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“ Whilst we are attending to a story to compasion, and proves at last a warna of this kind, it nourishes every good ing against rash and fatal despair. Adispolition of the heart, and we are the greeable to this short representation, better prepared by it to act a noble, ge- the performance has found a favourable nerous, and compassionate part towards reception with the public, and given our fellow-creatures. If we can imitate proof how far grave and serious composuch circumstances in the story of a tra- litions may engage the minds of men, gedy, we may presume that the effect and convey instruction under the shew will be similar ; and it must appear of amusement. It has likewise had the strange, to find any tragedy censured, ordinary testimony of distinguished mebefore we pretend to show that it fails in rit; it has struck out some sparks of envy this point. The subject we are now and spite. This kind of fire, we may be. upon has been brought in question, on lieve, is seldom extinct, but it only flames occasion of the tragedy of Douglas; upon extraordinary occasions, when an and no person fure can judge of that per- ny remarkable merit, or a rising fame formance, who is not acquainted with the is to be consumed. People who carried conduct of the story on which it is built. it in their breast, have paid their duty But if any person has proceeded so far, regularly to every good writer in every from a general disapprobation of the age; insomuch that their attendance is itage, I am persuaded, that a few re now required to complete his honours : flections upon the representations of this their filence therefore would have been performance, would be sufficient to re. the severest blow they could have struck concile him to it. It was well received at the author of Douglas.”' by every audience, and seemed to make a He goes on to conlider the authorities deep impression. The sentiments it excites which ihould weigh with us in this queare those of admiration of virtue, com. ftion; and having rejected the authority passion to the distressed, and indignation of Papists, which is not admitted in any against the wicked cause of their suffer- matter of opinion or doctrine, he obings. In every story of distress, which ferves, that ihe only law of this church is not merely accidental, wicked charac. relating to the theatre is to the following ters must appear, as well as good ones; purpose.
" That no comedies or for we cannot impute injury and cruelty tragedies, or such plays, should be made to any other but the wicked : their ap- on any subject of canonical scriptures, pearance however improves the mind, nor on the Sabbath day. If any miniby fostering our aversion to wickedness, fter be the writer of such a play, he in the same degree as the view of amia- fhall be deprived of his miniftry. As ble characters heightens our love of vir- for plays of another subje&, they also tue, by engaging our hearts in its behalf. should be examined before they be proHence the generolity of Joseph, and the pounded publicly." 18. af: 1574. Vid. wickedness of his brothers, are equal Petrie's church history. matter of improvement and edification It had been affirined, that the theatre to our minds.
was dangerous to youth; that it gave “ When the tragedy of Douglas be- public offence ; and was injurious to the comes yet more public, it will appear poor: the remaining part of this pam. to have a tendency similar to this. The phlet refers to these points. I thall tran. designs of one person are painted in such scribe a few pafiages from what the aue colours of hateful depravity, as to be thor observes on each. come a necessary object of deteftation. “ We may suspcet, that theatrical The mistakes of another awaken our entertainments engage the minds at least caution, and become a leffon of pra- of our youth too much, and carry them dence. The generous and elevated away from other subjects of attention, mind of a third, warm and exalt our which make a part either of their busisentiments; and that person, on whom ness or their education. This suspicion the chief distress of this story falls, moves is equally well grounded with respect to
every other amusement : for people who Auence of decency, and in the presence are disposed to be idle, will ealily find of respectable persons, can be fo dangeravocations from business; and the flage ous, as cabals which are formed in fehas one peculiar advantage, its being cret, and apart from such influence.the amusement only of a stated time, and the playhouse is frequented by people not always at hand to tempt people who of both sexes, whose rank, whose age are idly disposed. We may appeal to and manners, are sufficient to command persons who have the care of the edu. respect, and to bring decency along with cation of youth in other places, whether them into any place. It is an uncomthey would not gladly see their pupils mon compliment we pay them, in fupcome to the theatre, and mix with grave posing that our youth are corrupted in and decent company, if by that means their company: I should rather think, they could break up more dangerous that, considering the nature of the enmeetings for low gaming and riot, where tertainment, and the respect due to the youth have no good example to lead company, we should see, with satisfac. them, and no restraint from a sense of de- tion, such spectacles become a part in cency or shame. The stage, I think, may the amusements of our youth, and hope well bear a comparison with other a. that their idle hours would find there, musements which youth will devise for not only agreeable relaxation, but imthemselves, if they are debarred from provement too." this. When we consider the strain of On the second point he observes, that those plays which have met with the the apostle's caution against giving of most favourable reception from the puc fence, relates only to actions which are blic, observations will occur to the ho. indifferent, (see i Cor. viii.); that the nour of human nature ; for they are stage has made a part in the entertainplays which excel in moving compal; ments of every civilized nation; that fion, which interest an audience in be- it is of great influence on the manners half of amiable characters, which give of a people; that whatever persons of the
proper applause to virtue, and treat grave and respectable character do, eivice with ignominy and reproach. ther in opposing licentious performanWhen we see an audience therefore in ces, or in promoting the good, is mattears for an object of compassion, when ter of duty ; that their conduct is not we find them affected with the generous to be regulated by the opinion of any sentiments which come from a virtuous person who is disposed to take offence; character, deeply engaged in withes for and that the absurd prejudices of men the success of the good, and for the should be corrected, instead of meeting disappointment of the wicked; it would with encouragement. scarcely occur that such an audience With respect to the poor, he has the could be better employed in an hour of following observations. - "The poor leisure. Whatever our peculiar occu. may be divided into two classes; those pations are, virtue is the business of all, who are indigent, but still in a condiand we should not be excluded from a- tion to earn their bread by some sort of ny place where it may be learned. We labour or industry ; and those, on the know how few amusements there are other hand, who, by reason of age or for which this plea can be offered : it is fickness, are unable to earn any subfiftwell, we think, if they are innocent se- ence. It has pleased Providence, for laxations from business, we seldom ex, wise purposes, to place men in different pect to find them schools of morality. stations, and to bestow upon them difAs there is a danger that youth may ex. ferent degrees of wealth. Without this ceed in every amusement they are given circumstance there could be no fubordito, those amusements should be most nation, no government, no order, no discouraged, in which the excess is most industry. Every person does good, and dangerous. I will venture to say, that promotes the happiness of fociety, by lino place of public resort, under the in- ving agreeable to the rank in which
M 2 Providence
Providence has placed him. Whilst his deration and decency with which this gratuitous charities relieve the poor who
the whole are unable to work, his other expence it is hoped, that the dispute itself may becomes a fund for the subsistence of the co-operate with the improving taste of induftrious ; nor is it proper that they our age, to reform any abuses which should expect subsistence upon any other yet remain on our theatre.- I am, &c. terms than those of industry and sobriety. To the author of the Scots Magazine, The money which the rich expends is paid for the labour of the poor. Dif
Brechin, Feb. 9. 1757. ferent trades live upon the profics of fur Lmost every nation has, in one age nishing his clothing, his table, and his or another, been remarkable for equipage. It is evident how many poor fome prevailing vice or virtue, proceedindustrious people would starve, if he ing from the example of men in power. did not buy the works which they fur- from the climate, from the consticution nish him. The very money he lays out and form of government, from the mufor amusement comes at last into the nicipal laws and the execution of them, hands of the poor, and is paid as the and from divers other causes. Our counprice of their labour. A part of it we try, for example, has long been noted Thall suppose is laid out for the amuse. for the unnatural crime of child-murder ; ments of the theatre; and the people a crime scarce known any where else. who receive it there, are so many hands Two instances of it have been discovers who distribute that money among the in- ed in this town and neighbourhood withduftrious poor. Every player must be in these few weeks; there is scarce a clothed, maintained, and lodged: the circuit-court without the trial of some money which he receives therefore is of these miserable offenders ; and doubtpaid at last to the spinstress, the weaver, less many more poor innocent children the clothier, and other tradesmen who are murdered than the world knows of. live by furnishing the ordinary necef I would fain persuade myself, that faries of life. Whilft from humanity we this inhuman practice does not proceed indulge the poor in their station, we from any natural brutality in my countryought from justice to indulge the weal. women, but from some cause that might thy in theirs, and to expect that they easily be removed. How happy should are to go on agreeable to the habits of I be could my weak endeavours any way living which belong to their station, and contribute towards it ! which in effect are necessary to the or I am not sufficiently acquainted with der and good of society, and to the main. our laws, to know at what period, or tenance of the poor. If we shut up our by what authority, the church of Scotplaces of entertainment, and deprive land was impowered to inflict public people of distinction of that society and penance. To me, the cloven foot, the those amusements which they have a re- mark of the beast, appears plainly itamplish for, they must tire of living among
it. The practice seems enus; and the few who yet remain will tirely Popish ; and it is astonishing that chose to remove to another place, where it was not exploded with confession they will not meet with popular anti- and other Romith superstitions, as it is pachy on account of their most com- found by experience to be worse than mendable amusements. Then indeed most of them in its consequences. I dare the money they expend would be lost to venture to say, that few have thought the poor of their native country. seriously on this horrid crime of child
He concludes with observing, that murder, but have imputed it in a great good dramatic poets have been always measure, if not entirely, to this Popish held in the highest esteem, and placed fuperftition: I have heard several wor. by posterity among the first examples of thy clergymen do it frankly, and regret human genius.
its continuance. Your readers will approve of the mo. A good reputation has always been
highly valued by every one that was not Youth, occasion, the arts that have been quite abandoned.
When that ftrong used to seduce her, are great alleviations rampart of virtue is once broke down, of her guilt, and she becomes more pro. few have courage or power to repair it: perly an object of compassion, than reif that is entire, virtue may stumble, and proach. Our blessed Saviour's decision, rise again. We ought certainly to pre. John viii. is very remarkable. As I am fer a good conscience to the applause of no divine, I shall not pretend to comman, and suffer infamy and reproach ment upon it; but it certainly deserves rather than sin against God: but, alas ! our most ferious confideration. If this too rarely happens; for some infa. sueh a one, I say, can but save her retuate wretches will even commit the putation, she will most sincerely regret blackest of crimes, to save their reputa- her paft imprudence, and may become tion or good nanie: and this surely is a faithful wife, a tender mother, and the case with the poor creatures that in every respect a good member of somurder their own offspring, rather than ciety; whereas, if he is cruelly exposed be exposed on the repenting-stool, to to public penance, she despairs of ever bethe derision of their neighbours and ac. ing able to retrieve her character, and quaintance.
(as Magdalenes are very rare) may in all Though I intended to have said no probability be a w-e for life. Nay more on this subject, I cannot but ex. more, she appears to be as much pointpress my surprise, that the repenting.stoal, ed out for that purpose, as a shop is by that vile anti-reformation machine, is a fign-post. Opportunity makes the chief. not employed against such as maliciously There are many young men whom inwound their neighbours reputation ; a- dolence, bashfulness, fear of a smart gainst husbands and wives who maltreat rebuff, or perhaps want of address, hinand abuse one another, to the great der from attempting a woman of good
scandal of the sacred institution of ma- fame, that will attack this poor girl 1 trimony; against liars, against divul- with the greatest assurance: her refift1 gers of secrets that are intrusted with ance will be construed grimace, and the
them, against such as are guilty of in- must of necessity succumb; like a man
gratitude; in short, against many other who having once forfeited his honour, !
crimes, which being more unnatural, is exposed to the insults of every cow1 more malicious, and more hurtful to ard.
fociety, are certainly much more inex I believe it may easily be proved, that curable than fornication. Besides, if the public penance in question is often I don't mistake, neither the civil nor the cause of adultery, that complication
criminal law has directed any punis. of horrid crimes ! Unfortunately, we can :
ment for such offenders: and the repent. have but a slender hold of most men by ing-stool would certainly have a good their consciences ; any one that is coneffect, and could have no bad one, were versant in the world is convinced of it thus employed; for it would put peo- this melancholy truth : we will rather ple on their guard against them, and offend our heavenly Father, than expose might really be a means of reclaiming ourselves to the resentment of an earth. them.
ly parent, or such as we respect and But that I may not be thought an ad. ftand in awe of. It is certain, that in
vocate for fornication, which is forbid this country some fathers, and most 1 by our religion, and inconsistent with mothers, look upon fornication as the
order, I shall endeavour to prove, that greatest evil that can befal their fon; ! with regard to it the ttool has a quite they conclude him a child of Satan, a contrary effect.
Many a poor thought. reprobate! ten to one if they don't difless, I had almost said innocent girl, has inherit him: buc if they think he ab. the misfortune to be got with child, in ftains from that, they reckon him a vir.' an unguarded hour, that afterwards re- tuous youth, and will readily excuse pents is from the bottom of her heart. crimes of a much deeper dye. Vahap
py prejudice! dangerous in its confe The metropolis of this kingdom has quences! In case the youth has a pars of late years been distinguished for pu. fion for the fair sex, and is not endowed blic spirit ; witness the infirmary, the with an uncommon stock of virtue, it workhouse, the encouragement of agriis to be feared he will venture to com- culture and manufactures, &c. Doubte mit adultery, rather than be set up as lefs gentlemen in office, and others, a spectacle to a congregation, and bring animated with the same laudable zeal upon himself the indignation of his pa- as heretofore, will interest themselves in rents.
behalf of poor helpless innocents; which On the whole, it is evident, that the will procure them a blessing from Hearepenting-Proel is ineffe&tual to prevent ven, and the grateful acknowledgments fornication, and is frequently the cause of their country. of the horrid crimes of adultery' and Were a foundling hospital once. un. murder! I therefore persuade myself dertaken, I am confident an ample fubthat the general assembly will be plea- fistence will soon be provided for all fed to take it under their confideration, such as shall be brought to it: for the and abolish it, as the nauseous dregs of nobility and gentry of this nation are seRomith corruption.
cond to none in generosity and charity. I am not casuist enough to determine, In the mean time I shall beg leave to how far a man who has it in his power make a proposal for the discouragement to prevent the commission of crimes, and of fornication, and maintenance of baneglects to do it, will be reputed an ac- stards.I presume few women that complice, by the almighty Judge; I have not lost their reputation on the refear he may. One thing I am certain penting.stool have the impudence to of, that whoever will generously exert entice the men: The seduction comes themselves for the preservation of poor from the men, they are the aggressors, helpless infants, will more juftly deserve and ought juftly to be the sufferers. Let the glorious appellation of patriots, than us suppose then that a minister is informmany who vainly assume it now.a.
a-days. ed of a girl's being with child in his paIn the good times of Rome, it was a rish; might not he exhort her privately, distinguished honour to save the life of and make her sensible of her guilt, witha citizen: strange, that we Christians, out bringing her before the elders i who who are injoined nothing so strongly as (I am sorry to say it) often ak such quecharity and brotherly love, should be fo ftions as are neither decent nor necesa remifs in this important duty !
fary, and make the poor
finner as much The foundling-hospital does honour to frightened to appear before them as bethe French nation; and I presume, from fore the congregation. When the girl the known generoficy of the English, has told the minister who is the father that the like establishment at London of the child, might not he oblige him will soon furpass it. Above 4000 of to give sufficient security for its mainthe most lovely children that were ever tenance and education, so that it may seen, are yearly brought to the hospital never become a burden on the public? at Paris. As they owe their subsistence If he either will not or cannot do this, and education to the public, they look may not he be sent to serve his coantry upon themselves as the children of their in the army or navy! In case he be country. Many of the best and bravest improper for either, let him be bound of the French troops come from thence. to serve some years in America. Hard Nay many of the best and bravest men labour and a spare diet will be a more that have appeared in the world were efficacious antidote against fornication, foundlings and bastards : Caftruccio Ca. than all the penance that ever was inftrocani, Sir Cloudelly Shovel, most of vented at Rome. - I am, &c. the heroes of antiquity were such.