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thetic but where a ftory is purposely contrived to illuftrate fome moral truth, by fhowing that diforderly paffions naturally lead to external misfortunes; fuch compofition may be denominated moral.* Befide making a deeper impreffion than can be done by cool reafoning, a moral poem does not fall fhort of reafoning in affording conviction: the natural connection of vice with mifery, and of virtue with happinefs, may be illuftrated by stating a fact as well as by urging an argument. Let us affume, for example, the following moral truths; that difcord among the chiefs renders ineffectual all common measures; and that the confequences of a flightly founded quarrel, foftered by pride and arrogance, are no lefs fatal than thofe of the groffeft injury: thefe truths may be inculcated, by the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles at the fiege of Troy. If facts or circumftances be wanting, fuch as tend to rouse the turbulent paffions, they must be invented; but no accidental nor unaccountable event ought to be admitted; for the neceffary or probable connection between vice and mifery is not learned from any events but what are naturally occafioned by the characters and paffions of the perfons reprefented, acting in fuch and fuch circumstances. A real event of which we fee not the cause, may afford a leffon, upon the prefumption that what hath happened may again happen: but this cannot be inferted from a flory that is known to be a fiction.
The fame diftin&tion is applicable to that fort of fable which is faid to be the invention of Efop. A moral, it is true, is by all critics confidered as effential to fuch a fable. But nothing is more common than to be led blindly by authony; for of the numerous collections I have feen, the fables that clearly inculcate a moral, make a very fmall part. Ia many fables, indeed, proper pictures of vite and vice are exhibited: but the bulk of thefe collections convey no inflruction, nor afford any amuse. ment beyond what a child receives in reading an ordinary flory.
Many are the good effects of fuch compofitions. A pathetic compofition, 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.* frequent pictures of human woes, produce, befide, two effects extremely falutary: they improve our fympathy, and fortify us to bear our own misfortunes. A moral compofition obviously produces the fame good effects, because by being moral it ceaseth not to be pathetic: it enjoys befide an excellence peculiar to itself; for it not only improves the heart, as above mentioned, but inftructs the head by the moral it contains. I cannot imagine any entertainment more fuited to a rational being, than a work thus happily illuftrating fome imoral truth: where a number of perfons of different characters are engaged in an important action, fome retarding, others promoting, the great catastrophe: and where there is dignity of ftyle as well as of matter. A work of that kind has our fympathy at command; and can put in motion the whole train of the focial affections: our curiofity in fome fcenes is excited, in others gratified; and our delight is confummated at the clofe, 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 caufes and effects.
Confidering that an epic and a dramatic poem are the fame in fubftance, and have the fame aim or end, one will readily imagine that fubjects proper for the one must be equally proper for the other. But confidering their difference as to form, there will be
*See chap. 2. part 1. fec. 4.
found reafon to correct that conjecture at leaft in fome degree. Many fubjects may indeed be treated with equal advantage in either form; but the fubjects are ftill more numerous for which they are not equally qualified; and there are fubjects proper for the one and not for the other. To give fome flight notion of the difference, as there is no room here for enlarging upon every article, I obferve, that dialogue is better qualified for expreffing fentiments, and narrative for difplaying facts. Heroifm, magnanimity, undaunted courage, and other elevated virtues, figure beft in action: tender paffions, and the whole tribe of fympathetic affections, figure beft in fentiment. It clearly follows, that tender pasfions are more peculiarly the' province of tragedy, grand and heroic actions of epic poetry.*
I have no occafion to fay more upon the epic, confidered as peculiarly adapted to certain fubjects. But as dramatic fubjects 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 Paffions, it is occafionally shown, that the fubject best fitted for tragedy is where a man has himself been the caufe of his misfortune; not fo as to be deeply guilty, nor altogether innocent: the misfortune must be occafioned by a fault incident to human nature, and therefore in fome degree venial. Such misfortunes call forth the focial affections, and warmly intereft the fpectator. An accidental misfortune, if not extremely fingular, doth
* In Racine tender fentiments prevail; in Corneille, grand and heroic manners. Hence clearly the preference of the former before the latter, as dramatic poets, Corneille would have figured better in an heroic poem.
+ Part 4.
doth not greatly move our pity: the perfon who fuffers, being innocent, is freed from the greatest of all torments, that anguifh of mind which is occafioned by remorfe :
Poco é funefta
An atrocious criminal, on the other hand, who brings misfortunes upon himself, excites little pity, for a different reafon: his remorfe, it is true, aggravates his distress, and fwells the firft 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 remorfe to embitter the diftrefs, which raifes our pity to a height; and the flight indignation we have at a venial fault, detracts not fenfibly from our pity. The happieft of all fubjects accordingly for raifing 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 remorfe aggravates his diftrefs; and cur compaffion, unrestrained by indignation, knows no bounds. Pity comes thus to be the ruling paffion of a pathetic tragedy; and by proper reprefentation, may be raised to a height fearce exceeded by any thing felt in real life. A moral tragedy takes in a larger field; as it not only exercifes our pity, but raifes another paffion, which, though feitith, deferves to be cherished equally with the focial affection. The paffion I have in view is fear or terror; for when a misfortune
misfortune is the natural confequence of fome wrong bias in the temper, every fpectator who is conscious of fuch a bias in himfelf, 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 fpectators are put up. on their guard against the diforders of paffion.
The commentators upon Ariftotle, 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 forts of paffion." But no one who has a clear conception of the end and effects of a good tragedy, can have any difficulty about Ariftotle's meaning: our pity is engaged for the perfons reprefented; and our terror is upon our own account. Pity indeed is here made to ftand for all the fympathetic emotions, because of thefe it is the capital. There can be no doubt that our fympathetic emotions are refined or improved by daily exercife; and in what manner our other paflions are refined by terror, I have juft now faid. One thing is certain, that no other meaning can juftly be given to the foregoing doctrine than that now mentioned; and that it was really Ariftotle's meaning, appears from his 13th chapter, where he delivers feveral propofitions conformable to the doctrine as here explained. Thefe, at the fame time, I take liberty to mention; becaufe, as far as authority can go, they confirm the foregoing reafoning about fubjects proper for tragedy. The firft propofition is, That it being the province of tragedy to excite pity and terror, an innocent perfon falling into adverfity ought never to be the fubject. This propofition is a neceffary confequence of his doctrine as explained: a fabject of that nature may indeed excite pity and terror; but in the former in an inferior degree, and