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"He who undertakes to answer this excel- | ancient tragedy always represents its chief pervent critique of Mr. Rymer, in behalf of our son such) as it is for an innocent man; and the English poets against the Greek, ought to do it suffering of innocence and punishment of the in this manner : either by yielding to him the offender is of the nature of English tragedy : greatest part of what he contends for, which contrarily, in the Greek, innocence is unhappy consists in this, that the photos, i. e. the design often, and the offender escapes. Then we are and conduct of it, is more conducing in the not touched with the sufferings of any sort of Greeks to those ends of tragedy which Aristotle men so much as of lovers; and this was almost -and he propose, namely, to cause terror and unknown to the ancients : so that they neither pity;, yet the granting this does not set the administered poetical justice, of which Mr. RyGreeks above the English poets.
mer boasts, so well as we; neither knew they “But the answerer ought to prove two things: the best commonplace of pity, which is love. First, 'That the fable is not the greatest mas “He therefore unjustly blames us for not terpiece of a tragedy, though it be the founda- building on what the ancients left us ; for it tion of it.
seems, upon consideration of the premises, that “Secondly, that other ends as suitable to the we have wholly finished what they began. nature of tragedy may be found in the English, “My judgment on this piece is this : that it is which were not in the Greek.
extremeiy learned, bus that the author of it is "Aristotle places the fable first; not quoad better read in the Greek than in the English dignitatem, sed quoad fundamentum : for a fable poets; that all writers ought to study this crinever so movingly contrived to those ends of tique, as the best account I have ever seen of his, pity and terror, will operate nothing on the ancients; that the model of tragedy, he has our affections, except the characters, manners, here given, is excellent, and extremely correct; thoughts, and words are suitable.
but that it is not the only model of all tragedy, “So that it remains for Mr. Rymer to prove, because it is too much circumscribed in plot, that in all those, or the greatest part of them, we characters, &c.; and, lastly, that we may be are inferior to Sophocles and Euripides; and taught here justly to adniire and imitaté the this he has offered at, in some measure; but, I ancients, without giving them the preference think, a little partially to the ancients. with this author, in prejudice to our own
“ For the fable itself, 'tis in the English more country. adorned with episodes, and larger than in the “ Want of method in this excellent treatise Greek poets; consequently more diverting. makes the thoughts of the author sometimes obFor, if the action be but one, and that plain, scure. without any counterturn of design or episode, i. e. “His meaning, that pity and terror are to be underplot, how can it be so pleasing as the moved, is, that they are to be moved as the English, which have both underplot and a turned means conducing to the ends of tragedy, which design, which keeps the audience in expectation are pleasure and instruction. of the catastrophe? whereas in the Greek poets “And these two ends may be thus distine we see through the whole design at first. guished. The chief end of the poet is to please ;
“For the characters, they are neither so many for his immediate reputation depends on it. nor so various in Sophocles and Euripides, as “ The great end of a poem is to instruct, in Shakspeare and Fletcher: only they are more which is performed by making pleasure the adapted to those ends of tragedy which Aristotle vehicle of that instruction ; for pocsy is an art, commends to us, pity and ierror.
and all arts are made to profit.-Rapin. “The manners flow from the characters, and “The pity, which the poet is to labour for, consequently must partake of their advantages is for the criminal, not for those or him whom and disadvantages.
he has murdered, or who have been the occasion “ The thoughts and words, which are the of the tragedy. The terror is likewise in the fourth and fifth beauties of tragedy, are certainly punishment of the same criminal; who, if he more noble and more poetical in the English than be represented too great an offender, will not be in the Greek, which must be proved by compar- pitied; if altogether innocent, his punishment ing them somewhat more equitably than Mr. will be unjust. Rymer has done.
“ Another obscurity is, where he says, Sopho« After all, we need not yield that the Eng-cles perfected tragedy by introducing the third lish way is less conducing to move pity and ter- actor : that is, he meant three kinds of action : ror, because they often show virtue oppressed one company singing, or speaking; another and vice punished: where they do not both, or playing on the music; a third dancing. either, they are not to be defended.
" To make a true judgment in this competi"And if we should grant that the Greeks tion between the Greek poets and the English, performed this better, perhaps it may admit of in tragedy: dispute, whether pity and terror are either the “Consider, First, How Aristotle has defined prime, or at least the only ends of tragedy: a tragedy. Secondly, What he assigns the end
“'T'is not enough that Aristotle had said so; of it to be. Thirdly, What he thinks the beaư. for Aristotle drew his models of tragedy from ties of it. Fourthly, The means to attain the Sophocles and Euripides; and if he had seen end proposed. ours, might have changed his mind. And chiefly “Compare the Greek and English tragic poets we have to say, (what I hinted on pity and terror, justly, and without partiality, according to those in the last paragraph save one,) that the pun- rules. ishment of vice, and reward of virtue, are the “Then, Secondly, Consider whether Aristotle most adequate ends of tragedy, because most has made a just definition of tragedy, of its conducing to good example of life. Now, pity parts, of its ends, and of its beauties; and wheis not so easily raised for a criminal (and the I ther he, having not seen any others but those
of Sophocles, Euripides, &c. had or truly could it is not first. But, secondly, I dare appeal to determine what all the excellencies of tragedy those who have never seen them acted, if they are, and wherein they consist.
have not found these two passions moved within • Next, show in what ancient tragedy was them: and if the general voice witi carry it, deficient ; for example, in the narrowness of its Mr. Rymer's prejudice will take off his single plots, and fewness of persons; and try whether testimony. that be not a fault in the Greek poets; and “ This, being matter of fact, is reasonably to whether their excellency was so great, when the be established by this appeal; as, if one man variety was visibly so little; or whether what says it is night, when the rest of the world conthey did was not very easy to do.
clude it to be day, there needs no farther argu« Then make a judgment on what the English ment against him that it is so. have added to their beauties : as, for example, “ If he urge that the general taste is depraved, not only more plot, but also new passions: as, his arguments to prove this can at best but namely, that of love, scarcely touched on by the evince that our poets took not the best way ancients, except in this one example of Phædra, to raise those passions : but experience proves cited by Mr. Rymer: and in that how short they against him, that those means, which they have were of Fletcher!
used, have been successful, and have produced "Prove also that love, being an heroic passion, them. is fit for tragedy, which cannot be denied, be “And one reason of that success is, in my cause of the example alleged of Phædra: and opinion, this; that Shakspeare and Fletcher how far Shakspeare has outdone them in friend have written to the genius of the age and nation ship, &c.
in which they lived ; for though nature, as he “ To return to the beginning of this inquiry; objects, is the same in all places, and reason too consider if pity and terror be enough for tragedy the same; yet the climate, the age, the disposito move ; and I believe, upon a true definition of tion of the people, to whom a poet writes, may tragedy, it will be found that its work extends be so differeni, that what pleased the Greek's farther, and that it is to reform manners, by a would not satisfy an English audience. delightful representation of human life in great “And if they proceed upon a foundation of persons, by way of dialogue. If this be true, truer reason to please the Athenians than Shakthen not only pity and terror are to be moved, as speare and Fletcher to please the English, it the only means to bring us to virtue, but gene-only shows that the Athenians were a more rally love to virtue, and hatred to vice; by iudicious people ; but the poet's business is cershowing the rewards of one, and punishments iainly to please the audience. of the other; at least by rendering virtue always “Whether our English audience have been amiable, though it be shown unfortunate; and pleased hitherto with acorns, as he calls it, or vice detestable, though it be shown triumphant. with bread, is the next question; that is,
“If, then, the encouragement of virtue and whether the means which Shakspeare and discouragement of vice be the proper ends of Fletcher have used, in their plays, to raise those poetry in tragedy, pity and terror, though good passions beforenamed, be better applied to the means, are not the only. For all the passions, ends by the Greek poets than by them. And in their turns, are to be set in a ferment; as joy, perhaps we shall not grant him this wholly: let anger, love, fear, are to be used as the poet's it be yielded that a writer is not to run down commonplaces; and a general concernment for with the stream, or to please the people by their the principal actors is to be raised, by making usual methods, but rather to reform iheir judg. thein appear such in their characters, their words, ments, it still remains to prove that our theatre and actions, as will interest the audience in their needs this total reformation. fortunes.
“ The faults which he has found in their de" And if, after all, in a larger sense, pity com- sign, are rather wittily aggravated in many prehends this concernment for the good, and places than reasonably urged; and as much terror includes detestation for the bad, then let may be returned on the Greeks by one who us consider whether the English have not an was as witty as himself. swered this end of tragedy as well as the ancients, “ They destroy pot, if they are granted, the or perhaps better.
foundation of the fabric; only take away from " And' here Mr. Rymer's objections against the beauty of the symmetry : for example, the these plays are to be impartially weighed, that faults in the character of the King, in King we may see whether they are of weight enough and No-king,' are not, as he calls them, such as to turn the balance against our countrymen. render him detestable, but only imperfections
“ It is evident those plays, which he arraigns, which accompany human nature, and are for have moved both those passions in a high degree the most part excused by the violence of his upon the stage.
love; so that they destroy not our pity or con“To give the glory of this away from the cernment for him : this answer may be applied poet, and to place it upon the actors, seems un to most of his objections of that kind. just.
“And Rolla committing many murders, “One reason is, because whatever actors they when he is answerable but for one, is too sehave found, the event has been the same; that verely arraigned by him ; for, it adds to our is, the same passions have been always moved; horror and detestation of the criminal ; and which shows that there is something of force and poetic justice is not neglected neither ; for we merit in the plays themselves, conducing to the stab hím in our minds for every offence which design of raising these two passions; and sup- he commits, and the point which the poet is pose them ever to have been excellently acted, to gain on the audience, is not so much in the yet action only adds grace, vigour, and more life, death of an offender as the raising a horror of upon the stage ; but cannot give it wholly where I his crimes.
“ That the criminal should neither be wholly have miscarried for this last year. But, howguilty, nor wholly innocent, but so participating ever, he has missed of his design in the dedicaof both as to move both pity and terror, is cer- tion, though he had prepared the book for it ; tainly a gõod rule, but not perpetually to be ob- for, in every figure of Æneas he has caused served; for that were to make all tragedies too him to be drawn like King William, with a much alike; which objection he foresaw, but | booked nose. After my return to town, I inhas not fully answered.
tend to alter a play of Sir Robert Howard's, “ To conclude, therefore ; if the plays of the written long since, and lately put into my hands; ancients are more correctly plotted, 'ours are it is called “The Conquest of China by the more beautifully written. And, if we can raise Tartars.” It will cost me six weeks' study, passions as high on worse foundations, it shows with the probable benefit of a hundred pounds. our genius in tragedy is greater ; for in all other In the mean time I am writing a song for St. parts of it the English have manifestly excelled Cecilia's Feast, who, you know, is the patroness them."
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 deThe original of the following letter is pre- sire that kindness, one of them being Mr. served in the Library at Lambeth, and was Bridgeman, whose parents are your mother's kindly imparted to the public by the reverend friends. I hope to send you thirty guineas beDr. Vyse.
tween Michaelmas and Christmas, of which I
will give you an account when I come to town. Copy of an original letter from John Dryden, I remember the counsel you give me in your
Esq., to his sons in Italy, from a MS. in letter; but dissembling, though lawful in some the Lambeth Library, marked No. 933, cases, is not my talent; yet, for your sake, I
will struggle with the plain openness of my na(Superscribed)
ture, and keep in my just resentments against «'Al illustrissimo Sigre.
that degenerate order. In the mean time, I "Carlo Dryden Camariere
flatter pot myself with any manner of hopes, “d'Honore A. S. S.
but do my duty, and suffer for God's sake; be
“In Roma. ing assured, before hand, never to be rewarded, Franca per Mantoua.
though the times should alter. Towards the
latter end of this month, September, Charles “Sept. the 3d, our style. will begin to recover his perfect health, accord, "Dear Sonis,
ing to his nativity, which, casting, it myself, I “Being now at Sir William Bowyer's in the am sure is true, and all things hitherto have country, I cannot write at large, because I find happened accordingly to the very time that I myself somewhat indisposed with a cold, and predicted them: I hope at the same time to ream thick of hearing, rather worse than I was in cover more health, according to my age. Retown. I am glad to find, by your letter of July member me to poor Harry, whose prayers
I 26th, your style, that you are both in health, earnestly desire. My Virgil succeeds in the but wonder you should think me so negligent world beyond its desert or my expectation. You as to forget to give you an account of the ship know the profits might have been more; but in which your parcel is to come. I have written neither my conscience nor my honour would to you two or three letters concerning it, which suffer me to take them ; but I can never repent I have sent by safe hands, as I told you, and of my constancy, since I am thoroughly perdoubt not but you have them before this can ar- suaded of the justice of the cause for which I rive to you. Being out of town, I have forgotten suffer. It has pleased God to raise up many the ship's name, which your mother will inquire, friends to me among my enemies, though they and put it into her letter, which is joined with who ought to have been my friends are neglimine. But the master's name I remember: he gent of me. I am called to dinner, and cannot is called Mr. Ralph Thorp; the ship is bound go on with this letter, which I desire you to exto Leghorn, consigned to Mr. Peter and Mr. cuse ; and am Thomas Ball, merchants. I am of your opinion,
"Your most affectionate father, that by Tonson's means almost all our "letters
« JOHN DRYDEN."
EDMUND Smith is one of those lucky writers lectual excellence seldom employed to any vitwho have, without much labour, attained high tuous purpose. His character, as given by Mr. reputation, and who are mentioned with revc-Oldisworth with all the partiality of friendship, rence rather for the possession than the exertion which is said by Dr. Burton to show “what fine of uncommon abilities.
things one man of parts can say of another," of his life little is known; and that little and which, however, comprises great part of claims no praise but what can be given to intel /what can be known of Mr. Smith, it is better to
transcribe at once than to take by pieces. Il lege, and that college the ornament of the most shall subjoin such little memorials as accident learned and polite University; and it was his has enabled me to collect.
happiness to have several contemporaries and
fellow-students who exercised and excited this Mr. Edmund Smith was the only son of an virtue in themselves, and others, thereby becomeminent merchant, one Mr. Neale, by a daughing so deservedly in favour with this age, and so ter of the famous Baron Lechmere. Some misfortunes of his father, which were soon followed good a proof of its nice discernment. His judga
ment, naturally good, soon ripened into an by his death, were the occasion of the son's exquisite fineness and distinguishing sagacity, being left very young in the hands of a near which, as it was active and busy, so it was relation (one who married Mr. Neale's sister) vigorous and manly, keeping even paces with a whose name was Smith.
rich and strong imagination, always upon the This gentleman and his lady treated him as
wing, and never tired with aspiring. Hence it their own child, and put him to Westminster was, that, though he writ as young as Cowley, School, under the care of Dr. Busby; whence, he had no puerilities; and his earliest producafter the loss of his faithful and generous guar- tions were so far from having any thing in them dian (whose name he assumed and retained) he mean and trifling, that, like the junior composiwas removed to Christchurch, in Oxford, and lions of Mr. Stepney, they may make gray authere by his aunt handsomely maintained till thors blush. There are many of his first essays her death ; after which he continued a member in oratory, in epigram, elegy, and epic, still of that learned and ingenious society till within handed about the University in manuscript, five years of his own ; though, some time before which show a masterly hand; and though bis leaving Christchurch, he was sent for by maimed and injured by frequent transcribing, his mother to Worcester, and owned and ac, make their way into our most celebrated miscelknowledged as her legitimate son ;, which had lanies, where they shine with uncommon lustre. not been mentioned, but to wipe off the asper- Besides those verses in the Oxford books which sions that were ignorantly cast by some on his he could not help setting his name to, several of birth. It is to be remembered, for our Author's his compositions came abroad under other names, honour, that, when at Westminster election he which his own singular modesty and faithful stood a candidate for one of the universities, he silence strove in vain to conceal. The Encænia 80 signally distinguished himself by his con- and public Collections of the University upon spicuous performances, that there arose no small State Subjects were never in such esteem, either contention between the representative electors for elegy and congratulation, as when he conof Trinity College, in Cambridge, and Christ- tributed most largely to them; and it was natural church, in Oxon, which of those two royal so- for those who knew his peculiar way of writing cieties should adopt him as their own. But the to turn to his share in the work, as by far the electors of Trinity College having the preference most relishing part of the entertainment. As his of choice that year, they resolutely elected parts were extraordinary, so he well knew how him ; who yet, being invited at the same time to to improve them; and not only to polish the Christchurch, chose to accept of a studentship diamond, but enchase it in the most solid and there. Mr. Smith's perfections, as well natural durable metal. Though he was an academic the as acquired, seem to have been formed upon greatest part of his life, yet he contracted no Horace's plan, who says, in his “ Art of Po-sourness of temper, no spice of pedantry, no itch etry,”
of disputation, or obstinate contention for the old -Ego nec studium sine divite vena,
or new philosophy, no assuming way of dictating Nec rude quid profit video ingenium; alterius sic .lo others, which are faults (though excusable) Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice.
which some are insensibly led into who are conHe was endowed by nature with all those ex- strained to dwell long within the walls of a cellent and necessary qualifications which are private college. His conversation was pleasant previous to the accomplishment of a great man. and instructive; and what Horace said of Plotius, His memory was large and tenacious, yet by a Varius, and Virgil, might justly be applied to curious felicity chiefly susceptible of the finest him : impressions it received from the best authors he
NU ego contulerim jucundo sanus Amico. read, which it always preserved in their primitive
Sal, v. 1.1 strength and amiable order.
He had a quickness of apprehension and vi As correct a writer as he was in his most elabovacity of understanding which easily took in and rate pieces, he read the works of others with surmounted the most subtle and knotty parts candour, and reserved his greatest severity for his of mathematics and metaphysics. His wit was own compositions; being readier to cherish and prompt and flowing, yet solid and piercing; his advance ihan damp or depress a rising genius, iaste delicate, his head clear, and his way of ex. and as patient of being excelled himself (if any pressing his thoughts perspicuous and engaging could excel him) as industrious to excel others. I shall say nothing of his person, which was yet It were to be wished he had confined himself so well turned, that no neglect of himself in his to a particular profession who was capable of dress could render it disagreeable; insomuch that surpassing in any; but, in this, his want of apthe fair sex, who observed and esteemed him, at plication was in a great measure owing to his once commended and reproved him by the name want of due encouragement. of the handsome sloven. An eager but generous He passed through the exercises of the Col and noble emulation grew up with him ; which lege and University with unusual applause; and (as it were a rational sort of instinct) pushed though he often suffered his friends to call him him upon striving to excel in every art and off from his retirements, and to lengthen out science that could make him a credit to his Col- I those jovial avocations, yet his return to his
studies was so much the more passionate, and his or detraction. If he did not always commend intention upon those refined pleasures of reading the compositions of others, it was not ill-nature, and thinking so vehement, (to which his facetious (which was not in his temper,) but strict justice and unbended intervals bore no proportion,) that would not let him call a few flowers set in ranks, the habit grew upon him, and the series of medi- a glib measure, and so many couplets, by the tation and reflection being kept up whole weeks name of Poetry; he was of Ben Jonson's opinion, together, he could better sort his ideas, and take who could not admire in the sundry parts of a science at one view, - Verses as smooth and soft as cream, without interruption or confusion. Some indeed In which there was neither depth nor stream. of his acquaintance, who were pleased to distinguish between the wit and the scholar, extol. | for some men's overbearing vanity made him
And therefore, though his want of complaisance led him altogether on the account of these titles; but others, who knew him better, could not for enemies, yet the better part of mankind were bear doing him justice as a prodigy in both obliged by the freedom of his reflections, kinds. He had signalized himself
, in the schools,
His Bodleian Speech, though taken from a as a philosopher and polemic of extensive know! remote and imperfect copy, hath shown the ledge and deep penetration ; and went through eloquence, mixed with the conciseness and force
world how great a master he was of the Ciceronian all the courses with a wise regard to the dignity of Demosthenes, the elegant and moving turns and importance of each science. I remember of Pliny, and the acute and wise reflections of him in the Divinity-school responding and dis
Tacitus. puting with a perspicuous energy, a ready exactness, and commanding force of argument, stood Horace better, especially as to his happy
Since Temple and Roscommon, no man underwhen Dr. Jane worthily presided in the chair ; diction, rolling numbers, beautiful imagery, and whose condescending and disinterested commen- alternate mixiure of the soft and the sublime, dation of him gave him such a reputation as This endeared Dr. Hannes's odes to him, the silenced the envious malice of his enemies, who finest genius for Latin lyric since the Augustan durst not contradict the approbation of so, pro- age. His friend Mr. Philips's ode to Mr. St. John found a master in theology; None of those late Lord Boling broke) after the manner of self-sufficient creatures who have either trifled Horace's Lusory or Amatorian Odes, is certainly with philosophy, by attempting to ridicule it, or have encumbered it with novel terms and burs a masterpiece ; but Mr. Smith's “Pocockius” is densome explanations, understood its real weight ings upon Oliver Cromwell, it wants not the most
of the sublimer kind, though, like Waller's writand purity half so well as Mr. Smith. He was delicate and surprising turns peculiar to the too discerning to allow of the character of un- person praised. I do not remember to have seen profitable, rugged, and abstruse, which some superficial sciolists (so very smooth and polite as any thing like it in Dr. Bathurst
, * who had made to admit of no impression) either out of an un
some attempts this way with applause. He was
an excelleni judge of humanity; and so good an thinking indolence or an ill-grounded prejudice had affixed to this sort of studies. He knew the historian, that in familiar discourse he would talk thorny terms of philosophy served well to fence lives, actions, and characters of celebrated men,
over the most memorable facts in antiquity, the in the true doctrines of religion; and looked with amazing facility and accuracy. As he had wrought armour, which might at once adorn and thoroughly read and digested Thuanus's works, defend the Christian hero, and equip him for in this kind was so well known and allowed,
so he was able to copy after him; and his talent the combat. Mr. Smith had a long and perfect intimacy to write a history which it was their interest to
that he had been singled out by some great men with all the Greek and Latin classics ; with have done with the utmost art and dexterity. which he had carefully compared whatever was I shall not mention for what reasons this design worth perusing in the French, Spanish, and Italian, (to which languages he was no stranger,) Mr. Smith's honour. The truth is, and I speak
was dropped, though they are very much to and in all the celebrated writers of his own it before living witnesses, whilst an agreeable country. But then, according to the curious ob- 1 company could fix him upon a subject of useful servation of the late Earl of Shaftesbury, he kept literature nobody shone to greater advantage ; he the poet in awe by regular criticism; and, as it seemed to be that Memmius whom Lucretius were, married the two arts
for their mutual sup. speaks of: port and improvement. There was not a tract of credit upon that subject which he had not dili. -Quem tu, Dea, tempore in omni
Omnibus ornatum voluisti excellere rebus. gently examined, from Aristotle down to Hedelin and Bossu ; so that, having each rule constantly His works are not many, and those scattered before him, he could carry the art through every up and down in miscellanies and collections, bepoem, and at once point out the graces and deforsing wrested from him by his friends with great mities. By this means he seemed to read with a difficulty and reluctance. All of them together design to correct as well as imitate.
make but a small part of that much greater body Being thus prepared, he could not but taste which lies dispersed in the possession of numerevery little delicacy that was set before him ; ous acquaintance; and cannot perhaps be made though it was impossible for him at the same entire, without great injustice to him, because time to be fed and nourished with any thing but few of them had his last hand, and the tranwhat was substantial and lasting. He considered scriber was often obliged to take the liberties of the ancients and moderns not as parties or rivals a friend. His condolence for the death of Mr. for fame, but as architects upon one and the same plan, the Art of Poetry; according to which he * Dr. Ralph Bathurst, whose Life and Literary Remains judged, approved, and blamed without flattery / were published in 1761, by Mr. Thomas Warion.-C.