صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

THE

CABINET;

OR, MONTHLY REPORT OF

POLITE LITERATURE.

NOVEMBER, 1808.

FREDERICK REYNOLDS, ESQ.

This gentleman is the younger son of an eminent at. torney, who was under sheriff to Mr. Wilkes, at the most popular period of his history. He was also solicitor to the illustrious Lord Chatham.

Young Reynolds was educated at Westminster School, and being intended by his father for the Bar, was afterwards entered of the Middle Temple, where, like the najority of students there, he learnt every thing but law; and though he kept all his terms, that is, took his due proportion of roast beef and plum-pudding, he never ħad any serious intention of assuming the barrister's wig and gown, having already fixed his affections on the gayer amusements of the stage.

His first play, Werter, was brought out at Bath, and afterwards at Covent Garden, which had refused it in the first instance; and from the popularity of the subject, and the ingenuity

with which it was treated, its attraction was very great. Holman and Miss Brunton, then in the height of their popularity, were the Werter and Chartotte at the latter theatre.

The profits of the piece, great as they were, went however entirely to the manager, it being then, and we believe is now, one of the despotic regulations of the theatre, that an author should receive no money for á piece adopted from another stage. VOL. IV.

Рp

Young writers usually attach themselves to the mourne ful Muse. The success of Werter had gratified his literary pride, though it had not filled his pockets. He tried again, and produced Eloisa, another tragedy from a subject equally interesting. But here he was less for. tunate. The piece went but three nights, and brought him

only eight pounds!

This was enough for Reynolds ; he loved Melpomene well, but he loved money better. He therefore turned short round, and paid his addresses to her sister Thalia, who not only received his advances more favourably, but taught him how to grow rich. His first comedy, however, and decidedly his best, was the Dramatist, which still lives on the stage, and will live there as long as there shall be any comedian to play the eccentric and admirable character of Vapid. This piece found its way to the stage through Mrs. Wells, who took it for her benefit, after it had been refused by the manager; and its merit was recognized so forcibly by the town, that it was instantly and gladly seized by Mr. Harris, who allowed the author his just emoluments, and the run of the piece was immense.

The theatre was now at his command. Other pieces followed in annual succession. All of them succeeded greatly; and his reputation as a comic writer was fully established.

We have not the titles of his numerous plays at hand; but they amount, we believe, to about forty. It be said, and has indeed often been idly objected, that his comedies perish with the season which produces them. This detracts nothing from their deserts. He wrote them for the season. It being his design to shoot folly as it flies, he “caught the manners living as they rose;' and with these fleeting follies, and temporary manners, the plays which satirized them, not with the strong coarse pen of the misanthrope, but the brisk playful humour of a dramatist who looked at the world to laugh at it, necessarily slipped by and were forgotten. Reynolds has done what he intended : and he has done it well, ingeniously, originally, and with infinite comic facility and address. His plan was altogether his own; and though many have followed, and some may have a little improved upon it, his at last must be the principal merit.

His opera now announced for representation at the

may

Haymarket is of a serio-comic description, and much is expected from it. It will be produced immediately.

Mr. Reynolds married Miss Mansell, of the CoventGarden Company, a lady of truly amiable manners, by whom he has two children. In private life no gentleman is better respected, or better deserves to be so.

THE RIGHTS OF THE BRUTE CREATION TO

TENDERNESS FROM MAN.

I presume there is no man of feeling, that has any

idea of justice, but would confess, upon the principles of reason and common sense, that if he were to be put to unnecessary and unmerited pain by another man, bis tormentor would do hím an act of injustice; and from a sense of the injustice in his own case, now that he is the sufferer, he must naturally infer, that if he were to put another man of feeling to the same unnecessary and unmerited pain which he now suffers, the injustice in himself to the other would be exactly the same as the injustice in his tormentor to him. Therefore the man of feeling and justice will not put another man to unmerited pain, because he will not do that to another, which he is unwilling should be done to himself. Nor will he take any advantage of his own superiority of strength, or of the accidents of fortune, to abuse them to the oppression of his inferior, because he knows that in the article of feeling all men are equal; and that the differences of strength or station are as much the gifts and appointments of God, as the differences of understanding, colour, or stature. Superiority of rank or station may give ability to communicate happiness, (and seeins so intended ;) but it can give no right to inflict unnecessary or unmerited pain. A wise man would impeach his own wisdom, and be unworthy of the blessing of a good understanding, if he were to infer from thence that he had a right to despise or make game of a fool, or put him to any degree of pain. The folly of the fool ought rather to excite his compassion, and demands the wise man's care and attention to one that cannot take care of himself.

It has pleased God the Father of all men to cover some men with white skins, and others with black skins : but as there is neither merit nor demerit in complexion, the

man.

of

a

white man (notwithstanding the barbarity of custom and prejudice) can have no right, by virtue of his colour, to enslave and tyrannize over a black man; nor has a fair man any right to despise, abuse, and insult a brown

Nor do I believe that a tall man, by virtue of his stature, has any legal right to trample a dwarf under his foot. For, whether a man is wise or foolish, white or black, fair or brown, tall or short, and, I might add, rich or poor, (for it is no more a man's choice to be poor, than it is to be a tool, or a dwarf, or black, or tawney,) such he is by God's appointment; and, abstractedly considered, is neither a subject for pride, nor an object of contempt. Now if, amongst men, the differences of their powers of the mind, and of their complexion, staa ture, and accidents of fortune, do not give to any one man a right to abuse or insult any other man on ae, count of these differences; for the same reason, a man can have no natural right to abuse and torment a beast merely because a beast has not the mental powers man. For such as the man is, he is but as God made him; and the very same is true of the beast. Neither of them can lay claim to any intrinsic merit for being such as they are; for before they were created it was impossible that either of them could deserve ; and at their creation, their shape, perfections, or defects, were invariably fixed, and their bound set which they cannot pass. And being such, neither more nor less than God made them, there is no more demerit in a beast's being a beast, than there is merit in a man's being a man; that is, there is neither merit nor demerit in either of them. A brute is an animal no less sensible of pain than a

He has similar nerves and organs of sensation ; and his cries and groans, in case of violent impressions upon his body, though he cannot utter his complaints by speech or human voice, are as strong indications to us of his sensibility of pain, as the cries and groans of a human being, whose language we do not understand. Now as pain is what we are all averse to, our own sensi bility of pain should teach us to commiserate it in others, to alleviate it if possible, but never wantonly or unmeritedly to inflict it. As the differences amongst men in the above particulars are no bars to their feelings, so neither does the difference of the shape of a brute from that of a man exempt the brute from feeling; at least,

man.

We have no ground to suppose it. But shape or figure is as much the appointment of God, as complexion or stature. And if the difference of complexion or stature does not convey to one man a right to despise and abuse another man, the difference of shape between a man and a brute cannot give to a man any right to abuse and tor. ment a brute. For he that made man and man to differ in complexion or stature, made man and brute to differ in shape or figure. And in this case likewise there is neither merit nor demerit; every creature, whether man or brute, bearing that shape which the supreme Wisdom judged most expedient to answer the end for which the creature was ordained.

With regard to the modification of the mass of matter of which an animal is formed, it is accidenial as to the creature itself; I mean it was not in the power or will of the creature to choose whether it should sustain the shape of a brute, or of a man: and yet, whether it be of one shape, or of the other; or whether it be inhabited or ani, mated by the • soul of a brute or the * soul of a man; the substance or matter of which the creature is coma posed would be equally susceptible of feeling. It is solely owing to the good pleasure of God that

we are created men ; or animals in the shape of men. For, he that † formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, that he might become a living soul, and endued with a sense of feeling, could, if he had so pleased, by the same plastic power, have cast the very sạme dust into the mould of a beast ; which, be. ing animated by the life-giving breath of its Maker, would have become † a living soul in that form ; and in that form would have been as susceptible of pain, as in the form of a man. And if, in brutal shape, we had been endued with the same degree of reason and its flection which we now enjoy; and other beings, in human shape, should take upon them to torment, abuse, and barbarously ill treat us, because we were not made in their shape; the injustice and cruelty of their behaviour to us would be self-evident: and we should naturally infer, that, whether we walk upon two legs or four; whether

* It is of no consequence as to the case now before us, whether the soul is, as some think, only a power, which cannot exist without the body, or, as is generally supposed, a spiritual substance, that can exist, distinct and separate from the body.

+ Gen. ii. 7. I Gen. i. 30, in the margin.

« السابقةمتابعة »