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fixed upon the pleasure they have in the The wild havock affectation makes in consciousness that they are the objects of that part of the world which should be love and admiration, are ever changing the most polite, is visible wherever we turn our air of their countenances, and altering the eyes: 'it pushes men not only into imperattitude of their bodies, to strike the hearts tinences in conversation, but also in their of their beholders with new sense of their premeditated speeches. At the bar it torbeauty. The dressing part of our sex, ments the bench, whose business it is to whose minds are the same with the sillier cut off all superfluities in what is spoken part of the other, are exactly in the like before it by the practitioner, as well as seuneasy condition to be regarded for a well- veral little pieces of injustice which arise tied cravat, a hat cocked with uncom- from the law itself. I have seen it make a mon briskness, a very well-chosen coat, or man run from the purpose before a judge, other instances of merit, which they are who was, when at the bar himself, so close impatient to see unobserved.
and logical a pleader, that with all the This apparent affectation, arising from pomp of eloquence in his power, he never an ill-governed consciousness, is not so spoke a word too much. * much to be wondered at in such loose and It might be borne, even here; but it often trivial minds as these: but when we see ascends the pulpit itself; and the declaimer it reign in characters of worth and dis- in that sacred place, is frequently so imtinction, it is what we cannot but lament, pertinently witty, speaks of the last day itnot without some indignation. It creeps self with so many quaint phrases, that into the heart of the wise man as well as there is no man who understands raillery that of the coxcomb. When you see a but must resolve to sin no more. Nay, man of sense look about for applause, and you may behold him sometimes in prayer, discover an itching inclination to be com- for a proper delivery of the great truths he mended; lay traps for a little incense, even is to utter, humble himself with so very-well from those whose opinion he values in no- turned phrases, and mention his own unthing but his own favour; who is safe worthiness in a way so very becoming, that against this weakness? or who knows whe- the air of the pretty gentleman is preserved, ther he is guilty of it or not? The best way under the lowliness of the preacher. to get clear of such a light fondness for ap I shall end this with a short letter I writ plause, is to take all possible care to throw the other day to a very witty man, overrun off the love of it upon occasions that are not with the fault I am speaking of: in themselves laudable, but as it appears • DEAR SIR,-I spent some time with we hope for no praise from them. Of this you the other day, and must take the libernature are all graces in men's persons, ty of a friend to tell you of the unsufferable dress, and bodily deportment, which will affectation you are guilty of in all you say naturally be winning and attractive if we and do. When I gave you a hint of it, think not of them, but lose their force in pro- you asked me whether a man is to be cold portion to our endeavour to make them such. to what his friends think of him? No, but
When our consciousness turns upon the praise is not to be the entertainment of main design of life, and our thoughts are every moment. He that hopes for it must employed upon the chief purpose either in be able to suspend the possession of it till business or pleasure, we shall never betray proper periods of life, or death itself. If an affectation, for we cannot be guilty of it: you would not rather be commended than but when we give the passion for praise an be praise-worthy, contemn little merits; unbridled liberty, our pleasure in little and allow no man to be so free with you, perfections robs us of what is due to us for as to praise you to your face. Your vanity great virtues, and worthy qualities. How by this means will want its food. At the many excellent speeches and honest actions same time your passion for esteem will be are lost, for want of being indifferent where be more fully gratified; men will praise you we ought? Men are oppressed with regard in their actions: where you now receive one to their way of speaking and acting, instead compliment, you will then receive twenty of having their thoughts bent upon what civilities. Till then you will never have they should do or say; and by that means of either, further than, Sir, your humble bury a capacity for great things, by their
R. fear of failing in indifferent things. This, perhaps, cannot be called affectation; but it has some tincture of it, at least so far, as No. 39.] Saturday, April 14, 1711. that their fear of erring in a thing of no
Multa fero, ut placem genus irritabile vatum. consequence, argues they would be too
Hor. Lib. 2. Ep. ii. 102. much pleased in performing it.
It is only from a thorough disregard to Much do I suffer, much, to keep in peace himself in such particulars, that a man can This jealous, waspish, wrong-headed rhyming race.
Pope. act with a laudable sufficiency: his heart is fixed upon one point in view; and he As a perfect tragedy is the noblest procommits no errors, because he thinks no- duction of human nature, so it is capable thing an error but what deviates from that
* This seems to be intended as a compliment to intention.
of giving the mind one of the most delight-| the person who speaks after it begins a ful and most improving entertainments. A new verse, without filling up the precedvirtuous man (says Seneca) struggling with ing one: nor with abrupt pauses and breakmisfortunes, is such a spectacle as gods ings off in the middle of a verse, when might look upon with pleasure; and such they humour any passion that is expressed a pleasure it is which one meets with in the by it. representation of a well-written tragedy. Since I am upon this subject, I must Diversions of this kind wear out of our observe that our English poets have sucthoughts every thing that is mean and lit- ceeded much better in the style, than in tle. They cherish and cultivate that hu- the sentiments of their tragedies. Their manity which is the ornament of our na- language is very often noble and sonorous, ture. They soften insolence, sooth afflic- but the sense either very trifling, or very tion, and subdue the mind to the dispensa- common. On the contrary, in the ancient tions of Providence.
tragedies, and indeed in those of Corneille It is no wonder therefore that in all the and Racine, though the expressions are polite nations of the world, this part of very great, it is the thought that bears the drama has met with public encourage- them up and swells them. For my own ment.
part, I prefer a noble sentiment that is deThe modern tragedy. excels that of pressed with homely language, infinitely Greece and Rome, in the intricacy and dis- before a vulgar one that is blown up with position of the fable; but what a 'Christian all the sound and energy of expression. writer would be ashamed to own, falls in- Whether this defect in our tragedies may finitely short of it in the moral part of the arise from want of genius, knowledge, or performance.
experience in the writers, or from their This I may show more at large hereafter: compliance with the vicious taste of their and in the mean time, that I may contribute readers, who are better judges of the lansomething towards the improvement of the guage than of the sentiments, and conseEnglish tragedy, I shall take notice, in this quently relish the one more than the other, and in other following papers, of some par- I cannot determine. But I believe it might ticular parts in it that seem liable to ex- rectify the conduct both of the one and of ception.
the other, if the writer laid down the whole Aristotle observes, that the lambic verse contexture of his dialogue in plain English, in the Greek tongue was the most proper before he turned it into blank verse; and if for tragedy: because at the same time that the reader, after the perusal of a scene, it lifted up the discourse from prose, it would consider the naked thought of every was that which approached nearer to it speech in it, when divested of all its tragic than any other kind of verse. For,' says ornaments. By this means, without being he, we may observe that men in ordinary imposed upon by words, we may judge imdiscourse very often speak iambics, without partially of the thought, and consider taking notice of it.' We may make the whether it be natural or great enough for same observation of our English blank the person that utters it, whether it deverse, which often enters into our common serves to shine in such a blaze of eloquence, discourse, though we do not attend to it, or show itself in such a variety of lights as and is such a due medium between rhyme are generally made use of by the writers and prose, that it seems wonderfully adapt- of our English tragedy. ed to tragedy. I am therefore very much I must in the next place observe, that offended when I see a play in rhyme; which when our thoughts are great and just, they is as absurd in English, as a tragedy of hex- are often obscured by the sounding phrases, ameters would have been in Greek or hard metaphors, and forced expressions in Latin. The solecism is, I think, still great- which they are clothed. Shakspeare is often er in those plays that have some scenes in very faulty in this particular. There is a rhyme and some in blank verse, which are fine observation in Aristotle to this purto be looked upon as two several languages; pose, which I have never seen quoted. or where we see some particular similes The expression, says he, ought to be very dignified with rhyme at the same time that much laboured in the unactive parts of the every thing about them lies in blank verse. fable, as in descriptions, similitudes, narraI would not however debar the poet from tions, and the like; in which the opinions, concluding his tragedy, or, if he pleases, manners, and passions of men are not reevery act of it, with two or three couplets, presented; for these (namely, the opinions, which may have the same effect as an air manners, and passions,) are apt to be obin the Italian opera after a long recitativo, scured by pompous phrases and elaborate and give the actor a graceful exit. Besides expressions. Horace, who copied most of that, we see a diversity of numbers in some his criticisms from Aristotle, seems to have parts of the old tragedy, in order to hinder had his eye on the foregoing rule, in the the ear from being tired with the same con- following verses: tinued modulation of the voice. For the
'Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri : same reason I do not dislike the speeches Telephus et Peleus, cum pauper et exul uterque, in our English tragedy that close with an
Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba,
Si curat cor spectantis tetigesse querela.' hemistich, or half verse, notwithstanding
Hor. Ars Poct. ver 95.
Tragedians too lay by their state to grieve:
Yet lest you think I rally more than teach,
Or praise, malignant, arts I cannot reach,
Let me for once presume t'instruct the times, Among our modern English poets, there To know the poet from the man of rhymes ; is none who has a better turn for tragedy than
'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains,
Can make me feel each passion that he feigns; Lee; if instead of favouring the impetuosity Enrage, compose, with more than magic art, of his genius he had restrained it, and kept With pity, and with terror, tear my heart; it within its proper bounds. His thoughts
And snatch me o'er the earth, or through the air,
To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where. are wonderfully suited to tragedy, but fre
Pope. quently lost in such a cloud of words, that it is hard to see the beauty of them. There
The English writers of tragedy are posis an infinite fire in his works, but so in- sessed with a notion, that when they revolved in smoke that it does not appear in distress, they ought not to leave him till
present a virtuous or innocent person in half its lustre. He frequently succeeds in the passionate parts of the tragedy, but they have delivered him out of his troumore particularly where he slackens his bles, or made him triumph over his eneefforts, and eases the style of those epithets mies. This
error they have been led into by and metaphors, in which he so much
a ridiculous doctrine in modern criticism, abounds. What can be more natural, more that they are obliged to an equal distribusoft, or more passionate, than that line in tion of rewards and punishments, and an Statira's speech where she describes the impartial execution of poetical justice.
Who were the first that established this charms of Alexander's conversation?
rule I know not; but I am sure it has no "Then he would talk-Good gods! how he would talk!' foundation in nature, in reason, or in the
That unexpected break in the line, and practice of the ancients. We find that turning the description of his manner of good and evil happen alike to all men on talking into admiration of it, is inexpressi- this side of the grave; and as the principal bly beautiful, and wonderfully suited to the design of tragedy is to raise commiserafond character of the person that speaks it. tion and terror in the minds of the auThere is a simplicity in the words, that dience, we shall defeat this great end, if outshines the utmost pride of expression. we always make virtue and innocence hap
Otway has followed nature in the lan- py and successful. Whatever crosses and guage of his tragedy, and therefore shines disappointments a good man suffers in the in the passionate parts, more than any of body of the tragedy, they will make but a our English poets. As there is something small impression on our minds, when we familiar and domestic in the fable of his know that in the last act he is to arrive at tragedy, more than in those of any other the end of his wishes and desires. When poet, he has little pomp, but great force in we see him engaged in the depths of his his expressions. For which reason, though afflictions, we are apt to comfort ourselves, he has admirably succeeded in the tender because we are sure he will find his way and melting part of his tragedies, he some- out of them; and that his grief, how great times falls into too great familiarity of soever it may be at present, will soon terphrase in those parts, which by Aristotle's minate in gladness. For this reason the rule, cught to have been raised and sup- ancient writers of tragedy treated men in ported by the dignity of expression. their plays, as they are dealt with in the
It has been observed by others, that this world, by making virtue sometimes happy poet has founded his tragedy of Venice and sometimes miserable, as they found Preserved on so wrong a plot, that the it in the fable which they made choice greatest characters in it are those of rebels of, or as it might affect their audience in and traitors. Had the hero of this play the most agreeable manner. Aristotle condiscovered the same good qualities in the siders the tragedies that were written in defence of his country that he showed for either of these kinds, and observes, that its ruin and subversion, the audience could those which ended unhappily had always not enough pity and admire him: but as he pleased the people, and carried away the is now represented, we can only say of him prize in the public disputes of the stage, what the Roman historian says of Cataline, from those that ended happily. Terror that his fall would have been glorious (si and commiseration leave a pleasing anpro patria sic concidisset) had he so fallen guish in the mind; and fix the audience in in the service of his country. C.
such a serious composure of thought, as is much more lasting and delightful than any little transient starts of joy and satisfaction.
Accordingly we find, that more of our No. 40.] Monday, April 16, 1711. English tragedies have succeeded in which
the favourites of the audience sink under Ac ne forte putes, me, quæ facere ipse recusem, Cum recte tractent alii, laudare maligne;
their calamities, than those in which they Tlle per extentum funem mihi posse videtur
recover themselves out of them. The best Ire poeta, meum qui pectus inaniter angit,
plays of this kind are The Orphan, Venice Irritat, muleet, falsis terroribus implet, Ut magus; et modo me Thebis, modo ponit Athenis. Preserved, Alexander the Great, Theodo
Hor. Lib. 2, Ep. i. 208. sius, All for Love, Edipus, Oroonoko,
Othello, &c. King Lear is an admirable , very often raise himself a loud clap by this tragedy of the same kind, as Shakspeare artifice. The poets that were acquainted wrote it; but as it is reformed, according with this secret, have given frequent octo the chimerical notion of poetical justice, casion for such emotions in the actor, by in my humble opinion it has lost half its adding vehemence to words where there beauty. At the same time I must allow, was no passion, or inflaming a real passion that there are very noble tragedies, which into fustian. This hath filled the mouths have been framed upon the other plan, and of our heroes with bombast; and given have ended happily; as indeed most of the them such sentiments, as proceed rather good tragedies, which have been written from a swelling than a greatness of mind. since the starting of the above criticism, Unnatural exclamations, curses, vows, have taken this turn; as The Mourning blasphemies, a defiance of mankind, and Bride; Tamerlane, Ulysses, Phædra and an outraging of the gods, frequently pass Hippolitus, with most of Mr. Dryden's. I upon the audience for towering thoughts, must also allow that many of Shakspeare's, and have accordingly met with infinite apand several of the celebrated tragedies of plause. antiquity, are cast in the same form. I do I shall here add a remark, which I am not therefore dispute against this way of afraid our tragic writers may make an ill writing tragedies, but against the criticism use of. As our heroes are generally lovers, that would establish this as the only me- their swelling and blustering upon the thod; and by that means would very stage very much recommends them to the much cramp the English tragedy, and fair part of their audience. The ladies are perhaps give a wrong bent to the genius of wonderfully pleased to see a man insulting our writers.
kings, or affronting the gods in one scene, The tragi-comedy, which is the product and throwing himself at the feet of his of the English theatre, is one of the most mistress in another. Let him behave himmonstrous inventions that ever entered into self insolently towards the men, and aba poet's thoughts. An author might as jectly towards the fair one, and it is ten to well think of weaving the adventures of one but he proves a favourite with the Æneas and Hudibras into one poem, as of boxes. Dryden and Lee, in several of writing such a motley piece of mirth and their tragedies, have practised this secret
But the absurdity of these per- with good success. formances is so very visible, that I shall not But to show how a rant pleases beyond insist upon it.
the most just and natural thought that is The same objections which are made to not pronounced with vehemence, I would tragi-comedy, may in some measure be ap- desire the reader when he sees the tragedy plied to all tragedies that have a double of (Edipus, to observe how quietly the hero plot in them; which are likewise more fre- is dismissed at the end of the third act, quent upon the English stage, than upon after having pronounced the following lines, any other; for though the grief of the au- in which the thought is very natural, and dience, in such performances, be not apt to move compassion: changed into another passion, as in tragi To you good gods, I make my last appeal.' comedies; it is diverted upon another ob Or clear my virtues, or my crimes reveal.
If in the maze of fate I blindly run, ject, which weakens their concern for the
And backward tread those paths I sought to shun; principal action, and breaks the tide of sor
Impute my errors to your own decree: row, by throwing it into different channels. My hands are guilty, but my heart is free.' This inconvenience, however, may, in a Let us then observe with what thunder great measure be cured, if not wholly re- claps of applause he leaves the stage, after moved, by the skilful choice of an under the impieties and execrations at the end of plot, which may bear such a near relation the fourth act; and you will wonder to see to the principal design as to contribute to an audience so cursed and so pleased at the wards the completion of it, and be con- same time. cluded by the same catastrophe.
“O that, as oft I have at Athens seen, There is also another particular, which may be reckoned among the blemishes, or
(Where by the way, there was no stage rather the false beauties of our English tra
till many years after Edipus. ] gedy: I mean those particular specches
The stage arise, and the big clouds descend;
So now in very deed, I might behold which are commonly known by the name This pond'rous globe, and all yon marble roof, of rants. The warm and passionate parts
Meet, like the hands of Jove, and crush mankind: of a tragedy, are always the most taking
For all the elements,' &c. with the audience; for which reason we
ADVERTISEMENT. often see the players pronouncing, in all Having spoken of Mr. Powell, as sometimes raising the violence of action, several parts of the himself applause from the ill taste of an audience, tragedy which the author writ with great
must do him the justice to own, that he is excellently temper, and designed that they should fortunately, however, in his latter days, the love of the have been so acted. I have seen Powell* bottle weaned him from his attachment to the stage,
and he declined greatly from that reputation which he * Mr. George Powell, though moving in the same had acquired. He was author of five Plays, all of sphere with Betterton, Booth, Wilkes, &c. maintained which he brought on the stage with good success. no inconsiderable rank in the public estimation : un. I died in 1714.
formed for a tragedian, and, when he pleases, deserves | of the lady will do for this injured gentlewill in the Conquest of Mexico, which is acted for his man, but must allow he has very much jusown benefit, to-morrow night.
tice on his side. I have indeed very long
observed this evil, and distinguished those No. 41.] Tuesday, April 17, 1711.
of our women who wear their own, from
those in borrowed complexions, by the Tu non inventa reperta es.
Picts and the British. There does not need Ovid. Met. i. 654.
any great discernment to judge which are So found, is worse than lost.
which. The British have a lively animated COMPASSION for the gentleman who aspect; the Picts, though never so beautiful, writes the following letter, should not pre- have dead uninformed countenances. The vail upon me to fall upon the fair-sex, if it muscles of a real face sometimes swell with were not that I find they are frequently soft passion, sudden surprise, and are flushfairer than they ought to be. Such impos- ed with agreeable confusions, according as tures are not to be tolerated in civil society, the objects before them, or the ideas preand I think his misfortune ought to be made sented to them, affect their imagination. public, as a warning for other men always But the Picts behold all things with the to examine into what they admire. same air, whether they are joyful or sad; “Sir,--Supposing you to be a person of all occasions. A Pict, though she takes all
the same fixed insensibility appears upon general knowledge, I make my application to you on a very particular occasion. I have that pains to invite the approach of lovers, a great mind to be rid of my wife, and is obliged to keep them at a certain dishope, when you consider my case, you will tance; a sigh in a languishing lover, if be of opinion I have very just pretensions fetched too near her, would dissolve a feato a divorce. I am a mere man of the town, ture; and a kiss snatched by a forward one, and have very little improvement, but what might transfer the complexion of the misI have got from plays. I remember in The tress to the admirer. It is hard to speak of Silent Woman,* the learned Dr. Cutberd, thing uncomplaisant, but I would only re
these false fair ones, without saying someor Dr. Otter, (I forget which) makes one commend to them to consider how they like of the causes of separation to be Error Personæ, when a man marries a woman, coming into a room new painted; they may and finds her not to be the same woman
assure themselves the near approach of a whom he intended to marry, but another. lady who uses this practice is much more If that be law, it is, I presume, exactly my
offensive. case. For you are to know, Mr. Spectator,
Will Honeycomb told us, one day, an adthat there are women who do not let their venture he once had with a Pict. This husbands see their faces till they are mar- lady had wit, as well as beauty, at will; and ried.
made it her business to gain hearts, for no Not to keep you in suspense,
other reason but to rally the torments of plainly that part of the sex who paint. her lovers. She would make great adThey are some of them so exquisitely
skil- vances to ensnare men, but without any ful this way, that give them but a tolerable manner of scruple break off when there was pair of eyes to set up with, and they will no provocation. Her ill nature and vanity make bosom, lips, cheeks, and eye-brows, made my friend very easily proof against by their own industry. As for my dear, the charms of her wit and conversation;
but never was a man so enamoured as I was of her beauteous form, instead of being blemher fair forehead, neck, and arms, as well ished by her falsehood and inconstancy, as the bright jet of her hair; but, to my every day increased upon him, and she had great astonishment, I find they were all the new attractions every time he saw her. effect of art. Her skin is so tarnished with When she observed Will irrevocably her this practice, that when she first wakes in slave, she began to use him as such, and a morning, she scarce seems young enough
after many steps towards such a cruelty, to be the mother of her whom I carried to she at last utterly banished him. The unbed the night before. I shall take the happy lover strove in vain, by servile episliberty to part with her by the first
tles, to revoke his doom, till at length he
opportunity, unless her father will make her was forced to the last refuge, a round sum portion suitable to her real, not her assumed
of money to her maid. This corrupt atcountenance. This I thought fit to let him) tendant placed him early in the morning and her know by your means. I am, Sir, behind the hangings in her mistress's dressyour most obedient, humble servant,'
ing-room. He stood very conveniently to I cannot tell what the law, or the parents gins the face she designed to wear that day,
Hobserve, without being seen. The Pict be
and I have heard him protest she had Epicæne, or The Silent Woman, a comedy by Ben worked a full half hour before he knew her Jonson. It is much to be regretted that this fine comedy to be the same woman. As soon as he saw has for several years been totally neglected by the managers of our theatres. Unless the public taste has greatly the dawn of that complexion for which he declined from what it was, this excellent performance had so long languished, he thought fit to would certainly be more acceptable than the flippant break from his concealment, repeating that vulgar nonsense with which we are so often annoyed from the pens of some of our modern dramatists. verse of Cowley: