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thetic : but where a story is purposely contrived to illustrate some moral truth, by fhowing that diforderly passions naturally lead to external misfortunes ; such coniposition may be denominated moral.* Befide making a deeper impression than can be done by cool reasoning, a moral poem does not fall fhort of Teasoning in affording conviction : the natural cone nection of vice with misery, and of virtue with happiness, may be illustrated by stating a fact as well as by urging an argument. Let us assume, for example, the following moral truths ; that difcord among the chiefs renders ineffectual all common measures; and that the consequences of a slightly founded quarrel, fostered by pride and arroganco, are no less fatal than those of the grossest injury : these truths may be in culcated, by the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles at the siege of Troy. If facts or circumstances be wanting, such as tend to rouse the turbulent passions, they must be invented ; but no accidental nor unaccountable event ought to be admitted ; for the necessary or probable connection between vice and milery is not learned from any events but what are naturally occasioned by the characters and passions of the persons represented, acting in such and such circumstances. A real event of which we see not the cause, may afford a leffon, upon the presumption that what hath happened may again happen : but this cannot be inserted from a story that is known to be a fiction.
* The fame distinction is applicable to that fort of fable which is faid io be the invention of Elop. A moral, it is true, is by all crucs confidered as essential to such a fable. But nothing is more common than to be led blirdly by authony; for of the numerous collections I have seen, the fables that clearly inculcare a orel, make a very small part. la many fables, indeed, proper piấures of virtue and vice are exhibited: but the bulk of these collections convey no inílruction, nor afford any amuscment beyond what a child rectives in reading an ordinary flory,
Many are the good effects of such compositions. A pathetic composition, whether epic or dramatic, tends to a habit of virtue, by exciting us to do what is right, and restraining us from what is wrong. Its frequent pictures of human woes, produce, beside, two effects extremely falutary : they improve our sympathy, and fortify us to bear our own misfor. tunes. A moral composition obviously produces the same good effects, because by being moral it ceaseth not to be pathetic : it enjoys beside an excellence peculiar to itself; for it not only improves the heart, as above mentioned, but instructs the head by the moral it contains. I cannot imagine any entertainment more suited to a rational being, than a work thus happily illustrating some moral truth : where a number of persons of different characters are engage ed in an important action, some retarding, others promoting, the great catastrophe : and where there is dignity of style as well as of matter. A work of that kind has our sympathy at command ; and can put in motion the whole train of the social affections: our curiosity in some scenes is excited, in others gratified ; and our delight is consummated at the close, upon finding, from the characters and fituations exhibited at the commencement, that every incident down to the final catastrophe is natural, and that the whole in conjunction make a regular chain of causes and effects.
Considering that an epic and a dramatic poem are the fame in substance, and have the same aim or end, one will readily imagine that subjects proper, for the one must be equally proper for the other. But considering their difference as to form, there will be
* Sce chap. 2. part 1. fect. 4.
found reason to correct that conjecture at least in some degree. Many fubjects may indeed be treated with equal advantage in either form ; but the subjects are still more numerous for which they are not equally qualified ; and there are subjects proper for the one and not for the other. To give some flight notion of the difference, as there is no room here for enlarging upon every article, I observe, that dialogue is better qualified for expressing sentiments, and narrative for displaying facts. Heroism, magnanimity, undaunted courage, and other elevated virtues, figure best in action : tender passions, and the whole tribe of sympathetic affections, figure best in sentiment. It clearly follows, that tender palfons are more peculiarly the province of tragedy, grand and heroic actions of epic poetry.*
I have no occasion to say more upon the epic, considered as peculiarly adapted to certain subjects. But as dramatic subjects are more complex, I must take a narrower view of them ; which I do the more willingly in order to clear a point involved in great obfcurity by critics.
In the chapter of Emotions and Passions, it is occasionally shown, that the subject best fitted for tragedy is where a man has himself been the cause of his misfortune; not so as to be deeply guilty, nor altogether innocent : the misfortune must be occasioned by a fault incident to human nature, and therefore in some degree venial. Such misfortunes call forth the social affections, and warmly interest the spectator. An accidental misfortune, if not extremely fingular,
In Racine tender sentiments prevail; in Corneille, grand and hetoic manners. Hence clearly the preference of the former before the latter, as dramatic poets, Corneille would bave figured better in an hc
+ Part 4.
doth not greatly move our pity : the person who luffers, being innocent, is freed from the greatest of all torments, that anguish of mind which is occasioned by remorse :
An atrocious criminal, on the other hand, who brings misfortunes upon himself, excites little pity, for a different reason : his remorse, it is true, aggravates his distress, and swells the first emotions of pity; but these are immediately blunted by our hatred of him as a criminal. Misfortunes that are not innocent, nor highly criminal, partake the advantages of each extreme: they are attended with remorse to embitter the distress, which raises our pity to a height; and the flight indignation we have at a venial fault, detracts not sensibly from our pity. The happiest of all subjects accordingly for raising pity, is where a man of integrity falls into a great misfortune by doing an action that is innocent, but which, by fome fingular means, is conceived by him to be criminal : his remorse aggravates his distress ; and cur compassion, unrestrained by indignation, knows no bounds. Pity comes thus to be the ruling passion of a pathetic tragedy ; and by proper representation, may be raised to a height scarce exceeded by any ihing felt in real life. A moral tragedy takes in a larger field ; as it not only exercises our pity, but raifes another passion, which, though fcitith, deserves to be cherished equally with ihe social affection. The pafion I have in view is fear or terror ; for when a misfortune is the natural consequence of some wrong bias in the temper, every spectator who is conscious of such a bias in himself, takes the alarm, and dreads his falling into the fame misfortune : and by the emotion of fear or terror, frequently reiterated in a variety of moral tragedies, the spectators are put up. on their guard against the disorders of passion.
The commentators upon Aristotle, and other critics, have been much graveiled about the account given of tragedy by that author : “ That by means of pity and terror, it refines or purifies in us all sorts of passion." But no one who has a clear conception of the end and effects of a good tragedy, can have any difficulty about Aristotle's meaning : our pity is engaged for the persons represented ; and our terror is upon our own account. Pity indeed is here made to stand for all the sympathetic emotions, because of these it is the capital. There can be no doubt that our sympathetic emotions are refined or improved by daily exercife ; and in what manner our other passions are refined by terror, I have just now said. One thing is certain, that no other meaning can justly be given to the foregoing doctrine than that now mentioned ; and that it was really Aristotle's mean. ing, appears from his 13th chapter, where he delivers several propositions conformable to the do&rine as here explained. These, at the same time, I take libcrty to mention ; because, as far as authority can go, they confirm the foregoing reasoning about subjects proper
for tragedy. The first proposition is, That it being the province of tragedy to excite pity and terror, an innocent person falling into adversity ought never to be the subject. This propofition is a neceffary consequence of his docrine as explained : a fubject of that nature may indeed excite pity and terror ; but in the former in an inferior degree, and