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the birth of Edipus is doubtful, and his parents unknown, the chorus fuddenly exclaims, « Τις σε, τέκνον, τιςβἐετικδε των μακαραιωνω ; "From which, O my son of the immortal

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gods didft thou spring? was it some nymph "a favourite of Pan that haunts the mountains,

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or fome daughter of Apollo, for this god "loves the remote rocks and caverns; or was "it Mercury who reigns in Cyllene; or did « Bacchus, Θεος ναιων επ, ακρων ορέων, a god "who dwells on the tops of the mountains,

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beget you on any of the nymphs that fre

quent Helicon, with whom he frequently sports ?" *

THE judicious author of the tragedy of Elfrida, hath given occafion to a kind of controversy among the more curious critics, concerning the utility of the chorus, which, after the model of the ancients, he hath endeavoured to revive. To imagine, that the great Grecian masters retained it only out of refpect to its antiquity, and from no intrin

Οιδίπ. τυραν. 1118.

fic valuableness or propriety of the thing, can scarcely be imagined. The fentiments of the excellent Brumoy are moderate and rational, and seem to comprehend all that is neceffary to be faid on this fubject. "I know says

he, the chorus is attended with inconve"niences, and that it has fometimes com

pelled the ancients to violate probability; "but it notwithstanding is apparent by "the use they sometimes made of it, that "its advantages exceed its inconveniences.

Sophocles had the address to withdraw his "chorus for a few moments, when their "abfence was neceffary, as in the Ajax. "If the chorus therefore incommodes the "poet, and puts him under difficulties, he "must charge it folely to his own want of ❝ dexterity. What advantage, on the other « hand, may he not reap, from a body of "actors that fill the stage; that render more

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lively, ftriking, and fenfible, the continuity "of the action, and give it the air of greater PROBABILITY, fince it is not natural or con"ceivable, that a great and illuftrious action, L 2 "fuch

"fuch as a revolution in a state, should pass "without witneffes. We perceive and feel a "kind of void on our stage, on account of the ab"fence of choruses; and the successful attempt "of Racine, who adopted and revived the use of "them in his ATHALIA and ESTHER, were

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fufficient, one would imagine, to undeceive "and convince us, of their importance, and

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utility. The banishment of the chorus has "been the neceffary confequence of the cuf"tom of the moderns, to take for their repre"sentations, ALL kinds of subjects; whereas "the ancients treated only fuch actions as

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were publicly tranfacted: and to fill, and "indeed overcharge the action with incidents "and furprizes. For how could these sub

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jects, and these various crowded events and "incidents, have been poffibly introduced in

a public place, expofed to the view of cour"tiers and the people, while the generality "of our tragedies turn on particular and pri"vate affairs, ou la cour et le peuple n'en"trent fouvent pour rien? the Athenian spec

tators were ever accustomed to concern


"themselves in all public affairs, and to be "witneffes and judges of them. The modern

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stage, by its difufe of the chorus, may per

haps have gained a great number of fine fubjects for tragedy; yet, in return, it is "burthened with confidents, it looses the continuity of action, and is deprived of the magnificent fpectacle that ferves to fupport "that action, and which is, if I may be al"lowed the expreffion, le fonds, ou l'accompagnement du tableau.” *

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I THOUGHT it more equitable, as well as more convincing, to quote at large the words of this admirable critic, whofe work is one of the most valuable that his elegant nation hath produced, than to adopt, as fome have done with small variations, his opinion, without acknowledging the debt. An apology would be neceffary for this digreffion, if it was not my profeffed defign in this Effay, to expatiate into fuch occafional difquifitions, as

*Le Theatre de Grecs. Tom. 1. 104. and 214.



naturally arise from the subject; it has however kept us too long from surveying a valuable literary curiofity, I mean the earliest production of POPE, written when he was not twelve years old, his ODE ON SOLItude. first sketches of fuch an artist ought highly to be prized. Different geniuses unfold themselves, at different periods of life. In some minds the ore is a long time in ripening. Not only inclination, but opportunity and encouragement, a proper subject, or a proper patron, influence the exertion or the fuppreffion of genius. These stanzas on Solitude, are a strong inftance of that contemplative and moral turn, which was the distinguishing characteristic of our poet's mind. An ode of Cowley which he produced at the age of thirteen years, is of the fame caft, and perhaps not in the leaft inferior to this of POPE. voluminous Lopez de Vega, is commonly, but I fear incredibly, reported by the Spaniards, to have compofed verses when he was five years old; and Torquato Taffo, the fe¬

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