Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

that of the strongest natural affection, the passion between the two sexes. The same have always been the Friendships of good men, when founded on virtue, and strengthened by a similitude of manners.

So that it appears, these three friends were of a singular complexion; and deservedly gave occasion to a proverb which sets them in no very honourable or advantageous light.

But suppose now the work to be dramatical, and we immediately see the reason of their behaviour. For had they not been indulged in their strange captious humour, the Author could never have produced a piece of that integrity of action, which a scenic representation demanded: and they might as well have held their tongues seven days longer, as not contradict, when they did begin to speak *.

This, as to what the Drama in general required. But had this been all we could say for their conduct, we should needs confess that the divine Writer had here done, what mere mortal Poets so frequently do; that is, had transgressed nature (in such a representation of friendship) for the sake of his Plot. But we shall shew, when we come to examine the MORAL of the poem, that nature is exactly followed: for that under these three miserable Comforters, how true friends soever in the Fable, certain false friends were intended to be shadowed out in the Moral↑.

But now the dispute is begun and carried on with great vehemence on both sides. They affirm, they object, they answer, they reply; till, having exhausted their whole stock of arguments, and made the matter more doubtful than they found it, the Author, in this embarras, has recourse to the common expedient of

See note [E] at the end of this volume. ↑ See note [F] at the end of this volume.

dramatic

dramatic writers, to draw him from his straits,☺Eòr arò μnxavs. And if ever that precept of the masἀπὸ μηχανής. ters of composition,

Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus Vindice nodus, was well followed, it was here. For what can we conceive more worthy the presence of a GOD, than to interfere with his Authority, to silence those frivolous or impious disputes amongst men concerning the MYSTERIOUS WAYS OF PROVIDENCE? And that this interposition was nothing more, I think, is evident from hence: The subject, as we observe, was of the highest importance, namely, Whether, and why, good men are unhappy, and the evil prosperous? The disputants had much perplexed the question by various answers and replies; in which cach side had appealed to reason and experience; so that there wanted a superior Wisdom to moderate and determine, But, to the surprise of all who consider this attentively, and consider it as a strict History, they find Gop introduced to do this in a speech which clears up no difficulties; but makes all hopes of deciding the question desperate, by an appeal to his Almighty power *. A plain proof that the Interposition was no more than a piece of poetical Machinery. And in that case we see the reason why the knot remains untied: for the sacred Writer was no wisert when he spoke poetically in the Person of God, than when he spoke in the person of Job or his friends.

On these accounts, and on many more, which will be touched upon in the course of this dissertation, but are here omitted to avoid repetition, I conclude, that :.those Critics who suppose the book of Job to be of -the dramatic kind, do not judge amiss. at up ed of * See note [G] at the end of this volume. + See note [H] at the end of this volume.

www.

[ocr errors]

Nor

[ocr errors]

Nor does such idea of this truly divine Composition at all detract from the proofs we have of the real existence of this holy Patriarch, or of the truth of his exemplary Story. On the contrary, it much confirms them: seeing it was the general practice of dramatic Writers, of the serious kind, to chuse an illustrious Character or celebrated Adventure for the subject of the Piece, in order to give their poem its due dignity and weight. And yet, which is very surprising, the Writers on both sides, as well those who suppose the Book of Job to be dramatical, as those who hold it to

1

[ocr errors]

be historical, have fallen into this paralogism, That, if dramatical, then the Person and History of Job are fictitious. Which nothing but inattention to the nature of a dramatic Work, and to the practice of dramatic Writers, could have occasioned. Lactantius had a much better idea of this species of composition: "Totum autem, quod referas, fingere, id est, ineptum 66 esse, et Mendacem potius quam Poetam."

But this fallacy is not of late standing. Maimonides, where he speaks of those whose opinion he seems to incline to, that say the book of Job is parabolical, expresses himself in this manner. You know there are certain men who say, that such a man as JOB never existed. And that his HISTORY is nothing else but a parable. These certain men were (we know) the Talmudists. Now, as, by his History, he means this book of Job, it is evident he supposed the fabulosity of the book concluded against the existence of the Patriarch. Nay, so insensibly does this inveterate fallacy insinuate itself into our reasonings on this subject, that even GROTIUS himself appears not to be quite free from the entanglement. Who, al

• Nósti quosdam esse, qui dicunt Jobum nunquam fuisse, neque creatum esse ; sed HISTORIAM illius nihil aliud esse quàm Parabolam, VOL. V. X

though

though he saw these two things (a real Job and a dramatic representation of him) so reconcilable, thathe supposed both; yet will not allow the book of Job to be later than Ezekiel, because that Prophet mentions Job*. Which argument, to have any strength, must suppose Job to be unknown until this Book was written; consequently that his Person was fictitious; contrary to his own supposition, that there was a real Job living in the time of Moses t. After this, it is no wonder, that the Author of the Archeologiæ Philoso phica, whose talent was not critical acumen, should have reasoned so grossly on the same fallacious principle. These learned men, we see, would infer a visionary Job from a visionary History. Nor is the mistake of another celebrated Writer less gross, who would, on the contrary, infer a real history from a real Job. Ezekiel and St. James (says Dr. Middleton, in his Essay on the Creation and Fall of Man) refer to the BOOK OF JOв in the same manner as if it were a real history. Whereas the truth is, they do not refer to the BOOK OF JOB at all.

II. The second question to be considered, is in what Age this book was composed.

1. First then we say in general, that it was written some time under the Mosaic Dispensation. But to this it is objected, that, if it were composed in those Times, it is very strange that not a single word of the Mosaic Law, nor any distant allusion to the Rites or Ceremonies of it, nor any historical circumstance under it, nor any species of idolatry in use during its period, should be found in it §.

Chap. xiv. ver. 14: + Vid. Grotii Præf. in Librum Job.
See note [1] at the end of this volume.

§ Jobus Arabs πολυκλειτὸς καὶ πολυμαθής, in cujus historia muita occurrunt antique sapientiæ vestigia, antiquior habetur Mose. Idque multis patet indiciis: Primo, quòd nullibi meminerit rérum

2

à Mose

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1

I apprehend the objection rests on one or other of these suppositions, Either that the book is not a Work of the dramatic kind; or that the Hero of the Piece is fictitious. But both these suppositions have been shewn to be erroneous; so that the objection falls with them. For to observe DECORUM is one of the most essential rules of dramatie writing. He therefore who takes a real Personage for the subject of his poem will be obliged to shew him in the customs and sentiments of his proper Age and Country; unmixed with the manners of the Writer's later Time and Place. Nature and the reason of the thing so evidently de mand this conduct, and the neglect of it has so ungracious an effect, that the polite Roman Historian thought the Greek tragic Writers were to blame even for mentioning the more modern name of Thessaly, in their pieces of the Trojan War. And he gives this good reason for his censure, Nihil enim ex Persona Poëtæ, sed omnia sub eorum, qui illo tempore vixerunt, dixerunt*.

[ocr errors]

But to lay no greater stress on this argument than it will bear; I confess ingenuously, that were there not (as the objection supposes) the least distant relation or allusion to the Jewish Law or History throughout the whole book, it might reasonably create some suspicion that the Author lived before those times. For

though Mose gestarum, sive in Egypto, sive in exitu, sive in deserto. Secundo, quòd, cùm vir pius & veri numinis cultor fuerit, legi Mosaicæ contraiverit, in sacrificiis faciendis.-Tertio, ex ætatis & vitæ suæ mensura, in tertio, plus minús, à Diluvio sæculo collocandus esse videtur: vixit enim ultra ducentos annos.-Cùm de Idololatria loquitur, memorat primum ipsius genus Solis & Luna adorationem.Neque Sabbathi neque ullius legis factitiæ meminit. His omnibus adducor ut credam, Mosi Jobum tempore anteisse. Archmol. Philos. pp. 265, 266.

See note [K] at the end of this volume,
X 2

1.

« AnteriorContinua »