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husband, of his mistress, and of her father the King of Corinth, all by poison. It was necessary to bring Medea upon the stage, and there is but one place of action, which is always occupied by the chorus. This scene closes the second act : and in the end of the third, the frankly makes the chorus her confidents in plotting the murder of her own children. Terence, by identity of place, is often forced to make a conversation within doors, be heard on the open street: the cries of a woman in labour are there heard distinctly.
The Greek poets are not less hampered by unity of time than by that of place. In the Hippolytus of Euripides, that prince is banished at the end of the fourth act ; and in the first scene of the following act, a messenger relates to Theseus the whole particulars of the death of Hippolytus by the sea-monster : that remarkable event must have occupied many hours ; and yet in the representation, it is confined to the time employed by the chorus upon the song at the end of the 4th act. The inconsistency is still greater in the Iphigenia in Tauris :* the fong could not exhaust half an hour ; and yet the incidents fuppofed to have happened during that time, could not naturally have been transacted in less than half a day.
The Greek artists are forced, no less frequently, to tranfgrefs another rule, derived also from a continued representation. The rule is, that as a vacuity, however momentary, interrupts the representation, it is neceflary that the place of action be constantly occupied. Sophocles, with regard to that rule as well as to others, is generally correct. But Euripides cannot bear such restraint : he often evacuates the stage, and leaves it empty for others. Iphigenia in Tauris,
after * Act 5. Sc. 4.
after pronouncing a soliloquy in the first scene, leaves the place of action, and is succeeded by Orestes and Pylades : they, after some conversation, walk off ; and Iphigenia re-enters, accompanied with the chorus.
In the Alcestes, which is of the fame author, the place of action is void at the end of the third act. It is true, that to cover the irregularity, and to pre. serve the representation in motion, Euripides is careful to fill the stage without loss of time : but this still is an interruption, and a link of the chain broken ; for during the change of the actors, there must be a space of time, during which the stage is occupied by neither set. It makes indeed a more remarkable interruption, to change the place of action as well as the actors ; but that was not practicable upon the Grecian stage.
It is hard to say upon whať model Terence has formed his plays. Having no chorus, there is a pause in the representation at the end of every act. But advantage is not taken of the cessation, even to vary the place of action : for the street is always chosen, where every thing palling may be seen by every person ; and by that choice, the most sprightly and interesting parts of the action, which commonly pass within doors, are excluded ; witness the last act of the Eunuch. He hath fubmitted to the like slavery with respect to time. In a word, a play with a regular chorus, is not more confined in place and time than his plays are. Thus a zealous fectary follows implicitly ancient forms and ceremonies, without once considering whether their introductive cause be still subfisting. Plautus, of a bolder genius than Terence, nakes good use of the liberty afforded by an interrupted representation : he varies the place of action upon all occasions, when the variation suits his purpofe.
The intelligent reader will by this time understand, that I plead for no change of place in our plays but after an interval, nor for any latitude in point of time but what falls in with an interval. The unities of place and time ought to be strictly observed during each act ; for during the representation, there is no opportunity for the smallest deviation from either. Hence it is an essential requisite, that during an act the stage be always occupied ; for even a momentary vacuity makes an interval or interruption. Another rule is no less efsential : it would be a gross breach of the unity of action, to exhibit upon the stage two separate actions at the same time, and therefore, to preserve that unity, it is necessary that each personage introduced during an act, be linked to those in poffefsion of the stage, so as to join all in one action.
These things follow from the very conception of an act, which admits not the flightest interruption : the moment the representation is intermitted, there is an end of that act ; and we have no notion of a new act, but where, after a pause or interval, the representation is again put in motion. French writers, generally speaking, are correct in this particular. The English, on the contrary, are so irregular, as scarce to deferve a criticism. Actors, during the fame act, not only succeed each other in the fame place without connection, but what is still less excufable, they frequently succeed each other in different places. This change of place in the same act, ought never to be indulged ; for, beside breaking the unity of the act, it has a disagreeable effect. After an interval, the imagination readily adapts itself to any place that is necessary, as readily as at the commencement of the play ; but during the representation, we reject change of place. From the foregoing censure must be excepted the Mourning Bride of Congreve,
where regularity concurs with the beauty of fentiment and of language, to make it one of the most complete pieces England has to boast of. I must acknowledge, however, that in point of regularity, this elegant performance is not altogether unexceptionable. In the four first acts, the unities of place and time are strictly observed : but in the last act, there is a capital error with respect to unity of place; for in the three first scenes of that act, the place of action is a room of state, which is changed to a prison in the fourth scene : the chain also of the actors is broken ; as the persons introduced in the prison, are different from those who made their appearance in the room of state. This remarkable interruption of the representation, makes in effect two acts instead of one : and therefore, if it be a rule that a play ought not to consist of more acts than five, this performance is so far defective in point of regularity. I may add, that even admitting fix acts, the irregularity would not be altogether removed, without a longer pause in the representation than is allowed in the acting ; for more than a momentary interruption is requisite for enabling the imagination readily to fall in with a new place, or with a wide space of time. In The Way of the World, of the same author, unity of place is preserved during every act, and a stricter unity of time during the whole play, than is necessary.
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Gardening and Architecture.
HE books we have upon architecture and upon embellishing ground, abound in practical instruction, necessary for a mechanic : but in vain should we rummage them for rational principles to improve our taste. In a general system, it might be thought sufficient to have unfolded the principles that govern these and other fine arts, leaving the application to the reader : but as I would neglect no opportunity of showing the extensive influence of these principles, the purpose of the present chapter is to apply them to gardening and architecture: but without intending any regular plan of these favourite arts, which would be unsuitable not only to the nature of this work, but to the experience of its author.
Gardening was at first an useful art : in the garden of Alcinous, described by Homer, we find nothing done for pleasure merely. But gardening is now improved into a fine art ; and when we talk of a garden without any epithet, a pleasure garden, by way of eminence is understood : The garden of Alcinous, in modern language, was but a kitchengarden. Architecture has run the same course : it continued many ages an useful art merely, without aspiring to be classed with the fine arts. Architecture, therefore, and gardening, being useful arts as well as fine arts, afford two different views. The reader, however, will not here expect rules for improving any work of art in point of utility ; it being no part of my plan to treat of any useful art as such :