« 이전계속 »
that I must exhaust its patience by what it was necessary for me to read of the principal events of his life, and the characters of his friends. I could not think of tiring it with listening to my remarks on his works, or with another usual accompaniment, perhaps at least as material, of such memoirs as this,—the most interesting letters of such of his friends and correspondents as were conspicuous in public or literary life. These I therefore reserve to a future meeting, if the Society shall think they are likely to deserve being read; and with regard to the letters, I shall derive great advantage from the delay, because it is only this very day that I have received from a near relation of Mr Home's, a very large collection of those which he received from Mr D. Hume, Mr Garrick, Dr Blair, Lord Elibank, and others, strongly characteristic both of the writers themselves, of the persons to whom they were addressed, and not unfrequently of the times when they were written.
SOME ACCOUNT OF HIS WORKS, AND THE LETTERS OP HIS CORRESPONDENTS.
I Had intended, previously to giving any account of Mr Home's Works, to have prefaced it with a short notice of the state of the literature of this part of the kingdom at the time when he began to write; but I found this statement likely to grow, under my hands, to a size rather disproportionate to what might be called the text of my biographical sketch of the poet.
I will content myself, at present, with mentioning the general state of the public taste and opinion with regard to the drama, at the period when Mr Home first began to cultivate dramatic poetry. It was not long after Mr Garrick had opened the new theatre of Drury Lane, with that idolatry of Shakespeare, which his admirable acting, in some of the principal characters of that inimitable poet, tended so strongly to confirm. The heroics of the former age had gone into that oblivion from which fashion only had rescued them at their first production. Such was the power of that fashion, that Otway's admirable tragedies of the Orphan, and Venice Preserved, had received only a moderate degree of public approbation ; while his play of Don Carlos, every way inferior to these, and possessing, indeed, very little merit of any kind, received the unbounded applause which the Duke of Buckingham has recorded in his satyrical poem of the Session of the Poets. Among the candidates for the laureateship, Otway is introduced, not as founding his claim on the excellent dramas first above mentioned, but as
"Tom Shadwell's dear Zany,
the other line of the couplet is so gross and disgusting, that the Society will excuse my repeating it.
At the time of Mr Home's beginning to turn his thoughts to the composition of tragedy, this author, Otway, had attained that true rank in dramatic poetry to which his power over the passions, and the exquisite tenderness of his pathetic scenes, so justly entitled him. His name was always coupled with that of Shakespeare, by the friends of the drama in this country. Next in rank were placed Howe and Southern; the first for the richness and melody of his verse, the last for that natural pathos with which he invested dramatic distress. Congreve's single tragedy of the Mourning Bride had been received with great applause; certainly there was something very impressive in one of the characters, (that of Zara,) and the incidents, if not very probable, were striking and theatrical. Dr Young had, with a very successful boldness, produced a play on the same subject as that of Othello, which owed, perhaps, great part of its success to that semi-bombastic dignity with which his Zanga was invested, a character to which Young's florid and swelling diction was well suited, and which gave to some actors, who were celebrated for their performance of that part, (the Irish Mossop in particular,) an opportunity of displaying strong powers, better adapted to the savage and relentless energy of the Moor, than to the expression of more natural feelings. A few months before the first representation of Douglas, Moore brought out his tragedy of the Gamester, a dramatic story, sketched with somewhat a finer pencil than the plays of Lillo, whose family tragedies (as they may be called) had been favourably received by the public, and were on a plan that might be considered original, as they preceded, by a considerable period, the drames of the French stage, which, for some time, were so popular in France. The Gamester, however, with all its merits, rather languished on the London theatre, till the reflected reputation which it borrowed from the success of a French imitation of it, which Garrick found in high favour at Paris, brought it into equal favour on the London stage; and the Society knows the celebrity it has since acquired from the exquisite representation of its domestic distress in the acting of Mrs Siddons. I may speak of Mrs Siddons, now that she has quitted the stage, as an actress of former times; it would not, perhaps, be altogether delicate to speak of performers who continue to hold a high place there.
Mr Home does not seem to have written with any of the above-named authors in his view.— Shakespeare, of whose excellence he was an enthusiastic admirer, he did not think of imitating in manner or in style ; and the later poets he does not appear, from any of his private notes or letters which I have seen, to have either studied or followed. He had, I presume, very early conceived the idea of dramatic composition, and indeed I have not been able to find traces of any poetical attempts of his early life, when he wrote poetry independently of this idea. In his admiration of ancient republicanism, which the warm and enthusiastic turn of mind which I have before mentioned, as natural to him, readily excited, he had written a prose essay of considerable length, (already noticed