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ments have been resorted to, by the greatest men, for mere relaxation. A celebrated king of Greece rode on hobby-horses with his children; a renowned English earl used to play at marbles with his sons; and the naturalist Buffon used to jump over the stools and chairs in his study. This will show that the mind must and will be unbent; and now I ask, whit amusement is there that will compare with the Drama? I will here leave the subject, as I think it has now been fully discussed.
OPENER (in reply).— I shall not trespass long upon your time in reply. My opinions on this subject have undergone no change, but have been entirely confirmed by the debate which has taken place.
Whilst I readily admit that the Stage has been, and might be again, a useful moral teacher, I am still prepared to maintain that the Stage, as it is, is most objectionable and immoral in its tendencies.
Immoral productions, immoral actors, immoral adjuncts, and immoral auditors, form the undeniable concomitants of the Drama of the day, False feelings, false conclusions, and false principles, are abundantly generated by it. It is the cause of dissipation, late hours, and other evils which have been pointed out, and therefore I unhesitatingly condemn it.
HAS THE STAGE A MORAL TENDENC
HAS THE STAGE A MORAL TENDENCY? 117
Only one of the arguments employed to defend the Stage seems to me to have any weight in it. It is the argument that we ought to look abstractedly at the theatre, and not argue against it because it is abused. I do not wonder that our opponents are anxious for an abstract view of this matter: for that is the only way in which their case looks at all respectable. But, Sir, are we not justified in refusing to decide the question in this manner ? It is now clear that the Stage tends towards abuse, and therefore it must be judged through its abuses.
The last speaker urged that the Stage is defensible on the ground that trifling amusements are necessary for the diversion of men's minds. I quite agree with him, Sir, that the Stage is a frivolous amusement; but I do not agree with him that therefore it is a fit recreation. The gentleman quoted some examples to prove his point; but what were they? Why, that the great men to whom he referred actually did not choose the Stage at all, but other and more innocent amusements, for their relaxation ! So much for that.
The gentleman further said that the Stage is a moral school. That word “school," Sir, was the most unlucky word he could have chosen. We have had to condemn its lessons; we have had to condemn its teachers : now, let us look for a moment at its scholars. If you want to find them, go to the box-lobbies of any metropolitan theatre, and you will see as dissipated, as rakish, and as morally unclean a set of pupils as ever existed in the world. If you want to see them further, try the nearest Cider-cellars or Pandemoniums, after the performances are over, and there you will find them carrying into practice the high lessons they have learned.
But, Sir, I must conclude: for I fear that I have already taken up too much of your time. I simply commit the question to your fair decision.
See EDINBURGH REVIEW, vol. xiv. p. 148.
MACAULAY'S Essays, vol. ii. p. 264 et seq.
Have the Crusades been beneficial to Mankind ?
FIRST SPEAKER. -- Sir, It will be generally admitted, I think, that it is scarcely possible to select a subject for discussion more calculated to awaken interest and thought, than that which has been just read from the chair. It is now universally felt that the Crusades form the startingpoint, the first page, of Modern European History ; and the perusal and careful study of that page cannot fail to make us see and judge more wisely the rest of the volume. It will be not merely an amusing, but an instructive task, to carry ourselves back into the early ages of civilisation, and trace the development and growth of those great principles which have since proved so important to the world. I have only to solicit the kind patience of the meeting whilst the task is performed.
To decide whether these vast and extraordinary enterprises have been of service to the world, we must see what the world was when they were undertaken, and then what it was after they were over.
We cannot of course survey the whole world at once : so we will take England as its type, which doubtless it was. What then, was England at this time? The answer is easily given-a land of slavery. By the Normans, the English people were personally and politically enslaved; by ignorance they were mentally enslaved; and by the foulest superstition they were morally enslaved. A more complete state of degradation and bondage cannot be conceived.
Well, the Crusades occurred; and as if by magic, the bondsmen's chains began to break and fall asunder. The feudal system relaxed : the sovereign power was coerced and reduced : Magna Charta was gained by the people: personal bondage gradually declined : mental and moral slavery were exposed by Wickliff and the other successors of the holy men who called Europe into arms; and from that time civilisation took firm footing in Europe.
By the Crusades, then, was generated that enthusiastic love of Freedom which has ever since been so prominent a feature in the European character Peter the Hermit little thought when he was calling on all Christians to put an end to the miserable bondage of the worshippers in the East, that he was insuring the freedom, bodily and mental, of the West as well. But the wise Disposer of Events had ordered it so, and so it came to pass.