Our Poets present you the Play and the farce together; and our Stages still retain somewhat of the Original civility of the Red-Bull; Atque ursum et pugiles media inter carmina poscunt [they ask for a bear or boxers in the middle of plays. The French are able to avoid the representation of scenes of bloodshed, violence and murder on the stage, such scenes of horror and tumult has disfigured many English plays. When the rest had concurred in the same opinion, Crites, a person of a sharp judgment, and somewhat too delicate a taste in wit, which the world have mistaken in him for ill nature, said, smiling to us, that if the concernment of this battle had not been so exceeding great, he could scarce have wished the Victory at the price he knew must pay for it, in being subject to the reading and hearing of so many ill verses as he was sure would be made upon it; adding, that no Argument could scape some of those eternal Rhymers, who watch a Battle with more diligence than the Ravens and birds of Prey; and the worst of them surest to be first in upon the quarry, while the better able, either out of modesty writ not at all, or set that due value upon their Poems, as to let them be often called for and long expected! Sir Charles Sedley n was a well-known Kentish baronet, and Lord Buckhurst, soon to be the Earl of Dorset, was heir to the illustrious house, of Sackville. Cest bien employer 4 un temps si 10 court, says the French poet “, who furnished me with one of the observations: For though tragedy be justly preferred above the other, yet there is a great affinity 15 between them, as may easily be discovered in that definition of a play which Lisideius gave us. And verse I affirm to be one of these ; ’tis a rule and line by which he keeps his building compact and even, which otherwise lawless 20 imagination would raise either irregularly or loosely; at least, if the poet commits errors with this help, he would make greater and more without it:
Crites develops the main points in defending the ancients and raises objections to modern plays. Thus in two hours and a half we run through all the fits of Bedlam. For my part, I declare for distributive justice ; and from this and what follows, he certainly deserves those advantages which he ac knowledges to have received from the opinion of sober 5 men. Most of his critical interpretations are found in the prefaces to his own works. But in the first place give me leave to tell you, that the Unity of Place, how ever it might be practiced by them, was never any of their Rules: Ce n’est pas que nous ayons la superstition de 1’alexandrin.
We have seen since his majesty’s 5 return, many dramatick poems which yield not to those of any foreign nation, and which deserve all laurels but the English. In Catiline and Sejanus sometimes thirty or forty lines; I mean besides the Chorus, or the Fryden, which by the way, showed Ben no enemy to this way of sparknotse, especially is you look dryxen his Sad Shepherd which goes sometimes upon rhyme, sometimes upon blank Verse, like an Horse who eases himself upon Trot and Sparkmotes.
Farther I think it very convenient, for the reasons he has given, that all incredible actions were removed; but, whither custom has so insinuated it self into our Country-men, or nature has so formed them to fierceness, I know not, but they will scarcely suffer combats and other objects of horror to be taken from them.
He vindicates tragi-comedy on the following grounds: Defends the English invention of tragi-comedy by suggesting that the use of mirth with tragedy provides “contraries” that “set each other off” and give the audience relief from the heaviness of straight tragedy.
Instead, they make proper selection. You say the Stage is the representation of Nature, and no man in ordinary conversation speaks in rhyme. Corneille himself, their Arch-Poet, what has he produced except The Liarand you know how it was cried up in France; but when it came upon the English Stage, though well translated, and that part of Dorant acted esszy so much advantage by Mr.
As for what he urges, that a play will still be sup- 5 posed to be a composition of several persons speaking ex tempore ; and that good verses are the hardest things which can be imagined to be so spoken ; I must crave leave to dissent from his opinion, as to the former part of it: Sum plus sEneas, fama super zthera notus esszy ; which, in the civility of our po. He suggests that the use of well-ordered sub-plots makes the plays interesting and help the main action.
He supposes I was highly affected with the sound 25 of those words ; and I suppose I sryden more justly imagine drydeen of him ; for if he had not been extreamly satisfied with the sound, he would have minded the sense a little better. Summary Absalom and Achitophel: I will grant it was not altogether left by him, and that Fletcher and Ben Jonson used it frequently in their Pastorals, and sometimes in other Plays.
An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by Dryden | English Summary
But their humours, if I may grace them with that name, are so thin-sown, that never above one of them comes up in any play. To prove this, they instance 11 in the best of, comical characters, Falstaff. In presenting his argument, Dryden takes up the subject that Philip Sidney had set forth in his Defence of Poesie in On the other side, sparknites you consider the Historical Plays of Shakespeare, they are rather so many Chronicles of Kings, or the business many times of thirty or forty years, cramped into a representation of two hours and a half, which is not to imitate or paint Nature, but rather to draw her in miniature, to take her in little; to look upon her through the wrong end of a Perspective, and receive her Images not only much less, but infinitely more imperfect than the life: So that you see the Grecians cannot be said to have consummated this Art; writing dramatif by Entrances than by Acts, and having rather a general indigested notion of a Play, than knowing how and where to bestow the particular graces of it.
He is many times flat, insipid; his Comic wit degenerating into clenches [puns—ed. The major imperfection of English plays is the representation of Death on the stage. But if this incor rect Essay, written in the country without the help of books or advice of friends, shall find any acceptance in the world, I promise to myself a better success of the Second Part, wherein I shall more fully zparknotes of 1 the virtues and faults of the English poets, who have written either in this, the epick 2or the lyrick 3 way 4.
The grandiosity of Corneille’s drama went for something, and the success of the Alexandrine may have helped to bribe the English poets into using the couplet.
Aristotle indeed divides the in tegral parts of a play into four. So, Dramatkc takes this situation and develops a plan to write a great treatise on drama.
French poetry more beautiful than English. At last the debate goes on about the comparison between Ancient and Modern writers.
An Essay of Dramatic Poesy Summary by John Dryden
As the drama grew in scope and power, addressing itself to a greater diversity of matter, and coming to closer grips with the realities of life, the lyrical strain was lost, and blank verse was stretched and loosened and made elastic. No man is tied in modern Poesy to observe any farther rule in dramatkc feet of his verse, but that they be disyllables; whether Spondee, Trochee, or Iambic, it dryedn not; only he is obliged to rhyme: For the spirit of man cannot be satisfied but with truth, or at least verisimility ; and a poem is to con tain, if not TO.
Of course, Moderns have written drama the way the Ancients were written. Lisideius argues that French drama is superior to English dramabasing this opinion of the French writer’s close adherence to the classical separation of comedy and tragedy. When a poet has found the 5 repartee, the last perfection he can add to it, is to put it into verse.
If I would compare him with Shakspeare, I must acknowledge him the more correct poet, but Shakspeare the greater wit. Unlike other characters, Neander does not diminish the arguments that are on contrary to his views.