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“ have now only a few obscure poets to dis“ miss in like manner, and you will have a “ clear field for yourself and your friends:”.


Ingeniis non ille favet plauditque fepultis,
Nostra sed impugnat, nos noftraque lividus odit.

(HORAT.) The sarcastic speech of the old Snarler, with

which we concluded the last paper, being undeserved on the part of the person to whom it was applied, was very properly disregarded, and the clergyman proceeded as follows:

“ The poets you have named will never “ be mentioned by me but with a degree of “ enthusiasm, which I should rather expect “ to be accused of carrying to excess, than “ of erring in the opposite extreme, had you “ not put me on my guard against partiality,

by charging me with it beforehand. I “ shall therefore without further apology or preface begin with Shakespear, first

“ named

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“ named by you and first in fame as well as * time: It would be madness in me to “think of bringing any poet now living into “ competition with Shakespear; but I hope “ it will not be thought madness, or any “thing resembling to it, to observe to

that it is not in the nature of things possible for any poet to appear “ in an age so polished as this of our's, * who can be brought into any critical

comparison with that extraordinary and “ eccentric genius.

“ For let us consider the two great striking * features of his drama, sublimity and cha* racter. Now sublimity involves sentiment “and expression; the first of these is in the “ foul of the poet; it is that portion of in

spiration, which we personify when we call it the Muse; so far I am free to acknow" ledge there is no immediate reason to be “ given, why her visits should be confined to

any age, nation or perfon ; she may fire the « heart of the poet on the shores of Ionia “ three thousand years ago, or on the banks at of the Cam or Isis at the present mo“ ment; but so far as language is concerned, ♡ I may venture to say that modern diction

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u will never strike modern ears with that aw* ful kind of magic, which antiquity gives " to words and phrases no longer in familiar “ use: In this respect ourgreat dramatic poet " hath an advantage over his distant descen“ dants, which he owes to time, and which “ of course is one more than he is indebted “ for to his own pre-eminent genius. As for “ character, which I suggested as one of the “ two most striking features of Shakespear's “ drama, (or in other words the true and

perfect delineation of nature), in this our “ poet is indeed a master unrivalled; yet who “will not allow the happy coincidence of

time for this perfection in a writer of the “ drama? The different orders of men, “ which Shakespear saw and copied, are in

many instances extinct, and such must “ have the charms of novelty at least in our

eyes : And has the modern dramatist the « fare rich and various field of character? “ The level manners of a polished age fur" nish little choice to an author, who now “ enters on the talk, in which such numbers “ have gone before him, and so exhausted “ the materials, that it is juftly to be won“ dered at, when any thing like variety can

“ be

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« be struck out. Dramatic characters are

pourtraits drawn from nature, and if all “the fitters have a family likeness, the artist “must either depart from the truth, or pre« ferve the refemblance; in like manner " the poet must either invent characters, of “ which there is no counterpart in existence, “or expose himself to the danger of an • insipid and tiresome repetition : To add to “ his difficulties it so happens, that the pre“ sent age, whilst it furnishes less variety to “ his choice, requires more than ever for it's

own amusement; the dignity of the stage “ must of course be prostituted to the un“ natural resources of a wild imagination, " and it's propriety disturbed ; music will

l supply those resources for a time, and ac

cordingly we find the French and English “ theatres in the dearth of character feeding

upon the airy diet of sound; but this, “ with all the support that spectacle can

give, is but a flimsy substitute, whilft the "public whose taste in the mean time be“ comes vitiated


media inter carmina pofcunt Aut Urfam aut Pugiles


o the

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agree in

“ the latter of which monstrous prostitu“tions we have lately seen our national stage “ most shamefully exposed to.

“ By comparing the different ages of poetry in our own country with those of “ Greece, we shall find the effects “ each; for as the refinement of manners “ took place, the language of poetry be“ came also more refined, and with greater “ correctness had less energy and force; the " stile of the poet, like the characters of the

people, takes a brighter polish, which, “ whilft it smooths away it's former asperi“ ties and protuberances, weakens the sta

ple of it's fabric, and what it gives to the

elegance and delicacy of it's complexion, "takes away from the strength and sturdi"ness of it's constitution. Whoever will

compare Æschylus with Euripides, and “ Aristophanes with Menander, will need

no other illustration of this reinark.
“ Consider only the inequalities of Shake-

spear's dramas; examine not only one “ with another, but compare even scene “ with scene in the same play: Did ever the

imagination of man run riot into fuch “ wild and opposite extremes? Could this be

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“ done,

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