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ply this general doctrine to the present case, what I apprehend shocks in the episode of Lysander and Euanthe, is, that their situation is not sufficiently explained to justify the impatient passion of the one, and the distressful tenderness of the other; their sentiments,neither improper in themselves,nor improperly expressed, may become so from the situation not being properly explained; and, consequently, the reader or spectator left at liberty to form such ideas of that situation, as his own force of mind suggests to him, which is not always directed by good nature—the very reverse of which is always indulged in subjects where aversion is professedly expected. Another inconveniency attending episodes, is, that the distress they produce seldom coincides or mingles perfectly with the general distress or catastrophe of the piece ; and if it does not, it plainly diminishes it in just the same proportion. This inconveniency is hard to be avoided in any episode, unless a very fortunate one indeed ; and I am afraid takes place in this of Lysander and Euanthe, which, in some measure, gives occasion to the other objections; viz. that the catastrophe consists not of one general distress, but of various distresses, each occasioning a different sentiment from each other—for this I apprehend the objection to be. The distress of Lysander and Euanthe is a different one from that of Agis and Sparta, through the whole play; and the sentiment of compassion different which the mind gives to each. If this is so, they may, perhaps, instead of heightening the sum total of the catastrophe, by taking from each other, rather serve to diminish it. One other cause could possibly be assigned why the catastrophe strikes in this manner, and that is, that Agis's imprisonment, from which period the conspirators might, if they would, have put him to death, may possibly, with some minds, finish the main action in the fourth act; and if this should be so, the deaths ofAgis, Lysander, and Euanthe, in the fifth act, may not mark the general catastrophe, or sum total of distress, but appear as so many relations of so many various events, each of which is attended with a different, and not one uniform sentiment. Thus, if the fate of Sparta is supposed to be determined in the fourth act, we are left in the fifth to do no more than survey the different ends of those who followed it. We may pity Euanthe—pity and applaud Lysander for his generosity—approve of Agis for his benevolence and stoicism, and detest the others. But the mind is not absorbed in one general passion or sentiment, of which all the particular ones are only so many parts which easily mix and blend together; and such is, and ought to be, the tragic catastrophe.— Those reflections which I have thrown loosely together since I received Mr Pitt's letter, did not, I Vol. \. v
own, occur to me before ; both as being no critic in such performances, and for being charmed, as I still am, with every detached scene of your piece, which I look upon as far the best of the kind I have read. But, on finding objections from a quarter for which I have so great deference, I was tempted to try if I could discover where the real strength of them lay; not only as success is scarce to be expected when objections from such people remain; but, as I know your genius and ability to be such as can easily free this play from them, or compose another as good, where none such shall exist. I will not pretend to answer for the pertness of any of the observations I have made, being quite a novice in those matters; But, as I write you with great freedom, I not only submit them to you, but at same time what occurs tp me; if you shall be of opinion that either those objections, or what I have said on them, is material. What occurs to me then is this; that I apprehend, with your genius and facility of composition, you will find it perhaps both an easier, a more agreeable, and a more successful task, to set about composing an entire new piece, where you will be master of the whole, and thereby enabled, with ease, to avoid every objection which has been made; while at the same time you can transfuse the whole of that poetical spirit, truth of character and interest, and beauty of diction, which has been, I will take upon me to say, so justly admired in
this. Should this be your own opinion, I dare say
"James Osavald." "Wandsworth, 15th June, 1750."
The suggestion of Mr Pitt was obeyed, and the play materially corrected; but neither the corrections of the author, nor the patronage of those friends, prevailed on Garrick to bring it on the stage. Afterwards, when the success of Douglas had given Mr Home considerable reputation, and principally, I believe, when he had become a favourite and companion of Lord Bute, and through him was patronised by the Prince of Wales, Garrick made no difficulty of bringing out this tragedy, in which he played the part of Lysander himself; and though he criticised, in the following letter, parts of the plan of the tragedy, and some of the scenes in detail, his indulgence for the author got the better of his judgment, and he brought out the tragedy without any of the alterations which he had suggested. It is amusing, when one recollects his absolute refusal of this play at a prior period, to peruse this letter, as well as the short note which I read along with the first part of this paper, from that celebrated actor and manager, whom the muses, I am afraid, interested somewhat in proportion as they were in favour at Court.
'« Nov. 5, 1757. "My Dear Sir,
"I sit down to write you in the midst of drums, trumpets, and, above all, the roarings of the mighty Bajazet; we are celebrating the glorious and immortal memory as loudly as we can, but I have stole away to say a word to you upon Agis. I have read the three acts over and over again; the language and characters in general please me. The subject