Page images

serious, or tender comedy, and was termed by its opposers, La Comedie Larmoyante, is not altogether a modern invention. Several of Terence's plays, as the Andria, in particular, partake of this character; and as we know that Terence copied Menander, we have sufficient reason to believe that his comedies, also, were of the same kind. The nature of this composition, does not by any means exclude gaiety and ridicule; but it lays the chief stress upon tender and interesting situations; it aims at being sentimental, and touching the heart by means of the capital incidents; it makes our pleasure arise, not so much from the laughter which it excites, as from the tears of affection and joy which it draws forth.

In English, Steele's Conscious Lovers is a comedy which approaches to this character, and it has always been favourably received by the public. In French, there are several dramatic compositions of this kind, which possess considerable merit and reputation; such as the "Melanide," and " Prejugé à la Mode," of La Chaussée; the " Père de Famille," of Diderot; the "Génie," of Mad. Graffigny; and the "Nanine," and "L'Enfant Prodigue," of Voltaire.

When this form of comedy first appeared in France, it excited a great controversy among the critics. It was objected to, as a dangerous and unjustifiable innovation in composition. It is not comedy, said they, for it is not founded on laughter and ridicule. It is not tragedy for it does not involve us in sorrow. By what name then can it be called? or what pretentions hath it to be comprehended under dramatic writing? But this was trifling, in the most egregious manner, with critical names and distinctions, as if these had invariably fixed the essence, and ascertained the limits, of every sort of composition. Assuredly, it is not necessary that all comedies should be formed on one precise model. Some may be entirely light and gay; others may incline more to the serious; some may partake of both; and all of them, properly executed, may furnish agreeable and useful entertainments to the public, by suiting the different tastes of men.* Serious and tender comedy has no title to

«Il y a beaucoup de très bonnes pièces, où il ne regne que de la gayeté; d'autres toutes serièuses; d'autres melangêes; d'autres, où l'attendrissement va jusqu'aux larmes. Il ne faut donner exclusion à aucune genre: & si l'on me demandoit, quel genre est le meilleur ? Je répondrois, celui qui est le mieux traitè.". VOLTAIRE,

claim to itself the possession of the stage, to the exclusion of ridicule and gaiety. But when it retains only its proper place, without usurping the province of any other; when it is carried on with resemblance to real life, and without introducing romantic and unnatural situations, it may certainly prove both an interesting and an agreeable species of dramatic writing. If it become insipid and drawling, this must be imputed to the fault of the author, not to the nature of the composition, which may admit much liveliness and vivacity.

In general, whatever form comedy assumes, whether gay or serious, it may always be esteemed a mark of society advancing in true politeness, when those theatrical exhibitions, which are designed for public amusement, are cleared from indelicate sentiment, or immoral tendency. Though the licentious buffoonery of Aristophanes amused the Greeks for a while, they advanced by degrees, to a chaster and juster taste; and the like progress of refinement may be concluded to take place among us, when the public receive with favour, dramatic compositions of such strain and spirit as entertained the Greeks and Romans, in the days of Menander and Terence.




[The Numeral Letters refer to the Volume; and the Figures to the Pages. When
there are no numerals precede the figures, thofe laft ufed indicate the Vo-


ACCENTS, thrown farther back from the termination in the English than in
any other language, i. 126. Seldom more than one in English words, ií.
Govern the measure of English verfe, 207.


Achilles, his character in the Iliad, examined, ii. 284.

Action, much used to affift language in an imperfect fate, i 76. And by an-
cient orators and players, 78. Fundamental rule of propriety in, ii. 132.
Cautions with refpect to, 133. In epic poetry, the requifites of, 268.
Ats, the division of a play into five, an arbritrary limitation, ii. 322. These
paufes in reprefentation ought to fall properly, 323.

Adam, his character in Milton's Paradife Loft, ii. 311.

How they came to be claffed with

Addifon, general view of his Effay on the Pleafures of the Imagination, i. 31.
His invocation of the mufe in his Campaign cenfured, 55. Blemishes in his
style, 149, 151, 161. Eafe and perfpicuity of, 165, 167, 170. His beauti-
ful description of light and colours, 204. Inftance of his ufe of metaphor,
218. Improper ufe of fimiles, 244 His general character as a writer, 278.
Character of the Spectator, 288 Critical examination of fome of those pa-
pers, 289. Remarks on his criticism of Taffo's Aminta, ii. 224, note. His
tragedy of Cato critically examined, 320, 330, 335, 338.
Adjectives, common to all languages, i. 111.
nouns, ibid.
Adverbs, their nature and ufe defined, i. 118.
a fentence illuftrated, 149.
Eneid, of Virgil, critical examination of that poem, ii. 289. The fubject, 290
Action, ibid. Is deficient in characters, 291. Diftribution and management
of the fubject, 292. Abounds with awful and tender fcenes, ibid. The de-
fcent of Æneas into hell, 293. The poem left unfinished by Virgil, 294.
fchines, a comparison between him and Demofthenes, i. 367.

Importance of their pofition in

Efchylus, his character as a tragic writer, ii. 340.

Atna, remarks on Virgil's defcription of that mountain, i. 52. And on that by
Sir Richard Blackmore, 53.

Affectation, the difadvantages of, in public fpeaking, ii. 134.

Ages, four, peculiarly fruitful in learned men, pointed out, ii. 150.


Akenfide, his comparison between fublimity in natural and moral objects, i. 38,
Inftance of his happy allufion to figures, 203. Character of his Plea-
fures of the Imagination, ii. 234.

Alphabet of letters, the confiderations which led to the invention of, i. 93. Re-
mote obfcurity of this invention, ibid. The alphabets of different nations
derived from one common fource, 94.

Allegory, explained, i. 221. Anciently a favourite method of conveying inftruc-
tions, 223. Allegorical perfonages improper agents in epic poetry, 227, 308.
Ambiguity in ftyle, from whence it proceeds, i. 148.

Amplification in fpeech, what, i. 254. Its principal instrument, ibid.
American languages, the figurative style of, i. 81, 200.
Anagnorifis, in ancient tragedy explained, ii. 325.

Annals, and hiftory, the distinction between, ii. 178..
Ancients and moderns diftinguished, ii. 151.

The merits of ancient

writers are now finally afcertained, ibid. The progrefs of knowledge fa-
vourable to the moderns, in forming a comparison between them, 154. In
philofophy and hiftory, bid. The efforts of genius greater among the ancients,
A mediocrity of genius now more diffused, 156.


Antuhefis in language explained, i. 248. The too frequent use of, cenfur-
ed, 249.

Apoftrophe, the nature of this figure explained, i. 238. Fine one from Cicero,
ii. 13, note.

Arabian Nights Entertainments, a character of those tales, ii. 192.

Arabian poetry, its character, ii. 202.

Arbuthnot, character of his epiftolary writing, ii. 189.

Architecture, fublimity in, whence it arifes, i. 37. The fources of beauty in, 63.
Arguments, the proper management of, in a discourse, ii. 102. Analytic and
fynthetic methods, 104. Arrangement of, 105. Are not to be too much mul-
tiplied, 108.

Ariofo, character of his Orlando Furiofo, ii. 193, 302.

Ariftotle, his rules for dramatic and epic compofition, whence derived, i. 26.
His definition of a fentence, 145. His extended fenfe of the term metaphor,
209. Character of his ftyle, 262, 268. His inftitutions of rhetoric, 364, ii.
147. His definition of tragedy confidered, 314. His obfervations on tra
gic characters, 332.

Ariftophanes, character of his comedies, ii. 355-

Arithmetical figures, universal characters, i. 92.

Ark of the covenant, choral fervice performed in the procession of bringing it
back to Mount Zion, ii. 250.

Armstrong, character of his Art of preferving Health, ii. 23 4-

Art, works of, confidered as a fource of beauty. i. 63.

Articles, in language, the use of, i. 101. Their importance in the English lan-
guage illuftrated, ibid.

Articulation, clearness of, neceffary in public speaking, ii. 122.

Affociations, academical, recommended, ii. 145. Inftructions for the regulation
of, 146.

Athenians, ancient, character of, i. 359. Eloquence of, ibid.

Atterbury, a more harmonious writer than Tillotson, i. 186. Critical examina-
tion of one of his fermons, ii. 65. His exordium to a 30th of January ser

mon, 92.

Attici and Afiani, parties at Rome, account of, i. 372.

Authors, petty, why no friends to criticifm, i. 27. Why the most ancient af-
ford the most striking inftances of fublimity, 43. Muft write with purity to
gain esteem, 128, 129.


Bacon, his obfervations on romances, ii. 191.

Ballads have great influence over the manners of a people, ii. 190. Were the
firft vehicles of hiftorical knowledge and inftruction, 200.

Bar, the eloquence of, defined, i. 355. Why more confined than the pleadings
before ancient tribunals, 383. Diftinctions between the motives of pleading

at the bar, and fpeaking in popular affemblies, ii. 26. In what respects an-
cient pleadings differ from those of modern times, 27. Inftructions for
pleaders, 29, 98.

Bards, ancient, the first founders of law and civilization, ii. 200.

Barrow, Dr. character of his style, i. 265. Character of his fermons, ii. 62,
Beaumont and Fletcher, their characters as dramatic poets, ii. 360.

Beauty, the emotion raifed by, diftinguished from that of fublimity, i. 57. Is
a term of vague application, ibid. Colours, 58. Figure, 59. Hogarth's line
of beauty, and line of grace confidered, 60. Motion, ibid. A landscape the
most complete affemblage of beautiful objects, 61. The human countenance,
62. Works of art, 63. The influence of fitnefs and defign in our ideas of
beauty, ibid. Beauty in literary composition, 64. Novelty, 65. Imitation,

Bergerus, a German critic, writes a treatise on the fublimity of Cæfar's Com-
mentaries, i. 41.

Berkeley, bishop, character of his Dialogues on the Exiftence of Matter, ii. 185.
Biography, as the clafs of hiftorical compofition, characterised, ii. 179

Blackmore, Sir Richard, remarks on his defcription of Mount Etna, i. 53.
Blackwell, his character as a writer, i. 280.

Boileau, his character as a didactic poet, ii. 237.

Bolingbroke, inftances of inaccuracy in his ftyle, i. 158, 172. A beautiful climax
from, 169. A beautiful metaphor from, 210. His general character as a
politician and philofopher, 211. His general character as a writer, 281,
Bombaft, in writing defcribed, i. 56.

ii. 143.

Boffu, his definition of an epic poem, ii. 263. His account of the compofition of
the Iliad, 264.

Boffuet, M. inftances of apoftrophes to perfonified objects, in his funeral orations,
i. 237, note. Conclufion of his funeral oration on the Prince of Conde, ii. 117.
Britain, Great, not eminent for the ftudy of eloquence, i. 379. Compared with
France in this respect, 380.

Bruyere, his parallel between the eloquence of the pulpit and the bar, ii.
Buchanan, his character as an historian, ii. 177.
Building, how rendered fublime, i. 37.

Cadmus, account of his alphabet, i. 94,


47, note.

Cæsar's commentaries, the style of, characterised, i. 41. Is confidered by Ber-
gerus as a ftandard of fublime writing, ibid. Inftance of his happy talent in
historical painting, ii. 172, note. His character of Terence the dramatist, 357,
Camoens, critical examination of his Lufiad, ii. 303. Confused machinery of,


Campbell, Dr. his obfervations on English particles, i. 109, note.

Carmel, Mount, metaphorical allufions to, in Hebrew poetry, ii. 253.

Cafimir, his character as a lyric poet, ii. 229.

Catastrophe, the proper conduct of, in dramatic representations, ii. 324.

Caudine Forks, Livy's happy defcription of the difgrace of the Roman army
there, ii. 171.

Celtic language, its antiquity and character, i. 120. The remains of it, where to
be found, ibid. Poetry, its character, ii. 200.

Characters, the danger of labouring them too much in hiftorical works, ii. 175-
The due requifites of, in tragedy, 331.

Chinese language, character of, i. 77. And writing, 91.

Chivalry, origin of, ii. 192.

Chorus, ancient, defcribed, ii. 317. Was the origin of tragedy, ibid. Inconve
niences of, 318. How it might properly be introduced on the modern thea-

tre, 310.

Chronology, a due attention to, neceffary to hiftorical compofitions, ii. 163.
Chryfoftome, St. his oratorical character, i. 378.



« PreviousContinue »