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afflicted with critics, antiquaries, and newsmongers, as the present, or, at least, if the evil had not arrived to its present extent, its novelty caused it to be as severely felt.
"Com. S. Come, good Master Register, I wonder you bee so late now adayes.
Mem. My good lord, I remember that I knew your grandfather in this your place, and I remember your grandfather's great grandfather's grandfather's father's father, yet, in those dayes, I never remember that any of them could say, that Register Memory ever broke one minute of his appointment.
Com. S. Why, good father, why are you so late now adayes?
Mem. Thus 'tis; the most customers I remember myselfe to have are (as your lordship knowes) schollers, and now adaies the most part of them are become critickes, bringing me home such paltry things to lay up for them, that I can hardly find them againe.
Pha. Jupiter, Jupiter, I had thought these flies had bit none but myselfe; doe critickes tickle you yfaith?
- Mem. Very familiarly; for they must know of me, forsooth, how every idle word is written, in all the mustie, moth-eaten manuscripts, keepe in all the old libraries in every city betwixt England and Peru (is requisite.)
Com. S. Indeed, I have noted these times to affect antiquities more than
Mem. I remember, in the age Assaracus and Ninus, and about the warres of Thebes, and the siege of Troy, there was few things committed to mycharge, but those that were well worthy the preserving; but now every trifle must be wrapt up in the volume of eternitie; a rich pudding-wife or a cobler cannot die, but I must immortallize his name with an epitaph: a dogge cannot soil a nobleman's shoe, but it must be sprinckled into the chronicles, so that I never could remember my treasure more full, and never emptier of honourable and true heroicall actions.
Pha. By your leave, Memory, you are not alone troubled; chronologers, many of them, are so phantasticke, as when they bring a captaine to the combat, lifting up his revengefull arme to dispart the head of his enemy, theile hold up his armes so long, til they had bestowed three or foure pages in discribing the gold hilts of his threatning faulchion. So that in my fancy, the reader may well wonder his adversary stabs him not before he strikes: moreover, they become most palpable flatterers, alwayes begging at my gates for invention.
Com. S. This is great fault in a chronologer to turne parasite, an absolute history should be in feare none, neither should hee write any thing more than trueth for friendship, or lesse for hate, but keepe himselfe equall and constant in all his discourses; but for us, we must be contented, for as our honors encrease, so must the burthen of the cares of our offices urge us to waxe heavy.
Pha. But not till our backes breake, s'lud, there was never any so hanted as I am; this day there comes a sophisterto my house,knocks at my doore, his errand being ask'd, forsooth his answere was, to bor
VOL. II. PART II. u
row a faire suit of conceits out of my wardrop, to apparell a shew he had in hand; and what thinke you is the plot ?,
Com. S. Nay, I know not, for I am little acquainted with these toyes.
Pha. Meanewhile, hee's somewhat acquainted with you, for hee's bold to bring your person upon the stage.
Com. S. What, me? I cannot remember that I was ever brought upon the stage before.
Pha. Yes; you, and you, and myselfe, with all my phantasticaJl tricks and humours; but I trow, I have fitted them with fooleries, I trust he'l never trouble me againe.
Com. S. O times, O manners! when boyes dare to traduce men in authority; was ever such an attempt heard?
Mem. I remember there was. For (to say the trueth) at my last being at Athens (it is now, let me see, about one thousand six hundred yeres agoe) I was at a comedy of Aristophanes' making, (I shall never forget it.) The arch-governour of Athens tooke me by the hand, and placed me; and there, I say, I saw Socrates abused most grossely, himselfe beeing then a present spectator; I remember, he sate full against me, and did not so much as shew the least countenance of discontent.
Com. S. In those dayes it was lawfull, but now the abuse of such liberty is unsufferable.
Pha. Thinke what you will of it, I thinke 'tis done, and I thinke it is acting by this time; harke, harke, what drumming's yonder; 1'le lay my life they are comming to present the shew I spake off.
Com. S. It may be so; stay, wee'le see what 'tis."
This play has been commonly attributed to Antony Brewer, the author of the Country Girl and the Love-sick King; a mistake originating with Phillips, who, not rightly comprehending the plan of Kirkmuu's Catalogue of Plays, gave birth to a great number of similar errors.* The talents of Brewer, it is true, were esteemed highly by his contemporaries, but we have no proofs remaining in his surviving productions, which warrant us in assigning to him a drama so full of various talent as Lingua. The date of its publication is, moreover, forty or fifty years prior to the two plays of which he is doubtless the author: and it cannot be supposed that a genius equal to the production of IJngua would lie dormant for forty years, and then rouse itself to achieve a play of no higher merit than the Country Girl. The claim of Antony Brewer seems to us founded upon the slightest grounds, and we lament that so much praise as would justly accrue to the author of this excellent play must still remain unappropriated.
Vide Biog. Dram. Art. Brewer.
Art. VI. Disquisitions on several Subjects; 1782; 12mo.— pp. 182. [By Soame Jenyns.]
We venture to assert, that there are few books in the language, of the same size as the little volume before us, containing more acute and ingenious reasoning, abounding in more lively illustration or more elegant and polished composition. Its author is Soame Jenyns; a writer of whose life or works it is unnecessary for us to give any account, as the particulars of both are to be found in every biographical dictionary. Suffice it to say, that he was a gentleman of the best kind— independent in his feelings and circumstances, and drawing a fund of calm and equable pleasure from study and reflection, and the resources of a cultivated and accomplished mind. Of the peculiar and characteristic traits of his genius, the little book, which we are about to recommend to the notice of our readers, will afford ample means of judging. What may be the share of public attention which the works of our author are in the habit of receiving at the present day, we are unable to state; but we are led to believe, that it is not very considerable, and that such as it may be, it is confined to his excellent treatise on the Evidences of Christianity, and his Enquiry into the Origin of Evil. So that we hold ourselves amply justified in noticing so late a production as the present Disquisitions, which possess both the internal claim of excellence and the external one of neglect. To those who do not possess this little volume we fearlessly recommend them to procure it, and unhesitatingly promise them a rich, though small, store of instruction and entertainment. This recommendation, however, we do not wish should rest on our authority alone; for we are well convinced that the extracts, which we shall quote, will be a sufficient inducement not only to purchase, but to read.
The Disquisitions are eight in number:—1. On the chain of universal being. 2. On cruelty to inferior animals. 3. On a pre-existent state. 4. On the nature of time. 5. On the analogy between things material and intellectual. 6. On rational Christianity. 7. On government and civil liberty. 8. On religious establishments.—Some of these subjects, it will be observed, are of an abstruse nature; but let not any one be deterred, by supposing that an abstruse subject must be treated in a dry and uninteresting manner. It will readily be seen, that most of them are of so extensive and deep an order that they cannot be fully discussed in so short a compass. But it is not the way of Soame Jenyns to run into full discussion on any topic, if by full discussion is meant a deliberate view of the matter in all its different aspects, and a regular clearing away of all the opinions and assertions that have been maintained by others on the question. Our author invariably looks upon his subject in some novel and interesting point of view, and is perfectly regardless of what may or may not have been said by other writers. He takes but one line or stream of argument, and that is from a source of his own discovery, which almost invariably leads him to the point he aims at. It is most curious to see the penetrating manner in which he contrives to dive into the question through the stagnant collections of error, prejudice, and the rubbishy opinions of others. There is nothing more striking to the reader, than the short cut which he always makes to a conclusion, and that by no means by any false or deceitful road. The subjects upon which we are accustomed to see bulky volumes written, here dwindle into a few pages of lively and elegant composition. And when we have perused a disquisition, we involuntarily ask, what more is wanted, or why have we been so laden hitherto with divisions, sub-divisions, deductions, and definitions. We are not, indeed, of opinion, that our author is always right in his conclusions, for we more than in one instance disagree with him—but then, though far from being in every case convinced., we have been in every case entertained by ingenious composition, and subtile reasoning placed in a novel point of view.
The first Essay, on the chain of universal being, is chiefly remarkable for the complete and elegant manner in which this mysterious connection is shewn to exist. The reasoning in it is of that sort which carries conviction, by the method of stating and setting forth the bearings of the question. It may, perhaps, be not unfitly called the reasoning of developement, which requires nothing more than an unveiling or disclosing of the hidden link of circumstances, and not an invention of arguments, but a mere opening of the eyes to the nature of things. As the microscope only betrays, and does not produce the veins of a leaf or the pores of an insect.
From this we shall only extract the following short passage.
"The manner by which the consummate wisdom of the divine Artificer has formed this gradation, so extensive in the whole, and so imperceptible in the parts, is this:—he constantly unites the highest degree of the qualities of each inferior order to the lowest degree of the same qualities, belonging to the order next above it; by which means, like the colours of a skilful painter, they are so blended together, and shaded off into each other, that no line of distinction is any where to be seen. Thus, for instance, solidity, extension, and gravity, the qualities of mere matter, being united with the lowest degree of vegetation, compose a stone; from whence this vegetative power ascending through an infinite variety of herbs, flowers, plants, and trees, to its greatest perfection in the sensitive plant, joins there the lowest degree of animal life in the shell-fish, which adheres to the rock; and it is difficult to distinguish which possesses the greatest share, as the one shows it only by shrinking from the finger, and the other by opening to receive the water which surrounds it. In the same manner this animal life rises from this low beginning in the shell-fish, through innumerable species of insects, fishes, birds, and beasts, to the confines of reason, where, in the dog, the monkey, and chimpanze, it unites so closely with the lowest degree of that quality in man, that they cannot easily be distinguished from each other. From this lowest degree in the brutal Hottentot, reason, with the assistance of learning and science, advances through the various stages of human understanding, which rise above each other, till in a Bacon or a Newton it attains the summit."
The next, on cruelty to animals, is a most able enforcement of the feelings of humanity, produced by merely counteracting the effects of custom, which familiarizes us to behold scenes of barbarity without the slightest regard. By stating the treatment of the inferior race of beings as it really exists, and by placing us in a new relative situation towards them by an analogical supposition, he completely effects his purpose of striking us with horror at the actions which we are every day witnesses of.
"No small part of mankind derive their chief amusements from the deaths and sufferings of inferior animals; a much greater, consider them only as engines of wood or iron, useful in their several occupations. The carman drives his horse, and the carpenter his nail, by repeated blows; and so long as these produce the desired effect, and they both go, they neither reflect or care whether either of them have any sense of feeling. The butcher knocks down the stately ox with no more compassion than the blacksmith hammers a horse-shoe; and plunges his knife into the throat of the innocent lamb, with as little reluctance as the taylor sticks his needle into the collar of a coat." .
"If there are some few, who, formed in a softer mould, view with pity the sufferings of these defenceless creatures, there is scarce one who entertains the least idea, that justice or gratitude can be due to their merits or their services. The social and friendly dog is hanged without remorse, if, by barking in defence of his master's person and property, he happens unknowingly to disturb his rest: the generous horse, who has carried his ungrateful master for many years with ease and safety, worn out with age and infirmities contracted in his service, is by him condemned to end his miserable days in a dust-cart, where the more he exerts his little remains of spirit the more he is whipped, to save his stupid driver the trouble of whipping some other, less obedient