of those females who may but not less really. Religion is safely ri- have formerly frequented the theatre, diculed under the name of hypocrisy. A
whether the pleasure which they expepreacher of God's word, is, perhaps, rienced, on their first attendance, was not exhibited in strong caricature, with af. often mingled with an involuntary sense fected gravity and absurd grimace. A ser.
of shame, a secret and painful consciousmon is delivered in burlesque imitation.
ness of impropriety and evil; while, at A religious character is introduced, for the the same time, through the influence of purpose of being placed in the most ludi. example and the force of custom;--- from crous points of view, and exposed as a want of due consideration, or sufficient person of weak intellect and of pitiable firmness of mind;-and perhaps from credulity. His conscientiousness and fear never having had their attention especially of sinning are made contemptible by be and seriously called to the sinful nature ing displayed only in petty and punctilic and injurious tendency of such amuseous scrupulosity. His purity of mind is ments ;-they allowed themselves to be connected with circumstances of exqui. present at exhibitions which their consite absurdity. His meekness under in. sciences condemned; and to be spectators sult is made to appear only as mean and of scenes, and hearers of sentiments, unworthy timidity. His simplicity and against which the quick sensibilities of a sincerity of beart are represented as ren.
modest and delicate mind so painfully re. dering him the dupe of every designer, volted as to cover them with confusion; and the butt for every dart which malice and which scenes and sentiments they or mirth may choose to throw. And, would not, on any consideration, have while he is thus set forth as a laughing: either ventured to describe and repeat, or stock, many a scoff and jest is uttered re
endured to hear described and repeated, specting over-righteousness and puritani- in private company, or in the society of cal zeal. The words saint' and holy' their personal friends.” pp. 262, 263. are used only in sneer and sarcasm. • Heaven' and 'hell,' and terms of equally aw
Mr. Best states, that the attendful meaning, are employed with levity ance of respectable women at the and laughter. And thus, while religion Sheffield theatre has, he underin the general is, perhaps, complimented stands, greatly diminished; and with some unmeaning expression of re- we doubt not the effect has been gard; its sanctity is profaned.—its cha- caused in no slight degree by his racter is degraded,-its authority and its influence are undermined, and its several ownindefatigable
exertions in pointparts and its conscientious professors are ing out to his flock and fellowbrought into derision and contempt." pp. townsmen, the evils of this “inno189, 190.
cent amusement." Let him not And while religion is thus sneer- then be weary in his useful labours. ed at, sin is dressed out in colours It is very important that while the the most attractive. Can then the great body of the ministers of Christ are occupied for the most forced the subject upon the pubpart in the general duties of their lick attention in other places: and holy calling, there should be indi- so of Mr. Herbert Smith's laviduals among them, who are de- bours for the suppression of Sunday voting much of their thoughts and travelling; and in various other inefforts to soune particular point or stances. We always rejoice in layquestion. By this division of la- ing before our readers, for the gebour, facts and arguments are ac- neral benefit, the result of such cumulated, attention is aroused, isolated efforts, and in the present zeal is excited, one works for instance shall feel thankful if our all; and his brethren and the notice of Mr. Best's volume shall world are benefited by his labours. awaken the attention of his . breThus Mr. Close, by his exertions thren to the subject, in places where at Cheltenham, in reference to their exertions might be locally the evils of the race-course, has useful.
Literary and Philosophical Intelligence, etc.
The Barometer. Of the advantage der came to prepare with all haste for a arising from the use of this instrument, storm. The Barometer had begun to fall on board of ships, for the purpose of de- with appalling rapidity. As yet, the oldnoting approaching changes in the wea- est sailors had not perceived even a threat. ther, we have been favoured by a scien. ening in the sky, and were surprised at tifick friend with the following communi. the extent and burry of the preparations ; cation.-Nantucket Inquirer.
but the required measures were not comNot long since I noticed an article il. pleted, when a more awful hurricane lustrating the use and the importance burst upon them than the most experiof the Barometer in foretelling storms. enced had ever braved. Nothing could This communication forcibly reminded withstand it; the sails already furled and me of a similar circumstance, related by closely bound to the yards, were riven Arnott in the excellent work on Physics. away in tatters; even the bare yards and As the subject is of immense importance masts were in great part disabled ; and to every mariner, and to all concerned in at one time, the whole rigging had nearly navigation, I forward an extract for inser- fallen by the board. Such, for a few tion. It is more interesting from the fact hours, was the mingled roar of the hurthat the learned author was himself a wit. ricane above, of the waves around, and ness of the sublime scene which he so the incessant peals of thunder, that no huelegantly portrays, and which, but for the man voice could be heard; and, amidst almost miraculous warning of the little the general consternation, even the trumtube of mercury, would have left no one pet sounded in vain. On the following to tell the tale.
morning the wind was at rest, but the The day is probably not distant when a ship lay upon the yet heaving waves, an Barometer will be considered as essential unsightly wreck.” in the equipments of a voyage as are now the quadrant and the compass. Its indi. Origin of Newspapers. After the decations have for many years afforded to feat of the Spanish Armada, intended by the meteorologist, the most satisfactory Philip II. of Spain, for the invasion of prognosticks of the changes of the wea- England, great interest being excited in iber. When adapted to the motion of the every class, which gave rise to a very imsea it is called the Marine Barometer, and portant invention--that of Newspapers. differs from that used on shore, in having Previous to this period, all articles of inits tube contracted in one place to a very telligence had been circulated in manunarrow bore, so as to prevent that sudden script, and all political remarks which the rising and falling of the mercury which government found itself interested in ad. every motion of the ship would else oc- dressing the people, had issued in the casion.
shape of pamphlets. But the peculiar “The sun had just set with placid ap- convenience at such a juncture, of unitpearance, closing a beautiful afternoon, ing these two objects, in a periodical and the usual mirth of the evening watch publication, becoming obvious to the miwas proceeding, when the captain's or- nistry, there appeared, some time in the