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Deportment; which will naturally be winning and attractive if we think not of them, but lose their Force in proportion to our Endeavour to make them such.
WHEN our Consciousness turns upon the main Design of Life, and our Thoughts are employed upon the chief Purpose either in Business or Pleasure, we fhall never betray an Affectation, for we cannot be guilty of it: Bụt when we give the Passion for Praise an unbridled Liberty, our Pleasure in little Perfections, robs us of what is due to us for great Virtues and worthy Qualities. How many excellent Speeches and honeft Actions are lost, for want of being indifferent where we ought? Men are oppreffed with regard to their way of speaking and acting, instead of having their Thoughts bent upon what they should do or say, and by that Means bury a Capacity for great things, by their fear of failing in indifferent things. This, perhaps, cannot be called Affectation; but it has some Tincture of it, at least so far, as that their Fear of erring in a thing of no Consequence, argues they would be too much pleased in performing it.
IT is only from a thorough Disregard to himself in such Particulars, that a Man can act with a laudable Sufficiency: His Heart is fixed upon one point in view; and he commits no Errors, because he thinks nothing an Error but what deviates from that Intention.
THE wild Havock Affectation makes in that Part of the World which should be most polite, is visible where-ever we turn our Eyes : It pushes Men not only into Impertinencies in Conversation, but also in their premeditated Speeches. At the Bar it torments the Bench, whose Business it is to cut off all Superfluities in what is spoken before it by the Practitioner; as well as several little pieces of Injustice which arise from the Law it self. I have seen it make a Man run from the Purpose before a Judge, who was, when at the Bar himself, to close and logical a Pleader, that with all the Pomp of Eloquqpce in his Power, he never spoke a Word too much,
IT might be born even here, but it often ascends the Pulpit it self; and the Declaimer, in that facred Place, is frequently so impertinently witty, speaks of
the last Day it self with so many quaint Phrases, that there is no Man who understands Raillery, but must resolve to sin no more : Nay, you may behold him sometimes in Prayer, for a proper Delivery of the great Truths he is to utter, humble himself with so very well-turned Phrase, and mention his own Unworthia ness in a way so very becoming, that the Air of the pretty Gentleman is preserved, under the Lowliness of the Preacher.
I shall end this with a short Letter I writ the other Day to a very witty Man, over-run with the Fault I ain speaking of.
Dear SIR, *I
Spent some Time with you the other Day, and
'must take the Liberty of a Friend to tell you • of the unsufferable Affectation you are guilty of in • all you say and do. When I gave you an Hint of • it, you asked me whether a Man is to be cold to « whát his Friends think of him? No; but Praise is
not to be the Entertainment of every Moment: He • that hopes for it must be able to suspend the Poffef• fion of it till proper Periods of Life, or Death it felt
If you would not rather be commended than be Praise
worthy, contemn little Merits; and allow no Man to • be so free with you, as to praise you to your Face. • Your Vanity by this Means will want its Food, At • the same time Your Passion for Efteem will be more
fully gratified; Men will praise you in their Actions : · Where you now receive one Compliment, you will o then receive wenty Civilities. Till then you will ne. • yer haye of either, further than,
Your humble Servant, R
Multa fero, ut placem genus irritabile vatum,
one of the most delightful and most improving Entertainments. A virtuous Man (says Seneca) struggling with Misfortunes, is such a Spectacle as Gods might look upon with Pleasure: And such a Pleasure it is which meets with in the Representation of a well-written Tragedy.. Diversions of this kind wear out of our Thoughts every thing thar is mean and little. They cherish and cultivate that Humanity which is the Ornament of our Nature. They soften Insolence, footh Afiction, and subdue the Mind to the Dispensations of Providence.
IT is no Wonder therefore that in all the polite Nations of the World, this part of the Drama has met with publick Encouragement.
TÁ E modern Tragedy excels that of Greece and Rome, in the Intricacy and Disposition of the Fable; but, what a Christian Writer would be ashamed to own, falls infic nitely short of it in the moral Part of the Performance.
THIS I may shew more at large hereafter; and in the mean time, that I may contribute something towards the Improvement of the English Tragedy, I shall take notice, in this and in other following Papers, of some particular Parts in it that seem liable to Exception.
ARISTOTLE observes, that the lambick Verse ir the Greek Tongue was the most proper for
Tragedy: Because at the same time that it lifted up the Discourse from Prose, it was that which approached nearer to it than any other kind of Verse. For, says he, we may observe that Men in ordinary Discourse very often speak Iam. bicks, without taking Notice of it. We may take the fame Observation of our English Blank Verse, which often
enters into our common Discourse, though we do noc attend to it, and is such a due Medium between Rhyme and Profe, that it seems wonderfully adapted to Tragedy, I am therefore very much offended when I see a Play in Rhyme; which is as absurd in English, as a Tragedy of Hexameters would have been in Greek or Latin. The Solæcisı is, I think, still greater in those Plays that have some Scenes in Rhyme and some in Blank'Verse, which are to be looked upon as two several Languages; or where we see some particular Similies dignified with Rhyme, at the same time that every thing about them lyes in Blank Verse. I would not however debar the Poet from concluding his Tragedy, or, if he pleases, every Act of it, with two or three Couplets, which may have the same Effect as an Air in the Italian Opera after a long Recitativo, and give the Actor a graceful Exit. Befides, that we see a Diversity of Numbers in some Parts of the Old Tragedy, in order to hinder the Ear from being tired with the same continued Modulation of Voice. For the same Reason I do not dislike the Speeches in our English Tragedy that close with an Hemistick, or half Verse, notwithstanding the Person who speaks after it begins a new Verse, without filling up the preceding one; nor with abrupt Pauses and Breakings-off in the middle of a Verse, when they humour any Passion that is expressed by it.
SINCE I am upon this Subject, I must observe that? our English Poets have succeeded much better in the Style, , than in the Sentiments of their Tragedies. Their Lanaguage is very often Noble and Sonorous, but the Sense. either very trifling or very common. On the contrary, in the Ancient Tragedies, and indeed in those of Corneille and Racine, tho' the Expressions are very great, it is the Thought that bears them up and swells them. For my own part, I prefer a noble Sentinient that is depressed with honely Language, infinitely before a vulgar ona that is blown up with all the Sound and Energy of Ex-pression. Whether this Defect in our Tragedies may arise rom Want of Genius, Knowledge, or Experience in the Writers, or from their Compliance with the vicious Taste of their Readers, who are better Judges of the Language tban of che Sentiments, and consequently relilla. the one
more than the other, I cannot determine. But I believe it might rectifie the Conduct both of the one and of the other, if the Writer laid down the whole Contexture of his Dialogue in plain English, before he turned it into Blank Verse; and if the Reader, after the Perusal of a Scene, would consider the naked Thought of every Speech in it, when divested of all its Tragick Ornaments; by this means, without being imposed upon by Words, we may judge impartially of the Thought, and consider whether it be natural or great enough for the Person that utters it, whether it delerves to thine in such a Blaze of Eloquence, or shew it self in such a Variety of Lights as are generally made use of by the Writers of our English Tragedy.
I must in the next place observe, that when our Thoughts are great and just, they are often obscured by the founding Phrases, hard Metaphors, and forced Expressions in which they are cloathed. Shakespear is often very faulty in this Particular. There is a fine Observation in Aristotle to this purpose, which I have never seen quoted. The Expression, says he, ought to be very much laboured in the únactive Parts of the Fable, as in Descriptions, Similitudes, Narrations, and the like; in which the Opinions, Manners and Passions of Men are not represented; for these (namely the Opinions, Manners and Passions) are apt to be obscured by Pompous Phrases, and Elaborate Expressions. Horace, who copied most of his Criticisms after Aristotle, seems to have had his Eye on the foregoing Rule, in the following Verses:
Et Tragicus plerumque doles Sermone pedestri,
Ld. ROSCOMMON, AMONG our Modern English Poets, there is none who was better turned for Tragedy than Lee; if instead of favouring the Impetuosity of his Ganius, he had re6