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their amusement. At first, there the hymns of the chorus, and conis a very powerful charm, arising tained the whole of the plot. This from the invention ; but as soon as answers to our second, third, and the novelty subsides, they eagerly fourth acts, containing all the imlook for something more to supply portant parts of the fable. The its place. Such is the uneasiness Stagirite is 50 strict and rigid in of delight with a populace, that his rules of episode, that he forthey cannot be long gratified, un- bids the introduction of any mat. less the additions of pleasure beter, to make a part of it, which made commensurate with the ex- could possibly be taken away,withtent of their power of being pleas- out being missed. Much thereed. This was what gradually im- fore depends on the episode, so proved and perfected tragedy. The that the plot be conducted to prosameness of the hymns of the duce the most unexpected perichorus fatigued, and, in order to peteia, and the most sensible parelieve the audience, Thespis in- thos.* This division determines vented,and rehearsed in character, the character of the dramatick some tale in the intervals of the poet. chorus. Still satiety and reple. The exode was that part which tion were wearisome, and it was was recited, after the chorus ceasleft for Æschylus to perform so ed singing, and is our fifth act, much by improvement, that he is containing the catastrophe and justly denominated the father of disentangling of the plot. tragedy. The single personage, It has been a question in drawhich Thespis introduced in the matick criticism, whether modern intervals of the chorus, wanted in- tragedy has been injured, or imterest; Aschylus therefore intro- proved, by the omission of the duced a second, and thus formed chorus. Whether a set of condialogue and episode. These stant spectators to the general acraised action and interest, and a tion, and sometimes coadjutors in continuity of events followed, which it, and always attendants on the awakened, and closely possessed high characters, would not give the attention of the audience, till and receive more interest in what the chorus was almost forgotten, was delivered and passed before or, at most, retained only as an them, than can be effected by auxiliary in the drama.
modern arrangement. The heroes The constituent parts of ancient of latter tragedy have to com• tragedy were, the prologue, the municate their schemes, secrecies, episode, the exode, and the chorus. and sufferings to the audience
The prologue answered to the through an insipid confident or a exordium in oratory, giving an trusty servant, or the strong conidea, in some measure, of the vulsions of passion subside in whole. It afforded sufficient in the tedium of a long soliloquy. sight into the construction of the What can be more absurd, than a drama, so as to excite interest high-wrought female character in the audience, without admitting communing with a drab, and deli. it so far, as to take away the effect of what was to succeed, and operate repetiti« Is an unexpected reverse as surprise. This answers to the of fortune in the persons acting, neces. first act of modern tragedy.
sarily or probably arising from the in. The episode is all that part of
cidents; axbos is that part of the action
which is either fatal or painful.- Arist. the triedy, which was between Poet. Ch. XII.
cate misery seeking sympathy sentation, filled with magnificence. from a chambermaid, made up of and grandeur. Every tone is sol. all the tarnished gewgaws of the emn, so ought to be every step, wardrobe. There is something and the cause and effect of sentialso most repugnant to common ment and action to be corresponsense and experience in the doc- dent and proportionate. trine of monologue or soliloquy. Aristotle lays down effect as the In hearing soliloquy, the audience true test and proof of excellence must suppose one of two things, in drama. This canon of antiviz. the actor talking to himself, quity is altogether favourable to or thinking aloud. In real life, a the pretensions of modern trageman, who is in the habit of the dy. If Melpomeme could sit in former, is invariably the subject of judgment on her Æschylus and laughter and ridicule ; thinking Shakespeare, her Sophocles and aloud is mere metaphor. But in Otway, and her Euripides and the presence of the chorus, the Rowe, would not the spirits of her hero was amongst his own friends, younger offspring receive the lusand, of course, had a plain dra- tre of her smile ? But, however matick right of addressing them, high and bright these names may and communicating to them his stand, together with the convention purposes and feelings, which reach- of Congreve, Southern and Young, ed the ear of the audience, without for the latter times of tragedy absurdity or disgust.
we must hide our faces. Holmic Another defect of modern trag- and Douglas, and the Carmelite edy is in general action and dis- and Cumberland, live long in their play. The ancients, though they dotage, and we think it not rashhad no variety of local scene, had ness to predict, that their tragedies a magnificence in the drama, which will be, by and by, amongst the is almost altogether wanting in rubbish before the flood ; and if our own. The cothurnus is now Cumberland be not remembered reduced to the common shoe. So by his Carmelite, Gustavus and little attention was once paid to Brooks, and the Grecian Daughter the splendour, and even propriety and Murphy, must be also forof costume, that such a character gotten. as Cato was flourishing and floun. We have been tracing the sober cing on the Drury-Lane stage in steps of the Muse through the a big sleeve coat and full bottom- dusky paths of antiquity, and becn ed periwig, and thus were meta- ' charmed with her demure and morpho sed the heroes of ancient plaintive mein, as she stalked with
slow and solemn pace through
inore modern times. Her air was “ A motley mixture ! in long wigs, in then mighty and majestick, hier In silks, in crapes, in garters, and in
tones thrilling, and her utterance deep, her visage contemplative and
sorrowful, her eyes full, and diin Shakespeare, who needed, less with grief, and as they were lifted than any writer, splendour and dis- upwards, their lashes hanging with play of action, has more than any tear drops. But,in our own counof the modern school. Tragedy, try, how is she her own caricature ! from solemnity of sentiment and Her change, with us, is like that pomp of language, requires repre- of the actress, who, a few moments
past, was holding our senses and whom Foscari was betrothed. The passions in chains, in the character play opens with Foscari's return of lady Macbeth, now scolding in from a five year's exile, being reNell ; or the weeping Belvidera manded to Venice, on account of holding forth in the vulgarity of his soliciting relief from the Duke Betty Blackberry. The Hibernian of Milan. This being a high of. Burke has entertained us with the fence against the state, he is again bullbaiting of “ Bunker Hill ;' and arraigned before the council, and we forget the name ofthe youth,who banishment for life is decreed a. played such Tom-Thumb-tragedy gainst him.' Count Erizzo, the with the woes of " Edwy and El. enemy of the family of Foscari, in giva.” He, whose eyes have been love with Almeria, persecutes him parched with the dry lines of the with deadly enmity. Before Fos. * Persian Patriot,"* will remember cari departs, he obtains an inter. thein only from annoyance, and its view with Almeria, when Erizzo dry author-as
and his accomplice, Policarpo, rush “A meagre muse-rid mope, adust and
on Almeria ; Foscari fights them thin,
in her defence, and in the struggle In a dun night-gown of his own loose Policarpo, through mistake, stabs skin,
Erizzo. Erizzo, in his last agonHe grins, and looks broad nonsense with
ies, sends for the Doge, confesses
ips. send a stare !"
his guilt, and avows the innocence But enough of these thin third- of his son, and himself the mur. night” authors.
derer of Count Donato. Trouble For so much preliminary matter turns Almeria nad ; and as soon we have to offer, in apology, the as the Doge informs his wife Vabarbarism and ignorance, under leria of the innocence of their son, which tragedy labours, on this side they receive intelligence of the the water.
death of Foscari, who dies on his Foscari is fit for criticism, and way to the ship, in which he was therefore holds the first rank in to embark for Candia. American drama. Indeed, this is If the rule of tragedy be true, something with a beginning, a mid- and it comes from too high author dle, and an end, containing a cer- ity to be doubted, that the character tain share of dramatick action, sen- of the poet is rather derived from timent, and ornament of language. the composition of the fable, than
The fable runs thus :... Foscari, the verse ; because imitation con. son of the Doge of Venice, was stitutes the poet, and the fable is banished to the island of Candia, the imitation of an action, Mr. having been charged with the mur- White cannot hold the highest ele, der of Count Donato, one of the vation. His fable and his plot have council, and father of Almeria, to no novelty, and not much interest.
As a tragedy, we hardly know * There is another traredv, produced where to look for its peripetia, and by a Rhode Island Poet, we forget its where to feel for its pathos. Fosname, as well as that of the sublime au- cari has evidently no change of thor. Amongst its bright touches, are
fortune whatever, for he is just as these lines :
miserable at his first appearance, "One hundred pounds, in coNTINENTAL
as at his last ; he enters in his rea To the man, who first shall scale yon turn from exile with a new polit high walls !!
ica! crime, and all his additional
misery is the extension of his ban. Fos. Do I behold those eyes o'erflow ishment, which was the necessa«
with tears, ry consequence. The pathos is
And find, unmov'd, no moisture from
scarcely perceptible in his hero ; Alas! the tears that once could overFoscari suffers not enough, and his flow, dying off the stage with only a And gush like fountains from these very short, and rather a ridiculous, eyes, are now narration of his death; gives the
Grown dry, and cease to spring at sor.
row's call. audience not even a chance for
Doge. Thou wilt have greater need, grief or surprise. The poet has my son, for tears, not altogether forgotten to ex. When thy fond mother's arms are open cite pity, though he has neglected
wide terrour; what is wanting in the lat
To clasp thee to her bosom : For trust
me, ter, is amply made up in the for She looks with tenfold greater anxiousmer. The character of Almeria is
ness tender and affecting. Her frensy Tow'rds the approach of that blest mo, scene, though long, is no where
nent, disgusting ; and if that high
Than e'er she did towards thy natal day.
Fos. Then bear me to her on the wrought action, which ends in
wings of speed, madness, be not absolutely disgust. Let my light steps not touch the earth ing, it must produce very powerful Until I throw me at my parent's feet ! sympathy. Erizzo is an old-fash
Act III. p. 25. ioned rascal,and Policarpo a wornout assassin. The character of the The verse of Mr. White is genDoge is manly and dignified, and erally harmonious, though not sufthrough the whole is very plainly ficiently lofty and majestick for and thoroughly delineated. Some tragedy. Some of his lines have, of the scenes between him and however, much firmness. Foscari are happy and affecting, and display the truth of paternal :
.......... See where the ruffian stalks along,
tel And mark how eagerly he pants for and filial affection.
I've listened oftimes to the hungry Enter Doge, (to Foscari.)
wolf, Do I behold my long lost son again ? When neighbouring caves have answered The only prop of my declining age !
to her cries, Fos. O, let me cling about thee!... And echoing woods returned the lengthened Let me kiss
yell ; Those aged feet that bear thee to thy Still her sad howl ne'er seemed so ter. son.
rible, (Embracing his father.) As the dctested voice of that fell yillaina Doge. This is too much for nature to support!
The continuity of the dialogue Thou hast unman'd me !....
is one of the excellencies of the Fos. My dearest father, Do I then hold thee in these arins once
tragedy before us ; there are no more !
breaks and pauses of sense in its Do my lips press again thy aged check! parts, and no irregularity of the Do I hear again that dear, that tender transition of sentiment in the char:
acters, though the rule of Aristotle O! speak, my Father....Speak to me! is not altogether followed, as re
Doge. My sen,
gards the entireness of the episode,
gards grief ;...
for many scenes might be taken SYhat can I say of comfort to my child? out, without being missed.
The poct would have made his And leave his name untained by re. verse more various, if his lines had proach. been more frequently irregular. Eriz. To pass five years in exile, and
under The introduction of a redundant Imputation, foul as that of murder, half-foot, or the eleventh syllable, is is a reproach not wip'd away with ease. often used by the best writers. Doge. Truly, my lord, I ne'er should Rowe, whose language is the most seek thy aid perfect model of tragick verse,
To vindicate my name, tho' blacker 10
than thine own. seems particularly fond of it.
Eriz. So then, my lord, I've rous'd
thy indignation ; “Let this auspicious day be ever sacred, By hell, I'm glad to know thou hast No mourning, no misfortunes happen
some temper... on it ;
I've touch'd thee in a tender point, I Let it be marked for triumphs and re
Doge. Hold, hold...thy pride becomes Let happy lovers ever make it holy,
offensive,...Count, Choose it to bless their hopes, and Thou dost forget thyself. crown their wishes,
Eriz. Most bravely said... This bappy day, that gives me my Ca. Perhaps Erizzo may still more offend lista.” Fair Penitent. When he demands to be inform'd the
fate And this writer, in some instances, Of lady Almeria. departs from pentameter directly
Doge. Yes, signor...yes... into hexameter.
Thou shalt hear it....to thy shame shalt
'Twas no other than thyself who drove. " In watchful councils and in winter
From the world....She hopes by close Had cast off his white age to want and
To avoid thy gross solicitations.
Acr 1. p. 11. Foscari has some detached passages, which show delicacy and The madness of Almeria, as was considerable powers of description observed before, produces very forin the author. We regret, that we cible sympathy. Her frensy, are obliged to make an offset to like Ophelia's, has something in them. How does the meagre and it, which bewitches the fancy, and beggarly Muse limp through these so touches the heart, that he, who barren passages.
has not felt his dry balls of sight
moistened for years, must “ shake • Eriz. Truly my lord,
the holy waters. from his eyes" in The unparallel'd misfortunes of thy son, the scene between lady Valeria and "The fall’n honour of thy house, the stain Almeria. We transcribe it, as the
thatDoge. Say not the fallen honour of my
warmest expression of praise for house,
the poet's powers in tender and esFor still I trust, unsullied stands my quisite misery.
Name : The misfortunes of my son, my noble Enter Almeria, drest fantastically, her Lord,
hair flowing in wild disorder. Will ne'er be made to stigmatize my Val. My sweet Almeria, how fares house,
it with thee ! And tho' his honour may at present be Alm. Good, my lady, this is a day of Obscur'd by passing clouds of envy, mirth,
vet Will his innocence, I trust, disperse
of great rejoicing, throughout all Ve.
nice : Qieni,
I'am glad to day, my heart has holiday: