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deed, it appears to us, that either his scheme or the Gospel of Chrift must fall to the ground; there seems no alternative. He denies the power of alì superior beings, God excepted, to do cither good or evil to mankind, and on this principle rejects the influence of evil spirits from every cause of human misery. But the Holy Scriptures constantly affirm, that the Devil beguiled man from his allegiance to God, and seduced him into fin; they represent this prince of wicked fpirits as the immediate author of all mischief, and therefore (call him “an homicide from the beginning." Mr. Farmer considers all the calamities and advantages of human nature as immediately determined and fixed in the original conftitution of things, and hence maintains, that the human fyftem is governed by the very fame invariable Jaws with the natural world. But the Holy Scriptures affure us, that the present state of human nature is not that in which it was originally created : they attribute all the evils of mankind to fin; they will neither allow, that God is the author of death, nor that human miseries arise from the original constitution of things : but they attribute every blessing to the imme diate and constant agency of the divine Being, and his unmerited goodness. This is the grand hinge on which, not only the whole controversy between Christians and the opposers of a divine revelation, but the very being of religion and virtue, turns. If the prefent state of human nature arose from the original conftitution of things, and man be just such as he came at first from the hands of his Maker, we muft conclude with Lord Bolingbroke, that neither the goodnefs nor the justice of God ever required, that we lould be better or happier than we are, at least in the present world; and that no fufficient reason can be affigned for an extraordinary revelation. If the settled order of caufes and effects in the moral world, together with the regularity and uniformity of the natural world, are all to be ascribed to the operation of the very fame laws, we can by no means avoid that conclufion which Mr. Hume seems to have intended in his “ Effay on Liberty and Neceffity,” That it is impoffible for reason to thew how human actions can have any moral turpitude at all, without involving our Creator in the same guilt, We have never yet seen any objections raised against thofe principles on which the Gospel is rested, which do not strike as much at the ground of natural religion as at the foundation of the Christian (cheme. The present intereft of fociety in general, as well as the future happinels of mankind, is infeparably connected with the truth and reality of those doctrines, which are delivered in the Scriptures, concerning the ruin of human nature by the malice and wickedness of the Devil, and its recovery from fin and wretchedness by the Son of God. The principles of the Christian religion can never be overthrown without the loss
of morality; and, while a real difference is maintained in the world between virtue and vice, and man is considered as a moral agent, it seems clear to us, Mr. Farmer's account of the origin of human calamities muft be rejected.'
Our Readers cannot but notice the confequential style, we and us, which Mr. Fell adopts. They ought also to be apprised, that he reckons, original fin, and the renewal of our nature' by an immediate divine agency,' among those doctrines of Chriftianity, which, according to his representation in the paragraph juft quoted, are connected with the present intereft of fociety, and with the future happiness of mankind, and which • can never be overthrown without the loss of morality.'
Mr. Fell, in another, chapter, seems willing to believe, that madness is sometimes, at leaft, owing to poffeffion by evil spirits, though he acknowledges, that it would be highly presumptuous in any one in the present day to determine what particular inftances of madness are to be ascribed to this cause. His reasons are, that some of the phenomena of madness are not to be accounted for, and that some particular kinds of madness are incurable. The same reasons led the ancients to ascribe the epilepfy, madness, and every other disorder, and every other phenomenon, with the nature of which they were unacquainted, to the fupernatural agency and influence of superior evil beings.
If Mr. Farmer Could think it proper to take any public notice of this opponent, he will, in our opinion, obtain an easy victory. We can only with for his own reputation, and for the credit of his profeffion, that Mr. Fell had proved himself a more rational, modeft, and generous adversary.
ART. II. Zoraida ; a Tragedy. As it is acted at the Theatre
Royal in Drury-Lane. To which is added a Poffcript, contain ing Observations on Tragedy. 8vo. 1 s. 6 d. Kearly 1780.
by with false criticism in the Spectator, in order to prejudice their minds in favour of Cato. Critics as we are, we beJieve this censure of Addison, by our predeceffor, to have been malevolent and ill-founded; and that the Spectators on Tram gedy, however they might occasionally coincide with the practice of the author, were dictated by the spirit of taste and candoor. The Writer of Zoraida has, however, fubjoined to his piece some “ Observations on Tragedy,” professedly written in vindication of the principles on which his drama is conStructed. It will not be improper, therefore, to blend an inveftigation of these principles with an examination of the tragedy; both of which the Author has, with much fairness, fubmitted to critical decision,
These Observations, though miscellaneous, are digested methodically. The greater part, being little more than a collection of received opinions, transcribed from Aristotle, Hurd, Marmontel, &c. are incontrovertible; but the remainder, containing new doctrines now first broached, and maintained by our Author himself, are, we think, in many instances, extremely questionable.
He commences with a new and, in our opinion, a dangerous maxim, that a tragedy for the closet, and a tragedy for the ftage, must please on different principles. No such diftinction occurs in Aristotle, in whose days the arts of scenic representation departed more widely from the truth of Nature, than the theatrical exhibitions of the moderns. Plays are avowedly written to be acted, and Aristotle reckons music and decoration among the parts of tragedy. Modern critics, though they have omitted these local afiftants, rightiy considering them rather as the dress than the body of tragedy, have however constantly adverted to the theatre in all their observations on the drama ; never counselling the writer to sacrifice by turns to the reader and spectator, but exhorting him to use the means of faithful and lively. imitation. These means are undoubtedly an interesting fable, supported by characters accurately delineated, and justly sustained. The sentiments and diction follow of course.
Verbaque provifam rem non invita fequuntur. The inference which the Observer has drawn from his first maxim, appears to us as erroneous as the maxim itself. Fable, he says, is most calculated to please on the stage, and Manners in the closet; the first moft forcibly exciting pity and terror, the latter only moving admiration. In our opinion, both fable and manners, in the hands of a master, first leize our passions, and afterward receive the sanction of our judgment. The fable is perhaps, of the two, more peculiarly the work of art, and consequently most the object of admiration ; or, to speak the Observer's language, of our “ artificial and reflective parfions.” To try this matter fairly by the feelings of the reader, totally unconnected with theatrical artifice, let us instance the English comic-epic of Tom Jones. The sprightly and affecting exhibition of manners alternately excite our mirth, and move our passions ; but the artificial contexture of the fable, particularly toward the conclufion, has constantly raised admi. ration.
The introduction of tragedies, raised chiefly on manners, the Observer has afligned to Corneille. How could he, in this instance, overlook our great countryman, Shakspeare? The nice discrimination of the various shades of the human mind, the pourtraying of character, was Shakspeare's great excellence. His fable is often comparatively defective. What is the conduct of the story of Hamlet viewed with the person of Hamlet and the Ghost? What author more openly sins against the strictness of fable, or more uniformly adheres to the truth of character? It is to this he chiefly owes his power on the flage, as well as in the closet. Improbabilities of fable are often overlooked by the spectator, if not accompanied with violation of character. Aristotle indeed philofophically stated the fable to be the ground of tragedy, because a tissue of scenes, unconnected by action, however faithfully and elegantly exhibiting manners, could not constitute a drama, tragic or comic: yet he never hinted that fable and manners were not equally essential to the written or acted tragedy. Even in the epic, unadapted to the theatre, yet capable of many ornaments not admiffible in tragedy, the delineation and preservation of the manners is a most important requisite. The Observer, however, by his instances from Corneille, and others, seems to have confounded the exhibition of character with declamation. · We are not better pleased with the idea of the only new property that the Observer has afligned to the fable itself, the Marvellous ! To elevate and surprise is the system of The Rehearsal, but not the code of Aristotle; and if by the Marvellous, the Observer means any thing more than an interesting and judi, cious arrangement of the incidents, we lift up both hands against his opinion. That he means fomething more, we conclude from his construction of the tragedy of ZORAIDA, the fable of which is much less probable or pathetic, than marvellous. The catastrophe is also cold, though marvellous; a defect perhaps arising from another of our Observer’s new ideas of tragedy, that " a happy catastrophe must be carefully concealed till the moment of its arrival.” Not to enter into argument on this point, we shall content ourselves with refuting the principle by one splendid example. The catastrophe of Shakspeare's Cymbeline is happy, and consists of a recapitulation of incidents previously known to the spectator; yet the author has contrived to render it uncommonly warm and affecting. The author of Zoraida, on the contrary, has carefully concealed his plot from the spectator till the last scene; when, all on a sudden, he converts the lover of Zoraida into her brother. We smile at the poetical table of consanguinity, so unexpectedly brought before us, and wait to see the drama concluded by the Emperor's marrying Old Joan. Not to dwell on the staleness of the fiction, we do not remember a play in which it is introduced with more labour and violence, or in which it creates so little intereft.
The manners of the tragedy of Zoraida are Turkish, and in these the Author-Observer points out to us the accurate atten
tion he has paid to the costumé, to which the sentiment and diction, as well as action of each personage religiously accord. • The only thing (says the Observer) a dramatic writer, whose fable is Eastern, has to consider is, to select bis images with judge ment, to take care they have a local propriety, contain allufions to the mythology and customs of the Dramatis Perfonæ, are taken from furrounding objects, and belong to ideas familiar to thefe WHO SPEAK.” We beg leave however to remark to the Author, that images, selected with judgment, should not only belong to ideas familiar to those who speak, but should avoid allufions totally foreign to the knowledge or apprehensions of those who bear. This management of local proprieties requires a tafte and address not so happily displayed in the tragedy of Zoraida, as in some other plays founded on Eastern stories. Part of the Turkish mythology is popular, and generally known. Such allufions are preferable to a parade of Oriental pedantry; as a proof of which let the reader of Zoraida compare Almaimon's description of the Mahometan paradife (p. 28) to Caled's beautiful verses on the fame subject in Hughes's Siege of Damascus !
The whole of the diction of this tragedy abounds in imagery. We agree with the Author, that the tragic style demands Tome elevation, and that the use of images is admissible: but, not to seem unnatural, they should appear to be the spontaneous effofions of the speaker, rather than the laborious affectation of the author. They should not run out into long and luxuriant defcriptions, and they ought to be level to che understanding of the auditor. A writer might as well introduce Eastern characters speaking in the Oriental tongue, and contend for its propriety, as to overload bis dialogue with references and allufions equally intelligible to the generality of the audience. Perfpicuity without meanness, says Aristotle, is the virtue of style; plainly intimating, that though the diaion may be raised, its bafis Íhould be fimplicity. The personages of Zorajda are always on the stretch after expression; their language abounds in forced images, used by Princes and Attendants, Princeffes and Confidantes, Ottomans and Ægyptians, indiscriminately,
The beginning of the Fourth A&t will serve as some specimen of the style of this tragedy, though less full of imagery, local or general, than many other passages :