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below" is also full of wit, but it is almost a translation from Quevedo. "Celia altogether," by Whitehead, is sprightly and pleasing. "Love and folly" is either a pretty song or a pretty epigram. It may be proper to notice here that though all epigrammatic points are judiciously proscribed in the serious lyric, they are yet very admissible in the lighter kinds. Lord Chesterfield's little song beginning "Mistaken fair," &c. has much wit; and there is a vein of odd humour in a song not very new"Vain are the charms of white and red," &c. Of modern song-writers, George Alexander Stephens, Mr. Sheridan, and Captain Morris have excelled most of their contemporaries in the facetious and witty.
As in prose, so the epistolary form will apply to any subject, and almost to any style of poeti cal composition. It suits best, however, with the moral, the familiar and the gay. Mr. Prior's Epistle to Fleetwood Shepherd is a happy specimen of the familiar epistle in verse. Mr. Pope's Epistle to Mr. Addison, occasioned by his Dialogues on Medals, is excellent in its kind; and Mr. Addison's Letter from Italy
contains some fine description, and some good poetry, though the style of his heroic verse is never equal to that of Mr. Pope.
Tales and fables may also be adopted into almost any species of poetry. An heroic poem is indeed only an extended tale; and Dryden's Alexander's Feast is a kind of story. Tales and fables are often happily introduced as illustrations in moral poetry. There are some very lively and interesting in the satires and epistles of Horace; and I have already remarked the excellence of Pope's Sir Balaam.
For nature, interest, and useful tendency, the best tale in our language is that of my friend Mr. M'Neil, "Scotland's Scaith." Of a different description, but extremely beautiful, is Parnel's Hermit. Dr. Goldsmith's beautiful tale of "Edwin and Angelina" has seemingly furnished the hint for the story of Dr. Percy's "Friar of Orders Gray," in which the author has ingeniously contrived to weave several detached fragments of antient composition. Both are beautiful, but they want the moral of the two former pieces.
Phædrus was the first who composed fables
in verse; but he is little more than a mere translator of Æsop, and has lost much of the simplicity and beauty of the original. The best poetical fables in any language are those of Mr. Gay.
Dramatic Poetry.—Tragedy.— Æschylus.— Sophocles.-Euripides. - Corneille. — Ra cine.-Voltaire.-Shakspeare. -Otway.— Dryden.-Rowe.-Young.
MY DEAR JOHN,
I SHALL proceed in this letter to a very brief consideration of dramatic poetry, a branch of literature of which your favourites the antients had very faint ideas indeed; and whoever draws his opinions from them, will never conceive properly of what we denominate, in plain English, (I cannot find a better word) a play. A play has this advantage above every other work of imagination, that it is a perfect representation of life: not only the ear and the understanding are interested, but the eye itself: it sees the whole action, and if the representation is a good one, the deception is almost complete, and we might mistake it for a reality.
Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures, "Quam quæ sunt oculis commissa fidelibus & quæ
Ipse sibi tradit spectator.'
DE ART POET. v. 180.
"What we hear
"With weaker passion will affect the heart,
The word drama is universally allowed to be derived from the Greek verb Spaw, to do, and it might be literally explained an action. Our word play perhaps is still better, as it implies an amusing representation or entertainment; yet it is perhaps more applicable to representations of the gay or sportive kind than to those of tragedy.
Both terms, however, imply an action, or story, or plot as it is sometimes called, and this constitutes the difference between plays and dialogues. Some of the pastorals of Theocritus and Virgil might be termed little dramas, because they have something of plot or story; but the majority of eclogues are mere dialogues.
According to the nature of the subject, dra- 4 matic pieces class under two divisions, tragedy or comedy; though many modern performances