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is now represented, we can only fay of him what the Roman Hiftorian fays of Catiline, that his Fall would have been Glorious (fi pro Patria fic concidiffet). had he fo fallen in the Service of his Country.


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Ac ne forte putes me, quæ facere ipfe recufem,
Cum recte tractant alii, landare maligne;"
Ille per xtentum funem mibi poffe videtur
Ire Poeta, meum qui pectus inaniter angit,
Irritat, mulcet, falfis terroribus implet,
Ut magus: & modo me Thebis, modo ponit A




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HE English Writers of Tra gedy are poffeffed with a Notion, that when they reprefent a virtuous or inno cent Perfon in Distress they ought not to leave him till they have delivered him out of his Troubles, cor made him triumph over his Enemies. This Error they have been led into by a ridiculous Doctrine in modern Critis


cifm, that they are obliged to an equal Diftribution of Rewards and Punishments, and an impartial Execution of Poetical Juftice. Who were the first that established this Rule I know not; but I am fure it has no Foundation in Nature, in Reafon, or in the Practice of the Ancients. We find that Good and Evil happen alike to all Men on this fide the Grave, and as the principal Defign of Tragedy is to raife Commiferation and Terror in the Minds of the Audience, we fhall defeat this great End, if we always make Virtue and Innocence happy and fuccefsful. Whatever Croffes and Disappointments a good Man fuffers in the Body of the Tragedy, they will make but fmall Impreffion on our Minds, when we know that in the laft Act he is to arrive at the end of his Wishes and Defires. When we fee him engaged in the Depth of his Afflictions, we are apt to comfort our felves, becaufe we are fure he will find his Way out of them; and that his Grief, how great foever it may be at prefent, will foon terminate in Gladness. For this Reafon the ancient Writers of "Tragedy treated Men in their Plays, as they are dealt with in the World, by


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making Virtue fometimes happy and fometimes miferable, as they found it in the Fable which they made Choice of, or as it might affect their Audience in the most agreeable Manner. Ariftotle confiders the Tragedies that were written in either of thefe Kinds, and obferves, That those which ended unhappily had always pleafed the People, and carried away the Prize in the publick Difputes of the Stage, from thofe that ended happily. Terror and Commifebration leave a pleafing Anguifh in the Mind; and fix the Audience in fuch a bferious Compofure of Thought, as is much more lafting and delightful than any little tranfient Starts of Joy and Satisfaction. Accordingly, we find, that bmore of our English Tragedies have fucceeded, in which the Favourites of eithe Audience fink under their Calamities, than thofe in which they recover themselves out of them. The beft Plays of this kind are the Orphan, Venice preferved, Alexander the Great, Theodofius, All for Love, Oedipus, Oroonoko, Othello, &c. King Lear is an admirable Tragedy of the fame kind, as Shakespear wrote it; but as it is reformed according to the chymerical Notion of Poetical Ju


ftice, in my humble Opinion it has loft half its Beauty. At the fame time I muft allow, that there are very noble Tragedies, which have been framed upon the other Plan, and have ended happily; as indeed most of the good Tragedies, which have been written fince the starting of the abovementioned Criticifm, have taken this Turn: As the Mourning Bride, Tamerlane, Ulyffes, Phedra and Hyppolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden's. I muft alfo allow, that "many of Shakespear's, and feveral of the celebrated Tragedies of Antiquity, are caft in the fame Form. I do not therefore difpute against this way of writing Tragedies, but against the Criticifm that would eftablish this as the only Method; and by that Means would very much cramp the English Tragedy, and perhaps give a wrong Bent to the Genius of our Writers.

THE Tragi-Comedy, which is the Product of the English Theatre, is one of the most monftrous Inventions that ever entered into a Poet's Thoughts. An Author might as well think of weaving the Adventures of Eneas and Hudibras into one Poem, as of writing fuch a motly Piece of Mirth and Sorrow.

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But the Abfurdity of thefe Performances is fo very vifible, that I fhall not infift upon it.vy breeds Jods,wolle har


THE fame Objections which are made to Tragi-Comedy, may in fome meafure be applied to all Tragedies that have a double Plot in them; which are likewife more frequent upon the English Stage, than upon any other: For though the Grief of the Audience, in fuch Per formances, be not changed into another Paffion, as in Tragi-Comedies, it is di verted upon another Object, which weakens their Concern for the principal Action, and breaks the Tide of Sorrow, by throwing it into different Channels. This Inconvenience, however, may in a great meafure be cured, if not wholly removed, by the skilful Choice of an Under-Plot, which may bear fuch a near Relation to the principal Defign, as to contribute towards the Completion of it, and be concluded by the fame Catastrophe.

THERE is alfo another Particular which

ay be reckoned among the Ble

mifhes, or rather the falfe Beauties, of our English Tragedy: I mean those particular Speeches which are commonly known by the Name of Rants. The


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