« VorigeDoorgaan »
“ him whom he has murdered, or who have « been the occasion of the tragedy. The « terror is likewise in the punishment of “ the same criminal ; who, if he be repre“ sented too great an offender, will not be
pitied: if altogether innocent, his punish« ment will be unjust.
“ Another obscurity is, where he says So
phocles perfected tragedy by introducing " the third actor ; that is, he meant, three • kinds of action; one company singing,
or another playing on the mufick ; " third dancing,
“ To make a true judgement in this com“ petition betwixt the Greek poets and the
English, in tragedy :
" Confider, first, how Aristotle has de“ fined a tragedy. Secondly, what he af* figns the end of it to be. Thirdly, what “ he thinks the beauties of it. Fourthly, " the means to attain the end proposed.
Compare the Greek and English tragick poets justly, and without partiality, according to those rules.
“ Then secondly, confider whether Ari$« stotle has made a just definition of tra
gedy ; of its parts, of its ends, and of its “ beauties; and whether he, having not seen
any others but those of Sophocles, Euri
pides, &c, had or truly could determine " what all the excellences of tragedy are, “ and wherein they consist.
« Next shew in what ancient tragedy was “ deficient: for example, in the narrowness “ of its plots, and 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 so little ; or whether what they 5 did was not very easy to do.
“ 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, cițed by " Mr. Rymer ; and in that how short they " were of Fletcher !
“ Prove also that love, being an heroick pafsion, 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; consider if pity and terror be
enough for tragedy to move: and I be“ lieve, upon a true definition of tragedy, 66 it will be found that its work extends sc farther, and that it is to reform manners,
by a delightful representation of human “ life in great persons, by way of dịalogue, “ 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 shewing “ the rewards of one, and punishments of “ the other; at least, by rendering virtue
always amiable, tho' it be shewn un“ fortunate; and vice detestable, though it “ be shewn triumphant.
“ If, then, the encouragement of virtue " and discouragement of vice be the proper “ ends of poetry in tragedy, pity and terror,
" though good means, are 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 fuch in their cha" racters, their words, and actions, as will " interest the audience in their fortunes.
“ And if, after all, in a larger sense, pity comprehends this concernment for the
good, and terror includes 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 fee whether they
are of weight enough to turn the balance “ against our countrymen.
“ 'Tis evident those plays, which he arso raigns, 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 aĉtors
they have found, the event has been the " fame; 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 with“ in them : and if the general voice will
carry it, Mr. Rymer's prejudice will take “ off his single testimony.
“ This, being matter of fact, is reasonably " to be established by this appeal ; as if one
man says 'tis night, the rest of the world “ conclude it to be day; there needs no “ farther argument against him, that it