The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 2,859 pages of information about The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3.

I have now gone through the several Dramatick Inventions which are made use of by [the] Ignorant Poets to supply the Place of Tragedy, and by [the] Skilful to improve it; some of which I could wish entirely rejected, and the rest to be used with Caution.  It would be an endless Task to consider Comedy in the same Light, and to mention the innumerable Shifts that small Wits put in practice to raise a Laugh. Bullock in a short Coat, and Norris in a long one, seldom fail of this Effect. [5] In ordinary Comedies, a broad and a narrow brim’d Hat are different Characters.  Sometimes the Wit of the Scene lies in a Shoulder-belt, and Sometimes in a Pair of Whiskers.  A Lover running about the Stage, with his Head peeping out of a Barrel, was thought a very good Jest in King Charles the Second’s time; and invented by one of the first Wits of that Age. [6] But because Ridicule is not so delicate as Compassion, and [because] [7] the Objects that make us laugh are infinitely more numerous than those that make us weep, there is a much greater Latitude for comick than tragick Artifices, and by Consequence a much greater Indulgence to be allowed them.

C.

[Footnote 1:  the]

[Footnote 2:  In Act V The toll of the passing bell for Pierre in the parting scene between Jaffier and Belvidera.]

[Footnote 3:  Thus Rene Rapin,—­whom Dryden declared alone

  ’sufficient, were all other critics lost, to teach anew the rules of
  writing,’

said in his ‘Reflections on Aristotle’s Treatise of Poetry,’ translated by Rymer in 1694,

The English, our Neighbours, love Blood in their Sports, by the quality of their Temperament:  These are Insulaires, separated from the rest of men; we are more humane ...  The English have more of Genius for Tragedy than other People, as well by the Spirit of their Nation, which delights in Cruelty, as also by the Character of their Language, which is proper for Great Expressions.’]

[Footnote 4:  The Earl of Roscommon, who died in 1684, aged about 50, besides his ‘Essay on Translated Verse,’ produced, in 1680, a Translation of ‘Horace’s Art of Poetry’ into English Blank Verse, with Remarks.  Of his ‘Essay,’ Dryden said: 

  ’The Muse’s Empire is restored again
  In Charles his reign, and by Roscommon’s pen.’]

[Footnote 5:  Of Bullock see note, p. 138, ante.  Norris had at one time, by his acting of Dicky in Farquhar’s ‘Trip to the Jubilee,’ acquired the name of Jubilee Dicky.

[Footnote 6:  Sir George Etherege.  It was his first play, ’The Comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub’, produced in 1664, which introduced him to the society of Rochester, Buckingham, &c.

[Footnote 7:  as]

* * * * *

No. 45.  Saturday, April 21, 1711.  Addison.

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