網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

pronounced me an innocent man be afraid of death. No harm can arrive at a good man, whether dead or living; his affairs are always under the direction of the gods ; nor will I believe the fate which is allo:ted to me myself this day to have arrived by chance; nor have I aught to say either against my judges or accusers, but that they thought they did me an injury. But I detain you too long, it is time that I retire to death, and you to your affairs of life; which of us has the better is known to the gods, but to no mortal man.'

The divine Socrates is here represented in a figure worthy his great wisdom and philosophy, worthy the greatest mere man that ever breathed. But the modern discourse is written upón a subject no less than the dissolution of nature itself. Oh how glorious is the old age of that great man, who has spent his time in such contemplations as has made this being, what only it should be, an education for heaven ! He has, according to the lights of reason and revelation, which seemed to him clearest, traced the steps of Omnipotence. He has, with a celestial ambition, as far as it is consistent with humility and devotion, examined the ways of Providence, from the creation to the dissolution of the visible world. How pleasing must have been the speculation, to observe Nature and Providence move together, the physical and moral world march the same pace : to observe paradise and eternal spring the seat of innocence, troubled seasons and angry skies the portion of wickedness and vice. When this admirable author has reviewed all that has past, or is to come, which relates to the habitable world, and run through the whole fate of it, how could a guardian angel, that had attended it through all its courses or changes, speak more emphatically at the end of his charge, than does our author when he makes, as it were, a funeral oration over this globe, looking to the point where it once stood ?

Let us only, if you please, to take leave of this subject, reflect upon this occasion on the vanity and

transient

VOL, III,

H

transient glory of this habitable world. How by the force of one element breaking loose upon the rest, all the varieties of nature, all the works of art, all the labours of men are reduced to nothing. All that we admired and adored before as great and magnificent, is obliterated or vanished; and another form and face of things, plain, simple, and every where the same, overspreads the whole earth. Where are now the great empires of the world, and their great imperial cities ? Their pillars, trophies, and monuments of glory? Shew me where they stood, read the inscription, tell me the victor's name. What remains, what impressions, what difference, or distinction, do you see in this mass of fire ? Rome itself, eternal Rome, the great city, the empress of the world, whose domination and superstition, ancient and modern, make a great part of the history of this earth, what is become of her now ?--She laid her foundations deep, and her palaces were strong and sumptuous; “ She glorified herself, and lived deliciously, and said in her heart, I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow :" but her hour is come, she is wiped away from the face of the earth, and buried in everlasting oblivion. But it is not cities only, and works of men's hands, but the everlasting hills, the mountains and rocks of the earth are melted as wax before the sun, and “ their place is no where found.” Here stood the Alps, the load of the earth, that covered mariy countries, and reached their arms from the ocean to the Black Sea; this huge mass of stone is softened and dissolved as a tender cloud into rain. Here stood the African mountains, and Atlas with his top above the clouds ; there was frozen Caucasus, and Taurus, and Imaus, and the mountains of Asia ; and yonder, towards the north, stood the Riphean hills, clothed in ice and snow. All these are vanished, dropt away as the snow upon their heads. “ Great and marvellous are thy works, just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints! HALLELUJAH.”

T.

N”. I47:

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 1711.

Pronunciatio est vocis, et vultûs et gestûs moderatio cum venustaie.

TULL.

“ Good delivery is a graceful management of the voice, counte.

nance, and gesture."

ON THE COMMON PRAYER.

MR. SPECTATOR, THE well reading of the Common Prayer is of great importance, and so much neglected, that I take the liberty to offer to your consideration some particulars on that subject. And what more worthy your observation than this? A thing so public, and of so high consequence. It is indeed wonderful, that the frequent exercise of it should not make the performers of that duty more expert in it. This inability, as I conceive, proceeds from the little care that is taken of their reading, while boys, and at school, where, when they are got into Latin, they are looked upon as above English, the reading of which is wholly neglected, or at least read to very little purpose, without

any

due observations made to them of the proper accent and manner of reading; by these means they have acquired such ill habits as will 'not easily be removed. The only way that I know of to remedy this, is to propose some person of great ability that way as a pattern for them ; example being most effectual to convince the learned, as well as instruct the ignorant.

• You must know, Sir, I have been a constant frequenter of the service of the Church of England for above these four years last past, and until Sunday was

[blocks in formation]

seven-night never discovered, to so great a degree, the excellency of the Common-Prayer. When, being at St. James's Garlick-Hill church, I heard the service read so distinctly, so emphatically, and so fervently, that it was next to an impossibility to be unattentive. My eyes and my thoughts could not wander as usual, but were confined to my prayers. I then considered I addressed myself to the Almighty, and not to a beautiful face. And when I reflected on my former performances of that duty, I found I had run it over as a matter of form, in comparison to the manner in which I then discharged it. My mind was really affected, and fervent wishes accompanied my words. The confession was read with such resigned humility, the absolution with such a comfortable authority, the thanksgivings with such a religious joy, as made me feel those affections of the mind in a manner I never did before. To remedy, therefore, the grievance above complained of, I humbly propose, that this excellent reader, upon the next and every annual assembly of the clergy of Sion-College, and all other conventions, should read prayers before them. For then those that are afraid of stretching their mouths, and spoiling their soft voices, will learn to read with clearness, loudness, and strength. Others that affect a rakish negligent air, by folding their arms and lolling on their books, will be taught a decent behaviour, and comely ere&tion of body. Those that read so fast as if impatient of their work, may learn to speak deliberately. There is another sort of persons whom I call Pindaric readers, as being confined to no set measure; these pronounce five or six words with great deliberation, and the five or six subsequent ones with as great celerity: the first part of a sentence with a very exalted voice, and the latter part with a submissive one: sometimes again, with one sort of a tone, and immediately after with a very different one. These gentlemen will learn of my admired reader an evenness of voice and delivery, and all who are innocent of these affectations,

but

but read with such an indifferency as if they did not understand the language, may then be informed of the art of reading movingly and fervently, how to place the emphasis, and give the proper accent to each word, and how to vary the voice according to the nature of the sentence. There is certainly a very great difference between the reading a Prayer and a Gazette, which I beg of you to inform a set of readers, who affect, forsooth, a certain gentleman-like familiarity of tone, and mend the language as they go on, crying instead of “pardoneth and absolveth,” “pardons and absolves.” These are often pretty classical scholars, and would think it an unpardonable sin to read VIRGIL or MARTIAL with so little taste as they do divine service.

· This indifferency seems to me to arise from the endeavour of avoiding the imputation of cant, and the false notion of it. It will be proper therefore to trace the original and signification of this word. Cant is, by some people, derived from one ANDREW CANT, who, they say, was a presbyterian minister in some illiterate part of Scotland, who by exercise and use had obtained the faculty, alias gift of talking in the pulpit in such a dialect, that it is said he was understood by none but his own congregation, and not by all of them. Since Master Cant's time, it has been understood in a larger sense, and signifies all sudden exclamations, whinings, unusual tones, and in fine all praying and preaching like the unlearned of the presbyterians.

But I hope a proper elevation of voice, a due emphasis and accent are not to come within this description. So that our readers may still be as unlike the presbyterians as they please. The dissenters (I mean such as I have heard) do indeed elevate their voices, but it is with sudden jumps from the lower to the higher part of them; and that with so little sense or skill, that their elevation and cadence is bawling and muttering. They make use of an emphasis, but so improperly, that it is often placed on some very insignificant particle, as upon if or and. Now

« 上一頁繼續 »