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When we first cast our eye over the very flippant, but eccentric performance of this Hortensius, this very Dionysia * of the pulpit, from which the above extracts have been taken, we little doubted but that the writer was an episcopal clergyman of the first note and celebrity in Scotland ; who was unwilling that his secret fould be loft to the world; a popular preacher of such astonishing powers, as to be able, at any time, as Mr. Smith himself expresses it, “ to gesticulate away the congregation of the most profound and learned divine among his rivals, and, in two Sundays, preach him bare to the very sexton; and that, thus gifted, he has generously undertaken to instruct and enlighten his brethren of the fouth. But our furprize was great on being informed, that Mr. S. instead of a practifed veteran is as yet but a mere novice in the gesticulating art. During an occasional visit, it seems, to the capital of the North, he had frequented the circles of the gay and fashionable; where finding his wit was admired, and his eloquence applauded, he had “ instantly become, to himself, a creature of unlimited importance, a concealed treasure;”+ and his Sermons and their preface foon issued, in consequence, from the press.
We are well aware of what is related, by Cicero, of Demosthenes, who, on being questioned, gave it as his opinion, that actio (that is, in the antient sense, every thing in public speaking, except the compolition) was justiy to be regarded as the first, and the second, and the third property in an orator. I But our idea, we acknowledge, of what a sacred orator ought truly to poffefs, is considerably different from that antient standard ; and we know quite enough of Methodists, and of sectaries of all denominations to wish, that our established clergy should borrow nothing, whether from their principles or their practice. It is related by Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Watts, (perhaps the most eminent character that ever appeared among the sectaries) that “he did not endeavour to affist his eloquence by any gesticulations; for, as no corporeal actions have any correspondence with theological truth, he did not see how they could enforce it.” Now, greatly as we congratulate our author on discovering what had wholly escaped the perspicacity both of Johnson and of Watts, yet we candidly own, that we are not ambitious of seeing the dignitaries of the church of England “ articulate with every limb, and talk from head to foot with a thousand voices.” The genuine eloquence, which, in our judgment, befits the pulpit, înculd be of a species calm, lofty, and dignified. It should depend little, if any thing, on action, according to the modern acceptation of the term, for its value, or its effect. The speaker's manner, withal, should be graceful no less than impressive. He should be neither congealed to ice upon the one hand, nor melt into theatrical affectation on the other. He should know how
* See Aul. Gell. Lib. I. 5. † See Sermons, Vol. I. P.
119. Cic. de Orat. Lib. III. 56.
to touch the true chords of tenderness and persuasion, as well as rise to the heights of fublimity and terror : but ever remembering “whose minifter he is,” his first and last aiin should be, to be devout, authoritative, and instructive. Such is the orator whom we should choose to grace the pulpits of the establishment. Do our young clergy pant for an elevation, or an influence still higher than such qualities will confer, over the great body of their hearers? If so, we can assure them, that they will never obtain it by the variety of their gesticulation, or the brightness of their wit; but by an exemplary discharge of all the duties of their function; by extensive charity ; by active, unwearied, and “gratuitous” benevolence; in a word, by the usefulness of their example, and the piety of their lives.
It is from the idea which we conceive of the real genius and talents of Mr. Smith, that we have taken the trouble to dwell at such length on the extravagancies which he has committed, in the hope that they may yield to falutary correction. As for himfelf, he seems a person, whose moral as well as religious principles are found, upright, and manly; but, if we mistake not, he may, with tolerable accuracy, be pourtrayed in his own words, as among “ those misplaced characters, who, in spite of all classification and arrangement, have strangely deviated into an order, to which every body sees they do not naturally belong.' In regard to the Sermons now before us, we cannot think of ranking them very high among compofitions which truly and legitimately merit that title. They are pretty essays, distinguished for their vivacity, abounding in images, and sometimes even striking by their originality, and their eloquence. The following are the subjects of which they treat. Vol. I. The love of our country--Scepticisin---the Poor Magdalene--the predisposing Causes to the Reception of Republican Opinions--the best Mode of Charity--the Conversion of St. Paul. Vol. II. The Effects which Christianity ought to produce upon the Manners--the Pride of Birthm the Union of Innocence and Wifdom--Farewell Sermon to a Country ParishVanity--the Treatment of Servants--Men of the World—for the Swiss. Having so far exceeded our usual limits in considering the prefatory essay, we have now no room to make such extracts, as we fhould with great pleasure do, from the Sermons themselves. The following may serve as a fair specimen of the author's manner.
" What shall we say to that most extraordinary of all characters, a bigotted sceptic? who refifts the force of proof, where he has every temptation to be convinced ; who ought to figh for refutation, and to bless the man who has reasoned him to filence. Bigotry in him is pure, unadulterated vice. It is not the fear of losing an opinion on which his happiness depends, but the fear of losing an opinion, merely because it is an opinion ; and this is the very effence of obstinacy and pride. Where men pretend to nothing, the world are
s) indulgent to their faults: but it well beloves those who lord it, in word and thought, over the rest of mankind, that they be consistent in their con
* See Sermon on Pride of Birth, Vol. II. P. 72.
duct, and perfectly free from those faults, which they fo liberally impute to others. Ignorance, bigotry, and illiberality are bad enough in a simple ftate: but when men of lender information, narrow views, and obftinate dispositions, insult the feelings of such of their fellow creatures who (as) have fixed their faith in (on) an amiable and benevolent religion ; we are called upon, by common sense, and by common spirit, to refift, and to extinguish this dynasty of fools. To those great men, on whom God has breathed a larger portion of his fpirit, and sent into the world to enlarge the empire of talents and of truth, mankind will ever pay a loyal obedience. They are our natural leaders : they are the pillars of fire, which brighten the darkness of the night, and make straight the paths of the wilderness. They must move on before us. But, while we give (a) loose to our natural veneration for great talents, let us not mistake laxity for liberality, the indelicate boldness of a froward difpofition, for the grasping strength, and impulsive curiosity, of an original mind. Let us steadily discountenance the efforts of bad men, and of shallow men, to darken the distinctions between right and wrong; to bring inio ridicule and contempt the religion of their country; and to gratify some popular talent, at the expence of the dearest interests of mankind.
“ Bigotry and intolerance are their terms of alarm; and some foundation for alarm, in truth, there may be : but the danger is not that the world should again fall under the dominion of men who will dictate a peculiar belief, but of men who will prohibit all belief; who will enforce incredulity with mo. naitic rigour, and annex a papal infallibility to the decisions of the sceptical school. The danger is, that, having escaped from one age of darkness, where nothing was called in question, we shall fall into another, where every thing is discussed ; that, having reduced the power of one order of men, who
ould have hindered us from doubting, we shall have to struggle with another, who would hinder us froi deciding ; that the fires of persecution may
be lighted up, to support an orthodox phynonism, and to check the heresy of piety; and that any positive belief in any religion may be just as criminal in the nineteenth century, as to doubt of the real presence, or any other catholic dogma, was in the eleventh." Vol. I. PP. 64--69.
The language of this writer, though generally elegant, is not always remarkable for its accuracy, and his inattention to all common laws of punctuation is most unpleating and excessive. In the above extract we have endeavoured to amend the punctuation purely for bis emolument; and if correctness in such matters be not consideredas too minute a labour for genius, we would recommend the perusal of some good practical essay on the subject. As to other inaccuracies, he will do well, in future, to avoid such as the following. Every consideration influences the mind in a compound ratio of the effects which it involves, and their proximity.” to the effects. Preface,
“ Without the utmost efforts, he can neither excite it, or preserve it when excited.” nor preserve it.
66 He has neither read them in pastorals, or (nor) in satires.” Vol. II. p. 91. "A service fome little abridged ;" i. e. in some little, or small degree abridged. Pref. P. 35. “ The world set a high value upon illustrious birth.” fets a high value. P. 38. “ If you meet with such a man, take him to you, and make him your chosen friend ;
and worship him with kindness and good deeds, and knit his heart to thine own.” your own. Vol. II. p. 219. This inadmissible tranfition, froin the second plural, to the second person singular, in the fame sentence, as also the use of the antiquated vulgarism “ amongst,” instead of among, are flips pretty frequent with this ingenious writer.
It will, notwithitanding, give us great fatisfaction again to meet with Mr. Smith, when a few more years of life shall have contributed to ripen bis powers, and restrain the exuberance of his fancy; and particularly when he has laid aside his favourite project of regulating, by new laws of his own, our classical standard of puipit eloquence.
The Life of David Garrick, Esq. By Arthur Murphy, Efq. In 2 Vols. 8vo. Pp. 780. 345. Wright.
Wright. London. *1801. THE present generation of theatrical Performers, with very few
exceptions, are so much beneath what their predecessors were a few years ago, that there is hardly to be found in any province of art a inore lamentable decay of genius. The hero of the present work was however so much fuperior, even to the admirable performers of his day, that his excellence deserves to be recorded, as far as it is possible to record that excellence which can never be properly estimated, except by those who were living witnesses of its extent and variety. Soon after the death of the admired English Rofcius, Mr. Davies, the bookseller, who had formerly been upon the stage, published a Life of Mr. Garrick, which was a work of merit, and which altogether comprized nearly as much as could be known of the professional career of that unrivalled actor. Mr. Murphy, to whom the public are indebted for many admirable works, in various provinces of literature, had, we understand, long meditated an intention of writing a life of his old friend Garrick, and it is much to be regretted that he did not fignify his intention before Davies undertook the task, for then he would have had the whole field to himself in which, with all his knowledge, good fenfe, and experience, he is now obliged to appear ehielly as a gleaner. Davies would doubtless have retired from the ground if he had known that it was to be traversed by Mr. Murphy, and the latter would then have placed most of the facts and observations, relative to fo extraordinary a genius as Garrick, in a more interesting and striking point of view. Besides, the power of memory would have been more vivid, and the impression of Garrick's excellence more accurate. Thefe volumes are certainly not equal to what might have been expected from Mr. Murphy at an exrlier period of life; but they do honour to his hero, and are creditable to himfelf. It must be allowed, indeed, that even the profution of materials is not a little embarrassing to a biographer, for when a man has so much distinguished himself as Garrick, envy and admiration have discovered and promulgated all that is known, with all the hyperboles which these paflions are fo likely to produce
Mr. Murphy knew that he was following the track of a former biographer, and had nothing very novel to impart, he has judiciously introduced a kind of critical examen into the merits of most of the plays, which were revived or introduced to the public under the theatrical management of his hero. This part of his work, though perhaps it may be thought unseasonable, when employed upon the plots of old and well-known plays, is very valuable in itself; for it is the product of judgment, observation, and experience. - Many of our diurnal critics will doubtless have recourse to it to guide them in their remarks upon the dramatic productions of the day, and it will, indeed, assist the judgment and improve the taste of all who are fond of dramatic amusements. The substance of these volumes might have been properly included in one, as at present there is an appearance of eking out, which we do not like to see in any works of so respectable a veteran of Literature as Mr. Murphy. "The Life is dedicated to Mr. Coutts the banker, in a delicate, modeft, and grateful address. There is an Appendix consisting of pieces written by Mr. Garrick, and other productions intended to do homage to his genius. The edition amounted, we find, to two thousand, which are nearly sold; and a new edition is in the press, a circumstance which we are glad to relate as it shews that the public opinion is in its favour. As our readers may wish for some excerpt, we shall take the third chapter which gives the best account altogether of the first appearance of the great theatrical phoenomenon on the London boards; and the impression which his unexpected and unexampled blaze of genius mada upon
the town. “ From this time (1738) the profeslion of an actor was the object of his an. bition. The stage, at that period, was in a low condition. Macklin had played Shylock with applause, and Quin was, beyond all doubt, a most excellent performer. Mrs. Pritchard, and Mrs. Woffington fhone in genteel comedy, and Mrs. Clive made the province of humour entirely her own. She deserved to be called the COMIC Muse. And yet the dramı was funk to the lowest ebb : in tragedy, declamation roared in a most unnatural strain ; rant was passion; whining was grief; vociferation was terror, and drawling accents were the voice of love. Comedy was reduced to farce and but foonery. Garrick saw that nature was banished from the theatre, but he flattered himself that he should be able to revive a better taste, and succeed by the truth of imitation, He was, in consequence, now resolved to launch into the theatrical world, and, accordingly, in the beginning of 1740, he dissolved partnership with his brother Peter Garrick. He passed the remainder of the year in preparation for his great design ; he studied the best characters of Shakespeare and of our comic writers with all his attention, but at lait, he was frightened by the difficulties that stood in his way. A new school of acting was to be eftablished, and the attempt, he was aware, would be called innovation. He shrunk back, not being sure of his own power; but the impulse of nature was not to be resisted. His genius drove him on. His friend Mr. Gifard was the
of the theatre in Goodman's Fields. Garrick con. fulted him, and, by his advice, determined to make an experiment of himkelf at a country theatre. The scheme was settled, and they both set out for 2