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Perhaps it would be wise in her not to meddle or make with questions of either religion or metaphysics in private conference with male logicians, who, while arguing generalities, have specialties in their heads. The proportion which she and her colleague allowed—not more than one man to five thousand, with any distinct and definite religious belief—is fearfully short measure. Connecting this arithmetical declaration with the following passage (in the truth of which we perfectly agree), how will they tally with each other?
• 'Tis strange that feelings should pass from our hearts and minds as clouds pass from the face of heaven, as though they had never been there ;-yet not so, after all; they do not pass so tracklessly—they do leave faint shadows behind ; they leave a darker colour upon the face of all existence ;-sometimes they leave a sad conviction of wasted capabilities, and time, precious time, expended in vain. Yet not in vain ; even though our feelings change,--pass, perhaps, to our own consciousnesscease altogether,—'tis not in vain-life is going on-experience and solemn wisdom may come with the coming time ; and existence is, after all, but a series of experiments upon our spiritual nature.'
The theories of moral formation and of moral trial are only a difference in words. They come to the same thing. The improvement of one's individual nature is not indeed absolutely the only object of human life ; yet it ought to be so completely the paramount one, that no other object should be left in competition with it by any reasonable person. To suppose, as above, that the spiritual experiment of human life fails with men, and succeeds with women, is to complete the system of contraries, which is already so remarkable, between the Eastern and Western worlds. Women, who can hardly get into the Mahomedan heaven at all, would, on this supposition, have the Christian heaven almost entirely to themselves.
On her professional criticisms we have little to offer. A combination of Kean and of the male Kembles would certainly make a greater actor than either extreme, as respectively personified
. The narrative of her strange expostulatory by-play with her American Romeos would seem to be decisive, as far as she is concerned at least, on the Grimm controversy, concerning the reality of the immediate feelings of a performer. Yet her Ophelia, she says, was always moved by her father's Hamlet ; and she was sufficiently herself to dislike to act Juliet to his Romeo. She is wrong, we think, in declaring against small theatres
. Nobody wishes to have them the size only of a private room; but many are desirous to bring them back to the size of the theatres of former days. As regards the actors, their difficul
. ties might be altered rather than diminished by the change. But
if an intermediate size were taken, so as to give sufficient distance for the illusion, and yet sufficient nearness to catch the natural voice and natural countenance of the performer, the spectator's part of the problem would be solved. The well-intentioned proposition by which some moral alarmist startled her-to wit, that our theatres should represent for our amusement detached fragments of plays, instead of a whole play, is not worth discussing. The proposal was made with the express object of reducing the excitement within harmless bounds. And there can be little doubt but that it might be so managed as in that respect to be perfectly successful. But, on this principle, her stage reformer ought also to consider whether he can justify reading a play at home to his family, except piecemeal. Arguments, grounded on the degree of excitement which is raised by the perfection of the illusion, and on the absence of Christian motives of conduct in the characters and the plot of dramatic pieces, are as old as Christianity itself. They were much insisted on in France by the members of the Port-Royal, and are at present one of the Shibboleths of a party (smaller every way except in numbers) among ourselves. All that can be said is, that those who feel themselves the worse for this species of excitement had better certainly stay at home. So with respect to the reading books, dramatic or otherwise, which are not of a purely and positively religious cast. Yet what in this life of ours is to become of such persons ? They must of course take a survey of their lives in other respects also, and see where (to be consistent -if that they ever think of) the analogy would lead them. For plays, any way immoral (not confining immorality to love matters only), whether in plot, character, or dialogue, we have not a word to say. Madame de Staël's saying, that the coarseness of a theatre is a sign of the virtue of the people, and, vice versa, was a sophism unworthy of her talents. It is refuted (were refutation wanting) by the actual condition of the French drama. One thing, besides, is plain enough; you must have decent plays, if decent women are to perform in them.
We have no objection to an actress making a distinguished marriage. Quite the contrary. It is highly useful, from its tendency to raise the standard of the profession. But we have a great objection to their quitting the public service as the consequence of their marriage. It is one of the most obnoxious forms conjugal vanity and exclusiveness can assume. The carrying off Miss Farren or Miss O'Neill from the stage, was like shutting up one of the parks, or enclosing Hampstead Heath. Our forefathers had a great deal to get over before they could bring themselves to bear the thoughts of a real woman on the public stage. It was one of those innovations, however, which, when once accomplished, is accomplished for ever. There are many parts in life where men still take the place of women very needlessly; but this branch of male monopoly is clearly at an end
. William the Fourth need never fear having to wait, as Charles the Second had, for the curtain drawing up, till • her majesty
was shaved.' No successor to the handsome Kynaston will drive to Hyde Park with our women of quality, in his theatrical petticoats, after the play is over. Hissing, hooting, pippin-pelting, and driving them from the boards, as a public scandal, was the reception given to the unlucky Frenchwomen (or monsters ' rather,' as Prynne calls them) who first ventured on the rash experiment in England. Actresses are quite safe at present against this kind of outrage ; even when they unsex themselves in hose and doublet. But there is much evil short of this. The difficulty of keeping up a tolerable supply of good female performers, and the chances against the combination of excellencies, which is necessary to make a really superior actress, are almost infinite. The public, therefore, can ill afford these matrimonial retirements, which eclipse before their time the gaiety of nations. In the case of Miss Kemble, the mischief is done. Her London audience, which the Americans, she says, should see get up and
wave hats and handkerchiefs, and shout welcome, as they do to us,' will welcome their favourite no more.
There is no chance of her return to a profession that she cordially
detested. Under these circumstances, the only compensation Mr Butler can make to us he must make. He is bound to see that she goes on with her faithful and amusing journal, and that she finishes
, at her leisure, some of the sundry stories, plays, and novels on which, it seems, she had already set to work, amid the interruptions of
ART. VI.-The Works of GEORGE DALGARNO, of Aberdeen.
4to. Reprinted at Edinburgh: 1834.
I n taking up this work, we owe perhaps some apology for the
deviation from our ordinary rules ; inasmuch as it is merely a reprint of ancient matter, the publication also not professedly reaching beyond the sphere of a private society.* We are induced, however, to make a qualified exception in favour of this edition of Dalgarno's Works, in consideration of the extreme rarity of the original treatises, added to their high importance;
The Society here alluded to is that known by the name of the • Maitland Club, which was instituted at Glasgow, in imitation of the • Bannatyne Club ;' as the latter was, at Edinburgh, in imitation of the • Roxburghe Club' of London. Both of these Clubs bave greatly outstripped their progenitor in the number and value of the works printed by them. By their means, many curious Pieces which would never other, wise have seen the light, have been printed from original Manuscripts ; and others, like those contained in the volume before us, have been carefully and handsomely reprinted from rare and forgotten editions, and thus rescued from that oblivion into which the unhappy distaste of the age
for such productions would otherwise have allowed them to sink. Those sage and smart sneerers at • Bookworms, who sometimes are heard indulging themselves in a fling at such Associations, know absolutely nothing that is the fact-either of what they have done, or of the nature of the works wbich they have from time to time put within the reach of learned and liberal curiosity. The treatises reprinted in the volume before us, though containing, as Mr Dugald Stewart has stated, striking anticipations of some of the most refined conclusions of a later and more enlightened age, on a most important subject, never would have been made accessible to those whose curiosity regarding them was likely to be awakened by his strictures, by mere professional publishers; and, when we recollect, that besides the present volume, complete, accurate, and beautiful editions of the works of Sir Thomas Urquhart, of Drummond of Hawthornden, and of Sir Richard Maitland, have been produced by the · Maitland Club,' we are not ashamed to say that we consider it eminently entitled to the grateful acknowledgements and good wishes of all rational lovers of the history of philosophy and of our early literature. The productions of the · Bannatyne Club' are more numerous, and still more valuable ; particularly in the great and interesting department of National History. Bishop Lesley's History, the Life of James the Sixth, Sir James Melville's Memoirs, the Autobiography of Andrew Melvill, Turner's Memoirs, Mackay's Memoirs, and Spalding's History, not to mention many other similar works, form a series of contributions to the stock of Scottish Historical Literature which a munificent government alone, or such a society as the · Bannatyne Club' could or would venture to produce.
and because the liberality of the editors has not limited their contribution merely to members of their society, but extended it to the principal libraries of the kingdom, and, we believe, to many individuals likely to feel an interest in its contents. We shall, however, relax our rule only to the measure of a very brief notice.
Dalgarno's Works are composed of two treatises : the first entitled — Ars Signorum, Vulgo Character Universalis et Lingua · Philosophica. Londini : 1661 :' the second — Didascalocophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man's Tutor; to which is added a Discourse of the Nature and Number of Double Consonants : both which Tracts being the first for what the Author knows) that have been published upon either of the subjects. Printed at the Theater in • Oxford, 1680.
Of the author himself, all that is now known is comprised in the following slight notice by Anthony a Wood. The reader • may be pleased to know, that one George Dalgarno, a Scot, • wrote a book entitled, Ars Signorum, &c., London, 1661. This • book, before it went to press, the author communicated to Dr • Wilkins, who, from thence taking a hint of greater matter, car
ried it on, and brought it up to that which you see extant. This • Dalgarno was born at Old Aberdeen, and bred in the University • at New Aberdeen ; taught a private grammar school, with good success, for about thirty years together, in the parishes of S.
Michael, and S. Mary Mag., in Oxford; wrote also Didasca• locophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man's Tutor ; and dying of a • fever, on the 28th of August, 1687, aged sixty or more, was • buried in the north body of the Church of S. Mary Magdalen.' (Athene Oxon., Vol. II., p. 506.) With the exception of an accidental allusion to his treatise on Signs, by Leibnitz, in a letter to Mr Burnet of Kemney, from whom he had probably received that work of a fellow Aberdonian, and some slight traditionary statements by the German historians of literature, the memory of Dalgarno had wholly perished, when attention was again awakened to the originality and importance of his speculations by the late Mr Dugald Stewart, in various passages of his writings ; and these having suggested to the editors the idea of the present reprint, they are very properly collected in their preliminary statement, as the best of testimonies to its importance.
In speaking of Dalgarno's two treatises, we shall reverse their chronological as well as natural sequence, and take them in what appears to us the order of their practical interest.
In order to appreciate the high and peculiar value of our author's treatise on the education of the Deaf and Dumb, it is necessary to take a survey of what had actually been accom