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our fondness for what partakes of her beauties, and when such resemblance is withered by age, the mistake is at an end :
citraque juventam Ætatis breve ver et primos carpere flores. • This mistake in nature is known to be much more common in mild climates than amidst the northern frosts, the blood being there more fervid and the occasion more frequent : accordingly, what seems only a weakness in young Alcibiades, is in a Dutch sailor or a Russian sutler, a loathsome abomination.'
We Thall not attempt to conjecture how much the female sex will think themselves honoured by this pretended mistake in nature. Of a mistake, however, it is so horrible a one, that we think it cannot be contested, that the Author hath here imputed it to the most excusable cause, and given it the mildest appellation it could possibly bear. If all this be not palliative, we know not what can be called palliation; nor can we conceive how a writer could form the notion of getting any thing read that might be more so. We see the infamous crime, as it was called in the beginning of the article, softened into the mere local effect of custom; and, though still it be a loathsome abomination in a Ruffian or Hollander, it is only a weakness in young Alcibiades. But it is not the name of Alcibiades, which we find annexed as an epithet to this infamous passion; it is that of the venerable, the divine Socrates.
The Translator admits that his Author may be · mistaken again, when he says, that the Greeks never authorized this vice; but this, continues he, is an historical matter about which men of great learning have differed in opinion. Does not this seem to infinuate, that the author's design was merely to discuss this point as a matter of biftory? Let the Reader judge how well he hath acquitted himself, and whether he is not justly to be suspected of a worse design ;--- I cannot bear, says he, that the Greeks should be charged with having authorised this licentiousness. The legislator Solon is brought in because he has said,
"6 Thou shalt caress a beauteous boy,
Whilft no beard his (mooth chin deforms." • But who will say that Solon was a legislator at the time of his making those two ridiculous lines? He was then young, and when the sake was grown virtuous, it cannot be thought that he inserted such an infamy among the laws of his republic : it is like accufing Theodore de Beza of having preached up pederafty in his church, because, in his youth, he made verses on young Candidus, and says:
“ AmpleElor hunc' et illam." Rev. Oa. 1765.
- Plutarch likewise is misunderstood, who, among his rants in the dialogue of love, makes one of the speakers say, that women are not worthy of a genuine love; but another speaker keenly takes the women's part.' · Let us see now what information is to be gathered from the above passage. We are told, that the Greeks are charged with having authorized this licentiousness ; that Solon made verses in favour of it; that a passage in one of the fathers of the Chriftian church will bear a like interpretation, and that in Plutarch's dialogues it is made a matter of debate whether women are the proper objects of love.-To counteract the influence of all which suspicious insinuations, we have only the Author's simple declaration that he can't bear the Greeks should be thus charged; though he gives no proof, nor indeed attempts to give any, that they were charged unjustly. Solon's verses, it is true, he calls ridiculous ; and questions whether he was a legislator when he wrote them. Beza he leaves open to the infinuation thrown out against him ; and tacitly refers us to Plutarch for what he was possibly afhamed, or afraid, to insert in his own work. Doth all this bear any resemblance to the discussion of a point of hiftory! or is fo vague and equivocal a manner of treating such a subject, consistent with that horrour and detestation which, the Translator says, his Author displays against the vice in question? In the next passage the tables are fairly turned upon us; and Socratic love is no longer that infamous crime of which the Author had been treating. It is as certain, as the knowlege of antiquity can be, that Socratic love was not an infamous paffion. It is the word love has occafioned the miftake. The lovers of a youth were exactly what among us are the mic nions of our princes, or, formerly the pages of honour; young gentlemen who had partaken of the education of a child of rank, and accompanied him in his studies or in the field : this was a martial and holy institution, but it was soon abused, as were the nocturnal feasts and orgies.
· The troop of lovers instituted by Laïus, was an invincible corps of young warriors engaged by oath, mutually to lay down their lives for one another; and, perhaps, never had antient discipline any thing more grand and useful.'
Admitting the truth of what is here advanced, we may juftly afk, why did not the Author make this diftinction at the be ginning of the article? It had been more becoming a lexicographer to have given us the meaning of the term at first; inItead of running on for two or three pages about pederafty, under the name of Socratic love, and afterwards telling us they are totally different. It is plain, however, on tbe least reflection, that the term Socratic love cannot, with any propriety, be applied to fuch kind of lovers as are here described. Did Socrates I
stand under the same predicament, or bear the like relation, to Alcibiades, Virgil to Alexis, or Horace to Ligurinus, as minions and pages of honour do to princes? In the next paragraph the Author changes his note again ; proceeding to speak of pederafty in express terms.
• Sextus Empiricus and others may talk as long as they please of pederasty being recommended by the laws of Perfia. Let them quote the text of the law, and even shew the Persian code, I will not believe it; I will say it is not true, by reason of its being impoffible. I do aver that it is not in human nature to make a law contradictory and injurious to nature; a law which, if literally kept to, would put an end to the human species. The thing is, fcandalous cuftoms being connived at, are often mistaken for the laws of a country.
Sextus Empiricus, doubting of every thing, might as well doubt of this jurifprudence. If living in our days he had seen two or three young jefuits fondling * some scholars, could he from thence say that this sport was permitted them by the constitutions of Ignatius Loyola?
The love of boys was so common at Rome, that no punishment was thought of for a foolery into which every body run headłong: Octavius Auguftus, that sensualist, that cowardly murderer, dared to banish Ovid, at the same time that he was well pleased with Virgil's singing the beauty and flights of Alexis, and Horace's making little odes for Ligurinus. Still the old Scantinian law against pederasty was in force : the emperor Philip revived it, and caused the boys who followed that trade to be driven out of Rome. In a word, I cannot think that ever there was a policed nation, where the laws were contrary to morality.'
We have now quoted the whole article, in which our Readers will see that the Author, whether through ignorance or design, hath preserved the same artless, or artful, inconsistency, and equivocation, throughout. The last-quoted paflages are exactly of the fame insinuating turn as the preceeding. We are there informed that Sextus Empiricus, and others, affirm pederasty to have been recommended by the laws of Persia : that the jesuits give into this abominable practice with their pupils : chat at Řome this odious practice was notoriously common and attended with impunity. Nay, to mend the matter, we find this unnatural vice, this infamous crime, itill farther softened, and that in the proper words of the Tranliator, into fondling, a sport, a foolery.----- In opposition to theie palliatives, indeed, we have the Author's affurance, that he will not believe the Persian laws
* The original has it abuser, a term more expreflive and determinate; leaving no doubt of the Author's mearing.
authorized this vice, even though he should see the code. But why? nay, because he won't ; because, in short, because he is obftinate, and thinks it impoffible. Is not this an ingenious method of argumentation ? well calculated, doubtless, to difprove wbat is so strongly insinuated ! Had the Author intended to treat this subject either as an historian, a philosopher, or a moralist, can it be imagined he would have thus amused, and trifled with, the understanding of his readers ? Not a writer of the meanest capacity in the world could be at a loss for better arguments, if ingenuously and honestly disposed to controvert what is here pretended. And if this were not the Author's defign, we should be glad to know, what good design he could pofsibly have, in writing such an article at all. Will he be exculpated, by alledging that he considers this point merely as a civilian ; conceiving nothing to be authorized but what is established by an exprefs law? Even in this case, he might surely have brought stronger proofs against the assertion of Sextus Empiricus than an ipfe dixit, an ipfe cogitat, a mere fic volo. It is true, he hath offered one flight argument in support of his opinion ; but this carries with it only the shadow of a reason; and is no more than one vague affertion in support of another; for it is notoriously false, and contradicted both by history and experience. He avers, it is not in human nature to make laws contradictory or injurious to nature ; and cannot think that
civilized nation ever made laws tending to immorality.' What will this Author say to those laws, which subfisted in ancient republics, and by which the most virtuous of their citizens were perfecuted, banished, and put to death? What will he say to those laws, which have been enacted in modern times, and have directly tended to prevent population, and suppress the exertion of every principle of humanity ? the laws proscribing heretics ? destroying witches ? enjoining celibacy? and many others of the like unnatural and immoral tendency? The legislature of the wifeft nation is neither fo prudent, nor prescient, but that it is frequently and fatally mistaken, in the laws enacted for the good of community. This is evident from its being so often obliged to repeal such laws, as injurious and destructive, which had been unanimously pafred, as the most falutary acts of legislation. Admitting, however, after all, that our Author had really p'oved, what we also firmly believe to be true, viz. that pederafty never was authorized by law in any nation in the world : is this alone sufficient to prove, that, as his Translator asserts, he thinks the crime horrid and unnatural? Do we necessarily conceive every practice horrid and unnatural which government refuses to authorize? or even which government expressly condemns? Do we think it horrid and unnatural in a passionate young lover to fteal his mistress out of a window, and post away
to Scotland, to gratify those desires which are gradually consuming both ? Yet this is robbing a father of his daughter, a guardian of his ward, a family of their pride ; and is an outrage committed in defiance of the laws of our country.- -But
perhaps the Tranflator will excuse himself by saying, that, since the marriage act, we have not been a policed nation. Be this as it may ; certain it is, that, with regard to the moral or immoral tendency of the article in question, the authority of a nation's manners is full as great, if not more forcible, than that of its laws. Example hath in all cafes so much greater influence than precept, that the force of custom is almost always uncontroulable by law. Of how little efficacy are the laws of England and France against gaming, duelling, adultery, and many other vices ! Is there any one who could be seduced by the ill-example mentioned of the jesuits, that would be prevented by reflecting that it was not authorized by their constitution ? Is the abhorrence, arising in us against the universality of this detestable practice amongst the Romans, at all leffened, by being told that the Scantinian law against it, was still in force? Is it not plain that this vice was countenanced more by their manners than it was discountenanced by their laws? And shall we quibble with them, as our Author does about the Greeks, and say we cannot bear to hear them charged with authorizing this licentiousness ? But, enough! We here leave our Readers to determine whether we were too scrupulous, or severe, in our condemnation of this article ; or whether the Translator of it is not the dupe of an insidious wiiter, whose motives he doth not penetrate, and whose writings he doth not understand.
The Plays of William Shakespeare, in Eight Volumes, with the Cor.
rections and Illustrations of various Commentators. To which are added Notes by Sam. Johnson. 8vo. 21. 8 s. bound. Tonson, &c.
T is a circumstance very injurious to the productions even of
the best writers, that the public prepossesion is up in their favour before they make their appearance; especially if such prepoffeffion hath been kept any considerable time in a state of expectation and suspense: delay being in itself a kind of disappointment, which prepares the mind for a still greater mortification, and even disposes us to conceive ourselves disappointed if we are not gratified with fomething superior to what we had at first a right to expect. A number of apologies are ready, and various are the pleas admitted, in justification of a precipitated