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“ punished, or a good man at last fortunate ; “ or perhaps indignation, to see wickedness “ prosperous and goodness depressed : both " these may be profitable to the end of tra" gedy, reformation of manners ; but the last “ improperly, only as it begets pity in the au“ dience: tho' Aristotle, I confess, places tra“ gedies of this kind in the second form.
* He who undertakes to answer this excel“ lent critique of Mr. Rymer, in behalf of “ our English poets against the Greek, ought “ to do it in this manner. Either by yielding “ to him the greatest part of what he contends “ for, which consists in this, that the nudos, i.e. “ the design and conduct of it, is more con“ ducing in the Greeks to those ends of trage“ dy, which Aristotle and he propose, namely, “ to cause terror and pity; yet the granting t this does not set the Greeks above the En" glish poets.
< But the answer ought to prove two things : “ first, that the fable is not the greatest mal“ ter-piece of a tragedy, tho' it be the foun" dation of it.
" Secondly, That other ends as suitable to " the nature of tragedy may be found in the “ English, which were not in the Greek.
“ Aristotle places the fable first; not quoad “ dignitatem, fed quoad fundamentum: for a fa“ ble; never fo movingly contrived to those ends “ of his, pity and terror, will operate nothing “ on our affections, except the characters, “ manners, thoughts, and words, are suitable.
“ So that it remains for Mr. Rym to prove, " that in all those, or the greatest part of them, “ we are inferior to Sophocles and Euripides: Cc
“ and this he has offered at, in some mea“ sure; but, I think, a little partially to the " ancients.
« For the fable itself; 'tis in the English “ more adorned with episodes, and larger than “ in the Greek poets ; consequently more di“ verting. For, if the action be but one, and " that plain, without any counter-turn of de. “ sign or episode, i. e. under-plot, how can “ it be so pleasing as the English, which have “ both under-plot and a turned design, which “ keeps the audience in expectation of the ca“ tastrophe? whereas in the Greek poets we “ see through the whole design at first.
“ For the characters, they are neither so " many nor so various in Sophocles and Euri“ pides, as in Shakespeare and Fletcher; only " they are more adapted to those ends of tra“ gedy which Aristotle commends to us, pity " and terror.
« The manners flow from the characters, “ and consequently must partake of their ad“ vantages and disadvantages.
“ The thoughts and words, which are the “ fourth and fifth beauties of tragedy, are cer“ tainly more noble and more poetical in the “ English than in the Greek, which must be “ proved by comparing them, somewhat more “ equitably than Mr. Rymer has done.
“ After all, we need not yield that the Eng“ lish way is less conducing to move pity and “ terror, becaule the
y often shew virt “ prefied and vice punished: where they do “ not both, or either, they are not to be de" fended.
“ And if we should grant that the Greeks “ performed this better, perhaps it may admit “ of dispute whether pity and terror are either “ the prime, or at least the only ends of tra
i 'Tis not enough that Aristotle has said fo; “ for Aristotle drew his models of tragedy “ from Sophocles and Euripides; and, if he
had seen ours, might have changed his mind. “ And chiefly we have to say (what I hinted “ on pity and terror, in the last paragraph “ fave one), that the punishment of vice and “ reward of virtue are the most adequate ends “ of tragedy, because most conducing to good “ example of life. Now pity is not so easily " raised for a criminal, and the ancient tragedy
always represents its chief person such, as it " is for an innocent man; and the suffering " of innocence and punishment of the offen“ der is of the nature of English tragedy: con“ trarily, in the Greek, innocence is unhap“ py often, and the offender escapes. Then " we are not touched with the sufferings of “ any sort of men so much as of lovers; and “ this was almost unknown to the ancients: " so that they neither administered poetical “ justice, of which Mr. Rymer boasts, so well “ as we; nether knew they the best common " place of pity, which is love.
He therefore unjustly blames us for not “ building on what the ancients left us; for " it seems, upon consideration of the premises, “ that we have wholly finished what they be
« My judgement on this piece is this, that it " is extreamly learned; but that the author of Сс 2
“ it “ it is better read in the Greek than in the « English poets: that all writers ought to study ? this critique, as the best account I have “ ever seen of the ancients: that the model of “ tragedy he has here given is excellent, and “ extreme correct; but that it is not the only “ model of all tragedy, because it is too much “ circumscribed in plot, characters, &c. and “ lastly, that we may be taught here justly to “ admire and imitate the ancients, without “ giving them the preference with this author, "! in prejudice to our own country.
.“ Want of method in this excellent treatise, “ makes the thoughts of the author sometimes « obscure.
" His meaning, that pity and terror are to “ be moved, is, that they are to be moved as “ the means conducing to the ends of trage“ dy, which are pleasure and instruction.
“ And these two ends may be thus diftin. « guished. The chief end of the poet is to " please; for his immediate reputation depends
« The great end of the poem is to instruct, “ which is performed by making pleasure the « vehicle of that instruction; for poesy is an “ art, and all arts are made to profit. Rapin.
« The pity, which the poet is to labour for, « is for the criminal, not for those or him " whom he has murdered, or who have been " the occasion of the tragedy. The terror is “ likewise in the punishment of the fame cri“ minal; who, if he be represented too great "an offender, will not be pitied: if altogether c. innocent, his punishment will be unjust.
“ Another obscurity is, where he says So-. « phocles perfected tragedy by introducing the “ third actor; that is, he meant, three kinds “ of action ; one company singing, or ano“ther playing on the musick; a third danc
« To make a true judgment in this compe“ tition betwixt the Greek poets and the Eng“ lish, in tragedy:
“ Consider, first, how Aristotle has defined “ a tragedy. Secondly, what he assigns the “ end of it to be. Thirdly, what he thinks “ the beauties of it. Fourthly, the means to “ attain the end proposed.
“ Compare the Greek and English tragick “ poets justly, and without partiality, accord“ ing to those rules.
" Then, recondiy, consider whether Arif“ totle has made a just definition of tragedy; «s of its parts, of its ends, and of its beauties; " and whether he, having not seen any others “ but those of Sophocles, Euripides, &c. had " or truly could determine what all the excel“ lencies of tragedy are, and wherein they " consist.
“ Next shew in what ancient tragedy was “ deficient: for example, in the narrowness “ of its plots, and fewness of persons, and try “ whether that be not a fault in the Greek “ poets; and whether their excellency was so “ great, when the variety was visibly so little ; “ or whether what they did was not very easy « to do.
“ Then make a judgement on what the Eng, " lish have added to their beauties : as, for example, not only more plot, but also new
“ passions ;