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religious Advantages from a rigid Government of the Senfes, 1 Cor. ix. 25. VIII. A Vifitation Sermon, Isaiah i. 18.
With the firft Sermon in this volume is given a Preface, and the fecond is introduced by a long Dedication; in both of which the Author complains of the envy, virulence, and machinations of his enemies. Whether Mr. Stockdale has given provocation to any people to become his enemies, or whether adverfaries have rifen up against him from fome unfortunate incident in his life, we, who are unacquainted with the private hiftory of this gentleman, cannot poffibly determine. Of this, however, we can with truth affure him, that we are not his enemies; that we have no evil paffion in our bofoms which would prompt us to militate against his comfort or his fame. Juftice to the Public obliges us to defcant on the defects we discover in the writings of our best friends; and therefore we hope he will not charge our ftrictures with virulence. So much, indeed, were we prejudiced in his favour by his prefaces, that we wished to have had it in our power to have given him the solid pudding of fome rectorial preferment, together with empty praife; for he appears by these addreffes to the Public, to have an open, honeft heart: his Sermons, too, difcover him to be a man of reading, and they contain many excellent fentiments, that are often very well expreffed. But we muft obferve, that the ftyle of his compofitions continues to be fomewhat objectionable. He is ftill fingular, but not yet, in every inftance, happily fo. His new road is not preferable to the old one; we cannot therefore wish the clergy to follow him. He feems to have written rather from the inspiration of fome light Mufe, than from that of the grave and fober genius of Divinity; and he too much, in our opinion, interlards his difcourfes with fcraps from the poets. An happy thought or turn of expreffion from the poets may, with no impropriety, be now and then introduced in the moft ferious difcourfe; but the frequent recurrence of poetic fcraps, and poetic descriptions, muft furely prove unacceptable to many of his hearers and readers. We were the more furprifed at Mr. Stockdale's committing a fault of this kind, after reading what he advances. on the mode of compofition which is beft adapted to the pulpit, in his vifitation fermon before the clergy of Northumberland. At the conclufion of this difcourfe he says:
• I am fure you will agree with me, that we cannot addrefs our congregations in too perfpicuous and eafy language. If I remember right, it is a rule of Dr. Swift (and an excellent rule it is), that a clergyman, when he compofes a fermon, fhould imagine that he is addreffing himself to the moft illiterate man of his audience.'
Were Mr. Stockdale to employ himself in reviewing his own fermons, he would be obliged to obferve on them, that the author has not strictly adhered to his own rule. Had this rule,
which he lays down for others, been obferved by himself, he furely would not have introduced to a country congregation, Virgil's Dido, the Carthaginian Queen, nor have referred to the fentiment which the poet has put into her mouth; Non ignara mali miferis fuccurrere difco; he would not have called benevolence the Great Mogul's most valuable jewel in the crown of the Chriftian; talked of the vaft Pacific Ocean of Eternity; perfonified the Thames; and defcribed a certain fashionable amusement in the following obfcure manner:
Rather than ftab our neighbour's reputation, we had better devote whole days and nights to thofe unideal fpots and Gothic pictures, which ingrofs the lives of many beings, who were born to the inheritance of reafon and immortality!'
We apprehend, that the foregoing period was incomprehenfible to many of his illiterate heaters; for it was fometime before we discovered that it meant card playing.
Notwithstanding we are ready to allow that Mr. Stockdale has offered many juft remarks in the 4th and 5th Sermons, yet we cannot be of opinion that they belong either to the title or the text. The text, My yoke is eafy and my burden light, relates to the mild nature of the precepts of Chriftianity; and the title, The congruity of religion with true happiness, fignifies that the practice of religion is productive of happiness. What propriety then, is there in affixing such a text and such a title to a difcourfe on the benevolent appointments and conduct of Divine Providence? It occurred to us (for we fometimes read the Bible), that a better text for the first of these two fermons would have been, The Lord is good to all.
He undertakes, in the 6th Sermon, to delineate the character of the tale bearer; and having, we apprehend, fmarted from the Jafh of evil tongues, he appears to enter upon this task with peculiar feeling: but his zeal to expofe the character betrays him into rather a ludicrous description of it. The tale-bearer is, firft, a diabolical being; next, he is a caricature painter; then he is a conjurer; then a culprit; then a vagabond; then a pirate on the rights of humanity; then a pofture mafter; then a witling; then a defpicable reptile; and laftly, a pigmy general.
But if we were diverted to fee how Mr. Stockdale has fuck the tale-bearer o'er with titles,' it did not prevent our taking notice of the true picture he has given in this difcourfe of that phlegmatic and dozing creature whom we vulgarly distinguish by the title of a mighty good fort of man; whom every one affects to love, and praise, and who affects to love, and praise every one; though, in fact, if the truth was known, he neither is a friend, nor has one. This man's views are all confined within the petty circle of felf-prefervation, of his own welfare; he never does a generous action; and that coldness of conftitution, which prevents him from doing a generous
action, prevents him from ever doing an indiscreet one. He bows to all the world, and all the world returns the compliment; he gladly affociates with every body; and every body gladly affociates with him; --but furely his univerfally good reception needs not to be envied by an ingenuous and liberal fpirit; for it is obtained by having no cha
racter at all.'
Perhaps Mr. Stockdale himself, when he reconfiders the latter part of the following fentence, will with it had been fomewhat otherwife expreffed: Several of the Apostles were fishermen; Paul, the enlightened, the learned, the great Apoftle of the Gentiles, was a tent-maker, and worked at his trade; and Chrift himself, the Son of God, and God the Son, (hear it ye proud, and be humble if ye can!) Chrift himself was a carpenter.'
But our eccentric Author does not confine himself to dull divinity. To manifeft his attachment to the prefent miniftry, the following compliment to Mr. Pitt is introduced in the firft Sermon:
What poffible prodigies of greatnefs, and fuccefs, are not to be expected from a political hero, who, in the bloom and vivacity of youth, is impaffive to intemperance and diffipation, and indefatigably applies himself to objects of the greatest importance; -who, at that early term of life, poffeffes- a furprizing variety and folidity of knowledge; all the flexibility, and ardour, and force of eloquence;-who has conquered a formidable faction; and whofe filial remembrance must be, every day, fired with a great, preceding example?'
He declares himself a great advocate for reafon, and admirer of the church fervice, and thinks that many of our clergy ought to be ashamed of themselves, for the drawling and lounging manner in which they read it over.' He is violent against Methodistic preachers, and yet would not hurt a hair of their heads.
Moft heartily do we fubfcribe to the doctrine inculcated in the following extract:
All our religious belief, and all our worship of the Deity, are only calculated, and intended to make us lead good lives, to ftimulate us to the practice of thofe difinterested and beneficent virtues, which give peace, and fatisfaction, to the individual who performs them, and which promote the happinefs of mankind. When we ufe the expreffion of ferving God in his houfe, or of the public fervice of the church, we fhould only to thofe expreffions affix the ideas of paying to Him, that honour and gratitude which are due from dependent beings to a great and good Creator: we are not rafhly and abfurdly to imagine, that by the celebration of religious rites, we do any real fervice, we bring any real advantage to our Maker. Of his existence and his happinefs nothing can deprive Him; they cannot by any thing be diminished; they flow neceffarily, uninterruptedly, and equally from himself. Our best actions cannot augment, our worst cannot injure his enjoyment of fupreme blifs. Therefore
the public offices of religion were only inftituted, and are only repeated, for our own fakes; to keep alive in our minds thofe good fentiments and motions, which, without fuch monitors and remonfrances, are apt to be weakened by the trifles, and pleasures, and bufinefs of the world;-in fhort, thofe inftitutions were only meant as aids (and in that view they are most important and refpectable) to that good and generous conduct, which is our reafonable fervice."
This paffage, with many others, is a proof that Mr. Stockdale can write well; and, perfuaded of this, we have undertaken to point out fome defects in his Sermons, not from any enmity to the Author, but from a wifh that he may improve his theological compofitions.
ART. XV. Rules for drawing Caricaturas; with an Essay on Comic Painting. 8vo. 2 s. fewed. Hooper. 1788.
OILEAU fays, " Il faut toujours chercher le beau." The art of painting is called a polite art; but fome good judges are of opinion, that it is only commendable in proportion to the worth of the fubjects chofen for imitation; where it invites us to the contemplation of praife-worthy actions, or characters, and infpires us with a defire to imitate them. The objects then represented, at the fame time that they give pleafure to the eye, produce a moral effect ;-they excite our refpect and admiration, and the fhafts of ridicule can never reach them.-The fame critics bave contended, that delineations in caricatura neither elevate our ideas, nor improve our understanding; and that it muft be a fordid difpofition which can take pleasure in feeing human nature degraded, and in triumphing over irregularities of fhape or countenance, which, though oppofite to the beautiful or the agreeable, are the inflictions of Providence; for which, furely, a man not being accountable, ought not therefore to be reproached.
As to Lord Shaftesbury's notion, that ridicule is the teft of truth, we must allow that it has been fufficiently refuted. Nothing is properly ridiculous, unless two contrarieties are joined by an ill-judged affociation, by affectation, or where fuppofed worth is employed to cover inanity, folly, or vice.
The Author of the tract now before us juftly praises Coypel and Hogarth. The latter, indeed, was excellent in his walk. He has, in an animated manner, ridiculed folly, and fatirized vice; but he had not the powers, either from the knowlege of his art, or of the modes of life (his acquaintance with the latter having been chiefly confined to the purlieus of Covent Garden), to form a juft notion of beauty. His Analysis of Beauty may be confidered as the Analysis of Deformity. The province of the comic pencil is to ridicule folly and affectation; but Hogarth has expofed fcenes that are very indelicate, and fome that may be thought of
vicious tendency: fuch are not the proper fubjects of mirth, but objects of indignation, and of punishment. But to our Author.
We are informed, that this tract is the work of the ingenious and humourous Captain Grofe; and indeed it bears one peculiar mark of his pen, for fometimes we are rather at a lofs to determine whether he is in jeft or in earnest. In a few inftances he reminds us of his own pleafant Inftructions for Officers in the Army; and in others, of Switt's ironical Directions to Servants.
He is aware, that the art of drawing caricaturas is generally confidered as a dangerous acquifition, tending to make the poffeffor rather feared than esteemed; but he justly remarks, that it is unfair to urge the abufe to which an art is liable, as an argument against the art itself.
In order to do juftice to this art, he obferves, that it is one of the elements of fatirical painting, which, like poetry of the fame denomination, may be moft efficaciously employed in the caufe of virtue and decorum, by holding up to public notice many offenders against both, who are not amenable to any other tribunal; and who, though they contemptuously defy all ferious reproof, tremble at the thoughts of feeing their vices or follies attacked by the keen fhafts of ridicule.'
After these introductory obfervations, he proceeds to inftruct the student who wishes to become a proficient in this art; and in a note, p. 7. he gives the following neceffary caution:Caricaturifts fhould be careful not to overcharge the peculiarities of their fubjects, as they would thereby become hideous inftead of ridiculous, and inftead of laughter excite horror: it is therefore always best to keep within the bounds of probability.'-For want of the artist's attention to this excellent rule, we have frequently feen their productions lofe their intended effect. By not doing too much, they would have done more.
Mr. Grofe has given a number of engraved fketches, to elucidate his principles; and thefe feem to have been drawn with fo much truth and correctnefs, that they ought, as he obferves, to be confidered in the light of mathematical diagrams. To the Rules and Inftructions, are added an Effay on Comic Painting. This piece abounds with fo many witty, fenfible, and appofite remarks, that we cannot help lamenting the want of room for a few extracts from it, for the entertainment of our Readers ; whom we must therefore refer to the pamphlet for further gratification.
A group of droll faces is prefixed, by way of frontif