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itself is of the least dramatic kind, (viz. political and sentimental,) not but there are some affecting scenes in these three acts ; and if your two last are gloriously poetical, I will insure you both fame and profit. I could wish, if you have rough-written the whole, that you would immediately repair to this place, that we might confer upon these matters, for it will be impossible to say every foolish thing I have to say to you by letter. Some of the scenes are rather heavy, particularly that between Rhesus and Euanthe, and that between Agis and Lysander, in the second act. I likewise think that Lysander comes too suddenly upon the stage, for Agis has but just quitted it; Euanthe speaks a soliloquy, then enters Rhesus, giving an account of Li/gander's arrival and victory, and that he was with Agis. Now, is it possible to conceive that Agis could get to the Senate, meet Lysander there, and that the necessary matters between them could be dispatched in the time so short a scene can be performed? The first scene of the lovers is not, in my opinion, so interesting and affecting as that in the third act, and indeed you'll say that it ought not to be so; but all I mean is this, that their first scene in the first act is not in proportion so well written and magical as their last, or that in the third act. If you and your friends should think me in this a little too hypercritical, I shall very readily submit to better judgments. But now for something of more consequence;—surely the reason that Isysander gives to Euanthe,—(but I, Euanthe, partial to thy will, Sought Thee In Vain,)—for being shut up in the city, is a very weak one, and almost amounts to the ridiculous. What! not find a lady of her quality, who is under the protection of the king, and lives in the palace? This certainly must be altered.* I was thinking whether the scene between them in the third act might not pass before the gates are shut, and that upon leaving her he finds his going to the camp obstructed by the sudden order of Amphares, that then he may return to her in the helot"s dress, which would very naturally and forcibly bring on the fine capital scene in the third act, between him, her, and Amphares. I am speaking at random, and therefore you must make what use you please of these my loose thoughts. Is not there too little matter in the second act? the whole consists of that very long scene between Agis and Lysander, the entrance of a Senator, the procession, and the soliloquy, (which is a very fine one) of Amphares. I cannot as yet see what use we can make of Sandane; she is very insignificant hitherto, and unless she has something to do in the two last acts, she will appear to have no business in the tragedy. I am called away, and can only say, that the more I read of Agis, the more I like it', and if the pathos rises to a proper height in the two last acts, f affair estfaite. It will be a most unspeakable pleasure to me to convince you how much I regard and esteem you. "I am, dear Sir,
"Your friend and very humble servant,
"Mrs Garrick presents her best compliments to you; she has cry'd at you already. You have written some passages in these three acts, more like Shakespeare than any other author ever did."
Yet the objections of Garrick to this tragedy as a play to be acted, seem to me to be well founded. The two first acts lag so much, and have so much of mere languid declamation, that it would be hardly possible for any performer to keep up the attention of the audience during this pause of the main action, and the barrenness of incident which attends it. The poetry, however, is in general smooth and flowing, and the sentiments striking and well expressed. There is much of the favourite spirit of the author, the admirer of martial glory, in the short speech of Rhesus, characterising his brother, the second in command in that Thracian army, which was to awe the Spartans, and destroy their king:
"Next in command my brother Euxus stands,
And the sentiment of Lysander, when his prince wishes him to leave him in Sparta, and provide for their future safety by repairing to the army, is happily expressed, without being overloaded, like those of many other dramas, with unnecessary words :—
"Things past belong to memory alone,
Nor is the reflection of the calm and philosophic Agis without its peculiar merit, and is sufficiently appropriate both to the character and the situation.
. . "In times like these, of a declining state,
The following may be thought too bold, and the figure is somewhat open to ridicule, in respect of the picture which it presents:
——— " On the insect wing
Of a small moment, ride th' eternal fates."
Yet I have heard it admired at the time; and even now, in that vague extravagant sort of sublimity, begotten by Genius upon Nonsense, which has distinguished some recent productions, it would, I doubt not, excite admiration and applause.
In the third act occurs the incident of which, as I have formerly mentioned, the author was so proud, and which Garrick foresaw would strike the audience so much, that in which the villain Amphares disarms Lysander, by the threat of stabbing his much-loved Euanthe, if he continues to resist. Mr Home has repeated it, with scarce any variation, in one of the closing scenes of his Fatal Discovery.
The fourth act does not ill sustain, in the importance of its events, and the spirit of its dialogue, the interest which was excited in the third. The Athenian Lysander, bred in the academic school, may be excused, when, amidst the perils of his situation, he utters the following philosophical, but generous exclamation:—
"If man is like the leaf,
Which, falling from the tree, revives no more,