« AnteriorContinuar »
vol. jii. of his works: likewise in The Scholar Armed, vol. ii. p. 225. See also his Considerations on the Religivus Worship of the Heathens, vol. xii, of his works, Letters from a Tutor to his Pupils, vol. xi. Letters, xii, xiii, and xiv.
De. Watts’s Essays and Composures on Various Subjects, No. III. printed at the end of vol. ii, of his work on the Improvement of the Mind.
The subject is treated likewise in a most masterly manner in Foster's Essays, Essay IV. Letter V. to the end. See the Extracts from this Essay, No. IV. of these Discourses, p. 75, &c.
A traveller in approaching our metropolis, will no doubt be struck with the magnificence of St. Paul's Cathedral; and the emblem on the top, The Cross, declares it to be a Christian structure. One of the next most conspicuous buildings is Drury-Lane Theatre, with The Statue of Apollo on the top. If the first be a sign of our religion, what is the other? If the first declares it to have been set up by Christians, what does the other denote? Surely this is an inconsistency. - What concord hath Christ with Apollo? (2 Cor. vi. 15.) With this emblem on the outside, we must not be surprised if we find the sentiments and principles within frequently savouring of the same mythology. In Venice Presero'd, Belvidera says, Act I. Then praise our gods and watch thee till the morning.
of the remarks in these Discourses apply to poetry at large, as well as dramatic poetry, I shall frequently adduce my instances from works not dramatic. It is a passing strange,” that the pious Young, who writes professedly upon religious subjects, should fall into this error. Speaking of the union of the justice and the love of God, he says, they are A mystery no less to gods than men.
N. IV. 1. 225.
Give me, indulgent gods! with mind serene,
N. V. 1. 616.
It becomes a man;
In Night IX. 1. 578, we find the Prous BARD invoking HEAV'N's KING, in these solemn words,
Thou, who didst touch the lips of Jesse's son,
I dare attempt, assist my daring Song.
But chiefly, Thou, great Ruler! Lord of all !
To my great subject Thou my breast inspire,
And raise my lab'ring soul with equal fire, Yet N. III. I. 25, we find him censuring the Bards who invoke Phạbus, and saying it is another
deity my song
Now first implor'd in succour to the Muse. And next, a Lady, who appeared at the Duke of Norfolk's Masquerade, in the character of Cynthia, is represented as inspiring, as excelling Cynthia, and Cynthia, in return, assuming her character, and becoming “more a goddess by the change." 1. 28. Afterwards he says,
if she My song invokes, URANIA, deigns to smile. N. VIII. I. 24. We hear likewise of Virtue, wonder-working goddess.
N. III. 1. 366.
Pleasure came from heav'n.
N. IV, 1. 551,
The goddess bursts in thunder and in flame.
N. IV. I. 828.
* David, 1 Sam. xvi. 18, 24,
In another place Bacchus is introduced, as if he really existed, and is mentioned in the same passage
sung Philander, as his friend went round
N. II. 1. 576.
Wit calls the Graces the chaste zone to loose;
N. V. I. 30.
pay, 'ere long, and bless me with repose. N. IX. I. 2173. He compares death to the stranding of a bark on Charon's shore:
In life embark'd, we smoothly down the tide
Our brittle bark is burst on Charon's shore. N. V. 1. 411.
What groan was that, Lorenzo? Furies, rise,
N. V. 1. 434. Lorenzo is reproached N. IX. for not being guilty of idolatry.
Lorenzo's admiration, pre-engaged,
* In the Chorus at the end of the first Act of The Battle of Hexham, Mars is made the God of the White Rose Party:
Strike!- the God of Conquest sheds
Mars, with fury-darting eye,
Hand in hand, with victory, &c.
Least correspondence with one single star ;
1. 1642. This is very remarkable. The Israelites were exhorted (Deut. iv. 15. 19.) “ Take ye good heed unto yourselves,-lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them; which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” And, accordingly, we find Job, in clearing his innocence to his friends, say, “ If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge, for I should have denied the God that is above." Xxxi. 26-28.
I am aware that these expressions of Young's are figurative, but we should not introduce as figures, those things which would be í wrong in reality, and to adopt them first in play, may lead to the
practice of them in earnest ; at least they divert the mind from the proper object.
SKELTON (the Rev. Philip) in his 2nd Reflection, on Bigotry, speaking of Superstition, says, that it " is the foible of weak minds, and consists in laying too great a stress on trifles, or things foreign to religion. In such minds the infinite importance of religion itself is apt to communicate some share of its own weight and dignity to all its circumstances, and to every thing, that but seems to second its good purposes, to raise its ardours, or promote its effects. In this light, superstition looks like the harmless, but simple child of religion, and passes unsuspected, till, grown up to a degree of strength, it steals the reins from its mother's hands, and drives her out of the house. It begins with observations on spilling salt, on meeting a red-haired woman in the morning, on the flight of a bird; but proceeds to an adoration of the moon, and to offering human sacrifices to a fancied deity.” (See Clapham's Edition of Skelton's Sermons, vol. i. p. 402.)
Accordingly in The Tragedy of Douglas, we hear Douglas, a
Ye glorious stars ! high heav'n's resplendent host !
Hear and record my soul's unalter'd wish!
We consider it one of the errors of popery to pray to Angels, and, I must confess, I have frequently wondered at hearing the air,
Angels, ever bright and fair,
Take, O take me to your care ; &c. from the Oratorio of Theodora, sung in our Churches. I should by no means think it an unlikely error for a mind, versed in our popular airs, and but moderately informed in religion, to fall into, te make use of this on a death bed. There is a similar air in Jephtha,
Waft her, Angels, through the skies, &c. The old Song of Guardian Angels is, of course, familiar to every one, It contains a strange mixture of popery and heathenism,
Guardian Angels, now protect me,
Send, Oh! send the youth I love;
Lead me through the myrtle grove: &c.
Spirit of my Sainted Sire,
The inspiration now I feel, &c.
And You, the brightest of the stars above,
ņot hold her nearer to my soul,
* It is some years since I read the Play of The Robbers, but I think I remember that Charles Moor makes his friend swear by his father's grey hairs. A. y..