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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.

The Female Quixote. By Mrs. Lennox. 1752.

To the right hon. the earl of Middlesex.


SUCH the power interest over almost every mind, that no one is long without arguments to prove any position which is ardently wished to be true, or to justify any measures which are dictated by inclination.

By this subtile sophistry of desire, I have been persuaded to hope that this book may, without impropriety, be inscribed to your lordship; but am not certain, that my reasons will have the same force upon other understandings.

The dread which a writer feels of the publick censure; the still greater dread of neglect; and the eager wish for support and protection, which is impressed by the consciousness of imbecility, are unknown to those who have never adventured into the world; and, I am afraid, my lord, equally unknown to those who have always found the world ready to applaud them.

It is, therefore, not unlikely that the design of this address may be mistaken, and the effects of my fear imputed to my vanity. They, who see your lordship's name prefixed to my performance, will rather condemn my presumption than compassionate my anxiety.

But, whatever be supposed my motive, the praise of judgment cannot be denied me; for, to whom can timidity so properly fly for shelter, as to him who has been so long distinguished for candour and humanity? How can vanity be so completely gratified, as by the allowed patronage of him, whose judgment has so long given a standard to the national taste! Or by what other means could I so powerfully suppress all opposition, but that of envy, as by declaring myself,

My lord,

Your lordship's obliged and

most obedient servant, THE AUTHOR.

Shakespeare Illustrated; or, the Novels and Histories on which the plays of Shakespeare are founded; collected and translated from the original authors. With Critical Remarks. By the author of the Female Quixote. 1753.

To the right hon. John, earl of Orrery.


I HAVE no other pretence to the honour of a patronage so illustrious as that of your lordship, than the merit of attempting what has, by some unaccountable neglect, been hitherto omitted, though absolutely necessary to a perfect knowledge of the abilities of Shakespeare.

Among the powers that most conduce to constitute a poet, the first and most valuable is invention; the highest seems to be that which is able to produce a series of events. It is easy, when the thread of a story is once drawn, to diversify it with variety of colours; and when a train of action is presented to the mind, a little acquaintance with life will supply circumstances and reflections, and a little knowledge of books furnish parallels and illustrations. To tell over again a story that has been told already, and to tell it better than the first author, is no rare qualification: but to strike out the first hints of a new fable; hence, to introduce a set of characters so diversified in their several passions and interests, that from the clashing of this variety may result many necessary incidents; to make these incidents surprising, and yet natural, so as to delight the imagination, without shocking the judgment of a reader; and, finally, to wind up the whole in a pleasing catastrophe, produced by those very means which seem most likely to oppose and prevent it, is the utmost effort of the human mind.

To discover how few of those writers, who profess to recount imaginary adventures, have been able to produce any thing by their own imagination, would require too much of that time which your lordship employs in nobler studies. Of all the novels and romances that wit or idleness, vanity or indigence, have pushed into the world, there

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