Plumer on the effect of stage-plays

For historical interest’s sake:

“And will not every American heed the following testimony? In Congress, October 12th, 1778:

“Whereas, true religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, that it be, and is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual means for the encouragement thereof, and for the suppressing of Theatrical entertainments, horse-racing, gaming, and such other diversions, as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners.” Extract from the Minutes.

But let us look at the effect of stage-plays upon those who are most affected by them. Reference is had to the players themselves.

Tertullian says:

‘The heathens themselves marked actors and stageplayers with infamy, and excluded them from all honors and dignity.’

Augustine says:

‘Men reject from the advantages of good society, and from all honors, the actors of the poetic fables and stageplayers.’

Rousseau says:

‘In all countries the profession of a player is dishonorable, and those who exercise it are everywhere despised.’

Witherspoon says:

‘Even those who are fondest of theatrical amusements, do yet notwithstanding esteem the employment of actors a base and sordid profession. Their character has been infamous in all ages, just a living copy of that vanity, obscenity and impiety, which is to be found in the pieces which they represent.’

Thus also a French writer of some note during the reign of wickedness in that land, near the close of the last century, says:

‘It must appear very surprising, that even down to the expiration of the French monarchy, there was a character of disgrace affixed to the profession of a player, especially when compared with the kindred profession of preacher or pleader.’

This same language was used in lamentation by one of our oldest journals forty years ago” (William S. Plumer, The Law of God as Contained in the Ten Commandments).

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