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speak in their own phrase, they contrive to have a great deal of business on their hands. Indeed they have reason. For it hides their inability to colour manners, which is the proper but much harder province of true comedy.

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2. Tragedy succeeds best, when the subject is real ; comedy, when it is feigned. What would this say, but that tragedy, turning our attention principally on the action represented, finds means to interest us more strongly on the persuasion of its being taken from actual life? While comedy, on the other hand, can neglect these scrupulous measures of probability, as intent only on exhibiting characters ; for which purpose an invented story will serve much better. The reason is, real action does not ordinarily afford variety of incidents enough to 'shew the character fully: feigned action may.

And this difference, we may observe, explains the reason why tragedies are often formed on the most trite and vulgar subjects, whereas a new subject is generally demanded in comedy. The reality of the story being of so much consequence to interest the affections, the more known it is, the fitter for the poet's purpose. But a feigned story having been

. found more convenient for the display of characters, it grew into a rule that the story should be always new. This disadvantage on the side of the comic poet is taken notice of in those verses of Antiphanes, or rather, as Casaubon conjectures, of Aristophanes, in a play of his intitled, Ποίησις. The reason of this , difference now appears. .

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One sees, then, the reason why Tragedy prefers real subjects, and even old ones; and, on the contrary, why comedy delights in feigned subjects, and new.

The same genius in the two dramas iš observable, in their draught of characters. Comedy makes all its Characters general; Tragedy, particular. The Avare of Moliere is not so properly the picture of a covetous man, as of covetousness itself. Racine's Nero, on the other hand, is not a picture of cruelty, but of a cruel man.

Yet here it will be proper to guard against two mistakes, which the principles now delivered may be thought to countenance.

The first is with regard to tragic characters, which I say are particular. My meaning is, they are more particular than those of comedy. That is, the end of tragedy does not require or permit the poet to draw together so many of those characteristic circumstances which shew the manners, as Comedy. For, in the former of these dramas, no more of character is shewn, than what the course of the action ne. " cessarily calls forth. Whereas, all or most of the features, by which it is usually distinguished, are sought out and industriously displayed in the latter.

The case is much the same as in portrait painting ; where, if a great master be required

to draw a particular face, he gives the very lineaments he finds in it; yet so far resembling to what he observes of the same turn in other faces, as not to affect any minute circumstance of peculiarity. But if the same artist were to design a head in general, he would assemble together all the customary traits and features, any where observable through the species, which should best express the idea, whatever it was, he had conceived in his own mind and wanted to exhibit in the picture.

There is much the same difference between the two sorts of dramatic portraits. Whence it appears that in calling the tragic character particular, I suppose it only less representative of the kind than the comic; not that the draught of so much character as it is concerned to represent should not be general; the contrary of which I have asserted and explained at - large elsewhere [Notes on the A. P. v. 317.]

Next, I have said, the characters of just comedy are general. And this I explain by the instance of the Avare of Moliere, which conforms more to the idea of avarice, than to that of the real avaricious man. But here again, the reader will not understand me, as saying this in the strict sense of the words. I

VOL. II.

even think Moliere faulty in the instance giveir; though, with some necessary explanation, it may well enough serve to express my meaning.

The view of the comic scene being to delineate characters, this end, I suppose, will be attained most perfectly, by making those characters as universal as possible. For thus the person shewn in the drama being the representative of all characters of the same kind, furnishes in the highest degree the entertainment of humour. But then this universality must be such as agrees not to our idea of the possible effects of the character as conceived in the abstract, but to the actual exertion of its. powers ; which experience justifies, and comnon life allows. Moliere, and before hiin Plautus, had offended in this; that for a picture of the avaricious man, they presented us with a fantastic unpleasing draught of the passion of avarice. I call this a fantastic draught, because it hath no archetype in nature. And it is, farther, an unpleasing one, for, being the delineation of a simple passion unmired, it wanted all those . --Lights and shades, whose well-accorded

strife
Gives all the strength and colour of our life.

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