« AnteriorContinuar »
a history of our Saviour. He was present at most of the things related by him in his Gofpel. He was an eye and ear-witnefs of our Lord's labours, journeyings, difcourfes, miracles, his low abasement, even to an ignominious death, and his being alive again, and then afcending into heaven. Our Author vindicates the story of St. John's being banished to Patmos by Domitian, against Grotius, who places that event under Claudius; and against Sir Ifaac Newton, who contends for its having happened in the reign of Nero. In regard to the time when his Gofpel was wrote, it must have been before the deftruction of Jerufalem. This is proved from the probability that he would write foon after the other Evangelifts, and from the suitableness of his history to the circumstances of things juft before the overthrow of the Jews. If it fhould be the defign of St. John in his Gospel, to represent how inexcufeable the Jews were in not receiving Jefus as the Chrift, and to vindicate the providence of God in the calamities already befallen, or now coming upon them, it will very much strengthen the fuppofition, that it was writ before the deftruction of Jerufalem was completed. That fuch was his defign, the Doctor has fhewn in a very curious manner; and the whole paffage, which throws light on many texts, deferves an attentive perufal. In anfwering objections to his fcheme, our Author takes occafion to confider the ancient notion that St. John wrote with a view to confute certain Heretics. Against this he argues, first, that to write against Heretics, in a history of his Lord and Mafter, was below an Evangelift; and, fecondly, that he fees nothing of this kind in St. John's Gospel. He is hereby led into a criticism on the celebrated Introduction to it, which he explains as the eternal reason, wisdom, and power of the Supreme God; but how far he is in the right, in this respect, we leave his readers to determine. Towards the close of the chapter it is obferved, that St. John has omitted the greatest part of thofe things which are recorded by the other Evangelifts. "Which much confirms the teftimony of ancient writers,' fays the Doctor, that the three firft Gofpels were written, and published among the faithful, before St. John wrote: that they were brought to him, ⚫ and that he affirmed the truth of their relations; but faid, ⚫ that fome difcourfes and miracles of our Saviour were omit¬ ted by them, which might be ufefully recorded. Indeed, there is little or nothing in his Gospel, which is not new ⚫ and additional, except the account of our Saviour's profecution, death, and refurrection, where all four coincide in
many particulars: though even here alfo St. John has divers things peculiar to himself.'
The prefent volume is concluded by an examination of the queftion, Whether any one of the three first Evangelifts had feen the Gofpels of the others before he wrote. After ftating the opinions of the learned on this important affair, the Doctor proceeds more diftinctly to the merits of the cause, and fhews that the ancients had no fufpicion that the facred Hiftorians had confulted each other's accounts. It is not suitable to the character of an Evangelift to abridge another; and they were well qualified to write without doing it. Indeed the na ture and defign of the first three Gofpels makes it evident that the authors of them had not seen any authentic written history of Jefus Christ. The Doctor observes, that the writings of all, and each of these Evangelifts, contain a complete view of our Saviour's miniftry. After enumerating particulars, ← Here,' says he, are all the integrals of a Gospel. And they are properly filled up. And all these things are in all and every one of the first three Evangelifts. Which fhews, ⚫ that they did not know of each others writings. For it
cannot be thought, that they fhould be difpofed to say the fame things over and over, or to repeat what had been well faid already. St. John, who had feen the other three Gofpels, has little in common with them. Almoft every thing in his Gospel is new and additional. So it would have been with every other writer in the like circumftance. And if •St. Matthew's Gospel had been writ at about eight, or fifteen, or twenty years after our Lord's afcenfion, and had become generally known among the faithful: (as it certainly would, foon after it was writ:) it is not improbable, that we should have had but two Gofpels, his and St. John's. Or if there had been several, they would all, except the firft, have been in the manner of Supplements, like St. John's, not entire Gofpels, like thofe of the first three Evangelifts. This confideration appears to me of great moment, for fhewing that our first three Evangelifts are all independent witneffes. Indeed, it feems to me to be quite fatisfactory and decifive.
The fame truth is farther evident from the feeming contradictions, and fmall varieties and differences, which appear in the Evangelifts accounts of the fame things; from the remarkable circumftances in Matthew, not taken notice of by Mark or Luke; and from the many incidents, which each has peculiar to himself. I have,' fays our Author, infifted the more upon this point, because I think, that to fay, that
the Evangelists abridged and transcribed each other, without giving any hint of their fo doing, is a great difparagement to them. And it likewife diminisheth the value and ⚫ importance of their teftimony.This is not a new opinion lately thought of, nor has it been taken up by me, out of oppofition to any. I have all my days read and admired the first three Evangelifts, as independent and harmonious witneffes, And I know not how to forbear ranking the other opinion among thofe bold, as well as groundlefs affertions, in which Critics too often indulge themselves, without con * fidering the confequences."
LEUCOTHOE. A Dramatic Poem. 8vo. 1s. 6d. Cooper.
HIS dramatic Poem,(a) as the Author properly calls it, we have perufed with fome fatisfaction; as it is certainly more of a piece, than most of those motley Operas which of late have been represented on our theatres: And though we cannot fay, with our Author, that every
one who is endued with the smallest fpark of taste, muft 'immediately be ftruck with the ridiculoufnefs, not to say barbarity, of turning Shakespear's Plays into Operas, and * of larding them with fongs from quite different authors;' as we know fome, of undisputed tafte, who have encouraged our late performances in this way; yet have we always thought that Operas more fufceptible of mufical accompaniment, as well as more uniform in their structure, might be produced in English, without emafculating that Prince of the Drama, The Poem under our confideration has, in a great measure, answered our idea; the numbers are, in general, not only fmooth, with the addition of rhyme, and happily varied to exprefs the different paffions, but nature, in defcribing those paffions, is not violated, and the fentiments generally rife from the fubject. But tho', on the whole, we think thus favourably of this piece, yet is it not free from inaccuracies and defects: Some of thefe we shall notice, as they fall in our way.
Leucothoe, daughter of Orchamus, King of Perfia, is beloved, and fecretly enjoyed, by the fun; when Clytie, a
(a) He juflly obferves, that as it ends unhappily, it cannot be called an Opera, neither can it come under the denomination of Tragedy, as it exhibits objects and actions out of the courfe of nature, and is divided into Recitative and Song.
• former mistress of his, becomes acquainted with their amour, • and, in the rage of jealousy, makes a full discovery of it to the Lady's father. Orchamus, as a punishment for his daughter's crime, orders her to be buried alive,' &c.
In the first scene, the theatre reprefents a plain, bordered with wood; several mountains, rifing one above another, till the higheft feem loft in the clouds, making the point of view at the farther end. Clytie is discovered in a melancholy posture:' at laft fhe breaks out,
Oh! jealoufy, thy torments who can bear?
Then bidding adieu, in a foft pleafing air, to the ftreams and groves, to peace of mind, and all the tender train of happy love; the Sun appears in the midst of the sky,(b) moving flowly towards the fummit of the mountains; where, opening by degrees, it fhews Phoebus in his chariot.'
Clytie foon perceives her former lover, and in the transport of her jealoufy, wishing that all her woes may be doubled on her rival's head, fhe retires among the trees.
In the second scene Phoebus defcends the mountain, a symphony playing.
The Air, Hail to love, (c) &c. which Apollo first fings, is beautifully expreffive of the lover. We cannot, however, think the Recitative that follows fo confiftent with this character; for, what right had a happy lover, like Apollo, to exclaim(d) against beauty ?
(6) Does the Author mean to represent Sun-fet? that certainly is the proper time. At the beginning of the scene, should not the sky have been obfcured with clouds? and should not the fun gradually break through them, and appear as fetting?
(€) "Hail! to Love, delicious boy,
"Hail! to Love, and welcome Joy:"
Love, the best, the only treasure,
Love, that renders pain a pleasure,
And by enflaving makes us free,
(d) Unseen, refiftlefs, it impels us on,
No force can tame it, nor can prefcience fhun,
Had Apollo lamented the omnipotence of beauty, as obliging him defert his former attachments, we should have thought better of his godship.
In the third scene Clytie discovers herfelf; Phoebus in anger, afks, who dares intrude upon his privacy? Clytie, kneeling, intreats him to compaffionate her miferies, as he was the author of them.
Nor let, while my diftrefs you fee,
What's warmth(e) and life to all befide,
It is no eafy matter for one who has loft all relish for a miftress, to preserve decorum, when the taxes him with infidelity, especially if at that initant he is upon another scent; but, could decency be maintained, where love is expected, it would not, certainly, fatisfy the longing complainant. Hence we are not to be furprised, that Apollo peremptorily bids Clytie be gone; that the plainly tells him, fhe knows Lucothoe is her rival; that he raps out a good round oath, threatens her with immediate death, if ever the breathed again what (ƒ) she had prefumed to speak, and again bids her be gone. Nor is Phoebus content with that; he addresses himself to his new flame, and paffionately afks, what detains her from tuning his jarring foul to love? This roufes poor Clytie's indignation.
Confufion! madness! (g) Hell! or yet what's (b) worse,
The world, myself-and all my feeble race(i).
What! boast your falfhood, own it to my face!
She should rather have curfed Apollo, who had been fo ungallant as to boast of his infidelity, to her face. A natural sentiment, indeed, follows;
Go, tyrant, feek the idol you adore,
Clytie's weak claims fhall trouble you no more.
Hence! ftubborn weakness, hence !-O tender fool!
But tutor❜d by example, I fhail cool,
And him difdain, as he has flighted me.
(e) A far fetched conceit, and no ways confiftent with the expreffions of abandoned fupplicating love.
(f) By the eternal gloomy flood, if e'er
You breath again, what you've prefum'd to speak,
(g) This exclamation is not in the fpirit of antiquity.
daughter of Oceanus.