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For the Weekly Magazine.

on the effects of theatric

WHETHER most good, or most
evil flows from theatrical exhi-
bitions? appears to be a question a

correspondent wishes to have decided.
This question has given rise to vari-
ous thoughts, on the subject; should
they lead to the wished-for decision
they are at T. Markright's service.

The opinion of wise and good men
amongst pagans and Christians, might
have some influence on minds open to
conviction. Hence, although I do
not wish to teaze your correspondent
with quotations from the writings of
either, I would just observe, that many
wise heathens rejected the amuse-
ments of the stage, as injurious to
virtue and morality; and it is well
known that Christians of various sects,
view them as wholly opposed to the
divine spirit of the Gospel. Not-
withstanding there is no prohibition
expressly relative to theatrical plea-
sures, conveyed through the medium
of revelation, yet that solemn injunc-
tion of the Saviour of the world,
“Be ye perfect, as your Father, who
is in heaven, is perfect,” militates
against the amusement in question. It
must impress every reflective mind,
that by those who are seeking this
perfection, no time can be allowed
for such pleasures; and as it is an in-
junction obligatory on all, all are to
attain it by the same means. Whe-
ther the delusive scenery of dramatic
entertainment makes a part of those
means, I leave to the judgment of
wise and judicious observers. How
can that amusement be of benefit,
which deprives the state of a number
of healthy members; who, instead of
rendering that service required of each
individual, devote their attention to
dissipate the mind, and spend in vani-
ty and folly, that portion of time
which it is enjoined, shall be devoted
to the honour of God, and the good of
our fellow creatures. I view the en-
couragement given to comedians, as
one of the principal evils of a thea-
tre: It is giving a kind of sanction
to idleness and falsehood; for I call
that idleness, which engages the mind
in pursuit of fascinating objects to
divert the multitude; and it is even
better to do nothing than to do evil:

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And does not that mode of spending
our time, bear a close affinity to false-
hood, whereby we represent charac-
ters which never existed; display ima-
ginary sorrows which soften the heart
without making it better; and pour-
tray folly and licentiousness, which
debase and corrupt the spectators?
I pass over those parts of dramatic
pleasures that are offensive to mo-

It will, perhaps, be asked How are
the persons thus engaged, to procure
subsistence? The mode which has oc-
curred to me, would be vastly more
conducive to their honour and happi-
ness. The female part of the com-
pany, who are favoured with ta-
lents above mediocrity, might be-
come teachers of schools, (who are
much wanted) and be instrumental in
disseminating knowledge and instruc-
tion. There are, for those of infe-
rior powers, a variety of domestic
spheres, in which their time might be
usefully employed. Thus they might
render essential service to our coun-
try, and not deprive it of what is its
just requisition, time and talents well
employed; these form no inconsider-
able revenue, and are amongst the
strong pillars on which the greatness
and security of a nation rest. The
subject thus far considered will per-
haps tend to convince that plays are
not a benefit.

The actors who are men of supe-
rior abilities, in a country like ours,
can be at no loss for suitable em-
ployments. When the mind is strong-
ly urged to pursue useful occupations
it seldom loses its energy for want of
an object. I am inclined to believe,
that all these things taken into view,
will prove that those who sanction
the pleasures of the stage are accessory
to the evil.

But if we contemplate the aggre-
gate sum of money which the theatre
engrosses, and think to how many
benevolent purposes it might be ap-
propriated, what feeling heart will
not acknowledge, that plays are per-
nicious? Seventy-five thousand dol-

lars, annually dispensed for charitable
uses, would ameliorate the sufferings
of many hundred poor families; and
a noble design would be executed, if
those who attend the theatre would,
in future, lodge their play-money in
the hands of some worthy citizen, as
a fund for works of charity, amongst
which should be considered the estab-
lishment of schools for poor children,
and such as have parents, who, though
not in the lowest circumstances, can-
not afford to pay for their learning.
Though the theatre would be thus
deserted, and the minds of our citi-
zens no longer agitated by fancied
distress, or lured by fallacious plea-
sures; yet they would enjoy the satis-
faction which flows from relieving
the miseries of their fellow creatures,
and receive that benediction which is
of inestimable value— “Blessed is he
that considereth the poor.”

I shall close these observations
with an anecdote of a celebrated

Shuter had formed an acquaintance
with an eminent preacher, by whose
sermons he had been attracted. Af-
ter some years' absence, they met in
Plymouth. Much pleased with the in-
terview, Shuter enquired, if that was
the place of his residence? He replied
it was, “I am just returned” said he,
“from London, where I have preach-
ed so often, and been so indisposed,
that Dr. Fothergill advised my return
to the country.” “And I” said Shu-
ter, “have been acting Sir John Fal-
staff, so often, that I thought I should
have died; and the physicians advi-
sed me to come into the country for
the benefit of the air. Had you died,
it would have been serving the best
of masters; but had I, it would have
been in the service of the devil. Lord
E— sent for me to-day—Poor
things! they are unhappy and want
Shuter to make them laugh. As soon
as I leave you, I shall be King Rich-
ard: this is called a good play; as
good as some sermons. I acknow-
ledge there are some moral things in
it: but after it, I shall come in again

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with my farce of 'A Dish of all Sorts:'
Fine reformers are we.”

Philadelphia. w.

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