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It is from the example of princes, that virtue be
comes a fashion in the people; sor even they who are
averse to instruction, will yet be fond of imitation.
But there are multitudes who never can have means
nor opportunities of so near an access, as to partake of the benefit of such examples. And, to these, Tragedy,
which distinguishes itself from the vulgar Poetry by the
dignity of its characters, may be of use and informa
tion. For they who are at that distance from original greatness, as to be deprived of the happiness of con
templating the perfections, and real excellencies of jour Royal Highness's person in your court, may yet
behold some small sketches and imagings of the virtues of your mind, abstracted, and represented on the
Thus Poets are instructed, and instruct; not alone by precepts which persuade, but also by examples which illustrate. Thus is delight interwoven with instruction; when not only virtue is prescribed, but also represented.
But if we are delighted with the liveliness of a feigned representation of great and good persons and their actions, how must we be charmed with beholding the persons themselves? If one or two excelling qualities, barely touched in the single action, and small compass, of a Play, can warm an audience with a concern and regard even for the seeming success and
prosperity of the actor, with what zeal must the hearts of all be filled for the continued and encreasing happiness of those who are the true and living instances of elevated and persisting virtue? Even the vicious themselves must have a secret veneration for those peculiar graces and endowments which are daily so eminently conspicuous in your Royal Highness; and, though repining, seel a pleasure, which, in spite of envy, they perforce approve.
, If, in this Piece, humbly offered to your Royal Highness, there shall appear the resemblance of any of those many excellencies which you so promiscuously possess, to be drawn so as to merit your least approbation, it has the end and accomplishment of its design. And however impersect it may be, in the whole, through the inexperience or incapacity of the author; yet isthere is so much as to convince your Hoyal Highness, that a Play may be, with industry so disposed (in spite of the licentious practice of the modern Theatre) as to become sometimes an innocent, and not unprofitable entertainment; it will abundantly gratify the ambition, and recompense the endeavours of Your Royal Highness's Most obedient, and
Most humbly devoted Servant,
WILLIAM CONGREP E.
THE MOURNING BRIDE.
This splendid error of a man of genius has been popular among such as either knew not, or did not feel, the chaster ornaments of composition—but gave to extravagance of sentiment and improbability of situation what is due only to propriety and nature.
As the language and the sentiments of this tragedy exemplify very forcibly every fault in dramatic composition, it may not be disserviceable to Letters to extend the brevity of our mentions for this article.
CoNG Reve's imagination was naturally vivid, luxuriant, and rapid.—He heaps up, when the impetus is upon him, an accumulation of glitter and gawd, extravagant and mistimed.—For passion his common substitute is splendor; yet so unequal are his powers, that he has frequently scenes of alternate inanity and bombast—of creeping imbecility and soaring extravagance.
Of his use of unmeaning expletive, take the following sample:—
Almería. But I did promise I would tell thee—What?
And, when I told thee thou didst nothing know,
Surely this is Nothin G.
Of the inane take the following delečtable dose:
Osmyn. I hate her not, nor can dissemble love—
This reminds us of Corporal Nym and ancient Pistol— one of which tatterdemalions says—
I cannot tell,
Of miserable extravagance, and misplaced metaphor, read this rant: Osmyn. What brightness breaks upon me thus thro' shades, And promises a day to this dark dwelling * A Prince imprisoned is not thus superlative in expression.—Observe also the lady is veiled.
The grand model for tender intercourse, the exact etiquette of dress, and, colloquial communicativeness, here follows, extracted from a scene between Almeria and Leonora: Leon. Husband 1 O Heav'ns ! Alm. Alas! what have I said 2 My grief has hurried me beyond all thought. I would have kept that secret; though I know Thy love and faith to me deserve all confidence. The reason why she would conceal it, is extremely curious.
But 'tis the wretch’s comfort still to have
Some small reserve of near and inward woe,
Some unsuspected hoard of darling grief,
Which they (who are they J unseen may wail, and weep, - and mourn,
And, glutton-like, alone devour.
But it is necessary we should remark, ALL is not like these notitia—the Play has sentiments, now and then, that are natural, and description that both Feeling and Fancy may delight in—but it excites no interest— the personages are out of drawing—the modest outline of nature is bloated by extravagance, and ornamented by an injudicious fancy with jewels that glitter only in the sooty ear of an Ethiop.