Imagens das páginas

our tragedies are usually composed in blank
verse: but our epic and Lyric compositions
are found most pleasing, when cloathed in
rhyme. Milton, I know, it will be said, is
an exception: But, if we set aside some
learned persons, who have suffered themselves
to be too easily prejudiced by their admiration
of the Greek and Latin languages, and still
more, perhaps, by the prevailing notion of the
monkish or gothic original of rhymed verse,
all other readers, if left to themselves, would,
I dare say, be more delighted with this poet,
if, besides his various pause, and measured
quantity, he had enriched his numbers, with
rhyme. So that his love of liberty, the ruling
passion of his heart, perhaps transported him
too far, when he chose to follow the example,
set him by one or two writers of prime note
(to use his own eulogium), rather than comply
with the regular and prevailing practice of his
favoured Italy, which first and principally, as
our best rhymist sings,
With pauses, cadence, and well-vowelld

And all the graces a good ear affords,

Our comedy, indeed, is generally written in prose; but through the idleness, or ill taste,

of our writers, rather than from any other just cause, For, though rhyme be not necessary, or rather would be improper, in the comedy of our language, which can support itself in poetic numbers, without the diligence of rhyme; yet some sort of metre is requisite in this humbler species of poem; otherwise, it will not contribute all that is within its power and province, to please. And the particular metre, proper for this species, is not far to seek. For it can plainly be no other than a careless and looser lambic, such as our language naturally runs into, even in conversation, and of which we are not without examples, in our old and best writers for the comic stage. But it is not wonderful that those critics, who take offence at English epic poems in rhyme, because the Greek and Latin only observed quantity, should require English comedies to be written in prose, though the Greek and Latin comedies were composed in verse. For the ill application of examples, and the neglect of them, may be well enough expected from the same men, since it does not appear that their judgment was employed, or the reason of the thing attended to, in either instance.

And thus much for the idea of UNIVERSAL Poetry. It is the art of treating any subject






IN the former Essay, I gave an idea, or slight sketch, of Universal Poetry. In this, I attempt to deduce the laws of one of its kinds, the Dramatic, under all its forms. And I engage in this task, the rather, because, though much has been said on the subject of the drama, writers seem not to have taken sufficient pains to distinguish, with exactness, its several species.

I deduce the laws of this poem, as I did those of poetry at large, from the consideration of its end: not the general end of poetry, which alone was proper to be considered in the former case, but the proximate end of




in such a way as is found most delightful to us; that is, IN AN ORNAMENTED AND NUMEROUS STYLE-IN

OF FICTION—AND IN Whatever deserves the name of POEM must unite these three properties; only in different degrees of each, according to its nature. For the art of every kind of poetry is only this general art so modified as the nature of each, that is, its more immediate and subordinate end, may respectively require.

We are now, then, at the well-head of the poetic art; and they who drink deeply of this spring, will be best qualified to perform the rest. But all heads are not equal to these copious draughts; and, besides, I hear the sober reader admonishing me long since

Lusisti satis atque BIBISTI; Tempus abire tibi est, ne POTUM LARGIUS


Rideat, et pulset lasciva decentius AETAS,




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