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“ fewness of persons, and try whether that be not a
« fault in the Greek poets; and whether their excel-
“ lency was so great, when the variety was visibly fo
“ little; or whether what they did was not very easy
<<

« Then make a judgement on what the English have
« added to their beauties: as, for example, not only

more plot, but also new passions; as, namely, that “ of love, scarce touched on by the ancients, except “ in this one example of Phædra, cited by Mr. Rymer; and in that how short they were of “ Fletcher !

“ Prove also that love, being an heroick paffion, “ is fit for tragedy, which cannot be denied, because " of the example alledged of Phædra; and how far “ Shakspeare has outdone them in friendship, &c.

“ To return to the beginning of this enquiry; con“ fider if pity and terror be enough for tragedy to

move : and I believe, upon a true definition of

tragedy, it will be found that its work extends “ farther, and that it is to reform manners, by a " delightful representation of human life in great per" fons, by way of dialogue. If this be true, then not “ only pity and terror are to be moved, as the only

means to bring us to virtue, but generally love to “ virtue, and hatred to vice; by Thewing the rewards « of one, and punishments of the other; at least, by

rendering virtue always amiable, thoʻit be shewn un“ fortunate; and vice detestable, though it be shewn “ triumphant.

“ If, then, the encouragement of virtue and dis

couragement of vice be the proper ends of
“ tragedy, pity and terror, though good means, are

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“ not the only. For all the passions, in their turns,

are to be set in a ferment: as joy, anger, love, fear, “ are to be used as the poet's common-places; and a “ general concernment for the principal actors is to be “ raised, by making them appear such in the charac

ters, their words, and actions, as will intereft the « audience in their fortunes.

“ And if, after all, in a larger sense, pity compre- 431 “ hends this concernment for the good, and terror in* cludes detestation for the bad, then let us consider whether the English have not answered this end of “ tragedy, as well as the ancients, or perhaps better.

And here Mr. Rymer's objections against these “ plays are to be impartially weighed, that we may “ see whether they are of weight enough to turn the “ balance against our countrymen.

“ 'Tis evident those plays, which he arraigns, have
“ moved both those passions in a high degree upon the

stage.
To give the glory of this away from the
poet, and to place it upon the actors, seems unjust.

“ One reason is, because whatever actors they have
“ found, the event has been the same; that is, the
“ same passions have been always moved; which shews
that there is something of force and merit in the
" plays themselves, conducing to the design of raising
“ these two passions: and suppose them ever to have
“ been excellently acted, yet action only adds grace,
“ vigour, and more life, upon the stage; but cannot

give it wholly where it is not first. But, secondly, " I dare appeal to those who have never seen them " acted, if they have not found these two passions « moved within them: and if the general voice will

carry it, Mr. Rymer's prejudice will take off his * single testimony

This,

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tifully written. And if we can raise passions as high

on worse foundations, it shews our genius in tragedy “ is greater; for, in all other parts of it, the English “ have manifestly excelled them.”

THE

* In these his observations on a tract of Rymer's, which, to give it accurately, is entitled “The tragedies of the last age con“ fidered," Mr. Dryden terms this most abiurd of all books of the kind, an excellent critique, for which commendation hardly any reason can be found, other than that he stood in awe of the writer. Dryden every where professes himself an admirer of Shakspeare, and it is the aim of this critic to turn all he has written to ridicule. Out of many passages in another discourse of his entitled • A short

view of tragedy,' that are not to be matched for their absurdity, I select the following summary of the character of our great dramatic poet:

“Shakspeare's genius lay for comedy and humour. In tragedy “ he appears quite out of his element; his brains are turned, he “ raves and rambles, without any coherence, any spark of reason,

or any rule to controul him, or set bounds to his phrenzy. His

imagination was still running after his masters, the coblers, and “ parish clerks, and Old Testament Stroulers. So he might make " bold with Portia, as they had done with the Virgin Mary. Who, “ in a church acting their play called the Incarnation, had usually " the Ave Mary mumbled over to a tradling wench (for the blessed “ Virgin), straw-hatted, blue aproned, big-bellied, with her im“ maculate conception up to her chin."

With a degree of faftidious insolence to which hardly any critic ever arrived, and in a strain of buffoonery peculiar to himself, he laughs to scorn the plot, the manners and the sentiments of Othello, and makes sport with the author in his censures of Julius Cæsar.

In the former of the above tracts he promises his friend Fleetwood Shepheard, to whom it is addressed, “ fome reflections on that « Paradise Lost of Milton's, which some are pleased to call a poem,” but they do not appear to have been ever published. This sarcas. tical expression has not escaped the notice of Mr. Fenton, and bishop Newton,

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THE original of the following letter is preserved to in the Library at Lambeth, and was kindly imparted to the publick by the reverend Dr. Vyfe. Copy of an original Letter from John Dryden,

Efq; to his fons in Italy, from a MS in the

Lambeth Library, marked No 933. p. 56. (Superscribed)

“ Al Illuftriffimo Sigre
“ Carlo Dryden Camariere
“d'Honore A. S. S.

« In Roma.
“ Franca per Mantoua.

.

Sept. the 3d, our style. • Dear Sons,

447 “ Being now at Sir Williain Bowyer's in the coun"try, I cannot write at large, becaufe I find myself “ somewhat indisposed with a cold, and am thick of “ hearing, rather worse than I was in town. I am “ glad to find, by your letter of July 26th, your style, “ that you are both in health ; but wonder you

should “ think me so negligent as to forget to give you an “ account of the ship in which your parcel is to come. “ I have written to you two or three letters concern' ing it, which I have sent by fafe hands, as I told

you, and doubt not but you have them before this can arrive to you. Being out of town, I have for

gotten the ship's name, which your mother will en“ quire, and put it into her letter, which is joined “ with mine. But the master's nanie I remember : he “ is called Mr. Ralph Thorp; the ship is bound to

It may fomewhat abate the resentment of the reader to be told, that this redoubted critic was the author of an heroic tragedy called “ Edgar," which, as soon as published, determined his character, and as a dramatick writer funk him into contempt.

Leghorn,

" tifully written. And if we can raise passions as high “ on worse foundations, it shews our genius in tragedy “ is greater; for, in all other parts of it, the English have manifestly excelled them.”

THE

* In these his obfervations on a tract of Rymer's, which, to give it accurately, is entitled “ The tragedies of the last age con“ fidered,” Mr. Dryden terms this most absurd of all books of the kind, an excellent critique, for which commendation hardly any reason can be found, other than that he stood in awe of the writer. Dryden every where professes himself an admirer of Shakspeare, and it is the aim of this critic to turn all he has written to ridicule. Out of many paffages in another discourse of his entitled. A short • view of tragedy,' that are not to be matched for their absurdity, I select the following summary of the character of our great dramatic poet:

“ Shakspeare's genius lay for comedy and humour. In tragedy " he appears quite out of his element; his brains are turned, he “ raves and rambles, without any coherence, any spark of reason, " or any rule to controul him, or set bounds to his phrenzy. His « imagination was ftill running after his masters, the coblers, and “ parish clerks, and Old Testament Stroulers. So he might make "bold with Portia, as they had done with the Virgin Mary. Who, “ in a church aging their play called the Incarnation, had usually " the Ave Mary mumbled over to a stradling wench (for the blessed “ Virgin), straw-hatted, blue aproned, big-bellied, with her im“maculate conception up to her chin."

With a degree of faftidious infolence to which hardly any critic ever arrived, and in a strain of buffoonery peculiar to himself, he laughs to scorn the plot, the manners and the sentiments of Othello, and makes sport with the author in his censures of Julius Cæsar.

In the former of the above traets he promises his friend Fleetwood Shepheard, to whom it is addressed, “ fome reflections on that « Paradise Lost of Milton's, which some are pleased to call a poem,” but they do not appear to have been ever published. This farcaf. tical expression has not escaped the notice of Mr. Fenton, and bishop Newton,

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