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before we can conceive it to be capable of this expansion, must not only be regular, that is, free from incongruous episodes or double plots, but it must also contain the means of rousing the stronger feelings of the mind ; so as to enable the poet to dignify his scenes and descriptions with passages of the pathetic and the sublime. A mixture of Tragedy, Comedy and Farce may, and often does, succeed upon the stage; because the several classes of the audience are pleased with the representation of individual and differing scenes; but there is no unity; the grave and the gay neutralize one another, and the performance ends without having produced any permanent impression. We are hurried through an ill-arranged gallery of paintings, so rapidly as to leave us no time to be either enraptured with beauty, or disgusted with deformity. A regular Drama, on the contrary, is an historical picture, in which we perceive unity of design, and compare every portion of the composition as harmonizing with the whole. The same observations do not apply to theatrical compositions when we read them in the closet. There, we have leisure to examine the painting in detail; and to look upon every separate figure on the canvas, as if it had been pourtrayed by a different artista

Notwithstanding the daring example of Shakspeare, who set at nought every rule of the critics on dramatic composition, Tragi-comedy is still considered as unfitted for the stage. The legitimate province of Tragedy is to exhibit a concatenated succession of scenes, tending to one grand object, which shall fill the minds of the spectators with pity and with terror; while that of Comedy is to represent some amusing and connected tale, which may be supposed to have happened among the ordinary events of human life. It is an interesting novel, in which the whole of the complication, as well as the unravelling, of the plot, is capable of being exhibited in the course of a few hours by means of dialogue and action. The Muse of Comedy, though not at variance with the tender and sentimental, is usually surrounded by the humourous, the witty, and the gay: successfully conspiring to thwart the sinister designs of an avaricious guardian, or to elude the jealous superintendence of some superannuated dowager, who is opposed to the union of the hero and heroine of the play. The Tragic Muse, on the contrary, dwells perpetually amid scenes of desolation and death; where courage strives in vain against oppression; where virtue bleeds under the knife of the assassin,dies in a dungeon,-or perishes on the scaffold

of a tyrant. It is to Tragedy, on account of its deep-toned pathos, that we chiefly look for poetical embellishment: it is there only that we meet with the sublime. Accordingly it is, with few exceptions, still composed of measured lines; while Comedy is now written wholly in prose.

Although Comedy is thus deprived of those grand and sublime subjects that are so conspicuous in the history of the world, it still possesses an extensive range of operation. It has power not only over all the softer sensations of mankind, from the tear of sensibility to the smile of sportive innocence; but it is also capable of exciting the ruder passions, from the loud bursts of indignation to the half-suppressed sneers of contempt. The only requisites are that it shall exhibit an united train of events, tending to an agreeable and probable catastrophe; and, as the poet has the choice of his tale, he is expected to have a moral object in view: “ to hold as 'twer the Mirrour up to Nature; to shew Vertue her owne Feature, scorn her owne Image, and the verie Age and Bodie of the Time, his forme and pressure.”

Farce begins at the lowest part of the scale of human amusement. It is the caricature of Comedy; and, provided it can excite mirth and uproarious laughter, it disregards every law of the critics,-even those of probability and of Nature. It is often, too, contaminated with that worst fault of the stage,- personal satire. The theatre is properly employed when holding up the prominent vices of the age to public reprobation; but it is otherwise when, for the gratification of private malignity, an individual is personated, and brought forward, almost by name, to the ridicule of the crowd, on account of some harmless peculiarities in his manners or pursuits: or perhaps, what is still worse, merely from some unfortunate bodily imperfection, calculated to excite the laughter of none but the lowest of the vulgar.

The Italian burlare, to jeer, or mock, furnished us with the adjective Burlesque, whereby we designate those compositions in which the language is so little in unison with the subject, as to impress the mind with a feeling of the ridiculous. We possess, consequently, mock poems of various descriptions :-Elegies, Epics, and Dramas. From the same source, we have received the term Burletta, to denote a Comic Opera. The Burlesque is a species of composition, in which persons and actions of no value are made to assume an air of great importance; or, it is that by which things of real consequence are degraded, so as to seem objects of derision. Parodies and Travesties, which are ludicrous imitations of serious subjects, are species of the Burlesque. It is a style into which young poets are too apt, unintentionally, to fall: when the expression is too low for the subject, it forms the Bathos; and, when a mean idea is swelled up with high-sounding epithets, it has the name of Bombast. Both these modes of writing equally excite the risible faculties of the reader; but they are properly denominated Burlesque, only when executed with that design. Phillips's • Splendid Shilling' clothes a trivial subject in the lofty style and pompous language of Milton.

Mock Heroics appear to have been as ancient and general as the regular Epic. The Batrachomyomachia,' or 'Battle of the Frogs and Mice,' is ascribed to Homer; and most literary nations have one, or more, similar compositions of which they boast. Among the English, Hudibras' and • The Rape of the Lock,' are most conspicuous. The plan of the Dunciad is buried amidst the mass of its personal criticisms.

Hudibras is an obvious imitation of the manner of Don Quixote; for, like that knight, he and his squire sally forth in search of adventures. The Satire, which is wholly directed against the Puritans, was well received by the dissolute

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