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Stuart, Lady Arabella, 311.
Stubbins, Dr. 310.
Sydney, Sir Philip, 252.

Two choice and useful Treatises reviewed,

43.

Voltaire, 3.

Tillotson, 3.
The great Evil of Health Drinking re-

viewed, 322.
LEMNIE's Touchstone of Complexions re-

viewed, 336.
Thomas, St., 78.

Ward, Mr. 306.
Warton, Mr. 13, 14.
Winstanley, 33. 130.
Wix, Mr. 71.
Wood, Antony, 43. 108.

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THE

Retrospective Keview.

Vol. XII. Part I. .

Art. I.—The Plays acted before the University of Cambridge.

The prejudice modern readers have taken against every thing earlier than the productions of their own century, by giving us a proof of their indolence, affords a still stronger one, that their attainments are superficial. Those precocious wits, who say better things than they know, and write more than they read, furnish congenial food for this numerous class, who are either unwilling or unable to submit to the laws which justly impose on man the labour of penetrating into the mine, before he is permitted to possess the metal. Perhaps, indeed, the contracted ideas of some former antiquaries, who have launched indiscriminate condemnation against pursuits differing from their own, and their conclusive dogma that estimates value by age, have conduced in no small degree to injure the very cause they wished to advocate. The acrimony of a Ritson has probably deterred many from drinking at a purer stream, than the one newly cut from the parent river. But, without justifying the moroseness of these laborious writers, it is impossible not to censure those who affect to ridicule pursuits, the utility of which they are not qualified to appreciate. Qui non intelligit, aut taceat, aut discat, was the motto the astrological Dr. Dee put to his Monas Hieroglyphica; upon which Queen Elizabeth declared with unusual liberality,

" that if he would disclose unto her the secrets of that book, she would et discere et facere." Whereupon her Majestie had a little perusal of the same with him; and then, in most heroical and princely wise, did comfort him, and

VOL. XII. PART I.

B

encourage him in his studies, philosophical and mathematical."* To many who study only the ephemeral hot-pressed+ authors of our own age, we might apply the quaint but nervous expressions of Stephen Gosson,“ You know it is a notable point of folly, for a man to toast himself by his neighbour's fire, and never bestir him to keep any warmth in his own chimney : as great a madness is it in many readers, when they are taught, not to seek to maintain it of their own; which is, to content themselves with the glorious blaze of another man's knowledge, whereby they outwardly get some colour in their cheeks, but within they are dusky, dark, and obscure.” Still less can any justification be offered, for indulging in abuse against the pursuits of others, because we can unfortunately instance many eminent men, who have committed themselves upon

similar occasions. Sir Isaac Newton is said to have sneered at Dr. Bentley, and Bishop Hare, for squabbling, as he expressed it, about an old play book. Warburton has commented on the fact, in his preface to Shakespeare.

Such censures are among the follies of men, immoderately given up to one science, and ignorantly undervaluing all others. It is in this all-pervading spirit of illiberality, that the drama itself has been at different periods assailed, from the era of Tertullian, and the Fathers, to that of Jeremy Collier, and the Puritans of our own times. William Prynne, its most voluminous antagonist, affirms in his elaborate book, to Scourge Stage Plaiers, that he has therein cited against them no less than fifty-five Synods and Councils, seventy Fathers and Christian writers before the year 1200, one hundred and fifty foreign and domestic Protestant and Popish authors since, and forty heathen Philosophers and Poets. In despite of it, the drama still continues to instruct and amuse us,

-There have been more, in some one play,
Laugh'd into wit and virtue, than hath been
By twenty tedious lectures drawn from sin
And foppish humours."

Life of Dr. Dee, appended to Hearne's Joann. Glaston. Chron.
+ Octavius.

-Yet all admire
Author. The paper ?

Octavius. Yes; ten shillings every quire ;
The type is Bulmer's, just like Boydell's plays:
So Mister Hayley shines in Milton's rays.
In one glaz'd glare tracts, sermons, pamphlets vie,
And hot-press'd nonsense claims a dignity."

Pursuits of Literature, p. 229. Ed. 1808.

So fully impressed with this opinion is a Cambridge divine, that, not twenty years ago, he preached four sermons in the University Church in support of them.—Before his day, Archbishop Tillotson was not backward to give testimony in their favour, by declaring, they put some follies and vices out of countenance, which could not be so decently reproved, nor so effectually exposed and corrected, any other way. A history of the stage (says Mr. Burke) is no trivial thing to those who wish to study human nature, in all shapes and positions. It is of all things the most instructive, to see, not only the reflections of manners, and characters of several periods, but the modes of making their reflection, and the manner of adapting it at those periods to the taste and disposition of mankind. The stage, indeed, may be considered as the republic of active literature, and its history, as the history of that state. In our own times, we find how closely it is connected with the prevailing taste and fashion, and there is no doubt, but that it has always been so, from the days when comedy and tragedy were no higher than the exhibitions of our itinerant mountebanks, until those of Tom and Jerry, where imaginary sprees upon the stage are practically imitated in the streets.

A just theatrical representation is the best picture of human nature; with this peculiar attendant advantage, that in this instructing academy, the young spectator may frequently learn the manners of the world, without encountering its perils. Besides, as pleasure is the object in view of the greater part of mankind, (and most justly so, whilst this object is continued under the guidance of reason,) all well-regulated States have judged it proper, both in a political and moral sense, to have some public exhibitions, for the entertainment of the people. In tracing the rise and progress of the drama, the purposes to which it has been applied, and the important consequences that have arisen from it, a source of investigation is opened alike instructive to the philosopher, and gratifying to the feelings of the poet. Our limits, indeed, will only allow us to give that general account of it, which is more particularly connected with the subject of the present article, the LATIN PLAYS ACTED BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.

In the opinion of Voltaire, religious plays came first from Constantinople, where the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides were represented, till the fourth century. About this period Gregory Nazianzen, an archbishop and poet, with a view of banishing pagan plays from the stage at Constantinople, composed many sacred dramas, taken from stories in the old and new Testament, intended to be substituted for the Greek tragedies, with hymns in lieu of choruses. These have not survived the inimitable compositions over which they triumphed

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