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Forty Sermons on Doctrinal and Practical Subjects; selected from the Works of the Rev. Samuel Clarke, D. D. For the Use of Families. To which is prefixed a Sketch of his Life. By the Rev. Samuel Clapham, M. A. Chaplain to the Earl Camden, and Editor of the Abridgement of the Lord Bishop of Lincoln's Elements of Christian Theology. Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe. Price 9s.
MR. CLAPHAM has, in this publication, done an essential service to the religious world. The writings of Dr. Clarke, invaluable in themselves, are not, from their high price, accessible to many readers. Besides, to those who are possessed of them, they are, in a great measure, useless. They are, in their original dress, too scholastic: they are, as Mr. C. observes, "too learned and obscure to be useful they contain too much of abstract reasoning :-the various senses in which some particular word in the text is shewn to be used, are too elaborately displayed :--the reader is wearied with the number of proofs where the mind does not require conviction; and the same subject is often discussed from different texts, until it is entirely exhausted." These are forcible objections, and the greatest admirers of Dr. Clarke must allow them to be just it is no wonder, therefore, "that those admirable sermons are so much neglected by many of the clergy, and that, by the laity, they are seldom read at all." Much praise is due to Mr. Clapham for the publication of this volume, in which he has exercised his wonted judgment; and he will not, we trust, be disappointed in his hopes of its becoming " as acceptable to the family,
as useful in the closet."
An account of the life of Dr. Clarke is prefixed; and it is such as will greatly prepossess the reader in his favour. In the Sermons
we see the man.
Notes on the West Indies: Written during the Expedition under the Command of the late General Sir Ralph Abercromby: including Observations on the Island of Barbadoes, and the Settlements captured by the British Troops upon the Coast of Guiana: Likewise Remarks relating to the Creoles and Slaves on the Western Colonies, and the Indians of South America. With occasional Hints, regarding the Seasoning or Yellow Fever of Hot Climutes. By George Pinckard, M. D. of the Royal College of Physicians.
Ir is amongst the chief and rare consolations of the critical inspectors, when they can, unreservedly, and consistently with their
bounden duty to the public and their own consciences, recommend the labours of the mind to their readers. Under such justifications we can honestly give in our testimony with regard to this production, which is a very interesting collection of valuable facts, and judicious observations upon them, set off in language peculiarly correct, yet not refusing those ornaments of style, which render them more engaging.
Selection is difficult where excellence is general. The Doctor's sentiments on the military character will be read with pleasure and approbation.
The "Portsmouth Poll," is a picture drawn with great vivacity of pencil, and, had we space for it, should be given to our readers, with the whole of what refers to Portsmouth, in particular Huslar Hospital.
Almahide and Hamet, a Tragedy. By Benjamin Heath Malkin, Esq. M. A. Large 8vo. pp. 158. Longman and Rees. 1804.
ACCIDENT has prevented an earlier notice of this tragedy; and now we can only afford it a few lines. The subject is the same, with considerable variations, as that on which Dryden built his Conquest of Grenada, to which, however, the author is under few obligations, either for the language, characters, or conduct of his drama. It is written with accuracy and elegance, and the sentiments are aptly introduced, and forcibly applied. His object has been “ to convey a lesson on the miseries of faction, and to exhibit the conflict between duty and passion, and the consequences of the latter in virtuous minds." In this he has been successful; but Mr. Malkin's forte is, as he himself suspects, not dramatic poetry; his blank verse, though it does not "halt," can only be said to creep: it is little better than measured prose, and scarcely ever rises to the strain of passion.
We can speak in warmer terms of his introductory observations : they include a brief historical review of the dramatic writers of this country, accompanied by some excellent criticisms, and conclude with remarks on the present state of the drama, so ingenious and just, that we have thought we could not gratify our readers better than by giving them at length in the stage department of the present number.
THE BRITISH STAGE.
Imitatio vita, speculum consuetudinis, imago veritatis.
ANECDOTES OF THE FRENCH STAGE,
ATREUS AND THYESTES, a tragedy by Crebillon, 1707.
A lawyer of Paris, of the name of Prieur, with whom Crebillon, who was intended for the bar, was placed when young, although old, and in bad health, went to the first representation of this tragedy. The author, at the end of the play, being upon the point of leaving him, Prieur embraced him with great affection, and said, "I die content, it was I that made you a poet; I leave a man to the nation."
This anecdote will be better understood after a relation of the following circumstances. It was in consequence of the advice of Prieur to Crebillon, that the latter was induced to dedicate his talents to the tragic Muse. They were both fond of theatrical amusements, and, from the judicious observations which the young man made upon them, Prieur judged that Nature had formed him for a writer, and proposed to him to attempt a tragedy. Crebillon, who had only written a few songs, and some other light pieces of poetry, for a long time declined the task, but Prieur at last persuaded him, and the poet chose, as the subject of his first essay, The Death of the Children of Brutus. He presented his play to the comedians, who refused it. Crebillon, hurt at the rejection of his tragedy, immediately went to Prieur, complained to him bitterly, and called his judgment in question, for having urged him to the undertaking, swearing that he would never make any more verses. Prieur adhering to his former opinion, reasoned with him upon the futility of his anger, and at length persuaded him to commence another tragedy. This piece was Idomeneus, which was followed by Atreus.
Crebillon often told his friends, that at the first performance of this tragedy, the pit was undivided, and went away without either applauding or hissing. After the performance, he went to a coffee house, where he met with an Englishman, who paid him many
compliments upon his tragedy, and said it was more suited to the meridian of London than of Paris. "The poisoned cup of Atreus, made me, notwithstanding, tremble, English as I am.
Ah! Monsieur, that cup-that cup!
ATTILIUS, a tragedy, by M. Gouvet, 1752.
This play was never acted, although it was highly praised in many circles of Paris, to whom the author had read it. On several evenings, when the actor announced the representations of the next evening, the pit frequently called out for Attilius, but Attilius never appeared. On one of the evenings they were so very vociferous, that the actor said to them, "Gentlemen, you ask for a play which is not known." At length the author printed it, the public read it, and never asked for it again.
BIBLIS, a tragic opera, by Fleury, the music by La Coste, 1732. A famous Italian sung in this opera. A young lady was asked if she did not think he sung very well: "Yes," she said, “he has a charming voice, but he appears to me to want something."
THE WAND OF VULCAN, a comedy in one act, in prose and in verse, by Renard and Fresny, 1693.
A man of the name of James Aymar, made at this time a great noise at Paris, with a divining rod or wand, with which he pretended to find out many secrets of nature; the subject gave rise to several dissertations, and furnished the idea of this comedy. It had amazing success when first performed. The authors made additions to it, under the title of Augmentations to the Wand of Vulcan. A bookseller upon this occasion published the story of an inn-keeper, who, in order to perpetuate an hogshead of old wine which pleased his guests, constantly kept filling it up with
BRIOCHE, or the origin of Puppets, a parody of Pygmalion, by M. Gaubier, 1713.
This piece not meeting with any success, some one asked the author, why he had risked it upon the stage? who said, "For a long time the people of Paris have vexed me by retail, so I seized the opportunity of being even with them, and have taken my revenge by wholesale."-" Indeed you have taken it with usury,” replied the other.
THE PRESENT STATE OF THE DRAMA,
BY BENJAMIN HEATH MALKIN, ESQ. M. A.
MODERN genius, if it listen at all to the discordant judgments on its own character, must be not a little perplexed to ascertain its rank in the public opinion. To the ear of levity, which sets criticism at defiance, or holds it in contempt, the comic writing of the present day has a grace beyond the reach of art: it supplies from the regions of oddity the exhausted stores of humour: it possesses all the powers of caricature, in exciting a stronger titillation of risibility than the most finished touches of painting: it promotes the end of amusement, by no fastidious selection of its means; and why should we be merry by method? It substitutes the eagerness and surprise of plot and incident for that antiquated dialogue, which listlessly held together a fable too probable to keep our attention on the stretch: the writing is become a matter of inferior moment, and effect is only to be studied. The critic, on the contrary, denounces the anathemas of his court against all doctrines and modes of mirth, but those which are canonized by the inquisition of the acknowledged wits. He applies the altitudinal admeasurement of artificial rules to every flight of fancy; and requires us to debate it gravely in our own minds, whether we ought to laugh, before we give way to the irritation. With him, nothing is a joke, but what ought to be. On these principles, he tries the unhappy subjects of his jurisdiction by laws to the enactment of which they sent no representative: he fines them for omissions, before they had been told that performance was a duty; and condemns them for inno vation, without releasing them from their engagement to be original. To this severe and authoritative judgment is generally subjoined a weighty and solemn discussion, whether the authors have corrupted the public taste, or the public taste spoiled the authors; for, till this point is settled, it would be fruitless to attempt reform.
For my own part, though I cannot so far compromise my real opinion, as to say that I altogether approve the style of the reigning authors, I neither deplore so bitterly the present, nor despair so deeply of the future. Were I disposed to arrogate to myself an office, that would indeed very ill become me, I should be much