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INTRODUCTION

THE idea which underlies true and pure comedy is, as the present writer understands it, that it should furnish cause for mocking but not ungenial laughter by a representation, in the guise of a fable—interesting dramatically--of the various actions, motives, humours, follies, inconsistencies, absurdities, pretensions, and hypocrisies of human life.

In doing this, which, as man's literary capacity and his faculty of imagination go, seems to be a most difficult and rarely well-done thing, if the mirror be truly held up to nature, the result-after allowing for some slight conventional distortion of the image in accordance with accepted stage traditions-is Comedy, whether it be after the grand fashion set by Shakspere, or in the mode of Molière, or in that of Congreve and Sheridan. If the glamour of romance be cast over a drama, and if the characters, using a poetic diction, address each other otherwise than as men and women do in daily life, it is still indeed comedy in comb

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