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SECOND SERIES OF
INTENDED TO ILLUSTRATE THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS, AND RELIGIOUS
INSTITUTIONS OF DIFFERENT ERAS IN BRITAIN.
« Tragedy, as it was anciently composed, hath been ever held the gravest,
HENRY STOCKING, 25, KING WILLIAM STREET,
IF, in this enlightened age, there still exist any lingering prejudice against Dramatic Poems, it arises, no doubt, from their supposed connexion with the Stage ; and if such moral and philosophic writers as Milton, Thomson, Mason, Milman, Graham, and Mrs. Joanna Baillie, have not yet been able wholly to eradicate all groundless objections, it would be unavailing for us to argue against them. The best confutation we can advance, must be found in the innocence, morality, and usefulness of the Historical Dramas themselves, which we submit to the judgment of the Public. We will, however, quote a noble defence in favour of ancient and modern fiction, written by that learned and pious historian, Mr. Sharon Turner.
“ Fictitious compositions are so many concentrations of the scattered virtues of life; so many personifications of whatever is amiable and admirable in the manners or conceptions of the day. .....We may, indeed, say that most of the romances of our forefathers were advantageous, in some respect or other, to the progress of their social life. In every one some vice is made revolting, and some virtue interesting...... It is probable that our best romances and tales have been, on the whole, nearly as efficacious in their moral operations as our sermons and our ethics. They have, at least, been great auxiliaries : society would not have been what it is without them...... It is the fault of
the artist, not of his art, if his fictions be either unuseful or pernicious..
..... Fictitious narratives have been highly useful, and may be more so. We all need tuition as much as we dislike it; it may therefore be welcomed from every quarter, and particularly when it comes accompanied by harmless emotion and intellectual delight. Let us only urge our minstrels and fableurs to make their own ideal beauty as excellent as they can, before they embody it to our sight.... From the natural desire of reputation, every man performs the task which he allots to himself as ably as he can; and as the great preponderance of nature is always to good, society has been, on the whole, perpetually a gainer by the romances, tales, poetry, and dramas of its authors, notwithstanding the alloy of some individual eccentri
The flattering and cheering manner in which the First Series of this National Work was received by a certain portion of the Public, has been one great stimulus to our exertions in the production of a second volume ; and we trust that, in its execution, it will not be found that we have merited less forbearance, kindness, and encouragement, than have been shown to our first attempt; particularly when we state that it has been accomplished under domestic afflictions unusually severe and trying.
* History of the Middle Ages.