Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

PREF A CE.

la presenting this volume to the German nation, we will not claim their approbation from the partiality they have shown to British Literature ; — we will not point out to them the great utility of having the most elegant tone of English conversation for their instruction in the language; wherefore should we paint the delighting image of their identifying themselves with a sphere of individuals, whose manners and customs are so deeply tinged with originality and peculiarity of character; and invite them to consider John Bull entering their society in his own dress, touched off with his own high humour, and even with all his faulls, calling upon the good-natured smile of all around him? The shades of Addison, Garrick, Steele would arise in offended pride, to hear their names once more invoked to serve the office of commendation to works which have already stood the test of nations, and out-lived the hand of time: no, their worth needs no interpreter, it speaks itself too plainly.

Yet with all the riches of the British Drama before us, we have found ourselves embarrassed to present our readers with a full specimen of its treasures; and, how plentiful soever this barvest may be, there still remains a great store behind; we wait only the fiat of the public to recommence our labours.

We refrain froin entering into a detail of the many inglorious causes of the dedine of the stage these last two centuries, and will content ourselves with merely pointing it out, as a reason for our work's containing very few pieces written since that time.

It is but natural for us to have a desire to become more familiarly acquainted with the man whose writings have tended to amuse or instruct us; and hence our wish, not only to have free admission to his study, but also to follow him into the circle of his acquaintance, and sit with him at his fire-side surrounded by his family. It is here we can judge the human heart, and observe, if the precepts, inculcated on bis readers, have been the guide of his own actions; and whatever be the result of our esamination, it must interest our feelings and be a good exercise for ourselves. We have, therefore, endeavoured to give a faithful account of the public and private life of the authors whose writings are to be found in this volume.

The opinions of the English with respect to their own authors, how much soever they may differ from those of another nation, will answer as a point of opposition, and may assist the reader in his own critique. Each piece is, therefore, preceded by tčasons, more or less cogent, to add to or diminish its lustre; and these have been carefully selected from the writings of the greatest British critics, who may have noticed tbem, tempered by a few observations of our own.

The English nation has, of late years, become an object of curiosity to foreigners; and numerous has been the intelligent class of inquiring travellers, who have published their more or less true accounts of this people. How favourablc soever may have been their opportunities for examining into the true spirit of the people, though the most prominent and general points of character may have been fully represented in their narration yet, from the particular circumstance of their being foreigners, they could not penetrate fairly into the minutiae. A series of writings, which brand the vicious with the mark of shame and punishment, and level the shaft of irony and laughter at folly, while they encourage and support real virtue and good sense, explained and put in their true light, with as much impartiality as human nature will allow in speaking of one's own country, must open a good field for the display of character. Hence the whole is accompanied with notes, explanatory of the localities and such circumstances as are liable to a double interpretation.

We cannot conclude this preface better than by laying before our readers a passage from the lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres,” by that excellent critic Dr. Blair. In the third volume, when comparing the French and English comedy, he says, “from the English there we are naturally led to expect a greater variety of original characters in comedy and bolder strokes of wit and humour than are to be found on any other modern stage. Humour is in a great measurc the peculiar province of the English nation. The nature of such a free government as ours, and that unrestrained liberly which our manners allow to every man of living entirely after his own lasle, afford full scope to the display of singularity of character and to the indulgence of humour in all its forms. Whereas in France the insluence of the court, the more established subordinations of ranks and the universal observance of the forms of politeness and decorum, spread a much greater uniformity over the outward behaviour and characters of men. Hence comedy has a more ample field and can flow with a much freer vein in Britain, tlian in France."

I N D E X.

PAGE

440

467

[ocr errors]

488

509

.

.

532

554

[ocr errors]

576

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

619

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

CATO.
MOURNING BRIDE.
ZARA.
DOUGLAS.

GEORGE BARNWELL.
DUKE OF MILAN.
GAMESTER.
VENICE PRESERVED.

ORPHAN OF CHINA.
DISTREST MOTHER.
FAIR PENITENT.
SIEGE OF DAMASCUS.

ADDISON.

JOSEFA ADDISON was born May 21, 1672, at Milslon, of which his father was then Rector, near Ambrosebury in Wiltshire. He was early sent to school, there, ander the care of the Rer. Mr. Naish; from whence he was reQused to Salisbury school, and then to the Charterhousc, under the tuition of the learned Dr. Ellis. Here he first centracted an intimacy with Mr. Steele, which continued almost to his death. At fifteen he was entered of Queen's College, Oxford, and in about two years admitted to the degrees of bachelor and master of arts in that college; at which time be a celebrated for his Istin poems, to be found in a second volume of the Musae Britanicue, collected by Adding. Being at the university, he was upon the point of ceding to the desires of his father and several of his friends, to enter inte holy orders; but having, through Mr. Congreve's means, become a favourite of Lord Halifax, he was prevailed apen by thel Bublemau, to give up the design. He successively filled the public stations, in 1702, of Commissioner of the Appeals in the Excise ; 1707, Under-Secretary of Slale ; 1709, Secretary of Ireland, and Keeper of the Records in Ireland; 1713 (the grand climacteric of Addison's reputation, Cato appeared) Secretary to the Lords' Justices; 1714 one of tbe leerds Commissioners of Trade; and at last, 1717, one of the first Secretaries of Stale. Dr. Johnson says, "For las employeert he might justly be supposed qualified by long practice of business, and by his regular ascent through cher afaces; but expectation is often disappointed; it is universally consessed, that he was unequal to the duties of bu place. In the House of Commons he could not speak, and therefore was useless to the defence of the Governrent.

the ofáce, says Pope, he could not issue an order without losing his time in quest of fine expressions.” He sotacited his dismissal with a pension of 1500 pounds a year. He married the Countess Dowager of Warwick, 1716; eod is said to have first known ber by becoming tutor to her son. Johnson says, “The Lady was at last prevailea upon to marry him, on terms much like those, on which a Tarkish princess is espoused, to whom the sulian is re. ported to proavanie, Daughter, 1 give thee this man for thy slave' T'he marriage made no addition to his happia Hens; it ecilhet made them nor found them equal." In 1718 19, he had a severe dispute on The Poerage Bill with Steele, wbo, inveterate in his political opinions, supported them in a pamphlet called The Plebeian, whichi Addi*** 233* ered by another, under the title of The Old thig. Some epithets, let drop by Addison, answered by a cutUse saslalies from Cato, by Steele, were the cause of their friendship’s being dissolved; and every person acquainted with the friendly terms on which these iwo great men had lived so long, must regret, that they should finally part in arim zaigas opposition. Addison died of an asthma and dropsy, on the 17th June, 1719, aged 15, leaving only one daughter behind him. The general esteem ia which his productions, both serious and humorous in The Spectator, The Taller, and The Guardian are held, "pleads (as Spakspeare says), like engels, trumpet-tongued, in their behalf." As & poel, bu Calo, in the dramatic, and bis Campaign, in the heroic way, will ever maintain a place among the first-ralo works of cither kind. “And a guud man's death displays the character of his life. Al his last hour, he sent for a rolation of his, young Lord Warwick, whose youth he supposed might be influenced by an awful lesson, when, laking bold of the young man's hand, he said see in whal peace a Christian can die !” and immediately expired.

CATO, ACTED a Drury Lane, 1913. It is one of the first of our dramatic poems, and was performed 18 nights successirely; this very successful run for a tragedy, is attributed by Dennis, who wrote a very bilter critique upon Calo, to practed from Addison's having raised preindices in his own favour, by falsc positions of preparatory.criticism; and with bis having pouoned the town by contradicting, in The Spectator, 'the established rule of poetical justice, because his osa kero, will all his virtues, was to fall before a tyrani. Johnson says, "the fact is certain; the motives we ist guess. Steele packed an audience. The danger was soon over. The whole nation was, at that time, on firo with faction. The Whigs applauded every line, in which liberly was mentioned, as a satire on the Tories; and the Taries eehved every clap, to sbew, that the satire was unfell." 'It was ushered into notice by eight complimentary copies af verses to the author, among which, one by Steele, leads the van; besides a prologne by Pope, and an epilogaz by Dr. Garth: Dr. Johnson, with the abovementioned persons, nay, even Dennis's gall, has marked this tragedy # a brutal classic, and a succession of audiences for above a century has proved, that it has deserved “Golden opin1993 fra all sorts of people.” Johnson observes, “Of a work so much read, it is difficult !o say any thing new. Abeat thug an which the public thinko long, it commonly allains to think right; and of Calo it has been not unjustly determined, that it is rather a poem in dialogue than a dranla ; rather a suceession of just sentiments in elegant' lan"c, thon a representation of natural affections, or of any state probable or possible in human life. Nothing here extil et assuages emotion; here is no magical power of ruising phantastic terror or exciting wild anxiety. The events &* expected wilbout solicitade, and remembered withont joy or sorrow. of the agents we have no care. Cato is a being above our solicitude, a man of whom "the gods take care,” and whom we leave to their care with heedless ceafdence. To the rest, neither gods nor men can have much attention; for there is not one amongst them, that Brugly attracts either affection or esteem. But they are made the vehicles of such sentiments and such expressions bat bere is scarcely a scene in the play, which the reader does not wish to impress upon his memory.

CATO. PORTIUS. MARCUS

DRAMATIS PERSONAE.
SEMPRONIUS.

LUCIUS.

LUCIA.
JUBA.

DECIUS.

MARCIA.
SYPHAX.

JUNIUS.

MUTINEERS. GUARDS, etc. SCENE.-The Governor's Palace in Utica.

[ocr errors]

ACT I.

| And heavily in clouds brings on the day, SCENE I. -A Hall.

The great, th' important day, big with the fate Enter PORTIUS and MARCUS.

Of Cato and of Rome-our father's death Por. The dawn is overcast, tbe morning Would fill up all the guilt of civil war, low'rs,

And close the scene of blood. Already Caesar

« ForrigeFortsett »