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think of weaving the adventures of Æneas and Hudibras into one Poem, as of writing such a motly piece of mirth and
But the absurdity of these performances is so very visible, that I shall not insist upon it. 5 The same objections which are made to Tragi-comedy,
may in some measure be applied to all Tragedies that have a double Plot in them ; which are likewise more frequent upon the English Stage, than upon any other : For though the grief of the audience, in such performances, be not changed into another passion, as in Tragi-comedies; it is diverted 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 measure be cured, if not wholly removed, 15 by the skilful choice of an Under-plot, which may bear such
a near relation to the principal design, as to contribute towards the completion of it, and be concluded by the same Catastrophe.
There is also another particular, which may be reckoned among the blemishes, or rather the false beauties of our English Tragedy: I mean those particular Speeches which are commonly known by the name of Rants. The warm and passionate parts of a Tragedy, are always the most taking
with the audience ; for which reason we often see the Players 25 pronouncing, in all the violence of action, several parts of
the Tragedy which the Author writ with great temper, and designed that they should have been so acted. I have seen Powell very often raise himself a loud clap by this artifice.
The Poets that were acquainted with this secret, have given 30 frequent occasion for such emotions in the Actor, by adding
vehemence to words where there was no passion, or inflaming a real passion into fustian. This hath filled the mouths of our Heroes with bombast; and given them such sentiments, as proceed rather from a swelling than a greatness
of mind. Unnatural exclamations, curses, vows, blasphemies, a defiance of mankind, and an outraging of the Gods, frequently pass upon the audience for tow'ring thoughts, and have accordingly met with infinite applause.
I shall here add a remark, which I am afraid our Tragick writers may make an ill use of. As our Heroes are generally Lovers, their swelling and blustring upon the Stage very much recommends them to the fair part of their audience. The Ladies are wonderfully pleased to see a man insulting Kings or affronting the Gods, in one Scene, and throwing himself at the feet of his Mistress in another. Let him behave himself insolently towards the men, and abjectly towards the Fair one, and it is ten to one but he proves a favourite of the boxes. Dryden and Lee, in several of their Tragedies, have practised this secret with good success.
But to shew how a Rant pleases beyond the most just and natural thought that is not pronounced with vehemence, I would desire the Reader, when he sees the Tragedy of Oedipus, to observe how quietly the Hero is dismissed at the end of the third Act, after having pronounced the following lines, in which the thought is very natural, and apt to move compassion.
To you, good Gods, I make my last appeal,
Let us then observe with what thunder-claps of applause he leaves the Stage, after the impieties and execrations at the 30 end of the fourth Act; and you will wonder to see an audience so cursed and so pleased at the same time.
O that as oft I have at Athens seen
[Where, by the way, there was no Stage till many
years after Oedipus.]
Having spoken of Mr. Powell, as sometimes raising himself applause from the ill taste of an audience ; I must do him the justice to own, that he is excellently formed for a Tragedian, and, when he pleases, deserves the admiration of the best judges ; as I doubt not but he will in the Conquest of Mexico, which is acted for his own benefit to-morrow night.
No 50. Friday, April 27. [1711.]
Nunquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia dixit. Juv.
When the four Indian Kings were in this country about a 15 twelve-month ago, I often mixed with the rabble, and followed
them a whole day together, being wonderfully struck with the sight of every thing that is new or uncommon. I have, since their departure, employed a friend to make many enquiries of
their Landlord the Upholsterer, relating to their manners and 20 conversation, as also concerning the remarks which they made
in this country : for, next to the forming a right notion of such strangers, I should be desirous of learning what ideas they have conceived of us.
The Upholsterer finding my friend very inquisitive about 25 these his Lodgers, brought him some time since a little bundle
of papers, which he assured him were written by King Sa Ga
Yean Qua Rash Tow, and, as he supposes, left behind by some mistake. These papers are now translated, and contain abundance of very odd observations, which I find this little fraternity of Kings made during their stay in the Isle of Great Britain. I shall present my reader with a short Specimen of them in this paper, and may perhaps communicate more to him hereafter. In the article of London are the following words, which without doubt are meant of the Church of St. Paul.
“On the most rising part of the town there stands a huge "house, big enough to contain the whole nation of which I am "King. Our good Brother E Tow O Koam, King of the Rivers, is of opinion it was made by the hands of that great “God to whom it is consecrated. The Kings of Granajah and "of the Six Nations believe that it was created with the Earth, "and produced on the same day with the Sun and Moon. But
my own part, by the best information that I could get of " this matter, I am apt to think that this prodigious Pile was "fashioned into the shape it now bears by several tools and "instruments, of which they have a wonderful variety in this "country. It was probably at first an huge mis-shapen rock " that grew upon the top of the hill, which the natives of the "country (after having cut it into a kind of regular figure) "bored and hollowed with incredible pains and industry, till "they had wrought in it all those beautiful vaults and caverns "into which it is divided at this day. As soon as this rock was "thus curiously scooped to their liking, a prodigious number " of hands must have been employed in chipping the out-side "of it, which is now as smooth as the surface of a pebble; "and is in several places hewn out into Pillars, that stand like " the trunks of so many trees bound about the top with gar"lands of leaves. It is probable that when this great work
was begun, which must have been many hundred years ago, " there was some religion among this people, for they give "it the name of a Temple, and have a tradition that it was
designed for men to pay their devotion in. And indeed, there
are several reasons which make us think, that the natives of “this country had formerly among them some sort of worship; “ for they set apart every seventh day as sacred : but upon my
going into one of these holy houses on that day, I could not “observe any circumstance of devotion in their behaviour : “there was indeed a man in black who was mounted above the
rest, and seemed to utter something with a great deal of vehemence; but as for those underneath him, instead of paying “ their worship to the Deity of the place, they were most of “them bowing and curtesying to one another, and a consider“able number of them fast asleep.
“The Queen of the country appointed two men to attend "us, that had enough of our language to make themselves understood in some few particulars.
soon per“ceived these two were great enemies to one another, and “ did not always agree in the same story. We could make a “shift to gather out of one of them, that this Island was very “ much infested with a monstrous kind of Animals, in the
shape of men, called Whigs; and he often told us, that he "hoped we should meet with none of them in our way, for “ that if we did, they would be apt to knock us down for “ being Kings.
“Our other interpreter used to talk very much of a kind of “ Animal called a Tory, that was as great a monster as the “Whig, and would treat us as ill for being Foreigners. These “ two creatures, it seems, are born with a secret antipathy to
one another, and engage when they meet as naturally as the “Elephant and the Rhinoceros. But as we saw none of either “ of these species, we are apt to think that our guides deceived “us with misrepresentations and fictions, and amused us with an account of such monsters as are not really in their country.
“ These particulars we made a shift to pick out from the “discourse of our interpreters; which we put together as well