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most mature product of those thoughts being art. ful and laboured verse, it may well be inferred, that verse is a great help to a luxuriant fancy; and this is what that argument which you opposed was

to evince.

Neander was pursuing this discourse so eagerly, that Eugenius had called to him twice or thrice, ere he took notice that the barge stood still, and that they were at the foot of Somerset-stairs, where they had appointed it to land. The company were all sorry to separate so soon, though a great part of the evening was already spent; and stood awhile looking back on the water, upon which the moon-beams played, and made it appear like floating quicksilver: at last they went up through a crowd of French people, who were merrily dancing in the open air, and nothing concerned for the noise of guns, which had alarmed the town that afternoon. Walking thence together to the Piazze, they parted there; Eugenius and Lisideius to some pleasant appointment they had made, and Crites and Neander to their several lodgings.


*From the conduct of Louis XIV., who gradually retrenched until he altogether abolished the edict of Nantes, there was a constant emigration to England of his Huguenot subjects.




Thomas Rymer, distinguished as the editor of the Fadera of England, was in his earlier years ambitious of the fame of a critic. In 1678, he published a small duodecimo, entitled, "The Tragedies of the last Age considered and examined by the practice of the Ancients, and the common Sense of all Ages, in a Letter to Fleetwood and Shepherd." The criticisms apply chiefly to the tragedies of the latter part of the reigns of Elizabeth, and James I.; out of which he has singled, as the particular subjects of reprehension, those of "Rollo," ," "The Maid's Tragedy," and "King and no King." In this criticism, there was "much malice mingled with a little wit;" obvious faults and absurdities were censured as disgusting to common sense, on the one hand; on the other, licenses unpractised by the ancients were condemned as barbarous and unclassical.

A severe critic, if able but plausibly to support his remarks by learning and acumen, strikes terror through the whole world of literature. It is in vain to represent to such a person, that he only examines the debtor side of the account, and omits to credit the unfortunate author with the merit that he has justly a title to claim. Instead of a fair accounting between the public and the poet, his cause is tried as in a criminal action, where, if he is convicted of a crime, all the merit of his work will not excuse him. There must be something in the mind of man favourable to a system which tends to the levelling of talents in the public estimation, or such critics as Rymer could never have risen into notice. Yet Dryden, in the following projected answer to his Re


marks, has treated him with great respect; and Pope, according to Spence, pronounced him "one of the best critics we ever had."

That Dryden should have been desirous to conciliate the favour of an avowed critic, was natural enough; but that Pope should have so spoken of Rymer, only argues, either that he was prejudiced by the opinions which his youth had sucked in from Walsh, Wycherly, and Trumbull, or that his taste for the drama was far inferior to his powers in every other range of poetry.

If Dryden had arranged and extended the materials of his answer, it is possible that he would have treated Rymer with less deference than he shewed while collecting them; for in the latter years of Dryden's life they were upon bad terms. See Vol. xii. p. 45, and Epistle to Congreve, Vol. xi. p. 57.

To a reader of the present day, when the cant of criticism has been in some degree abandoned, nothing can be more disgusting than the remarks of Rymer, who creeps over the most beautiful passages of the drama with eyes open only to their defects, or their departure from scholastic precept; who denies the name of poetry to the "Paradise Lost," and compares judging of "Rollo" by "Othello," to adjusting one crooked line by another. But I would be by no means understood to say, that there is not sometimes justice, though never mercy, in his criticism.

Dryden had intended to enter the lists with Rymer ïn defence of the ancient theatre, and with this view had wrote the following Heads of an Answer to the Remarks. They were jotted down on the blank leaves of a copy of the book presented to Dryden by Rymer. The volume falling into the hands of the publisher of Beaumont and Fletcher's works, in 1711, they prefixed Dryden's observations, as furnishing an apology for their authors. They were again published by Dr Johnson, into whose hands they were put by Garrick, who had the original in his collection. The arrangement is different in the two copies; that of Dr Johnson has been adopted, as preferred by Mr Malone.







THAT We may the less wonder why pity and terror are not now the only springs on which our tragedies move, * and that Shakespeare 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

Rymer sets out with the old dogma, that no source of tragedy was legitimate, except that springing from pity or terror.


2 B

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 Shakespeare'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 connection 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:-It is not the admirable intrigue, the surprising events, and extraordinary incidents, that make the beauty of a tragedy; it is the discourses, when they are natural and passionate.-So are Shakespeare'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. 5. The words, which express those thoughts. In the last of these, Homer excels Virgil; Virgil all other ancient poets; and Shakespeare all modern poets.


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