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Advocate, who had fo successfully defended": him? Is it in character for a man of his , deep cunning and long reach of thought to provoke those, on whom his all depended, to retaliate upon him, and this for the poor triumph of a filly jest ? Certainly this is a glaring defect, which every body must lament, and which can efcape nobody. The poet himself knew the weak part of his plot, and vainly strives to bolster it up by making Volpone exclaim against his own folly

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To make a fnare for mine own neck, and run
My head into it wilfully with laughter !
When I had newly 'scap’d, was free and clear,
Out of mere wantonness! Oh, the dull levil
Was in this brain of mine, when I devis d it,
And Mosca gave it second

These are my fine conceits !
I must be

merry,

with

a mischief to me!
What a pile wretch was I, that could not bear
My fortune soberly! I must have my crochets,
And my conundrums!

It is with regret I feel myself compelled to protest against so pleasant an episode, as

that

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properties--but Jonson stands still to be surveyed, and presents fo bold a front, and levels it fo fully to our view, as' seems to challenge the compass and the rule of the ctitic, and defy him to find' out an error in the scale and composition of his structure.

Putting aside therefore any further mention of Shakespear, who was a poet out of all rule, and beyond all compass of criticism, one whose excellencies are above comparison, and his errors beyond number, I will venture an opinion that this drama 'of The Fox is, critically speaking, the nearest to perfection of any one drama, comic or tragic, which the English stage is at this day in poffelfion of.

No. LXXVI.

IN in my foregoing paper, when I remarked

that Jonson in his comedy of The Fox was a close copier of the antients, it occurred to me to say something upon the celebrated drama of The Sampson Agonistes, which, though less beholden to the Greek

poets

poets in it's dialogue than the comedy above-mentioned, is in all other particulars as compleat an imitation of the 'Antient Tragedy, as the distance of times and the difference of languages will admit of.

It is professedly built according to antient riyle and example, and the author, by taking Aristotle's definition of tragedy for his motto, fairly challenges the critic to examine and compare it by that test. His clofe adherence to the model of the Greek tragedy is in nothing inore conspicuous than in the simplicity of his diction; in this particular he has curbed his fancy with so tight a hand, that, knowing as we do the fertile vein of his genius, we cannot but lament the fidelity of his imitation ; for there is a harshness in the metre of his Chorus, which to a certain degree seems to border upon pedantry and affectation; he premises. that the measure is indeed of all forts, but I must take leave to observe that in some places it is no measure at all, or such at least as the ear will not patiently endure, nor which any recitation can make harmonious. By casting out of his composition the strophe and ant strophe, those stanzas wiich the Greeks appropriated

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to singing, or in one word by making his Chorus monostrophic, he has robbed it of that lyric beauty, which he was capable of beftowing in the highest perfection; and why he should stop short in this particular, when he had otherwise gone fo far in imitation, is not easy to guess; for surely it would have been quite as natural to suppose those stanzas, had he written any, might be sung, as that all the other parts, as the drama now stands with a Chorus of such irregular mea

a sure, might be recited or given in representation.

Now it is well known to every man converfant in the Greek theatre, how the Chorus, which in fact is the parent of the drama, came in process of improvement to be woven into the fable, and from being at first the whole, grew in time to be only a part: The fable being simple, and the characters few, the striking part of the spectacle rested

upon the singing and dancing of the interlude, if I may so call it, and to these the people were too long accustomed and too warmly atached, to allow of any reform for their exclusion; the tragic poet therefore never got rid of his Chorus, though

the

the writers of the Middle Comedy contrived to dismiss thèir's, and probably their fable being of a more lively character, their fcenes were better able to stand without the fupport of music and spectacle, than the · mournful fable and more languid recitation. of the tragedians. That the tragic authors laboured against the Chorus will appear

from their efforts to expel Bacchus and his Satyrs from the stage, in which they were long time opposed by the audience, and at last by certain ingenious expedients, which were a kind of compromise with the public, effected their point : This in part was brought about by the introduction of a fuller scene and a more active fable, but the Chorus with it's accompaniments kept it's place, and the poet, who feldom ventured upon introducing more than three speakers on the fcene at the same time, qualified the sterility of his business by giving to the Chorus a share of the dialogue, who at the same time that they furnished the stage with numbers, were not counted amongst the speaking characters according to 'the rigour of the usage above-mentioned. A man must be an enthusiast for antiquity, who can find

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charms

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