Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 349 '' On Saturday, November 24, Mr, Foote gave us the Minor; that piece of his which has made so much noise. The play for that night waa bespoke by the Lord President of the Court of Session (Robert Dundas of Arniston), in justice to whom, however, it must be observed, that he did not fix on the particular piece that should be acted ; and when it was known to be the Minor, B very proper message waa sent to Mr. Foote, not to exhibit the ludicrous epilogue.' Some of our thoughtless bucks, however, were determined to frustrate the decent and becoming resolution of their superiors ; and, having planted themselves in the pit, they, with much vociferation, roared out for DT. Spuinlum. After a pause, to see if the storm would suhside, Mr. Foote, who was by this time dressed for the character caf Major Sturgeon, came forward and made an apology, putting the audience in mind of the old proverb-De mortuis nil nisi 6onum-which ought never to be violated. A distinguished buck cried, ' That won't satisfy us.' ' Sir,' said a noble peer, ' if you have a heart it should satisfy you.' Nothing, however, would do but Mr. Foote's speaking the epilogue-which he accordingly waa obliged to do. Next day the Rev. Mr. Walker, one of the ministers of the High Church, having had occasion, in the course of his lecturing on the Scriptures, to mention the doctrine of regeneration, he took an opportunity of censuring what he called the gross profanation in the Theatre the preceding evening. He delivered himself with dignity, propriety, and spirit ; and, though we could not go so far as he did in our notions of the stage in general, we could not hut adniire him for speaking his sentiments with an earnest firmness. He happened on that day to lectnre in course on 2 Cor. v. 14-21 ; and when he came to verse 17, before expounding it, he said- '' ' I cannot read this verse without expressing the just indignation I feel upon hearing that last night a profane piece of buffoonery was publicly acted, in which, unless it hath undergone very material alterations, this sacred doctrine, and some others connected with it, are introduced to the stage for no other purpose but to gratify the impiety, and to excite the laughter of thoughtless, miserable, dying sinners. " ' I had occasion some years ago to deliver very fully, from this place, my opinion of theatrical entertainments in general-an opinion then supported by the laws of my country. And aa my sentiments in that matter were not formed upon such fluctuating things as the humours, or maxims, or degrees of man, it is impossible that any variation in these can alter them ; though perhaps I should not have thought it necessary to remind you of them at present had not so gross an outrage upon the very passage that occurs this day in my coume of lecturing challenged me to it. When I say this, I do not mean to make any sort of apology for using my undoubted privilege to walk with perfect freedom in the King's highway-I mean in the highway of the King of Kings. If any jostle me in that mad, they, and not I, must answer for the consequences. I here speak upon oath; I am bound to declare the whole counsel of God ; and WO is to me If men are bold enough to act impiety, surely a minister of Christ may at least be equally bold in reproving it ; he hath a patent for doing so more valid and authoritative than any Theatre can possess, or any power on earth can give,' " Ipreach not the gospel. Such is a specimen of Mr. Walker's pulpit oratory, and of the manly independence of his spirit. The Lords of Session, the Earons of the Exchequer, and the Lord Provost and Magistrates, were present on the occasion. Mr. Walker possessed a sound constitution, and enjoyed almost uninterrupted good health till 1783, when he was seized with apoplexy, He recovered so far, however, in the course of the year, as to resume his ministerial labours. On Friday, the 4th of April 1783, he preached in the forenoon, apparently in his usual health ; but on leaving the pulpit he complained of headache, and no sooner reached his own house, which he did with some difficulty, than he was instantly seized with a stupor, and died in the course of two hours. Funeral sermons were preached on account of his demise by the Rev. Dr. Erskine, and by his own colleague the Rev. Dr. Blab. Mr. Walker resided on the Castle Hill, nearly opposite the Water Reservoir. 1 Under the character 'of DT. SquWum, a severe satire was levelled at the Rev. Mr. Whitfield, who died on the 30th September 1770.
Volume 8 Page 487
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print