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religious Advantages from a rigid Government of the Senses, 1 Cor. ix. 25. VIII. A Vifitation Sermon, Isaiah i. 18.
With the firft Sermon in this volume is given a Preface, and the second 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 adversaries have risen up against him from some unfortunate incident in his life, we, who are unacquainted with the private history of this gentleman, cannot possibly determine. Of this, however, we can with truth allure him, that we are not his enemies; that we have no evil passion in our bosoms which would prompt us to militate against his comfort or his fame. Justice to the Public obliges us to descant on the defe&ts we discover in the writings of our best friends; and therefore we hope he will not charge our ftri&tures with virulence. So much, indeed, were we prejudiced in his favour by his prefaces, that we wilhed to have had it in our power to have given him the solid pudding of some rectorial preferment, together with empty praise; for he appears by these addresles to the Public, to have an open, honeft heart: his Sermons, 100, discover him to be a man of reading, and they contain many excellent sentiments, that are often very well exprefled. But we must observe, that the style of his compositions continues to be somewhat objectionable. He is still fingular, but not yet, in every instance, happily ro. His new road is not preferable to the old one ; we cannot therefore with the clergy to follow him. He seems to have written rather from the inspiration of some light Muse, than from that of the grave and sober genius of Divinity; and he too much, in our opinion, interlards his discourses with scraps from the poets. An happy thought or turn of expression from the poets may, with no impropriety, be now and then introduced in the most serious disa course ; but the frequent recurrence of poetic fcraps, and poetic descriptions, must surely prove unacceptable to many of his hearers and readers. We were the more surprised 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 visitation sermon before the clergy of Northumberland. At the conclusion of this discourse be says:
• I am sure you will agree with me, that we cannot address our congregations in too perspicuous and easy language. If I remember right, it is a rule of Dr. Swift (and an excellent rule it is), that a clergyman, when he composes a sermon, should imagine that he is addrefling himself to the most illiterate man of his audience.'
Were Mr. Stockdale to employ himself in reviewing his own fermons, he would be obliged to observe on them, that the author has not ftrialy adhered to his own rule. Had this rule,
which he lays down for others, been observed by himself, he surely would not have introduced to a country congregation, Virgil's Dido, the Carthaginian Queen, nor have referred to the sentiment which the poet has put into her mouth; Non ignara mali miseris fuccurrere disco; he would not have called benevolence the Great Mogul's most valuable jewel in the crown of the Christian; talked of the vast Pacific Ocean of Eternity; personified the Thames; and delcribed a certain fashionable amusement in the following obscure manner :
· Rather than ftab our neighbour's reputation, we had better de. vote whole days and nights to those unideal spots and Gothic pictures, which ingross the lives of many beings, who were born to the inheritance of reason and immortality!'
We apprehend, that the foregoing period was incomprehenfible to inany of bis illiterate hearers; for it was sometime before we discovered that it meant card playing.
Notwithstanding we are ready to allow that Mr. Stockdale has offered many just remarks in the 4'h and sth Sermons, yet we cannot be of opinion that they belong eicher to the title or the text. The text, My yoke is easy and my burden light, relates to the mild nature of the precepis of Christianity; and the title, The congruity of religion with true happiness, signifies 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 dira course on the benevolent appointments and conduet of Divine Provi. dence? It occurred to us (for we sometimes read the Bible), that a better text for the first of these two sermons 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, Smarted from the Jafh of evil congues, he appears to enter upon this task with peculiar feeling: but his zeal to expose the character betrays him into rather à ludicrous description of it. The cale-bearer is, first, 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 posure: master; then a witling i then a-despicable reptile ; and lastly, a pigmy general.
But if we were diverted to see 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 discourse of that phlegmatic and dozing creature whom we vulgarly distinguish by the title of a migbry 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 self-preservation, of his own welfare ; he never does a generous action ; and that coldness of constitution, 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 associates with every body; and every body gladly affociates with him; - but surely his universally good reception needs not to be envied by an ingenuous and liberal spirit; for it is obtained by having no character at all.'
Perhaps Mr. Stockdale himself, when he reconsiders the latter part of the following sentence, will with it had been somewhat otherwise exprefTed : Several of the Apostles were filbermen ; Paul, the enlightened, the learned, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, was a fent-maker, and worked at his trade; and Christ himself, the Son of God, and God the Son, (hear it ye proud, and be humble if ye can!) Christ himself was a carpenter.'
But our eccentric Author does not confine himself to dull divinity. To manifeft his attachment to the present ministry, the following compliment to Mr. Pitt is introduced in the firft Sermon :
What possible prodigies of greatness, and success, are not to be expected from a political hero, who, in the bloom and vivacity of youth, is im paflive to in temperance and diffipation, and indefatigably applies himself to objects of the greatest importance ; -who, at that early term of life, possesses a surprizing variety and solidity of knowledge; all the flexibility, and ardour, and force of eloquence ;- who has conquered a formidable faction; and whose filial remembrance must be, every day, fired with a great, preceding example?'
He declares himself a great advocate for reason, and admirer of the church service, 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.
Most heartily do we subscribe 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 stimulate us to the practice of those disinterested and beneficent virtues, which give peace, and satisfaction, to the individual who performs them, and which promote the happiness of mankind. When we use the expression of serving God in his house, or of the public service of the church, we mould only to those expressions affix the ideas of paying to Him, that honour and gratitude which are due from dependent beings to a great and good Creacor: we are not rafhly and absurdly to imagine, that by the celebration of religious rites, we do any real service, we bring any real advantage to our Maker. Of his exiitence and his happiness nothing can deprive Him; they cannot by any thing be diminished: they flow neceffarily, uninterruptedly, and equally from himself. Our beit actions cannot augment, our worit cannot injure his enjoyment of supreme bliss. Therefore
the public offices of religion were only inftituted, and are only repeated, for our own fakes; to keep alive in our minds those good sentiments and motions, which, without such monitors and remon. ftrances, are apt to be weakened by the trifles, and pleasures, and business of the world ;-in short, those institucions were only meant as aids (and in that view they are most important and respectable) to that good and generous conduct, which is our reasonable service.
This passage, with many others, is a proof that Mr. Stockdale can write well; and, persuaded of this, we have undertaken to point out some defeats in his Sermons, not from any enmity to the Author, but from a wish that he may improve his theological compositions.
ART. XV. Rules for drawing Caricaturas; with an Essay on Comic
Painting. 8vo. 25. sewed. Hooper. 1788.
art of painting is called a polite art; but some good judges are of opinion, that it is only commendable in proportion to the worth of the subjects chosen for imitation; where it invites us to the contemplation of praise-worthy actions, or characters, and inspires us with a defire to imitate them. The objects then represented, at the same time that they give pleasure to the eye, produce a moral effect ;--they excite our respect and admiration, and the shafts of ridicule can never reach them.- The same cria tics bave contended, that delineations in caricatura neither elevate our ideas, nor improve our underftanding; and that it muft be a fordid difpofition which can take pleasure in feeing human nature degraded, and in triumphing over irregularities of shape or countenance, which, though opposite to the beautiful or the agreeable, are the inflictions of Providence ; for which, surely, 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 sufficiently refuted. Nothing is properly ridiculous, unless two contrarieties are joined by an ill-judged association, by affectation, or where supposed 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 satirized 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 just notion of beauty. His Analysis of Beauty may be considered as the Analysis of Deformity. The province of the comic pencil is to ridicule folly and affectation ; but Hogarth has exposed scenes that are very indelicate, and some that may be thought of vicious tendency : such are not the proper subjects 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 sometimes we are rather at a loss to determine whether he is in jeft or in earnest. In a few instances he reminds us of his own pleasant Inftructions for Officers in the Army; and in others, of Switz's ironical Directions to Servants.
He is aware, that the art of drawing caricaturas is generally considered as a dangerous acquifition, tending to make the porfeffor rather feared than etteemed; but he justly remarks, that it is unfair to urge the abufe to which an art is liable, as an argument again it the art itself.
In order to do justice to this art, he observes, that it is one of the elements of satirical painting, which, like poetry of the fame denomination, may be most etficaciously employed in the cause 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 serious reproof, rremble at the thoughts of seeing their vices or follies attacked by the keen Nafts of ridicule.'
After these introductory observations, he proceeds to instruct the Itudent who wishes to become a proficient in this art; and in a note, p. 7. he gives the following necessary caution :• Caricaturists Mould be careful not to overcharge the pecu. liarities of their subjects, as they would thereby become hideous instead of ridiculous, and instead 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 frequendy seen their productions lose their intended effect. By not doing too much, they would have done more.
Mr. Grose has given a number of engraved sketcbes, to elucidate his principles ; and there seem to have been drawn with so much truth and correctness, that they ought, as he observes, to be considered in the light of mathematical diagrams. To the Rules and Lustructions, are added an Elay on Comic Painting. This piece abounds with so many witty, sensible, and appofiie remarks, that we cannot belp lamenting the want of room for a few extracts from it, for the entertainment of our Readers ; whom we mult therefore refer to the pamphlet for further gratification.
A group of droll faces is prefixed, by way of frontis. piece.