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gree of aversion. It is not strictly just, therefore, to say, that the feelings at such an instant are in any degree pleasant; as it would be grossly false to say, that we are instigated to this participation of distress by the view of pleasure; unless all the sympathetic feelings be referred to the class of the agreeable ones. We are carried, indeed, by a virtuous impulse to converse with distress; the certainty that we shall not be spectators of any real suffering, withdraws all aversion to this impulse: but under this assurance we-surrender ourselves up entirely to the poet; we enter into his views; we are carried out of ourselves into his fictitious scenes, as if they were real. We often feel from them an exquisite pain, which oppresses our minds for a considerable time after the representation is over, and sinks too deeply into those of a delicate and susceptible make. Yet we return to such scenes; not that pain is desirable, noč to seek for pleasure in the field of pain; but the better inclination of our natures determines our conduct; and

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the distressing sensations, to which we are exposing ourselves, appear with that softened aspect, that grace, which a virtuous and benevolent melancholy always wears.

This investigation of the effect of tragedy on the mind, will account, in a great measure, for the superiority of the best productions of the moderns above those of the ancients, and of the English tragedy above that of the French. The pictures are inore exquisitely finished; the characters of the sufferers are more interesting; and more powerfully lay hold on our affections, and plead for our compassion. Domestic life and domestic manners were more gross and undressed among the ancients; the social passions were but half awakened among them; and, therefore, the pictures of domestic happiness are not near so interesting, nor can, to our improved taste, present such rich subjects of compassion. The French tragedies are in this respect also far inferior to the English ; wit, gallantry, and philosophic declamation are more displayed than


touching scenes of pure and ingenuous distress. Tragedy, in order to be perfect, ought to be throughout an animated picture; enlivened, enriched by grandeur of sentiment, by every exhibition of mind which is fitted to interest a fellow mind; but still it must be a picture. When this is conducted by a masterly artist, it is then that all yield to the genius of tragedy; we feel that there is an eloquence in the exhibition of virtuous distress, suffering from the incidents of our natures, from the pardonable errors of human judgement, from the follies or vices of others, or under the iron hand of oppression and cruelty, which mocks all the power of wisdom to equal; which the lettered and the polished can no more resist than the most uncultivated child of nature. And this eloquence is the instrument of a wise Providence, whereby he forms and fashions our hearts according to what he designs and approves, and calls forth those benevolent affections which move not ai the voice of reason and calm philosophy,

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That learning is not the parent of politeness, nor

chargeable with the duplicity, fraud, and vice, ' which he supposes to be her attendants.

It is a failing, and not of common minds alone, who surrender themselves to the impression of the moment, but also of men from whom a more just appreciation of the past and the present might be expected, to indulge to a spirit of discontent whenever they speak of their own times ; and with a kind of holy veneration to fix their eye on those days of old, wherein, as they suppose, ingenuous virtue and sincere enjoyment were alone to be found. This failing, for a failing assuredly it is, has its origin in human nature, and even in the best disposi

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