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Characters, &c. of Dovolas, a tragedy. engaged me to make this address to you,
than my esteem of your character, and Mr Hume's dedication of his Four Dif
your person. That ge• sertations, which were published, at
nerosity of mind which ever accompa. London, in the beginning of February.
nies you; that cordiality of friendship, To the Rev. Mr Home, author of Dou. that spirited honour and integrity, have glas, a tragedy.
long interested me strongly in your be. My dear Sir,
half, and have made me desirous, that IT T was the practice of the ancients, a monument of our mutual amicy should
to address their compositions only to be publicly erected, and, if posible, be friends and equals; and to render their preserved to pofterity, dedications, monuments of regard and I own too, that I have the ambition affection, not of fervility and flattery: to be the first who shall in public express In those days of ingenuous and candid his admiration of your noble tragedy of liberty, a dedication did honour to the Douglas, one of the most interesting and person to whom it was addressed, with pathetic pieces that was ever exhibited out degrading the author. If any par. on any theatre. Should I give it the tiality appeared towards the patron, it preference to the Merope of Maffei, and was at least the partiality of friendship to that of Voltaire, which it resembles and affection.
in its subje&t; should I affirm, that it Another instance of true liberty, of contained more fire and spirit than the which ancient times can alone afford us former, more tenderness and simplicity an example, is the liberty of thought; than the latter; I might be accusod of which engaged men of letters, however partiality : and how could I entirely different in their abstract opinions, to acquit myself, after the professions of maintain a mutual friendship and re friendlhip which I have made you ? But gard ; and never to quarrel about prin- the unfeigned tears which flowed from ciples, while they agreed in inclinations every eye, in the numerous representaand manners. Science was often the sub- tions which were made of it on this ject of disputation, never of animosity. theatre ; the unparallelled command Cicero, an Academic, addressed his phi. which you appeared to have over every losophical treatises, sometimes to Brutus, affection of the human breast; these are a Stoic; sometimes to Atticus, an Epi- incontestable proofs, that you possess the
true theatrical genius of Shakespear and I have been seized with a strong desire Otway, refined from the anhappy barof renewing these laudable practices of barism of the one, and licentiousness of antiquity, by addressing the following the other. dissertations to you, my good friend : My enemies, you know, and I own for such I will ever call and esteem you, even sometimes my friends, have renotwithstanding the opposition which proached me with the love of paradoxes prevails between us, with regard to ma- and singular opinions; and I expect to ny of our speculative tenets. These dif. be exposed to the same imputation, on ferences of opinion I have only found account of the character which I have to enliven our conversation ; while our here given of your Douglas. I shall be common passion for science and letters told, no doubt, that I had artfully chofèrved as a cement to our friendship. I sen the only time when this high esteem ftill admired your genius, even when I of that piece could be regarded as a paimagined, that you lay under the influ- radox, to wit, before its publication ; ence of prejudice; and you sometimes and that not being able to contradict, in told me, that you excused my errors, this particular, the sentiments of the puon account of the candor and sincerity blic, I have, at least, resolved to
be which, you thought, accompanied them. fore them. But I shall be amply com
But to tell truth, it is less my admi- pensated for all these pleasantries, if you ration of your fine genius, which has accept this testi.nony of my regard, and VOL. XIX.
believe me to be, with the greatest fin- teresting, would greatly diminish our cerity, dear Sir, your most affectionate pleasure in the representation. friend, and humble servant,
The discovery is, perhaps, made too Edin. Jan. 3. 1757
David Hume. early, and casts a disagreeable shade o
ver all the other scenes. CRITICAL REVIEW, March 1757. These critics begin this article with about, the jealoufy of Randolph too
The catastrophe is awkwardly brought quoting the passage of Mr Hume's de precipitately caught, and without foundication which ends, I might be accused dation. Besides that it doth not fuffiof partiality [293.], — and then say, ciently appear what advantages Glenal66 And so indeed, in our opinion, he
from the effects of this might, with great justice: for though we discord, as it might possibly have ended, are ready to allow much to the bias of
not only in the destruction of Norval, friendthip and affection, yet would we (or Douglas), but also in the death of beg leave to put this author in mind, Matilda, the woman he loved. that there is something also due to truth,
To this we may add, that the fate of taste, and judgment, which we cannot Douglas and Matilda, who are both think any inan hath a right to sacrifice, innocent, is scarce reconcileable with even to the most intimate private con- poetical justice, which seems to have nections.”
been violated by their deaths ; so that They next observe, that the well- the audience have reason to cry out with known line in Horace,
Lady Randolph te Neve minor, neu fit quinto production aftu,
Hear, Justice, hear; are these the fruits of virtue? though adopted by modern critics as an
As to the characters, there is scarce one incontestable maxim, has spoiled many in it, except Douglas'; which indeed is more good plays than it has made; that tolerably well supported. it was a law utterly unknown to the ma
The sentiments which we meet with in fters of the Grecian theatre, those mo- this tragedy, though but thinly fown, dels of perfection; that their tragedies are for the most part adapted to the chaconfifted of one continued aci, longer racters, and make their appearance with or shorter according to the subject, to- some degree of propriety; and to them gether with the occasional interruption it is, in our opinion, that Douglas is of the chorus ; that there can be no principally indebted for its success. more impropriety in a tragedy of three
When Lady Randolph tells us, in acts than in a comedy of two, many of the first act, that she took an equivocal which have been lately seen; and that oath the never would marry (because at the universal opinion concerning the this time she was already married) one small merit of the two first acts of Douo of Douglas's name, she adds the followglas, makes it presumable that this piece ing reflection, which naturally arises on might admit of some contraction.
the occasion, They then proceed to examine fepa.
Sincerity, rately the fable, characters, sentiments, Thou first of virtues, let no mortal leave and diction. We refer to the fable as Thy onward path! altho' the earth should gape, already inserted from the Gentleman's And from the gulf of hell Destruction cry, Magazine [138.), and shall give the Cri. To take Dissimulation's winding way.
What tical Reviezuers examination in their own words, viz.
alike in many places. Lady Randolph, on fight The friking resemblance of the plot, of Norval, refiećts upon her loft child, and says, in its principal features, to others which He might have been like this young gallant stranger, have been so lately treated by our mo
And pair?d with bim in features and in fuape. dern tragic poets *, were it ever fo in. Merope, we may remember, talks of Dorilas ex
actly in the same manner. * It is so like Merope (xi. 190.), especially in † [Here, and in some other places, alterations the beginning, that it is impostible not to feel the were made, with the author's approbation, in the fimilitude: the sentiments must be confiquently Edinburgh edition.]
What Anna says on the pleasure La. The bless’d above upon their golden beds to dy Randolph took in looking on young When the prisoner is brought in, in Norval, before she knew him to be her the beginning of the third act, he cries son, is extremely pretty:
Ot what you charge me with.
As I hope
A rude and boilt'rous captain of the sea
Fastend a quarrel on him.
Let no man after me a woman wed,
You look (Jays Glenalvon to Norval)
As if you took the menfure of their minds,
And said in seciet, You're no match for me.
we know, be much extolled by some Douglas.
critics ; and Mr David Hume, may, if In regard to the diction of this trage. he pleases, call them a close imitation dy, we shall only observe, that though of nature, and a pattern of true fimpliit is the part in which its most fanguine city: we should notwithstanding rather admirers have placed its greatest merit, be inclined to rank them in the number we cannot agree with them in this de- of vulgarisms, and much beneath the termination. With superficial judges, dignity of tragical expreffion. as ranting will pass for passion, and
Douglas, upon the whole, with all its bombast for sublimity, low and vulgar imperfections, (and what piece is withexpression may also be mistaken for fim- out some ?), is infinitely superior to Barplicity. From a Audious affectation of barossa, Aibelfan, and the rest of those this, an author may often deviate into flimsy performances with which we have very mean and servile language. For been visited for some years past: and if instance: Lady Randolph tells us, that the author is careful to improve that gewar with foreign foes is not so hateful
nius for dramatic writing which is visi. As that which with our neighbours oft we wage. ble in this essay, we have reason to exand, by way of informing us he was pect something that may do still more with child, she says, she was
honour to the English stage. We should As women with to be that love their lords.
not indeed have dwelt lo long on the Says Anna,
little obvious faults to be found in this The hand that spins th'uneven thread of life,
tragedy, had not Mr David Hume, May smooth the length that's yet to come of yours.
# Wha: ideas can we form of ease and plea+ When I had seiz’d the dame, by chance he came, fure in lying on a golden bed? Which we may Rescu’d, and had the lady for his labour.
suppose was accompanied with a bolster of ada
mant, and marble pillows, for softness. * This feems to have been borrowed from || He might as well have gone on, and said, ay Milton:
and of children too. On his brow
Here ten long words do creep in one doll line. Deliberation fat, and public care. Paradise Lost We meet also with, timeless death, the tip-toe of
+ The first of these verses rhymes like the old expectation, array'd in nature's ease, water-wafimonkih iales, and in the second is a vulgar ex- ed armies, the wicket of the heart, Go. which we pression.
cannot greatly admire.
whose name is certainly respectable in a newer (and consequently a finer) apthe republic of letters, made it abso. pears, to confign it to oblivion. lately necessary.--Every addition of Do these men of applause, who can praise to any work beyond its real and so easily be brought intrinfic merit, will always be found in To wonder with a foolish face of praise ? the end prejudicial to it; as the same deserve our envy, or our censure ? If moisture which feeds and nourishes the their raptures are real, none but the ill. plant, may, if poured on in too great a. natured would wish to damp them ; if bundance, overwhelm and destroy it. fictitious, ftupidity only can fympathise
We shall conclude this article, by quo with their pretended felicity. ting the following lines from the epi.
As, in company, the loudeft laugh logue (76.), which, though very fhort, comes generally from the person leaft is one of the best which we ever remem- capable of relishing the conversation ; so, ber to have heard on the stage. After in criticism, those are often moft easily briefly observing, that there is nothing so pleased, whose sensations are leaft exabsurd as a ludicrous epilogue, our author quilite in the perception of beauty. The
fadly fays, that pity is the best, glutton may like the feast, but the deli. 'The noblest passion in the human breast : cacy of the epicure alone can diftinguish For when its facred Itreams the heart o'er flow, In guhes pleasure with the side of wo;
and enjoy the choice, the disposition, And when its waves retire, like those of Nile,
the flavours, that give elegance or spirit They leave behind them such a golden foil, to the entertainment. That there the virtues without culture grow, To direct our tafte, and conduct the There the sweet blossoms of affection blow.
poet up to perfection, has ever been the This furely is infinitely more rational true critic's province ; and though it after a tragedy, than the pert jokes, were to be wilhed, that all' who aim at witticisms, and loose conceits, which an excellence would endeavour to observe unfeeling audience generally meets with, the rules he prescribes, yet a failure in to help them to wash away the little this respect alone should never induce us tincture of virtue which they may pofli- to reject the performance. A mechani. bly have received from a serious per. cally exact adherence to all the rules of formance,
the drama, is more the business of indu. Monthly Review, May 1757.
ftry than of genius. Theatrical law. When the town, by a tedious fuccef- givers rather teach the ignorant where fion of indifferent performances, has been to censure, than the poet how to write. long confined to cenfure, it will natu. If sublimity, sentiment, and painon, rally wish for an opportunity of praise ; give warmth, and life, and expresion and, like a losing gamester, vainly ex
to the whole, we can the more easily pect every last throw must retrieve the dispense with the roles of the Stagyrite ; former. In this disposition, a perform- but if languor, affectation, and the false ance with but the slightest share of me.
sublime, are substituted for these, an obsit, is welcomed with no small share of servance of all the precepts of the anapplause; its prettinefles exalt us into cients will prove but a poor compensa. rapture ; and the production is compa
tion. red, not with our idea of excellence, but
We would not willingly have applied of the exploded trash it fucceeds. Add this last observation to the performance to this
, that the least qualified to judge, now before us'; but when a work is obare ever foremoft to obtrude their opi.
truded upon us, as the consummate pic. nions ; ignorance exclaims with excels ture of perfection, and the standard of of admiration ; party roars in its sup.
taste. port; and thus the trifle of the day 'is Ne, quodcunque volet, pofcat sibi fabula credi ! sure to have the loudelt voices, and the Let candour allow this writer mediocrimost votes in its favour : nor does jt ty now ; his future productions may cease to be the fine piece in nature, till probably intitle him to higher applause,
With respect to his present tragedy, much below every subject they underwe could, indeed, enter on a particular take to treat upon. examen of the beauties or faults disco. Glenalvon's character is strongly verable in the diction, sentiment, plot, marked, and bears a near resemblance or characters; bat, in works of this na- to Shakespear's Richard. It is thus deliture, general observation often charac. neated in the first act. terises more strongly than a particular Anna. Why speaks my Lady thus of Randolph's criticism could do ; for it were an easy
heir? task to point out those passages any
Lady Rand. Because he's not the heir of Randolph's indifferent author, where he has excel. Subtle and prewd, he offers to mankind (virtues, led himself, and yet these comparative And he with ease can vary to the taste
An artificial image of himself: beauties, if we may be allowed the ex- of different men, its features. Self-deny d, pression, may have no real merit at all. And master of his appetites he seems : Poems, like buildings, have their point But his fierce nature, like a fox chain'd up, of view, and too near a situation gives Never were vice and virtue pois’d fo ill,
Watches to seize unseen the wilh’d-for prey. but a partial conception of the whole. As in Glenalvon's unrelenting mind. Suffice it, then, if we only add, that Yet he is brave, and politic in war. this tragedy's want of moral, which
The following passage is an oblique fhould be the ground-work of every far panegyric on the union, and contains a ble; his unfolding a material part of plealing gradation of sentiment. The the plot in soliloquy; the preposterous lines marked in Italics demand particudistress of a married lady for a former lar distinction. husband, who had been dead near twen
La. Rand. War I detest: but war with foreign foes, ty years; the want of incidents to raise Whose manners, language, and whose 190ks are that fuctuation of hope and fear, which is not so horrid, nor to me fo hateful, (strange intereft us in the catastrophe, are all As that which with our neighbours oft we wage, faults we could easily pardon, did poe
A river here, there an ideal line tic fire, elegance, or the heightenings By fancy drawn, divides the filter kingdoms. of pathetic distress, afford adequate com. As twins are to each other, pensation : but these are dealt to us with Both for their valour famous through the world. a sparing hand.
Yet will they not unite their kindred arms, However, as we have perceived some And if they must have war, wage distant war, dawnings of genius in this writer, let us
But with each other fight in cruel conflict: not dwell on his imperfections, but ra. The battle is their pastime. They go forth
Gallant in strife, and noble in their ire, ther proceed to shew on what particular Gay in the morning, as to fummer Sport: passages in his performance we have When evening comes, the glory of the morna founded our hopes of his brightening, The youthful warrior, is a clod of clay, one day, into stronger luftre.
It may not be improper to observe, Those parts of nature, and that rural before we take our leave of this performfimplicity, with which the author was, ance, that it was first acted with great perhaps, best acquainted, are not un. applause in Edinburgh ; but made its happily described ; and hence we are appearance in England under a peculiar led to conjecture, that a more universal disadvantage. The commendation 2 knowledge of nature will probably in- man of taste and learning had bestowed crease his powers of description. The on it (293-], previous to its represen. native innocence of the shepherd Nor. tation here, perhaps railed too much val, is happily expressed. It requires expectation in fome, and excited a spirit some art to dress the thoughts and phra- of envy and critical prejudice in others, ses of the common people, without let. Possibly, indeed, that gentleman, in some ting them swell into bombast, or link in. degree, sacrificed his taste to his friendto vulgarity : A fault generally charged ship. However, if this was the case, upon the English authors, who are re. he will sustain no great lofs with regard marked by their neighbours of the con- to his reputation ; since he may gain as tinent to write too much above, or too much on the one hand, as he can lose