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CHAPTER IV

in its nature would have been aimed at. He would rather have fixed his eyes upon the plain pathway to comfort, usefulness, and honourable distinction, then presented in either the Presbyterian or Episcopal Church. The impression, it is believed therefore, was from God; and the determination he formed, was, all things considered, an evidence of genuine humility, and of a sincere desire to promote the divine glory in the work to which he was about to devote himself. The jeering sciolist may smile, if he pleases, at the sentiment just expressed; and even some rational Christians may not be altogether pleased with it. The fact, however, is indisputable, that an extraordinary impulse has often given rise to a series of conduct, which was connected in the last result with some important event or events, and these showed such impulse to have proceeded from a special interposition of God.

Mr. Livingston having now (in the spring of 1765,) in a good measure, recovered his health, occupied much of his time in reading historical, poetical, and other works, calculated to improve him in general and polite literature. Among the authors that engaged his attention was the celebrated Shakspeare; but he had no relish for dramatic writings, or theatrical performances. And it will not be amiss, perhaps, though it be a slight

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CHAPTER IV

infringement of the continuity of the present narrative, to insert here his sentiments upon the subject of the Theatre. They are exceedingly just and to some who may happen to peruse these pages, they may administer some seasonable and salutary counsel. The Theatre is a place to which it is but too fashionable for persons of every age to resort; and, as a certain Poet once expressed himself

"It is a golden, but a fatal circle,
"Upon whose magic skirts a thousand devils,
"In crystal forms, sit, tempting innocence,
"And beckon early virtue from its centre."
"I was early convinced," he says, "that the Theatre, whatever modifications it might promise, and how innocent soever it might prove to some, who, burdened with business, seek a relaxation at the playhouse, was, in fact, in its very scope and natural influence, the nursery of vice, and ruinous to youth: that it produced dangerous temptations; dissipated the mind from serious exercises; and, in its whole apparatus of show, drapery, noise, and insinuating scenes, was inimical to that rigid virtue, that strict industry, and those sober and prudent sentiments and habits, which every youth ought to study and maintain. I was confident that the frequent, and vain, and wicked invocation of the Divine name; the irreligious, indelicate





        
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