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folution of the origin of evil, far less as a complete one, nor was. it ever so urged, that we know of, by any Christian divine; none, therefore, but either injudicious or uncandid persons will repreient the subject in this light.” Our business, at present, is with the following question, “ Will any Christian divine take upon him to say, that the account which is delivered to us by the sacred penmen, concerning the introduction of natural and moral evil into this world, is not a just one ?” According to the Holy Scriptures, neither human calamities, nor death, nor the evil passions of men, are from the original constitution of nature, but were brought into the world by chat sin to which The Devil first seduced man. The h.story of the fail, the previous threatening of God in case of difobedience, and the fentence pronounced on Adam's transgresion, together with the consequent alteration in the state of the world, and in the condition of mankind, do all naturally lead us to a source of human calamities very different from the original constitution of nature. That account which is given us in the Bible, concerning the introduction of natural and moral evil among men, hath hitherto been received by Christians in general, as authentic; the principles and design of the Gospel everywhere suppose its truth; there is nothing in it contradictory to human realon, or inconfistent with our natural ideas of the divine perfections, for nothing injurious throughout the whole affair is attributed to the agency of God. The origin of evil is a subject not within the comprehension of the human mind, because we are, at present, destitute of those common principles without which a clear knowledge of the matter cannot be conveyed to us : if there were a proper medium through which such information could be given, we should undoubtedly perceive, that God was no more the contriver and agent in the first rise of moral evil, than he was, according to the Scriptures, in the entrance of fin into this world,
In the next passage that we shall quote, Mr. Fell, after the load of abuse that he has thrown upon Mr. Farmer, in the preceding three hundred pages, and the many pernicious views and sentiments he has ascribed to him, many of which are afterwards repeated, generously acquits him of all bad intentions.
Far be it from us,' says he,' to impute any evil design to this writer ; we doubt not, he really meant to serve the cause of virtue, which he thought could not be more effectually done, than by removing every thing which appeared to him in the light of superstition. But we have a right to affirm, that in supporting his hypothesis concerning Dæmoniacs, and in pointing out what he apprehends to be the true source of human calamities, he urges those very arguments that have been so often alleged both against the truth and necessity of a revelation. In
deed, it appears to us, that either his scheme or the Gospel of Christ must fall to the ground; there seems no alternative. He denies the power of all superior beings, God excepted, to do either good or evil to mankind, and on this principle rejects the infuence of evil spirits from every cause of human misery. But the Holy Scriptures constantly affirm, that the Devil beguiled man from his allegiance to God, and seduced him into fin; they represent this prince of wicked spirits as the immediate author of all mischief, and therefore call him 4 an homicide from the beginning." Mr. Farmer considers all the calamities and advantages of human nature as immediately determined and fixed in the original constitution of things, and hence maintains, that the human system is governed by the very same invariable laws with the natural world. But the Holy Scriptures assure us, that the present state of human nature is not that in which it was originally created : they attribute all the evils of mankind to sin: they will neither allow, that God is the author of death, nor that human miseries arise from the original conftitution of things : but they attribute every blessing to the immediate and constant agency of the divine Being, and his unmerited goodness. This is the grand hinge on which, not only the whole controversy between Chriftians and the opposers of a divine revelation, but the very being of religion and virtue, turns. If the prefent state of human nature arose from the original conftitution of things, and man be just such as he came at first from the hands of his Maker, we must conclude with Lord Bolingbroke, that neither the goodness nor the justice of God ever required, that we should be better or happier than we are, at least in the present world; and that no fufficient reason can be afligned for an extraordinary revelation. If the fettled order of causes and effects in the moral world, together with the reguJarity and uniformity of the natural world, are all to be ascribed to the operation of the very same laws, we can by no mean's avoid that conclusion which Mr. Hume feems to have intended in his “Essay on Liberty and Necessity,” That it is imposible for reason to shew how human actions can have any moral turpitude at all, without involving our Creator in the same guilt. We have never yet seen any objections raised against those prin ciples on which the Gospel is refted, which do not strike as much at the ground of natural religion as at the foundation of the Christian scheme. The present interest of society in general, as well as the future happiness of mankind, is inseparably connected with the truth and reality of those doctrines, which are delivered in the Scriptures, concerning the ruin of human nature by the malice and wickedness of the Devil, and its recovery from lin and wretchedness by the Son of God. The principles of the Christian religion can never be overchrown without the loss
of morality; and, while a real difference is maintained in the world between virtue and vice, and man is considered as a moral agent, it seems clear to us, Mr. Farmer's account of the origin of human calamities must be rejected.'
Our Readers cannot but notice the consequential ftyle, we and us, which Mr. Fell adopts. They ought also to be apprised, that he reckons, original fin, and the renewal of our nature' by an immediate divine agency,' among those doctrines of Christianity, which, according to his representation in the paragraph juft quoted, are connected with the present intereft of fociety, and with the future happiness of mankind, and which 'can never be overthrown without the loss of morality.'
Mr. Fell, in another chapter, seems willing to believe, that madness is fometimes, at least, owing to poffeffion by evil spirits, though he acknowledges, that it would be highly presumptuous in any one in the present day to determine what particular inItances of madness are to be ascribed to this cause. His reasons are, that fome of the phenomena of madness are not to be aca counted for, and that some particular kinds of madness are incúrable. The same reasons led the ancients to ascribe the cpilepsy, madness, and every other disorder, and every osher phenomenon, with the nature of which they were unacquainted, to the supernatural agency and influence of superior evil beings.
If Mr. Farmer should think it proper to take any public notice of this opponent, he will, in our opinion, obtain an easy victory. We can only wish for his own reputation, and for the credit of his profession, that Mr. Fell had proved himself a more rational, modelt, and generous adverfary.
Art. II. Zoraida ; a Tragedy. As i: is acted at the Theatre
Royal in Drury-Lane. To which is added a Poilscript, containe ing Observations on Tragedy. Svo. 1 s. 6 d. Keailly. 1780.
DDISON was accused by Dennis of poisoning the town
with falle criticism in the Spectator, in order to prejudice their minds in favour of Cato. Critics as we are, we believe this cenfure of Addison, by our predecessor, to have been malevolent and ill-founded, and that the Spectators on Tragedy, however they might occasionally coincide with the practice of the author, were dictated by the spirit of taste and candour. The Writer of Zoraida has, however, subjoined to his piece fome “ Observations on Tragedy,” professedly written in vindication of the principles on which his drama is constructed. It will not be improper, therefore, to blend an investigation of these principles with an examination of the tra. gedy; both of which the Author has, with much fairness, submitted to critical decision,
These Observations, though miscellaneous, are digested methodically. The greater part, being little more than a collection of received opinions, transcribed from Aristotle, Hurd, Marmontel, &c. are incontrovertible; but the remainder, con taining new doctrines now firft broached, and maintained by our Author himself, are, we think, in many instances, extremely questionable.
He commences with a new and, in our opinion, a dangerous maxim, that a tragedy for the closet, and a tragedy for the stage, must please on different principles. No such distinction occurs in Aristotle, in whose days the arts of scenic representation departed more widely from the truth of Nature, than the theatrical exhibitions of the moderns. Plays are avowedly written to be acted, and Aristotle reckons mufic and decoration among the parts of tragedy. Modern critics, though they have omitted these local assistants, rightly considering them rather as the dress than the body of tragedy, have however conftantly adverted to the theatre in all their observations on the drama; never counselling the writer to sacrifice by turns to the reader and spectator, but exhorting him to use the means of faithful and lively imitation. These means are undoubtedly an interesting fable, supported by characters accurately delineated, and justly sustained. The sentiments and diction follow of course,
Verbaque provisam rem non invita fequuntur. The inference which the Observer has drawn from his for it maxim, appears to us as erroneous as the maxim itself. Fable, he says, is most calculated to please on the stage, and Manners in the closet; the first niost forcibly exciting pity and terror, the latter only moving admiration. In our opinion, both fable and manners, in the hands of a master, first seize our passions, and afterward receive the sanction of our judgment. The fable is perhaps, of the two, more peculiarly the work of art, and consequently most the object of admiration; or, to speak the Observer's language, of our “ artificial and reflective palfions.” To try this matter fairly by the feelings of the reader, totally unconnected with theatrical artifice, let us instance the English comic-epic of Tom Jones. The sprightly and affecting exhibition of manners alternately excite our mirth, and move our passions ; but the artificial contexture of the fable, particularly toward the conclusion, has constantly raised admiration.
The introduction of tragedies, raised chiefly on manners, the Observer has afligned to Corneille. How could he, in this instance, overlook our great countryman, Shakspeare? The nice discrimination of the various shades of the human mind, the pourtraying of character, was Shakspeare's great excellence.
His fable is often comparatively defective. What is the conduct of the story of Hamlet viewed with the person of Hamlet and the Ghost What author more openly fins against the ftrictness of fable, or more uniformly adheres to the truth of character? It is to this he chicfly owes his power on the flage, as well as in the closet. Improbabilities of fable are often overlooked by the spectator, if not accompanied with violation of character. Aristotle indeed philosophically stated the fable to be the ground of tragedy, because a tissue of scenes, unconnected by action, however faithfully and elegantly exhibiting manners, could not constitute a drama, tragic or comic: yet he never hinted that fable and manners were not equally essential to the written or acted tragedy. Even in the epic, unadapted to the theatre, yet capable of many ornaments not admissible in tragedy, the delineation and preservation of the manners is a moft important requisite. The Observer, however, by his initances from Corneille, and others, seems to have confounded the exhibition of character with declamation.
We are not better pleased with the idea of the only new property that the Observer has aligned to the fable itself, the Marvellous! To elevate and surprise is the system of The Rehearsal, but not the code of Aristotle; and if by the Marvellous, the Observer means any thing more than an interesting and judicious arrangement of the incidents, we lift up both hands against his opinion. That he means something more, we conclude from his construction of the tragedy of ZORAIDA, the fable of which is much less probable or pathetic, than marvellous. The catastrophe is also cold, though marvellous; a defect perhaps arising from another of our Observer's new ideas of tragedy, that “ a happy catastrophe must be carefully concealed till the moment of its arrival.” Not to enter into argument on this point, we shall content ourselves with refuting the principle by one splendid example. The catastrophe of Shakspeare's Cymbeline is happy, and consists of a recapitulation of incidents previously known to the spectator; yet the author has contrived to render it uncommonly warm and affecting. The author of Zoraida, on the contrary, has carefully concealed his plot from the spectator till the last scene; when, all on a fudden, he converts the lover of Zoraida into her brother. We smile at the poetical table of consanguinity, so unexpectedly brought before us, and wait to see the drama concluded by the Emperor's marrying Old Joan. Not to dwell on the staleness of the fiction, we do not remember a play in which it is introduced with more labour and violence, or in which it creates so little intereft.
The manners of the tragedy of Zoraida are Turkish, and in these the Author-Observer points out to us the accurate atten