Imatges de pÓgina
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example of Phædra, cited by Mr. Rymer; and in that how short they were of Fletcher !

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

To return to the beginning of this inquiry; consider 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 persons, 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 showing the rewards of one, and punishments of the other; at least, by rendering virtue always amiable, though it be shown unfortunate; and vice detestable, though it be shown 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 commonplaces; and a general concernment for the principal actors is to be raised, by making them appear such in the characters, their words, and actions, as will interest the audience in their fortunes.

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And if, after all, in a larger sense, pity comprehends this concernment for the good, and terror includes destination 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 shows 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, 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 is so.

'If he urge, that the general taste is depraved, his arguments to prove this can at best but evince that our poets took not the best way to raise those passions; but experience proves against him, that these means, which they have used, have been successful, and have produced them.

"And one reason of that success is, in my opinion, this; that Shakspeare and Fletcher have written to the genius of the age and nation in which they lived; for though nature, as he objects, is the same in all places, and reason too the same; yet the climate, the age, the disposition of the people, to whom a poet writes, may be so different, that what pleased the Greeks would not satisfy an English audience.

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And if they proceed upon a foundation of truer reason to please the Athenians, than Shakspeare and Fletcher to please the English, it only shows that the Athenians were a more judicious people; but the poet's business is certainly to please the audience.

"Whether our English audience have been pleased hitherto with acorns, as he calls it, or with bread, is the next question; that is, whether the means which Shakspeare and Fletcher have used, in their plays, to raise those passions before named, be better applied to the ends by the Greek poets than by them. And perhaps we shall not grant him this wholly; let it be granted that a writer is not to run down with the stream, or to please the people by their usual methods, but rather to reform their judgments, it still remains to prove that our theatre needs this total reformation.

"The faults which he has found in their design are rather wittily aggravated in many places than reasonably urged; and as much may be returned on the Greeks, by one who were as witty as himself.

"2. They destroy not, if they are granted, the foundation of the fabric; only take away from the beauty of the symmetry; for example, the faults in the character of the king, in King and No-King, are not, as he calls them, such as render him detestable, but only imperfections which accompany human nature, and are for the most part excused by the violence of his love; so that they destroy not our pity or concernment for him: this answer may be applied to most of his objections of that kind.

"And Rollo committing many murders, when he is answerable but for one, is too severely arraigned by him; for, it adds to our horror and detestation of the criminal; and public justice is not neglected neither; for we stab him in our minds for every offence which he commits; and the point, which the poet is to gain on the audience, is not so much in the death of an offender as the raising an horror of his crimes.

"That the criminal should neither be wholly guilty, nor wholly innocent, but so participating of both as to move both pity and terror, is certainly a good rule, but not perpetually to be observed; for, that were to make all tragedies too much alike; which objection he foresaw, but has not fully answered.

"To conclude, therefore; if the plays of the ancients are more correctly plotted, ours are more beautifully written. And, if we can raise passions as high on worse foundations, it shows our genius in tragedy is greater; for in all other parts of it the English have manifestly excelled them.

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The original of the following letter is preserved in the library at Lambeth, and was kindly imparted to the public by the reverend Dr. Vyse.

Copy of an original Letter from John Dryden, Esq., to his sons in Italy, from a MS. in the Lambeth Library, marked No. 933, p. 56. (Superscribed)

"Al illustrissimo Sigre CARLO DRYDEN Camariere d'Honore A.S.S. In Roma.

"Franca per Mantoua.

"

"Sept. the 3rd, our style [1697.]

"DEAR SONS,-Being now at Sir William Bowyer's in the country, cannot write at large, because 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

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three letters concerning it, which I have sent by safe hands, as I told you, and doubt not but you have them before this can arrive to you. Being out of town, I have forgotten the ship's name, which your mother will inquire, and put it into her letter, which is joined with mine. But the master's name I remember: he is called Mr. Ralph Thorp; the ship is bound to Leghorn, consigned to Mr. Peter and Mr. Thomas Ball, merchants. I am of your opinion, that by Tonson's means almost all our letters have miscarried for this last year. But, however, he has missed of his design in the Dedication, though he had prepared the book for it; for, in every figure of Æneas he has caused him to be drawn like King William, with a hooked nose. After my return to town, I intend to alter a play of Sir Robert Howard's, written long since, and lately put into my hands; 'tis called "The Conquest of China by the Tartars." It will cost me six weeks study, with the probable benefit of an hundred pounds. In the meantime I am writing a song for St. Cecilia's Feast, who, you know, is the patroness of music. This is troublesome, and no way beneficial; but I could not deny the Stewards of the Feast, who came in a body to me to desire that kindness, one of them being Mr. Bridgeman, whose parents are your mother's friends. I hope to send you thirty guineas between Michaelmas and Christmas, of which I will give you an account when I come to town. I remember the counsel you give me in your letter; but dissembling, though lawful in some cases, is not my talent; yet, for your sake, I will struggle with the plain openness of my nature, and keep in my just resentments against that degenerate order. In the meantime, I flatter not myself with any manner of hopes, but do my duty, and suffer for God's sake; being assured, beforehand, never to be rewarded, though the times should alter. Towards the latter end of this month, September, Charles will begin to recover his perfect health, according to his nativity, which, casting it myself, I am sure is true, and all things hitherto have happened accordingly to the very time that I predicted them I hope at the same time to recover more health, according to my age. Remember me to poor Harry, whose prayers I earnestly desire. My Virgil succeeds in the world beyond its desert or my expectation. You know the profits might have been more; but neither my conscience nor my honour would suffer me to take them: but I never can repent of my constancy, since to I am thoroughly persuaded of the justice of the cause for which I suffer. It has pleased God to raise up many friends to me amongst my enemies, though they who ought to have been my friends are negligent of me. I am called to dinner, and cannot go on with this letter, which I desire you to excuse; and am "Your most affectionate father,

JOHN DRYDEN."

SMITH.

DMUND SMITH is one of those lucky writers who have, without much labour, attained high reputation, and who are mentioned with reverence rather for the possession than the exertion of uncommon abilities.

Of his life little is known; and that little claims no praise but what can be given to intellectual excellence, seldom employed to any virtuous purpose. His character, as given by Mr. Oldisworth, with all the partiality of friendship, which is said by Dr. Burton to show "what fine things one man of parts can say of another," and which, however, comprises great part of what can be known of Mr. Smith, it is better to transcribe at once than to

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take by pieces. I shall subjoin such little memorials as accident has enabled a me to collect. now of vinta

"Mr. Edmund Smith was the only son of an eminent merchant, one Mr. Neale, by a daughter of the famous Baron Lechmere. Some misfortunes of his father, which were soon followed by his death, were the occasion of the son's being left very young in the hands of a near relation (one who married Mr. Neale's sister), whose name was Smith.

"This gentleman and his lady treated him as their own child, and put him to Westminster School under the care of Dr. Busby; whence, after the loss of his faithful and generous guardian (whose name he assumed and retained), he was removed to Christchurch in Oxford, and there by his aunton handsomely maintained till her death; after which he continued a member of that learned and ingenious society till within five years of his own; though, some time before his leaving Christchurch, he was sent for by his mother to mai Worcester, and owned and acknowledged as her legitimate son; which had not been mentioned, but to wipe off the aspersions that were ignorantly cast by some on his birth. It is to be remembered, for our author's honour, that to when at Westminster election he stood a candidate for one of the universi-{}} ties, he so signally distinguished himself by his conspicuous performances,ori that there arose no small contention, between the representative electors of Trinity College in Cambridge and Christchurch in Oxon, which of those two o royal societies should adopt him as their own. But the electors of Trinity po College having the preference of choice that year, they resolutely electedgo him; who yet, being invited at the same time to Christchurch, chose to ac-.5 cept of a studentship there. Mr. Smith's perfections, as well (naturalbasad acquired, seemed to have been formed upon Horace's plan; who says, in s his Art of Poetry:'

-Ego nec studium sine divite venâ,dote

Nec rude quid prosit video ingenium: alterius sic
Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice.

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His

"He was endowed by nature with all those excellent and necessary qualifications which are previous to the accomplishment of a great man. memory was large and tenacious, yet by a curious felicity chiefly susceptible of the finest impressions it received from the best authors he read, which it always preserved in their primitive strength and amiable order.

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He had a quickness of apprehension, and vivacity of understanding, which easily took in and surmounted the most subtle and knotty parts of mathematics and metaphysics. His wit was prompt and flowing, yet solid and piercing; his taste delicate, his head clear, and his way of expressing his thoughts perspicuous and engaging. I shall say nothing of his person, which yet was so well turned, that no neglect of himself in his dress could render it disagreeable; insomuch that the fair sex, who observed and esteemed him, at once commended and reproved him by the name of the handsome sloven. An eager but generous and noble emulation grew up with him; which (as it were a rational sort of instinct) pushed d him upon striving to excel in every art and science that could make him a credit to his college, and that college the ornament of the most learned and polite university; and it was his happiness to have several contemporaries and fellow-students who exercised and excited this virtue in themselves and others, thereby becoming so deservedly in favour with this age, and so good. a proof of its nice discernment. His judgment, naturally good, soon ripened' into an exquisite fineness and distinguishing sagacity, which as it was active and busy, so it was vigorous and manly, keeping even paces with a rich and strong imagination, always upon the wing, and never tired with aspiring. Hence it was, that though he writ as young as Cowley, he had no puerili

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ties; and his earliest productions were so far from having anything in them mean and trifling, that, like the junior compositions of Mr. Stepney, they may make gray authors blush. There are many of his first essays in oratory, in epigram, elegy, and epique, still handed about the university in manuscript, which show a masterly hand; and, though maimed and injured by frequent transcribing, make their way into our most celebrated miscellanies, where they shine with uncommon lustre. Besides those verses in the Oxford books, which he could not help setting his name to, several of his compositions came abroad under other names, which his own singular modesty, and faithful silence, strove in vain to conceal. The Enconia and public Collections of the University upon State Subjects were never in such esteem, either for elegy and congratulation, as when he contributed most largely to them; and it was natural for those, who knew his peculiar way of writing, to turn to his share in the work, as by far the most relishing part of the entertainment. As his parts were extraordinary, so he well knew how to improve them; and not only to polish the diamond, but enchase it in the most solid and durable metal. Though he was an academic the greatest part of his life, yet he contracted no sourness of temper, no spice of pedantry, no itch of disputation, or obstinate contention for the old or new philosophy, no assuming way of dictating to others, which are faults (though excusable) which some are insensibly led into, who are constrained to dwell long within the walls of a private college. His conversation was pleasant and instructive; and what Horace said of Plotius, Varius, and Virgil, might justly be applied to him:

Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus Amico.

Sat. v. 1. 1. 23000

"As correct a writer as he was in his most elaborate pieces, he read the works of others with candour, and reserved his greatest severity for his own "compositions; being readier to cherish and advance, than damp or depress, a rising genius, and as patient of being excelled himself (if any could excel him) as industrious to excel others.

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"Twere to be wished he had confined himself to a particular profession, who was capable of surpassing in any; but, in this, his want of application was in a great measure owing to his want of due encouragement.

"He passed through the exercises of the college and university with unusual applause; and though he often suffered his friends to call him off from his retirements, and to lengthen out those jovial avocations, yet his return to his studies were so much the more passionate, and his intention upon those refined pleasures of reading and thinking so vehement (to which his facetious and unbended intervals bore no proportion), that the habit grew upon him, and the series of meditation and reflection being kept up whole weeks together, he could better sort his ideas, and take in the sundry parts of a science at one view, without interruption or confusion. Some indeed of his acquaintance, who were pleased to distinguish between the wit and the scholar, extolled him altogether on the account of these titles; but others, who knew him better, could not forbear doing him justice as a prodigy in both kinds. He had signalised himself, in the schools, as a philosopher and polemic of extensive knowledge and deep penetration; and went through all 'the courses with a wise regard to the dignity and importance of each science. I remember him in the divinity school responding and disputing with a perspicuous energy, a ready exactness, and commanding force of argument, when Dr. Jane worthily presided in the chair; whose condescending and disinterested commendation of him gave him such a reputation as silenced the envious malice of his enemies, who durst not contradict the approbation of so profound a master in theology. None of those self-sufficient

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