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class had not assumed any recognizable form, but the principles, which by subsequent developement induced all its importance,' &c. p. 11. But numbers and bravery and skill weighed light in the balance against the fixed and heavy destiny of the Stuarts.' rious instance of what may be called a suicide metaphor. tempt for trifles is very different from the anxious particularity of avarice and the negligence that entails privations'-p. 55. No discussion of influential consequence took place.'-p. 60. From these towering beights of phraseology, Mr. Galt sometimes descends a little too low, as wee Scottish lairds;' p. 95. this diplomatic rascal,'-p. 123. the Duke of Suffolk, her sweetheart.'
The master of a style so truly classical is equally conspicuous for the taste and discrimination which he displays in estimating the merits of other writers. There is,' saith he, a very pretty monkish morality in the British Museum,' of which the first stanza, in the same strain with all that follows, is this:
Brother Eneas, I you pray,
Pleasing to you, if that it be,
That you vouchsafe to go with me.'-p. 69.
And now our historian, so graciously disposed to be delighted with this very pretty morality, from some change of the wind, or some inauspicious aspect of the heavens, suddenly becomes extremely morose and fastidious. I have never been able (he says) to bring myself to entertain any feeling approximating to respect for the works of Chaucer, Gower, or Lydgate, and the other tribe of rhymers that preceded the reign of Henry VIII.' If Mr. Galt came into the world without faculties to understand or an heart to feel the sublimity and pathos, or even the wit and humour, of Chaucer, or to distinguish those qualities from the tame mediocrity of Gower, and the tedious insipidity of Lydgate, who can help it? In the same taste and spirit, we are assured that he never could read the Utopia. We suppose that he had the misfortune of meeting with it in the original.
With all the solemn parade of political wisdom, the author is so entirely destitute of political morality as to avow sentiments more profligate perhaps than any which the world has heard since the days of Machiavel. The ministers of Henry VIII. (we are told) wanted that prophetic anticipation of the effects of existing circumstances, which alone enables statesmen to dignify, and even to hallow, those acts of temporary injustice, which seem so often inysteriously imposed upon their transactions.'-p. 248. Yet this audacious advocate for the pernicious doctrine that ends sanctify
means, can, in the same page, talk of examples of public dereliction, that sicken to disgust, and sour into misanthropy, the feelings of historians.' Pity that feeling so nice should be so quickly succeeded by hardened insensibility to the plainest distinctions between right and wrong! Again. Wolsey's avidity to amass wealth was contrasted with an expenditure so generous, that it lost the name of avarice and deserved to be dignified with that of ambition. His ostentation was so richly blended with munificence and hospitality, that it ought rather to be ascribed to the love of distinction than to vanity, and his pride was so nearly allied to honour and justice that it seemed to be essential to his accomplishments as a statesman.' By what moral alchemy, we would ask, (as our author is a professor of that occult science,) can one vice be transmuted into another; or avidity to amass wealth cease to be avarice, and assume the nature of ambition? Had we been dealing with a Christian moralist, we should also inquire how pride can be essential to the accomplishment of any character under any circumstances-the individual vice of the human heart which, though often united to great qualities, poisons and destroys them all?
It is evident, from the whole tenor of his discourse, that Mr. Galt belongs to a certain class of benevolent and industrious persons who, by whatever style and title they may dignify themselves, whether political philosophers, original thinkers, unprejudiced and independent men, &c. &c. having discovered that in the present state of human society' whatever is is wrong,' have most graciously undertaken to enlighten mankind, some by works of direct and solemu institution, others, as the author before us, under the more agreeable veil of real history, and a third sort, in the still more seductive form of invented narration. Nevertheless, at such an immense distance is the world, at present, from the point of intellectual perfectibility, that there are many natures so stubborn, and many understandings so incorrigible, as to maintain, that the old school of politics, morality, and religion, is, according to their poor conceptions, neither quite so antiquated, nor so worthless, as to be abandoned for any of those theories which have been offered in their place. Nay, so illiberal are those men as to affirm, concerning the professors of the new academy, that they are shallow, petulant, dogmatical, and half-informed; that their hearts are as bad as their heads are dull; railing at the established seminaries of education, which would have taught them both to reason and to feel; envious of the honours paid to departed genius, to no participation in which they are ever to attain, and detesting all the existing distinctions of society, to which notwithstanding, they would gladly win their way through ruin and bloodshed.
This is an hideous portrait; but so distinctly has the original
(with the exception only of the last feature) been placed before our eyes during the perusal of the present work, that, in justice to our readers, we could not forbear to paint it.
ART. XI. The GENUINE Rejected Addresses presented to the Committee of Management for Drury-Lane Theatre; preceded by that written by Lord Byron, and adopted by the Committee. M Millan. 1812.
Rejected Addresses; or, the New Theatrum Poetarum. London. Miller. 1812.
HERE is scarcely any species of poetical composition which is so peculiarly our own as prologues, epilogues, and other theatrical addresses.
The prologues of the Greeks have nothing in common with ours but the name. "The prologue,' according to *Aristotle, is that part of a tragedy which precedes the parode,' (or first song of the chorus,) and it may therefore,' says +Corneille, be likened to our first act.' 'Tragedia neque argumentum habet nec prologum separatum, sed in persona aliqua ad fabulam pertinentein.' Euripides, not very ingeniously, employed a person of the drama, or a god or goddess ex machinâ, as prologue, to explain either what had already passed, or (lest the audience should be impatient) what was about to happen; and this practice, though Corneille very justly calls it grossière,' has obtained in some degree on the modern stage; nor are the French tragedians (especially Corneille himself) exempt from the absurdity of opening the drama by a long explanatory monologue.
The Romans (notwithstanding Scaliger's etymological doubt§) seem to have been the first to disconnect the prologue from the piece itself. In Plautus it is a speech spoken by a person not belonging to the play, and generally intended to give the audience certain necessary information as to preceding events. The magnificent chorusses prefixed to every act of Shakespeare's Henry V.. are indeed less chorusses than prologues of this kind.
Terence improved still farther on the improvements of Plautus. His prologue satisfies pretty accurately our English sense of the
Mirum vero si prologus tota res latina est, quomodo invenit nomen græcum.~~ Poet. l. i. c. 9.
word; it acknowledged the sources from which he borrowed his plot; it offered opinions on questions of dramatic taste; it repelled attacks of envious rivals, and it endeavoured to conciliate the good will of his audience. The information which used to be so awkwardly conveyed in a formal, introductory soliloquy, Terence embodies in the piece itself, and contrives (though not always very gracefully) to introduce into his dialogue.
The use of prologues in the way that they were employed by Terence, and are still employed by us, the continental stage seems wholly to have abandoned. Occasionally an address under that name has been prefixed to a French play, in which some heathen divinity (as in the prologue to Andromede') or some allegorical personage (as in that to Esther') is introduced to offer une louange adroite du prince devant qui ces poëmes doivent être representés;' but, adds Corneille,* ‘je ne pense pas qu'on y puisse raisonnablement introduire que des dieux imaginaires de l'antiquité; qui ne laissent pas toutefois de parler des choses de notre tems, par une fiction poëtique, qui fait un grand accomodement du théâtre.' This practice, however, always infrequent, has been in the modern times of the French stage wholly disused; though we believe that operas and farces have still occasional poetical introductions.
The earliest of our English dramatical attempts, the Mysteries, have a kind of prologue. To the tragedy or interlude "of God's Promises to Men,' 1538, in which Pater Cælestis, Justus Noah, Moses Sanctus, Adam primus homo, &c. are interlocutors; the author, Johan Bale, is prolocutor, who delivers a very pious prologue, in which he seems to defend the doctrine of High Grace' against that of free-will and the merit of works. Our plays, however, and with them our prologues, rapidly improved, and in 1582, we have a prologue to Edwards's Damon and Pythias in regular rhyme, discussing questions of dramatic propriety, and quoting Horace in defence of his opinions: our readers will not be displeased to see so early a specimen of a critical prologue. The greatest skill in comedy is, says our author, to paint to the life;
-to frame each person so
That by his common talke, you may his nature know.
A Royster ought not preach; that were too strange to hear;
So correspondent to their kind, their speeches ought to be.
* Disc, du Poëme Dram. 45
Which speeches well pronounc'd, with lively action framed, If this offende the lookers on, let Horace then be blamed.' The history of the epilogue is very short: the Greeks had none; the Romans next to none;' Valete et plaudite' was their concise form of dismissal; and we have never seen, in any French or Italian work, any form of epilogue whatever. It is, we presume, exclusively our own, and was, we are inclined to think, nothing more at first than a song, or speech, making part of the play. Many of our earlier dramas conclude in this way: to Damon and Pythias, the prologue to which we have quoted, there is also an epilogue under the title of The Last Song;' and Twelfth Night, the Midsummer Night's Dream, and other of Shakespeare's comedies, conclude with an epilogical song. Sometimes, though delivered by one of the characters, it was distinct from the play: Prospero speaks such an epilogue to the Tempest, in rhyme, and Rosalind another to As you Like It,' in prose, and in this she acquaints us that it was unusual to assign this duty to the female parts; a proof that it was usual to have epilogues. Very soon, however, the epilogue became wholly disconnected from the play and the dramatis personæ, and for these two hundred years has been, as we see it now a-days, sometimes spoken in character, and sometimes not; frequently with allusion to the preceding scenes, and often without. It has been upon all subjects, and in all metres, and often without any metre: the single consistency of character that it appears to preserve, is its levity. We recollect but two instances of grave epilogues, the one to Thompson's Agamemnon;' the other to Sheridan's Semiramis and in both, a laboured apology is made for being serious, and plausible reasons are urged against the gayety of modern epilogues, whose mirth but deadens generous woe. This, in theory, may be very just; but the experience of three centuries has decided, that, after an anxious attention during five long acts of either tragedy or comedy, the mind becomes impatient of didactics, and is vulgar enough to be pleased with the gay absurdities of epilogues and farces.
From prologues and epilogues, the progress of the theatrical muse to Occasional Addresses was easy; playing before the king,' or at Oxford,' were, in Dryden's day, the usual subjects of these compositions. In later times the secession from the stage, or death of favourite actors has produced valedictory addresses of considerable merit; but the opening of a new theatre is, naturally, the occasion on which the highest efforts of this species of poetry has been expected by the public.
We do not think those expectations have been realized; the best that has ever graced such an occasion is Johnson's, on the opening of Drury Lane in 1747; and yet it is far from excellent-it has