Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

nour.

very action ought to flow, in order to be most dangerous in the human frame, and agreeable to God, is fo far from being from which the greatest number of approved, that it is despised and deri- crimes, and crimes the moft atrocious, ded by the ungodly, which is evident have sprung, was always encouraged from many passages of scripture; and upon the stage. There, women are that what is said of the amiableness of swelled with vanity, by seeing their fex a good character in the eyes of mankind always deified and adored; there, men in general, will no more warrant us to learn the language, as well as feel, by make the judgment of bad men the stan. sympathy, the transports of that pallion ; dard or measure of true religion, than it and there, the hearts of both are open will warrant us, to aim at their praise as and unguarded to receive the impression, the reward of our compliance, a thing because it is covered with a mask of hoso often and so strongly condemned.

Hath this then been only the He acknowledges, that a defective case at particular times of occasional imperfect form of virtue is approved by corruption, or for want of a proper the generality of the world, and that regulation of the stage ? No; it is insethey are very much swayed in their ac- parable from its constitution. Such hath tions by a view to public praise ; and been the nature and tendency of plays fays, that therefore vice is not seen on in all former ages, and fuch, from the a theatre in a gross, but commonly in a taste and disposition of those who attend more dangerous, because an engaging them, it is certain they will for ever and infinuating form ; and concludes this continue to be." part of the subject as follows.

Another argyment for the corrupting “ Thus it appears, that, in the stage, influence of the stage is drawn from its the audience gives law to the poet; which own nature. It is a picture of human is much the fame thing as the scholar "life; and therefore a great plurality of chusing his own leffon. And whether the characters there represented must be this be a fate or profitable method of bad, and the impression they make hurtinftruction, is easy to judge. Every one ful to the spectators.--He says, “It who knows human nature, especially has all the effect of bad example, which who believes the representation given of yet every Chriftian is bound to avoid as it in scripture, must conclude, that the much as poflible;" and adds," It ought young will be feduced into the commis- not to be forgotten, that attending drafion, and the older confirmed and hard- matic representations, is not only seeing ened in the practice of fin; because a great plurality of bad characters withcharacters fundamentally wrong, will be out neceffity, and seeing them with pathere painted out in an amiable light, tience, but it is seeing them with pleaand divested of what is most fhameful fure. Whether or not entertainment be and fhocking. By this means conscience, yielded to be the only or ultimate effect inftead of being alarmed, and giving of plays, surely it cannot be denied to be faithful teftimony, is deceived, and made one effect sought and expected from a party in the cause. In fhort, vice in them, and from every part of them. An the theatre must wear the garb, assume actor is as much applauded, and gives the name, and claim the reward of vir- as much pleasure to the spectators, when tue. How strong a confirmation of this he represents a bad character to the have we from experience? Have not life, as a good. Is there no danger, plays in fact commonly turned upon the that a heart softened by delight, should characters molt grateful, and the events then be more liable to infection from most interesting to corrupt nature ? Pride, evil than at other times? Is there no under the name of greatness of mind ; danger, that an association should be ambition and revenge, under those of formed in the mind, between the fepse valour and heroism, have been their con- of pleasure and the commission of fin? ftant subjects. But chiefly love : this, Will any person affirm, that, in such which is the strongest palion, and the circumstances, he feels that holy indig

nation againft fin, which every Christian muft theirs be infected, who are converought to conceive upon feeing it com- sant, not in outward occupations, but in mitted? or that he is able to preserve characters themselves, the actions, pafthat awe and fear, which he ought to fions, and affections of men? If their have of the juft judgment of God, when performances touch the audience fo fenhe sees the crimes that merit it boldly fibly, and produce in them so lasting an reacted, and finely mimicked in a per. effect, how much more must the same fonated character ?".

effects take place in themselves, whose The laft general argument in this whole time is spent in this manner? treatife is, That occafional attending 2. Men of good character going occaplays by those who are of good charac- fionally to the theatre, contributes to the ter, even fuppofing it not hurtful to fins of others, by emboldening those to at. themselves, contributes to the fins of o- tend all plays indiscriminately, who are thers, 1. by supporting the players in an in most danger of infection. If there be anchristian occupation; 2. encouraging, any at all, especially if there be a great by their example, those to attend all number, to whom the stage is noxious plays indiscriminately, who are in most and finful, every one without exception danger of infection.

is bound to abstain. The apostle Paul That the occupation of players is un. expressly commands the Corinthians to christian, he proves, not only by refer- abitain from lawful things, when their ring to the former arguments against the using them would make their brother to stage in general, but from the vanity of offend, that is to say, would lead him the end proposed by it. He says, “ It into fin, 1 Cor. viii. 9.-13. There are is a mean prostitution of the rational many who seem to have entirely forgot powers, to have no higher end in view, that this precept is to be found in the than contributing to the pleasure and word of God, and discover not the least entertainment of the idle and vitious sense of their obligation to comply with part of mankind;" and adds, "But it. If, by any plausible pretences, they the life of players is not only idle and imagine they can vindicate their conduct vain, and therefore inconfiftent with the with regard to themselves, or palliate it character of a Christian, but it is still with excuses, they are quite unmindful more directly and grossly criminal. We of the injury which they do to others. have seen above, that, 'not only from I speak not here of offending, in the the taste of the audience, the prevailing sense in which that word is commonly, tendency of all successful plays most be though unjustly taken, as displeasing obad, but that, in the very nature of the thers: Such as are displeased with the thing, the greatest part of the characters conduct of those who attend the theatre, represented must be vitious. What then because they efteem it to be finful, are is the life of a player? It is wholly not thereby offended in the scripturefpent in endeavouring to express the sense of that word, except in so far as language, and exhibit a perfect picture fome few of them are provoked to unof the pasions of vitious men. For this christian resentment, or induced to draw purpose, they must ftrive to enter into rafh and general conclufions, from the the spirit, and feel the sentiments pro- indiscretion of particular persons, to the per to such characters. Unless they do prejudice of whole orders of men. Buc so, the performance will be quite faint valt multitudes are truly offended, or and weak, if not wholly faulty and un- made to offend, as they are led into a natural. And can they do this so fre. practice, which, whatever it be to those quently, without retaining much of the who set the example, is undoubtedly impression, and, at laft, becoming in pernicious to them. Is it poflible to de truth what they are so often in appeare ny, that, under the best regulation of ance? Do not the characters of all men the theatre that can reasonably be ho. take a tincture from their employment ped for, to great numbers it must be hurt. way

of life? How much more ful, especially, as it is enticing to all ? VOL. XIX.

Y

And

and

And if that be but allowed, persons of ture itself.' The fact is not denied, character and reputation cannot attend though he has given but a poor speci. without contributing to the mischief men of the knowledge of this age, by that is done."

isos; mistaking, in the firft of these remarks, The morality of flage-plays seriously con, the expression quoted by the apople : fidered, he says, fell into his hands when for this sentence, In him we live, and he bad near finished his pamphlet. move, and have our being, which he says In answer to the argument there infifted is a very sublime expression, and beauon, That whatever persons of grave tifully applied by the apostle, was not and respectable character do, either in cited from the poet; but the following, opposing licentious performances, or in For we are also his offspring. But fuppopromoting the good (79.), he says, fing he had (as he easily might have)

How shall we refute this new and hit opon the true citation, what follows wonderful doctrine, of its being neceffa- from it? Did ever any body affirm, ry that good men should attend the that no poet could write, or no player theatre. I cannot think of a better way could speak any thing that was true ? of doing it, than tearing off some of the And what is to binder an inspired writer drapery of words, with which it is ad. from judging them out of their own orned and disguised, and setting this au. mouths ? What concern has this with thor's own assertions together in the form the stage?. If it implies any defence of of a fyllogism: The manager of eve- the stage in general, it most imply a ry theatre mult suit his entertainments to stronger defence of the particular play the company, and, if he is not supported and poem from which the citations are by the grave and sober, he must suit him- taken. Now, I dare fay; neither this self to the licentious and profane.- We author, nor any other, will assert, that know that in every nation there must be these are in all respects agreeable to the amusements and public entertainments, Christian character. These citations do and the stage has always made one in e. no other way connect the defence of very civilized and polished nation. We the stage with the honour of scripture, cannot hope to abolish it.'- Ergo, ac- than a minister's citing, in writing or cording to this author, it is the duty of discourse, a paffage from Horace or Jugood men to attend the stage. But I venal, would connect the defence of all leave the reader to judge, whethee, from the obscenity that is to be found in the the first of his propołtions, which is a rest of their works, with the honour of certain truth, it is not more juft to infer, preaching." that, till the majority of those who at After thus endeavouring to show, that tend the stage are good, its entertaja- the stage is not capable of such a regulament cannot be fit for a Christian ear ; tion as to make it confiftent with the pu. and because that will never be, no Chri- rity of the Christian character, the con stian ought to go there.”

cludes with an earnest diffuafive from He thinks it were worth while to con- attending it in its present state ; because lider a little our improvements in know the maxims there established are quite ledge in this age, which are often the contrary to those of the gospel; conboatt of not the most knowing writers ; tempt is often poured upon religion, and and then says,

its ministers; love and intrigue is the Another argument adduced by this perpetual theme; the diverfion feldom author, is, That the apostle Paul, in concluded without something obscene; preaching at Athens, quotes a sentence and the younger of both sexes must acfrom one of the Greek poets, and, in quire a turn to romance and extravawriting to the Corinthians, has inserted gance. into the sacred text a line from a Greek He just mentions, at the conclufion, play which now subluits (77.). This, the inconsistency of the stage with the he says, is sufficient to connect the de character of ministers; but refuses to en. fence of plays with the honour of fcrip. ter into any debate on the subject, as

looking

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

W

looking upon it to be self-evident, that if or shall have been made fince the ift of they remember the solemn charge given January 1787, all such wheat, &c. fhall them in scripture," to watch over the be forfeited, and the person in whose fouls of their people, they will esteem it poffeffion such work house, &c. fhall be,

facrilegious' alienation of their time fall, for every such offence respectiveand talents, to employ them in support ly, also forfeit 100 l. of this pernicious diverfion.

That, during the time before limited, An abstract of the act tricefimo Georgii II. be authorised for that purpose by the

it shall be lawful for any person who shall intitled, An act to prohibit for a li. commissioners of the excise, or any two mited time the making of loru wines and or more of them, within the limits of Spirits, from wheat, barley, malt, or a. the chief office of excife in London, or my other fort of grain, or from any meal by one or more justices of the peace in or flour.

any other part of G. Britain, at any Hereas it is expedient that the time, with any officer of excise, to enter wines or fpirits, from wheat, &c. should wherein any low wines or spirits, &c. be prohibited for a limited time; be it shall be, or are suspected to be made, or enacted,

shall have been made since the ift of That from and after the sth of March January. 1757, and shall have free ad1757, no low wines or spirits whatsoever mittance into the fame, and may inshall be made, extracted, or distilled with spect all the materials, vefsels, and ein this kingdom, from any wheat, bar- tenfils therein contained, (giving there. ley, malt, or any other sort of grain, or by as little interruption as may be to the from any meal or four, for two calen- business which thall be carrying on); dar months.

and in case any such officer shall have That if, during that time, any per- reason to suspect that any wheat, barfon whatsoever shall make, &c. or pro- ley, malt, or other grain, meal or flour, cure to be made, &c. any low wines or is mixed in any worts or wash, or in a{pirits, from any wheat, &c.; or shall ny other material or preparation, for use or mix, or procure to be used or making low wines or spirits, it shall be mixed, any wheat, &c. in any worts or lawful for him, upon payment of 2 s. wash, in order for the making, &c. low 6. d. to take a fample, not exceeding wines or spirits, or shall put, or procure two quarts, of any such worts or wash, to be put, in any tun or other veffel, a- material or preparation; and in case any ny wheat, &c. for preparing any worts distiller, or the owner or occupier of any or wash, or for making low wines or such house or place, or any workman or fpirits, whether such vessel hath or hath servant to any fuch distiller, owner, or not been duly entered at the excise.of. occupier belonging, fhall refuse admitfice; that then, and in each of these tance to or obftruct fuch person fo av. cases, such person acting contrary to the thorised, or any officer of excise, in madirections of this act, or the person in king such inspection as aforesaid, or whose custody any such vessel which shall not allow the officer to take such fhall be made use of contrary to the in- sample, after the faid 2 s. 6 d. shall be tention of this act, shall be found, shall paid or tendered for the fame, fuch direspectively, for every such offence, for: filler, owner, or occupfer shall, for efeit 2001., and all such wheat, & c. and very fuch offence respectively, forfeit such words and wash, low wines and 100 l. : and it shall be lawful for such Spirits, hall be also forfeited.

officer, &c. to seize and carry away all That if any wheat, wheat-meal, or such wheat, wheat-meal, and wheatwheat flour, shall, within the time be- flour, as fhall be found in any such house fore limited, be found in any workhouse or place, together with all the facks and or other place wherein low wines or fpi- other things in which the faid commorits, or worts or wash, fhall be made, dities shall be contained,

Y 2

That

That if any distiller shall, after the or person, authorised as aforesaid, by IIth of March 1757, and before the oth day or by night, (but if in the night, of May 1757, have in his custody, or then in the presence of a constable, or in the custody, of any person in trúst, or other lawful officer of the peace), to enfor his use, more than five quarters of ter into every such storehouse, or other wheat, wheat-meal, or wheat-flour, at place, and to seize and carry away all any one time, in any place or places such wheat, meal, and flour, as they (not being a place for making or keep. shall so find, over and above five quar. ing worts or wash, low wines or spirits), ters, together with all the facks or o. every such distiller shall, for every such ther things wherein the same shall be offence respectively, forfeit all such contained ; and such distiller, or the perwheat, meal, and four, exceeding five fon in whofe custody fuch wheat,' meal, quarters, and 5 l. for every quarter fo or four, belonging to such distiller, Mall forfeited.

be found, shall, for every such offence Provided. That this act shall not ex. respectively, forfeit 5 1. for every quar. tend to infli&t the last-mentioned penalty ter exceeding five ; and the said officer and forfeiture upon any distiller who shall and other person are hereby impowered, be the actual grower of wheat, and shall together with such person or persons as be poffefied of any quantity of it grown they shall take to their assistance, to enby him, in the straw, or after it is thresh: ter such ftorehouses and other places, ed out: provided such wheat fhall not and break open the doors thereof in cafe be kept in his poffeftion, or in that of they be not forth with opened on demand. any other person in trust for him, for That all penalties and forfeitures by more than twenty days after being thresh. this act impofed, fhall be fued for and ed ; and so as such wheat be not kept in recovered in any of the courts of record any place used for making fpirits, &c. ac Westminster, or in the court of 'exor for preparing or keeping worts orwash: chequer in Scotland; and that the court

That this act thall not extend to in. may (if they think fit) mitigate any of fict the said last-mentioned penalty and the pecuniary mulets, to any sam not forfeiture upon any distiller who prati less than a fourth of the sum herein mens tises the trade of a miller, and who was tioned; and that one moiety of these poffefled of and worked any mill for penalties and forfeitures shall go to the grinding wheat, on or before the 1st of King, and the other to the prosecutor, January 1757, on account of any quan. or informer. tity of wheat, wheat-meat, or wheat. Provided, That all profecutions or infour, which fall, during the time be formations 'for offences committed áfore limited, be found in any such mill gain this act, shall be commenced with•: » Ęnacted, That in case any officer of in two calendar months after the fact is excife, or any other person, Ihall at a committed, and not otherwise. ny time have cause to suspect, that any

And whereas there have been conwheat, wheat-meal, or wheat-four, ex- tracts made by the distillers with seveceeding five quarters, shall be kept in a- ral persons for yeft, to be delivered and ny storehouse or other place belonging received after the 29th of September to any diftiller, contrary to the true in- 1756; be it enacted, That all such con tent of this act; then, upon oath made tracts for any yeft to be delivered during by such officer or person, before any the continuance of this act be suspended. two commissioners of excise, or before That if any action shall be commenone or more justices of the peace residing ced against any person, for any thing near the place suspected, setting forth done in pursuance of this act, the fame the ground of their fufpicion, it shall shall be commenced in the space of four be lawful for the said commissioners or calendar months after the offence; and justices respectively, (if they judge it rea. if such action fhall be commenced in sonable), by special warrant under their England, the defendant may plead the hands and seals, to impower such officer general issue, and give this act and the

special

« ZurückWeiter »