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upon the phantoms of imagination, they discover them to have been mere fhadows, formed by ignorance. The thunderbolts of jove, forged in Cimmerian caves ; the ceftus of Venus, woven by hands of the attracting Graces, cease to terrify and allure. Echo, from an amorous nymph, fades into voice, and nothing more; the very threads of Iris's scarf are un. twisted ; all the poet's spells are broken, his charms dissolved : deserted on his own enchanted ground, he takes refuge in the groves of philosophy; but there his divinities evaporate in allegory, in which mystic and insubftantial state they do but weakly aslift his operations. By aflociating his muse with philosophy, he hopes she may establish with the learned the worship she won from the ignorant; so makes her cuit the old traditional fable, from whence fhe derived her first authority and power, to follow airy hypothesis, and chimerical systems. Allegory, the daughter of fable, is admired by the fastidious wit, and abitruse scholar, when her mother begins to be treated as superannuated, foolish, and doating; but however well she may please and amuse, not being worshipped as divine, the does not awe and terrify like facred mythology, nor ever can establish the same fearful devotion, nor as. fume such arbitrary power over the mind. Her per. son is not adapted to the stage, nor her qualities to the business and end of dramatic representation. L'Abbe du Bos has judiciously diftinguished the reasons why allegory is not fit for the drama. What the critic investigated by art and study, the wisdom of nature unfolded to our unlettered poet, or he would not have resifted the prevalent fashion of his allegorizing age ; especially as Spenser's Fairy Queen was the admired work of the times.
Allegorical beings, performing acts of chivalry, fell in with the taste of an age that affected abstruse learning, romantic valour, and high-flown gallantry. Prince Arthur the British Hercules, was brought from ancient ballads and romances, to be ailegorized into VOL. II.
the the knight of magnanimity, at the court of Gloriana. His knights followed him thither, in the same moralized garb, and even the questynge beast received no less honour and improvement from the allegorizing art of Spencer, as has been shewn by a critic of great learning, ingenuity, and taste, in his Observations on the Fairy Queen.
Our first theatrical entertainments, after we emerged from gross barbarism, were of the allegorical kind. The Christmas carol, and carnival shews, the pious pastimes of our holy-days, were turned into pageantries and masques, all symbolical and allegorical.-Our stage rose from hymns to the virgin, and encomi. ums on the patriarchs and saints : as the Grecian tragedies from the hymns to Bacchus. Our early poets added narration and action to this kind of psalmody, as Æschylus had done to the song of the goat. Much more rapid indeed was the progress of the Grecian stage towards perfection.-Philosophy, poetry, eloquence, all the fine arts, were in their meridian glory, when the drama first began to dawn at Athens, and gloriously it shone forth, illuminated by every kind of intellectual light.
S, in the dark shades of Gothic barbarism, had no resources but in the very phantoms that walked the night of ignorance and superstition : or in touching the latent passions of civil rage and discord; sure to please best his fierce and barbarous audience, when he raised the bloody ghost, or reared the warlike standard. His choice of these subjects was judicious, if we consider the times in which he lived; his management of them so mafterly, that he will be admired in all times.
In the same age, Ben. Johnson, more proud of his learning than confident of his genius, was desirous to give a metaphysical air to his compositions. · He composed many pieces of the allegorical kind, eftablished on the Grecian mythology, and rendered his play-house a perfect pantheon.-Sdisdained these
quaint devices; an admirable judge of human nature, with a capacity most extensive, and an invention moft happy, he contented himself with giving dramatic manners to history, sublimity and its appropriated powers and charms to fiction, and in both these arts he is unequalled. - The Catiline and Sejanus of JohnJon are cold, crude, heavy pieces ; turgid where they should be great ; 'bombast where they thould be sube lime; the sentiments extravagant ; the manners exaggerated; and the whole undramatically conducted by long senatorial speeches, and flat plagiarisms from Tacitus and Salluft. Such of this author's pieces as he boasts to be grounded on antiquity and solid learning, and to lay hold on removed mysteries*, have neither the majesty of S’s serious fables, nor the pleafing sportfulness and poetical imagination of his fairy tales. And indeed if we compare our countryman, in this respect, not only with the moderns, but the most admired writers of antiquity, we shall not find him inferior to them.”
The reader will find some attempts, on this head, in the Introduction to Hamlet and Macbeth. See also the close of this admirable play-The Tempeft.
* Prologue to the Masque of Queens,
Pro. Wipe thou thine eyes, have comfort,
(1) The very virtue.] i. e. the most efficacious part; the energetic quality ; in a like fense we say, “ the virtue of a plant is in the extract.” 7.
(2) There is no soul.] i. e. no foul loft. The sentence is broken and interrupted, by the zeal of the speaker, who hurries to a fuller manner of expressing the matter in hand. • Such interrupted sentences," St. obferves justly, “ are not uncommon to S.: he sometimes begins a sentence, and
An ufurping Substitute compared to Ivy.
That (3) now he was
Prof. before he concludes it, entirely changes the construction, because another more forcible occurs. As this change frequently happens in conversation, it may be suffered to pass uncensured in the language of the stage.” See Aets, c. xxvii, v. 22—34.
(3) That, &c.] See Much ado about Nothing, Act 3. Sc. I. (4) Like one, &c.] W. reads thus,
Made, &c. The construction as it stands, is rather irregular : lie howe. ver appears to be the substantive to which it refers.
Telling of it, i.e. bis own lie.