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courted praise, or deprecated censure: he asked not to be popular,—he aspired to be useful ;-the boon was granted : and with this conviction he would have been satisfied: but in the country which, to its immortal honour, had upheld the cause of the oppressed African against the European oppressor, the voluntary services of Mr. James Tobin could not pass unnoticed, and his manly conduct obtained the esteem and confidence of the most enlightened advocates of huma. nity and truth. At the instance of a Prince* who felt that philanthropy could shed a brighter lustre over royalty, he received a spontaneous public acknowledgment - the more grateful to his feelings, as it appeared to pledge the continuance of those exertions from which alone he could anticipate a final triumph. Amidst perils and persecutions, he stood firm and unappalled ; his
* His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester offered this tribute to Mr. Tobin at a meeting of the African Institution, 1813.
spirit shrunk not from the conflict; but the unremitting exertions of his mind wore down his frame : the distresses to which owing to a state of warfare (*) he saw the island exposed, called forth efforts of which his life became the sacrifice. But although he was not permitted to witness the triumph of that cause, to which all the faculties of his soul were consecrated, he has left to his wife
to his children -- the consoling reflection, that his labours must have essentially contributed to its accomplishment; and that, whilst truth, probity, and benevolence shall continue to inspire respect, the memory of James Tobin can never be consigned to ungrateful oblivion.
* During the American war.
· THE DRAMAS.
IN presenting the following dramas to the public, it is as unnecessary as it would be unpleasing to offer any criticism on the works of the lamented author.
The literary character of Tobin is already fixed on a permanent basis. Amongst his cotemporaries it might not be difficult to mention authors possessing superior powers of pathos and humour, more fortunate in creating interest, or awakening sympathy: but it was reserved for Tobin to catch the v spirit of our early dramatists, and in some degree to claim participation with their clas
sical privileges. On this distinction is founded his right to eminence and fame; and it is worthy of remark, that although he had studied with peculiar felicity the great masters of the age of Shakespeare, he escapes the charge of mannerism and affectation. It is not precisely Beaumont or Fletcher, or Massinger, that he copies, although he writes like one who is intimately conversant with their language, and who has insensibly imbibed their opinions and sentiments. To originality of character, he has not established his pretensions. Cut off in the flower of his days, and almost at the moment when he had discovered where his peculiar talent resided, he can scarcely be considered as having reached the full maturity of his genius, or as having perfectly developed in his mind its latent capabilities of excellence. Had he been permitted to survive the season of mortification and disappointment, there can be little doubt, but that he would
have restored to the theatre many of those humourous personages of the elder comedy, whom the costume of their times has excluded from the modern stage. In his earlier productions there often appears a driftless energy, a lively but vacillating fancy, a perpetual struggle between native taste and factitious experience,
The fragment of the tragedy presented in this volume will sufficiently demonstrate that his first aspirations were of a more exalted nature than he was afterwards permitted to cherish. Although the rejection of The Curfew evidently checked his flow of fancy, it prevented not the production of The Indians, which, however unsuitable to representation, demands to be rescued from oblivion. The opera of Yours or Mine has been acted in an altered form at Covent Garden. Of the Fisherman, which completes the collection, mention will be made in another place. It