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be feared, nor any thing expected; who cannot even bribe a special jury, nor have so much as a single riband to bestow.
This fondness for posterity is a kind of madness which at Rome was once almost epidemical, and infected even the women and the children. It reigned there till the entire destruction of Carthage; after which it began to be less general, and in a few years afterwards a remedy was discovered, by which it was almost entirely extinguished.
In England it never prevailed in any such degree; some few of the ancient Barons seem indeed to have been disordered by it; but the contagion has been for the most part timely checked, and our ladies have been generally free. But there has been in every age a set of men much admired and reverenced, who have affected to be always talking of posterity, and have laid out their lives upon the composition of poems, for the sake of being applauded by this imaginary generation,
The present poets I reckon among the most inexorable enemies of our most excellent ministry, and much doubt whether any method will effect the cure of a distemper, which in this class of men may be termed not an accidental disease, but a defect in their original frame and constitution.
Mr. Brooke, a name I mention with all the detestation suitable to my character, could not forbear discovering this depravity of his mind in his very prologue, which is filled with sentiments so wild, and so much unheard of among those who frequent levees and courts, that I much doubt, whether the zealous licenser proceeded any further in his examination of his performance.
He might easily perceive that a man,
Who bade his moral beam through every age, was too much a bigot to exploded notions, to compose a play which he could license without manifest hazard of his office, a hazard which no man would incur untainted with the love of posterity.
We cannot therefore wonder that an author, wholly possessed by this passion, should vent his resentment for the licenser's just refusal, in virulent advertisements, insolent complaints, and scurrilous assertions of his rights and privileges, and proceed in defiance of authority to solicit a subscription.
This temper, which I have been describing, is almost complicated with ideas of the high prerogatives of human nature, of a sacred unalienable birthright, which no man has conferred upon us, and which neither kings can take, nor senates give away; which we may justly assert whenever and by whomsoever it is attacked, and which, if ever it should happen to be lost, we may take the first opportunity to recover it,
The natural consequence of these chimeras is contempt of authority, and an irreverence for any superiority but what is founded upon merit; and their notions of merit are very peculiar, for it is among them no great proof of merit to be wealthy and powerful, to wear a garter or a star, to command a regiment or a senate, to have the ear of the minister or of the king, or to possess any of those virtues and excellences, which among us entitle a man to little less than worship and prostration,
We may therefore easily conceive that Mr. Brooke thought himself entitled to be importunate for a license, because, in his own opinion, he deserved one, and to complain thus loudly at the repulse he met with.
His complaints will have, I hope, but little weight with the public; since the opinions of the sect in which he is enlisted are exposed, and shown to be evidently and demonstrably opposite to that system of subordination and dependence, to which we are indebted for the present tranquillity of the nation, and that cheer fulness and readiness with which the two houses concur in all our designs.
I shall, however, to silence him entirely, or at least to show those of our party that he ought to be silent, consider singly every instance of hardship and oppression which he has dared to publish in the papers, and to publish in such a manner, that I hope no man will condemn me for want of candour in becoming an advocate for the ministry, if I can consider his advertisements as nothing less than an appeal to his country.
Let me be forgiven if I cannot speak with temper of such insolence as this; is a man without title, pension, or place, to suspect the impar tiality or the judgment of those who are intrusted with the administration of public affairs? Is he, when the law is not strictly observed in regard to him, to think himself aggrieved, to tell his sentiments in print, assert his claim to better usage, and fly for redress to another tribunal?
If such practices he permitted, I will not venture to foretell the effects of them; the ministry may soon be convinced, that such sufferers will find compassion, and that it is safer not to bear hard upon them, than to allow them to complain.
The power of licensing in general being firmly established by an Act of Parliament, our poet has not attempted to call in question, but contents himself with censuring the manner in which it has been executed; so that I am not now engaged to assert the licenser's authority, but to defend his conduct.
The poet seems to think himself aggrieved, because the licenser kept his tragedy in his hands one and twenty days, whereas the law allows him to detain it only fourteen.
Where will the insolence of the malecontents
Was it ever
end? Or how are such unreasonable expecta tions possibly to be satisfied? known that a man exalted into a high station, dismissed a suppliant in the time limited by law? Ought not Mr. Brooke to think himself happy that his play was not detained longer? If he had been kept a year in suspense, what redress could he have obtained? Let the poets remember, when they appear before the licenser, or his deputy, that they stand at the tribunal from which there is no appeal permitted, and where nothing will so well become them as reverence and submission.
Mr. Brooke mentions in his preface his knowledge of the laws of his own country: had he extended his inquiries to the civil law, he could have found a full justification of the licenses's conduct, Boni judicis est ampliare suam auctoritatem.
If then it be the business of a good judge to enlarge his authority, was it not in the licenser the utmost clemency and forbearance, to extend fourteen days only to twenty-one.
I suppose this great man's inclination to perform at least this duty of a good judge, is not questioned by any, either of his friends or enemies. I may therefore venture to hope, that he will extend his power by proper degrees, and that I shall live to see a malecontent writer earnestly soliciting for the copy of a play, which he had delivered to the licenser twenty years before.
tion, we told them the next year that it was necessary, because all the nations round us were at peace.
This reason finding no better reception than the other, we had recourse to our apprehensions of an invasion from the Pretender, of an insurrection in favour of gin, and of a general disaffection among the people.
But as they continue still impenetrable, and "I waited," says he, "often on the licenser, oblige us still to assign our annual reasons, we and with the utmost importunity entreated an shall spare no endeavour to procure such as may answer." Let Mr. Brooke consider, whether be more satisfactory than any of the former. that importunity was not a sufficient reason for The reason we once gave for building barracks the disappointment. Let him reflect how much was for fear of the plague, and we intend next more decent it had been to have waited the lei-year to propose the augmentation of our troops sure of a great man, than to have pressed upon for fear of a famine. him with repeated petitions, and to have in- The committee, by which the act for licensing truded upon those precious moments which he the stage was drawn up, had too long known the has dedicated to the service of his country. inconvenience of giving reasons, and were too Mr. Brooke was doubtless led into this impro-well acquainted with the characters of great men, per manner of acting, by an erroneous notion that the grant of a license was not an act of favour, but of justice; a mistake into which he Yet lest Mr. Brooke should imagine that a could not have fallen, but from a supine inatten- license was refused him without just reasons, I tion to the design of the statute, which was only shall condescend to treat him with more regard to bring poets into subjection and dependence, than he can reasonably expect, and point out not to encourage good writers, but to discou-such sentiments as not only justly exposed him rage all. to that refusal, but would have provoked any ministry less merciful than the present to have inflicted some heavier penalties upon him.
There lies no obligation upon the licenser to grant his sanction to a play, however excellent; nor can Mr. Brooke demand any reparation, whatever applause his performance may meet with.
Another grievance is, that the licenser assigned no reason for his refusal. This is a higher strain of insolence than any of the former. Is it for a poet to demand a licenser's reason for his proceedings? Is he not rather to acquiesce in the decision of authority, and conclude that there are reasons which he cannot comprehend?
to lay the Lord Chamberlain, or his deputy, under any such tormenting obligation.
His prologue is filled with such insinuations as no friend of our excellent government can read without indignation and abhorrence, and cannot but be owned to be a proper introduction to such scenes, as seem designed to kindle in the audience a flame of opposition, patriotism, public spirit, and independency; that spirit which we have so long endeavoured to suppress, and which cannot be revived without the entire subversion of all our schemes.
has endeavoured with subtlety, equal to his malice, to make us suspicious of our firmest friends, to infect our consultations with distrust, and to ruin us by disuniting us.
Unhappy would it be for men in power, were The seditious poet, not content with making they always obliged to publish the motives of an open attack upon us, by declaring in plain their conduct. What is power but the liberty of terms, that he looks upon freedom as the only acting without being accountable? The advo-source of public happiness and national security, cates for the Licensing Act have alleged, that the Lord Chamberlain has always had authority to prohibit the representation of a play for just reasons. Why then did we call in all our force to procure an act of parliament? Was it to en- This indeed will not be easily effected; a able him to do what he has always done? to union founded upon interest and cemented by confirm an authority which no man attempted to dependence is naturally lasting; but confederaimpair, or pretended to dispute? No certainly cies which owe their rise to virtue or mere conour intention was to invest him with new privi-formity of sentiments, are quickly dissolved, leges, and to empower him to do that without reason, which with reason he could do before.
We have found by long experience, that to lie under a necessity of assigning reasons, is very troublesome, and that many an excellent design has miscarried by the loss of time spent unnecessarily in examining reasons.
since no individual has any thing either to hope or fear for himself, and public spirit is generally too weak to combat with private passions.
The poet has, however, attempted to weaken our combination by an artful and sly assertion, which, if suffered to remain unconfuted, may operate by degrees upon our minds in the days Always to call for reasons, and always to re- of leisure and retirement which are now apjest them, shows a strange degree of perverse-proaching, and perhaps fill us with such surmises ness; yet such is the daily behaviour of our ad-as may at least very much embarrass our affairs. versaries, who have never yet been satisfied with any reasons that have been offered by us.
They have made it their practice to demand once a year the reasons for which we maintain a standing army.
The law by which the Swedes justified their opposition to the encroachments of the King of Denmark, he not only calls
Great Nature's law, the law within the breast,
One year we told them that it was necessary, but proceeds to tell us that it is
because all the nations round us were involved
-Stamp'd by Heaven upon the unletter'd mind. in war; this had no effect upon them, and there- By which he evidently intends to insinuate a fore resolving to do our utmost for their satisfac-maxim which is, I hope, as false as it is perni
cious, that men are naturally fond of liberty till those unborn ideas and desires are effaced by literature.
The author, if he be not a man mewed up in his solitary study, and entirely unacquainted with the conduct of the present ministry, must know that we have hitherto acted upon different principles. We have always regarded letters as great obstructions to our scheme of subordination, and have therefore, when we have heard of any man remarkably unlettered, carefully noted him down as the most proper person for any employments of trust or honour, and considered him as a man in whom we could safely repose our most important secrets.
From among the uneducated and unlettered we have chosen not only our ambassadors and other negotiators, but even our journalists and pamphleteers; nor have we had any reason to change our measures, or to repent of the confidence which we have placed in ignorance. Are we now therefore to be told, that this
Stamp'd upon th' unletter'd mind?
Are we to suspect our placemen, our pensioners, our generals, our lawyers, our best friends in both houses, all our adherents among the atheists and infidels, and our very gazetteers, clerks and court-pages, as friends to independency? Doubtless this is the tendency of his assertion, but we have known them too long to be thus imposed upon, the unlettered have been our warmest and most constant defenders, nor have we omitted any thing to deserve their favour, but have always endeavoured to raise their reputation, extend their influence, and increase their number. In his first act he abounds with sentiments very inconsistent with the ends for which the power of licensing was granted; to enumerate them all would be to transcribe a great part of his play, a task which I shall very willingly leave to others, who, though true friends to the government, are not inflamed with zeal so fiery and impatient as mine, and therefore do not feel the same emotions of rage and resentment at the sight of those infamous passages, in which venality and dependence are represented as mean in themselves, and productive of remorse and infelicity.
He has debauch'd the genius of our country,
Thus is that decent submission to our superiors,
It is observable, that when this hateful writer has conceived any thought of an uncommon malignity, a thought which tends in a more particular manner to excite the love of liberty, animate the heat of patriotism, or degrade the majesty of kings, he takes care to put it in the mouth of his hero, that it may be more forcibly impressed upon his reader. Thus Gustavus, speaking of his tatters, cries out,
-Yes, my Arvida,
Beyond the sweeping of the proudest train
Here this abandoned son of liberty makes a full
his heel, is a thing too venerable and sacred to The heel of a monarch, or even the print of be treated with such levity, and placed in contrast with rags and poverty. He that will speak contemptuously of the heel of a monarch, will, whenever he can with security, speak contemptuously of his head.
These are the most glaring passages which have occurred, in the perusal of the first pages; One line which ought, in my opinion, to be my indignation will not suffer me to proceed farerased from every copy by a special act of parlia-ther, and I think much better of the licenser, ment, is mentioned by Anderson, as pronounced than to believe he went so far. by the hero in his sleep,
In the few remarks which I have set down, the reader will easily observe, that I have strained no expression beyond its natural import, and have divested myself of all heat, partiality, and prejudice.
So far therefore is Mr. Brooke from having rethat the licenser has only acted in pursuance of ceived any hard or unwarrantable treatment, that law to which he owes his power, a law which every admirer of the administration must own to be very necessary, and to have produced very salutary effects.
I am indeed surprised, that this great office is not drawn out into a longer series of deputations, since it might afford a gainful and reputable employment to a great number of the friends of the government; and I should think, instead of having immediate recourse to the deputylicenser himself, it might be sufficient honour for any poet, except the laureat, to stand bare
headed in the presence of the deputy of the deputy's deputy in the nineteenth subordination.
Such a number cannot but be thought necessary, if we take into consideration the great work of drawing up an index expurgatorius to all the old plays; which is, I hope, already undertaken, or if it has been hitherto unhappily neglected, I take this opportunity to recommend.
The productions of our old poets are crowded with passages very unfit for the ears of an English audience, and which cannot be pronounced without irritating the minds of the people.
This censure I do not confine to those lines in which liberty, natural equality, wicked ministers, deluded kings, mean arts of negotiation, venal senates, mercenary troops, oppressive of ficers, servile and exorbitant taxes, universal corruption, the luxuries of a court, the miseries of the people, the decline of trade, or the happiness of independency are directly mentioned. These are such glaring passages as cannot be suffered to pass without the most supine and criminal negligence. I hope the vigilance of the licensers will extend to all such speeches and soliloquies as tend to recommend the pleasures of virtue, the tranquillity of an uncorrupted head, and the satisfactions of conscious innocence; for though such strokes as these do not appear to a common eye to threaten any danger to the government, yet it is well known to more penetrating observers, that they have such consequences as cannot be too diligently obviated, or too cautiously avoided.
A man, who becomes once enamoured of the charms of virtue, is apt to be very little concerned about the acquisition of wealth or titles, and is therefore not easily induced to act in a manner contrary to his real sentiments, or to vote at the word of command; by contracting his desires, and regulating his appetites, he wants much less than other men, and every one versed in the arts of government can tell, that men are more easily influenced in proportion as they are more necessitous.
This is not the only reason why virtue should not receive too much countenance from a licensed stage; her admirers and followers are not only naturally independent, but learn such a uniform and consistent manner of speaking and acting, that they frequently by the mere force of artless honesty surmount all the obstacles which subtlety and politics can throw in their way, and obtain their ends in spite of the most profound and sagacious ministry.
Such then are the passages to be expunged by the licensers: in many parts indeed the speeches will be imperfect, and the action appear not regularly conducted, but the Poet Laureat may easily supply these vacuities, by inserting some of his own verses in praise of wealth, luxury, and venality.
But, alas! all those pernicious sentiments which shall be banished from the stage, will be vented from the press, and more studiously read because they are prohibited.
I cannot but earnestly implore the friends of the government to leave no art untried by which we may hope to succeed in our design of extending the power of the licenser to the press, and of making it criminal to publish any thing without an imprimatur.
How much would this single law lighten the
mighty burden of state affairs! with how much security might our ministers enjoy their honours, their places, their reputations, and their admirers, could they once suppress those malicious invectives which are at present so industriously propagated, and so eagerly read; could they hinder any arguments but their own from coming to the ears of the people, and stop effectually the voice of cavil and inquiry!
I cannot but indulge myself a little while by dwelling on this pleasing scene, and imagining those halcyon-days, in which no politics shall be read but those of the Gazetteer, nor any poetry but that of the Laureat; when we shall hear of nothing but the successful negotiations of our ministers, and the great actions of
How much happier would this state be than those perpetual jealousies and contentions which are inseparable from knowledge and liberty, and which have for many years kept this nation in perpetual commotions.
But these are times rather to be wished for than expected, for such is the nature of our unquiet countrymen, that if they are not admitted to the knowledge of affairs, they are always suspecting their governors of designs prejudicial to their interest; they have not the least notion of the pleasing tranquillity of ignorance, nor can be brought to imagine that they are kept in the dark, lest too much light should hurt their eyes. They have long claimed a right of directing their superiors, and are exasperated at the least men. tion of secrets of state.
This temper makes them very readily encou rage any writer or printer, who, at the hazard of his life or fortune, will give them any information: and while this humour prevails, there never will be wanting some daring adventurer who will write in defence of liberty, and some zealous or avaricious printer who will disperse his papers.
It has never yet been found that any power, however vigilant or despotic, has been able to prevent the publication of seditious journals, ballads, essays, and dissertations; "Considerations on the present state of affairs," and "Inquiries into the conduct of the administration."
Yet I must confess, that considering the suc cess with which the present ministry has hitherto proceeded in their attempts to drive out of the world the old prejudices of patriotism and public spirit, I cannot but entertain some hopes, that what has been so often attempted by their predecessors, is reserved to be accomplished by their superior abilities.
If I might presume to advise them upon this great affair, I should dissuade them from any direct attempt upon the liberty of the press, which is the darling of the common people, and therefore cannot be attacked without immediate danger. They may proceed by a more sure and silent way, and attain the desired end without noise, detraction, or oppression.
There are scattered over this kingdom several little seminaries, in which the lower ranks of people, and the youngest sons of our nobility and gentry are taught, from their earliest infancy, the pernicious arts of spelling and reading, which they afterwards continue to practise, very much to the disturbance of their own quiet, and the interruption of ministerial measures.
These seminaries may, by an act of parlia
ment, be at once suppressed, and that our pos- | power of the court not only above the insults of terity be deprived of all means of reviving this corrupt method of education, it may be made felony to teach to read without a license from the Lord Chamberlain.
This expedient, which I hope will be carefully concealed from the vulgar, must infallibly answer the great end proposed by it, and set the
the poets, but in a short time above the necessity of providing against them. The licenser having his authority thus extended, will in time enjoy the title and the salary without the trouble of exercising his power, and the nation will rest at length in ignorance and peace.
GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, 1738.
THE usual design of Addresses of this sort is to implore the candour of the public! we have always had the more pleasing province of returning thanks, and making acknowledgments for the kind acceptance which our Monthly Collections have met with.
This, it seems, did not sufficiently appear from the numerous sale and repeated impressions of our books, which have at once exceeded our merit and our expectation; but have been still more plainly attested by the clamours, rage, and calumnies of our competitors, of whom we have seldom taken any notice, not only because it is cruelty to insult the depressed, and folly to engage with desperation, but because we consider all their outcries, menaces, and boasts, as nothing more than advertisements in our favour, being evidently drawn up with the bitterness of baffled malice and disappointed hope; and almost discovering in plain terms, that the unhappy authors have seventy thousand London Magazines mouldering in their warehouses, returned from all parts of the kingdom, unsold, unread, and disregarded.
Our obligations for the encouragement we have so long continued to receive, are so much the greater, as no artifices have been omitted to supplant us. Our adversaries cannot be denied the praise of industry; how far they can be celebrated for an honest industry we leave to the decision of the public, and even of their brethren the booksellers, not including those whose advertisements they obliterated to paste their invectives in our book.
The success of the Gentleman's Magazine has given rise to almost twenty imitations of it, which are either all dead, or very little regarded by the world. Before we had published sixteen months, we met with such a general approbation, that a knot of enterprising geniuses, and sagacious inventors, assembled from all parts of the town, agreed with a unanimity natural to understandings of the same size to seize upon our whole plan, without changing even the title. Some weak objections were indeed made by one of them against the design, as having an air of servility, dishonesty, and piracy; but it was concluded that all these imputations might be avoided
by giving the picture of St. Paul's instead of St. John's gate; it was however thought indispensably necessary to add, printed in St. John's Street, though there was then no printing-house in that place.
That these plagiaries should, after having thus stolen their whole design from us, charge us with robbery, on any occasion, is a degree of impudence scarcely to be matched, and certainly entitles them to the first rank among false heroes We have therefore inserted their names* at length in our February Magazine, p. 61; being desirous that every man should enjoy the repu tation he deserves.
Another attack has been made upon us by the author of Common Sense, an adversary equally malicious as the former, and equally despicable. What were his views, or what his provocations, we know not, nor have thought him considerable enough to inquire. To make him any further answer would be to descend too low: but as he is one of those happy writers, who are best exposed by quoting their own words, we have given his elegant remarks in our Magazine for December, where the reader may entertain himself at his leisure with an agreeable mixture of scur rility and false grammar.
For the future we shall rarely offend him by adopting any of his performances, being unwilling to prolong the life of such pieces as deserve no other fate than to be hissed, torn, and forgotten. However, that the curiosity of our readers may not be disappointed, we shall, whenever we find him a little excelling himself, perhaps print his dissertations upon our blue covers, that they may be looked over, and stripped off, without disgracing our collection, or swelling our volumes.
We are sorry that by inserting some of his essays, we have filled the head of this petty writer with idle chimeras of applause, laurels,
The gay and learned C. Ackers, of Swan Alley, Printer; the polite and generous T. Cox, under the Royal Exchange; the eloquent and courtly J. Clark, of Duck Lane; and the modest, civil and judicious T Astley, of St. Paul's Church yard, booksellers All these names appeared in the title of the London Magazine, begun in 1732.