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the same kind, it is not easy to believe that a single man, without speaking a word, could exhibit tragedies or comedies, and make starts and bounds supply the place of vocal articulation. Notwithstanding the obscurity of this whole matter, one may know what to admit as certain, or how far a representation could be carried by dance, posture and grimace. Among these artificial dances, of which we know nothing but the names, there was, as early as the time of Aristophanes, some extremely indecent. These were continued in Italy from the time of Augustus, long after the emperours. It was a publick mischief, which contributed, in some measure, to the decay and ruin of the Roman empire. To have a due detestation of those licentious entertainments, there is no need of any recourse to the fathers; the wiser pagans tell us, very plainly, what they thought of them. I have made this mention of the mimi and pantomimes, only to show how the most noble of publick spectacles were corrupted and abused, and to conduct the reader to the end through every road, and through all the by-paths of human wit, from Homer and Eschylus to our own time.



That we may conclude this work by applying the principles laid down at the beginning, and extended through the whole, I desire the reader to recur to that point, where I have represented the human mind as beginning the course of the drama. The chorus was first a hymn to Bacchus, produced by accident; art brought it to perfection, and delight made it a publick diversion. Thespis made a single actor play before the people; this was the beginning of theatrical shows. Eschylus, taking the idea of the Iliad and Odyssey, animates, if I may so express it, the epick poem, and gives a dialogue in place of simple recitation; puts the whole into action, and sets it before the eyes, as if it was a present and real transaction; he gives the


chorus an interest in the scenes; contrives habits of dignity and theatrical decorations: in a word, he gives both to Tragedy; or, more properly, draws it from the bosom of the epick poem. She made her appearance, sparkling with graces, and displayed such majesty, as gained every heart at the first view. Sophocles considers her more nearly, with the eyes of a critick, and finds that she has something still about her rough and swelling; he divests her of her false ornaments; teaches her a more regular walk, and more familiar dignity. Euripides was of opinion, that she ought to receive still more softness and tenderness; he teaches her the new art of pleasing by simplicity, and gives her the charms of graceful negligence; so that he makes her stand in suspense, whether she appears most to advantage in the dress of Sophocles, sparkling with gems, or in that of Euripides, which is more simple and modest. Both, indeed, are elegant; but the elegance is of different kinds, between which no judgment, as yet, has decided the prize of superiority.

We can now trace it no farther; its progress amongst the Greeks is out of sight. We must pass at once to the time of Augustus, when Apollo and the Muses quitted their ancient residence in Greece, to fix their abode in Italy. But it is vain to ask questions of Melpomene; she is obstinately silent, and we only know, from strangers, her power amongst the Romans. Seneca endeavours to make her speak; but the gaudy show, with which he rather loads than adorns her, makes us think, that he took some phantom of Melpomene for the Muse herself.

Another flight, equally rapid with that to Rome, must carry us through thousands of years, from Rome to France. There, in the time of Lewis the fourteenth, we see the mind of man giving birth to tragedy a second time, as if the Greek tragedy had been utterly forgot. In the place of

Eschylus, in my opinion, as well as the other poets, his contemporaries, retained the chorus, not merely because it was the fashion, but because, examining tragedy to the bottom, they found it not rational to conceive, that an action, great and splendid, like the revolution of a state, could pass without witnesses.

Eschylus, we have our Rotrou; in Corneille, we have another Sophocles; and in Racine, a second Euripides. Thus is Tragedy raised from her ashes, carried to the utmost point of greatness, and so dazzling, that she prefers herself to herself. Surprised to see herself produced again in France, in so short a time, and nearly in the same manner as before in Greece, she is disposed to believe that her fate is to make a short transition from her birth to her perfection, like the goddess that issued from the brain of Jupiter.

If we look back on the other side, to the rise of Comedy, we shall see her hatched from the Margites, or from the Odyssey of Homer, the imitation of her eldest sister; but we see her, under the conduct of Aristophanes, become licentious and petulant, taking airs to herself, which the magistrates were obliged to crush. Menander reduced her to bounds, taught her, at once, gaiety and politeness, and enabled her to correct vice, without shocking the offenders. Plautus, among the Romans, to whom we must now pass, united the earlier and the later comedy, and joined buffoonery with delicacy. Terence, who was better instructed, received comedy from Menander, and surpassed his original, as he endeavoured to copy it. And lastly, Molière produced a new species of comedy, which must be placed in a class by itself, in opposition to that of Aristophanes, whose manner is, likewise, peculiar to himself.

But such is the weakness of the human mind, that, when we review the successions of the drama a third time, we find genius falling from its height, forgetting itself, and led astray by the love of novelty, and the desire of striking out new paths. Tragedy degenerated, in Greece, from the time of Aristotle, and, in Rome, after Augustus. At Rome and Athens, comedy produced mimi, pantomimes, burlettas, tricks, and farces, for the sake of variety; such is the character, and such the madness of the mind of man. It is satisfied with having made great conquests, and gives them up to attempt others which are far from answering its expectation, and only enable it to


discover its own folly, weakness and deviations. why should we be tired with standing still at the true point of perfection, when it is attained? If eloquence be wearied, and forgets herself awhile, yet she soon returns to her former point: so will it happen to our theatres, if the French Muses will keep the Greek models in their view, and not look, with disdain, upon a stage, whose mother is nature, whose soul is passion, and whose art is simplicity a stage, which, to speak the truth, does not, perhaps, equal ours in splendour and elevation, but which excels it in simplicity and propriety, and equals it, at least, in the conduct and direction of those passions, which may properly affect an honest man and a christian.

For my part, I shall think myself well recompensed for my labour, and shall attain the end which I had in view, if I shall, in some little measure, revive in the minds of those, who purpose to run the round of polite literature, not an immoderate and blind reverence, but a true taste of antiquity: such a taste, as both feeds and polishes the mind, and enriches it, by enabling it to appropriate the wealth of foreigners, and to exert its natural fertility in exquisite productions; such a taste as gave the Racines, the Molières, the Boileaus, the Fontaines, the Patrus, the Pelissons, and many other great geniuses of the last age, all that they were, and all that they will always be; such a taste, as puts the seal of immortality to those works in which it is discovered; a taste, so necessary, that, without it, we may be certain, that the greatest powers of nature will long continue in a state below themselves; for no man ought to allow himself to be flattered or seduced, by the example of some men of genius, who have rather appeared to despise this taste, than to despise it in reality. It is true, that excellent originals have given occasion, without any fault of their own, to very bad copies. No man ought severely to ape either the ancients or the moderns; but, if it was necessary, to run into an extreme of one side or the other, which is never done by a judicious and well-directed mind, it would be better for a wit, as for a painter, to

enrich himself by what he can take from the ancients, than to grow poor by taking all from his own stock; or openly to affect an imitation of those moderns, whose more fertile genius has produced beauties, peculiar to themselves, and which themselves only can display with grace: beauties of that peculiar kind, that they are not fit to be imitated by others; though, in those who first invented them, they may be justly esteemed, and in them only'.


Dr. James's Medicinal Dictionary, 3 vols. folio. 1743.


To Dr. Mead.

THAT the Medicinal Dictionary is dedicated to you, is to be imputed only to your reputation for superiour skill in those sciences, which I have endeavoured to explain and facilitate; and you are, therefore, to consider this address, if it be agreeable to you, as one of the rewards of merit; and, if otherwise, as one of the inconveniencies of eminence.

However you shall receive it, my design cannot be disappointed; because this publick appeal to your judgment will show, that I do not found my hopes of approbation upon the ignorance of my readers, and that I fear his censure least, whose knowledge is most extensive.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient, humble servant,


Much light has been thrown on the Greek drama since the labours of Dr. Johnson, and the père Brumoy. The papers on the subject, in Cumberland's Observer, Schlegel's Lectures on Dramatic Literature, Mr. Mitchell's Dissertations, in his translation of Aristophanes, and the essays on the Greek Orators and Dramatists, in the Quarterly Review, may be mentioned as among the most popular attempts to illustrate this pleasing department of the Belles-Lettres.-Ed.

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