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blank leaves: which, having been in the possession of Mr. Garrick, are by his favour communicated to the public, that no particle of Dryden may be lost.
"That we may less wonder why pity and terror are not now the only springs on which our tragedies move, and that Shakspeare may be more excused, Rapin confesses that the French tragedies now all run on the tendre; and gives the reason, because love is the passion which most predominates in our souls, and that therefore the passions represented become insipid, unless they are conformable to the thoughts of the audience. But it is to be concluded, that this passion works not now amongst the French so strongly as the other two did amongst the ancients. Amongst us, who have a stronger genius for writing, the operations from the writing are much stronger; for the raising of Shakspeare's passions is more from the excellency of the words and thoughts, than the justness of the occasion; and, if he has been able to pick single occasions, he has never founded the whole reasonably: yet, by the genius of poetry in writing, he has succeeded.
"Rapin attributes more to the dictio, that is, to the words and discourse of a tragedy, than Aristotle has done, who places them in the last rank of beauties; perhaps, only last in order, because they are the last product of the design, of the disposition or connexion of its parts; of the characters, of the manners of those characters, and of the thoughts proceeding from those manners. Rapin's words are remarkable: "Tis not the admirable intrigue, the surprising events, and extraordinary incidents, that make the beauty of a tragedy: 'tis the discourses, when they are natural and passionate: so are Shakspeare's.
“The parts of a poem, tragic or heroic, are, "1. The fable itself.
“2. The order or manner of its contrivance, in relation of the parts to the whole.
"3. The manners, or decency of the characters, in speaking or acting what is proper for them, and proper to be shewn by the poet.
4. The thoughts which express the manners. 65. The words which express those thoughts.
“In the last of these, Homer excels Virgil: Virgil all the other ancient poets; and Shakspeare all modern poets.
“For the second of these, the order: the meaning is, that
a fable ought to have a beginning, middle, and an end, all just and natural; so that that part, e.g. which is the middle, could not naturally be the beginning or end, and so of the rest: all depend on one another, like the links of a curious chain. If terror and pity are only to be raised, certainly this author follows Aristotle's rules, and Sophocles' and Euripides' example; but joy may be raised too, and that doubly, either by seeing a wicked man punished, or a good man at last fortunate; or perhaps indignation, to see wickedness prosperous, and goodness depressed: both these may be profitable to the end of a tragedy, reformation of manners; but the last improperly, only as it begets pity in the audience; though Aristotle, I confess, places tragedies of this kind in the second form.
“He who undertakes to answer this excellent critique of Mr. Rymer, in behalf of our English poets against the Greek, ought to do it in this manner: either by yielding to him the greatest part of what he contends for, which consists in this, that the uúgos, i. e. the design and conduct of it, is more conducing in the Greeks to those ends of tragedy, which istotle and he propose, namely, to cause terror and pity; yet the granting this does not set the Greeks above the English poets.
“But the answerer ought to prove two things: First, That the fable is not the greatest masterpiece of a tragedy, though it be the foundation of it.
“Secondly, That other ends as suitable to the nature of tragedy may be found in the English, which were not in the Greek.
“Aristotle places the fable first; not quoad dignitatem, sed quoad fundamentum: for a fable never so movingly contrived to those ends of his, pity and terror, will operate nothing on our affections, except the characters, manners, thoughts, and words, are suitable.
“So that it remains for Mr. Rymer to prove, that in all those, or the greatest part of them, we are inferior to Sophocles and Euripides; and this he has offered at, in some measure; but, I think, a little partially to the ancients.
“For the fable itself, 'tis in the English more adorned with episodes, and larger than in the Greek poets; consequently more diverting. For, if the action be but one,
and that plain, without any counterturn of design or episode, i. e. underplot, how can it be so pleasing as the English, which have both
underplot and a turned design, which keeps the audience in expectation of the catastrophe? whereas in the Greek poets we see through the whole design at first.
“For the characters, they are neither so many nor so various in Sophocles and Euripides, as in Shakspeare and Fletcher: only they are more adapted to those ends of tragedy which Aristotle commends to us, pity and terror.
" The manners flow from the characters, and consequently must partake of their advantages and disadvantages.
“The thoughts and words, which are the fourth and fifth beauties of tragedy, are certainly more noble and more poetical in the English than in the Greek, which must be proved by comparing them somewhat more equitably than Mr. Rymer has done.
“After all, we need not yield that the English way is less conducing to move pity and terror, because they often shew virtue oppressed and vice punished: where they do not both, or either, they are not to be defended.
“And if we should grant that the Greeks performed this better, perhaps it may admit of dispute, whether pity and terror are either the prime, or at least the only ends of tragedy:
'Tis not enough that Aristotle had said so; for Aristotle arew his models of tragedy from Sophocles and Euripides; and if he had seen ours, might have changed his mind. And chiefly we have to say (what I hinted on pity and terror, in the last paragraph save one), that the punishment of vice, and reward of virtue, are the most adequate ends of tragedy, because most conducing to good example of life. Now, pity is not so easily raised for a criminal (and the ancient tragedy always represents its chief person such) as it is for an innocent man; and the suffering of innocence and punishment of the offender is of the nature of English tragedy: contrarily, in the Greek, innocence is unhappy often, and the offender escapes. Then we are not touched with the sufferings of any sort of men so much as of lovers; and this was almost unknown to the ancients: so that they neither administered poetical justice, of which Mr. Rymer boasts, so well as we; neither knew they the best common place of pity, which is love.
“He therefore unjustly blames us for not building on what the ancients left us; for it seems, upon consideration of the premises, that we have wholly finished what they began.
“My judgment on this piece is this: that it is extremely learned, but that the author of it is better read in the Greek than in the English poets; that all writers ought to study this critique, as the best account I have ever seen of the ancients; that the model of tragedy, he has here given, is excellent, and extremely correct; but that it is not the only model of all tragedy, because it is too much circumscribed in plot, characters, &c.; and, lastly, that we may be taught here justly to admire and imitate the ancients, without giving them the preference with this author, in prejudice to our own country.
“Want of method in this excellent treatise makes the thoughts of the author sometimes obscure.
“His meaning, that pity and terror are to be moved, is, that they are to be moved as the means conducing to the ends of tragedy, which are pleasure and instruction.
"And these two ends may be thus distinguished. The chief end of the poet is to please; for his immediate reputation depends on it.
"" The great end of the poem is to instruct, which is performed by king pleasure the vehicle of that instruction; for poesy is an art, and all arts are made to profit. Rapin.
"The pity, which the poet is to labour for, is for the criminal, not for those or 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 represented too great an offender, will not be pitied; if altogether innocent, his punishment will be unjust.
“Another obscurity is, where he says, Sophocles perfected tragedy by introducing the third actor: that is, he meant three kinds of action: one company singing, or speaking; another playing on the music; a third dancing.
“To make a true judgment in this competition betwixt the Greek poets and the English, in tragedy:
“Consider, First, How Aristotle has defined a tragedy. Secondly, What he assigns 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 tragic poets justly, and without partiality, according to those rules.
Then, Secondly, Consider whether Aristotle has made a just definition of tragedy; of its parts, of its ends, and of its beauties; and whether he, having not seen any others but
those of Sophocles, Euripides, &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 excellency was so great, when the variety was visibly so little; or whether what they did was not very easy to do.
* Then make a judgment 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, scarcely 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 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 shewing the rewards of one, and punishments of the other; at least, by rendering virtue always amiable, though it be shewn unfortunate; 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 such in their characters, 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.