The Antient and Mo­dern Stages survey'd. OR, Mr COLLIER's View OF THE Immorality and Profaness OF THE English Stage Set in a TRUE LIGHT.

Wherein some of Mr Collier's Mistakes are rectified, and the comparative Mo­rality of the English Stage is asserted upon the Parallel.

Rode Caper Vitem, tamen hinc cum stabis ad Aram,
In tua quod fundi Cornua possit, erit.

LONDON, Printed for Abel Roper, at the Black Boy over a­gainst St. Dunstans Church in Fleetstreet. 1699.

TO THE Right Honourable CHARLES Earl of Dorset, and Middlesex, Baron Buckhurst, one of the Lords of His Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Lord Lieu­tenant of the County of Sussex, and Knight of the most Noble Order of the Garter, &c.

My Lord,

IN addressing to Your Lord­ship, tho I betray my Am­bition, I shall strengthen the [Page] opinion of my Integrity. For by appealing to so great, and so impartial a Judge, I give the World sufficient demonstration, that I trust more to the Merit of my Cause, than of my Perfor­mance, and depend rather upon the matter, than the manner of what I deliver, for my Justifica­tion.

The Tyde of Prejudice runs high for my Adversary, and the less discerning part of the Town are so prepossess'd with the Specious Title, and the Plausible Pretence of Mr Collier's Book, that they think the whole Interest of Vir­tue and Religion embark'd on that Bottom. Immorality and Prophaness are things so justly abhorrd, that whoever enters the Lists against 'em, has all Good Men for his Seconds. And their [Page] zeal for the Cause so far blinds many of 'em, that they neither see, nor suspect any Defect or Treachery in their Champion. For men are very unwilling to hear Truth, against Prejudice, and suffer Reason to triumph over Inclination.

The Town is divided in its Judgment of the Piece, and the whole Contest lies betwixt those that are Judges, and those that are not, as Cardinal Richlieu said upon another occasion. The latter are of the Opposite Facti­on, and are as much more nu­merous than the former; as Va­nity and Presumption are more Universal, than Understanding.

This makes the Prefixing your Lordships name, by your own Permission, whose Judgment is as little to be byass'd, as 'tis to [Page] be question'd, not only matter of Honour to me, but of neces­sary Defence. Not that I ex­pect any Protection for those Errors which I may have com­mitted. They must be left to the mercy of Readers of far less Judgment and Candour, than Your Honour. To be tried by such a Grand Jury, is a happi­ness I am so far from expecting, that I know it impossible. But the Deference due to so great a Name may procure me a fair hearing amongst some, upon whom a bare regard to Justice wou'd hardly prevail so far.

Did Mr Collier contend only for the better Establishment of Virtue, and Reformation of Manners, I shou'd be asham'd to appear against him. But there is a Snake in the Grass. Mr Collier [Page] undertakes the Patronage of Vir­tue, as Cunning Men do the Guardianship of rich Orphans, only to make his Markets of it. That this is his case, the follow­ing Sheets will, I hope, sufficient­ly demonstrate. His Vehemence gives us just ground to suspect his Integrity, and to believe that he has some conceal'd Interest, or Pique at the bottom. The dis­interested enquiry after Truth is always accompany'd with Can­dour; where that is wanting, there is just reason to suspect some further design. In Mr Collier's management, the Heat and Smoke are too great and appa­rent for the Fire to be long con­ceal'd. His Design is manifestly not to argue the Poets out of their Faults, but to bully his Readers out of their Under­standings, [Page] and by violence to al­ter the Impressions already re­ceiv'd of those matters▪ which he treats of. His Style is adapt­ed to his purpose, fierce and bold, full of vehement exagge­rations, and haughty menaces, he racks Sentences, and tortures Expressions, to extort a Confes­sion from 'em of things to which they are absolute Strangers. The consequence of this way of wri­ting is, that Women, and Weak Men, whose Fears are stronger than their Judgments, will be aw'd into a Perswasion before they are convinc'd of the Truth of it. For such People in most cases measure the certainty of Assertions by the Confidence of him that pronounces 'em, and the Importance by the false weight that is laid upon 'em.

[Page] 'Twas this consideration, not any extraordinary Affection for the Stage, that engag'd me in this Argument. I look upon it as an attempt towards usurping the Soveraignty of Men's Un­derstandings, and restoring the Tyranny of Bigottry, whose Yoak we have scarce yet suffici­ently shaken off. My Reason is the dearest, and freest part of me, or at least it ought to be so, and he that puts the Dice upon that, affronts me in the most sensible manner. I had rather be bubbled of my Money than my Intellects, and shou'd chuse rather to be thought his Cully, than his Fool. 'Tis true, these tricks are not to be put upon a man that is aware of 'em, and conse­quently I might have secur'd my self without making a publick [Page] discovery. But I think it a Cow­ardly piece of Caution, a sort of Criminal Misprision to con­nive at the cheating of others; and while I am able to inform 'em, the Clamour of Knaves or Fools shall never awe me to Silence.

That this is no extravagant Surmise, no Hypochondriacal Fancy, is evident from the Te­nour of the whole Book, espe­cially the third Chapter. Every thing is deliver'd with an air so haughty, so magisterial, so de­cisive, that he seems rather to serve us with an Injunction to believe him, than an Argument. That this Imposition may be the more tamely submitted to, he palms the Authority of the Church upon us, and pretends her Commission to make Fools of the Laity.

[Page] The Church is by no means oblig'd to him, for endeavour­ing to cast the Odium of his own Arrogance and Ambition upon her. How great soever his Zeal for her service may be, his In­discretion in it does not come a whit behind it. For to extend the Power and Authority of the Priest, he curtails the Articles of the Church, and denies the King's Supremacy, which she has already oblig'd him to swear to the belief of.

I shall not trespass so far upon Your Honour's patience, as to recapitulate the several Invidious things, which he fathers upon the Church. I will hope well of his Design, tho I fear the effects of his Performance will not turn to her Service. And I cou'd wish his Motives were better, [Page] or not so apparent. If Demetri­us was a Stickler for the honour of Diana, 'twas because he made Shrines for her, the interest of his trade engag'd him in her Party. Mr Collier's Case is not much different. The Poets had sometimes made bold to display a vicious, or a foolish Priest, and those that were Knaves in the World, and Drolls in the Pul­pit, had been made Cheats and Buffoons upon the Stage. The Mask of Formality and Sanctity was pull'd off, and the Block-head and the Hypocrite shewn bare-fac'd. Thus the Profane Vulgar were suffer'd to peep, and pry into Mysteries. This Mr Collier resents as if he were personally concern'd, and wou'd perswade the world, that to ex­pose Hypocrisie is to affront the [Page] Church, than which her Enemies cou'd not have suggested any thing more malicious. How­ever, this mistaken Injury has rais'd a Flame, which will cost the effusion of abundance of Ink before it is extinguish'd. Manet alta Mente repostum, and is never to be forgiven while Mr Collier can wag a Goose-quill.

Our Clergy deservedly have both at home and abroad the re­putation of the most learned Clergy in the World, and I shall venture to affirm, that they are the Best in the World. Their Candour towards those that dif­fer from 'em in Opinion, their Modesty in asserting their own, and their sober Conduct in the discharge of their own Consci­ences, and not assuming the do­minion of those of other men, [Page] will prove what I say to to be no Paradox. And there­fore Mr Collier, in making so large a demand in their names, has obliquely traduc'd 'em, by giving occasion to those that don't sufficiently know 'em, to suspect that he acts by their Ap­probation and Authority.

But I forget, that while I talk to Your Lordship, I wrong the Publick, which claims so great a share in your thoughts and time. I shall not attempt the Character of Your Lordship: For, to write of you, as I ought, to do you Justice, I must write like you, which I hope I shall never have the vanity to pretend to. But the Name of My Lord Dorset a­lone carries more Panegyrick than the fruitfullest Invention can furnish. Those Adventurous [Page] Gentlemen, that have already tried their Strength at it, have by their foils taught me caution. Their Performances fall so ex­treamly short of the Merit of their Subject, that when they have exhausted their Fancies, their whole stock of Rhetorick looks like an Ostentation of Beg­gery. This consideration alone is sufficient to deter me from presuming further upon Your Lordship's Goodness, except to ask Pardon for my Ambition of taking this Publick Occasion to declare with what profound Re­spect I am

My Lord,
Your Honour's Most humble and devoted Servant.


  • INtroduction. p. 1
  • The quarrel to the Modern Stage first formal­ly commenc'd in Spain. 5
  • Shows among the Heathens of Religious parentage. 6
  • The Drama of the same extraction. 7
  • Tragedy and Comedy originally one thing 8
  • When first distinguisht. 9
  • The Stage under the patronage of Bacchus. ibid
  • Paganism a Religion contrived for popularity. 10
  • Heathen Religion all Ceremony. 12
  • Idolatry of the Stage, the principal argument of the Fathers against it. 13
  • Heathen Plays dangerous temptations to the new Christian Converts. 17
  • Zeal of the Fathers against them not unnecessary. 18
  • Disingenuity of Mr Collier. 20
  • Idolatry the main Objection of the Fathers to the antient Drama. 21
  • Mimi c Shews among the Romans scandalously lewd, the Drama not at all. 23
  • [Page] Clemens Alexandrinus falsly cited against the Drama. 24
  • The Fathers sometimes over rigorous. 25
  • The authority of the Fathers short of the Case. 33
  • Caution of Mr C—II—r. ibid.
  • Plato's authority considered. 34
  • Xenophon's. 35
  • Aristotle's. 36
  • Plays forbidden to young People upon the score of the temptations from the company. 36
  • Licentiousness not defended. 39
  • Mr Collier's Character of Terence and Plau­tus. 40
  • This Character insidious. 41
  • His Citations patched up of incohe rent fragments. 42
  • The invention of the Roman Comic Poets barren. 43
  • Poetic Justice neglected by them. 44
  • Livie's authority abused. ibid.
  • The Luxury and expensiveness of these Shews, not their immorality condemned by Livy. 46
  • Valerius Maximus misquoted. 47
  • Falseness and absurdity of Mr Collier's Para­phrase. 48
  • His Conclusion not to be found in Valerius 49
  • Stage allow'd at Marseilles. 50
  • Seneca's Authority nothing to the purpose ibid
  • Yet perverted 52
  • Tacitus, &c. impertinently cited. 54
  • Ovid and Mr Wycherley say nothing against the Stage, but the Audience. 55
  • Too great severity of no service to Morality. 56
  • Mr Collier's licentious method of misquoting un­sufferable. 57
  • [Page] The Athenians the greatest Friends in the World to the Stage. 58
  • The Law against Judges making of Comedies a direct Argument against Mr Collier. 59
  • The old Comedy of the Greeks exceeding licenti­ous. 60
  • Comedy, why no proper Exercise for a Judge. 61
  • Opinion of the Spartans. 62
  • Theft tolerated at Lacedaemon. 63
  • Character of the Spartans. 64
  • Plutarch's Authority falsified by Mr Collier. 65
  • Politeness the Objection of the Spartans to the Drama. 66
  • All sorts of Plays not prohibited at Lacedae­mon. ibid.
  • Morality not the reason of rejecting the Stage. 67
  • Adultery tollerated at Lacedaemon. ibid.
  • Livy's Authority considered. 69
  • Antient Romans an unrefined people. 70
  • Acting of Plays first left off by the Roman youth, because of the difficulty. 71
  • Histriones, who so called ibid.
  • Conjectural Reasons why Players were noted with infamy. 73
  • Two first most probable. 75
  • Drama at first necessitated to use the Actors of the Ludi Scenici. 76
  • The Actors of Tragedy and Comedy therefore only call'd Histriones. ibid.
  • The Praetorian Edict against them. 77
  • Labeos exposition shews the intent of that Edict. 78
  • Mr Collier's Disingenuity in this point. ibid
  • [Page] The Roman Censure extended only to the Merce­nary Actors as such. 79
  • Scipio and Laelius Writers to the Stage, or assisting to it. 80
  • Julius and Augustus Caesar and Seneca did the same. 81
  • Law of the Theodosian Code considered. 83
  • Meaning of the Theodosian Law. 84
  • Parallel instance 85
  • Authority from the Councils already answered. 87
  • Quarrel to the Stage unjust. 88
  • Antient Stage infinitely more scandalous and lewd than the Modern. 89
  • Stage dancing, as now practised, inoffensive to Mo­desty. 90
  • Mr Collier's notion of the extravagant power of Music ridiculous. 91
  • Power of Music owing to contingent circumstances. 94
  • Influence of sounds indeterminate. 95
  • Mr Collier a Platonist. 97
  • Not acqnainted with the subject he treats of. 98
  • His charge rash. 99
  • Comparative Morality of the Vocal Music of the ancient and modern Stages. 100
  • Antient Vocal music. 101
  • Chorus, its Office 102
  • Their Mimi. 103
  • Mr▪ Collier's Objections from the Topic of Love a Declamatory Rant. 105
  • Meer Frenzy. 106
  • Revenge not encouraged by the Stage. 108
  • Instance in the Mourning Bride. ibid.
  • Passion not proper in Comedy. 109
  • [Page] Love, Jealouly, &c. how to be used in Come­dy. 111
  • Exposition of an Observation of Horace. 112
  • Horace's instance from Terence examined. 113
  • Tragedy, what in the Iudgment of Aristotle. 114
  • Duelling and Rencounters against the nature and Laws of Comedy. 115
  • Duell in Love in a Tub against the rules of Co­medy. 116
  • Comic Poet obliged to draw according to nature. 117
  • No breach of Morality without offending against the Laws of the Stage. 118
  • Mr Collier right in his end of Stage Poetry. 120
  • Mistaken in his method of prosecuting that end. ibid
  • Morals of a Play wherein shewn. 121
  • Folly and Knavery the subjects of Comedy 122
  • Mr Colller's Character of the Antient Poets invi­dious. 124
  • Fable the principal part of a Play. 125
  • Fable of the Oedipus of Sophocles. 126
  • Piety of Oedipus. 129
  • Oedipus's Proclamation. 130
  • Moral of the Fable defective. 131
  • Moral of the English Oedipus the same. 132
  • Meerly Speculative. ibid.
  • Not very natural. 133
  • Moral of Seneca. 137
  • Seneca the Philosopher supposed the Author. ibid.
  • His Moral neglected by the Author of the English Oedipus. ibid.
  • Summ of Seneca's Moral 140
  • Oedipus's justification of himself. 141
  • [Page] Harmony of the Greek, Roman, and English Au­thors. 142
  • Levity of Fortune not the occasion of the fall of Oe­dipus. 143
  • Opposition of Providence. ibid.
  • Presumption of Laius. 144
  • Another Moral. ibid.
  • Presumption of Oedipus. 145
  • Oedipus in Sophocles and the rest of the Trage­dians, a Predestinarian. ibid.
  • French Moral. 146
  • Necromancy and all sorts of Divination allowed by the Heathens. ibid.
  • Conjecture of the Reasons that induced the Authors of the English Oedipus to prefer the Greek Moral to the Latin. 147
  • Seneca's Moral not proper for the English Stage. 148
  • Greek and Roman Moral unserviceable to vir­tue. 149
  • Oedipus, why so minutely examined. 150
  • Fable of Ajax Flagellifer. ibid.
  • The Moral somewhat obscure; two may be guessed at. 152
  • The First not arising naturally from the action. 153
  • The Second Moral not very natural. 154
  • Fable of the Electra. 155
  • The Moral of it. 156
  • Fable of Antigone. ibid.
  • The Moral of it. 157
  • Oedipus Coloneus. ibid.
  • The Fable of it. 159.
  • No Moral. ibid.
  • Trachiniae, its Fable. ibid
  • [Page] Moral of Sophocles. 160
  • Philoctetes, the Fable 161
  • No Moral. 162
  • Speech of Hercules not pertinent to the Action. ibid.
  • Character of the Plays of Euripides in gene­ral. 164
  • Fable of the Orestes. 165
  • The Characters all vitious. 167
  • Not of a piece all through. ibid.
  • The Moral of it. 168
  • The Medea, &c. of Euripides. 170
  • Fable of the Hippolitus. ibid.
  • Ion usurp'd by Mr Dacier, a Moral Tragedy. 172
  • Fable of Ion precedent to the Action. 173
  • Fable commencing with the Action. ibid.
  • Main condition of Moral Tragedy neglected in this. 174
  • Creusa's a wicked Character. 175
  • Ion's Character indifferent. ibid.
  • Of no service to Morality. 177
  • Hercules Furens compared with the Trachiniae of Sophocles. ibid.
  • Character of Aeschylus. 178
  • His Prometheus immoral. 180
  • Jupiter abused by the Poet under the Persons of Power and Force. ibid.
  • The abuse backed by▪ Vulcan. 181.
  • Deficiency of the Greek Tragedy. 182
  • Tragedy at Rome borrowed from the Greeks. ibid.
  • Seneca the Philosopher, supposed the Author of some of those Plays that go under his name. 184
  • Seneca unjustly aspersed by Mr Collier. ibid.
  • Seneca careless of Poetick Justice. 186
  • [Page] Ajax Oileus an improper instance of it. 187
  • Seneca limited by Precedent. ibid.
  • Hippolytus of Seneca examined. 188
  • More artificial than the Hyppolytus of Euri­pides. 189
  • The rest close Copies from the Greek. 190
  • Octavia ill-contrived and insipid. ibid.
  • General Reflections on the antient Tragedy. 191
  • Aristotle's division of Tragedy. 192
  • Moral Plays not much encouraged at Athens. ibid.
  • Alcestis of Euripides a Moral Tragedy. 193
  • Antients careless of the general Moral of the Plays. 164
  • Consequence of Mr Collier's loose way of wri­ting. ibid.
  • Turned upon the Antients. 196
  • Socrates by this means condemned. 198
  • Aeschylus arraigned by Mr Collier's Prece­dent. ibid.
  • And Sophocles. 199
  • Extravagance of this way of declaiming. 200
  • Shakespear prefixed to all the rest of the English Dramatics. 201
  • Censure of Hamlet unjust. 202
  • Fable of Hamlet before the commencement of the Action. ibid.
  • Fable after the Action commences. 203
  • Poetic Justice exactly observed in this Play. 204
  • Moral of Hamlet. 205
  • Tragedies of this Author generally Moral. 206
  • The Orphan. 207
  • The Moral good. ibid.
  • [Page] Mr Collier's Zeal for the Pagan Priesthood in jurious to Christian Ministry. 208
  • Don Sebastian a religious Play. 210
  • Reasons of Mr Collier's quarrel to the Cleome­nes. 211
  • Moral wanting to the Cleomenes. 212
  • Moral inference. 213
  • The Poet too faithful to the History. ibid
  • Mourning Bride. 214
  • Fable very just and regular. 215
  • Moral excellent. 216
  • Advantages of the Moderns over the Antients in the Morals of their Fables. 218
  • Providence not employed to promote villany. ibid.
  • Nor to oppress Virtue. ibid
  • Nor to protect Malefactors. ibid
  • Modern Poets more religious than the Antients. 219
  • The Fable of the Poets disposal, Characters and Ex­pressions not so.
  • The Fable, if any, the Evidence of the Poets Opi­nion. 220
  • Mr Collier's a false and perverse measure. 221
  • The Fable the Engine of the greatest and most se­cret Execution upon the Audience. 222
  • Not abused to any ill end by our Poets. 223
  • Apology for the Antients. 224
  • Moral Plays not esteemed at Athens. 225
  • Moral and Pathetick reconciled, and united by the Moderns. ibid.
  • Poetick Justice neglected by the Antients in gene­ral 226
  • Monsieur Dacier's exception to Monsieur Cor­neille answered. 228
  • [Page] Poetical Justice a modern Invention. 229
  • The Modern Stage on this account preferable to the Antient. 230
  • Fable of Comedy considered. 231
  • In Comedy the action and persons low 232
  • The correction of Folly the proper business of Comedy.
  • Perfect virtue excluded the Comic Stage. 233
  • Some infirmity required to qualify a Character for Comedy. 234
  • No Gentlemen, but men of pleasure fit for Co­medy. ibid.
  • Comic Poetry, and Droll Painting compared. 235
  • Such Characters real and common. 236
  • Mr Collier's mistake concerning the nature of Co­medy. 237
  • Heads of Mr Collier's charge against English Comedy. 238
  • His first Article examined. 240
  • This Rule repugnant to the nature of Comedy▪ 241
  • Reason why. ibid.
  • Indulgence of Plautus and Terence to vicious young people misplaced by Mr. Collier. 242
  • Plautus and Terence faithful Copyers from nature 243
  • Opinion of Horace enquired into 244
  • This not a bare character, but a rule. 245
  • Sense of Horace in this place mistaken or pre­vented by Mr. Collier 246
  • Parity of reasoning betwixt Mr. Prynn and Mr Collier 247
  • Another outrage to Horace ibid
  • Use of a Chorus according to Horace 248
  • Mr Collier's answer to an objection ibid.
  • [Page] A reply to Mr Collier's answer. ibid.
  • Chorus in old Comedy 251
  • Double mistake of Mr Collier about the Plutus of Aristophanes. 252
  • Tripartite Division of the Greek Comedy. 253
  • By this the Plutus old Comedy. ibid.
  • Fable of Old Comedy of what kind. 254
  • Characters of Cratinus, Eupolis, and Aristo­phanes how differenced. 255
  • New Comedy how differing from the Old. ibid.
  • Plutus not new Comedy. 256
  • Satire of the old Comedy particular of the gene­ral. 257
  • Aristophanes the beginner of the middle Come­dy. 258
  • No Chorus in the Plutus. 259
  • Office of the Chorus in Comedy. ibid.
  • The parts Essential to a Chorus omitted in the Plu­tus. 260
  • Inconclusive inference from Aristotle. 263
  • Silence of Aristotle no argument in this case. ibid
  • Reason of Aristotle's silence in this point. 264
  • His account of the Rise of the Drama. ibid.
  • Progress of Comedy obscure. ibid.
  • Brevity of Aristotle. 265.
  • A particular Treatise of Comedy written by Ari­stotle, but lost. 266
  • Chorus not used in the New Comedy. 267
  • Chorus altogether improper for the Comic Stage in England. 268
  • Used at Puppet Shews. ibid.
  • Function assigned the Chorus by Mr Collier. 269
  • Original errour of Mr Collier. 270
  • [Page] Loose Characters in Comedy no encouragement to Debauchery. ibid.
  • Ridiculous fear of Mr Collier. 271
  • Theatres wrongfully accused by him. 272
  • Sense of Horace again perverted. 273
  • Horace's advice Political, not Moral. 275
  • Manners here fignify'd Poetical not Moral. 277
  • Mr Collier's description of Poetical Man­ners. ibid.
  • Defective and Equivocal. 279
  • Aristotle's description. 279
  • Propriety of Manners required. 289
  • Wherein it consists. 281
  • Similitude of Manners what. ibid.
  • Equality of Manners what. 283
  • Faults of Characters what. 284
  • Faults of Expression manifold. ibid.
  • Some heads of Mr Colliers charge. 285
  • Mistaken in his first point. 286
  • Faults of particulars no reflection upon the Sex in general. 287
  • Universals and Individuals improper Charact­ers. 288
  • What Characters proper. 289
  • Two sorts of resemblances in Poetry. 290
  • Quality no just reason for exemption. 291
  • Mr Collier's Collection from the Antients very loosely made. 292
  • Objection to Ophelia. 293
  • Character of Ophelia. ibid.
  • Objection groundless and frivolous. 295
  • Mad Song. 296
  • Foolish but inoffensive. ibid.
  • [Page] Antients more faulty than this. 297
  • Instance in the Antigone os Sophocles. ibid, &c.
  • Instance in Electra of the same Author. 301
  • Antigone in Sophocles not so nice. 304
  • Cassandra not so nice as Mr Collier pre­tends. 305
  • Extravagance of Cassandra. 306
  • Indecency against Character. 307
  • Misbehaviour of Hecuba. 310
  • Love and tenderness used by the Moderns. Lust and Violence by the Antients. 311
  • Numerous instances of this kind to be found [...] Euripides. 312
  • Some referred to. ibid.
  • Seneca examined upon this Article. 313
  • Miscarriage of Phaedra. 314
  • Modesty of Lycus considered. 318
  • Reference to other instances. 319
  • These faults less pardonable in Tragedy then in Comedy. 320
  • Slaves the Top Characters of the Roman Come­dy. 321
  • Very little variety in their Plots. 322
  • Greater Liberty taken by Aristophanes. 323
  • Aristophanes whether an Atheist or not, nothing to the purpose. 324
  • Mr Collier's Argument in defence ef Socrates considered. 325
  • Rigour of the Athenians to Socrates a sort of ac­quitment to Aristophanes. ibid.
  • Mr Collier's instances no proof of his asser­tion. 327
  • [Page] The Opinion of the Man not measured by the Ex­pressions of the Poet at Athens. ibid.
  • Liberties of Plautus greater than those of the En­glish Stage. 328
  • Instances from the Amphitryo. 329
  • Remarkable circumstances of a passage in Amphi­tryo. 330
  • The disguise under which Mercury appears no ex­cuse for his misbebaviour. ibid.
  • Jupiter not more modest. 331
  • Instance from the Asinaria. ibid.
  • Instance of singular Morality. 332
  • Plautus's Lovers more active than talkative. ibid.
  • Instanced from the Curculio. 333
  • Comparative modesty of the Virgins of the Anti­ent Stage hence to be observed. 334
  • Mr Collier's own exceptions taken notice of. ibid.
  • His instances in Olympio grosly mistaken or mis­represented. ibid.
  • Another instance from the Asinaria. 338
  • Slaves not the only offenders of this kind in Plau­tus. 339
  • Plautus's Prologues and Epilogues not always in­offensive. 340
  • This proved from the Epilogue to the Casina. 341
  • Epilogue to the Asinaria an encouragement to Lewdness. 342
  • The Epilogue to the Captivi somewhat smutty. 343
  • Complaint of the Abuse of the Clergy not well grounded. 344
  • Their relation to the Deity considered. 346
  • Personal representation of the Deity considered. 346
  • [Page] The power of the Church not lodged with the Priest. 347
  • Mission of St Paul and the Apostles what and how circumstantiated. 348
  • Difference betwixt their Commission, and that of the present Ministry. 349
  • Importance of their Office no exemption. 352
  • Some faults not cognizable by the Ordinary. 353
  • Priests not misrepresented, unless faultless. 355
  • Mr Collier's plea from Prescription examined. 357
  • Instance to the contrary from Sophocles. ibid
  • Euripides not more tender of Priests. 359
  • Seneca meddles little with them. 360
  • Euripides and Seneca full of profane expressions. 361
  • Rude treatment of the Nobility a false Charge. 365


PAge 28. l. 7. r. 'em off: p. 52. l. ult. add in: p. 68. l. 22. r. Mulciber: p. 73. l. 5. dele not: p. 74. l. 5. r. Infancy: p. 76. l. 11. r. of: p. 86. l. 8. r. for: p. 101. l. ult. r. possibly: p. 132. l. 5 for [...] [...]. [...]: p. 173. l. 25. r. proud: p. 190. l. 11. r. disengage: p. 235. l. 25. dele not: p. 255. l. 23. r. waving par­ticular: p. 302. l. 2. r. shewn. She was: p. 306. l. 17. r. push her: p. 306. l. 19. r. [...]: ibid. l. 20. for [...] p. 308 l. 2. r Indignation: 3p. 11. l. 7. r. [...]: p. 313. l. 2. add made: p. 315. l. 18. for guge r. jugi: p. 339. l. 1. r. conspexeris: p. 341. l. 19. r. dare.

Errata in the Margine.

P. 23. for se de r. sed &: p. 29. for Verundia r. Verecundia. p. 57. for ictaeo r. dictoeo: p. 69. r. ac: for relicta r. relicto: for tribi r. tribu: p. 71. for victus r. victis: p. 113. for Dio r. Dii: p. 169. r. [...]: p. 126. dele and: p. 192. dele The Moral: p. 226. r. [...] p. 317. r. Mr Collier's instances.

Mr. COLLIER's View OF THE English Stage, &c. Set in a TRUE LIGHT.

THe aim of all Writers is,Introducti­on. or ought to be, to maintain or propagate Truth, to inform the Judgment, improve the Ʋnder­standing, and rectifie the Mistakes of [Page 2] others. Where this is the real end and design of a Writer, no Itch of Popula­rity, or Awe of Faction ought to bear him from his Byass, or make him give an inch to his Hopes, or Fears; and the more Universal and Important the Truths are, which he discovers, or de­fends, the greater in proportion ought to be the Zeal and Application.

Were these rules constantly, and prudently pursued, we might hope for an honester, as well as wiser world, than it has been my fortune yet to find any Memoirs of, since the multi­plication of Mankind. For tho the Declaimers of all Ages have inveighed with great bitterness against their own times, and extoll'd the antecedent; yet even hence we are furnish'd with an argument, that all have been equal­ly culpable, since those times, which we, to humble our own, affect so zea­lously to commend, our Fore-fathers did as vehemently condemn; and if we do not find the Topicks of Satyr to be in every Age the same; we can on­ly from thence conclude, that the Mode, and not the Measure of Iniquity is alter'd.

[Page 3] But whether the rules be strictly ob­servable, or not, may be matter of doubt. For, besides that grand Se­ducer Interest, which few withstand, Passion, Prejudice, and Inclination, have an almost irresistible Influence over us; and even in the coolest, and severest of our deliberations, we are apt to give too much to Prejudice, and to humour Appetite and Passion beyond Reason.

That this is no uncommon case, most of the present Paper-Combats demon­strate, in which the War on both sides is carry'd on with an obstinacy and fury, very disproportionate to the trifles generally contended for. The Combatants enter the lists against Chi­merical Gyants of their own raising, and lay about 'em like Ajax, or Cer­vantes's Hero, amongst the Sheep, Gy­ants, or Windmills, 'tis all one, if they stand in their way they must be en­counter'd.

The most formidable of these, is the Author of the Short View of the Immora­lity and Profaneness of the English Stage. This Gentleman, some time or other, between sleeping and waking, had happen'd to hear some of Mr Durfy's [Page 4] Rattles, and perhaps some saucy Jack or other of the Stage discharge an Oath or two, and presently mistaking 'em for a noise of Drums, and volley of Shot, falls to dreaming of Invasions and Revolutions, that the Church Artillery was seiz'd, and turn'd upon it; of a terrible Stage Plot, and a huge Army in Ambuscade behind the Play-house Scenes; and therefore he cries out to have the Beacons lighted, and the Bells rung backward in every Parish, to raise the Posse of Fathers, Councils, Sy­nods, School-men, and the rest of the Church Militia, and cast up Retrench­ments, for the Vanguard of Parnassus are upon 'em. Then he calls for his Durindana of a Goose-quill, and thun­ders out Anathema's as thick as Hail shot.

Thus instructed and appointed, he draws out his forces, and charges with such violence and fury upon the For­lorn-Hope of the Stage, that it had been impossible for 'em to have sustain'd the shock, if Pegasus had not been train'd of old to the service, and very well acquainted with the temper of the Enemies Fire.

[Page 5] This Anti-poetick War has been carry'd on with abundance of heat at divers times and in divers Coun­tries;The quarrel to the mo­dern Stage first for­mally com­menc'd in Spain. it broke out first in Spain, about the close of the last Century, under Mariana a Jesuit, who published a Book Contra Spectacula; and after that another, by the Special Approbation of the Visitor, and the Provincial of the Jesuits of the Province of Toledo; from thence it travell'd into Italy, where it was fomented by Francisco Maria, a Sicilian Monk, and P. Ottonelli, a Je­suit; and was thence translated into England, about sixty years ago, by Dr Reynolds and Mr Prynne; to France, about thirty years ago, by the Prince of Conti, the Sieur de Voisin, &c. and tho bury'd for some years in its embers, broke out again there not many years ago into a flame; at which Mr Collier took fire, and reviv'd the quarrel in England.

All these disputes have been manag'd with great vehemence and fierceness on the Agressor's parts, and had the success been answerable to their Reso­lution, the scatter'd rout of Parnassus had been never able to have rally'd, [Page 6] or made head again; but their Onset was like that of the Turks and Tartars, the Noise was much greater than the Execution. I cou'd never find that the Muses were famous for Martial Exploits, or that their Votaries e're signaliz'd themselves by any extraordinary at­chievements in the Polemicks. How comes it then, that such impetuous As­sailants have gain'd no more upon 'em? For as yet the very Outworks of Par­nassus seem to be in no danger. Is it the natural strength of the Place, or Resolution of the Defendants that Protects 'em?

Before I give a direct answer to these questions, it will be necessary to pre­mise a short account of the occasion, state, and progress of the Controversie, in, and from the time of the Primitive Fathers down to our own Times; by which we may be enabled to make a right Judgment, how far the present Stage is affected by the Authorities, and Arguments urg'd from 'em.

It is on all hands agreed,Shows a­mong tbe Heathens of Religious Pare [...]tage. that the Ludi and Spectacula of the Greeks and Romans, were a great part of the Solemn and Publick Worship of their [Page 7] Gods, instituted on purpose to comme­morate, or expiate some signal Benefit, [...] Calamity, of which those Gods were the supposed Authors, or Instruments: These Plays or Shows were usually preceeded by a Solemn Procession of the Gods to whom they were dedica­ted, and the Priests and Sacrificers in their Formalities, with the Victim in all its Religious Pomp, (much after the manner of the Solemn Processions in use amongst the Roman Catholicks to this day) this was succeeded by Vows made, and Sacrifice perform'd upon the spot, whether it were Theatre, Circus, or any other place of publick Shows, or Games. After all these were perform'd, or finish'd, the Play or Show was order'd to begin, which was also a principal part of the Religious Worship▪ and con­cluded the Solemnity of the day.

The Dramatick Representations spring both from one Original, and were instituted for the same general end and purpose with the rest of the Heathen Games,The Drama of the same extraction. that is, for Religious Worship. These (if I may be allow'd to use the plural number, for that which in the Original, was but one [Page 8] thing) were invented in honour to Bac­chus, and consisted of Songs in his praise, Musick, and Dancing about a Sacrific'd Goat, intermixt with rustick raillery, suitable to the Genius and Temper of the Boors, and Villagers, that were the performers. Tragedy and Comedy were not yet become Se­parate Provinces in Poetry,Tragedy & Comedy ori­ginally one thing. but either name indifferently signify'd the same thing, the first being taken from the Sacrifice, which was a Goat, the other from the Performers, which were the Peasants, or Villagers, or from the nature of the Entertainment itself, which was compos'd of Rural Musick, Songs, and Dances. By what steps and gradations the improvements were made, how the decorations of the Stage were introduc'd, and when the Drama first branch'd into Tragedy and Comedy, as distinct members, are pretty speculations, and afford an oc­casion, which one, that. like Mr. Col­lier, affected to shew much reading to little purpose, wou'd not let slip; but not being to my purpose, I shall not prosecute 'em any farther.

[Page 9] 'Tis probable the partition of Tra­gedy and Comedy was first made,When first distinguisht when the Poets, quitting the Dithyrambi, or Hymns to Bacchus, betook themselves to the representation of Stories or Fa­bles of their own invention; the nature of the subjects then becoming different, according to the Poets choice, the names were divided betwixt 'em Or perhaps, that part which we now in a restrain'd sense call Tragedy, be­ing first refin'd and improv'd, and be­coming the study and diversion of more Polite Men, the other continuing long­er in the Possession of the Villagers, retain'd the name of Comedy for di­stinction sake, even after its utmost improvements.

But when,The Stage under the Patronage of Bacchus. or howsoever this was, tho the Sacrifice of the Goat at Plays was left off, the Satyri in praise of Bac­chus discontinued, and the Plays ap­pointed indifferently in honour of any of the Gods, as occasion directed, that they were, as the Auditors rightly ob­served, Nihil ad Bacchum, yet the Stage remain'd sacred to and under the Pro­tection of its old Patron, who had amongst the Romans his Altar on the [Page 10] Right hand of the Stage, and the par­ticular God to whom the Play was for that time directed, on the Left. This was the Posture and Condition of the Stage in the time of the Fathers.

This being the case, a Christian cou'd not be present, or assist at these repre­sentations, without openly countenanc­ing or conforming to the Idolatrous Worship of the Heathens; which the Fathers, as became careful and pious Pastors, were extremely solicitous to prevent. They were sensible of the difficulties they had to encounter, and the obstacles they had to surmount. The Christian Religion was yet but newly planted, and therefore till it had taken sufficient Root was carefully to be cover'd and defended from the injuries of rude Blasts, and the conta­gion of those rank superstitious Weeds that grew about it, by which the Root might be kill'd, or the Soil infected, and the Sap withdrawn.

Paganism was a Religion, invented at first to oblige and captivate the peo­ple,Paganism a Religion contriv'd for popula­rity. and gain'd its Credit and Authority among 'em by indulging their Sensuality, and even gratifying their Lusts; it was [Page 11] augmented by degrees, by ambitious, cunning men, who, to render them­selves more popular, and gain an inte­rest among the multitude, recommended to 'em, under the notion of Religion, what they found most acceptable to the humour and palate of the populace. By this means, the various Processions, Games, and Shows were introduc'd, and became the most formal part of their Solemnities, men being easily per­swaded to like what was so conformable to their inclinations, that in the exercise and discharge of their Duties, their Senses were entertain'd, and their Ap­petites flatter'd.

Against a Superstition thus fram'd for Luxury, and contriv'd to cajole the Sences, Christianity was to make its way, and to drive out those Rites, and destroy a Title founded upon the prescription of many ages, supported by the authority of the Civil Govern­ment, and fortify'd in its Possession by Prejudice, Inclination and Interest; and all this to be done with the assist­ance only of Truth, and Simplicity of Doctrine and Manners; the Pomp, and Magnificence of their Solemn Wor­ship [Page 12] was absolutely to be taken away, and their licentious practices to be re­strain'd, and reform'd; and instead of 'em severe Principles, and an austere course of Life were to be establish'd, in an Age, and amongst a People, whom the Submission and Tribute of all the World for some ages, had made wealthy, proud and wanton.

It is not therefore to be wonder'd, if those early Champions of the Gospel proportion'd their Zeal and Vigilance to the pressingness of the occasion,Heathen Religion all Cere­mony. and the strength of the opposition. The Games and Shows of the antient Hea­thens were the parts of their Religion the most generally engaging, that at­tracted most, and kept the Multitude firmest to 'em. The rest of their Reli­gion sat but loosely about 'em, they had no fixt, or necessary Faith, aud their devotion consisted only in a frigid compliance with those Forms and Cere­monies, which were purely matters of Worship; their Zeal appear'd for no­thing so much as their Games and Shows. For as Varro Pompa populo in­grata fuit, quia ludis mora. Var ro de Ling. Lat. Lib. 4. and Seneca Non igno ras quam sit odiosa Circensibus Pompa. in­forms us, the preparatory Solemnities were ungrateful to the spectators, who [Page 13] impatiently expected the Show. The Fathers, who knew where their strength lay, have employ'd all their Artillery against these Shows, their Batteries have play'd incessantly upon 'em, as the only Forts that were capable of making resistance, and stopping their Progress.

Tho the antient Fathers bent their Rhetorick,Idolatry of the Stage, the princi­pal argu­ment of the Fathers a­gainst it. with all its Force, and in all its Forms and Figures, against the Heathen Shows; tho they declaim'd with all their Nerves, and Vehemence, and display'd all their Arguments with the utmost strength of Colour and Pro­portion, yet there was nothing in which they so much confided, in which they so unanimously agreed, as the objection drawn from the Idolatrous institution and end of 'em. They were unwar­rantable, because Idolatrous. It was (in their opinion) impossible for a Christian, how well principled, or dis­pos'd however, to partake of the En­tertainment, without sharing the Pollution, or to abstract the Di­version from the Guilt. They thought it dangerous to trust their Con­verts, however fortify'd, to the [Page 14] temptations of so jolly a Religion, which was so far from curbing the ap­petites, and laying any restraint upon the desires of its Proselytes, that many of its duties were but Pimps to their Lusts, and almost all its acts of Devotion but so many entertainments of their Sences. They knew the frailty of hu­mane Nature right well, and were aware, that tho Faith might in some be so strong as to triumph over all temptation, yet that Multitudes wou'd fall before it, if they were permitted to run the risque.

The portion of those that embrac'd Christianity was Mortification, and suffering, perpetual discouragement, and frequent Persecutions (till the time of Constantine) their Reward was in Reversion; their Expectation indeed was large, but the Prospect was distant. Now present Ease and Enjoyment are very apt to prevail against a remote Hope. In our common affairs of the world, Futurity maintains itself but ill against the Present, and neither the greatness, nor the certainty of the Re­version, make good head against imme­diate Possession.

[Page 15] This was the case of Christianity in its Infancy. The Heathen Priesthood was contented with the Countenance and Encouragement of the State, and sub­mitted to the directions and appoint­ment of it, even in matters relating to their own Mysteries; they assum'd no Dominion, or Jurisdiction over private Consciences, either in point of Princi­ple or Practice; but left those matters wholly to the Civil Government, which made Laws for the regulation, and ap­pointed Magistrates for the inspection of Men's Manners; in which regard was had chiefly, if not only, to the Publick Quiet and Security, to the Preservation and Augmentation of the State. If a scrutiny was made into the Conduct and Behaviour of particular persons, 'twas as they were subordinate to the Publick, and might be instru­mental or prejudicial to the common welfare, either immediately, by their practices, in wronging the State, or those under the Protection of it; or by withdrawing themselves from, or in­capacitating themselves for its service; or consequently by debauching, and corrupting others by their Examples. [Page 16] In all these matters the Priest had no concern; and therefore 'twas no won­der, if the People receiv'd so easily, and liv'd so contentedly under a Religi­on, which, tho false, gave 'em so little disturbance, and so much satisfaction. For, as for the Multitude, their Theo­logy was like their Worship, suited and adapted to their capacities, the one consisting of surprizing Fables, the other of delightful Solemnities. Those that were wiser among 'em, and saw thro their Mysteries, (who were not a few) were many of 'em Sacris initiati, and engaged in their support; the rest having no higher warrant than their own Reason, and nothing more certain to substitute in the room of 'em, were perhaps unwilling to unsettle matters, and paying a languid Complacence, suffer'd things to run on in the old Channel; whose Banks shou'd they break down, they knew not what course the Stream wou'd take, nor how far the Confusion might spread.

But the Gospel had none of these advantages, it was not contriv'd and modell [...]d for Popularity, it did not humour the Inclinations, and indulge [Page 17] the Appetites of the People. To the Purity of its Doctrine, a Conformity of Life, and Manners were requir'd, the Passions were to be curb'd, and the Desires moderated; instead of Pomp and Ceremony, Simplicity and Sobriety were to be their Entertainments: their rampant Gods, whose fabulous Histories gave countenance to Men's Lusts, and encouragement to their Debaucheries, were to be cashier'd, and the know­ledge and worship of the True One to be introduc'd, whose Majesty was as awful, as the other was represented frolicksome.

These were the conditions of Con­version from Heathenism, and the change must needs appear disadvan­tageous to meer Flesh and Blood The Fathers therefore, who knew how hard it was to keep the Appetites in entire subjection, took care to fortifie as strongly as possible those parts, in which they expected the Rebellion shou [...]d first break out.Heathen Plays dan­ger [...]s temptations [...] new Christian Converts. The Plays, of all the Heathen Solemnities, were those that gave the strongest temptation to the new Converts; they had so little [Page 18] of the Air of Religion, that they thought if they did not approve of the end and design of 'em, they might, without imputation, partake of the Diversion, in which they met with fre­quent. Examples of Innocence and Vir­tue. This alarm'd the Fathers, who knew that the transition from one Religi­on to another (as Mr Collier observes) was natural; and justly apprehended, that from a liking of the Entertain­ments themselves, they might proceed to approve the occasion of 'em; that the seeming Innocence and Virtue of 'em might reconcile 'em to a Superstition which recommended those excellent Gifts after so easie and agreeable a manner, or that perhaps the delights of those places might soften the temper of their mind, and relax the nerves of their zeal, and so unqualifie and indis­pose 'em for those Austerities, which the Posture and Circumstances of the Christian Religion at that time requir'd.

To obviate these dangers, they sum­mon'd all their Prudence,Zeal of the Fathers [...]g [...]inst 'em not u [...]ne­ [...]es [...]ary. and all their Art; they omitted no Topick which Rhetorick or Satyr cou'd supply, to fright or perswade Men from those [Page 19] Diversions. Nor was all their Zeal and Caution any more than was necessary, the Danger was great, and so was the Temptation; the Fort was to be main­tain'd not only against an Enemy with­out, but a strong Faction within; the Sences, Appetites, and Passions were already gain'd to the Enemy's Party, nothing remain'd but Religion and Reason, to make good the defence; those Generals therefore that wou'd hold out, when the Garrison was in­clin'd to Surrender, must not only dis­play their Courage and Conduct, but exert their Authority likewise to the utmost This the Antient Fathers did, whose examples have been follow'd by divers in our Age, tho without the same Reason, Authority or Success.

Having thus open [...]d the Case, as it stood in the time of the Primitive Christians, we shall proceed to exa­mine, Whether there be any manner of Analogy between the Roman Thea­tre (as to the particulars whereof they are arraign'd by the Fathers) and ours? Whether the Satyr of the Fathers comes full upon the Modern Poets? View p. 276. Whether the Parity of the Case makes their Reasons [Page 20] take place, and their Authority revive up­on us?

Thus backt,p. 277. as he supposes by the Worthies of Christendom, the flower ef Human Nature, and the Top of their Species, Mr Collier bids defiance to all the Stage Poets in general: He de­clares 'em to be gone over into another Interest, p. 1. Deserters to the Devil,p. 124. that aim to destroy Religion, Praef. and whose business is an ana of Lewdness and Atheism. For he has a huge mind to try his strength with 'em,p. 257. but he dares not enter the The­atres, they are the Devils own Ground; but he challenges 'em to a tryal of skill at the laudable exercises of the Christian Olympicks of Moorfields; which, if they be so hardy as to accept, he'll call a Ring, and for a broken Head, or Limb, he and his Fathers defy both North and West.Disingen [...]i­r [...] of Mr. Collier.

But hold, Mr Vinegar! have you any commission from the Fathers to give this Challenge in their Names? Does it appear, that they have any ground, or reason of quarrel to the present Stage? I believe not; but as things may be packt together, and translated, an able Interpreter may make 'em speak [Page 21] as he pleases. If they don't speak to his mind he knows how to correct 'em, 'tis but throwing in a word or two (as he phrases it) to clear the sense, to preserve the Spirit of the Original, Praef. and keep the English upon its Legs. 'Tis well he has the knack of Scowring the Fathers, otherwise their Testimonies wou'd look but rustily upon the present occasion. But he can wash as well as scowr, and underprop a failing Evidence upon occasion. 'Tis pity Mr Collier was not bred to the Bar, this extraordinary quality had been of admirable service there, to help a bad Memory, and prompt a bashful Witness. The Fa­thers, good men, cou'd say but little to the Cause, but Dexterity and Manage­ment may do much, and an able Solli­citor (like Mr Collier) will make out notable proofs from very slender Evi­dence.

The Fathers, as they had reason,Idolatry the main Objestions of the Fa­thers to the Ancient Drama. prohibited Christians all resort to the Roman Games in general, and without distinction upon the account of the Idolatry there practised: But what's that to our Theatres, which have no such stain upon 'em? If the Heathen [Page 22] Gods appear upon our Stage, 'tis nei­ther for their own, nor their Worshipers honour. Idolatry is as much abhorr [...]d, and more expos'd there, than any where else. Why then is the Satyr re­viv'd upon it? Is there any danger that the Spectators should turn Idolaters, from our Representations? That which scandaliz'd the Fathers most in the Dramatick Representations of Antiqui­ty was, that their Gods were represent­ed lewd, and unjust, Adulterers, Pimps, &c.

Et haec suntscenico r [...]m [...]era­bilior [...] [...] do rum Comoe­diae scilicit & Tragoediae hoc est fabu lae Poetarum agendae in spectaculis, multa rer­turpitudine sed nulla, saltem, sicut alia multa verborum obscoenitate compositae quas etiam inter studia quae hone­sta, & libe­ralia vocan­tur, pueri, legere dis­cere (que) a senibus co­guntur. De Civit. Dei lib. 2. St Augustine absolves their Come­dies and Tragedies from any fault in the expression, and accuses only the subject matter. The same Indictment he prefers against Homer, (viz.) that he corrupted Mens Morals by draw­ing such vicious Pictures of his Dei­ties. Aug. Conf. lib. 1. cap. 16. Terence falls under his displeasure likewise, for introducing his young Libertine animating himself to, and vindicating himself after a Rape, by the example of Jupiter, whose In­trigue with Danae, represented in a Picture, afforded him both matter of Encouragement and Excuse. Not­withstanding which objections, this [Page 23] Didici in eis multa verba uti­lia se det in rebus non vanis disci possunt & via tuta est, in qua Pu­eri ambula­rent. lib. Confess. 1 cap. [...]v. Father confesses himself to have pro­fited by the reading of 'em, tho he thinks the same use might have been made of more pious Books, which are fitter for the use of Children. Thus by the acknowledgment of this Father the Plays were not so bad. as Mr Collier wou'd infer from him. The quarrel of the rest of the Fathers to the Drama, was upon the same account, tho Mr Surveyor has given a wrong prospect of it. I hope there's no reason to appre­hend, that Jupiter or Mercury shou'd be drawn into precedent at this time of day, or that any person of Quality shou'd turn Whore-master, or Pimp out of emulation.

'Tis true,Mimick Shews a­mong the Romans scandalous [...] lewd, the Drama no at all. the Fathers frequently ex­claim against the lewdness of the Roman Theatres, which Mr Collier all along endeavours, both by the turn and ap­plication, to discharge upon the Dra­matick Representations, in which I ad­mire his dexterity more than his inge­nuity. For I can't suppose Mr Collier to be ignorant, that there were divers sorts of Ludi Scenici, which were all perform'd at the Theatre, of which several were scandalously lewd; but [Page 24] these he knows were no part of the Dramatick Entertainment.

But he finds Comedy and TragedyClemen's Alex [...]ndri­ [...]us c [...]ted against the Drama. sometimes condemn'd for company a­mong the other Shows of the Theatre, and therefore he is resolved, out of his singular regard to Justice and Ingenuity, that whatsoever is pronounc'd against the Theatres in general, shall light upon the Drama in particular, which by the unanimous confession of 'em all was the least offensive, and consequently the least deserv'd it.View p. 260 Nec incon­cine stadia & Theatra Pestilentiae C [...]thaedram quis voca­verit. Pae­dag. lib. 3. cap. ii. To what purpose else is Clemens Alexandrinus cited? He affirms, that the Circus and Theatre may not improperly be call'd the Chair of Pestilence. Whence does it appear, that the Dramatick Exercises are here aim'd at? Were the Mimi, Pantomimi, and Ar­chimimi, less concern'd with the Stage, or more reserv'd and modest in their practices upon it? Were dancing na­ked, and expressing lewd Postures less criminal, or offensive to modesty? No, he won't say that; View p. 277. altho the comparison were made with the English Stage, which is, (according to him) much more li­centious than the Roman, yet that by his own confession has nothing so bad. [Page 25] But supposing the Father to take his aim from Mr Collier's direction, and prophetically to have levell'd at our times, what is the wondrous guilt, that provokes this severe Judgment? Nosci­tur ex socio, why 'tis e'en as bad as Horse-racing; a very lewd diversion truly. Woe be to you Inhabitants of New Market, that live in the very Seat of Infection.

But the Fathers were men,The Fathers sametimes over rigo­rous meer men, as well as Mr Collier, and subject as well as he to be misled by passion, and overacted by zeal, in the transports of which they were apt sometimes to ex­tend their rigour too far, and would upon any terms have (as a certain Learned Recorder has it) enough for a decent Execution.Sic & Tragaedos Cothurnis extulit Diabolus, quia nemo potest adji­cere cubi­tum unum ad staturam suam, men dacem face re vult Christum. Tert. de Spectac. cap. 23. Thus Tertullian, none of the least considerable among the Fa­thers, either for his Learning or Zeal, in this case especially, tho he had alrea­dy convinc'd the Ancient Tragedy of Idolatry, a Crime sufficient in a Christian Court of Judicature to be capital, yet must needs ex abundanti bring a fresh Indict­ment of Blasphemy. The Devil, says he, mounted the Tragedians upon Buskins, be­cause he would make our Saviour a Liar, who [Page 26] says, that no man can add a Cubit to his Stature. Look to it all ye Tiptoe Beau's.

Here the Devil shew'd himself an Engineer, to lay a Trap so long before hand, to contrive and invent these Buskins only to falsify in appearance, what was said a thousand years after; and the Father himself was a very Mat­chiavel to detect, and counterplot him at last. I have read of a famous Scotch Divine, that signaliz'd himself once upon occasion, by much such another disco­very, when he found out, that at the dismission of all Creatures out of Noah's Ark, the reason why the Hawks were so merciful to the Doves, as to let 'em escape unhurt was, that the Prophesie of Isaiah, the Lamb should lye down with the Lyon, might be fulfilled. This is the nearest parallel that occurs to me from all my reading, in which the Scotch Father comes pretty near t'other for a strange reach of apprehension, tho 'tis his misfortune to fall short in the importance of the discovery.

But to wave all further instances of this kind from the Fathers, which are to be found in great plenty among 'em, [Page 27] I leave 'em to be gather'd by those that take more delight in such Flowers; and shall confine my self to those which Mr. Collier has pickt out for a Nosegay for himself.

To begin therefore with Theophilus Antiochenus;View. p 252. He tells us, that the Chri­stians durst not see the Prizes of the Gla­diators, for fear of becoming accessary to the Murthers there committed, nor their other Shows, upon the account of their In­dency and Prophaneness.

Here Mr Collier, as an earnest of his future fair dealing uses the word Shows, and because perhaps 'tis the only in­stance to be met with through all his Quotations, he is resolv'd not to lose the benefit of it, and therefore for fear it should slip by unheeded, he gives it in a different character, and an asterism along with it, and claps in the Margin Spectacula. By this sample of his Fide­lity to his Author, he thinks his per­formance warranted to his Readers, of whom he knows the greatest part can't nor the rest he hopes won't, be at the trouble to confront his Translation with the Text; and therefore before the end of this very Paragraph, he throws [Page 28] off all obligation to Truth and Just [...]ce and falls to managing and instructing his Evidence

Ibid. Nec fas est nobis audi­re adulteria Deorum Hominum (que) quae suavi verborum modulantur mercede. Ad Autolyc. lib. 3. The Stage Adulteries of the Gods and Heroes are unwarrantable Entertainments. And so much the worse, because the Merce­nary Players set off 'em with all the charms and advantages of speaking.

The Translator very well knew, that the Shews here aim'd at, were not the Tragedies and Commedies of Antiqui­ty, but the Shews of the Mimi, wherein the Amours of the Gods or Heroes were not related only, but sung to Musick in luscious fulsome Verse, mimickt in lewd dances with obscene Gestures and naked Postures, and even the very A­dulteries and Rapes themselves express'd by scandalous actions, for which pur­pose the very Stews were rak'd for Publick Prostitutes for the Service.

These were the Shews, that provok'd the just resentments of the Fathers, which had nothing in Common with the Dramatick Representations, but the Place, and the end of their Repre­sentation, which were the Publick Theatres, and Worship. But of all the Publick Diversions of the Heathens, [Page 29] the Drama only remaining to us, to keep the Authority upon its Legs, it was necessary to give it a new directi­on, and turn in the version, and there­fore the word Players was thrust in, to fix the Scandal in the wrong place.

That these were the Indecencies, and Lewdness of the Theatre, so bit­terly inveigh'd against by these Pious men, I cou'd bring testimonies innu­merable; but to avoid being tedious in a plain case, I shall single out St Cyprian, who being one of the Worthies of Christen­dome, and the Top of his Species, I hope Mr Collier will not except against his Evidence.Theatra [...]unt faedio­ra, quo con­venis verun­dia illic omnis exuitur simul cum amictu, ve­stis honor corporis, & pudor po­nitur, de­notanda ac contrectan­da virginitas revelatur. De Habit Virg. The Theatres (says he) are yet more Lewd. There they strip them­selves of their Modesty, as well as Clothes, and the honour as well as screen of their Bodies is laid aside, and Virginity expos'd to the affronts both of View, and Touch. Which Mr Collier knows was not pra­ctis'd in the Drama.

But our Histrio-Mastix was aware, that there was nothing to be got by square play, therefore he has recourse to slight of hand, and palms false Dice upon us. In the very next Paragraph we find him prompting Tertullian to [Page 30] rail at the Play-house, and the Bear-Garden Nihil no­bis &c. cum insania Circi cum impudicitia Theatri cum x [...]sti vani­tate. Apolog. adv. Gent. cap. 38.. Which latter, I suppose, was brought in for the grace and dig­nity of the Conjunction. Here the Play-house, by his old way of Legerde­main, is substituted for the Theatre; and the most innocent of the Roman Di­versions charg'd with the Guilt and Pol­lutions of all the rest, with which, by his own Confession, it was not so much as soil'd. But the shifting of Names le­vell'd the Scandal right for his purpose, and the unlearned Reader might per­haps be induc'd to believe, that the Father's quarrel lay against Lincolns-Inn-Fields, and Covent-Garden; and there­fore he was resolv'd not to lose the be­nefit of so advantageous a Cheat, for so small a condescension as falsifying a Text.

With the same honest view and in­tention, he forces Tertullian to call Pom­pey's TheatreItaque Pomperius magnus solo Theatro minor, cum illam arcem omnium turpitudi­num ex­truxisset, veritus quandoque memoriae suae Censoriam Animadver­fionem, Ve­neris aedem superposuit, &c., a Dramatick Bawdy­house. Here, to conceal the Fathers Age, he shaves off his Beard, and dresses him after his own fashion, in a Steen­kirk and a long Wig, that he may look like an acq [...]aintance of our Stage, and keep his Evidence in Countenance. A [Page 31] just Translation wou'd not answer his purpose, and therefore he has taken the usual liberty of adding or altering, and has clapt in the Dramatick Bawdy­house, to clear, that is, pervert the sense. It is no justification, to say that he has not chang'd the Scene, that the Place is the same, tho he has made bold to change the Terms; in changing the Terms he has chang'd the state of the case, and made the Author accuse the Drama of those enormities, which were peculiar to the Shews of the Mimi, and inveigh'd against only by him. Thus he uses his Father like an Irish Evidence, and makes him depose with as much latitude, as in a Court of Record, wou'd even in these corrupt times, cost a man his Ears.

To trace him through all his Quota­tions from the Fathers, were a task much more tedious, than difficult. It may suffice to take notice, that he keeps to his Principle, and never quotes any thing right, which he thinks may be made more serviceable by being per­verted. To prevent this Artifice from being seen through, he endeavours, like a Fish in the Water, to conceal [Page 32] the bottom by muddying the Stream.

St. Cyprian, Lactantius, Chrysostome and Augustine are all manag'd at the same rate; Mr Collier, like a stanch Beagle, makes the hits, whilst his Fathers, that like Whelps newly enter'd, are run­ning Riot, have much better Mouths than Noses, and make up a great part of the Cry, but are of no service in the Chase. Those that have a mind to tumble and sift over Mr Collier's Rub­bish of Antiquity, may find all his Quotations in Prynne's Histrio-Mastix, honestly transcrib'd, and more faithfully translated. To which, or to the Fathers themselves, I refer 'em. His Translations are all of a stamp, to re­peat more of 'em wou'd be tautology; how different soever the Originals might be, the Copies have all the same Features and Complexions; both Draught and Colouring agree so well, that a very indifferent Judge might in­fallibly discover 'em all to be Copies by one Hand, by the Harmony of the Faults.

But to dismiss the Fathers, who have been oblig'd to an unnecessary atten­dance, thro the disingenuity of their [Page 33] Translator,The Au­thority of the Fathers short of the Case. I shall once for all observe, first, that the Authority of the Fathers ought to affect us no farther than their Reasonings will come up to our case: Secondly, That their Arguments drawn from the Idolatry, lewd Representati­ons, and Cruelty practis'd upon the Roman Stage, and at their Shows, do not reach our Stage, where those pra­ctices are had in abhorrence. Thirdly, That as they are cited by Mr Collier, both their Authority and Arguments are subverted by the corrupt Version. If these three things be fairly made out, as (I hope) they already are, we need not be any longer alarm'd at this unseasonable clamour from the Fa­thers.

But tho the main strength of this Attila of the Stage lies in these Worthies of Christendom, Caution of Mr C-ll-r yet, like a cautious Commander, lest they shou'd be sur­priz'd, or unable to sustain the shock of the Stage Militia alone, he has pro­vided an Auxiliary Body of Heathen Philosophers, Historians, Orators and Poets, to guard the Passes, and check the fury of the first Onset. Here again he shews his care by his choice, he lists [Page 34] the bottom by muddying the Stream.

St. Cyprian, Lactantius, Chrysostome and Augustine are all manag'd at the same rate; Mr Collier, like a stanch Beagle, makes the hits, whilst his Fathers, that like Whelps newly enter'd, are run­ning Riot, have much better Mouths than Noses, and make up a great part of the Cry, but are of no service in the Chase. Those that have a mind to tumble and sift over Mr Collier's Rub­bish of Antiquity, may find all his Quotations in Prynne's Histrio-Mastix, honestly transcrib'd, and more faithfully translated. To which, or to the Fathers themselves, I refer 'em. His Translations are all of a stamp, to re­peat more of 'em wou'd be tautology; how different soever the Originals might be, the Copies have all the same Features and Complexions; both Draught and Colouring agree so well, that a very indifferent Judge might in­fallibly discover 'em all to be Copies by one Hand, by the Harmony of the Faults.

But to dismiss the Fathers, who have been oblig'd to an unnecessary atten­dance, thro the disingenuity of their [Page 33] Translator,The Au­thority of the Fathers short of the Case. I shall once for all observe, first, that the Authority of the Fathers ought to affect us no farther than their Reasonings will come up to our case: Secondly, That their Arguments drawn from the Idolatry, lewd Representati­ons, and Cruelty practis'd upon the Roman Stage, and at their Shows, do not reach our Stage, where those pra­ctices are had in abhorrence. Thirdly, That as they are cited by Mr Collier, both their Authority and Arguments are subverted by the corrupt Version. If these three things be fairly made out, as (I hope) they already are, we need not be any longer alarm'd at this unseasonable clamour from the Fa­thers.

But tho the main strength of this Attila of the Stage lies in these Worthies of Christendom, yet,Caution of Mr C-ll-r like a cautious Commander, lest they shou'd be sur­priz'd, or unable to sustain the shock of the Stage Militia alone, he has pro­vided an Auxiliary Body of Heathen Philosophers, Historians, Orators and Poets, to guard the Passes, and check the fury of the first Onset. Here again he shews his care by his choice, he lists [Page 34] none but men of the first Magnitude, he's so severe that a Volunteer under six foot can't pass Muster. But after all, the Service of these Gigantick Men does not answer the terror of their Bulk and Figure; they are prest men, that enter the Service against their Wills, and are plac'd in the Front, like a Swiss painted upon a Door, for shew, not action. 'Tis true, they are forc'd to appear with their Fire-locks, and give one charge, but 'tis, like a Moorfields Volley, without Ball, or Bloodshed.

The Leaders of these are a Trium­virate of Antient Greek Philosophers, Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle. The first of these appears not in person,Plato's Authority consider'd. nor has his proxy much to say for him, that I can find. Yet as little as 'tis, he ought to have produc'd his Credentials, or his Voice may fairly be protested against. For a hear-say Evidence ought at least to be as well attested, as a Nuncupative Will to make it authentick. But, after all, what is it that he says, or rather that Eusebius says for him? Why, that Plays raise the passions, and pervert the use of 'em, and by consequence are dangerous [...]o morality. But since he has not thought [Page 35] fit to specify either the nature or mea­sure of the danger, thus consequentially portended to morality, we need not amuse our selves any longer about it.

Much such another doughty Autho­rity is that of Xenophon. Xenophon. Ita de venereis etiam re­bus adval­de juvenes verba non facimus, ne accidente ad vehementem in eis libid. levitate, immodice huic libi­dini suae indulgeant Cyropaed, lib.. p. 34 The Persians (he says) won't suffer their youth to hear any thing, that's amorous or baw­dy. They were afraid want of Ballast might make 'em miscarry, and that it was dangerous to add weight to the Byass of nature. This quotation is strangely drawn in; it does not so much as squin [...] towards his purpose. Here's no mention of any thing relating to the Drama. Bawdry indeed was forbidden to be talk'd to those, whose Reason was not yet grown sturdy enough to curb the looseness of their Appetites in those Countries, where the heat of the Cli­mate, and the warmth of their Con­stitutions inclin'd 'em very early, and hurried 'em very precipitously to irre­gularities of that nature. But if this passage wou'd not serve his Cause, it wou'd his vanity and ostenta­tation of reading, and therefore was not to be slighted.

[Page 36] Of as great service is the Authority of Aristotle, Aristotle. one single doubtful expres­sion of whose, he would wrest to the overthrow of one of the most elaborate and judicious of all that great Philoso­phers works; I mean his Art of Poe­try; in which he has taken the pains to prescribe Rules for the more easie and regular composition of Dramatick Poems; which certainly had been in him as well a scandalous, as a ridiculous labour, if he had not thought the pra­ctice of 'em allowable. But he's so far from any such indifference, that he fre­quently, both in that piece, and other parts of his Works, commends the writing of Dramatick Poetry, as the noblest exercise of the mind. Nor do we find any where in the works of that Philosopher, who (by this Author's own confession) had look'd as far into humane Nature as any man, a greater profusion of Rhetorick than in the praise [...] of Tragedy, which he takes to be the highest exaltation of humane Wit.Plays for­bidden to young Peo­ple upon the score of the tempta [...]ns from the Company.

As for this passage, which Mr Collier has pickt out, and levell'd at the Co­medy of our Age, it amounts to no more [Page 37] than a generalAdol [...]s­centulos autem & [...]ambo­rum & Co­maediarum Spectato­res esse lex prohi­beat, prius quam [...]ta­tem atti­geri [...]t, [...] qua & [...] caeteris accubar [...] jam [...] rit, & ab omnibus, vel ebrie­tatis, vel aliarum inde nas­centium rerum in­commodis discip [...]lina liberos efficiat Pol. lib 7. c. 17. caution against trust­ing youth into promiscuo [...]s Company, such as resorted to publick places, till they were sufficiently fortify'd against the danger of Corruption, to which they might thereby be expos'd. Drunk­enness was the Vice, which the Philo­sopher particularly instanc'd in, by which he plainly shews himself appre­hensive of the Company, not of the Play; and therefore he would not have young people trusted with the liberty, and opportunity of contracting an ac­quaintance, before they were arriv'd at some tolerable maturity of Judgment. But Mr Collier with a dexterity peculiar to himself, palms the general term of Debauchery, for the particular one of Drunkenness upon us, that the suspi­cion might thereby be shifted from the Audience to the Peformance.

To back this, and cover the convey­ance, he brings another Authority as little to the purpose,View page 234. concerning the force and power of Musick, from whence he concludes, that where the Representation is foul, the thoughts of the Audience must suffer. What must they suffer? Wou'd the Musick, (as power­ful [Page 38] as he supposes it) make the Audi­ence drunk, or in love with Drunken­ness? No, that was no Vice of the Stage, whatever it might be of the Spectators, yet even by them the Scene was not laid at the Theatres, tho the Plot might, and the Company perhaps be pickt up there. I suppose this In­former, as inveterate as his malice is against Play-houses, will scarce charge 'em as Schools of intemperance of that kind, 'tis not the practice of the Stage, not so much as behind the Scenes; and I believe he will acquit Pit, Box, and Gallery of it. For whatever some may bring in their Heads, he will find but few with Bottles in their Hands there. This made him wave instancing in the particular of Aristotle; the retail scandal wou'd not fit our Theatres, and therefore he lumps it among 'em by the general name of Debauchery, and tacks this Citation concerning Musick to it, which he hopes will give the Reader an Idea more serviceable to his Cause, than Aristotle intended, and make a suitable impression upon him.

[Page 39] This Philosopher forbad the resort to Comedies, only to those whose vir­tues he durst not trust; not to hinder their diversion from the Stage, but to prevent their corruption from the Pit, as King Charles the 2d suppress'd Con­venticles, for the sake of those, whose principles he suspected; not to disturb the Devotion of a few mistaken well­meaning Men, but to prevent the practices of many crafty ill designing ones.

Tully cries out upon licentious Plays and Poems, View p. 235. as the bane of Sobriety, and wise thinking: That Comedy subsists upon Lewdness, and that plea­sure is the root of all evil.

No one,Licentious­ness not defended. I suppose, will defend Plays, that are really licentious, or if they seem to patronize any, wherein some warm-headed Enthusiastick Zealots pre­tend to find or make some passages ex­ceptionable, they are willing to leave those Passages, if really guilty, to the mercy of Mr Collier's Inquisition, and yet not deny their Countenance, and En­couragement to the prevailing merit of the main part of the performance.

[Page 40] But here I must needs take notice, that either Mr Collier or Tully, are extremely mistaken, or, which is all one to our purpose, that this quotation does not speak the sense of Tully. Plautus and Terence are the only Comedians of his acquaintance, whose works have been preserv'd to our times; and consequent­ly are the only Standards, by which we can form any Judgment, or take any measure of the Roman Comedy be­fore, or about Cicero's time.Mr Coll. Character of Terence & Plautus. View p. 20. These Mr Collier assures us are modest to a scruple, especially Terence, who has but one faulty bordering expression. Plautus, who is of all antiquity the most excep­tionable▪ rarely gives any smutty li­berties to women, and when he does, 'tis to Vulgar and prostituted persons. The men who talk intemperately are generally Slaves.Ib. p. 15, 16, &c. The Slaves and Pan­dars seldom run over, and play their Gambols before women. Plautus does not dilate upon the progress, successes, and disappointments of Love in the modern way. This is nice ground, and therefore he either stands off, or walks gravely over it. He has some re­gard to the retirements of modesty, [Page 41] and the dignity of humane Nature, and does not seem to make lewdness his Business.’

This is a very fair character from an adversary,This Cha­racter In­ [...]idious. a friend could scarce have given a more ample recommendation upon this head. Here seems to be a run of Candour and Ingenuity, for at least a dozen pages together; the anci­ent Dramatick Writers are treated with so much civility, 'tis all such Halcyon Weather, so fair a Sky, and so smooth a Sea, would tempt the cautiousest Pi­lot from his Anchor; he would have no apprehensions of a Storm, while all was so serene above, and so quiet and calm beneath him. But this is all out of Character, the Author forces his temper to serve his design, and caresses the Ancients in pure spight to the Moderns, as cunning Statesmen sometimes court and cajole a Party they hate, only to make 'em their tools against another they fear, and so make 'em ruine each other, and save themselves both the trouble, and the odium. This honest Policy Mr Collier has made use of; for, having routed (in his own vain con­ceit) by the help of these Ancients, [Page 42] the present Stage Poets, he makes head upon his Confederates, and those, that in the entrance of his Book deserv [...]d no censure, in the conclusion of it are al­low'd no quarter. The more plausibly and securely to put this Srratagem in execution, he takes care to destroy his own Authority in their favour, by that of much better men against 'em, or that are (as he manages the mat­ter) at least in appearance against 'em.

This Author is a sort of a Long-lane Writer,The A's­ci [...]ation [...] patch'd up of incohe­rent frag­ments. a Piece-Broker in Learning, one that tacks ends and scraps of Au­thors together to patch up a slight Au­thority, that hangs so weakly together, that it won't bear the fitting. Thus he has linkt together two or three ill sort­ed sentences out of Tully, that make as little to his purpose, as if he had quo­ted so many Propositions out of Euclid; the truth of which, tho every body might acknowledge, yet no body can find the use of in this place. But he found the name of Comedy joyn'd with an invective, and therefore he was resolv'd, if he did not find it so, to make it of his Party, before he took [Page 43] his leave of it.O prae­claram emenda­tricem vi­tae Poeti­cam, quae Amorem flagitii, & levitatis autorem in Concilio Deorum c [...]llocandum putet! De Comaediâ lo­quor quae si haec flagitia non probaremus, nulla esset omni [...]ò. Quaest. Tusc. lib. 4. Tully complains, that the Poets gave Love, the author of so ma­ny follies and disorders, a place among the Deities, the irregularities of which were the constant subject matter of the Co­medies of his time.

The severities of a harsh old Father,The Inven­tion of the Roman Co­mick Poets barren. the amours of the Rake his Son, and the intrigues of the Knave his Servant, or the wiles of a mercenary Prostitute, generally made up the business of those Comedies. Hereupon Cicero cries out, that if 'twere not for these Love extrava­gances, the Comick Poets would be desti­tute of a Plot. In which he seems ra­ther to tax 'em with barrenness of In­vention, than Immorality. 'Tis true, the Moral of such designs cou'd not be very extraordinary, nor cou'd any very edifying doctrine of application be rais'd from the usual Catastrophe of these Plays. For the Poet generally took care, after he had embroil'd matters beyond all seeming possibility of a re­conciliation, to disentangle all by some [Page 44] Providential (if Mr Collier won't quar­rel at the expression) Incident, and crown the young Libertine with his wishes, [...]oetick Justice neglected by them. reconciling the Father to the Son, and the Master to the Servant. By this means Poetical Justice was elu­ded, and that which shou'd have been the ground and occasion of moral In­struction lost. The Antient Comedy was not therefore so innocent as his Cha­racter, nor so lewd and impure as his corrupted Quotations wou'd make it.

His next Authority is from Livy, whose Evidence,Livie's Authority abus'd. even tho it were faith­fully reported by Mr Collier, comes not near our case. For Livy speaks here of the Stage Representations in general; but the Drama, properly so call'd, was not known amongst the Romans at the time of the Pestilence, when the Ludi Scenici were invented. But this is not all, he is not contented to make a false Witness only of this Historian, but he must add Forgery to Subornation, and put his hand to what was not his act and deed.

The Motives are sometimes good, when the means are stark naught:P▪ 255. That the Re­medy in this case was worse than the Dis­ease, [Page 45] and the Attonement more infectious than the Plague.

These words Livy utterly disowns; Sine car­mine ullo sine imi­tandorum carminum actu, Lu­diones ex Hetruria acciti, ad Tibicinis modos Saltantes, haud indecoros motus more Thusco dabant. Dec. 1. l. 7. he says, that the Ludi Scenici intro­duc'd upon this occasion, consisted of certain dances, or decent movements to Musick, perform'd by Artists fetch'd out of Tuscany, after the manner of their Country.

Where lay the force of the Contagi­on in this? What danger of Infection from a modest Dance? After this Livy proceeds to shew what were the first steps that were made towards the im­provement of these Ludi Scenici, and concludes his short account of their earliest Gradations with this Reflection.

Inter ali­arum par­va princi­pia rerum ludorum quoque prima ori­go ponen­da visa est, ut appare­ret, quam ab sano in­itio res in hanc vix opulentis regnis to­lerabilem insaniam venerit. Ibid. Amongst other things that have risen from small beginnings, I thought fit to take notice of Plays, that I might shew from how sober an Original this excessive Extravagance, which scarce the wealthiest Nations can bear, is deriv'd. This Mr Collier translates, The motives are sometimes good, when the means are stark naught. 'Tis pretty plain, that 'tis not [Page 46] the Immorality,The Luxu­ry and Ex­pensiveness of these Shews, not their Im­morality, condemn'd by Livy. but the excess of Luxu­ry and Profusion at these Shews, that Livy condemns, by his adding that 'twas greater than the wealthiest Nations cou'd well bear. For 'tis to be suppos'd, that wealthy people have as much need of Morality as the poor, tho they are not oblig'd to the same measures of Thrift, and good Husbandry. Whe­ther Mr Collier's construction and appli­cation of this passage be the effect of his Malice or Ignorance, I leave the World to judge.

The following is yet a more perverse misconstruction, to which both Malice and Ignorance have clubb'd their ut­most, even to emulation, so that 'tis hard to distinguish which has the better title to it. Livy tells usItaque C [...]. Genu­tio, L. Ae­mylio ma­merco se­cundum Coss. cum pia­culorum magis con­quititio animos quam corpora morbi af­ficerent, &c. Ibid., that the Ro­mans were so solicitous about methods of appeasing the Gods, that the anxiety of it was a greater affliction to their Minds, than the disease to their Bodies. This our Remarker, who out of his superabun­dant understanding, knew better than the Author himself what ought to have been said, thinks fit to render thus, The Remedy in this case is worse than the [Page 47] Disease, and the Atonement more infectious than the Plague. Valerius Maximus misquoted,

Of the same stamp is the Citation from Valerius Maximus, whom he has quoted, whither with less Faith or Uuderstanding, is matter of doubt, for he has given great cause to suspect both. This Author, speaking of the Prizes of their Gladiators, expresses his resent­ments of that barbarouscustom, (in which Citizens of Rome were often butcher'd) after this manner.Proxi­mus mili­taribus in­stitutis ad urbana Castra, id est Thea­tra gradus faciendus est, quo­niam haec quo (que) sae­penumero animosas acies in struxerunt ex cogita­ta (que) cultus Deorum, & hominum delectati­onis causa, non sine aliquo pa­cis, rubore volupta­tem, & religio­nem civili sanguine, senicorum portento­rum gra­tia, ma­cularunt. Lib. 2. Cap. 4. Falseness and absur­dity of Mr C—r's Paraphrase These things which were at first invented for the Worship of the Gods, and delight of Men, were converted totheir destruction, staining both their Religion and Diversions, with the Blood of Citizens, to the Scandal of Peace. 'Tis plain, that by the Animosae Acies this Author meant nothing but the Nurseries of Caestiarii, and Gladiators, and that by the Civilis Sanguis he in­tended no more of it, than was spilt in arena at those Prizes in quality of Gladiators or Gaestiarii, in which the Spectators had no concern further than in the barbarity of counte­nancing, and encouraging so cruel a practice.

[Page 48] This, tho bloody and abominable enough to give an abhorrence to honest considerate Heathens, won't suffice Mr Col­lier, he despises single Sacrifices, and calls for Hecatombs; he's for breathing the Veins of the State, and slucing the Vi­tals of the whole Commonweath at once. They were the occasion of Civil Di­stractions; P. 235. and that the State first blush'd, then bled for the Entertainmeut.

This is rare Paraphrasing, Mr. Collier allows himself a very Christian latitude in his interpretations. But less wou'd not serve his turn, the Drama and Arena lay at some distance in Old Rome, and therefore this Gentleman was re­solv'd to correct the Map, and bring 'em together. But what occasi­on for bloodshed at a Comedy? Why Mr. Paraphraser wou'd insinuate, that the Spectators and the Actors, like Don Quixot and the Puppets, fell together by the Ears, and so embroil­ing the State, engaged the whole Com­monwealth in a Civil War. If I could be perswaded of this, I should allow this Divrsion to be altogether as Antichristian, as Bear-baitings or Ridings, and could be content, that Mr Collier, like [Page 49] Hudibrass shou'd reduce both Actors and Spectators by force of Arms; the Prowess of the Champions seems so so exactly equal, that I see no cause to doubt, their Atchievements and Success proving parallel.

He concludes (says our Paraphraser) the consequence of Plays intolerable;Ibid. This con­clusion not to be found in Valerius. and that the Massilienses did well in clearing the Country of 'em.

Where he finds this conclusion I can't tell, I am sure not in either of the Chapters cited by him, nor I doubt through the whole Book. But he's a Discoverer, and has good eyes, that will shew him at a vast distance what others can't see with the help of the best Telescopes. What he says of the Massilienses (as he calls 'em) is no more to his purpose, than the former Evi­dence against the Gladiatorial Shews. Valerius Maximus in his sixth Chapter saysEadem Civitas (viz. Mas­si [...]a) seve­ritatis cu­stos acer­rima est: nullum aditum in Scenam Mimis dando, quorum argumenta majore ex parte stuprorum continent actus, ne talia spectandi consuetudo etiam imitaudi licentiam sumat. Cap. 6., That the Marseillians were a very severe People, that wou [...]d not suffer the Mimicks to appear upon their Stage, whose business generally it was to present the acti­on [Page 50] of Rapes to publick view, lest the sight of such licentious Practices, shou'd debauch the Spectators to the Imitation of 'em.

'Twere needless to insist long upon this passage, having already shewn the vast difference between the Mimick and Dramatick Representations. I shall on­ly observe, that this Author, by saying that the people of Marseilles deny'd the Mimi the liberty of their Stage,Stage al­low'd at Marseilles. in­timates that they allow'd the Stage there, tho under severer restrictions than at Rome. Now if they permitted it amongst 'em at all, there is no doubt but Tragedy and Comedy (which by the unanimous confession even of their Adversaries, were the most innocent, and instructive of all the Ludi Scenici) took their turns upon it.

S [...]neca, Seneca's Authority nothing to the purpose. who is next produc'd, has but little to say to the matter: He is a little angry that the Romans were so fond of their diversion, as to bestow their whole time upon it, and neglect the study of Philosophy, and the im­provement of their Reason. Nor was his complaint unreasonable; for the Romans, who were never much ad­dicted to Philosophy, or any kind of [Page 51] Speculative Learning, were yet more averse to 'em than ever under the Reign of Nero, when all sorts of Arts and Li­terature, those excepted which contri­buted to the Prince's pleasures, lay un­der publick discouragement; on the other hand, the Stage, and all those Arts that gratify'd and indulg'd the Sences, had not only the Countenance, but the Practice and Example of the Emperor himself to encourage 'em, and to excel in any of 'em was the high road to his Favour, and to Preferment [...] It is not therefore to be wonder'd, if the Roman Youth under that general cor­ruption slighted those Studies, the se­verity of which made 'em as well unpal­latable as unregarded. Nor are we to be surpriz'd, if Seneca declaim'd against these Entertainments, which drew a­way, and alienated the minds of the People from those Studies, upon the merit of which he peculiarly picqu'd himself.

The summ of this Philosopher's Evi­dence amounts to no more thanNihil vero tam damnosum bonis moribus, quam in aliquo spectaculo desidere; tunc enim per voluptatem vitia facilius surrepunt. Epict. 7. that [Page 52] he thought Idleness a great corrupter of Manners, and that the Shows in use among the Romans, contributed to the making the people Idle, and tainting 'em with Luxury, and thereby ren­dring 'em more dispos'd to Vice. His charge against the Shows is in this place general, and respects indifferently any of 'em, many of which were in their own Natures innocent, and void of of­fence, yet were equally submitted to censure in this passage with the most scandalous Seneca was not so mean a Judge of Men, [...] p [...] ­verted. or Things, as to think all their Shows equally reprehensible, but he found all liable to the same a­buse, that is, detaining the people from their business, and giving them too great an itch after Diversions. But this had not been worth our notice, were't not to shew, that our modern Reformer, tho he has been us'd to greater Stakes, can play at small Game rather than stand out. For in the latter part of this short Citation he has made a shift to steal in two falfica­tionsTunc e­nim per volupta­tem, &c. p. 235..

For there Vice makes an insensible ap­proach, and steals upon us the disguise of pleasure.

[Page 53] Here he wou'd insinuate that the Vice, of which the Philosopher seems so apprehensive, was of the growth of the place, to which purpose he translates the words. Tunc enim, For there, by which he endeavours to make the infection local, and renders the words, Per voluptatem, In the disguise of Pleasure, that it may seem to come artificially, and industri­ously recommended. Whereas, all that he says imports no more, than that, when men's Minds, by the flattery of those Diversions, were disarm'd of that severity, that the Stoicks (of which Sect he was) think requisite to the guard of Virtue, they were more easily prevail'd upon, and led away by viti­ous inclinations.

There are yet behind in the Train, Tacitus, Plutarch, Ovid, and Mr. Wy­cherley, whom (whether to shew his Judgment or his Manners I know not) he has rankt amongst, and under the head of Pagan Authorities; and truly I think he may as well make a Pagan of him, as an Evidence in this case. But that ingenious Gentleman ought not to take it amiss; for since all those great Men of Antiquity, nay, even the Fa­thers [Page 54] themselves, the Worthies of Chri­stendom, the Flower of Human Nature, and the top of their Species, are obliged every one of 'em to wear a Fool's Coat, he has the less reason to repine at the Livery.

These are all summon'd to make up the Parade of Learning, [...], &c. im­pertinently cited. and have no more business than an Ambassador's Coach of State at his publick Entry. Tacitus tells us, that Nero did ill to make the necessities of decay'd Gentle­men pimp to the betraying of their ho­nour and dignity. And that the Ger­mans did well to keep their Wives out of harms way. The complaint of Ta­citus is nothing to us; his Caution in­deed may be of service, as matter of instruction to Mr Collier, and his Prose­lytes, if he has any, who I hope will reap the benefit of the German Exam­ple.

Plutarch thinks, that Licentious Poets ought to be checkt: Ay, and licentious Criticks too, and corrected into the bargain: tho Sancha Pancha and His Critick were both submitted to the lash, till one learnt Wit, and t'other Man­ners, and both Modesty. For saw [...]y [Page 55] Reformers, as well as lewd Poets, require abundance of Discipline to keep 'em within bounds.

Ovid, Ovid and Mr Wy­cherly say nothing a­gainst the Stage, but the Audi­ence. and Mr Wycherley, as Poets, and Men of Wit, may be joyn'd, tho not as Heathens; and their Evidence, being exactly of a piece, is the more properly consider'd together. This amounts to a proof, that at the Thea­tres, as well as at all other places, where there is a promiscuous resort of compa­ny of both Sexes, the business of Intrigue will go forward. It were much to be wish'd, that no body came to the Play-house for a less innocent diversion, than that of the Stage; to Churches and Conventicles with a less pious in­tention, than that of Devotion; to the Park for a less wholesome refreshment than that of Air, &c. But 'tis as much to be fear'd, that this universal Refor­mation will never be brought about, till the accomplishment of the Prophesie (if I may call it so, without offending Mr Collier) of one of our Poets ‘Till Women cease to Charm, and Youth to Love.’ [Page 56] So long as there are appetites,Too great severity of no service to Morality. there will be means found to gratify 'em. I won't deny, but that the promiscuous conflux of people of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions, facilitates enterprizes of this nature. But I question whether an absolute restraint wou'd not more inflame the desire, than it cou'd pre­vent the practice; and whither the Mo­rals of the Public wou'd not suffer more by vitiating the Imaginations of the People in general this way, than they cou'd gain by the severest me­thods of prohibition the other. Spain and Italy are Countries as jealous and vigilant in this point, as any in the world, and yet the people so generally lascivious, that there is no place where Virtue has less interest in the Chastity of either Sex. Whereas on the con­trary, in many places under the Line, where the People go constantly naked, the familiarity of the Objects takes away all wantonness of Imagination, which the artificial difficulties of some Countries promote.

But Ovid, it seems, does in some measure plead guilty, and owns, that [Page 57] not only the opportunityLudi quo (que) se­mina prae­bent Ne­quitiae. De Trist. lib. 2., but the business of the place sometimes pro­motes lewdness. Nor is it to be won­der'd at, since some of the representa­tions there were so scandalously lewd, as to give offence to the loosest of their Poets.Junctam Pasiphae [...] ictaeo credite Tauro, Vi­dimus, ac­cepit Fa­bula prilca fidem. Mart. Martial tells us [...], that he saw the Story of Pasiphae acted upon their Stage. But these were the Representa­tions of their Mimi, the scandal of which reflects no way upon the Drama, either Antient or Modern, and will therefore give us no occasion to dilate upon 'em here.

I have at length run thro all his pri­vate Authorities against the Stage,Mr C—'s licentious Method of misquoting unsuffera­ble. wherein I can't find so much as one, which is not either impertinently, or falsely cited, as I doubt not, but will upon collation appear. For which rea­son I have all along put the words of the Original, or of the most approv'd Version in the Margin, that they might without trouble be collated, and my charge justified. He owns, that he has taken the liberty of throwing in a word or two, (in translating the Fathers) to clear the Sense, to preserve the Spirit of the Original, and keep the English upon its [Page 58] Legs. I hope by this it appears, that he has confounded the Sense, corrupted the Spirit, and set the English upon Stilts. His Modesty's too plain a coun­terfeit, to cheat those that are not wil­fully blind, 'tis so slightly wash'd over, that the Brass appears at first view; so that whatever denomination he may give it, like an Irish Half Crown, 'twill soon fall to its intrinsick value. After all, his pains in citations are as unluckily bestow'd, as the Malefactors Fee, who, after he has brib'd the Ordinary, is call'd to read over again to the Court, and suffers at last for his ignorance.

To close all, and crown his Victory, Mr Collier gives us some State Censures (as he calls 'em) to shew how much the Stage stands discourag'd by the Laws of other Countries, and our own.

To begin with the Athenians. P 240. This People, tho none of the worst Friends to the Play-house, thought a Comedy so unre­putable a Performance, that they made a Law that no Judge of the Areopagus shou'd make one.The Athe­nia [...]s, the greatest friends in the world to the Stage.

'Tis something surprizing to find the Authority of the Athenian State pro­duc'd against the Drama, of which [Page 59] they of all the people of the world were the greatest Encouragers. And this very Law, which is urg'd against Comedy in particular, is an argument of the general Esteem it was at that time possest of. For, had the Writing of Comedy been so unreputable a perform­ance, as Mr Collier from this passage of Plutarch wou'd insinuate, there had been no reason to suspect, that any of the Judges of the Areopagus wou'd have been so madly indiscreet, as to have forfeited his Character and Reputation, by so open and publick a Scandal; and consequently a provision by Law against a folly of that nature, must have been as senseless a Caution there, as an Act here wou'd be, to forbid any of the twelve Judges dancing upon the Ropes, or tumbling thro a Hoop in publick.

But this Law makes directly against the purpose it was quoted for,This Law a direct Argument against [...] Collier. and seems plainly to argue, that Comedy was in so great reputation amongst em, that persons of the highest condition sought the applause of, and made their court to the people by performances of that nature. For which reason they found it necessary to restrain their Judges by [Page 60] a Law, from running into those popular amusements.

That these Performances were not in fact dishonourable amongst the Athe­nians, might be made appear from a million of instances, were it necessary. But the credit that Aristophanes had among the Athenians, which was pow­erful enough to ruine Socrates, is singly sure sufficient to destroy an assertion so weakly founded. So far were they from having Comedy in disgrace, that they encourag'd, and maintain'd it at vast expence to the Publick, and thought it so proper an instrument of ReformationApud Graecos fuit Lege concessum ut quod vellet Co­maedia no­minatim, & de quo vellet di­ceret. Cic. de Rep. apud S. August. de Civit dei, cap. 9., that they gave it free liberty of Speech, and priviledg'd it to say any thing, and of any body by name; and this not by connivance, but by Law; there lay no Action of Scandal either against Poet or Actors.

This probably gave occasion to the excessive liberties of the old Comedy, The old Comedy of the Greeks exceeding licentious. which at length grew so offensive, as to make way for a Reformation, and the introduction of the new Comedy upon the Athenian Stage. And here the reason why the Areopagites were not allow'd to med­dle or engage in Comedy, appears pretty [Page 61] plain; for the Liberties, allow'd to the old Comedy, naturally engag'd 'em in Parties, Factions, and personal Quarrels, which a Judge ought, to the utmost of his power, to keep himself clear of. Beside, the an­cient Dramatick Writers were generally Actors in their own Plays, which by no means befitted the gravity of a Judge.

These reasons (since Plutarch is silent) may suffice to shew,Comedy, why no proper ex­ercise for a Iudge. that the Athenians might have a very great honour for their Comick Writers and yet forbid their Judges to be of the number. The Avocation from their proper Studies, the Laws of the Republic, the quarrels, and consequently the partialities they were by the exercise of that sort of Poetry liable to be engag'd in, and the Indig­nity to their Office, are sufficient to justify such a prohibition, even amongst a people, that had the highest respect for all other persons that excell'd in this kind.

Nor was their kindness extended only to the Drama; for the Baccha­nalian Games, even after the abdica­tion of Tragedy and Comedy, tho they held not an equal rank with the other, yet had some share of their Favour; and Aeschines, who, according to the [Page 62] testimony ofLocata Opera tua illis Histri­onibus, qui suspiriosi cognomi­nantur, tertias partes ac­titabas. Demosth. Orat. de Coron: And in the same Oration he calls him Tertianum Historio­nem. Demosthenes, andAeschines tertias partes in Bacchanalibus apud Aristodemum actitavit. Plut. Aeschine. Plu­tarch, was but a third rate ActorAeschines legationes obiit, & multas alias, & ad Philippum de pace. Ibid., yet was so well consider'd by the State, as to be sent on several Embassies, and particularly to conclude a Peace with Philip of Macedon, than which the State cou'd not have given him a more ho­nourable Employment.

This, I suppose, may almost amount to a demonstration, that the Athenians had no such scandalous opinion of the Stage, as Mr Collier wou'd insinuate, making even Plutarch himself Judge in the case. It wou'd be impertinent after this to insist upon the great Employ­ments, with which Sophocles, and some other of their Poets were honour'd; since the already mention'd honours and privileges are a sufficient evidence of the Publick Esteem.

His next State Opinion is that of the Lacedemonians;Opinion of the Spar­tans- and here after a flourish of his own, he appeals to Plutarch again. The Lacedemonians, P. 240. who were remarka­ble [Page 63] for the Wisdom of their Laws, and Sobriety of their Manners, and their breeding of brave Men: This Government wou'd not endure the Stage in any Form, nor under any Regulation.

I find, if this Author can but make his reading appear, 'tis no matter whe­ther his sense does or not. Here is a Period of five lines and a half, with­out any principal Verb. But the Au­thor is got into his Rhetorical strain, and 'tis no matter for Grammar. For when his Fury's up, Priscian had best stand out of his way; or take a bro­ken Head quietly, or woe be to his bones.

But who told him, that the Lacede­monians were so remarkable for the Wisdom of their Laws? They were in­deed notorious for the unreasonable severity and singularity of 'em. But I beg Mr Collier's pardon, if ill Nature and Singularity ben't arguments of Wis­dom, a certain sowre, singular Remark­ [...]r may have written a Book to call his own understanding in question.

The Gentleman,Theft tole­rated at Lacede­mon, I suppose, had heard of a famous Law-giver call'd Lycurgus, who was a Lacedemonian, and left his [Page 64] Country several wholesome Laws, the just commendation of which particular Ordinances he was resolv'd to transfer to the whole Body, or System of their Laws, in which Violence, Rapine, and Theft were not only tolerated, but re­commended to practice and imitation; but all ingenious Arts, lay together with the Stage, under discouragement.

The Spartans were a people some­thing of Mr Collier's Kidney,Character of the Spartans [...] Cynicks in their Temper, Morose, Proud, and ill Natur'd, that hated mortally, as well the Improvements, as the Persons of their polite Neighbours the Atheni­ans, were fond of their primitive Rust, and Barbarity, had an aversion to Ele­gance, or Neatness of any kind; their principal Virtues were a senseless inflexi­ble obstinacy, whether in the right or wrong, and a sullen sufferance under Adversity. They were in short incor­rigible Humorists, a people that would neither lead nor drive, men that were as hard to be perswaded to reform an old abuse, as the Irish formerly to leave off drawing by their Horses Tails, or a Spaniard would be to part with his Mustachio's, or Mr Collier to re­tract [Page 65] an Error. This Frame and Con­stitution of mind, might perhaps re­commend and endear 'em, as it seems to ally 'em to a person of the Authors complexion.

But why did this Scourge of the Stage suppress the reason of this Aversion of the Spartans to the Drama? Was it not for his purpose? Well, if he [...]s re­solv'd not to to tell us, Plutarch is better natur'd, and will. He says,Comae­dias, & Tragaedias non ad­mittebant Lacones, ut nt (que) serio, eos qu [...]legibus contradi­cerent au­dirent. In­stit. Lacon. This Au­thority fal­sified like­wise. that the Lacedemonians allow'd neither Tra­gedy nor Comedy, that they might not hear any thing contradictory to their Laws.

Here was an Authority in appear­ance as serviceable to his purpose, as the old broad Money was to the Clip­pers, but he, like some of those uncon­scionable Artists, that when they had clipt a Six-pence, woud clap a Nine­penny stamp upon it, cou'd not be con­tented with the advantage of diminu­tion, but he by covetously endeavour­ing to raise the value, spoiled the cur­rency of his Authority.

This Government (says he) wou'd not endure the Stage in any form, nor under any Regulation.

[Page 66] What warrant has he from Plutarch for this Assertion?Politeness, the Objecti­on of the Spartans to the Dra­ma. Plutarch tells us, that they did not admit Comedy nor Tragedy, but he says not a syllable of Forms or Regulations. The Lacede­monians were a rough unpolish'd people, that were afraid, if the study of Polite­ness (the inseparable companion of the Drama) were introduc'd, their Laws, which were as Clownish, and unlickt as themselves, shou'd be affronted, and therefore kept Tragedy and Comedy, like Enemies, at a distance.

But what does he mean here by the Stage?All sorts of Plays not prohibited at Lacede­mon. Wou'd he insinuate, that all sorts of Shews and Games were prohi­bited? If so, his Position is absolutely false; for all the rough Bear Garden Play (if I may call it so) was not only tolerated, but very much encouraged by the State. Their Women too had their Religious Plays,Lib. 4. a memorable stoy of which Pausanias * tells. And 'tis probable, that the Plays in use over all the rest of Greece, were permitted there too in their Primitive Rudeness and Simplicity, conformable to the hu­mour of the people, and the drift of their Policy.

[Page 67] In the exclusion of the Drama, they aim'd only to preserve that Martial Spi­rit, which by the whole course and method of their Education and Exer­cises, they endeavour'd to infuse into, and nurse up in their youth, which they were afraid the Delicacy and Luxury of the Drama, as 'twas practic'd at Athens, might soften, and that the Elegancy and Pleasure of those diversions wou'd breed a niceness, which wou'd insensibly create a disgust in their youth to the Man­ners and Customs of their Country, and consequently make 'em think their Laws harsh and unpolish'd.

It was not therefore the Virtue of the Spartans, Morality, not the reason of rejecting the Stage. nor their care of Morality, that made 'em reject the Drama, but an austerity of temper, which render'd 'em ambitious only of Military Glory. In which, notwithstanding their Neigh­bours and Rivals the Athenians, with all their Delicacy and Luxury, were their equals, if not superiours. What infecti­on of Manners from the Stage, cou'd that State fear, which tolerated Theft and Adultery? Tis plain, their fear was, lest the natural asperity of their humours, which they industri­ously [Page 68] cultivated, should be softned, and their minds enervated. For the same reason all sorts of Learning lay under neglect and discouragement.

Whatever were the reasons that in­duc'd 'em to banish the Drama, if Vir­tue was not, 'tis nothing to Mr Collier's purpose. As for their breeding brave Men, I believe they may be match'd from the opposite State of Athens, both for number and quality. But if the Athenians rivall'd 'em in Military Glo­ry, they infinitely excell'd 'em in all other valuable Qualities, and had as much more Manners, as they had Wit or Wealth. So that if Mr Collier will needs have them for his Champions, I must oppose their old Antagonists to 'em, and leave them to decide the Fate of Greece. For I think the opposition as unequal, as that of Ovid,

Mulieber in Trojam, pro Trojâ stabat Apollo.

The next step he takes is into Italy, and there indeed he endeavours to draw a mighty Republick into a League Offensive and Defensive. And here, [Page 69] by the means of St Austin, he draws Tully in; but since Tully does not ap­pear in propriâ personâ we shall not spend Time and Ammunition upon him, but pass on to Livy: Livy's Au­thority con­sider'd. P. 241. Postqu [...]m lege [...] fabularum ab risu, [...] soluto i [...] ­co res avo­cabatur, & ludus in artem paulatim verterat, Juventus histrioni­bus fabel­larum actu relictu, ipsa inter se more antiquo ridicula intexta ver­sibus jactitare caepit, quae inde exodia postea appellata, conserta [...]; Fabellis potissimum Atellanis sunt, quod genus ludorum ab Oscis acceptum tenuit juventus: nec ab histrionibus pollui passa est. Eo institutum manet, ut Actores Atellauarum nec tri [...]a moveantur, & stipendia tanquam expertes artis Ludicrae faciant. Dec. 1. l. 7. Who, making his personal appearance, is more formida­ble.

We read in Livy, that the young people in Rome kept the Fabulae Atellanae to themselves. They wou'd not suffer this diversion to be blemish'd by the Stage. For this reason, as the Historian observes, the Actors of the Fabulae Atellanae were nei­ther expell'd their Tribe, nor refus'd to serve in Arms. Both which Penalties, it appears, the common Players lay under.

Here Mr Collier has us'd a piece of Ingenuity uncommon with him, and put the words, Ab Histrionibus pollui in the Margin to justifie his Translation. This is a strain of fair play, that he has not been persuaded to come up to, since his first quotation from Theophilus [Page 70] Antiochenus. Not but that he was sa­tisfy'd of the reasonableness of the con­duct, (as appears by his using it, when 'tis for his turn) but because he had cause to fear the service of it.

In this Translation is another of his elegancies of Speech: Were neither ex­pell [...]d their Tribe, nor refused to serve in Arms. He means, I suppose, prohibit­ed, or denied the liberty of serving in Arms: for refus'd to serve in Arms is not English.

To understand this passage of Livy rightly,Ancient Romans an unre­fined Peo­ple. we must consider that the Ro­mans in the Infancy of their State were a severe sort of people, not much un­like in that particular to the Lacedemo­nians, ambitious only of Empire, and sollicitous for nothing so much as the glory of their Arms: This humour last­ed some Ages, and grew and encreas'd with their acquisitions; every augmen­tation of their State animated 'em to new Conquests, and their Ambition rising with their hopes, success made 'em fierce and haughty. 'Twas the universality of this Spirit, (which wou'd be dangerous to any other than a Po­pular Government) that laid the Foun­dation, [Page 71] and was the Instrument of their future greatness. To support, and keep up this Spirit, all manner of Arts here, as at Lacedemon, lay under neglect and contempt, except such as contributed to the forming of their Youth to hardiness, and military vir­tueVirtus superstiti­one animis Ludi quo­que Scenici nova res bellico [...]o populo, instituti dicuntu [...]. Et ea ipsa percgrina res suit. Ludiones ex Hetru­ria acciti. Ibid.. So that when there seem'd to be a necessity of instituting expiatory Plays, the Romans were such absolute strangers to things of that nature, that they were forc'd to fetch Artists out of Tuscany.

It is no wonder if the Romans, whoImitari deinde eos ju­ventus, si­mul incon­ditis inter se jocularia fundentes versibus, cepere. Ib. Acting of Plays first left off by the Roman youth, be­cause of the difficulty. were a people very proud, and con­ceited of their own performances, treated all those Arts, and Artists, which were not adapted to their pro­per Genius with contempt, especially after they had receiv'd those Improve­ments, which render'd 'em more artifi­cial, and consequently more difficult. By which means the Roman Youth, who at first began to imitate the Tuscan Players, were forc [...]d to throw up those refin'd diversions to theirVerna­culis Arti­firibus. Ib. Slaves, and stick themselves to the old, rude, sim­ple way of mixing indigested Verses, and crude extempore raillery.Histrio­ [...]e [...], who so called. Thus [Page 72] the Ludi Scenici being refin'd, fell whol­ly into the hands of Mercenary Players, who were upon this occasion distin­guish'd by the name ofVerna­culis Arti­sicibus, [...] Hister [...] Ibid. Histriones, the Roman Youth retaining to themselves only the Fabulae Atellanae, which, [...]e­cause of their rudeness and simplicity, requir'd no great skill or application, as the other did; which, for that rea­son, perhaps they were either too Satur­nine, or too proud to learn of those, whom they esteem'd as Vassals, or Slaves.

That this was the reason of their giv­ing over the acting their other Plays, and not any turpitude, or dishonesty in the things themselves, Livy himself de­clares, by sayingPost­quam lege, that after the in­troduction of the Fable, they became too artificial for the practice of their youth, and therefore reserving to themselves the Atellanae only, they left the rest of the Shews to those that made it their sole business.

'Tis observable, that the Historian in this account of Plays includes not the Drama at all; for he speaks here only of the Fables, which, after the Satyrae, were introduc'd by one Livius, [Page 73] and were repeated in Verse with action and gestures to Musick. Tragedy and Come­dy were not known to the Romans till some ages after, the progress of their Arms had not made them acquainted with the Learning of Greece, and the Wealth and Luxury of Asia.

This mark therefore of Infamy, which was set upon the Histriones (from which (as Mr Collier observes) the Actors of the Fabulae Atellanae were exempt, can't properly stick upon the Actors of Tragedy, and Come­dy as such, that Law having been made long before the Drama was brought to Rome from Greece

But it was the misfortune of the Drama to make its Publick Entry into Rome, Conjectural Reason why Players were noted with Inf [...] ­my. not only long after this volunta­ry, and unanimous secession, or sepa­ration of the Youth of Rome from the Mercenary Players, but even after the Law had branded these latter with In­famy and Disgrace, by excluding 'em from their Tribes, and denying 'em the liberty of bearing Arms. Whether, because making a business, and professi­on of diversion only, the Roman State, which encourag'd those exercises only [Page 74] that tended towards hard'ning their Youth, for labour and military action, as partly thro inclination, so also out of necessity and State interest, being in its infamy surrounded by Neighbours more potent than themselves, and ob­lig'd to subsist almost altogether upon the purchase of their Swords, thought fit, by a publick discouragement, to deter their Youth from giving them­selves up to an Employment, that so little suited the posture, and condition of their Affairs at first, and the vast­ness of their Ambition afterwards. Or, that after the first separation, occasion'd (as Livy hints) rather by the incapaci­ty and unfitness of the Romans for E­legancy, and polite Exercise, the pra­ctice of the Stage, fell wholly into the hands of Slaves, and Mercenary Fo­reigners, to joyn with whom, the Magi­strates and People, who were extremely proud, and jealous of the honour, and dignity of their Citizens as such, thought it so great an indignity and debasement that they made provision by this Law a­gainst it. Or, lastly, that their Mimes & Pan­tomimes were already, before the making of this Law, arriv'd at that lewd heighth of impudence, that we have already [Page 75] taken notice of, which obliged the Go­vernment to take this method to fright their Citizens from mixing in the pro­ctice of such impurities.

Of these Reasons the two first seem joyntly to have contributed to the production of this Law:Two sins most pro­bable. and Livy, tho he does not formally assign any reason for this severe usage of the Players, yet seems implicitely to intimate 'em to us in the notice that he has taken of 'em, tho not as causes, yet as cir­cumstances considerable at that time. The silence of Livy concerning any such licentiousness in their Shews at that time, is a sufficient argument against the last cause. For that Historian, who upon all occasions shews abundance of zeal for the honour of his Country, would not have fail'd to have done 'em justice upon this occasion, had this ri­gour been the product of their Morals, and regard to Virtue. It is apparent therefore, that this discouragement of the Shews, or rather this restraint of the Action to Servants and Strangers, was the result of their Policy, not Manners, and is therefore an imperti­nent instance to Mr Collier's purpose, [Page 76] who I suppose writes for the Refor­mation of Men's Morals, not Poli­ticks.

'Tis probable,Drama at first neces­sitated to use the Actors of the Ludi Scenic [...] that when Tragedy and Comedy came upon the Roman Stage, being destitute of able Actors of a higher Character, they were necessitated to make use of the Actors of the Scenic Shews, who, tho us'd to Representati­ons differing very much both in their manner and end, yet by their pra­ctice and pronunciation and gestures, had both Voice and Motion under great command; which made the exercise of the Tragick or Comick Stage, tho new and unknown to 'em before, not dif­ficult.

By this means the Actors of Tragedy and Comedy, The Actors of Tragedy and Come­dy, there­fore only call'd Hi­striones. who cou'd not be aim'd at by a Law made long before any such were in being, might yet be brought under the censure of it in quality of Histriones, or Scene Players before no­ted. Thus these different Characters meeting constantly in the persons of the same men amongst the undistinguishing Crowd, the Infamy of one might affect the other.

[Page 77] But granting the meaning and inten­tion of that Law to reach the Dra­matick Actors, and that using a craft, which submits 'em to those compliances, for which the other are censur'd; they also are offenders against the design of it, and consequently are comprehend­ed within the intent of it, and liable to the penalty. Yet even thus this instance, giving it all the scope that may be in the utmostlatitude of construction, is no way serviceable to this Reformer's pur­pose. This would have appear'd very plain, had the Law itself, instead of the instance from Livy, been produc'd.

Praetori­an Edict. Infamia notatur qui Artis Iu­dicae, pro­nunciandi­ve causa in Scenam prodierit. Scena est, ut Labeo definit quae ludorum faciendorum causa quolibet loco, ubi quis consistat, moveatur (que) spectaculum sui praebiturus, posita est. L. 1. & 2. F. de iis qui notantur infamia. The Pretorian Edict runs thus Whoever appears upon the Stage to speak, or act, is declar'd infamous. Which La­beo expounds thus. The Stage is any place fitted up for the use of Plays, where any one is to appear, and by his motion make himself a publick Spectacle.

This Law being conceiv'd in gene­ral terms against all that speak or act, upon the Stage for the diversion of [Page 78] the People, seems indeed naturally to include Comedians, and Tragedians, who do both speak, and act upon the Stage, and make a show of them­selves to the People too. Yet it does not serve our Adversaries cause at all, who must shew, that their Profession was branded for the Immorality of it, or he talks nothing to the pur­pose.

This Exposition of Labeo's upon this Law,Labeo's Position shews the intent of that Edict like the Preamble to one of our Acts of Parliament, may let us into the meaning of the Letter, and the motives that induc'd 'em to make it. What this Learned Roman Law­yer here observes as matter of of­fence, is only, that they did, Specta­culum sui praebere, make a shew of them­selves for hire; which the Pride of the Romans might very naturally make 'em think to be a Prostitution of the Dignity and Character of a Citizen of Rome, which deserv'd to be punish'd with the privation of that which they had dishonour'd.

To secure this point,Mr Coll [...]ers disingenui­ty in this point. the words, ab Histrionibus pollui, which he renders to be blemish'd by the Stage, are (as has [Page 79] already been observ'd) put into the Margin, by which he hopes to cast that blemish upon the Morality of the performance, which in strictness re­garded only the Persons, and Dignity of the Actors, and that not upon any Moral, but a Political Consideration. By these Instances it may appear, what violence of Construction is used to rack and torture these antient Authors to confess, and depose against their Consciences. Stretching the Text is nothing with him, to serve his purpose it must be dismember'd, that he may have the cementing the fragments as he pleases; by which means he has shewn 'em in more unnatural figures, than even Posture Clark knew; Heads and Tails are so promiscuously jum­bled together, that the most familiar posture you find 'em in, is that of a Dog couchant, with their Noses in their A—s.

But if after all,The Roman Censure extended only to the Mercenary Actors as such. this Censure shou'd reach the Mercenary or Hireling Actors only, and meerly upon that account, I think 'twill be pretty evident, that 'twas not the exercise of their Mystery that made 'em scandalous, but the Mo­tives [Page 80] that induc'd 'em to it. To clear this point, let us look a little forward, and to the former Law, we shall find the following subjoyn'd.

Eos e­nim qui quaestus causa in certamina descen­dunt, & omnes propter praemium in Scenam prodeun­res, famo­fos esse Pegasus, & Nerva filius re­sponde­runt. L. 2. de iis qui notantur infamia. Those that enter the Lists for the sake of Gain, or appear upon the Stage for Reward, are infamous, says Pegasus, and Nerva the Son.

Here 'tis plain that 'twas not the na­ture of their Profession that drew the censure upon 'em, but the condition of their exercising it, which was for hire, whereby they became Mercenaries. This disgrace, affecting only the Mer­cenary Actors, reflects no way upon the Poets of the Drama, and their Perfor­mances. For had they been scandalous, 'tis not to be imagin'd, that so many of the greatest men that ever Rome bred, and the tenderest of their honour, wou'd have amus'd themselves about Works, in which they must have em­ploy'd abundance of Time, Learning, and Judgment, to forfeit their Repu­tation and Dignity.

Scipio Africanus and Laelius wereScipio and [...]lius Writers to the Stage, [...]r assisting to it. publickly suspected to have assisted Terence in the composition of his Plays; and the Poet, when tax'd with it, is so [Page 81] far from vindicating his great Patrons, (which had it been matter of reproach and diminution of honour to those no­ble Persons, he certainly would have done) that he does in a manner con­fess the charge to be true, and with a dexterity, in which he was singularly happy, converts what was intended as an imputation, to a complement upon himself, and values himself more upon the condescension, and friendship of men of their high Character and Station, than upon the merit of his performance; which, this objection was rais'd to lessen, by dividing the honour.

Julius and Augustus Caesar, Julius and Augustus Caesar, and Seneca, &c. are both said to have busied themselves at va­cant hours in Tragedy; and even Se­neca the Philosopher. However, Mr Collier▪ has lately seduc'd him over to his Party, and made a Malecontent of him, was once very well contented, and easy at a Play, and that too, not a sober Tragedy or Comedy, In me­ridianum Spectacu­lumincidi lusus Spec­tans, & sa [...]les, & aliquid Laxamenti Epist. 7. but one of their Noonday Drolls, a kind of their Ludi Senici, more wretched and con­temptible, than our Smithfield Farces, and less modest. Yet his Gravity was it seems refresh'd by it, tho he's grown [Page 82] so very squeamish, since his acquain­tance with Mr Collier that it would be a h [...]rd matter to reconcile [...] to a grave Tragedy, tho of his own Wri [...]ing (be­fore his rigid new friend, Mr Collier) some of which are suppos'd to be yet extant amongst his Name sake [...]s Collecti­on of Tragedies.

Brutus, who left behind him (not­withstanding his fatal engagement in the assassination of Caesar,) as high an Idea of his Virtue, and as a perfect character of an excellent moral m [...]n, as even Ca [...]o himself, was as great an ad­mirer and encourager of the Drama, as any Roman of 'em all. And Tully him­self, who had as much Vanity and Pride as any man breathing, thought it no diminution of his dignity and character, to contract an intimate friendship with Roscius an Actor, and publickly to espouse his Interest, and defend his Cause, which a man of his vanity and caution would not have done, had the Censure of that Law upon his Profes­sion, any way affected in the publick esteem the reputation of those among 'em, that had any personal merit, as Roscius, AEsopus, and some others.

[Page 83] But tho these, and many others of the most eminent among the Romans, were avow'd Patrons, and the sup­pos'd at least, if not the real Author of many of their Dramatick Pieces, yet our Remarker finds, that in the time of Theodosius all sorts of Players did not come up to the Reputation of those Great Men,Law of the Theodosi­an Code considered. and make the top figures of their time, and therefore he claws 'em away with another swinging Au­thority.

In the Theodosian Code, Players are call'd Personae inhonestae, P. 241. that is, to translate it softly, persons maim'd and blemish'd in their Reputations. Their Pictures might be seen at the Playhouse, but were not permitted to hang in any creditableIn loco honesto. place of the Town.

So says Mr Collier, but the Emperors Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius, by the Authority of whom this Law was enacted and continued in force, were somewhat less severe, and something more particular, and this Gentleman [...]s Version of that Law, however soft he may pretend it to be, is no very fair one. Faithfully render'd it runs thus.

[Page 84] If,Siqua in publicis Porticibus, vel in his Civitatum locis, in quibus nostrae solent I­magines consecrari pictura [...]cmi­mum vest [...] hum [...]i, & rugosis si­nubus Agitatorem, aut vilem offerat Histrionem, illico revellatur: ne (que) unquam, post hac liceat in loco honesto personas in honestas ad no [...]are. In aditu vero Circi, vel in Theatri prosceniis ut collocen­tur, non vetamus, L. Siqua. Cod. de Spectac. in the publick Porches, or other Places of the City where Statues use to be dedicated to us, the Picture of any mean habited Pantomime and Charioteer with his ruffled Garment, or base Droll Actor be put up, let it be immediately pull [...]d down: nor shall it be lawful for the future to represent persons of such despicable Cha­racters in places of honour. But in the entrance of the Circus, or before the Stage of the Theatres they may be allow'd.

This,Meaning of the The­odosian Law. when produc'd faithfully, and at length, is a worshipful Authority for Mr Collier [...]s purpose, and the Strowlers all over the Kingdom must needs be extreamly mortified, when they reflect upon this Article, and find, that they are not yet so proper Companions for the King, as to be hail fellow, well met with him at a Publick Entry, or Au­dience. These Emperours, it seems, thought it a sort of Indignity to have every Scoundrel Hackney Coachman, Antick Tumbler, or Droll Actor set up [Page 85] in Effigie by their own Statues, which in the times of Paganism were the ob­jects of Solemn Worship, and after­wards of the highest veneration imagi­nable below it. They thought it a derogation to Majesty (as well they might) to have objects of ridiculous mirth and scorn plac'd so near 'em, and that the tickling to laughter, which these produc [...]d in the people, wou'd lessen the awful Respect and Reverence expected to be paid to the other.

But not to carry matters so high;Parallel instances. If any one shou [...]d take a fancy to set Tom Dogget's Effigies in his Sailors dress, familiarly cheek by jole in the same, or the next Niche to the King upon the Exchange (tho that ben [...]t so solemn a place of honour to our Kings, as the Roman Porticus to their Empe­rors) I suppose it wou [...]d be resented as an affront, and be by order pull'd down. But if any man should take a fancy to the sign of the King [...]s Head, and his next Neighbour to Mr Be [...]ter­ton's, I hardly think there would come any order from Whitchall to demolish or Lamb-black the Sign. And tho per­haps [Page 86] the two first may actually be found at Murray [...]s or some other eminent Limners in the same Room yet I fan­cy the Painter will hardly incur the penalty of Crimen laesae Majestatis, tho he should happen to have drawn 'em both with the same Pencil too. Princes, tho very zealous and tender of their honour, (as they have reason to be) yet are not half so nice and scrupulous as Mr Collier. These instances are ex­actly parallel to, and shew the dif­ference between the drift of the Theo­dosian Code, and of his extravagant Pa­raphrase, which having already given the words of, I leave the Reader to judge of the Intention.

His instances from our English Sta­tutes and the Petition of his Godly Ci­tizens, I shall take no notice of, both because I find it sufficiently done al­ready to my hands, and because I think em nothing to his purpose, as I think indeed of the greatest part of what I have already examined; but hither­to they seem'd to carry a face of Learning and Authority, which might mislead the unlearnd, or surprize the unwary, if they were not warn'd in [Page 87] time of his disingenuity in Quota­tion.

His Authorities drawn from the se­veral Canons of some Councils, Authori [...]ies from the Councils already answere [...]d. are lia­ble to the same reprehension with the rest of his Citations. But I am willing to compound with my Reader for my past prolixity, and to dismiss 'em with­out any further trouble, or examinati­on; especially since the formal Reasons of em are contain [...]d in the Objections from the Fathers, and already answerd there. Since therefore the Idolatry, Lewdness, and Cruelty of the Roman Shews, (which provok [...]d the indignati­on of the Fathers, and the censure of those Councils) are banisht our Stage, I see no reason, why the Batteries, that were rais'd only to demolish them, shou'd be continu'd against it. But Mr Collier, and the Bishop of Arras are gotten into Confederacy, and are re­solv'd, that tho the Theatres have long since perform [...]d their Articles on their parts, not to allow 'em the benefit of the Capitulation, and surprizing 'em, lull'd into security by a long cessation of Arms, to raze 'em utterly to the ground.

[Page 88] Delenda est Carthago, Quarrel to the Stage unjust. was the word, the ruin of the Stage was agreed upon between 'em, but they wanted a fair pretence of quarrel; and therefore General Collier publishes a tedious Ma­nifesto, fill'd with specious pretexts, to give a colour to his proceedings, and at the same time makes his Invasion. His quarrel to the Stage is like that of the Wolf to the Lamb, when the Prey was ready, the varnish of Justice was but a formality, that serv'd like a Hy­pocrite's Grace, to make his Meal the more decent; when the personal ac­cusation proves too light, the Family differences are thrown into the Scale, and he runs 1500 years backward to make weight. Thus he makes a true Italian grudge of it, no change of Air, or Soil can can make it degenerate, but it remains entail'd upon the Posterity, aud successors of those, between whom it first began, tho the true reason why it ever began, were long since ceas'd, and perhaps forgotten.

But after he has, like a hot mettled Car, with a bad Nose, over-run the Scent, and cry'd it false thro all the [...]ields of Antiquity, he begins to be [Page 89] afraid of being whipt home, and there­fore begins to draw towards it of him­self. He's sensible, that the comparison betwixt the Roman and English Stages will not hold water, and to answer the leaks, he begins to ply the Pump, in order to keep it afloat, but it works as hard, and refunds as little as a Usu­rers Conscience.

But it may be objected,P. 277. is the Resem­blance exact between old Rome and Lon­don? will the Parallel hold out, and has the English Stage any thing so bad as the Dancing of the Pantomimi? I don't say that. The Modern Gestures, tho bold, and lewd too sometimes, are not altogether so scandalous as the Roman. Here then we can make 'em some little abatement.

Ay!Ancient Stage infi­nitely more scandalous, and lewd than the Modern. is that your Conscience? can you make but little abatemant? I find you've a Stomach like a Horse, nothing rises upon it, let it be never so provo­king either, for quantity or quality. Dancing naked with Gestures, expres­sive of Lewdness between both Sexes at a time, and publick and open pro­stitutions in the representations of the Rapes and Adulteries of their Gods, were frequently the diversions of the [Page 90] Roman Theatres. All these provoke no Qualms in him; he can scarce make any abatement. What wou'd a queasie Stomach'd Atheist give for his di­gestion.

But where's the Boldness,Stage dan­cing as now practiced inoffensive to Modesty. and Lewd­ness of the Modern Gestures; which Mr Collier makes bold to charge 'em with? I dare answer for the Audience, that cou'd they find any such thing in our Dancing, they wou'd be so much more reasonable than he, that they wou'd part with all that part of the Entertainment. But perhaps he sus­pects some intentional Lewdness, which is not expressed any way, and thinks that Monsieur L'Abbe is fallen into Sir Fopling Flutter's stratagem, and is spa­ring of his Vigour in private, only to be lavish of it in publick, and thinks no one Woman worth the loss of a Cut in a Caper, which is designed to make his Court to the whole Sex. This in­deed is a dangerous design, and the discovery is worth Mr Collier's time and pains, tis a Plot upon the Virtue of the whole Sex; therefore if he has any such thing in the Wind, e [...]en let him follow his nose, and cry it away as loud as he pleases.

[Page 91] Well, but he begins to relent again already, these wamblings are a certain sign of Breeding, he's in a longing con­dition, that's plain. Come t'other strain Sir, and up with't. So now it's out.

And to go as far in their Excuse as we can,P. 277. 'tis probable their Musick may not be altogether so exceptionable as that of the Antients.

Really Sir this is very kind, and con­descending.Mr Coll's Notion of the extra­vagant Power of Musick ri­diculous. But do you truly, and from your heart think, that our Theatre Musick is not altogether so pernicious, as the Musick of the Antients? Now were I as cross, and captious as a Stage Reformer, and as full of Mr. Collier's own Devil of Opposition, as himself, I cou'd raise his, and divert the Spleen of other People. But Foolery apart, I desire to know wherein consists this imaginary Force of Musick,Collier's Moral Es­say Vol. 2d P 21 Ib. P. 22. that Charms, and Transports, Rufflles, and Becalms, and Governs, with such an arbitrary Authority, that can make drunken Fellows, as soler, and shame-faced, as one wou [...]d wish. If he can tell me this, erit mihi magnus Apoll, or, what's but one remove from him, first [Page 92] Knight of his own order of the Welch Harp. Our Fiddlers find to their cost sometimes the want of this coercive power, but perhaps they can't play a Dorion, and for that piece of Igno­rance deserve the Fate they sometimes meet with, when they unluckily fall into the Company of these Drunken Fellows, and get their heads broke with their own Fiddles, in return for their Musick. Yet to do the Gentleman all the Justice, ay and the Favour too, that we can, in return for his late Civility, I must own, that I have seen at a Coun­try Wake, or so, one of these Harm o­nious Knights of the Scrubbado, or a Melodious Rubber of Hair and Catgut, lug a whole Parish of as arrant Logs, as those that danced after Orpheus, by the Ears after him, to the next empty Barn, frisking, and curvetting at such a frolicksom rate, that they could scarce keep their Legs together; nay, such was the power of the Melody, that even the solitary deserted Gin­gerbread Stalls wagged after; and all this without the help of one illegal string, and but four very untunable ones. What cou'd Timotheus, or even Orpheus himself do more.

[Page 93] However I wou'd not have the Gen­tleman swell too much in the Pride of his Victory, I wou'd not have him in­sult too soon. For, tho possibly these Knights of the Harp and Catgut might know, Moral Essay vol. 2. P. 21. how to arm a sound, and put force and Conquests in it, yet had there not been a Favourable Conjuncture of Cir­cumstances, the Harmony, as charming as it was, had not succeeced so mira­culously, nor produc'd such extatick Raptures. For example, had this Des­cendant from Orpheus surpriz'd 'em at a time, when the Holyday Clothes were laid up in Lavender, when the Hay, or Harvest was abroad, or the Snow upon the Ground, and the Cattle wanted Foddering, when the Calf was to be suckled, and the Cheese to be set, he might have thrummed his Harp out, and cou'd no more have stirred those very Clods, that leapt as mechanically before at the first twang, as if they had been meer Machines (Instruments strung, and tuned to an Unisone) then he cou'd have raised the Turf, they trod upon, by vertue of Ela, and F-ffaut. The Critical Juncture mist, Roger had not jogged a foot out of his way, nor [Page 94] Madge out of her Dairy, they had been as regardless of his Harmony, as a Lon­don Milk Maid, after the first week in May; [...] [...]ntient Britto [...] [...] as easily have been charmed from his scrubbing Post.

There are indeed certain opportuni­ties to be found by those that skilfully watch 'em,Power of Musick owing to contin­gent cir­cumstances. wherein Mens Souls are to be taken by surprize, wherein they give themselves up wholly to the direction of their Senses, when Reason tired with perpetual mounting the Guard, quits her Post, and leaves 'em to be drawn away by every delightful Ob­ject, every pleasing Amusement. At these times Sound, Colour, Taste, and Smell have all an unusual Influence; a Face, a Voice, or any thing else, that gives us pleasure for the time, Com­mands us, and we are hurried, like Men in Dreams, we know not how, nor whither. Yet this is easily ac­counted for, without recourse to natural Magick, or any suitable Power in those Agents, that work upon us. Our Souls are at these times, like Vessels adrift, at the mercy of Waves and Winds, from what corner soever they [Page 95] blow; our Senses are the Compass they sail by, from whence those Blasts of Passion come, that drive us so uncer­tainly about, but 'tis without any pecu­liar inherent force of Direction more in one point than another.

Thus far Musick,Influence of sounds in­determi­nate. as well as other things that gives us delight, and flatter the Senses, may influence us. It may when we are under a lazy disposition of mind, produce a degree of satisfaction something above Indolence, but the motions of it are languid and indetermi­nate, that incline us only to an unactive easiness of mind, a barren Pleasure, that dies without Issue, with the Sounds that begat it; so little danger is there that it shou'd be in the power of a few mercenary Hands, P. 279. to play the People out of their Sences, to run away with their understanding, and wind their Passions about their Fingers, as they list. I sup­pose few will take it upon this Gentle­mans word, that Musick is almost as dan­gerous, as Gunpowder; and requires no less looking after, than the Press or the Mint.

This Gentleman sure has a Noise of Musick in his head, that has put the Stumm in his Brain into a Ferment, and [Page 96] caused it to work over into all this win­dy fancy and froth. He has been a Tale-gathering among the Antients, and wou [...]d put his Romantick Rhapsody upon us for Authentick. But what is yet more unreasonable is, that without offering one Argument to prove either the reasonableness of his Opinion, or the reality of his Instances, he dogma­tically asserts things monstrously, ex­ceeding the stretch of the most capacious faith, and yet expects that, which alone is sufficient to destroy the credit of things infinitely more probable, the vast distance of time shou'd warrant the truth of them. As if he believed all Mankind to be proselyted to the Para­dox of a certain Father certum est quia impossibile.

But if the Power of the Antient Music was so great, as he would perswade us, cer­tainly Timotheus was a Fool for suffering his harp to be seized for having one string above publick Allowance. P. 280. p. 179. For if altering the notes, were the way to have the Laws repealed, and to unsettle the Constitution, he might with a twang, instead of ta­king a string from his Harp, have put one about the Magistrates Neck, and [Page 97] for a Song have set himself at the head of Commonwealth. But this Author, who is all along a Platonist in his Phi­losophy, is in this point an arrant Bigot. The whole scheme and strain of the Platonick Philosophy,The Author a Platonist. is very roman­tick and whimsical, and like our Au­thor's works, savours in every particu­lar more strongly of Fancy than Judg­ment, yet in nothing more, than in the imaginary power of Harmony, to which he ascrib [...]d the Regulation, and Go­vernment of the Universe, and other Powers more fantastical and extrava­gant, than that of the Pythagorean numbers.

Now were I in as cross a mood, and as much at leisure to be impertinent as this Admirer of the Antient Musick, who has ventur'd to affirm it as certain, Moral Es­say, Vol. 2. P. 23. that our Improvements of this kind, are little better than Ale-house Crowds, with respect to theirs. I cou'd with a cër­tainty of Evidence, next to Demonstra­tion, maintain just the Reverse of his Assertion, and prove that the Musick of the Antients fell infinitely short of the Modern in point of perfection, as well in Theory as Practice, and that, [Page 96] [...] [Page 97] [...] [Page 98] waving the fabulous accounts, (which none but an Enthusiastick Bigot can seriously insist upon) all our Memoirs from Antiquity will scarce make the Harps of Orpheus and Arion, &c. to triumph over a Jew's Harp, or Rival a Scotch Bagpipe.

But after all,Not ac­quainted with the Subject he treats of. it seems that he has been raving all this while in Pedantick Bombast, at he knows not what. He confesses that he is not acquainted with the Play-House Musick, and that he is no competent Judge.P. 278. I don't say this part of the Entertainment is directly vitious, because I am not willing to cen­sure at Ʋncertainties. How long, I wonder, has he been thus modest? had he been thus tender all along, he had suppress'd his whole Book, and the truth had suffer'd nothing by the loss of it. But in earnest, is he deaf? or does he wax up his ears when he goes to a Play, as (he says) Ʋlysses did, when he sail'd by the Syrens? No, neither; but, if we may believe him,P. 278. he never comes there. Those that frequent the Play-house are the most competent Judges. Why that's honestly said, they are so; keep but to this, and there's some hope of [Page 99] an accommodation. But alas! tho his zeal is a little Aguish now, the hot [...]it comes on apace, and then right or wrong, He must say, that the performances of this kind are much too fine for the place. Ibid.

Tho he has never heard of one,His charge rash. nor seen t'other, yet he cries hang scruples, the Musick must be bawdy, Atheistical Musick, and the dancing bold and lewd too sometimes. Now whether he means that the Fiddler himself is an Infidel of a Fiddler, or that he has an unbelieving Crowd, he is desir'd to explain; for they are both left to be catechiz'd by him. But as for the sounds produc'd betwixt them, care has been already taken to clear 'em, not only from guilt, but from all manner of meaning what­soever. As for the dancing, which he calls bold, it may in one sense be al­low'd him; for it must be granted, that he that ventures his neck to dance up­on the top of a Ladder, is a very bold Fellow. If this concession be of any use to him, 'tis at his service, whether the fraternity of Rope-dancers take it well at my hands or not. But for the Lewdness, I must remind him of his [Page 100] appeal to those who frequent the Play-houses, (whom he allows to be) the most competent Judges. But as their Judg­ment in these matters appears to be in­disputable, so the modesty of the better part of 'em at least, (I mean the Ladies) who are the particular favourers of this part of the entertainment, is unquesti­onable. Their countenance therefore in so plain a matter, which being a question of fact, admits of no other de­cision, ought to be lookt upon as a defi­nitive Judgment against him, and a suf­ficient vindication of our Stage-dan­cing.

I should here dismiss this point with­out further debate,Compara­tive Mora­lity of the Vocal Music of the An­tient and Modern Stages. if I did not find him closing it on his side with a notorious false assertion concerning the compara­tive Morality of the vocal Musick of the Ancient and Modern Stages, which, not designing to resume this branch of the Controversie any more, I am bound here to take notice of, and rectifie.

If the English Stage is more reserv'd than the Roman in the case above-men­tioned.P. 280. If they have any advantage in their Instrumental Musick, they lose it in their Vocal. Their Songs are often ram­pantly [Page 101] lewd, and irreligious to a flaming excess. Here you have the Spirit, and Es­sence of Vice drawn off strong scented, and thrown into a little compass. Now the Antients, as we have seen already, were in­offensive in this respect.

Here again I am at a loss to know whether this is a fault of ignorance or design. But be it whether he pleases, the falseness of his assertion is unpar­donably scandalous; for whether he has ventur'd to affirm beyond, or con­trary to his knowledge, 'tis manifest he did it with an intention to impose upon his Readers, by asserting that which he could not know to be true, if he did not certainly know it to be false.

The Vocal Musick of the Antient Stage was of two sorts,Antient Vo­cal Musick. one whereof was interspers'd among their Drama­tick Writings, and consisted of Hymns, and Praises of their Gods, which were sung and danced by the Chorus to cer­tain grave Aires and Measures. Here indeed the Poets must have been more impertinently and perversely lewd, than Mr Collier [...]s own corrupt imagination can positively make the Moderns to be, [Page 102] if they cou'd have found room for any thing very indecent; tho an ill natur'd Critick, with much less Gall or Strain­ing, than Mr Collier has made use of, might shew, that they were not so ab­solutely inoffensive,Chorus, its office. as he affirms. The Chorus represented the Spectators, and their business was to make occasional reflections upon the several incidents and turn of the Fable, which was the artificial Instrument, the Antient Poets us'd to convey the Moral into the Au­dience, and teach 'em what to think upon such occasions, and how to behave themselves in reference to their Gods and Religion, and were therefore sup­pos'd to speak the sense of the Poet, or what at least he desir'd should be taken for such. Now I dare answer for the meanest of those Poets, upon whom this Author has made his reflections, that taking our Estimate of their under­standings by his own diminutive survey of 'em, there is not amongst 'em one so arrant a Blockhead, as under the circumstances of the Antients to have taken more liberty, than they did.

[Page 103] But if their Chorus was modest and harmless enough; the other part of their Stage Vocal Musick will make am­ple amends, and make the lewdness of our Poets appear, as demure as a Qua­ker at a silent meeting. The Antients had lustier Appetites, and stronger Dige­stions, than the Moderns, and their Poets cookt thei [...] Messes accordingly, they did not stand to make minc'd Meat, or ar­tificially to steal in their Ribaldry, and disguise it in nice Ragou's after the mo­dern way; they were for whole Ser­vices, substantial Treats of Bawdy. Nor do I find, that it recoil'd upon the Stomachs of the generality of their Guests for many Ages together. The Reader I suppose will immediately guess that I mean the Ludi Scenici, Their Mi­ [...]i. which made the Amours of their Gods, and Heroes their subject, in which the lewdest actions were represented in the lewdest manner, and sung in the most fulsome luscious Verse. Upon our Stage no such Practices are allow [...]d, if a light wanton thought happens to creep into a Song, 'tis not suffer'd to shew its face bare, but is presently maskt, and cloathed decently in Metaphor, [Page 104] that many wou'd not suspect the mo­desty of it, and even the most squea­mish can't take offence without offering violence; for it comes into your Com­pany like a bashful young sinner, she's civil company amongst sober people.

The Antients, 'tis plain, were not by abundance so scrupulous; if they had, those lewd Drolls had never been compos'd, much less represented. But they were for all naked, without the vail of Figure or Dress, they requir [...]d Nudities in Speech, as well as Action, the Au­dience went away with satisfaction, and the Poet with applause.

By this we may see, that our Stage upon the comparison is not so rampantly lewd, as Mr. Collier represents it, nor the ancient so inoffensive. To dilate upon this head, would be both impro­per and impertinent; but these few hints, which, all that are acquainted with the practice of the Roman Stage, know to be true, whether Mr Collier does or not, may suffice to shew what an unfair Adversary the Stage has met with; and to prove that he is not an upright, or not a competent Judge of these matters, in which he unauthoriz'd [Page 105] undertakes to determine, and arro­gantly obtrudes his false Judgment upon us.

Another of his objections to the Stage in general,P. 281. is their dilating so much up­on the Argument of Love.

Upon this article he is very lavish of his Rhetorick,His Obje­ctions from the Topick of Love, a Declama­tory Rant. and lays about him in Tropes and Figures, he is got into his old road of declamation, and posts Whip and Spur thro his Common place upon the subject. His fancy, like a Runaway-horse, has got the Bit between her Teeth, and ramps over Hedge and Ditch, to the great danger of his Judgment; no bars or fences of sense or reason can stop her Cariere, till jaded and out of Wind she flags of her self. Here then, let us come up with him.

I don't say the Stage fells all before 'em, and disables the whole Audience:P. 282. 'Tis a hard Battle, where none escape. However, their Triumphs and their Trophies are unspeakable. Neither need we much won­der at the matter. They are dangerously prepar'd for Conquest and Empire. There's Nature, and Passion, and Life in all the circumstances of their Action. Their De­clamation, [Page 106] their Mein, their Gestures, and their Equipage, are very moving and significant. Now when the Subject is agreeable, a lively representation, and a passionate way of expression, make wild work, and have a strange force upon the Blood and Temper.

What means all this unseasonable Cry Fire, Meer Fren­zy. Fire, where there is not so much as a spark? If the Audience were meer Tinder, they were out of danger. Sure the Author had Wildfire in his Brains, that the thoughts of the Players could put him into such an uproar. 'Tis granted the Actresses may appear to advantage upon the Stage, and yet their Triumphs and Trophies not be so unutterable neither. For as dangerously as they are prepar'd for Conquest and Empire, the highest of their acquests, that I could ever hear of, was a good keeping, which has fallen to the share of but a few of 'em; when multitudes of their Sex have ar­riv'd at greater matters without any such formidable preparations. How­ever, here's Mein, and Equipage, and the Author seems afraid, lest the raw Squires of the Pit should take em for [Page 107] Quality in earnest, and be dazled with the lustre of the inestimable Treasure of Glass, and Tinsel, and so catch the real Itch of Love from their counter­feit Scrubbado. And truly there's as much reason to fear, they shou'd be pursu'd for their Fortunes, as their Love off the Stage.

To answer this Rant of Whimsie and Extravagance seriously, were as ridiculous an undertaking as Hudibras's dispute with the Managers of his West Country Ovation, and by the sample we have of our Antagonist, the issue wou [...]d probably be as cleanly. But if any one thinks an answer to this charge necessary, he may see as much as it will bear, and more than it deserves, in a late Piece entitled, A Review of Mr. Collier's View, &c.

He has yet another charge upon the Stage left, P. 283. and that is their encouraging of Revenge. What is more common than Duels and Quarrelling, in their Cha­racters of Figure? Those Practices, which are infamous in Reason, Capital in [...]aw, and Damnable in Religion, are the Credit of the Stage. Thus Rage and Resentment, Blood and Barbarity are almost deified; [Page 108] Pride goes for Greatness, and Fiends and Heroes are made of the same metal. And thus the notion of Honour is mis-stated, the Maxims of Christianity despised, and the Peace of the World disturb'd

One would think he had found out another passage in Valerius Maximus, and that the Civilis Sangu [...]s was abroach again. But Rome contented him then, now nothing less than the Peace of the whole World must be disturb'd about a Bawble. Sure he thinks all the World of the Country-Wife's opinion, that the Player Men are the finest folks in it.

But so far is Revenge from being encourag'd,Revenge not encou­raged by the Stage. or countenanc'd by the Stage, that to desire and prosecute it, is almost always the mark of a Tyrant, or a Villain, in Tragedy, and Poetick Justice is done upon 'em for it; it is generally turn'd upon their own heads, becomes the snare in which they are taken, and the immediate Instrument of their miserable Catastrophe. Thus in the Mourning Bride, Don Manuel, to glut his lust of Revenge,Instance in the mourn­ing Bride. puts himself into the Place and Habit of his unhappy Prisoner, in order to surprize, betray, and insult his own pious, afflicted [Page 109] Daughter, over the suppos'd Body of her Murther'd Husband. In this po­sture Poetick Justice overtakes him, and he is himself surpriz'd, mistaken for him whom he represented, and stabb'd by a Creature of his own, the villanous Minister of his Ty­ranny, and his chief Favourite. No­thing is more common than this sort of Justice in Tragedy, than which nothing can be more diametrically opposite, or a greater discouragement to such bar­barous Practices.

Comedy indeed does not afford us many instances of this kind;Passion not proper in Comedy. Rage and Barbarity are Crimes not cognizable by her; they are of too deep a Dye, and the Indictment against 'em must be pre­ferr'd at another Bar. If she admits of any thoughts of Revenge, they must be such as spring from the lowest Class of Resentments; that flow rather from a weakness of Judgment, or a perverse­ness of Temper in the Parties that con­ceive 'em, than from the Justice of the Cause, or the greatness of the Provo­cation. Accordingly they ought to have no great malignity in 'em, they ought to spend themselves in little Ma­chinations, [Page 110] that aim no farther than the crossing of an Intrigue, the break­ing of a Match, &c. and never to break out into open violence, or ravage in Mischief. The Passions have little to do in Comedy, every one there ac­cording to his capacity acts by design, or carelessly gives himself up to his hu­mour, and indulges his pleasure and in­clinations. This equality of temper of Mind, with the diversity of Humours, is what makes the business of Comedy. For while this general calm lasts, all busily pursue their several inclinations; and by various ways practise upon one another. And the Man of Pleasure follows his design upon the rich Knave's Wife, or Daughter, while the other is working into his Estate. The Cully is the Sharper's Exchequer, and the Fop the Parasite's, or Jilt's, &c. which, were the Passions too much agitated, and the Storm rais'd high, wou'd become impracticable; the Commerce wou'd be broken off, and the Plot wholly frustrated. Besides that both the Thoughts and Actions of Men, very much disorder'd by Passion, or fill'd with too deep Resentments, are natu­rally [Page 111] violent and outrageous, and ab­solutely repugnant to the Genius, and destructive of the End of Comedy.

I grant that some Passions,Love, Jea­lousie, &c. how to be used in Co­medy. such as Love, Jealousie, Anger, are frequent­ly, and sometimes justly employ'd in Comedy; but then they are to be kept under, and must not be suffer'd to get the Ascendant, and domineer over Rea­son; if they do, they are no longer Comick Passions. Love must not car­ry 'em beyond Gallantry, and Gaiety of Spirit in the Pride of Success, nor further than a light disquiet, such as may excite their Industry, and whet their Invention under disappointments. Jealousie must not hurry 'em beyond their Cunning, or make their Impati­ence betray their Plot. Nor must their Anger break out into Flames, and push 'em upon rash unadvis'd Actions. Such Revenges therefore, as are the result of Passions so moderated, and circum­stantiated, are allowable in Comedy; which can never produce any such ter­rible effects, as to deserve all these fu­rious Claps of Thunder, which Mr Col­lier has discharg'd upon 'em.

[Page 112] Horace indeed tells us, that Comedy will raise its voice sometimes, and scold, and swagger violently.

Interdum tamen & Vocem Comoedia tollit,
Hor. Art. Poet.
Iratusque Chremes tumido delitigat ore.

But this very Instance shews,Exposition of Horace's Observati­on. that the Passion of Comedy shou'd proceed no farther than Scolding, or Menaces. Nor do these fit every one's mouth, a Father, a Husband, or a Master, when they conceive their Authorities to be out­rag'd, may be allow'd to vent their Indignation, to unload their Stomachs, and in the discharge of their Choler to break out into expressions of Threat­ning, or Reproach. But this is not to be allow'd upon slight Provocations, or to every Person in Comedy, who by their Place and Character can pretend to no such Power, or Authority. These Rants of Passion are not to be indulg'd amongst Equals in Comedy, much less to Inferiours; because such provocati­ons naturally produce effects too great, and too like Tragedy.

Chremes, in the Heautontimorumenos of Terence, who is produc'd by Horace [Page 113] as an example of the heighth of Comick Passion,Instance from Te­rence ex was a Husband, a Father, and a Master, injur'd (at least in his own Opinion) and abus'd in all these capa­cities by his Wife, his Son, and his Slave; his Authority slighted, and what was worse, his Understanding, (of which he was not a little conceited) affronted, and He practic'd upon, and made a Cully of by his Son, and his Slave, e­ven in the exaltation of his Wit, and Cunning, by his own Plot and Manage­ment. These were provocations as high as Comedy could well admit, and con­sequently the rage, which they must naturally produce in a man of his Tem­per, and Opinion of his own Pru­dence, must be in proportion. Yet, what follows? Chremes does not lose his Reason in his Anger,Hic, ita ut liberos est [...] con­tutabitur. Sed Sy­rum—Si vivo adeo exorna­tum dabo, adeo depexum, ut dum vivat meminerit semper mei: Qui sibi me pro ridiculo, ac delectamento putat. Non (ita me Dio ament) auderet facere haec Viduae mulieri, Quae in me fecit. His Son (he tells you) shall be reduc'd by Words to Reason: But as for Syrus, that Rogue, that had made him his Sport and his Laughing-stock, he would take such care of him, and put him in such a Trim, he should not dare [Page 114] to put his tricks upon a Widow hereafter, as he had done upon him. What is there in all this, that Mr Collier with all his Scruples about him can quarrel with? 'Tis true, a Scene or two after he falls upon his Son, in very opprobrious terms, and calls him Drunkard, Blockhead, Spendthrift, Rake-hell, &c. But his Fury spends itself in a few words, and he comes immediately to composition with his Son, and is easily wrought to forgive even Syrus too, so that all his fury is spent, not to revenge the affront receiv'd, but to reclaim his Son.

But Mr Collier's Resentments are of another Nature;P. 283. Tragedy in the Judg­ment of A­ristotle. Rage, Bloud and Bar­barity are the Ingredients of 'em, and consequently they're no composition for the Ingredients of Comedy; and Tra­gedy, as we have already shewn, is no encourager of 'em, but just the contra­ry. I can't see how he can make 'em to be of the proper growth of the Stage. For Tragedy, by giving 'em so odious a Dress and Air, and so calamitous a Catastrophe, as it always does, takes the most effectual course absolutely to eradi­cate 'em, and to purge the minds of the Audience of those turbulent Guests. Upon [Page 115] this Prospect it was, that Aristotle pro­nounc'd so largely in favour of Trage­dy, That it made Terror and Compassion the instruments, Arist. P [...] ­et. lib. cap. 6. [...]. P. 283. Du [...]g and Ren­counters a­gainst the Nature and Laws of Comedy. by which it purified and refined those very Passions in us, and all of the like nature.

But, if Tragedy be no Encourager of such Disorders, much less can Comedy, which meddles not at all with 'em, be with any colour of Justice accus'd. Co­medy has nothing to do with either Fiends, or Heroes, whatever Stuff, or Metal they may be made of. 'Tis in­deed a Fault to bring Duels and Ren­counters upon the Comick Stage, from which some of our Poets can't excuse themselves. But 'tis a Fault rather against the rules of Poetry, and true Dramatick Writing, than those of Mo­rality. For, in Poetry as well as Paint­ing, we are oblig'd to draw after the life, and consequently to copy as well the Blemishes as the Beauties of the Original; otherwise the finest colours we can bestow, are no better than gay dawbing. The fault therefore of the Poet lies not in shewing the imperfecti­ons of any of his Persons, but in shew­ing them improperly, and in the wrong [Page 116] place, which is an Error of his Judg­ment, not his Morals, and wou'd be as great if he shou'd untowardly produce in Comedy the highest Examples of He­roick Virtue and Fortitude.

An Instance of this kind we have in the Comical Revenge, Duel in Love in a Tub, against the rules of Comedy. or Love in a Tub, of Sir George Etherege, in which the Duel, and the Action of Bruce after it are of a strain above Comedy. Those niceties of Honour, and extravagancies of Jealousie and Despair are unnatural on the Comick Stage; and the Rescue from the Ruffians, for which Bruce in the same Scene is oblig'd to his Rival, however brave and generous an action it may appear, consider'd simply in it self, is a trespass against Justice and Propriety of Manners in that place. In­deed that whole Walk of the Play, and the set of Characters peculiarly belong­ing to it, are more nearly related to the Buskin, than the Sock, and render the Play one of those which we improperly call Tragicomedies. The other Walk, as 'tis one of the most diverting, so 'tis one of the most natural, and best contriv'd that ever came upon the Stage.

[Page 117] This may suffice to shew that a Comick Poet can't trespass against the Laws of Morality in this nature, without offend­ing against the Laws of his own Art; and consequently that such a fault ought rather to be lookt upon as an Error of his Judgment than of his Will, which may deserve the correction of a Critick, but not of a Moralist.

But supposing that a Writer of Come­dy Comick Po­et obliged to draw according to nature. shou'd (as many of 'em have done) either thro want of Skill or Caution in the conduct and ma­nagement of his Plot, so embroil his Gentleman as to reduce him to the hard choice either of accepting or refusing a challenge, the question is, whether the Poet ought to allow him to accept, or answer it, like (what the World calls) a Man of Honour, or to introduce him and his Friend playing the Casuists like Philotimus and Philalethes, Collier's Moral E [...]say about Du­elling. and argue him out of his resentments. In this case the Poets business is to draw his Picture, not to inform his Conscience; which wou'd be as ridiculous in him, as for Sir Godfrey Kneller to set up for taking Confessions, and enquire into the Prin­ciples of any man, in order [...] [Page 118] true draught of his Face. The Poet, as well as the Painter is to follow, not to pretend to lead Nature: and if custom and common practice have already de­termin'd the Point, whether, according to Equity, or not, the Poet exceeds his Commission, if he presumes to run counter to 'em. So that if a Comick Poet be so far overseen, as to bring his Gentlemen into the Field, or but so far towards it as a Challenge, there is no taking up the matter without action, or (which is all one to Mr Collier's objecti­on) shewing a readiness, and disposition for it on both sides. And the Poet stands in need of all his Skill, and Ad­dress to save their Honour, and recon­cile 'em without engagement.

Since therefore both by the nature of his subject,No breach of Morality without of­fending a­gainst the Laws of the Stage. and the rules of his art, a Dramatick Poet is limited, and oblig'd, he can't reasonably be charg'd with any thing, as a trespass against Morality, in which he does not offend likewise a­gainst them. For Dramatick Poetry, like a Glass, ought neither to flatter, nor to abuse in the Image which it re­flects, but to give them their true co­lour and proportion, and is only valu­able [Page 119] for being exact. If therefore any man dislikes the Figures, which he sees in it, he finds fault with Nature, not the Poet, if those Pictures be drawn according to the life; and he might as justly snarl at the wise Providence which governs the world, because he meets more ugly Faces than handsome ones, more Knaves and Fools than Honest and Wise men in it, and those too, generally more prosperous and fortunate.

But because some of those Gentlemen, that have taken pains to proclaim War against the present Stage, and have publish'd their censures of it, seem to have no true Idea of the business of a Dramatick Poet, and have arraign'd some of the present Writers for the Stage, either through malice or mis­understanding, of high crimes and mis­demeanours, in many particulars for doing those things which the duty of a Poet oblig'd 'em to; it may not be amiss, for the information of Mr Collier more especially, and those whom his furious misgrounded invectives may have mis-led, to enquire into the na­ture and Laws of Stage Poetry, and the Practice of it, both among the Antients [Page 120] and Moderns, as far as concerns Mora­lity, and the depending Controversie only, and no farther.

And here we may joyn issue with Mr Collier,P. 1. Mr Collier in his end of Stage Poetry. and allow, that The business of Plays is to recommend Virtue, and dis­countenance Vice; To shew the Ʋncertain­ty of Humane Greatness, the sudden turns of Fate, and the unhappy Conclusions of Violence and Injustice. 'Tis to expose the Singularities of Pride and Fancy, to make Folly and Falshood contemptible, and to bring every thing that is Ill under In­famy and Neglect.

Thus we set out together,Mistaken in his method of prosecu­ting that end. and are agreed upon the end of our Journey, but we differ about the road to it. Here therefore we part, and whether we shall meet again is the question. Mr Collier, by the tenour of his discourse thro the whole Book, seems to think, that there is no other way of encouraging Virtue, and suppressing Vice, open to the Poets, but declaiming for or against 'em, and wou'd therefore have Plays to be no­thing but meer Moral Dialogues, where­in five or six persons shou'd meet, and with abundance of Zeal and Rhetorick preach up Virtue, and decry Vice. Here­upon [Page 121] he falls upon the Poets with all the Rage and Fury imaginable, for introducing in their Plays vicious Characters, such as in Tragedy, Tyrants, Treacherous States­men, Crafty Priests, Rebellious Subjects, &c. In Comedy, Libertines, Whores, Sharpers, Cullies, Fops, Pimps, Parasites, and the like.

Now, whether this conduct of the Poets, or his Censure of it be more justi­fiable, is the subject of our Enquiry. To facilitate which, it will be proper to establish some certain Standard, by which we may measure the Morality or Immo­rality of a Dramatick Poem, and try thereby some of the most celebrated Pieces, as well of the Antients as Mo­derns; that their Beauties and Deformi­ties of this kind, either absolute or re­spective, may appear either severally, or upon collation, and the Poet be accord­ingly justified or condemn'd.

The Parts therefore of a Play,Morals of a Play wherin shewn. Poet. c. 6. [...]. in which the Morals of the Play appear, are the Fable, the Characters, and the Discourse. Of these the Fable (in Tra­gedy especially) is the most considera­ble, being (according to Aristotle) the Primum Mobile by which all the other [Page 122] parts are acted and govern'd, and the principal Instrument by which the Passi­ons are weeded and purg'd, by laying before the Eyes of the Spectators exam­ples of the miserable Catastrophe of Ty­ranny, Usurpation, Pride, Cruelty, and Ambition, &c. and to crown suf­fering Virtue with Success and Re­ward, or to punish the unjust Oppres­sors of it with Ruine and Destruction.

In Comedy, Folly and Knavery, the Sub­jects of Co­medy. as it acts in a lower Sphere, so the Persons are less conside­rable. Knaves, Misers, Sots, Coquets, Fops, Jilts and Cullies, all which Co­medy corrects by rendring 'em unsuc­cessful, and submitting them in her Fable, to the Practices and Stratagems of others, after such a manner, as to ex­pose both Knavery, Vanity, and Affectati­on, in the conclusion, or winding up, to the Scorn and Derision of the Specta­tors. And thus by making Folly and Knavery ridiculous to the View, Come­dy gains her end, stops the contagion, and prevents the imitation more effectu­ally than even Philosophy herself, who deals only in Precept can do, as Horace, and before him Aristotle have observ'd, by presenting that lively to the Sight, [Page 123] which the other can only inculcate in words.

Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures,
De Art. Poet.
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.

Thus while in the large Forest of Humane Affections, Tragedy labours to fell those sturdy overgrown Plants the Passions, Comedy employs itself in grubbing up the underwood of Vice, Folly and Affectation; and if its Ope­rations are of less importance than those of the former, they make ample amends by their more extended, and almost uni­versal Influence.

But this it seems is not the design of the Modern Stage Poets;Praef. Pag. 1, 2. Virtue and Re­gularity are their Great Enemies; and to promote Lewdness and Atheism, and to destroy Principles is their business, if we may believe Mr Collier, who has taken abundance of malicious Pains to incense the World against 'em; and like an ex­perienc'd Incendiary, not only gives the Fire, and blows the Coals, but fur­nishes Fuel of his own too, to encrease the Flame.

[Page 124] To inflame the Reckoning of the Mo­dern Poets,Mr. Col­lier's Cha­racter of the Ancient Poets invi­dious. especially the English, by the comparison, he enlarges very much upon the great Modesty and Regard which the Antients had to Vertue, and Decorum, falsly insinuating thereby as great Neglect and Violation of 'em a­mong the Moderns. What he has said in Commendation of the Antients, sim­ply and abstractedly taken, without any Application of comparison, or relation to those that have exercis'd themselves the same way in this Age, and in our Country, may be allow'd as their due; And Mr Col­lier's deference to the just merits of those great Genius's of Antiquity wou'd turn to his own Praise, if it were paid only as a debt to Justice. But proceeding from a disingenuous design, invidiously to depreciate the worth, and blacken the reputation of others, the Justice is sunk in the Malice of it, and the venom couch'd under it gives an ill Complexion to the fairest Part of his Productions. That this was the motive that induc'd Mr Collier to speak honourably of the Stage Poets, is apparent from his perpe­tual grumbling, and snarling at 'em, [...]ven in the midst of his most favoura­ble [Page 125] account of 'em. For tho upon ma­ny occasions he declares very largely in their favour, yet 'tis only to balance and sway the competition betwixt them and the Moderns on their side, and by raising the value of their Characters, to depress the others in the esteem of the World. This partiality will plainly ap­pear upon the examination of some of those Pieces of Antiquity, which Mr Col­lier so justly commends, with some of those of later production, which he so unjustly decries.

Mr Collier is not content to charge the English Poets with Faults of Negli­gence,Fable the principal part of a Play. or even of licentious wanton­ness; but he treats 'em with the utmost despight, and brands 'em with the In­famy of a profess'd Hatred to Virtue, a studied Lewdness, and of subverting the end and use of their Art. If this were really their Aim, unquestionably the Fable, which is the Principal Part, and of greatest Influence and Operation, is contriv'd and modell'd so as to be serviceable to their grand design. That this may more certainly appear, we shall take the Pains to analize some of those Plays, at which Mr Collier takes greatest [Page 126] offence, together with some of the most celebrated of Antiquity.

The Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles has by the universal consent of the learn­ed of all Ages, the greatest reputation of the Dramatick Performances of An­tiquity, I shall therefore begin with that, and shew that the Fable of that deservedly admir'd Piece is by no means so noble, instructive, and serviceable to Virtue, by its main or general Moral, as many of those Plays, against which and their Authors Mr Collier inveighs with so much Bitterness.

The Fable of the Oedipus is this;Fable of the Oedipus of Sopho­cles. Laius, the Father of Oedipus, and King of Thebes, was inform'd by an Oracle, that it was his fate to be slain by his own Son, who should be born of his Wife Jocasta. To elude the threats of the Oracle, Laius, as soon as the Child was born, delivers him to one of his Servants to be murder'd. This man, mov'd to compassion by the innocence of the Babe, instead of taking away his life, perforating both his Feet, and pas­sing a Bend thro 'em, hang'd him up by the Heels, and left him to the disposal of Providence. In this posture he was [Page 127] found by a Domestick of Polybus King of Corinth, who, taking him down, carried him to his Master, who being childless, receiv'd, educated, and own'd him as his own. Oedipus being at length grown up, and being in a contest of words with a Corinthian, he reproach'd with his un­known Birth, and being a Foundling, of which till that moment he had by the express order of Polybus, been kept in ignorance, resolves to consult the O­racle at Delphi about his Parentage, and is order'd by the Oracle to seek no fur­ther, for that it was his destiny to kill his Father, and beget Children upon his Mother. Upon this answer, he resolves for ever to abandon Corinth, his sup­pos'd Country, and in order thereto, takes his way towards Thebes, and on the Road meets Laius, and a quarrel a­rising between 'em, he kills him, and all his followers, one excepted, to whom upon his supplication he gives quarter. Arriving at Thebes, he finds that City in great confusion, both for the loss of their King, whom he knew not to be the person slain by him upon the Road, and for the prodigious ravage and waste committed by the Monster Sphinx, who [Page 128] distress'd 'em so, that they durst scarce stir out of their Walls. To rid them­selves of the terrour of this Monster, the Thebans offer their Queen and Crown to any man that could resolve the Riddle propounded by the Sphinx, upon the re­solution of which only they were to be quit of her. This Oedipus, notwithstand­ing the miscarriage of divers before him, who failing in their attempt were de­stroy'd by her, undertakes, and succeed­ing in it, the Monster breaks her own Neck, and he in reward, receives the Crown, and Queen to Wife. For some time Oedipus governs with great pru­dence, and has several Children by Jo­casta. At length a furious Plague ari­sing, and making great Havock in the City, Oedipus deputes Creon to the Ora­cle, to consult about the Causes of, and Means to be deliver'd from the Pesti­lence.

Thus far the History of Oedipus pro­ceeds before the Action of the Play commences; and tho the whole action of the Play naturally arises from this an­tecedent part, yet Sophocles had very ar­tificially reserv'd it to be deliver'd by way of Narration at the unravelling of [Page 129] the Plot, which is the most natural and beautiful of all Antiquity. But what is only considerable to our purpose is, that hitherto Oedipus bears the character of a Just and a Wise man; and if he be in­volv'd in any thing that bears an appear­ance of Guilt, invincible Ignorance (which the Schoolmen hold to be a good Plea) is his excuse.

But if he is hitherto innocent of any intentional Guilt, he is thro the whole course of the Action exemplarily pious. At his first appearance upon the Stage,Piety of Oedipus. he shews an extraordinary concern for the calamities of his Country, and an anxious solicitude for a Remedy. Jupi­ter's Priest addresses to him, as if he were their tutelar Deity, and tells him, that 'twas this miserable experiment of his being unable to relieve 'em, that had convinc'd him, and those with him, that he was not equal to the Gods, and had made 'em have recourse to their Altars.

Sophocl. Oedip. Tyrann.

This was a bold complement from a Priest, and the Priest of Jupiter too, the [Page 128] [...] [Page 129] [...] [Page 130] Soveraign of the Gods. But not to in­sist too much upon this Passage, Creon enters, and breaks off the Parley betwixt 'em; He brings word from the Oracle, that the Murtherer of Laius must be ex­pell'd the Territories of Thebes. Oedipus' Proclama­tion. Who was this Murtherer was yet a Secret, the Oracle not making that discovery. Oe­dipus hereupon summons a meeting of the People, and makes Proclamation, that if any one privy to the Fact wou'd come in, and make a discovery, he shou'd, if concern'd therein, be indem­nified in his Person, and be oblig'd on­ly to leave Thebes. But that if he cou'd inform of any other Person therein con­cern'd, he shou'd be liberally rewarded, and purchase his Favour by such Disco­very. And if any one, conscious of this matter, did out of fear for himself or his Friend, obstinately refuse to break silence, he requir'd all his Subjects not to give him harbour or sustenance, or to hold any manner of Commerce or Correspon­dence with him. After this he proceeds to imprecate the Actor or Actors of this Regicide, and extends the curse to his own House, if with his privity he was protected there.

[Page 131] But this method failing to produce the desir'd effect, he consults Tiresias the Prophet, by whom Oedipus himself is accus'd of killing his Father, and com­mitting Incest with his Mother; which Accusation being afterwards confirm'd by the concurring report of the old Ser­vant of Laius, by whom he was expos'd in his Infancy, and of the Domestick of Polybus, despairing in the horrour of these involuntary crimes, he tears out his own Eyes; and Jocasta, who equally ignorant was involv'd in the guilt of Incest, hangs herself.

This Plot, [...]. however noble and beau­tiful to admiration, for the Structure and Contrivance of it, is yet very defici­ent in the Moral, which has nothing great or serviceable to Virtue in it. It may indeed serve to put us in mind of the Lubricity of Fortune, and the In­stability of human Greatness. And this use Sophocles himself makes of it; for the Chorus closes the Tragedy with this remark, by way of advice of the Audi­ence, that they should not rashly measure any man's Felicity by his present Fortune, but wait his extremest Moments, to make a true estimate of his Happiness.

[Page 132]

Mr Dryden, Moral of the English Oedipus the same. who has borrow'd this Story from Sophocles, has summ'd up his Moral in the two concluding lines of his Play, in which not only the application seems to be the same, but the Lines themselves are a contracted Paraphrase of Sophocles own conclusion.

Let none, tho ne're so virtuous, great, and high,
Be judg'd entirely blest before they dye.

This Moral, as it carries nothing in it but a lazy,Meerly spe­culative. unactive speculation, can be no great Incentive to Virtue; so on the other hand, as it lays before us the Miseries and Calamitous Exit of a per­son of so Heroick Virtue, it seems to carry matter of discouragement along [Page 133] with it; since the most consummate Vir­tue meets with so disproportionate a re­turn.

But with Reverence to the Ashes of Sophocles, and submission to the better Judgment of Mr Dryden, Not very natural. this does not seem to be the true and genuine Moral of this Fable. For according to this Moral, the misfortune of Oedipus ought to have been the result of a kind of negligent Oscitation in the Gods, and a loose ad­ministration of Providence. Whereas on the contrary it appears, that all the Actions of Oedipus, as well those that were Pious, Wise, and Brave, as those that were Criminal, or rather Unfortu­nate, were the necessary and unavoida­ble Consequences of a fixt decree of Fate, backt by several Oracles, carried on, and brought about by variety of Miraculous or Providential Incidents. This Tiresi­as seems to hint plainly to Oedipus, when he tells him.

Fortune herself, (or Fate) destroys

[Page 134] And Oedipus himself, finding by the relation of Jocasta, that the circumstances of the death of Laius, agreed with those of the persons slain by him on the Road, and beginning to be convinc'd of his own guilt, ushers in his account of that action, with the fatal necessity that oblig'd him to leave his own Country; and relates his Piety, as 'twere by way of alleviation for what follows. He pleads, that being inform'd by the Ora­cle, that he should kill his Father, and commit Incest with his Mother, he had quitted the expectation of a Crown, and made himself a voluntary, and perpe­tual Exile from Corinth, to avoid the Crimes he was threatned with.


The English Oedipus is more plain, and expresses himself more clearly in defence of his Innocence, ev'n while he suspects himself to have been an Actor in the Tragedy of Laius.

[Page 135]
To you good Gods, I make my last ap­peal,
Oed p. 39.
Or clear my Virtues, or my Crime re­veal:
If wandring in the Maze of Fate I run,
And backward trod the paths I thought to shun,
Impute my Errours to your own de­cree;
My Hands are guilty, but my Heart is free.

Here Oedipus seems to suspect the truth of the matter, and alledges his own Ignorance, and the decree of the Gods in his Justification; but the Ghost of Laius clears the point of Fatality, and makes a better Apology for Oedi­pus, than 'twas possible for him to do for himself.

But he who holds my Crown,
Oed. p. 33.
Oh must I speak?
Was doom'd to do what Nature most abhors;
The Gods, foresaw it, and forbad his being,
[Page 136] Before he yet was born. I broke their Laws.
And cloath'd with flesh, the pre-existing Soul.
Some kinder Power, too weak for destiny,
Took pity, and indu'd his new form'd Mass
With Temperance, Justice, Prudence, Fortitude,
And every kingly Virtue; but in vain.
For Fate, that sent him hoodwinkt to the world,
Perform'd its work by his mistaken hands.

These instances consider'd, together with the Order, Contrivance and Na­ture of the Fable, as well of the Greek, as the English Poem, will readily point out to us a greater Moral, and more na­turally arising from the subject, than that which the two Poets have assign'd. For it seems plainly to hold forth to us, the irresistable Power of Fate, Proper Mo­ral. and the Va­nity of human Wisdom, when oppos'd to the immutable decrees of Providence, which converts to its own purposes, all our en­deavours [Page 137] to defeat 'em, and makes our very Opposition subservient to its own de­signs.

Seneca, Moral of Seneca who has taken this Fable from Sophocles, with very little alteration, has however given this turn to the Appli­cation, in conformity to the Doctrine of the Stoicks, who were the Predestina­rians of Antiquity, and held as Ours do, a Fatality, that directed and controul'd all human Actions, that all things came to pass by pre-ordination and invincible necessity, and that there was no such thing as a free Agent in the World.

Some Learned Men are of opinion,Seneca the Philosopher suppos'd the Author. that this Tragedy was written by Seneca the Philosopher, and this change of the Sophoclean Moral, in favour of his Prin­ciples, seems to be no despicable Argu­ment on their side. But whether they be in the right or wrong, I can't but wonder that Mr Dryden should over­look this alteration, or rather amend­ment to Sophocles's Moral, it being the principal part of the Play, and the mark at which all is levell'd.His Morals neglected by the Authors of the En­glish Oe­dipus. But perhaps Mr Dryden being justly prepossessed for the performance of Sophocles in prefe­rence to Seneca's, his aim was not so [Page 138] much to enquire after any improve­ments, as additions to Sophocles's design, and by that means let slip this, which was not to his purpose, which was to fit it up to the English Stage; for the use of which it needed not correction, so much as enlargement; the simplicity of the Original Fable and the Chasms, which the omission of the Chorus must necessarily make, requiring to be fill'd up, and supply'd with an Ʋnderplot and proper Episodes. And indeed he seems to confess as much, when he says, that Seneca supply'd 'em with no new hint but only a relation, Preface to Oedip. which he makes of his Tyresias raising the Ghost of Laius.

But having declar'd for the Moral of Seneca, as more natural than that of So­phocles, considering the disproportion both of Reputation and Merit of these two Authors in the Dramatick way, I must expect the censure of those Cri­ticks, that judge by wholesale, or hear­say, that will admit of no errour in any Author, that themselves, or those, in whom they have an implicit Faith, ad­mire; nor allow any Graces to him, that has not the good fortune to be their Fa­vourite. I shall therefore produce Sene­ca's [Page 139] application at large in his own words, as I have already done Sophocles's, and then back my opinion with an Ob­servation or two, drawn from the state of the Fable, as it lies in these Authors, and leave 'em to the courtesie of the Reader.

The last Song of the Chorus in Seneca, which is what the Poet delivers by way of Instruction, or Application to the Audience, runs thus.

Cho. Fatis agimur:
Senec. Oedip. p. 107.
cedite fatis.
Non solicitae possunt curae
Mutare rati stamina fusi.
Quicquid patimur mortale genus,
Quicquid facimus, venit ex alto:
Servat (que) sua decreta colus
Lachesis, dura revoluta manu
Omnia certo tramite vadunt;
Primus (que) dies dedit extremum,
Non illa deo vertisse licet,
Quae nexa suis currunt causis.
It cui (que) ratus, prece non ulla
Mobilis, ordo. Multis ipsum
Timuisse nocet. Multi ad fatum
Venere suum, dum fata timent.

[Page 140] The summ of this is; Summ of Seneca's Moral. That there is (according to the Doctrine of the Stoicks) an over-ruling Providence, or Fate, that disposes and governs all things; That the Sources of mens Fortunes, and the Springs of their Actions are plac'd out of their reach, inaccessible to human Pru­dence, and inflexible to Entreaties; that they move in a constant course, inviolable even to the Gods themselves; that causes and their effects are inseparably linkt, the first day (of Life) determining the last; that the Caution of many has been de­structive to 'em, and that in shunning their Fate, they have run upon it.

That this is the most natural Appli­cation, the very contrivance of the Fa­ble in all these three Plays, will suffici­ently make out. Seneca, and the English Authors have, in imitation of So­phocles, made the Parricide and Incest of Oedipus the proper Act, and Deed of Fate, of which he was only the unhap­py and unwilling Instrument. Both his Father and himself had been forewarn'd, and had us'd their utmost endeavours to evade the calamities that threatned 'em. But those very efforts, however seemingly prudent, became the Snare in [Page 141] which they were taken, and the means of verifying the Prediction of the Ora­cle. For the exposing Oedipus in his Infancy, was the occasion of his Igno­rance of his true Parents, and that Ig­norance of all his ensuing miseries. All these Authors give us a high Idea of his Virtue and Prudence; and Seneca as well as the aforecited Authors, makes him sacrifice his Expectations of a Crown, and become a voluntary Exile out of an Abhorrence of those Crimes, which were predicted of him.

Hic me Paternis expulit regnis Timor.
This fear has banish'd me my Fathers Realm.

And when he had been accus'd of the murder of Laius, Oedipus's Justificati­on of him­self. upon the Infor­mation of the Gods, he appeals to his own Conscience for his Innocence.

Obiisse nostro Laium scelere autu­mant
Superi Inferi (que) sed animus contra inno­cens.
Sibi (que) melius quam Deis notus, negat.
[Page 142] The Gods accuse me; but my guiltless mind
The better Judge acquits me.

And in the next Scene upon the news of Polybus's death, he cries out,

Genitor sine ulla caede defunctus ja­cet,
Testor, licet jam tollere ad caelum pie
Puras nec ulla scelere metuentes ma­nus.
Extinct my Father by a Bloudless death!
Now I may stretch to Heaven my guiltless hands
Fearless of any stain.

Thus they all agree to make him just and virtuous in his Intentions to an He­roick Pitch,Harmony of the Greek, Roman, and En­glish Au­thors. yet they involve him in a Fatal Necessity even before his Birth, of acting those things, to which in his Nature he had the greatest abhorrence, and make his Piety and Aversion to Wickedness, the very means to entrap and entangle him in that Guilt, which he so industriously fled from, and which [Page 143] occasioned the Calamities, that after­wards befel both himself and Family.

The structure and disposition of this Fable,Levity of Fortune not the occasion of the Fall of Oedi­pus. afford no occasion of complaint, or reflection upon the Levity of For­tune, or the Instability of Human Af­fairs. For nothing is more evident, than the steady and regular administra­tion of Providence thro the whole course of the misfortunes of Oedipus, and his Family. Nothing befel them, which was not predicted long before hand, and of which they had not a terrible apprehension, as well as a cer­tain Expectation.Opposition of Provi­dence. And when they bent their endeavours to defeat the decrees of Fate, such a manifest Series of Pro­vidential Incidents attends their ma­nagement, as suffices not only to baffle their Cunning and Devices, but likewise to shew the Uncontrolableness and Su­periority of that Power, which influ­enced their Counsels, and serv'd itself of their Presumption, as the immediate Instrument to accomplish, and effect its Purposes, and at the same time to de­monstrate the Vanity of Humane oppo­sition to the Will of Destiny.

[Page 144] Had Laius submitted himself to the Pleasure of Providence,Presumpti­on of Laius. and not pre­sum'd to have thwarted the Divine Ap­pointment, and triumphed over his De­stiny, his Son had not been ignorant of his true Parentage; and being a person of Inclinations so extraordinary Virtu­ous, 'tis morally impossible he should willingly have incurr'd the guilt of two Crimes of so monstrous a Size as Parri­cide and Incest. Or had Oedipus sub­missively resigned himself to the Con­duct and Direction of Fate; whatever his Regret and Abhorrence of his pre­dicted Fortune had been, he had re­turn'd to Corinth, and his Patience, and Resignation had avoided that Misery, which his mistaken Piety and Opposi­tion brought afterwards upon his head.

This consideration may supply us with another Moral to this Fable, Another Moral. dif­ferent from any (that I know of) hi­therto rais'd upon it by any Poet, either Antient or Modern. It may instruct us, that the Will of Heaven is not to be dispu­ted by Mortals, how severe soever, even to Injustice, the Conditions of it may seem to us; and that whoever sets up his own Wis­dom in opposition to it, shall in that Pre­sumption [Page 145] meet both his Crime and his Pu­nishment.

Nothing, if we consider it simply in itself, could be more heroically pious than the resolution of Oedipus to aban­don a Crown,Presumption of Oedi­pus. his Parents and Country, ra­ther than suffer those Pollutions with which he was threatned. But if we consider the Impiety of advancing his own Judgment in his conceit above that of his Gods, and thinking by his own Wisdom, to reverse the immutable de­crees of destiny, his Vanity deserv'd the heaviest chastisement. The same may be said of his Father. It may be ob­jected, that this irresistible Predestinati­on was not so universally receiv'd an Opinion among the Antient Heathens, but that many held the contrary; and that consequently 'tis but supposing Oe­dipus one of the number, and my Mo­ral falls to the ground.Oedipus in Sopho­cles, and the rest of the Trage­dians a Pre­destinarian. I grant it does so, if he were, but the contrary appears from the Story itself. For if Oedipus did not believe such a Fatality, why did he upon the credit of an Oracle, which must signifie no more to him than one of Partridge, or Gadbury's Astrolo­gical Banters, leave his Friends, and his [Page 146] great Expectations? But this supposes him a rank Fool, to abdicate for a tale of a Tub, a Story that he did not believe▪ If he did believe, he ought not to escape the Censure and Punishment of a rash presumptuous man, for suffering his Vanity to triumph over his Faith, and daring up­on an insolent opinion of his own Abi­lity to insult his Religion, and hope [...]o prevail against, and defeat the purpose of Fate.

Some French Criticks,French Moral. that seem sen­sible of the defect of the Moral in So­phocles, have endeavoured to supply that want, by starting an imaginary Guilty, and impute as a Crime to Oedi­pus, his curiosity to know his Fate. I call it an imaginary Guilt, because I think it is urg'd against him without Foundation. For certainly it could ne­ver be a Sin in him, when his Paren­tage was become doubtful to him,N [...]cromancy a [...]d all sorts of Di­vin [...]tion allowed by the Reli­gion of the Heathens. to have recourse to such means, as his Re­ligion allow'd, to clear up his doubts, and take off the Reproach that was thrown upon him. Divination was so far from being a Criminal Art among the Ancient Heathens, that it was practic'd with great Reputation in all [Page 147] its several kinds, and the Professors of any part of it, were esteemed as Pro­phets, and held in great veneration. It could not therefore be scandalous to consult 'em upon any occasion, much less the Oracle of Apollo; to repair to which, was thought an act of high Devotion, and was the constant Practice of all the Cities and States of Greece, upon all great and sudden Emergencies. But their mistake lies in raising a Christian Moral upon a Pagan bottom; to fill up, they have grafted a Doctrine many ages younger upon the old Stock, and piec'd out a defect with an Absurdity.

I am apt to think upon consideration,Conjecture at the Rea­sons that Induc'd the Authors of the En­glish Oe­dipus to prefer the Greek Mo­ral to the Latine. that the Authors of the English Oedipus, in adhering to the simple old Greek Mo­ral, acted rather by Judgment and Choice, than Oversight. For the Moral of Se­neca, tho more naturally deducible from the Story, is yet less serviceable, or (to speak more properly) more destructive to Practical Morality, as preaching up the Doctrine of absolute and universal Predestination, by which men are de­nied the liberty of so much as a thought, as free Agents, and are suppos'd to be acted, and workt like Machines by an [Page 148] invisible, irresistible Agent, which winds 'em up like Watches, and orders their several Movements. This Doctrine, as it destroys all title to Merit from the best, so it takes off all fear of Guilt from the most villanous actions, and must necessarily (if heartily believ'd) discourage men from the severer and more troublesome Duties of Religion, and Morality at least, and dispose them to resign themselves loosely up to the government of their Appetites, and in­dulge their sensual Inclinations; to gra­tify which could be no sin, to oppose 'em no Virtue, and deserve neither blame nor thanks, according to this Principle.

Besides the unserviceableness of this Moral to the general end of Dramatick Poetry,Seneca's Moral [...] proper for the En­glish Stage. it was upon that Score disabled for the particular service of the English Stage, where it could not hope for a favourable Reception; and might there­fore be by these Authors judiciously re­jected. For tho this Musty Rag of Heathen Stoicism be still worn by a Party amongst us, that affect to distin­guish themselves by Opposition, and Contradiction, tho to their own Prin­ciples, [Page 149] and that pretend to act contrary to the natural result of their Opinion, and profess a severer Morality than their Neighbours; yet by the more Po­lite and Civilized Part of the Nation, who are the chief Frequenters, and Sup­port of the Dramatick Performances, it has been long left off, as a Principle de­structive to Humanity, Virtue, and all good Manners; and consequently would have been exploded upon the Stage, and hazarded the success of the whole Piece.

But whether this Moral were neglect­ed by 'em out of design or oversight,Greek and Roman Moral un­servi [...] to virtue. is not much to our purpose. 'Tis evident, that neither the Greek nor Latin Moral, have any tendency to the promotion of Virtue, and the Reformation of Man­ners, but rather to the contrary. So that if Mr Collier has any thing of this Nature to object against any of the present Stage Poets, they may defend, or at least excuse such a slip by this Pre­cedent, which being the Master-piece not only of Sophocles, but of all Anti­quity; for that reason, I hope Mr Collier (who has already declard,P. 28 that this Author has nothing but what is great and solemn throughout) will not charge [Page 150] him with any [...]ill design, or acting upon Malice prepense against Virtue. But if he should, he has already taken his Tryal before Aristotle, a more competent and more upright Judge, and stands acquitted on Record, and must be allow'd to be rectus in Curia.

I have been the more particular in examining the general Moral of this Play,Oedipus, why so mi­ [...]ly exa­mined. and have consider'd not only what has been made of it, but what might have been drawn from it, that I might for the remainder be excusd from the trouble of descending to minute circum­stances, and for the future be allow'd to summ up what I have to say to any other Plays of Antiquity upon this gene­ral head of the Fable, and so proceed to our Poets, with whom also I shall be as brief as the matter will allow me.

The rest of Sophocles's Plays, being much less considerable for their Success in the World, I shall dispatch the consideration of 'em in as few words as possible. His Ajax Flagellifer stands first in order, and affords us no great matter to reflect upon.

Ajax, Fable of of Ajax Flagelli­ [...]er. disappointed and disgrac'd in his suit for the Arms of Achilles, resents ex­treamly [Page 151] the Injury and Indignity, and resolves to be reveng'd upon the whole Grecian Army. In order thereto he makes a Sally from his Quarter by night, in order to kill all the Principal Officers. Minerva, to divert the mis­chief intended, infatuates him, and turns him loose upon some herds of Cattle, amongst whom, mistaking 'em for Greeks, he makes most terrible ha­vock; and returning to his Tent and Sences in the morning, he perceives his Errour, thro the confusion, shame, and vexation of which, he grows des­perate, falls upon his Sword, and dies. This is the whole of the Fable. For the contest that follows between Teucer, Menelaus, and Agamemnon, is an Episode detach'd from, and has nothing to do with, and scarce any dependance upon the main Action.

Here we see a man of Impetuous, Ungovernable Passion, and of a Nice, Capricious Honour, that conceives him­self injur'd in the most sensible part, his honour, and meditates a Revenge pro­portioned to the Fierceness of his Tem­per, and the imagin'd Greatness of the Affront. Minerva interposes, and turns [Page 152] his Rage, and Fury, first to his further disgrace, and then to his destruction.

The Moral of this Play is not very obvious,Moral some­what ob­scare. and Sophocles himself does not hint it at or near the conclusion of the Play, but leaves it to be pickt out by the Audience, or Readers; which may be done two ways. First, By considering the Quality of the Instrument of Engine of Ajax's Ruine, which was a Goddess; and the manner of bringing it about, which was by making him ridiculous thro a Deceptio Visus, or an Illusion of the Sight; and then the Moral will be,

Quos Deus vult perdere,
prius de­mentat.
When the Gods resolve upon a mans ru­in, they make away his Wits.

Or 2dly, We may consider the Cha­racter of the Person, a man of Un­daunted Boldness, and Turbulent Head­strong Passions, and the Nature of his Attempt, which was to kill all the Grecian Chiefs; and then the Moral may be

[Page 153]
—Qui non moderabitur Irae
2d Moral.
Infectum volet esse Dolor quod sua­serit.—

He that suffers himself to be precipitated into action by his Rage, will have cause to rue the effects of it.

The first of these is the most genuine, and natural. For the misfortune of Ajax seems not to arise so much from a repentance of his Undertaking, as from indignation, and a bitter sense of the Scorn and Contempt he had drawn upon himself by so ridiculous a miscar­riage, and the trick put upon him by Minerva. Moral of the Author not arising naturally from the Action. This is all that naturally a­rises from the Action; and the Author, who seems sensible of the barenness of his Plot, forages without his lines to subsist his Moral. By this means he has provided himself of a no­ble Moral, which he intimates in the close of the first Scene, betwixt Minerva and Ʋlysses, where the Goddess, after having inform'd Ʋlysses how she had besotted Ajax, advises him to take warn­ing, and not to be so far transported upon any good Fortune, or presume so far upon his own Prowess as to provoke the Gods by in­solent [Page 154] Language; who lov'd Modesty, and hated Arrogance. And about the mid­dle of the Play, a Messenger relates to the Chorus, what pass'd between Chal­cas and Teucer about the quarrel, and hatred of Minerva to Ajax, Which was for presuming upon the sufficience of his own Strength and Courage, and refusing her Protection and Assistance, which she offer'd him against the Trojans. But this is wholly without the Action (which cannot properly suggest any such thing) and is introduc'd by way of Narration, only to justifie the proceeding of Mi­nerva against Ajax, and is no longer in­sisted on after the death of Ajax.

The other Moral,2d Moral not very natural. as it does not seem to flow so naturally from the Fable, as the first, so it seems never to have been in Sophocles's thoughts. For the last disgrace, and the Desperate Action that follow'd it, are the effect of a superna­tural Agent, (viz.) Minerva, and pro­duc'd by a sudden Infatuation after a supernatural manner; and therefore the Poet cou'd have no just occasion to re­flect upon the natural ill consequences of Passion, how outrageous or ungo­vernable soever. For this reason I shall [Page 155] pursue the consideration of it no far­ther.

The next in order is the Electra, Fable of the Electra. in which there is scarce the shadow of a Plot, nor much more of a Moral. Orestes (who after the murther of his Father Agamemnon, had by the care of his Si­ster Electra escap'd the fury of his Mo­ther Clytemnestra and her Paramour Ae­gisthus,) comes to Argos with his Tu­tor, whom he sends to deceive his Mo­ther with a Sham Story of his Death, and in the mean time discovers himself to his Sister, with whom he consults about means to revenge the Death of his Father; is introduc'd to his Mother as a stranger, kills her, and afterwards Aegisthus.

Thro the whole Play the Poet does not so much as squint toward a Moral, he lets nothing fall by which the Audi­ence may so much as guess what he drives at. But by the contrivance of the Fable, wherein a Wife, that had embrued her hands in her Husbands blood, after having abus'd his Bed, is, together with her Adulterer and Fellow Murtherer, after a succession of some years of prosperous Villany, overtaken [Page 156] by Vengeance from the hands of the Son, and slain; we may conclude with Ho­race,

Raro antecedentem scelestum
Deseruit pede paena claudo.

That Divine Vengeance seldom fails to o­vertake great Villanies.

This is all the Moral that I can find in this Play, nor do I perceive that So­phocles himself took care by any overt Expression to intimate it to the Audi­ence.

The Antigone is something better con­triv'd.Fable of the Antigone. Antigone, contrary to Creon's order, buries her Brother Polynices. Cre­on orders her to be shut up in a Cave alive, and commands, that no body shou'd relieve her. Haemon his Son pleads for her, and unable to prevail, goes to the Cave, and finds that Anti­gone his Mistress had hang'd herself. In the interim Tyresias comes to Creon, and tells him, that he did amiss, and that he ought with all expedition to re­pair his Fault. Creon continues obsti­nate, and reviles the Prophet, who re­turns the complement, and threatens [Page 157] Creon with the calamities that shou'd come immediately upon his Family for his Impiety and Obstinacy, and so leaves him. Creon after his departure relents, and makes haste to save Antigone, but comes too late, and finds his Son ra­ving for the loss of his Mistress, and hardly escapes being killed by him. Haemon kills himself, and his Mother up­on the News herself.

Here Sophocles speaks out for himself,Moral. and tell his Audience what Judgment they are to make of these surprizing E­vents, which had in a moment over­turned a flourishing Family. The Chorus in the Conclusion says


Wisdom is the first step to Happiness. The Gods must not be irreverently treated. For the great Punishments, that attended the Profane liberties of speech of Insolent Men, were Lessons of Humility at last.

The Oedipus Coloneus is a Play,Oedipus Coloneus. that we are told was very much admir'd at Athens; and it is no great wonder. For it was written on purpose to Flatter, [Page 158] and do honour to the Athenians, and therefore cou'd scarce fail of a good re­ception. This Policy of Sophocles will furnish us with both a Plot, and a Mo­ral, which 'twill otherwise be hard to find in this Play. The Poet was now in his old age, and had long out-lived Mr Dryden's Fumbling Age of Poetry, and perhaps began to be sensible of some de­cay, and therefore to support the weight of that reputation, which he had acquired in the vigour of his Poetry, he pieces out the Lyons Skin with the Foxes Tail, and suspecting his own power to move their Passions as for­merly, makes use of their Vanity to scrue them up to the desired pitch of Admiration and Satisfaction. This, if the Reader pleases, may serve instead of a Plot, and the success of it may afford us this Moral; that no people is so strongly fortified against Flattery, but that, if their Vanity be skilfully tickled, it will be rous'd, and exert itself in favour of the Flatterer.

This is, indeed, beside the Action, and in probability was not the Mo­ral, which Sophocles intended for the Publick; but 'tis plain, that 'twas the [Page 159] secret Motive upon which he acted, and the genuine Moral of his Conduct.

The Fable of Oedipus Coloneus, Fable of Oedipus Coloneus such as it is in this. Oedipus, under the Conduct of his Daughter Antigone, ar­rives at a Grove near Athens consecrated to the Furies, whither he had been di­rected by the Oracle to go. Creon, en­deavours to fetch him away by force; Theseus intervenes, and rescues him. Oedipus dies at last in the place appoint­ed by Fate and the Oracle.

This is a plain story,No Moral. without either Turn or Consequence, upon which there is no possibility of raising a Mo­ral. Sophocles seems to have endea­voured at something like one in the Conclusion. For when the Daughters of Oedipus lamented immoderately his death, the Chorus tells 'em, That they ought not to bewail any longer one that was come to his desir'd end.

The Trachiniae seems almost as little contriv'd for Edification as the forego­ing.Trachi­niae its Fa­ble. Dejanira being inform'd that Her­cules grew amorous of his Captive Jole, to retrieve and ensure his Affection to her, sends by Lichas an envenom'd Shirt, which she suppos'd to have been [Page 160] dipt in a Philtre. This unhappy Pre­sent being upon his Back, immediately corroded the Flesh in such manner, that in a rage he dash'd out Lichas the Bear­ers Brains. Dejanira hearing the Fatal Effects of her Errour, kills herself. Her­cules having charged his Son Hyllus to marry his Concubine Jole, burns him­self.

The reflection that Sophocles makes upon all this,Moral of Sopho­cles. is, that, 'tis all Jupiter's doing. Hyllus, in the close, boldly ac­cuses the Gods of [...], which signifies Folly or In­justice. Injustice, for desert­ing their own Off-spring. He adds,

These things are a heavy Affliction to us,
But a scandal to them.

The Chorus seconds his Complaint, and says, that all their Calamities are of Jupiter's sending.


[Page 161] This Fable and Application afford ve­ry little matter of Moral Instruction; and the use that the Poet himself makes of it, is rather a discouragement to Virtue, since neither the Heroick Qua­lities, nor Actions of Hercules, nor the relation to Jupiter, could exempt him­self or Family from such lamentable dis­asters.

However, the misfortune of Dejanira may serve as a caution against Jealousie and Adultery, which two failings in conjunction, occasion'd her ruin. And Hercules himself may be an instance of the dangerous consequenees of a licen­tious ungovern'd Flame, which at last was the destruction of him, who had withstood, and baffled the utmost Malice and Invention of Juno.

The Fable of the Philoctetes is this.Philocte­tes, the Fable. Philoctetes having an incurable Ulcer in his Foot, from the bite of a Serpent in his Voyage to Troy, was deserted, and left by the Greeks alone upon the desart Shore of Lemnos. But his Presence be­ing declar'd absolutely necessary to the taking of Troy, Ʋlysses and Pyrrhus are sent to fetch him. He refuses obstinate­ly to go along with 'em, but Hercules [Page 162] appearing, and perswading him, he complies.

This likewise is a barren Story,No Moral. of which Sophocles himself has made no moral Use, and has scarce given occasi­on for any one else to do it.

Philoctetes had been barbarously ex­pos'd by his Confederates the Greeks, for which he was irreconcilably angry with 'em, especially Ʋlysses, who had been the Executioner of their Resolutions in relation to him. He therefore refuses obstinately to go with, or to those that had serv'd him so basely; but Hercules appearing, and telling him, that upon those terms, and no other, he must ex­pect his cure, and prosperity, the man had so much Wit in his Anger, as to prefer Health and Fame before sullen Revenge, which must be his own as well as their disappointment.

Mr Collier wou'd pass the Speech of Hercules upon us for a Moral.Speech of Hercules not perti­nent to the Action. P. 93. But by his leave, how remarkably Moral soever the Conclusion of this Play may be, the morality of it no way depends upon the Action foregoing. Hercules prevails with Philoctetes to go with Ʋlysses, and Pyrrhus promises him Health, Honour, [Page 163] and Riches, and recommends the care of Religion to him. [...].’ Which, says he, Jupiter regards above all things.

This was indeed good advice, and matter of Instruction to the Audience, as well as Philoctetes; but not arising any way from the main Action, it might as properly have been said at any other time, and upon any other occasion, as this; and if it must serve for a Moral, might as justly have been the Moral of any other Play.

Thus I have run through Sophocles,Ibid. whose Plays (by Mr Collier's own con­fession) are form'd upon Models of Virtue, joyn Innocence with Pleasure, and design the Improvement of the Audience.

Upon this account, and the great Re­putation of this Author, I have been more particular with him upon this head, than I design to be with any of the rest of the Antient Tragedians. I have set before the Reader the several Models of all his remaining Plays, and have enquir'd into the Disposition of [Page 164] the Fable in relation to the service of Morality, that upon collation we may with more certainty measure the com­parative Morality of his and the Mo­dern Plays on this Article.

Euripides, Art. Poet. Cap. xiii. who came nearest him both in Time and Reputation, is yet more defective in this point. Aristotle has tax'd him with want of Conduct in the Oeconomy of his Fable; but this Censure being levell'd rather at the want of Ar­tifice, than of Moral in the Plays of Eu­ripides, I shall make no further use of it here. The character of this Author's works wou'd make us naturally expect, that he shou'd be more careful of this Article, than either Aeschylus, or Sopho­cles, who aim'd more at the Pathetick. The Plays of Euripides betray all along an affected Ostentation of Learning,Character of the Plays of Euripi­des in ge­neral. and as great an Ambition to be thought a Philosopher, as a Poet. For this rea­son he abounds more in Points, and Sentences of Morality, florid Harangues, and subtle Speculations, than Sophocles; but he does not touch the Passions, or raise the Concern of an Audience like him. And therefore whatever we may think of his Dialogues consider'd sepa­rately, [Page 165] and independant of one another, his Plays in the aggregate are far inferi­our to those of Sophocles.

Euripides has yet remaining nineteen Tragedies, to examin all which, as we have done those of Sophocles, wou'd be an impertinent, as well as a tedious la­bour, both to the Reader and my self. I shall therefore content my self to in­stance in a few of 'em, and refer those that have the Curiosity and Patience, to proceed further to the Author him­self.

The Orestes challenges the first place upon the score of its Reputation, and the great Success it had on the revival of it, five hundred years after the death of the Author.

This play commences,Fable of the Orestes where the E­lectra of Sophocles and his own conclude. Orestes, by the help of his Sister Electra, having slain his Mother, is very much troubled in mind, and haunted by Fu­ries, and desponds upon the account of his Guilt. Tyndarus, his Mother's Fa­ther, endeavours to revenge her death, and excites the People against him, who vote him to be ston'd to death with his Sister. Menelaus, with his Wife Hele­na, [Page 166] and Daughter Hermione, arrives in the mean time and offers his assistance to his Nephew in this exigence, but is o­ver-aw'd by Tyndarus, and deserts his Party. Pylades comes opportunely, and perswades Orestes to appear, and make his defence in person, which he does, but without success, yet upon his pro­mise that his Sister and himself shall be their own Executioners, he is let go by the Mob upon Parole. Being return'd to his Sister, they consult about means of Safety. Electra advises him and Py­lades to seize upon Helen and Hermione, to kill Helen, and to Article with Me­nelaus for their own safety, with a Sword at Hermione's Throat; and if her Father wou'd not comply with their demands, first to dispatch her, then themselves. This Project is put in execution, and the Ladies are surpriz'd, Apollo rescues Helen, and appearing, reconciles Mene­laus and Orestes, and makes a match be­twixt him and Hermione, and betwixt Pylades and Electra, and promising happiness to 'em all, tells 'em, that Helen is made a Goddess, and so con­cludes the Play.

[Page 167] In this Play most of the Characters are wicked,Characters all vicious. Orestes and Electra are Par­ricides; Tyndarus is (in his heart at least) the Murtherer of his Grand-chil­dren; Menelaus, the Betrayer of his Ne­phew, and Niece, whom he ought to have protected; Helen, an infamous Woman, and the accidental cause at least of the Miseries of a great part of Asia and Europe, yet clear of any inten­tional Guilt in this case; Pylades is en­gaged with his Friend in an unjust at­tempt to murther Helen and her Daugh­ter; Hermione, who is next to a Mute in the Play, is the only unexceptionable Character.

This Play begins well,Not of a piece all through. the Agonies of a guilty Conscience, the Despair, and the Horrors of Orestes promise a good Moral: But the hopes of that soon va­nish; for the first word of comfort from Menelaus dispels all his Anxiety for his crime, and converts it to a solicitude for his Safety. In order to this, he enters upon a piece of Villany, more execrable than that for which he was then prosecuted, because 'twas without provocation: A Feint of that kind had been an allowable Stratagem to have [Page 168] brought Menelaus to Articles; but to project it in earnest was an unparallell'd piece of Barbarity. But what after all is more surprizing and unnatural is, that the Catastrophe is happy, and the Parri­cides rewarded, and all this seems to be the result of Electra's latter contrivance, which however wicked was successful and prosperous.

The Moral (if I may call it so) of this Story is properly this,Moral. that there is no dabbling in Villany, but that those that are once enter'd, must wade thro, if they will be safe, and justify one Crime by another. But that which makes the winding up of this Play more notori­ous, is, that the Gods are made the Ar­biters of all; Apollo appears in person, and justifies Orestes, and promises him his protection, and ensures the happi­ness of Pylades and Electra, who had been the sole Incendiary and Contriver of all this Mischief; which is adding Impiety to the want of Poetick Justice, and making Providence accessary to Parricide, and the Gods Abbetors of Violence and Injustice, not to take no­tice of the Deifying of Helena, who, tho Jove's Daughter, is a Woman of a [Page 169] very infamous Character all through the Play.

I suppose the Moral of this Play will hardly rise in Judgment against the Moderns. Nor has the Electra of of the same Author any more reason, it being liable to the same exceptions with the former, only in this the Mur­ther is perpetrated, in that but designed; in short, this Play is the ground work of the former, and the action of this gives the reason, and occasion of all that hap­pens in t'other. Here likewise the Gods are impertinently brought in to finish that, which wou'd of it self have closed very naturally without 'em. For after the Death of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra there was nothing more to be done. But this Poet, who is very fond of Machines, tho [...] unnecessary, after all's over brings down Castor and Pollux to condemn the Fact, acquit the Murtherers of their Sister, and transfer the Guilt to Apollo, whom they accuse of [...]. uttering a foolish Oracle.

However the Fable of this Play being the same with that of the Electra of Sophocles, we may do it the same Grace, and allow it the benefit of any Moral [Page 170] that may be raised out of it, tho not without some violence, as this Author has managed it. What that is I have al­ready observed in the foregoing Re­marks upon the Electra of Sophocles.

The Medea, Media, &c. Hippolytus, Ion, Hercules distracted, and several other are likewise built upon various Models. In these, as in most of Euripides's Plays, the Gods are always at one end or t'other of the busi­ness, they are either the Promoters of the Crime, or the Protectors of the Criminals. All is acted by Machine, the Action is frequently forced, and the Cata­strophe generally unnatural. Yet notwith­standing this extraordinary licence, which this Poet assumes in almost all his Plays, but very few of 'em are so mo­dell'd as to be serviceable to Virtue upon that Score.

Medea, after a course of Murthers, ha­ving slain her own Brother, and Chil­dren with her own hands, and Pelias, Creon, and Creusa by her charms, is taken particular care of by Phaebus, and pro­vided of a flying Chariot to make her escape from Justice in.

Hippolitus has the Character of a just,Fable of the Hip­politus. and a Pious Person, and his conduct [Page 171] all thro the Play, both in relation to his Mother in Law Phaedra, and his Father, by whose curse he is devoted, and brought to ruine, justifies this Character, and he in the Agonies of Death ex­presses a greater concern for, and a more sensible impression of his Fathers misfor­tunes and afflictions, than his own. A Disposition so extraordinarily pious, one wou'd think, shou'd, if it might not exempt him from those disasters that attend the Infirmity of humane Nature, and the malignity of his Fellow Mor­tals, at least protect him from any super­natural calamities, and ensure the favour of Heaven to him. But he was a Vo­tary to Diana, and his vow of Chastity gave such offence to Venus, who thought herself slighted, that she resolves his ruine, and declares her resolution, and the methods she intends to take to effect it, in the Prologue which she speaks. And she lays her Plot so, that by means of an antecedent Promise to Theseus she engages Neptune in the Destruction of an innocent Young Man, whose only crime is an obstinate, inviolate Chastity; and Phaedra, who is her instrument, is involv'd in the guilt of a heinous, but [Page 172] involuntary Crime. The consideration of the several Fables of these Plays cou'd furnish the Audience with no venerable Ideas of their Gods, who cou'd be the Promoters, or Protectors of such hor­rid Actions; nor cou'd any encourage­ment to Justice and Morality be drawn from 'em, which afforded such examples of Partiality, and prejudice among their Deities, that the blackest Crimes cou'd not forfeit their favour, nor the most ex­emplary Virtue ensure it.

The Ion is reckoned by the Learned Monsieur Dacier among that kind of Tra­gedies,Ion a mo­ral Tragedy. which Aristotle calls Moral, and which this judicious Commentator de­fines thus;Remar­ques surle xix Chapi­tre de la poetique d' Aristo­te. The Moral Tragedy is a sort of Tragedy contriv'd purely for the formation of Mens manners, whose Catastrophe is al­ways happy. And in the Page immedi­ately foregoing, The Moral Tragedy (says he) treats neither of Death, Tor­ments, nor Wounds, but of the happiness of some Persons recommendable for their Virtue. Here therefore one might rea­sonably expect a perfect Model of Vir­tue, and a exact Scheme of Manners; for which reason it may seem justly to challenge our consideration.

[Page 173] Ion, Fable of Ion prece­dent to the Action. a Slip of Creusa by Apollo, is pri­vately born, and expos'd by his Mother, is taken up by Mercury and conveyed to Delphi, where he is found by the Priest­ess, and brought up in the Temple of his Father, of which he is at length made the Treasurer, or Keeper of the rich Moveables, in which Office he dis­charges his trust faithfully. Thus far the Prologue spoken by Mercury informs the Audience of the History of Ion before the Play commences.

Creusa his Mother,Fable com­mencing with the Action. having no Issue by her Husband Xuthus, repairs with him to the Oracle at Delphi, to petition for an Heir. The Husband puts up his request according to form, and is answered, that the first man he shou'd meet in his re­turn from the Altar, was his Son; this happens to be Ion, who is upon the faith of the Oracle received by him as his Son. Ion, who being a Foundling, was ignorant of his Parentage, in return joyfully acknowledges him to be his Father, and is proved of so honourable an Extraction. This enrages Creusa, who not suspecting the relation of Ion to herself, supposes him to be some by­blow of her Husbands, as Xuthus him­self [Page 174] does, but begotten before his Mar­riage to Creusa. In this rage she resolves and attempts to poyson Ion, which is discovered, and Ion in revenge pursues her life. She takes refuge at the Altar, from whence while Ion is en­deavouring to force him, the Prophetess interposes, and produces the Swathing Bands, and other things in which Ion was wrapt when found. These Creusa knows, and discovers him to be her own Son by Apollo; Minerva appears, and con­firms her Story, and advises 'em both to conceal this circumstance from Xuthus, and concludes with a sort of Epilogue, predicting the happiness of Ion, Main Condition of Moral Tra­gedy neg­lected in this. and o­ther Children, which Creusa was to have by her Husband.

If this was designed for a Moral Tra­gedy, as Monsieur Dacier thinks, and as the Contrivance of the Fable, as well as the Catastrophe seems to argue, it must be confessed that Euripides has forgot the main circumstance. For the good For­tune of those Persons, whom he makes happy in the Conclusion is not owing to their Virtue or Prudence, but to the favour of Phaebus, who had too great a Personal Interest in 'em, to suffer 'em to miscarry.

[Page 175] Creusa's Character is vitious all along,Creasa's a wicked Character. she was with Child by Apollo, and privately delivered, and to conceal her Shame, she exposes the Infant as a Prey to the Wild Beasts, as she herself confesses to her old Servant, and Confident, the Contriver and Instrument of her intended Villany afterwards.

He died a Prey to the Wild Beasts.

Here she confesses herself guilty of a Crime, that is capital in our Law, and is so far from repenting, that she en­gages immediately in the design of ano­ther of a Dye something deeper, be­cause Treachery and Violence enter the composition; in this she is active in the Murther, in the former she was only Passive. This Character can hold forth nothing of Instruction, except it teach Women, that have given up their Ho­nours, to secure their Reputations by murthering their Bastards; and furious, jealous Wives to destroy their Husbands Children and Heirs by other Women.

The Character of Ion is indeed not so criminal;Ion's Cha­racter in­different. his highest commendation is, [Page 176] that he had not imbezzled the Stores of Apollo committed to his keeping. Now, tho Faithfulness be very commendable in a Servant, yet his was never exercis'd in so superlative a way, or endur'd any such severe tryal, as might upon that score entitle him to the great Fortune and Preferment which befel him after­wards. His highest Merit was bare Ho­nesty, enough to have procur'd him a Certificate now adays upon change of Service; not to challenge any conside­rable Reward. He laid claim to no active virtues, his Innocence was his strongest Plea, and that too seems to be a little sullied at last by his too eager Prosecution of Revenge upon Creusa. A generous Heathen (without reaching the Pitch of Christian Morality) wou'd have forgiven, or slighted the Feeble Malice of a Woman, especially at that Critical Juncture, when he ought to have shewn himself worthy of his sud­den exaltation by some extraordinary act of Generosity. But his collusion at last with his Mother to cheat Xuthus is a piece of Condescension so base, as for­feits all pretence to common merit or honesty. For he that is content to hold [Page 177] his good Forrune by Trick and Impo­sture, don't deserve it.

Thus we see in this Moral Play,Of no Ser­vice to Mo­rality. of the two fortunate Persons, one is wick­ed, and ought not to be drawn into Precedent, much less to be propos'd for an Example; t'others Virtue is of so dwarfish a size, and so weakly a Consti­tution, that 'tis not very likely to pro­pagate, and by no means a proper Stan­dard to measure full grown Worth by. And therefore this Play (tho we shou'd, with Monsieur Dacier, allow it to be of the Moral kind) is like to do no great service to Morality by the Design and Management of its Fable.

Because I have mention'd the Hercules Furens, Hercules Furens compar'd with the Trachi­niae of So­phocles. I will not pass it absolutely over in Silence, tho it affords no great matter of reflection; having had occasion to take notice of the Character and Sufferings of Hercules in the Trachiniae of Sophocles. There is indeed this considerable diffe­rence to the disadvantage of this Play, in regard to the Moral, Art, and Beau­ty of it, that here the misfortunes of Hercules are wrought altogether by Ma­chine: Juno, Iris, and Lyssa or Madness (which is here supposed a Daemon) are [Page 178] all, and only concern'd in the contri­vance; whereas in Sophocles things are naturally brought about, and made the result of Jealousie and Credulity. What therefore in that is but obliquely charg'd upon the Gods, is here directly laid up­on 'em. So that, what from the last Speech of Hyllus, and the Chorus is there urg'd against the Moral of that Play, holds more strongly against this. Be­sides the atrocity of the Fact, which ex­tending here to the Lives of his Wife and Children, aggravates the guilt of Iuno, who cou'd not limit her malice to his Person, without comprehending those Innocents, who by no crime of their own cou'd have incurr'd her dis­pleasure.

These few instances may suffice to give us a true estimate of the care of Euripides, in the formation of his Fa­bles in general, in relation to the Grand or General Moral.

Aeschylus shou'd follow,Character of Aeschy­lus. who, tho first in order of time, comes naturally last into consideration, as affording very little upon this Topick. This Author seems scarce to have design'd any Moral to his Fables, or at least to have regard­ed [Page 179] it very little. His aim was wholly at the Pathetick, and he deals almost altogether in Objects of Terror; accord­ingly his Flights are frequently lofty, but generally irregular, and his Verse rumbles, and thunders almost perpetu­ally, but it usually spends itself, like a Wind-Gun, in Noise and Blast only. He sets out gloriously, launches boldly, blown up with a Tympany of Windy Hyperboles, and Buckram Metaphors; but he carries more Sail than Ballast, and his course is accordingly uneven; he is sometimes in the Clouds, and sometimes upon the Sands. In short, Aeschylus's sole Care and Ambition seems to have been (as Mr Bays has it) to elevate and surprize; in the eager pursuit of which, he has miss'd many things, which are the lasting graces of his more temperate Successors. The Ground work of his Plays are plain simple Stories, without either Plot or Moral, told only in the most pompous formidable manner the Poet cou'd invent, to strike a Pannick Terror into the Audience; and conse­quently they afford no great matter of reflection here. I shall therefore dismiss this Poet without any formal examina­tion [Page 180] to this Article, and only present the Reader with one Instance of his neg­lect of Moral, which stares me in the Face in the very first Page of his Prome­theus. Edit. Hen. Steph.

Power and Force, two Poetical Per­sons, are sent by Jupiter to assist Vulcan in the chaining Prometheus to a Rock.His Pro­metheus immoral. They begin the Prologue, and declare his crime, which was communicating the Celestial Fire to Mortals; and the reason of his Punishment, which was that he might learn to acquiesce in the administra­tion of Jove, and shake off his tenderness for Mankind.


This reason is pretty singular and ex­travagant,Jupiter a­bus'd by the Poet under the Persons of Power and Force. that a Brother Immortal shou'd be treated so inhumanely by Ju­piter, and his Fellow Gods, only for his Philanthropy, or Love to Mankind; and must needs have a very serviceable effect upon Mortals. For no doubt but Jupiter's Altars must smoak very plenti­fully, [Page 181] when Men were inform'd, that so well he stood affected towards 'em, that 'twas Capital in any of his Under-Gods to bear 'em any good will. This must needs impress upon 'em a great ve­neration for his Person, and zeal for his Service; their Gratitude must needs work over abundantly for so signal a Grace.

That this was all Prometheus's offence Vulcan assures us in his reply.The abuse back [...] [...] Vulcan. seems to have some Bowels of Commi­seration for this poor Devil of a God, and in a compas [...]sionate sort of Remon­strance tells him, that this comes of his fondness of Mankind, and thereby provo­king Jupiter, who was fierce, and implaca­ble, as all new Governours are.


This account of Iupiter seems to coun­tenance a harsher Translation, than I have given of the fore-going words [...], and to expound 'em in the scandalous sense of Tyranny, rather than of a just and equal administration of Affairs.

[Page 182] After this Prologue I suppose no good Moral will be expected from this Fable; the rest of Aeschylus's Fables are manag'd after a manner little more serviceable, for which reason I shall not tire the Reader with the examination of 'em.

After the decease of this Triumvirate of Poets,Deficiency of the Greek Tragedy. the Tragedy of Athens disap­pears. Not but they had many Trage­dians after 'em, but neither did they rise to a heighth of Reputation equal to these, nor did their works very long survive 'em that I know of. Here there­fore we lose the view of the Ancient Tragedy, for above five hundred years together.

The next sight we have of it is at Rome, Tragedy at Rome. where we find in all but ten Tra­gedies, which are all collected under the name of Seneca's, tho belonging (as ma­ny Learned men think) to several Au­thors. Of these nine are of Greek Ex­traction,Bo row'd from the Greeks. all but one taken from Plays yet remaining to us. The Medea, Hip­polytus, Troas, and Hercules Furens are taken from Plays all bearing the same names in Euripides, except the Troas, which, tho it bears the same name, yet is not upon the same argument with [Page 183] the Troades of Euripides, but is taken from the Hecuba, another Play of the same Poet. The Oedipus, and Hercules Oetaeus, are descended immediately from the Oedipus Tyrannus, and Trachiniae of Sophocles. And 'tis very probable the Thyestes is owing to the same Author, tho the Greek Original be now lost. For 'tis not only certain that Sophocles wrote three Plays which bore that name, but the Model seems to bear more resem­blance to the manner of Sophocles, than either of the other Tragedians. The Agamemnon plainly belongs to Aeschylus, as does likewise the Thebais, in right of his [...], tho the Thebais of Se­neca being imperfect, it does not so plainly appear whether he copy'd it im­mediately from thence, or at second hand from the Phaenissae of Euripides. The Octavia only is of Roman Original, its Author is uncertain. For 'tis justly suspected to belong to neither of the Seneca's.

This Author, (for Mr Collier seems to take all these Plays to be the work of one man) is censur'd and stands in some measure condemn'd, by Mr Collier, and therefore I should wave any other scru­tiny [Page 184] into his conduct, if I did not find him in some measure justified, and in a manner absolv'd upon the comparison with the Moderns.

But,Seneca the Philosopher suppos'd the Author of 'em. if we believe with those Prodi­gies of Letters, Lipsius, Joseph Scaliger, and Heinsius, and divers others very e­minent for their Learning, that we are beholding to the famous Seneca the Philo­sopher, for three at least of these Plays, the Medea, Hippolytus, and Troas, to which Farnaby adds the Oedipus, we shall be oblig'd to pay more deference or respect to 'em, and not to pass a rash and unmannerly censure upon any of the remains of so illustrious an Au­thor.

But Seneca is not at present in Mr Colli­er's favour,Seneca udjustly as­pers'd by Mr Col­lier. P. 94. he is declar'd an injudicious, licentious Poet, upon whose liberties the Modern Poets proceed; and therefore he is not to be receiv'd into Grace, till he has had the Penning of a Recantation for him If Mr Collier did believe that Se­neca the Philosopher was the Author of any of those Plays, he ought upon the merit of his other works, (by which he may at least pretend to vie with Mr Col­lier both zeal and service in the cause of [Page 185] Virtue) to have treated so excellent a Person with more respect and honour, than to have rank'd him with, and made him the Ringleader of those, whom he reckons Atheists and Buffoons. If he did not, he cou'd in Justice have done no less than set him clear of the Imputation, which by so rude and in­discreet a charge he has brought him un­der. For he cou'd not but know, that the learned Persons before-mentioned, whose Authority is of great weight a­mongst Men of Letters, had deliver'd their Opinions, that he was the Author of some of those Plays, especially the Judicious Heinsius, whom he cites, and I shou'd suppose he is well acquainted with, unless he does (which I suspect) like some Persons, that boast of their familiarity with great men, whom they have not the honour to know.

Had he known their Opinions in this matter, it had but been a becoming piece of Modesty to have laid his reasons for his dissent from 'em before his Reader; and not haughtily to have slighted their Au­thorities as not worth his notice. Or at least he ought not in good manners to have treated the Memory of that Philo­sopher [Page 126] at so scoundrel a rate. I suppose he will hardly justifie this Indignity from the misrepresentations that have been given of him. For, not to enter improperly into a dispute about the va­lidity of those Reports here, whatever his private infirmities might be, we are sure from his works, that he bent his Studies and Endeavours to the service of Morality as heartily and successfully, as some Christians who with greater helps and stronger invitations, seem to value their Services much higher, with less reason.

However Seneca, Seneca careless of Poetick Ju­stice. tho he cannot with­out extream injury be accus'd of Writing for the encouragement of Debauchery, has been very careless of Poetick Justice in winding up his Fables. Phaedra in the Hippolytus, and Lycus in the Hercules Furens are only the Malefactors that are brought to condign Punishment. For, as for Oedipus, we have had occasion already to clear him from the Aspersion of Guilt, tho his Misfortunes are the most notorious, and his Calamities the most deplorable of any upon the An­tient Stage.Ajax and Oileus. Ajax Oileus, whom Mr. Collier produces as the only instance of [Page 187] this kind,An impro­per instance of it. is indeed none. For he is no Person of the Drama, nor has his Fate any influence upon the success of the Action either way. He is only men­tion'd by Eurybates, in the relation which he makes of the Voyage of the Greeks from Troy, to encrease the hor­ror of that Storm, of which he was then giving a description; which is no more to the business of the Play, than 'twou'd have been, if Mr Congreve in his Mourning Bride shou'd have taken occasion from the Wreck of his Hero on the same Seas, to have brought in the Storm that cast away the Turkey Fleet, and describ'd the manner of Sir Francis Wheeler's Wreck.

But if Seneca has been remiss upon this Article he sins at least by Precedent,Seneca li­mited by Precedent. and may plead in his Justification, that he leaves the Story generally no worse than he found it. He built, as we have already observ'd, upon other mens bot­toms, and cou'd not make any great al­terations in the Foundations they had laid, without endangering the super­structure. Aristotle observes, in favour of the Poets of, or near his time, that taking the Fables of their Plays from [Page 188] Stories vulgarly known either from Hi­story, or the works of some precedent Poet, they had not the liberty of rece­ding so far from the receiv'd Tradition in the Contrivance, and disposition of their Fables, as was frequently requir'd to the forming a just and truly artificial Model. This may be urg'd with more justice in defence of Seneca, who, taking his. Models from Authors of great repu­tation, wou'd have been thought guilty of a high piece of Presumption, if he had varied too much from Originals so well known and received. Besides, had he chang'd the Fortune of his Principal Persons he had effac'd the Images of 'em, which had been impress'd upon the Au­dience, who wou'd not have own'd, or acknowledg'd 'em for the persons they pretended to represent, who were best, or perhaps only by those marks to be distinguish'd.

However,Hippoly­tus of Se­neca exa­mined. it must be granted, that in his Hippolytus, wherein he has ventur'd to deviate a little from the Original, he has done it very judiciously, and very much to the advantage of the Moral; the application of which he has there­by render'd not only more easie and na­tural, [Page 189] but it self likewise more useful, and instructive. In Euripides the Gods do all. His Persons move like Puppets by wires; Venus contrives and acts all. Phedra's a meer Machine, a passive Ve­hicle, that serves purely for the more cleanly conveyance of the Goddesses ma­lice. The unraveling likewise is perform'd by Machine, Pallas descends to clear the Innocence of Hippolytus, and accuses Venus. In short, the Action is all forc'd and unnatural, and of consequence, the Moral, if any, must be strain'd.

Seneca has artfully avoided these in­conveniences,More arti­ficial than the Hip­polytus of Euripides. by making the incestuous Love of Phaedra spring from her own Infirmity, and the death of Hippolytus, the effect of her Revenge of his Scorn­fully rejecting her Passion, and her fear of his making a discovery of her Infamy to his Father. Her punishment by this means becomes just, which was not so in the Greek, and her Rage, Despair, Confession and Death, are the natural result of her Guilt and Folly.The Moral. From the unhappy Catastrophe of this Lady,, matter of fair Instruction may be drawn to check such licentious Flames in their first Birth, which if indulg'd draw af­ter 'em such fatal consequences. And [Page 190] from the rash misplac'd imprecation of Theseus, Parents may be caution'd a­gainst too easie a credulity in such ex­traordinary cases, and to guard against such violences of Passion, as may ex­tort Curses from 'em, that may return upon their own Heads, and involve themselves in the conclusion.

This Plot, as it stands in Seneca, is one of the neatest of Antiquity, and had the Author taken care to disencourage himself as happily from Neptune, as he has from Venus and Minerva, I see no­thing inartificial in the disposition of it. But Neptune performing his part ex­tra Scenam, this fault is the more par­donable, especially since 'tis originally the oversight of Euripides.

The rest of this Author's Plays vary­ing little or nothing in the Fable from the Greek Originals,The rest chose Copies from the Greek. (those I mean, that we know, for the Thyestes of Sophocles is lost) whatever the faults of 'em may be in that respect, the Latin Author is not so properly accountable for 'em. The Octavia, Octavia illcontriv'd and insipid. being the only Tragedy of Ro­man Stock that remains to us, seems to challenge upon that Score some regard, whosoever was the Author of it. But [Page 191] being rather a relation by way of Dia­logue between the several Parties con­cerned of an unjust Tyrannick Action, in which there is neither Plot, Turn, Moral, nor Consequence, it wou'd be time lost to bestow an Examination upon it here.

Having thus run through the Trage­dies of Antiquity, perhaps something more minutely, than may be thought requisite upon this Article, I shall not make many reflections upon the whole, but leave 'em to the further consideration of the Reader, after a Remark or two, concerning the Practice of the Ancients in general, in this respect.

It is observable,General Reflections on the An­cient Tra­gedy. that the Ancients in the disposition of their Fables, seem to have had such very little regard to the Moral of 'em, they contented them­selves with delivering their Instructions in wise sayings, scatter'd here and there up and down the Dialogue, or at the close of all; and only sought in their Fables matter and occasion of moving the Passions, which was generally done by way of Narration; to which end they furnish'd out their Dialogue with all the Force, Pomp, and Terrour of [Page 192] Expression they could, in which how well they have succceded, is not to the present purpose to take notice.

Aristotle had,Aristotle's division of Tragedy. no doubt, this practice of theirs in view, when he divided Tra­gedy into Moral and Pathetick. By this Division of Tragedy (ratione Subjecti) Aristotle plainly indicates, not only that the Subjects of the Ancient Tragedy were not all Moral, but likewise that it was not necessary, that they should be so. He instances in the Phthiotides, and Peleus, two Tragedies that are lost, as ex­amples of the Moral kind; and besides this mention of 'em, I do not remember any notice that he has taken of this sort of Tragedy. For all his Rules seem to be calculated for the service of the Pa­thetick and Implex kinds.

From this silence of Aristotle, Moral Plays not much encouraged at Athens. and the scarcity of 'em amongst the remains of the Greek Tragedy, we may reasonably collect, that this sort of Tragedy was not much in use amongst the Ancients themselves. For of all the Pieces of Antiquity the Alcestis of Euripides a­lone in my opinion deserves the name of a Moral Tragedy. In this Play both Admetus, and his Wife Alcestis are Per­sons [Page 193] of strict Probity, and great Piety. Alcestis out of a singular Piety, offers her self to Death a voluntary Sacrifice, in lieu of her Husband. In the depth of Admetus's grief while his Wife was yet in the House, and the rites of Fune­ral unperform'd, comes Hercules, who observing the Family to be in Mourning, desires to be excus'd from troubling his House at so unseasonable a time. Ad­metus, unwilling to turn away such a Guest, dissembles the real cause of his Grief, and receives him nobly, but Her­cules enquiring, and being inform'd of the Truth of Admetus's loss, combats Death, recovers Alcestis, and restores her to her Husband.

The Fable of this Play is truly Moral. Alcestis of Euripides a Moral Tragedy. Alcestis first by her Piety redeems her Husband from Death; and Admetus af­terwards by his Generosity and Hospita­lity, by means of Hercules, rescues her from the Grave. Thus they recipro­cally owe their lives to each others Vir­tue. But if this Play be remarkably Moral, it is on the other hand mon­strously unnatural, and consequently on that account is incapable of affording any extraordinary Pleasure, or Improve­ment. [Page 194] This probably might be the reason, why this sort of Tragedy was so little in request.

From the whole it appears,Antients careless of the Gene­ral Moral of the Plays. that the Antients were not so careful of their Models, as Mr Collier pretends; but were on the contrary extremely negli­gent of the Moral in the Fables of their Tragedies. So that if one or two do afford a tolerable one, we may con­clude by the slight notice they take of it, that they did not see it, or but casually found it there, rather than industriously sought it; and that we are more behold­ing to their luck, than Judgment or good Intentions for 'em. I grant this way of arguing not to be demonstrative, but it is not therefore unconclusive. For since the sense of the Antients, is not any where (that I know of) delivered in express terms concerning this matter, I take their Practice, backt by the Au­thority of Aristotle, to be a sufficient warrant for any conclusions, that shall be drawn naturally from 'em.Consequence of Mr Col­lier's loose way of Wri­ting.

But if I wou'd indulge my self in the Liberties of Mr. Collier, and charge the Antiens at that loose rate, that he does the English Dramatick Poets, I might [Page 195] not only tax 'em with negligence of their Morals, but with maliciously dis­couraging Vertue, and industriously promoting Villany, and Impiety. Nor wou'd the Poets suffer alone, all the great Men of Antiquity, that have com­mended their works, must share both the Guilt, and the Sentence; and Aristotle above the rest wou'd be even capitally criminal, his Art of Poetry is an inexhau­stible Spring of Corruption, an ever­lasting Source of Infection, that has diffus'd its Venome over the whole World, and poison'd Mankind almost universally with Villany, Impiety, Lewd­ness, and Debauchery, of all kinds, for above sixteen hundred years together. This wou'd be high Treason among the Admirers of the Antients, yet 'tis no­thing to one of Mr Collier's declamatory Rants, when he is in one of his Rhetori­cal Fits, and about to dress up a Cha­racter for Aristophanes, or any of the English Poets. After this disingenuous rate 'twere easie to turn the Satyr upon Ages long since past, and railly in his own words, those whom he himself recommends to the Imitation of our present Writers. An instance of this [Page 196] kind mayn't be amiss to shew how easie 'tis to misrepresent the fairest intentions, and to improve Peccadillo's into Crimes of the blackest Dye, to make a hellish Plot of an oversight, and plunge Men over head and ears in Brimstone, for Hu­mane infirmities.

'Tis a Jest, Turn'd up­on the An­cients. that the Antients wou'd make us believe, that their design was Virtue and Reformation. In good time! They are likely to combat Vice with Success, P. 286. who destroy the Principles of Good and Evil. Wou'd Euripides perswade us that his aim is Virtuous, and his design Moral? Why then does he make choice of means so disproportionate to the end he pretends to drive at? Why is Vice represented successful, and Villany triumphant, but to encourage Men to the Practice of it? Why is Medea, the betrayer of her Father, and Country, a Poysoner, a Sorceress, and a Mur­therer, one that had run thro the whole compass, and measur'd all the Paces of Villany, suffer'd to make her escape? Or if she must not be punish'd, why are the Gods engaged in the matter, and she taken into the care of Providence, and furnished with means of Escape at [Page 197] the expence of a Miracle? Why are Orestes and Electra, Parricides, taken im­mediately into the Protection of Heaven, under Despondency, and the lashes of a guilty Conscience? Why are they en­courag'd to bear up against the con­victions of their own minds, and pro­mis [...]d prosperity from Heaven? Why is Hippolytus maliciously persecuted, and no less then two Deities employ'd in his ruine, only for being chaste by vow? unless it be to shew us, that the World has been mistaken in its notions of Pro­vidence, that wickedness is meritorious, and Innocence a Crime, that Virtue, and Vice, of which the Philosophers prate so much, are but the Whimseys of Hypocon­driacks, the Dreams of speculative En­thusiasts. Are these the Socratick Dia­logues, and this the result of the Philo­sophers Lectures? Is this the Admirer of Socrates, that was reciprocally so admir'd by him, that he cou'd sit whole days with Patience at the recital of his Plays? If we may judge of one by the other, the Scholar was an Atheist, and his Master little better. Why else did he not reprove him for his blasphemous Fictions, and making the Gods the Actors, and Patrons of Villany, and re­prehend [Page 198] him for mistaking the notions of Providence, confounding the Ideas of Virtue and Vice, and subverting the Maxims of Morality?

Thus we see at this rate of declaim­ing not only Euripides, Socrates by this means con­demned. who affected Philosophy a little too much in his Poems, but even Socrates himself, the Boast of Antiquity, and the Glory of the Heathen World stands condemn'd, as an Abettour of Murther, Incest, and Blasphemy. Let us see whether Aeschy­lus or Sophocles can acquit themselves any better.

If Aeschylus had taken due care of his designs,Aeschylus arraign'd by Mr Col­lier's Pre­cedent. and built only upon Models of Virtue, we had never heard of his Prometheus. This Poet strikes at the Root of all Moral Virtue. He scorns to trifle, and pluck it down piece-meal, but blows it up all toge­ther. Philanthropy, or Charity is the Ground and Foundation of all Morality. This in the Prometheus is made a Crime, and a God sentenc'd to perpetual Punishment for his love to Mankind, which is all that is objected to him. This must needs create in Mankind a great Veneration, and impress a suitable [Page 199] Reverence for the Gods, who are so very tender of 'em, in return for their oblations, that 'tis high Treason to bear 'em any good Will. No doubt. but Religion must shoot, and flourish mighti­ly under such a hopeful Prospect of Re­ward.

Sophocles has been altogether as care­ful of Religion in his Philoctetes. Sophocles That Spark, with his Carcass rotten, and full of aches and ulcers, hectors the Gods at a strange rate, and they think it worth their while to cajole him into their ser­vice. Hercules is sent to make him a fine Speech, and large promises to in­vite him to obedience, and allure him over to their Party. Oedipus is made Virtuous, Just, and Wise, but unhappy thro a Fatality, against which his Virtue is no security; Justice re­quires that he shou'd be rewarded and encouraged, but Providence will have him afflicted, and punisht with extre­mity of Rigour.

Can any thing be more disserviceable to Probity and Religion, than these Examples of Injustice, Oppression, and Cowardice in their Gods? They cherish those Passions,P. 28 [...]. and reward those Vices, [Page 200] which 'tis the business of Reason to dis­countenance. They strike at the root of Principle, and draw off the Inclinations from Virtue, and spoil good Education: They are the most effectual means to baffle Discipline, to emasculate people's Sprits, and debauch their Manners. How many of the unwary have these Syrens devour­ed? And how often has the best blood been tainted with this Infection? What disappointments of Parents, what Con­fusion in Families, and what Beggary in Estates have been hence occasioned: And which is still worse, the Mischief spreads, and the Malignity grows more envenom'd. The Fever works up towards Madness, and will scarce endure to be touch'd.

I doubt not but the sober admirers of the Greek Tragedy will think that the fumes of Mr Collier's stumm'd Rant are got into my Head,Extrava­gance of this way of de­claiming. and work me out of my Wits. And had he so far de­bauch'd my Judgment, as to make this my serious Opinion, I wou'd grant, that he and I were only fit to lead a Col­lony to settle atAn Island famous for plenty of Helle­bore, used in the cure of Madness. Anticyra, and dyet upon Hellebore. But tho I have no such lewd thoughts of the great Men of An­tiquity, [Page 201] yet so far I shall presume to ven­ture, (without trespassing against Mo­desty, or breaking rudely in upon the harmonious Judgment of the Learned for a long Succession of Ages) as to say, that Mr Collier's unreasonable Satyr comes as full upon the Antients whom he admires and commends, as upon the Moderns, whom he vilifies and con­demns.

The Modern Tragedy is a Feild large enough for us to lose our selves in, and therefore I shall not take the Liberty of ranging thro 'em at large, but for the most part confine my self to such as Mr Collier has already attackt. Upon presumption therefore that these are the weakest, if these can be defended, the rest I suppose may hold out of them­selves.

I shall begin with Shakespear, whom notwithstanding the severity of Mr Rhimer, Shake­spear pre­ferr'd to all the rest of the English Dramatics. and the hard usage of Mr Col­lier, I must still think the Proto-Drama­tist of England, tho he fell short of the Art of Johnson, and the Conversation of Beaumont and Fletcher. Upon that account he wants many of their Graces, [Page 202] yet his Beauties make large amends for his Defects, and Nature has richly pro­vided him with the materials, tho his unkind Fortune denied him the Art of managing them to the best Advan­tage.

His Hamlet, Censure of Hamlet unjust. a Play of the first rate, has the misfortune to fall under Mr Collier's displeasure; and Ophelia who has had the luck hitherto to keep her reputation, is at last censur'd for Lightness in her Frenzy; nay, Mr Collier is so familiar with her, as to make an unkind discovery of the unsavouriness of her Breath, which no Body suspected before. But it may be this is a groundless surmise, and Mr Collier is deceived by a bad Nose, or a rotten Tooth of his own; and then he is obliged to beg the Poets and the La­dies pardon for the wrong he has done 'em; But that will fall more naturally under our consideration in another place.

Hamlet King of Denmark was pri­vately murther'd by his Brother,Fable of Hamlet, before the commence­ment of the Action. who immediately thereupon marry'd the Dowager, and supplanted his Nephew in the Succession to the Crown. Thus far before the proper action of the Play.

[Page 203] The late Kings Ghost appears to his Son young Hamlet, Fable after the Action commences. and declares how and by whom he was murther'd, and en­gages him to revenge it. Hamlet here­upon grows very much discontented, and the King very jealous of him. Hereupon he is dispatched with Am­bassadors to England, then supposed Tributary to Denmark, whither a secret Commission to put him to Death, is sent by 'em: Which Hamlet discover­ing writes a new Commission, in which he inserts the names of the Ambassadors instead of his own. After this a Pirate engaging their Vessel, and Hamlet too eagerly boarding her is carried off, and set ashore in Denmark again. The Am­bassadors not suspecting Hamlet's Trick, pursue their Voyage, and are caught in their own Trap. Polonius, a Coun­cellour to the King, conveying himself as a Spy behind the Hangings, at an en­terview between Hamlei and his Mother, is mistaken for the King, and killed by him. Laertes his Son, together with the King contrive the Death of Hamlet by a sham Match at Foyls, wherein Laertes uses a poyson'd unrebated Weapon. The King, not trusting to this single Trea­chery, [Page 204] prepares a poysoned Bowl for Hamlet, which the Queen ignorantly drinks. Hamlet is too hard for Laertes, and closes with him, and recovers the envenom'd weapon from him, but in so doing, he is hurt by, and hurts him with it. Laertes perceiving himself wounded, and knowing it to be mortal, confesses that it was a train laid by the King for Hamlet's Life, and that the foul Practice is justly turn'd upon himself. The Queen at the same times cries out, that she is poysoned, whereupon Hamlet wounds the King with the envenom'd weapon. They all die.

Whatever defects the Criticks may find in this Fable,Poetick Ju­stice exact­ly observed in this Play. the Moral of it is ex­cellent. Here was a Murther privately committed, strangely discover'd, and wonderfully punish'd. Nothing in An­tiquity can rival this Plot for the admi­rable distribution of Poetick Justice. The Criminals are not only brought to execu­tion, but they are taken in their own Toyls, their own Stratagems recoyl upon 'em, and they are involv'd them­selves in that mischief and ruine, which they had projected for Hamlet. Polonius by playing the Spy meets a Fate, which [Page 205] was neither expected by, nor intended for him. Guildenstern and Rosencraus, the Kings Decoys, are counterplotted, and sent to meet that fate, to which they were trepanning the Prince. The Tyrant himself falls by his own Plot, and by the hand of the Son of that Bro­ther, whom he had murther'd. Laertes suffers by his own Treachery, and dies by a Weapon of his own preparing. Thus every one's crime naturally pro­duces his Punishment, and every one (the Tyrant excepted) commences a Wretch almost as soon as a Villain.

The Moral of all this is very obvious, Moral of Hamlet. it shews us, That the Greatness of the Of­fender does not qualifie the Offence, and that no Humane Power, or Policy are a suf­ficent Guard against the Impartial Hand, and Eye of Providence, which defeats their wicked purposes, and turns their dangerous Machinations upon their own heads. This Moral Hamlet himself insinuates to us, when he tells Horatio, that he ow'd the Discovery of the Design against his Life in England, to a rash indiscreet curiosity, and thence makes this Infe­rence.

[Page 206]
Our Indiscretion sometimes serves as well,
When our dear Plots do fail, and that shou'd teach us.
There's a Divinity, that shapes our ends,
Rough hew 'em how we will.

The Tragedies of this Author in gene­ral are Moral and Instructive,Tragedies of this Author generally moral. and many of 'em such, as the best of Antiquity can't equal in that respect. His King Lear, Timon of Athens, Macbeth, and some others are so remarkable upon that score, that 'twou'd be imperti­nent to trouble the Reader with a mi­nute examination of Plays so generally known and approved.

The other Tragedies upon which Mr Collier lets his indignation fall so heavy, are so recent, and so common in the hands of every Play Reader, that 'tis al­most an affront to their memories to trouble 'em with too particular a Reca­pitulation. But since we have oblig'd our selves to make good the Comparative in­nocence of the Moderns by instances upon the Parallel, Mr Collier can never desire fairer Play, than for us to under­take the defence of those very Plays, [Page 207] which he himself has markt out, and assigned us; of which the next in order is the Orphan, against which he enters the Lists as the Chaplains Champion, in whose Quarrel and upon whose account he is most implacably enraged.

The Model of this Play is something like that of Oedipus, The Or­phan. except that in this the crime of Polydore, being voluntary, his guilt is real, and by conse­quence Poetick Justice is observ'd in his punishment, which is just. In this Tragedy likewise Acasto, Castalio, and Monimia are innocent, virtuous Cha­racters, and their misfortunes unde­serv'd, which made 'em naturally objects of Pity and Commiseration. The fatal consequences of Polydore's in­temperate lust, and base rash action, afford matter of Terrour and Example. This Play is exactly constituted accord­ing to Aristotle, who requires only that Tragedy shou'd move Terrour and Compassion, which are the proper Springs, by which it works upon the Audience.The Moral good. In this it excells the Fable of the Oedipus, that it bears naturally a good Moral, and in the wretched Catastrophe of Polydore, and the miseries [Page 208] which his incontinence brought upon his Family, preaches Chastity to the Audience after the most effectual man­ner.

But Mr Collier's in the humour now,Mr Colli­er's Zeal for the Pa­gan Priest­hood inju­rious to the Christian Ministry. and he scorns to circumscribe his kind­ness to the limits of the Christian Priest­hood, whether Orthodox, or Hetero­dox. For even the Mufti is allowed the benefit of his Clergy, and shares his Patronage. He is furiously provok'd at Mr Dryden for saying that Priests of all Religions are the same, when he himself at the same time makes no distinction, but treats the Priests of God Almighty, Mahomet and Anubis with the same respect. He is for strengthening his Party, and contracting an Alliance with all Faiths and Complexions; he ransacks Europe, Asia, and Africa, and enters into a religious League offensive and defensive with Sun-burnt Africans, and Monsters of the Nile. To this end, he labours hard to find out some relation between the Mufti and the Bishops, and very dutifully strains to extend the scan­dal from Africk to England, that what is said of their Arch-Priest may reflect upon our Prelates. The most bigotted [Page 209] Mussulman of 'em all cou'd not have acted more for the service of their Priests, than to have shifted the re­proach from them to ours. But I hope there is no such Sympathy between 'em (as Mr Collier injuriously fancies) and that to break the Mufti's wou'd not make our Bishops Heads ach, or his black and blue be seen in their Faces. Those worthy great Men, who are the honour of both our Church and Nation, have little reason to thank him for en­deavouring to ally 'em to those, that must of necessity, putting the mildest construction upon their actions, be either gross Fools or rank Knaves; Fools if they believe, and Knaves if they help on the cheat and imposture of Mahomet without believing. Thus Mr Collier puts a grosser affront upon our Religion and Clergy, than any Mr Dry­den has done, and his reproof deserves a severer correction, than t'others fault. This perhaps is a liberty too great to be indulg'd in any one but Mr Collier's dear self, and therefore to chastize Mr Dry­den's Presumption and Insolence for but seeming to invade his fancied Proper­ty, he falls most outrageously upon his Don Sebastian.

[Page 210] The Subject of this Play bears a very Religious Moral, Don Se­bastian a Religious Play. and consonant to the Tenour of the 2d Commandment shews, that the Punishment of Mens crimes, shall extend not only to their own per­sons, but if unrepented shall reach their Posterity likewise. In this Fable Muley Moloch, a Tyrant and an Usurper, Benducar a crafty Villain and a Traytor, the Mufti a rascally Hypocrite and a Traytor. These three therefore are justly reward­ed for their own proper Demerits. The Tyrant falls by Treachery, the treacherous Minister by publick Justice, and the Hypocrite is unmaskt, depos'd, and his Estate confiscated. Sebastian and Almeyda are Characters of extraor­dinary Virtue, Sebastian appears just and brave, and Almeyda chaste and constant to an Heroick Pitch. Their offence was involuntary, and a Sin of Ignorance, the unhappy consequence of the transgressi­on of their Parents, and their Punishment is proportion'd very well to the nature of their Trespass. For tho Incest be a Sin of a very black Dye, yet their Ignorance of the nearness of their Blood washes away their Guilt, and makes it their misfortune, not their Crime. In this [Page 211] case a bare Separation wou'd be a suffi­cient Justification of their Innocence. But a Judgment hanging over their heads for the sin of their Parents, to di­vert that something more mortifying was necessary, and therefore a voluntary abdication, exile, and a recluse religious Life are thrown in by way of Pennance to make weight, and give the attone­ment its due complement. But lest the true Moral shou'd escape the Audience, the Poet has taken care to fix, and summ it up in the four concluding Lines

Let Sebastian and Almeyda's Fate
This dreadful Sentence to the World relate,
That unrepented crimes of Parents dead,
Are justly punish'd on their Childrens heads.

This Moral needs no defence, and wou'd plead successfully for its Author, and excuse many little Slips before any Judge less partially severe than Mr Col­lier.

The Cleomenes of the same Author stands indicted upon the same score,Reason of Mr Col­lier's [...]ua [...] ­rel to the Cleome­nes. that is, for being to free with the Priests [Page 212] of Apis. For tho that been't the only Allegation against this Play, 'tis appa­rently the sole ground. Thus Mr Collier as well as Mr Dryden, sets Priests of all Religions upon the same Foot. So they be but Priests, 'tis no matter to whom, he expects they shou'd be re­spected and reverenc'd; the compli­ment must be paid to their Livery, whether it be Christs or the Devils. Else why are the Mufti, and the Priests of Apis so much his Concern? Why all this heat in the cause of Infidels and Idolaters, and those none of the simple deluded Rout, but the Arch Jugglers, and Managers of the Cheat.

In this Play he has forgot,Mor [...]l wanting to the Cleo­menes. or over­look'd his greatest advantage, which is the want of Moral. His Passion had got the upperhand of his Judgement, and push'd him head­long on to the attack, no matter where. In this Play Poetick Justice is altogether neglected, Virtue is every where de­prested, and calamitous, and falls at last unreveng'd in the ruine of Cleomenes, Pantheus, Cleanthes, Cleonidas, Cratisiclea, and Cleora. Vice revels all along, and [Page 213] triumps at length in the persons of Ptolomy, Casandra, and Sosybins. The Fidelity of Cleomenes to his Nuptial Vows is the destruction of himself and all his Friends, while the Luxury of Ptolomy, the Wantonness and Infidelity of Casandra, and the Treachery of So­sybius, insult in security unfortunate Virtue.

'Tis true,M [...]al [...] ference. Sosybius in the close seems to become a Convert, and pretends to pay extraordinary honours to the Body of the dead Hero. From whence we may draw this inference, That Virtue has its altars tho neglected, even in the most profligate Breasts, and that the most inve­terate of its Enemies will confess its Charms, when they no longer dread its power.

Mr Dryden has confin'd himself a little too near the Story,The Poet too faithful to the Hi­story. had he ass [...]rted his right, and taken the Liberty of a Poet, he might have improv'd the Mo­ral very much by sending Sosybius, Ca­sandra, and Ptolomy to attend Cleomenes to the other World. For (with Sub­mission to Mr Dryden's better Judgment) I see no necessity for letting the Curtain fall so immediately upon the Death [Page 214] of Cleomenes. The fall of his Hero ought to have drawn after it a train of Consequence fatal to the Contrivers of it; the ruines of a Hero of his size and weight ought to have crush'd those fee­ble Aegyptians. Had the rage and despair, that might naturally be sup­posed in a Woman of Cassandra's furious temper, upon the disappointment of her licentious ungovernable Flame, been wrought up to the destruction of Sosy­bius and herself, Magas might have made his appearance in Person, to have finish'd the business, and dispatch'd Pto­lomy. All this might have been done with­out unnaturally stretching, or making the action double. By this means Treachery, Lust, Infidelity, Luxury, Cowardice, and Cruelty, had all met their due re­ward. But the Poet by tracking too closely the Steps of the Historian has lost the Moral, which, had he been guided by, and depended absolutely upon his own Judgment, we had no doubt been indebted to him for.

The next and last Tragedy I shall instance in is the Mourning Bride. Mourning Bride. I have had occasion already to say some­thing of the Observation of Poetick [Page 215] Justice in this Play, but this being the proper place, I shall take it a lit­tle more particularly into consideration.

The Fable of this Play is one of the most just,Fable very just and re­gular. and regular that the Stage, either Antient or Modern, can boast of. I mean, for the distribution of Rewards, and Punishments. For no virtuous person misses his Recompence, and no viti­ous one escapes Vengeance. Manuel in the prosecution and exercise of his Cruelty and Tyranny, is taken in a Trap of his own laying, and falls him­self a Sacrifice in the room of him, whom he in his rage had devoted. Gonsalez villanous cunning returns upon his own head, and makes him by mi­stake kill the King his Master, and in that cut off, not only all his hopes, but his only Prop and Support, and make sure of his own Destruction. Alonzo, his Creature and Instrument, acts by his instructions, and shares his Fate. Za­ra's furious Temper and impetuous un­governable Passion, urge her to fre­quent violences, and conclude at last in a fatal mistake. Thus every one's own Wickedness or Miscarriage deter­mines his Fate, without shedding any [Page 216] Malignity upon the Persons and For­tunes of others. Alphonso in reward of his Virtue receives the Crowns of Valentia and Granada, and is happy in his Love; all which he acknowledges to be the Gift of Providence, which protects the Innocent, and rewards the Virtuous. Almeria, whose Virtues are much of the same kind, and who Sym­pathiz'd with him in his afflictions, becomes a joynt Partner of his Happi­ness. And Garcia, tho a Servant of the Tyrant, and Son of the treacherous, ambitious Statesman, yet executing on­ly his Soveraigns lawful Commands, and being untainted with his Fathers guilt, and his Principles undebauch'd, is receiv'd into Alphonso's favour.

All this as well as the Moral is summ'd up so fully,Moral ex­cellent. and so concisely in Alphon­so's last speech, that 'twere injustice not to give it in the Poets own words.

(To Alm.)
Thy Father fell, where he de­sign'd my Death.
Gonsalez and Alonzo, both of Wounds
Expiring, have with their last Breath Confest
[Page 217] The just Decrees of Heaven, in turning on
Themselves their own most bloody Pur­poses,
To Garcia—
O Garcia
Seest thou, how just the hand of Hea­ven has been?
Let us, that thro our Innocence survive,
Still in the Paths of Honour persevere,
And not for past, or present ills despair:
For Blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds;
And tho a late, a sure Reward suc­ceeds.

These I think are all the English Tragedies, which Mr Collier has by name excepted against. Taking there­fore our View of the Modern Tragedy from that quarter, which he has alotted to draw a Prospect of it in, I shall leave it to the Reader to judge, whe­ther have raised the more beautiful structures. But if we can with these Forces, which our Enemies have raised for us, make head, and maintain our ground against the united strength of all Antiquity, what might have been done, had we had the lasting, and si­zing 'em our selves.

[Page 218] I shall only take notice of two orAdvantages of the Mo­derns over the Anti­ents in the Morals of their Fa­bles. Providence not em­ployed to promote Vil­lany. three things which are apparently the indisputable advantage of the Moderns over the Antients, in respect of the Ge­neral Moral of their Fables.

1st, That they never are at the ex­pence of a Machine to bring about a wicked Design, and by consequence don't interest Providence in promoting Villany; as the Antients have noto­riously done in many of their Plays; of which number are the Electra of Sophocles; the Electra, Orestes, Hippoly­tus, Ion, and others of Euripides, and the Thyestes of Seneca.

2dly,Nor to op­press Vir­tue. That they never engage Provi­dence to afflict and oppress Virtue, by distressing it by supernatural means, as the Antients have manifestly done, by ma­king their Gods the immediate Actors in or directors of the misfortunes of virtu­ous persons, as in the Prometheus in Chains of Aeschylus, the Oedipus of Sophocles, the Hippolytus and Hercules furens of Euri­pides, the Oedipus and Hercules furens of Seneca, and divers others of Antiquity.

3dly,Nor to pro­tect Male­factors. That their Malefactors are ge­nerally punished, which those of the Antients seldom were; but if they es­cape [Page 219] the Moderns don't provide 'em with a miraculous delivery, or have recourse to such extraordinary Methods as exceed the reach of Humane Force or Cunning, so as to entitle Providence to the Protection of 'em, which was the fre­quent Practice of the Antients; as in the Electra of Sophocles; the Medea, the Orestes, the Electra, and others of Euripides; Modern Poets more Religious than the Antients. the Medea of Seneca, &c.

From this short review of the diffe­rent conduct of the Antient and Modern Tragedians, we may see with how much more respect to Providence, and the Di­vine administration, our Poets have be­haved themselves, than they; and how far the Ballance of Religion inclines to our side. I suppose no one can be so silly, as to think, that I argue here for the truth of their Faith, but the mea­sure of it in their respective perswasions, in which the advantage is infinitely on the side of the English Stage.

The Fable of every Play is undoubt­edly the Authors own,The Fable of the Poets disposal. Characters and Ex­pressions not so. whencesoever he takes the Story, and he may model it as he pleases. The Characters are not so; the Poet is obliged to take 'em from Nature, and to copy as close af­ter her, as he is able. The [...] [Page 220] be said for the Thoughts and Expressions, they must be suited to the Mouth and Character of the Person that speaks 'em, not the Poet's. It is not what is right or wrong in the Poet's Judgment, but what is natural, or unnatural for a Per­son of such a Character upon such an occasion to say, which he is to consider, and for which he is accountable only, as well by the rules of Moral as Poetical Justice. When therefore we find any thing in Plays that sounds amiss, we must examine whether it be proper to the Character or not, before we con­demn the Poet, whom we may other­wise arraign as Mal a propos, as a Judge wou'd the Kings Evidence, if he shou'd prefer an Indictment against 'em for speaking Treason in their Depositi­ons.

The Fable therefore being the main spring of the Machine in Tragedy,The Fable if any, the Evidence of the Poets [...]nion. and the Poet's own proper Workmanship [...] 'tis by the temper and disposition of that, that we are to feel the Poets Pulse, and find out his secret affections. Not but that we may err sometimes in our Judgments of the Poet's Morals o [...] other hand. For 'tis possible, that the [Page 221] Poet's Morals may be very good, yet the Man's stark naught, that is, that a man may be a good Moral Poet, yet a bad Man. So on the other hand we may falsly measure his Manners by his management, and impute to Malice and Design those faults, which flow from want of Judgment or Indiscretion. This is hard measure, but such as Mr Collier has been very liberal of to the Poets. It wou'd be a very uncharitable Error, shou'd we at any time hear the sacred mysteries of our Faith poorly explained, or weakly defended out of the Pulpit, if we shou'd conclude, that the Preacher played booty and betrayed the cause he pretended to plead for: And I doubt it wou'd fall heavy upon many, that now pass for honest and good Christi­ans, I hope with justice, if their Faith were to be measured by their Perfor­mance, and their Integrity by their parts. But it wou'd be much more unjust toMr Col­lier's a false, and perverse Measure. rate all the rest of their order by the de­ficient Standard of a few. Yet thus Mr Collier proceeds against those, to whom he thinks fit to oppose himself. And yet even thus they wou'd not have much occasion to fear his malice, if he [Page 222] wou'd proceed against 'em the proper way, and not charge as their private and real sense, the Sentiments, which they are obliged sometimes to furnish Villains and Extravagants with in con­formity to their Characters, while he denies 'em the benefit of those many excellent and pious Reflections a­bounding in their works.

Certainly had our Poets any such lewd Design of confounding the Distincti­ons between Truth and Fiction, The Fable the Engine of greatest and most secret Exe­cution upon the Audi­ence. P. 95. between Majesty and a Pageant; of treating God like an Idol, and bantering, the Scriptures like Homer's Elysium and Hesiod's Theo­gonia, it wou'd appear in the Fable, which is the part, as we have observ'd, that discovers most of the Poets proper Opinion, and gives him the fairest op­portunity of stealing it artificially in, and poys'ning the Audience most ef­fectually with least Suspicion. For tho the Fable, if skilfully contriv'd, be the Part which operates most powerfully, yet it works after a manner least sensi­ble. We feel the effects without suspect­ing the cause, and are prejudiced with­out looking after a reason. If the Poets have any such villanous Plot against [Page 223] Virtue and Religion, they are certainly the most negligent Fellows, or the most unexperienced in the world to overlook the only place of advantage upon the whole Stage for their mischievous pur­pose, where they might work their Mines unmolested, and spring 'em un­discover'd to most, and do the greatest execution with the least alarm to the Enemy. But they make War like Dutch­men, and sell their Enemies Ammunition to spend upon themselves. For all their Fables are contriv'd and modell'd for the service of Virtue and Religion, and levell'd against themselves, if they be such great Enemies, and so remarkably disaffected, as Mr Collier says they are. But perhaps he may, either thro mi­stake or malice, misrepresent the mat­ter; and what was scoffingly said by the Turks to the Poles, may be serious­ly applied to the case before us by both Parties, that they did not know of any War betwixt 'em.

From the management of the Fables of our Poets,Not abused to any ill end by our Poets. which, being the Princi­pal, and most Efficacious part of their Plays, undoubtedly employ'd most their care, 'tis plain that Mr Collier has given [Page 224] the World a false alarm, and endea­vours to set 'em upon those as Subver­ters of Religion and Morality, that have with abundance of art and pains labour'd in their service, and rack'd their Inventions to weave 'em into the most Popular diversions, and make even Luxury and Pleasure subservient and instrumental to the establishment of Mo­ral Principles, and the confirmation of Virtuous Resolutions.

Before I take leave of Tragedy upon this Head, I must take notice to the Reader, that in this Parallel betwixt the Antient and Modern Tragedy, I have not wrested any thing to the un­just Prejudice of one,Apology for the Anti­ents. or favour of t'o­ther. Nor, tho I find most of the Antient Fables defective in the general Moral, do I charge 'em with any de­sign of under [...]ining the Interest, or lessening the credit and esteem of Vir­tue. The Moral and the Pathetic were in their days distinct Branches of Tra­gedy (as we have already observ'd from Aristotle) of which their Poets in all probability made choice, according to the encouragement they observ'd 'em to meet with. If therefore we find few [Page 225] Moral Plays amongst the remains of those extraordinary Persons the Greek Tragedians,Moral Plays not esteem'd at Athens. we may fairly presume, that they did not take at Athens, other­wise they wou'd have been more culti­vated. For this reason probably it was, that Aristotle took so slender notice of Moral Tragedy, as not thinking it worth while to lay down rules for the pra­ctice of that, which was no longer in use, or esteem amongst his Countrymen in his Time. Nor did this dis-esteem of Moral Plays proceed from any pro­pensity to, or Habit of Vice peculiar to that Age, which might give 'em a dis­relish for Virtuous Entertainments. The contrary of this is evident from seve­ral of those Tragedies, which succeed­ed at Athens, the Discourse in which is frequently Moral and Instructive, tho the Fable it self be not. But Moral Tra­gedy not admitting such Incidents as were proper to move Terrour or Com­passion, the Springs of Passion were wanting, and consequently the Au­dience were but weakly affected with such sort of representations.Moral and Pathetick reconciled, and united by the Mo­derns.

The Moderns, who were sensible of the use of one, and the power of t'other [Page 226] sort of Tragedy, have taken a happy Liberty of compounding 'em, and throwing the simple Tragedy quite aside, stick altogether to an Implex kind, which is at once both Moral and Pathe­tick. Wherein they must to their ho­nour be acknowledg'd, to have made a considerable improvement of Tragedy, and to have had a singular regard to Probity and Virtue; which (without injustice to Antiquity, I may venture to affirm) had very little Interest in the Fable before. Nor can the most par­tial Admirer of the Antients, Poetick Ju­stice neg­lected by the Antients in general. with any colour of Justice deny this advantage to the Moderns; since neither Aristotle, nor Horace, amongst all their excellent Rules, and Observations for Dramatick Writing, have taken the least notice of Poetick Justice, which is now become the Principal Article of the Drama; which questionless they wou'd never have forgotten, had the Practice of the Stage in their own, or preceeding Ages, or even their own thoughts suggested the necessity of it. Nay so far is Aristotle from thinking it a requisite condition, that he recommends [...]. the misfortunes of a Person unhappy thro his mistake, not [Page 227] his Fault, as the most proper Sub­ject for Tragedy; which is directly opposite to this Rule, which re­quires, that the fortune of every one shou'd be adjusted to his Merit, whe­ther good or bad. 'Tis true, Aristotle thinks, that 'tis inconsistent with the regard that is due to Mankind, to re­present such revolutions in the Fortunes of Men, as shall make Persons emi­nently Virtuous unhappy, or notori­ously wicked successful and prosperous. But I don't find that he made their proper Demerits the Standard, or im­mediate Rule for Squaring their future Fortune. And if we consider the exam­ples he produces to his own Rule, we shall perhaps be induc'd to believe, that he did not insist upon a very rigorous observation of it. For of his two in­stances, Oedipus was (as we have al­ready observ'd) a very virtuous Person, and Thyestes, according to the traditions remaining concerning him, a very wick­ed One. So that even while he is lay­ing down his Rule, he seems to indulge a latitude in the observance, and to justifie any Liberties, that may be taken with it, by the Precedent of the [Page 228] best Play, not only of Sophocles, but of all Antiquity.

Monsieur Dacier (who,Monsi [...]ur Dacier's exception [...]o Monsi [...]ur Corneille answered. according the humour of most Commentators, will allow no slips in his Author) strains hard to reconcile the examples to the Rule. He charges Monsieur Corneille with making an unjust exception, for want of under­standing rightly, the words [...]. I shall not undertake to Arbitrate the point of Monsieur Corneille's Learning, but I think his observation just, and yet in full Force, and Monsieur Dacier's answer, however Learned, no better than an Evasion. In ennumerating the good qualities, and summing up the Character of Oedipus, Mr Dacier omits his Piety towards his Country, and places the service of destroying the Sphinx to the account of his ambition, and the reward of the Crown tacked to it. His Piety I have already taken sufficient notice of elsewhere, and for his ambition let Sophocles answer, who tells us otherwise in the concluding Lines;

Who affected not base Popularity, nor courted Fortune.

[Page 229] This may suffice to clear him from the imputation of Vanity and Ambi­tion, with which Monsieur Dacier loads his Character, and added to the rest, prove him an excellent Person; one that, according to Aristotle, was too good to suffer in so extraordinary a man­ner.

To digress no farther,Po [...]t [...]ck Ju­stice a [...]o­dern [...]ven­tion. I think we are obliged to the Modern Tragick Poets for the introduction of Poetick Justice upon the Stage, and must own, that they were the first that made it their constant aim to instruct, as well as please by the Fable. The Antients brought indifferently all sorts of sub­jects upon the Stage, which they took from History or Tradition, and were therefore more solicitous to make their stories conform to the relation, or to the publick Opinion, than to Poetick Justice, or the Propriety of Tragick Action. By this means all hopes of a Moral was cut off, or if by chance the story afforded any, we are more obliged to the Poets luck for it, than to his Skill or Care. Thus the Moral, the highest, and most serviceable improve­ment that ever was, or ever can be [Page 230] made of the Drama, is of Modern Ex­traction, and may very well be pleaded in bar to all claim laid in behalf of the Antients, to preference in point of Mo­rality, and service to Virtue, as likewise in answer to all Objections made to the Manners and Conduct of the Mo­dern Stage in general.

Thus the Modern Stage,Modern Stage on this account pr [...]f-rable of the An­tient. against which Mr Collier maliciously declaims with so much bitterness, is upon this account infinitely preferable to the A­thenians, which he commends and ad­mires, and that which he rails at as the bane of Sobriety, and the Pest of Good Manners, is prov'd the most commodi­ous instrument to propagate Morality, and the easiest, and most palatable Ve­hicle to make Instruction go down with effect. But the Violence and Partiality of some observe no bounds of Justice, and admit of no check from Modesty or Reason. But I shall take leave here, and pass on to the Fable of Comedy, against which Mr Collier's spight is more particularly levelled.

The Fable of Comedy will give us very little trouble,Fable of Comedy [...] if we consider right­ly the Nature and Business of this part [Page 231] of the Drama. Comedy deals altogether in Ridicule, and its Subject consequent­ly must be such as affords matter of ridi­culous Mirth. All its Machinations tend to the exciting that ill natur'd ti­tillation, which carries scorn and con­tempt along with it. Its business is to correct, and hinder the spreading of Folly and Knavery, by making 'em ri­diculous, and to reform Rascals and Coxcombs by exposing 'em. Aristotle therefore has has very judiciously de­fined Comedy [...]. The Imitation of the baser sort of People, not in all kinds of Villany, but in the ridiculous part, which is one sort of Turpitude.

The Action of Comedy must be suited to the Actors,In Comedy the Action and Persons l [...]w. who are the baser sort of People, and consequently can't be of any great importance either in its na­ture or effects, and therefore can afford no extraordinary Moral. By the baser sort of People, Persons of low Extracti­on or Fortune are not heremeant, but Per­sons who by their practices and Conduct have expos'd themselves to Scandal and Contempt. From the Nature therefore, and quality of the Actors nothing great [Page 232] or generous can be expected from Co­medy. The Duping of an old Knave, the cullying of a Coxcomb, the stealing of an Heiress from a Mercenary Guar­dian, are the usual exploits of Comedy; wherein tho Gentlemen are sometimes concerned, yet they are, or ought al­ways to be such, as have some blemish, or other upon 'em, otherwise they are not fit for the business they are engag'd in. Comedy seems to be designed to teach Men Civil Prudence, and a conve­nient Management in respect of one another, rather than any thing of Mora­lity; and their private duty. There their misfortunes and disgraces are all the immediate result of their own Folly and Mismanagement, and may there­fore very well cause men to reflect upon that want of Wit and Caution, which caused themselves or others to miscarry, and teach 'em to be more wary for the future; but it wou'd hardly confer any Grace, or mend their Principles.

The business of Comedy being ridi­cule, those Vices only fall under its correction,The cor­rection of Folly the proper busi­ness of Co­medy that are capable of being made ridiculous, and those only after such a manner as may raise Scorn and [Page 233] Contempt. For this reason Comedy seems to be more naturally disposed for the cure of Mens Follies, than their Vices, those running more naturally into ridi­cule than these, which are more apt to raise Indignation and Aversion, and are the proper instruments of Tragedy. Not but that Vice too may sometimes be seasonably corrected in Comedy, but then it must be join'd with, and wear the Livery of Folly, to help to make it ridiculous, and the object of Scorn, ra­ther than Indignation.

Hence it will appear,Perfect Vir­tue exclud­ed the Co­mick Stage. what sort of Persons are most proper to be employed in Comedy, which dealing altogether in Stratagem and Intrigue, requires Persons of Trick and Cunning on one hand, and easie credulous Folks on the other, otherwise the Plot will but go heavily forward. By this means all Cha­racters absolutely perfect are excluded the Comick Stage. For what has a Man of pure Integrity to do with Intrigues of any kind? He can't assist in the execution of any design of Circumven­tion without forfeiting his Character; and to bring such a Character upon the Stage to be practic'd upon, is such [Page 234] an outrage to Virtue, that the most licentious of our Poets have not dar'd to venture upon it.

I grant that 'tis neither necessary,Some Infir­mity re­quired to qualifie a Character for Come­dy. nor convenient, that all the Characters in Co­medy shou'd be vicious, that were to abuse mankind, with a scandalous representati­on. But I maintain, that they ought all to have some failing or Infirmity, to qualifie 'em for the business of the Place. Men of Honour may be made use of to punish Knaves, as Knaves to cure Fools, but their honour ought not to be too strait­laced, too squeamish and scrupulous. They must be Persons of some Liberty, that out of an over-niceness will not balk a well laid design, and spoil a Project with too much honesty. Men of Hononr may be men of Pleasure; nay, and must be so too, or we do 'em wrong to make 'em appear in such Company, as Comedy must bring 'em into.

What other natural occasion can be assigned for embroiling a Gentleman of Quality,Ne Gentle­men but men of pleasure sit for Comedy. with Usurers, Pimps, Sharp­ers, Jilts and Bullies, but the extrava­gance of his Pleasures? which they may all serve in their several capacities. [Page 235] The Usurer with his Wife, his Daugh­ter, or his Money; the Pimp in his Intrigues; the Jilt, the Sharper, and the Bully in their respective Offices may assist his Revenges, and be useful En­gines in those designs, where 'tis not proper for himself to appear. That no Gentlemen but of this sort shou'd be brought upon the Comick Stage, I think, is so plain, as well from Aristotle's Definition, as from the Nature and Bu­siness of the Place; that he that dis­putes it forfeits all Pretence to Judg­ment in these matters. I mean no Gen­tlemen of Wit and Sense, but such as these. For Fools of what Quality soever are the proper Goods and Chat­tels of the Stage; they are the wrecks of understanding, which Poets, as Lords of the Mannor of Wit from imme­morial Prescription, have an uncon­tested Title to, and may dispose of, as they see fit.

A true Comick Poet like a good Droll Painter,Comick Poetry and Droll Painting compar'd. ought not to make his whole Piece ridiculous, and consequently ought not to draw any Face that is so regular, as not to have something amiss either in Feature or Complextion. To [Page 236] put a Gentleman of sound Sense and perfect Morals into Comedy, wou'd be as unnatural, as to draw Cato dancing amongst the Boors at a Dutch Wedding. It does not therefore follow, that none but Rakes and Scoundrels must pass for Gentlemen in Comedy. A Gentle­man of Wit and Honour may be judi­ciously introduced into it, but he must be a man of wild unreclaim'd honour, whose Appetites are strong and irregu­lar enough, to hurry him beyond his discretion, and make him act against the Conviction of his Judgment on the return of his Reason. Such a Cha­racter as this no more is unnatural, than to see a drunken Gentleman frolicking with the Mob, or kissing a Link-Boy.

Nothing is more frequent than to meet in our common Conversation,Such Cha­racters real and com­mon. and affairs of Life, with Gentlemen of this sort, who, tho they may be Men of ex­cellent Parts, Temper, and Principles, yet in the heat of their Blood, and Pride of their Fortunes, are apt to be byassed a little towards Extravagance, and not to consult the severity of Reason, or the exactness of Justice on many occa­sions [Page 237] especially in matters relating to their Pleasures.

What therefore is so common and obvious in the World, can't be unnatu­ral upon the Stage, but by using it im­properly. To put a Gentleman upon the Office of a Villain or a Scoundrel, or to make a Man of Sense a Bubble or a Cully in the Conclusion, is an abuse to the Character, and a trespass against the Laws of the Drama. If therefore the Poet employs any of this Character, he is obliged to give him Success, notwithstanding the blemishes of his Character. For, with all his Faults, he is the best, as well as the most considerable Person, that 'tis lawful for him to make bold with. And if he is at last brought to a Sense of his Extra­vagance and Errours, and a resolution of amendment, the Poet has exerted his Authority to the utmost extent of his Commission; and the Laws of Co­medy exact no more.

Had Mr Collier known and consi­der'd sufficiently the nature of Co­medy, Mr Col­lier's mi­stake con­cerning the Nature of Comedy. I am apt to think, that we had never seen his whole fourth Chapter, which runs altogether upon this mi­stake, [Page 238] That no Liberties are to be indulg'd in Comedy, and that the principal Cha­racters ought to be in all respects exemplary, and without Blemish. That this a mi­stake I hope is very plain from what has been already said. But because Mr Collier has taken the pains to back, and assert this erroneous Opinion with a tedious Harangue, and some seem­ingly plausible Arguments, it may not be amiss to abstract one from t'other, and consider the latter distinctly, with­out amusing our selves about his Pom­pous expressions,Heads of Mr Col­lier's charge a­gainst En­glish Co­dy. and Formal Rhetorick.

The whole Summ of Mr Collier's long extravagant charge against the English Poets, especially the present Comick Poets, against whom this Chapter seems to be particularly levelled, may be re­duced to these two heads.

1st. That by making their Protago­nists, or chief Persons Licentious or debauched they encourage Vice, and Irreligion, and discourage Virtue.

2dly. That the rich Citizens are of­ten represented as Misers and Cuck­olds; and the Universities as Schools of Pedantry; and thereby Learning, Industry and Frugality ridiculed.

[Page 239] Mr Collier, whose business all thro his Book is Invective, not Argument, lays himself forth with all the Pomp of For­mal Eloquence, and vehemence of Ex­pression, that he is able, to aggravate the crime, and amplifie the guilt of the Po­ets not to prove it. He is more sollicitous to possess his Reader, than convince him, and for that reason lets slip the circum­stance of proof as not very material, be­cause he found it wou'd tye him up to strict Argument, and close Reasoinng, which is not for his purpose, and insists upon the General charge of Debauchery and Impiety; which allowing him all the Liberties of Declamation and Harangue, give him ample Field-room to publish, and display his Parts, and his Malice together; which he does most egregi­giously, and Flourishes most trium­phantly. Never did learned Recorder insult poor Culprit in more formida­ble Oratory, than he does the Poets.

'Tis true, he offers several instances in confirmation of his Assertion, which he draws from divers of our English Comedies, which, with the untoward gloss he puts [Page 240] upon 'em, seem to favour his malicious purpose. These I shall consider in their proper places, as far as is absolutely re­quisite to our purpose, and leave the farther justification of 'em to the Gen­tlemen more immediately concerned, who I suppose will not be wanting to their own necessary defence.

We shall therefore proceed to theHis first Article exa­mined. examination of the main Branch of his accusation, contained in the first Arti­cle, which is the neglect of Poetick Iu­stice, the encouraging of Vice with Success, and the Discouraging of Virtue.

The whole weight of this Objection turns upon this hinge, that the Protago­nists, or chief Persons in Comedy are generally vicious and successful, which he pretends to be against the Law of Co­medy, which is to reward Virtue and punish Vice. This objection, as he ob­serves, was started by Mr Dryden against himself in his preface to his Mock-Astro­loger. But he objects against the answer, which Mr Dryden there makes to it. That he knows no such Law constantly observed in Comedy, either by the Antients or Moderns.

[Page 241] This Mr Collier calls a lame Defence, This Rule repugnant to the Na­ture of Comedy. and I agree with him, tho we go upon different grounds. For I think Mr Dry­den has clogg'd his answer with an unnecessary restriction, and by the over Modesty of it weakned the sufficiency of it. I grant, that the neglect, or contempt of a Law, does by no means destroy the Authority of it. But I shall carry it something farther, and say that no such Law ever was at all observ'd, or so much as prescrib'd to Comedy. Nor do I herein trust to the Strength of my own Memory, or presume upon the ex­traordinary reach and extent of my En­quiries. But I draw this Conclusion from the nature of Comedy itself, which will admit of no such Rule in the lati­tude Mr Dryden proposes, and Mr Col­lier maintains it.

Comedy, Reason why. which deals altogether in ri­dicule, can take no cognizance of, and give no correction to those Vices and Immoralities which it cannot expose on that side. For this reason, the Sallies of Youth, and the Licentiousness of men of Sense and Fortune, uniess they be such as bring their understandings into question, and make 'em ridiculous, how [Page 242] ever unjustifiable, immortal, and offen­sive they may be to sober people, escape the censure of Comedy, because they can't be tried in her way.

This Consideration it was,Indulgence of Plau­tus and Terence to vicious young Peo­ple mis­placed by Mr Col­lier. P. 149. that in­duc'd Terence and Plautus to indulge their Young Men so far as they did, and afford so many instance of Favour to vicious young people, as Mr Collier allows they did. He is mistaken, when he fancies, that because those Poets had a greater compass of Liberty in their Reli­gion, and that Debauchery did not lie under those discouragements of Penalty and Scandal with them, as it does with us; therefore their Poets indulg'd them­selves in those Liberties, which other­wise they durst not have taken. Plau­tus and Terence, especially the latter, were nice Observers of Mankind, and greater Masters of their own Art, than to take an Improper Liberty, only be­cause 'twas not dangerous. But their Religion, false as it was, and the Laws of their Country, which were very se­vere at Rome in this case, requir'd strict Morality, and Regularity of Life. If therefore they had suspected, that these Indulgences had tended any ways to the [Page 243] Debauching of their Youth, and the Corrupting of their Manners, they durst not have ventur'd 'em into publick view. Nor wou'd their Magistrates, to whose Censure they were particularly submit­ted, have suffer'd examples of such ill consequence to have been produc'd openly. Besides, Cato, whose Virtue was as sowre and austere, and perhaps as great as Mr Collier's, was a great en­courager of 'em, which 'tis non proba­he wou'd have been, had he smelt any such dangerous Plot in 'em. So that the Authority of these Precedents may stand, and be of service, notwithstand­ing the wide difference betwixt Heathen­ism, and Christianity, and Mr Collier's Opinion to the contrary.

But Plautus and Terence have taken no such unjustifiable liberties,Plautus and Te­rence faithful Copyers from Na­ture. as he ima­gines. They have copyed faithfully from Nature, and their Draughts come incomparably near the Life. No out­rage is done to the Original, by en­larging or contracting the Features, in order to entertain the Audience with Monsters of Dwarfs, but Humane Life is depicted in its true and just Proporti­on. If therefore the Images, which [Page 244] their Plays reflect, displease any froward Cynic, the Fault is in the Face, not the Glass which gives a true representation; and he quarrels with Providence, whose Creature Mankind is, if he dislikes the fight. Any liberties therefore, which these Poets have taken, wherein Nature is not wrong'd, descend undoubtedly to all those that succeed 'em upon the Comick Stage, who have a right to all the Priviledges of their Predecessors up­on the same terms.

But Plautus and Terence made their young fellows, as Nature frequently does, wild and extravagant; at which Mr Collier is scandaliz'd, and appeals from their Judgment to

Horace, Opinion of Horace enquir'd in­to. P. 149. who (he says) was as good a Judge of the Stage, as either of those Co­medians, yet seems to be of another opini­on. Let us see how far the Precept of Horace for the drawing of youth in ge­neral differs from the Practice of those Comedians. Horace tells us, that the young Squire, as soon as he has shaken off the yoak of a Tutor, is for Dogs and Horses, (and Whores too, as appears by the sequel of his Character) that he is

[Page 245]
Cereus in vitium flecti,
Art. Poet.
monitoribus asper
Ʋtilium tardus Provisor, prodigus aeris,
Sublimis, cupidusque, & amata relinquere pernix.
Prone to Vice, Impatient of Reproof,
Careless of things necessary, Prodigal,
Proud, Eager, and Inconstant in his De­sires.

This is not a bare character,This not a bare Cha­racter but a Rule. a simple description of the humours of young people; but 'tis a Precept, a Rule for Artists to draw 'em by. And therefore ought to include nothing contingent, or unnecessary; but every thing contain'd in it ought to be the inseparable Ad­junct of the Species, such as a true Idea of the Generality cannot be given with­out, tho perhaps some Individuals may be met with, that want it. Upon this rule let Mr Collier arraign these Authors if he can. For tho they wrote before Horace, and consequently can't plead his Precept in their defence, yet the obser­vation of Nature was common to them with him, and the reason of the rule as well known to 'em. I suppose there­fore, if Horace be made their Judge in this case, they must be acquitted, other­wise he will condemn himself.

[Page 246] But Mr Collier tells you, P. 149. that Horace condemns the obscenities of Plautus, and tells you that Men of Fortune and Quality, in his time, wou'd not endure immodest Satire.

This I believe is a discovery of Mr Collier's own, Sense of Horace in this place mistaken or perverted by Mr Col­lier. for I don't find any such accusation in Horace; he tells us, that he did by no means admire the Versifica­tion and Raillery of Plautus, as their An­cestors had injudiciously done, that his Numbers were not true, nor his Wit Gentile.

An nostri Proavi Plautinos, & numeros, &
Laudavere Sales; nimium patienter u­trumque,
(Ne dicam Stultè) mirati: si modo ego, & vos
Scimus inurbanum, lepido seponere dicto,
Legitimum (que) sonum digitis callemus, & arte.

Here he excepts against the Numbers, and Raillery of Plautus, and arraigns the Taste, and Judgment of their Ancest­ors, that approved 'em. But I don't find that he lays Immodesty, or Obscenity to his charge.

[Page 247] But this seems to be a strain in emu­lation of his famous Predecessor Mr Prynne, Parity of reasoning betwixt Mr Prynn and Mr Collier. whose Arguments and way of Reasoning Mr Collier inherits as well as quarrel, with a double portion of his Spirit. Mr Prynne was offended at the appearance of Actresses upon the Stage, and in the Fervour of his Zeal finds it forbidden in Scripture; Because, says he, St Paul expressly prohibits Women from speaking publickly in the Church. Mr Col­lier in a fit of Criticism something like this, takes occasion from this Passage of Horace, to shew how apt a Scholar he is; and not to be behind hand with Mr Prynne, for a Reason, has recourse to his usual method of construction, (in which we have already seen he has a singular dexterity) and converts Ho­race's charge of inharmonious Verse and Clownish Jests, to Obscenity and Immodest Satyr.

To cover this piece of Legerdemain,Another outrage to Horace. he confounds this Passage with another as little to his purpose. Horace from talking of Tragedy proceeds to lay down some Maxims for the better regulation of the Satyrae, then in use upon the Ro­man Stage. These Satyrae were a sort [Page 248] of Interludes introduced betwixt the Acts in Tragedy to refresh, and divert the Audience. The Persons repre­sented were the Satyri or Fauni, or train of Bacchus or Pan; Persons sup­posed to be of very loose and virulent Tongues, and Rustick Behaviour. And accordingly the matter of these Poems was generally scandal, and Clownish raillery, in which to gain the applause of the Mob, they often took such sawcy Liberties in point of Scandal and Undecency, that they People of bet­ter Quality were offended at 'em. And Horace assures us, that the Quality and Mob cou'd never agree in their Ver­dict about 'em.

Sylvis deducti caveant (me Judice) Fauni,
Art. P [...]t.
Ne, velut innati triviis, ac pene forenses,
Aut nimium teneris juvenenter versibus un­quam,
Aut immunda crepent, ignominiosaque dicta
Offenduntur enim, quibus est Equus, & Pater, & res:
Nec, siquid fricti ciceris probat, & nucis emptor,
AEquis accipiunt animis, donantve corona.

[Page 249] But what's all this to Plautus and Comedy, who never had any Dealings with these Satyrae.

After this notable exploit, he laun­ches out into the wide Sea of Poetry, and flourishes with the Character that Horace gives of the first Poets, Orpheus, Amphion, &c, whom he celebrates as the civilizers of Mankind; but as that affords little matter either of Honour or Reproach to these, that came so long after them, when the Muses, tho they might have kept their Virtue, yet had lost very much of their Power, and in­stead of commanding the Passions of their Auditors, were forced on many occasions to comply with and submit to their Whimsies, and humour their capri [...]ious Appetites: It will be imper­tinent (whatever licence Mr Collier may assume) to insist any longer upon a case no way Paralell. For this Character, which Horace bestows upon those Poets, was intended as a complement of Poetry in general, but not to reflect any honour upon the Drama in particular, (much less Comedy, the more recent branch of it) which was not invented till long after the time of Orpheus and Amphion.

[Page 250] His next use that he makes of the Authority of Horace,Use of a Chorus according to Horace. he draws from his Instructions about the Office of the Chorus. The Chorus (Horace tells us after Aristotle) ought to bear the part of an Actor, and take care to say nothing in­coherent, or incongruous to the main de­sign, but to make his Song of a piece with the whole. From hence (Mr Collier infers that) 'tis plain, that Horace wou'd have no immoral Character have either Counte­nance or good Fortune upon the Stage.

But here he foresees an Objection,Objection. that the Chorus was left off in Comedy before Horace's time, and that these di­rections must needs therefore be intend­ed for Tragedy. To which

He answers,Mr Col­lier's an­swer. that the Consequence is not good. For the use of the Chorus is not inconsistent with Comedy. The Antient Comedians had it. Aristophanes is an Instance. I know 'tis said the Chorus was left out, in that which they call New Co­medy.

Had Mr Collier consider'd who 'twas that said this,Reply to Mr Collier's answer. he ought to have acqui­esc'd in his Authority; but since he is so unwilling to confess, he must be convicted, and therefore we shall en­deavour [Page 251] to prove the validity of the consequence upon him. I shall trouble the Reader with the Depositions of but one Evidence, but he shall be, like Con­science in this case, Mille Testes. Ho­race tells us, that the Old Comedy grew so intolerably abusive and scandalous, that a Law was made to curb it, and that from that time the Chorus was silenc'd.

Successit vetus his Comaedia,
Art. Poet.
nonsine multâ
Laude, sed in vitium libertas excidit, & vim
Dignam lege regi. Lex est accepta, Cho­rusque
Turpiter obticuit, sublato jure nocendi.

This testimony of Horace is full a­gainst Mr Collier, Chorus in Old Co­medy. and a plain argument that he never intended his directions for a Chorus for the use of Comedy. The Chorus in the Old Comedy had the great­est freedom of Speech, and took the boldest liberties of any part of the Play, and consequently gave the greatest of­fence, and stood most in need of Cor­rection. And Horace seems to insinuate, that the Chorus was not only scanda­lously offensive, but that it was ex­pressly [Page 252] filenc'd by Law, when he says,

—Lex est accepta, Chorusque
Turpiter obticuit, sublato jure nocendi.

As if the whole Business of the Cho­rus in Comedy had been Scandal, and the Law levell'd against the Chorus on­ly. The event justifies this Exposition; For after the Publication of the Laws against the Liberty of Scandal, which was grown so rampant in the Old Co­medy, the Chorus vanish'd and appear'd no more upon the Athenian Stage in Comedy, that we know of.

This Mr Collier denies,Plutus of Aristo­phanes. p. 150. and fortifies himself and his Assertion with matter of Fact. For Aristophanes his Plutus is New Comedy with a Chorus in't.

In this Assertion there are two mi­stakes,Double mi­stake of Mr Collier. which being Critical ones, I don't much wonder at, because they contribute towards making the Book Uniform, and preserve the Integrity of the Piece. Yet he building with so much assurance upon 'em, 'twill be but Charity to let him see, that his Founda­tion is too weak to support the weight of the superstructure he has laid upon it.

[Page 253] The first of these is, that the Plutus of Aristphanes is not New Comedy.

2dly. That in the Plutus, there is no Chorus.

The Learned (whom I suppose Mr Collier means by they) divided the Greek Comedy into the three Classes, the Old, the Middle, and the New; not to mention that the Old Comedy it self is subdivided into two Ages; the latter of which commences with Cratinus, who first distinguisht the Parts, disposed the Acts, and fixt the number of Actors; and comprehends Eupolis, Aristophaenes, and the rest of the Comick Poets till the conclusion of the Popular Authority, and the beginning of the Oligarehy, from which time to the time of Alex­ander, that which is now called the Middle Comedy flourished, till Menan­der, and the Poets of his time, Phile­mon, Diphilus, Apollodorus, and others, quite altered the Face of the Comick Stage, and introduc'd that which is now call'd the New Comedy.

By this Divifion, which is both just,By this the Plutus Old Come­dy. and accurate, the Plutus falls to the share of the Old Comedy; to which, notwithstanding the deviations therein [Page 254] from the former Practice of Aristophanes, it does most properly belong. But if Mr Collier will have the Plutus of Ari­stophanes to be the first step towards the Reformation of Comedy at Athens, I shall not much dispute the matter with him. Because he has in that abridged himself of much of that Liberty, which he has used in his former Plays. But granting even this, Aristophanes can at most but lead up the Van of the Middle Comedy; and is very far distanc'd by the New.

For tho Aristophanes has in some measure altered his Conduct in his Plu­tus, Fable of Old Come­dy of what kind. yet he retains absolutely the Form and stamp of the Old Comedy, and re­trenches only some offensive Liberties. The Fable of the old Comedy was alto­gether Chimerical, and the Characters Romantick and Whimsical, neither of 'em drawn from the Observation of Nature, or the business of Humane Life, but pumpt out of the extrava­gance of the Poets Brain. The Spirit of these Entertainments consisted in the Piquancy of the Raillery and Jests, and the boldness of the Scandal, in which they took excessive Liber­ties [Page 255] with particular Persons, especially the Chorus, and to which the success of 'em was wholy owing.Characters of Crati­nus, Eu­polis, and Aristo­phanes how diffe­renc'd. Cratinus is said to have been very bold, and to have taxed people freely by their names, without miucing the matter, (I had almost said without Fear or Wit) and charged them with all sorts of Crimes, without respect to Persons. Eupolis was somewhat more discreet, couching real Crimes and Persons under sham Names, and lashing his Fellow Citizens on the backs of feigned Offenders. Aristophanes was frequently no less plain than Cratinus in respect to Names, but his Wit was of another sort, less Sullen and Chagrine. He turned all into Jest, and bantered those things, which the others reprehended after a manner more serious and severe.

Menander and the New Comedians formed their Models after a very diffe­rent manner.New Co­medy how differing from the Old. For having particularly Scandal, which had given so much Offence in the Old Comedy, they began to furnish themselves from Observation and Experience, rather than Invention, and to employ their Judgments more than their Fancies. They raised the [Page 256] structure of their Plays upon the Foun­dations of Nature, and made the Intri­gues of the World, and the common Affairs of Life the Subjects of 'em, and the different orders of Mankind. A hard Father, a difficult Master, a wild Son, a crafty Servant, an impudent Pandar, a Mercenary Courtezan, and a Captive Virgin, were the most usual Characters; which being opposite to, and concerned with one another, set the Plot naturally to work, and give occasion to set all the Wheels of the Machine a going.

This may suffice to give us an Idea of the difference between the Old Co­medy and the New, Plutus not New Comedy. and to convince us that the Plutus of Aristophanes, which deals altogether in unaccountable De­signs and surprizing Events, and works by Unnatural Machines to a Chimerical, Romantick end, is not New Comedy; tho the Poet contrary to his Custom makes use of Feigned Names, and lays aside the Chorus. For tho these Inno­vations be here made in Comedy, yet both the matter and the Form (where­in consisted the main difference between the Old Comedy and the New) remain­ing [Page 257] still the same with the rest of his Plays, it can by no means be admitted into the New, both matter and form of which were different, if not directly opposite to the former.Satire of the Old Comedy par­ticular. Of the New general. For in the Old Comedy they proceeded from Generals that were Chimerical and false, to argue particulars that were real and true. In the New from Particulars that were imagi­nary and false, they reprehended Generals that were real. The Old Comick Poets generally devised some extravagant and unnatural, or at least improbable tale, into which they took occasion to thrust particular Facts and Persons that were real, and well known. The New made use of such Intrigues and Persons as were frequent and familiar amongst Mankind, and thereby corrected the common Faults, such as Avarice, Fraud, &c. but copyed neither the Actions, nor Manners of Individuals; and so reflected not particularly upon any One. The first resembled a Limner, that cou'd copy the Features of a Face, but cou'd only draw Individuals like, ye cou'd not design; the latter a true Hi­storical Painter, that aim'd rather at ex­pressing the Manners, and Passions [Page 258] of Mankind than the countenances. In whose pieces you shou'd not amongst a Thousand meet one Face, that you distinctly knew, yet none but what were natural and significant, and such as you must acknowledge you saw every day. The difference therefore betwixt the Old Comedy and the New is as great and evident, as betwixt the Paintings of Raphael Ʋrbin, or Michael Angelo, and those of Sir Anthony Van­dike, or Sir Peter Lely. I shall not therefore insist upon those lesser diffe­rences of Phrase and Metre, those al­ready given, being sufficient to inform a very indifferent Judge.

However,Arissto­phanes the Bgin­ner of the Middle Comedy. as Aristophanes has in this Play varied his Conduct in some things from the Practice of the rest of the Old Comedians, and of himself in his former Pieces, he seems to challenge the first place in the Middle Comedy, which the Learned have found it ne­cessary to distinguish both from the Old and the New. Because several al­terations were made in Comedy, of which perhaps the Omission of the Chorus was none of the least considera­ble, yet neither the Model or Design [Page 259] were totally changed till the time of Menander, and his Cotemporaries.

Mr Collier's second mistake in relation to the Plutus of Aristophanes is,No Chorus in the Plu­tus. that it has a Chorus in't. If he means that there is a part in this Play, which is sustained by a Person or Persons under the name of Chorus, Matter of Fact is directly for him: But if he thinks that there is any such thing as a true Chorus in it, it is as plain against him. This matter will easily be decided, if we consider the Nature, and Office of a Chorus in the Old Comedy.

The Chorus in Comedy, Office of the Chorus in Comedy. was a Person consisting of divers, either Men or Wo­men, or both, and assisted in two Ca­pacities. One as an Actor, or Party concern'd to promote and carry on the main design, and help forward the Action of the Play, which is common to the Chorus with the other Actors, and does not distinguish it from 'em. The other, as the Poet's Representative, to make the Parabases, or Transitions from the Actors, (with whom only as an Actor the Chorus is concern'd) to the Gods, or to the Audience. To the Gods, to invoke their Aid, or celebrate [Page 260] their Praises, as the occasion suggested. To the Audience, to inform 'em of what was suppos'd to pass extra Scenam behind the Scenes, to make the Action of the Play entire, or to make reflecti­ons on what pass'd upon the Stage for the Instruction of the Audience, and to tax the evil Practices of such Citizens, as were obnoxious to the Poet, and the Publick. This was the part by which it at least gave offence, by the disorderly liberties which it took; and sometimes to acquaint the Audience with the Poet's hopes and fears, his acknowledgments and complaints, which last part of the business of the Chorus is answer'd by the Prologue among the Romans.

I shall not trouble the Reader with the Grammatical division of the parts of the Chorus, The parts Essential to a Chorus omitted in the flutus. (viz.) Ode, Antode, Stro­phe, and Antistrophe, &c. which signify nothing to the point before us. But I shall desire the Reader to take notice that in the Plutus of Aristophanes, this part which alone constitutes the Office, and Business of a Chorus, and which only distinguishes it from a common Actor is entirely omitted. The Chorus [Page 261] in this Play appears but as an ordinary Actor, and addresses itself to the other Actors only, comes on, and goes off without once singing or speaking apart from the rest. The Chorus therefore, as it is called, in this Play might more properly have been personated by a sin­gle man, and called by any other name, since it performs nothing of the Of­fice.

The Observation of this defect of the Essential part of the Chorus, made the LearnedEtiam in [...]jusdem Pluto Chori de­siderantur, quod & a­libi mone­bamus: ita tamen ut non o­missus, sed exemptus videatur. Poetic. lib. 1. cap. viii. Julius Scaliger think, that this Play had been castrated, and that the Chorus (which he confesses to be wanting) was not omitted, but taken away since the writing of it. But whe­ther it were, as Scaliger suspects, taken out after it was finish'd, or omitted in the writing, is not very material; 'tis plain we have it not, and 'tis very pro­bable that 'twas the Author's own fear of offending, that depriv'd us of it; the want of which caution in his [...] cost Cratinus his Life. For had the Chorus of the Plutus ever been made publick, I see no reason why that, as well as the rest of his Chori, should not have been transmitted to us. I would [Page 262] advise Mr Collier in the next Greek Play he cites, to read farther than the List of the Persons of the Drama. For 'tis apparently negligence, that has led him into this Errour, and made him think, that because he found a Chorus there, it must needs be in the Play, which he would not have allow'd to be a legiti­mate Chorus, had he read the Play, and known the business of a Chorus. 'Tis yet in his Election which excuse shall stand for him.

Mr Collier's Instances therefore signifies nothing to his Argument, because it does not prove a Chorus consistent with the New Comedy.

1st, Because the Plutus in which he instances is not New Comedy.

2dly, Because (tho it were New Co­medy) it has no Chorus.

So that, I suppose, we may lay the Authority of Aristophanes aside in this case.

We shall not trouble the Reader with a particular of the Fables of Aristopha­nes, which are so extravagantly Ro­mantick, that 'tis impossible they should be edifying. And therefore I suppose Mr Collier will not play the Morality [Page 263] of the Greek Comedy upon us from that Quarter.

But he proceeds to prove the conti­nuance of the Chorus in Comedy by an oblique Inference from Aristotle,Unconc [...] Inf [...]r [...]nce from Ari­stotle. who lived after this Revolution of the Stage, (yet) mentions nothing of the omission of the Chorus. P. 150. But in Mr Collier's opini­on, rather supposes the continuance of it, by saying the Chorus was added by the Government long after the Invention of Comedy.

Here the Silence of Aristotle concern­ing the omission of the Chorus in Co­medy, Silence of Aristotle no argument in this Case is made an Argument of the Continuance of it; and by an odd sort of Sophistry, he concludes, that because he has taken notice of the first Institu­tion of it, he must needs do the same for the disuse of it, had he been ac­quainted with it.

By the same way of arguing he might have prov'd, that Aristophanes was the the last of the Comic Poets before Ari­stotle, because he has made no mention of any that succeeded him; and yet we are sufficiently inform'd, that there were divers between Aristotle and Ari­stophanes.

[Page 264] But if at this distance we must needs be conjecturing at reasons,Reason of Ari­stotle's silence in this point. for that which pass'd so long ago, a much more natural account may be given of this Silence, than that which Mr Collier strains so hard for. Aristotle was a man of extraordinary Capacity and Judg­ment, and did not talk so impertinently as Mr Collier supposes he would have done, if he had had opportunity. A­ristotle, in this Treatise of Tragedy, gives a very brief account of the Rise and Progress of the Drama, His account of the Rise of the Drama. and as his sub­ject obliged him, tells us, that the two Branches, Tragedy and Comedy, arose both from the same Spring, viz. the Hymns to Bacchus, the former from the Dithyrambi, which contain'd his Praises and Exploits,Cap. 4. the latter from the [...], [...]. Progress of Comedy [...]. a sort of obscene Songs compos'd of the same Deity, which in conformity to the Law were still con­tinued his time in the Villages.

In the next Chapter he proceeds to the Definition of Comedy, in order to illustrate the difference betwixt that and Tragedy; and then informs us, that the first steps towards the reducing Comedy to Form and Order, were made [Page 265] in the dark, and the marks of 'em too far obliterated to be trac'd backwards, through publick neglect, that 'twas long e're it came to be Acted at the Expence of the Publick. For that's the meaning in this place, of the Ma­gistrates giving the Chorus, that is pay­ing the Actors. For he immediately subjoyns, that all before that time were Volunteers in this Service, that is, acted gratis.

In this account of the growth of Comedy, Brevity of Aristotle. Aristotle according to his usual Method, is very concise, and does not make one step out of his way to gratifie any Curiosity, which he foresaw that some of his Readers might have. But Mr Collier, who reasons after a man­ner very different from the Philosopher, wou'd lead him a Wild Goose Chase quite out of his road, to tell when the Chorus in Comedy was silenc'd, tho 'twas nothing to his purpose, and a long way from his Text; or force him to confess against his Conscience that he knows nothing of the matter. But Aristotle, who was a better Judge than Mr Collier of what was proper and necessary to his subject, reserves this point to ano­ther [Page 266] occasion, and in the preceding Chapter reprimands the unseasonable Curiosity and Impatience of those,Cap. 4. that require decisions out of Time and Or­der. Which had Mr Collier carefully read, this Argument probably had been suppress'd.

However,A parti­cular Trea­tise of Co­medy writ­ten by Ari­stotle, but lost. to oblige him with a little scratching where it itches, I must de­sire him to take notice, that at that time Aristotle had actually written, or design'd at least to write another Book concerning Comedy in particular, and therefore prudently forbore to use those Materials here, which he knew wou'd be more serviceable in another place. This Book has been long lost, and therefore there lies no Appeal to it on this occasion. Yet because he has such a mind to make Aristophanes the Father of the New Comedy, we'll stretch a point farther than we are bound by the Laws of Polemicks; and to shew that we are fair Adversaries, point him out a Play, that may perhaps serve his turn somewhat better than the Plutus. The Cocalus, one of the last Plays of Aristo­phanes, which is lost, is said by some learned men to have been the Model, [Page 267] which Menander copyed exactly, and took his design of the New Comedy from. If this be true, Aristophanes may in some sense claim the New Comedy as his Issue. But then Mr Collier must not say a word more of the Chorus. For 'tis certain that Menander used none, and very probable, that the Cocalus had none neither, if that were his Mo­del.

By this it may appear,Chorus not used in the New Comedy. that whether a Chorus be consistent with New Comedy or not, it was not used in it by the Antients. Nor was it indeed fit to be used according to the liberties of Ari­stophanes. And we may conclude from the practice of all Ages and Nations e­ver since, that they thought those Free­doms essential to the Chorus of Comedy, when they chose rather to lay it wholly aside than to reform it. If Moliere has, after two thousand years discontinu­ance, ventur'd to bring a Chorus again upon the Comick Stage, I don't find that his performances of that kind have any extraordinary effect, or that they stir up many Imitators to follow his Exam­ple. Moliere was arrived at the second Infancy of his Poetry, and might want [Page 268] these helps to keep his Plays upon their Legs, which by the first Comick Poets were made use of to teach theirs to go upright. His more vigorous producti­ons scorn'd those Crutches, which the Issue of his old Age, that brings the Infirmities of its Parent along with it into the world, is forc'd to have re­course to for its support.

But to what end wou'd Mr Collier introduce the Chorus into the English Comedy? Chorus altogether improper for the Co­mick Stage in En­gland. We have no Hymns, no An­thems to be sung upon the Stage; nor no Music, or Dancing, but what it as well or better perform'd by the ordina­ry Method now in use, than it could be by a Chorus. The main business of a Chorus is cut off by our Religion, and the rest render'd useless and unnecessary, by the method and disposition of our Co­medies. Something like it we have still in use, tho not in our Theatres, yet at our Puppet Shews; Used at Puppet Shews. where Chorus stands before the Scenes, and explains to the Spectators what they see, and informs 'em what shall happen afterwards, makes his Wise reflections on what is past, and sometimes enters into Dia­logue with his little Actors, as a Party [Page 269] concern'd, and talks to the purpose like one of them. This is exactly the Of­fice of a Chorus, and therefore I don't see why the fellow that discharges it mayn't wear the Title; except it be, that the Authors of that sort of Drama, are generally too illiterate to know from whence they originally fetcht their Precedent. Here is nothing of the du­ty of a Chorus omitted, except the Sing­ing, Dancing, and Idolatrous Part, which, as we have already observ'd, are all ei­ther better supply'd otherwise, or abso­lutely inconsistent with our Religion and Stage.

Mr Collier indeed seems to assign the Chorus another Office.Function assigned the Chorus by Mr Col­lier. He wou'd have it to be a sort of Monitor, or Chaplain to the Play, to preach to the Audience, and correct the Disorders of the Stage. This is a new Function, for which I doubt he can produce no warrant from Aristophanes, or Precedent from Moliere. 'Tis an Office of his own creating, and therefore he wou'd do well to execute it a while himself, to instruct the Play­ers, and teach 'em the knack of Preach­ing, in which they are yet unexer­cis'd.

[Page 270] But all this Torrent of Misreasoning and false Rhetorick flows from one Spring,Original Errour of Mr Collier. one Original Error has branch'd itself out thus amply. Mr Collier knows, that the business of Comedy is to instruct by example; and he mistakenly ima­gines, that these ought to be Examples for Imitation. Whereas, if he consi­ders the nature of Comedy, he will find just the reverse of this fancy to be true. For, as we have already taken notice, it can employ no perfectly upright Characters, and consequently can af­ford no Examples, but for Caution.

Nor is Comedy therefore to be thought imperfect,Loose Cha­racters in Comedy no Encourage­ment to De­bauchery. any more than the Law, which makes no other provision for the encouragement of Virtue and good Actions, than by punishing Vice and Villany. What Mr Collier objects in this case is groundless, that the Poets, by dressing up an imperfect, or de­bauch'd Character, with the embellish­ments of Wit and Sense, and other good Qualities, and crowning it with Success at last, pave the way to Licen­tiousness and Debauchery. For, whe­ther the Poet brings such a Character to a sol [...]mn Resolution of Reforming at [Page 271] last, or not, which yet they generally do, 'tis evident, that the success which attends it, is not given to the Licenti­ousness, but to the Wit and Sense, or other good Qualities, which are pre­dominant in the Character. He there­fore that can take Success so bestow'd, and circumstantiated as it is usually in Comedy, for an encouragement to Debau­chery must have a very deprav'd Ap­prehension.

But Mr Collier is implacably enrag'd at the Poets, Ridiculous Fear if Mr Collier. for mixing such Beauties and such Blemishes in one Piece; and is in a Pannick Fear, lest the Beauty of the whole shou'd tempt Folks to ape the Deformities of it. This is as ridi­culous an Apprehension, as if any awk­ard Fellow shou'd see a Beau in all his Glory with dirty Shoes, and shou'd fancy that he made that splendid Fi­gure purely by virtue of the dirt upon his Shoes, and resolve never to have his own clean'd again. A fine Face, with a cast of the Eyes, may move the Beau's and the Ladies to wish for such Features, and such a Complexion, yet it wou'd scarce win 'em to endeavour to squint like it. Whatever Mr Collier [Page 272] may think, the Understanding of our Youth is not so very depress'd and low, but they can very readily distinguish between the obvious Beauties, and De­fects of a Character, and are not to be fool'd like Dottrels into a vicious Imi­tation. If a Man shou'd know a Pick­pocket that was an excellent Accountant, or a Forger of false Notes that was an incomparable Writing-master, it were very easie, and very commendable, for any one to imitate their good Quali­ties, without receiving any taint or impression from their Rogueries.

However, Mr Collier observes abun­dance of Licentiousness and Impurity in the world,Theatres wrongfully accused by him. and is resolv'd to lay it all at the doors of the Theatres. He sees up and down a great number of figures like those that are expos'd upon the Stage, and he wisely concludes, that the Models must needs be taken from thence, and that these men are but the Players apes, which is directly contrary to the Truth. For these are the Originals, of which those upon the Stage are but the Copies, the Images, which that, like a Glass, reflects back upon 'em

[Page 273] Chorus,Sense of Horace a­gain per­verted. or non Chorus, Mr Collier pushes still forward upon the mistaken, Authority of Horace; and maintains that Horace having expressly mentioned the Beginning and Progress of Comedy, discovers himself more fully. He advises a Poet to form his work upon the Precepts of Socrates and Plato, P. 151 and the Models of Moral Philosophy. This was the way to preserve Decency, and to assign a proper Fate and Behaviour to every Character. Now if Horace wou'd have his Poet go­vern'd by the Maxims of Morality, he must oblige him to Sobriety of Conduct, and a just Destribution of Rewards and Punishments.

To try the validity of this Argu­ment, we must have recourse to the Original, which will shew us some mis­application, and some mistake of Ho­race's meaning in this short Paragraph. Mr Collier links this advice of Horace im­mediately to his account of the Rise and Progress of Comedy; and that he may appropriate it solely to Comedy, skips over a transition of twenty lines, by which the Poet artificially passes from the particular of Comedy to Poetry in [Page 274] general; and takes occasion to say, that a good Poet ought to be a wise Man, and acquainted with the Writings of the Phi­losophers. For Socrates appears in this place as the Representative of the whole Body of Moral Philosophers, and not for himself and Plato only, as Mr Collier Imagines.

Scribendi recte sapere est Principium &
Hor. Art. Poet.
Rem tibi Socraticae poterunt ostendere chartae.

The reason of this he immediately subjoyns, which will also make the ap­plication for us. For, says he, The man that knows what is due to his Coun­try, and his Friends, his obligations to Parents and Kindred, the Laws of Hos­pitality, and the duty of a Senator, a Judge, and a General, knows enough to enable him to do Justice to every Cha­racter.

Qui didicit Patriae quid debeat,
& quid amicis:
Quo sit amore Parens, quo Frater a­mandus & Hospes,
[Page 275] Quod sit Conscripti, quod Iudicis offi­cium, quae
Partes in bellum missi ducis: ille pro­fecto
Reddere personae scit convenientia cui (que).

This List of Qualifications seems prepar'd only for Tragick and Epick Poetry. Comedy, which concerns none but the lesser Intrigues of Mankind, and the private Affairs of particular Fami­lies, or Persons, has no dealings with the Publick, or its Magistrates; and therefore does not seem to be compre­hended in the aim of these directions.

Yet,This Ad­vice Poli­tical, not Moral. if Mr Collier will have it inclu­ded, he ought to have shewn how far it was affected in particular upon a fair exposition. But that method wou'd not serve his turn. For Horace in this passage, does not advise the Study of Morality, but Politicks, which could best satisfy demands of this nature. He did not expect that the Poets shou'd tye their Characters up to severe duty, and make every one act up to the strict Rules of Morality, and be guided by the dictates of right Reason and Justice, or otherwise to punish 'em always in [Page 276] proportion to the Deviations they made from 'em, as Mr Collier insinuates. All that he requir'd was, that a Poet shou'd know how it became the several orders of men to behave themselves in civil Societies, according to their respective Ranks, Degrees, and Qualities; that they might thereby be qualify'd to give distinct Images of every kind, whether good or bad, without mixing of Cha­racters, or confounding Ideas. Rectum est Index sui, & obliqui, was his Rule in this case, and 'tis a true one, a right notion of things will certainly disco­ver a false one. For this he advis'd his Poet, to consult the Philosophers, and to dive into the political Reasons of these matters, without which their view of 'em wou'd be but superficial and confus'd.

Yet after all he gave him very large Priviledges, and extended his Charter, as far as the observation of Humane Nature, he allow'd him the liberty of saying any thing that Providence laid before him, provided he kept close to the Original. To this end he bids him look upon the Examples that men set him in their Lives and Manners, and [Page 277] thence learn to draw true pictures of Man­kind.

Respicere exemplar vitae, morum (que) ju­bebo.
Doctum Imitatorem, & veras hinc du­cere voces.

The Mores, Manners here signifi­ed Poetical not Mor [...] or Manners here menti­oned by Horace, are the Poetical, not Moral, the distinction betwixt which Mr Collier very well knows, as appears by his making use of it, when 'tis for his turn, tho he wilfully over-looks it in many other places, where the notice of it would be more natural, but less for his malicious purpose. However, since he has given a sort of definition, tho an imperfect one, of Poetical Man­ners, I shall give it the Reader in his own words. And because 'tis the only Statute Law of Parnassus, by which the Poets can fairly be tried for any mis­demeanour, either of Character or Ex­pression, I shall supply the Defects or Mr Collier's report of it from Aristotle, who is more full and clear.

Manners, Mr Col­lier's de­scription of Poetical Manners in the Language of Poetry, is a propriety of Actions and Persons. To succeed in this business there must be [Page 278] a regard had to Age, P. 165. Sex, and Conditi­on: And nothing put into the mouths of Persons, which disagrees with any of these circumstances. 'Tis not enough to say a witty thing, unless it be spoken by a like­ly Person, and upon a proper occasion.

In this account I observe many things deficient,Def [...]ctive and Esi­v [...]cal. something equivocal, which I shall first take notice of, and then proceed to supply the Defects. The three things, Mr Collier recommends to a Poet's, or Reader's careful observation, and regard, are Age, Sex, and Conditi­on. Of these, the first and the last, Age and Condition, are equivocal terms. The Author has not taken care to ex­plain, whether he means by Age, the Age of a Person, or the Age of the World, which he is suppos'd to live in. For to both these great regard is to be had, because they difference the Cha­racters equally. A noble Roman of four and twenty in the first Ages of the Commonwealth, was no more like one of the same Age under the Empe­rors, in humour and inclinations, than either of 'em was like his Grandfather of Fourscore. As great, or greater is the Ambiguity of the word Condition, [Page 279] whereby he has not signify'd whether he means Condition, as to Estate, Qua­lity, Ʋnderstanding, or Circumstances, as to the Action of the Play, at the jun­cture when the person does or says any thing. Yet these have all an equal share in the propriety both of Words and Actions, and ought to be consider'd, o­therwise the Manners can never be pre­serv'd in their Propriety and Integrity. But by supplying the Defects of this Account, we shall remedy the danger of mistakes from the equivocal Expres­sions contained in it.

Aristotle requires four conditions to the perfection of Poetick Manners. Aristotle's description.

1st, That they be good.

By the Goodness of Manners the Phi­losopher does not here understand any Moral Goodness; for he declares in this very Article, that he means only [...]. that they should be expressive of the Cha­racter, and carry both in words and actions, the distinguishing marks of the Humour and Inclinations of the person, whether they be morally Good or Bad. So that if the Humour or natural Incli­nations of the persons be sufficiently markt in the words and actions, the [Page 280] Manners are good, according to Aristotle, let 'em be never so vicious. Horace understands Manners the same way, when he tells us, that sometimes Plays of little Elegance, without Ornament, or Art, yet wherein the Manners were well express'd, took better than others, wherein they were neglected for Tinsel and Bombast.

Interdum speciosa locis,
Hor. Art. Poet.
morata (que) recte
Fabula, nullius Veneris sine pondere & Arte
Valdius oblectat Populum, melius (que) mo­ratur,
Quam versus inopes rerum, Nugae (que) ca­norae.

2dly, [...]. That they be proper.

Wherein this propriety consists Ari­stotle has not told us, except in one Ne­gative Instance,Propriety of Manners requir'd that Courage is a Quality improper, or unbecoming a Woman. Mr Collier's account of Poetical Manners above-cited, relates to this particular Condition only, yet is both defective and equivocal in that. Horace has been very full upon this, and takes care to describe at large the different humours of man in the several Stages of his Life. [Page 281] The same he does to the several orders and degrees of men, according to their respective Capacities, either Natural or Political, and gives the Poets a great Charge not to confound 'em. To re­peat his words upon this occasion wou'd be tedious, upon the score of length. However, I shall endeavour to give the Reader as good an Idea of this Poe­tical Propriety,Wherein it consists. as the narrow compass I am oblig'd to will permit. The pro­priety of Manners consists in an exact conformity both of words and actions to the supposed Age both of the person and the world, to the Humour, Fortune, Quality, Understanding, and present Condition, as to the business of the Play, of the person acting or speaking. Ho­race as well as Aristotle, has express'd all this in one word, Convenientia, both which I have render'd Proper. This place does not afford me room for in­stances for each particular, and therefore I shall desire the Reader's patience, till the Subject calls for 'em in their proper places.

3dly, That they be like.

This Condition relates only to Cha­racters taken from Histories,Simili­tude of Manners or Poetical [Page 282] Traditions very well known. When the Poet makes use of Names, or Stories with which the Audience is well ac­quainted, he must be sure to make 'em conform to the receiv'd opinion. Other­wise the Audience, who will not en­dure to have their own Notions con­tradicted, will never acknowledge 'em to be the Persons they wou'd be taken for. For this reason Horace bids his Poet, Follow common Fame, Famam Se­quere. And if he meddled with known Names, to keep to the known Chara­cters, and Accounts of 'em.

—Honoratum si forte reponis Achillem:
Hor. Art. Poet.
Impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer:
Iura neget sibi nata, nihil non arroget armis.
Sit Medea ferox, invicta (que) flebilis Ino,
Perfidus Ixion, Io vaga, tristis Orestes.

The likeness here design'd, is not a Natural, but a Historical likeness. How­ever monstrous a Character were, if it was form'd upon, and adjusted to com­mon Fame, the Poet was justify'd.

[Page 283] 4thly, Equality of Man­ners what. That they should be equal.

Here likewise Aristotle puts in his Ca­veat, lest any one by Equality of Man­ners shou'd understand such a steadiness of Temper and Resolution, as would exclude from the Stage the uncertainty of Fickle Humours, which he very well knew to be the case of a very great part of mankind. All that he requir'd was, that they should be all of a piece, that there might be no dismembring of Cha­racters, no repugnancy to themselves in any part of 'em. Horace, his best Inter­preter, says, Let the character be main­tain'd, and let the person appear the same at his exit, that he did at his entrance, and be consistent with himself.

—Servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerit,
Art. Poet.
& sibi cons [...]et.

The Philosopher did by no means intend to cut off so considerable a Branch from the revenue of Comedy as Levity; than which nothing deserves her Correction more, nothing fits her purpose better. But he cautions the Poets, whenever they make use of any [Page 284] of these Unequal, or Uncertain Tem­pers, to represent 'em [...]. equally, or alike unequal thro the whole Piece; and not to make 'em Fickle and Inconstant in one Act, and Resolv'd and Steady in another.

Upon these Rules we may proceed to try the Characters, and Expressions of our Poets, either in conjunction with the Antients, Faults of Characters what. or separately by themselves.

The Characters and Expressions have such a natural dependance upon one another, that they can't be examin'd a­part, each being justifiable or condem­nable upon the Evidence of the other only. The Character may offend two ways; first, by being unnatural, and consequently Monstrous; 2dly, by be­ing Inconsistent with itself, and not all of a Piece. These Faults, when com­mitted, are likewise two ways discove­rable, by the Actions, and by the Ex­pressions, when any thing is done, or said unnatural, or improper, a Fault is committed against Character, which is thereby broken, and becomes double.

The Faults of Expression are as va­rious as the circumstances against which it may offend,Faults of Expression manifold. which are already summ'd [Page 285] up under the head of Propriety, which may again be every one subdivided into so many Branches, that it would be endless to particularize the several ways of trespassing in this kind. I shall there­fore content my self to take notice of 'em severally, as occasion shall present it self, and wave▪ any further notice of those which shall not be found to my present purpose.

Mr Collier might unquestionably have found our Poets remiss enough in the observation of these Rules, and conse­quently guilty of faults deserving his or any one's correction. But he chose rather to brand 'em with crimes of a blacker dye, tho with less Justice and Truth, and like an Irish. Evidence, by his forwardness to charge, and the mon­strousness of his allegations, destroys the credit of his depositions.

His charge against our Stage for the mismanagement of their Characters con­sists of three general heads.Some heads of Mr Col­lier's Charge.

  • 1. Misrepresentation of Women.
  • 2. Abuse of the Clergy.
  • 3. Rude treatment of the Nobility.

[Page 286] To all these I shall say something ge­neral, with regard to the Argument, without entring into a discussion of the Merits of those particular Instances which he brings to back his Assertions. Not but I think many of 'em easily to be Apologiz'd for, or rather to be justi­fy'd; but because it would spin out this discourse to an unreasonable length, and likewise because there are those whose Abilities in this dispute are as much greater than mine, as their Inte­rest in it, to whom I leave it.

The Poets (says Mr Collier) make Wo­men speak smuttily.P. 8, 9, 12. They bring 'em un­der such misbehaviour, as is violence to their Native Modesty, and a misrepresen­tion of their Sex. For Modesty, as Mr Rapin observes, is the Character of Women. They represent their single Ladies, and persons of Condition, under these disorders of Liberty. This makes the Irregularity still more monstrous, and a greater Con­tradiction to Nature and Probability.

Here again,This point mistaken. according to his usual method, Mr Collier mistakes his point, and runs away with a wrong scent; however he opens, and cries it lustily away, that the Musick may atone for [Page 287] the mistake, and draw all those that are not stanch in Partners to his Error. Mr Rapin observes that the Character of Women is Modesty, and therefore Mr Col­lier thinks, that no Woman must be shewn without it. Aristotle has given Courage or Valour as the Characteristick or Mark of distinction proper to the other Sex, which was a notion so Antient, and so universally receiv'd, that most Nations have given it a denomination from the Sex, as if peculiar to it. The Greeks call'd it [...], we Manhood. Yet 'tis no Solecism in Poetical Manners to represent Men sometimes upon the Stage as Cowards; nor did any man ever think the whole Sex affronted by it; how near soever it might touch some Individuals.

If the Poets set up these Women of Liberty for the Representatives of their whole Sex,Faults of particular no reflection upon the Sex in General. or pretended to make them the Standards to measure all the rest by, the Sex wou'd have just reason to com­plain of so abusive a Misrepresentation. But 'tis just the contrary, the Sex has no Interest in the Virtues or Vices of any Individual, either on the Stage, or off of it; they reflect no honour or dis­grace [Page 288] on the Collective Body, any more than the Neatness and good Breeding of the Court affect the Nastiness and ill Manners of Billingsgate, or are affected by 'em.

In Plays the Characters are neither Vniversal nor General. Univer­sals and Individu­als impro­per Chara­cters. Marks so com­prehensive are the Impresses and Signa­tures of Nature, which are not to be corrected, or improv'd by us, and there­fore not to be meddled with. Besides, they give us no Idea of the person characteriz'd, but what is common to the rest of the species, and do not sufficiently distinguish him. Neither are they so Singular, as to extend no farther than single Individuals. Cha­racters of so narrow a Compass wou'd be of very little use, or diversion. Be­cause they wou'd not appear natural, the Originals being probably unknown to the greatest part, if not the whole Au­dience; nor cou'd any of the Audience sind any thing to correct in themselves by seeing the Infirmity peculiar to a par­ticular man expos'd. This was indeed the method of the Old Greek Comedy; but then they pick'd out publick persons, whom they dress'd in Fools Coats and [Page 289] expos'd upon the Stage, not in their own own Shapes, but those of the Po­et's Fancy; an Insolence, that never would▪ have been endur'd in any, but a Popular Government, where the best of Men are sometimes sacrificed to the Humours and Caprices of a giddy mul­titude. Yet even by them it was at last suppressed.

The Characters therefore must neither be too general,What Cha­racters pro­per nor too singular, one loses the distinction, the other makes it monstrous, we are too familiar with that to take notice of it, and too unacquainted with this to acknowledge it to be real. But betwixt these there is an almost▪ infinite variety; some na­tural and approaching to Generals, as the several Ages of the World, and of Life, Sexes and Tempers; some Artifi­cial, and more particular, as the vast Varieties and Shapes of Villany, Kna­very, Folly, Affectation and Humour, &c. All these are within the Poet's Royalty▪ and he may summon 'em to attend him, whenever he has occasion for their service. Yet tho these make up perhaps the greatest part of Man­kind, he is not fondly to imagine, that [Page 290] he has any Authority over the whole, or to expect homage from any of 'em, as the Publick Representatives of their Sex.

Yet even granting to the Poets such an unlimited Authority (which I shall not do) Mr Collier's Argument falls to the Ground nevertheless.Two sorts of Resem­blances in Poetry. For as in Painting, so in Poetry, 'tis a Maxim as true as common, that there are two sorts of Resemblances, one handsome, t'other homely. Now Comedy, whose Duty 'tis not to flatter, like Droll Pain­ting. gives the Features true, tho the Air be ridiculous. The Sex has its Characteristick Blemishes as well as Or­naments; and those are to be copied, when a Defective Character is intended, as the others are for a perfect one. And yet, for the reasons already given, when the Virtues or Vices of any par­ticular Women are represented, the Sex in general have no share either in the Complimeut or the Affront. Because any particular Instances to the contrary notwithstanding, the Sex may be in the main either good or bad. So that Mr Collier's charge of misrepresent­ing the Sex in general is groundless.

[Page 291] But he pursues his Argument to parti­culars, and takes notice, that even Qua­lity it self is not excepted from these Mismanagements.

If Dignities conferr'd true Merit,Quality no just reason for exemp­tion. and Titles took away all Blemishes, the Poets were certainly very much in the wrong to represent any Person of Quality with failings about her. But if Birth or Pre­ferment be no sufficient Guard to a weak­ly Virtue or Understanding. If Title be no security against the usual Hu­mane Infirmities; I see no reason, why they mayn't as well appear together upon the lesser Stage of the Theatre, as upon the grand one of the World. But this will be more properly consider'd in another place.

From these more general exceptions,Mr Col­lier's col­lect in from the Anti­ents very loosely made. he descends to particular Expressions. Which, that he may render the more in­excusable, he flies out into extravagant Commendations of the Antients upon the score of their Modesty, and the Cleanness of their Expressions. In this employment he bestirs himself notably, and pretends not to leave one exceptio­nable Passage unremarked. But either he has had a Prodigious Crop, or is a [Page 292] very ill Husband; for he leaves very large gleanings behind him. We shall make bold to walk over the same ground, and pick up some of his lea­vings, (for all wou'd be too bulky to find room in this place) and restore 'em to their Owners, whether left by him out of negligence or design.

One thing I must desire the Reader to take notice of, which is, that I don't charge these passages as faults, or immoralities upon the Antients, but only instance in 'em, to shew the parti­ality of Mr Collier, who violently wrests the Words and Sense of the Mo­derns, only to make that monstrous and unsufferable in them, which he either excuses or defends in the others. Nor do I here pretend to present the Rea­der with a compleat Collection of the kind. I assure him, that I shall leave untouch'd some hundreds of those in­stances which I have actually observ'd amongst the Greek and Latin Drama­tists, and only give him so many, as are indispensably necessary to shew how unjustly Mr Collier has drawn his pa­rallel. For since both Antients and Moderns, as Poets are submitted to, and [Page 293] ought to be govern'd by the same Laws, 'tis but reason, that one as well as t'other, shou'd be allow'd the benefit of 'em.

Shakespear's Ophelia comes first under his Lash,Objection to Ophe­lia. for not keeping her mouth clean under her distraction. He is so very nice, that her breath, which for so many years has stood the test of the most critical Noses, smells rank to him. It may therefore be worth while to en­quire, whether the fault lies in her Mouth, or his Nose.

Ophelia was a modest young Virgin,Character of Ophe­lia. beloved by Humlet, and in Love with him. Her Passion was approv'd, and directed by her Father, and her Preten­sions to a match with Hamlet, the heir apparent to the Crown of Denmark, encouraged, and supported by the Coun­tenance and Assistance of the King and Queen. A warrantable Love, so natu­rally planted in so tender a Breast, so carefully nursed, so artfully manured, and so strongly forced up, must needs take very deep Root, and bear a very great Head. Love, even in the most difficult Circumstances, is the Passion na­turally most predominant in young Breasts [Page 294] but when it is encouraged and cherish'd by those of whom they stand in awe, it grows Masterly and Tyrannical, and will admit of no Check. This was poor Ophelia's case. Hamlet had sworn, her Father had approved, the King and Queen consented to, nay, desired the Consummation of her Wishes. Her hopes were full blown, when they were miserably blasted. Hamlet by mi­stake kills her Father, and runs mad; or, which is all one to her, counterfeits madness so well, that she is cheated into a belief of the reality of it. Here Piety and Love concur to make her Af­fliction piercing, and to impress her Sorrow more deep and lasting. To tear up two such passions violently by the roots, must needs make horrible Convulsions in a Mind so tender, and a Sex so weak. These Calamities di­stract her, and she talks incoherently; at which Mr Collier is amaz'd, he is downright stupified, and thinks the Woman's mad to run out of her wits. But tho she talks a little light-headed▪ and seems to want sleep, I don't find she needed any Cashew in her Mouth to correct her Breath. That's a discovery [Page 295] of Mr Collier's, (like some other of his) who perhaps is of Opinion, that the Breath and the Understanding have the same Lodging, and must needs be viti­ated together. However, Shakespear has drown'd her at last, and Mr Collier is angry that he did it no sooner. He is for having Execution done upon her seriously, and in sober sadness, with­out the excuse of madness for Self­murther. To kill her is not sufficient with him, unless she be damn'd into the bargain.Objection groundless & friv. [...]o [...]. [...]. Allowing the Cause of her madness to be Partie per Pale, the death of her Father, and the loss of her Love, which is the utmost we can give to the latter, yet her passion is as innocent, and inoffensive in her di­straction as before, tho not so reason­able and well govern'd. Mr Collier has not told us, what he grounds his hard censure upon, but we may guess, that if he be really so angry as he pre­tends, 'tis at the mad Song, which O­phelia sings to the Queen, which I shall venture to transcribe without fear of offending the modesty of the most chaste Ear.

[Page 296]
To morrow is St Valentine's day,
Mad Song.
all in the morn betimes,
And I a Maid at your Window to be your Valentine.
Then up he, he arose, and don'd his
Cloaths, and dupt the Chamber door,
Let in a Maid that out a Maid
Never departed more.
By Gis, and by St Charity:
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do't, if they come to't,
By Cock they are to blame.
Quoth she, before you tumbled me,
You promis'd me to wed:
So had I done, by yonder Sun,
And thou hadst not come to bed.

'Tis strange this stuff shou'd wamble so in Mr Collier's Stomach, [...]oolish but [...]ffensive. and put him into such an Uproar. 'Tis silly indeed, but very harmless and inoffensive; and 'tis no great Miracle, that a Woman out of her Wits shou'd talk Nonsense, who at the soundest of her Intellects had no extraordinary Talent at Speech­making. Sure Mr Collier's concoctive Faculty's extreamly deprav'd, that meer Water-Pap turns to such virulent Cor­ruption with him.

[Page 297] But Children and Mad Folks tell truth,Antients more faulty then this. they say, and he seems to disco­ver thro her Frenzy what she wou'd be at. She was troubled for the loss of a Sweet-heart, and the breaking off her Match, Poor Soul. Not unlikely. Yet this was no Novelty in the days of our Fore-fathers; if he pleases to con­sult the Records, he will find even in the days of Sophocles, Maids had an itching the same way, and longed to know, what was what, before they died.

Antigone, Instance in the Anti­gone of Sopho­cles. whom he has produc'd as an instance of the Temperance, and De­cency of the Ancients in this respect, may upon the Parallel serve us as an ex­ample of the contrary. The distinguish­ing Parts of this Ladies Character, are Piety and Resolution, and she makes both sufficiently appear, she buries her Brother, tho she knew she must die for it. And when she receives her Sentence from Creon, which was immediate­ly to be put in execution, she makes light of Death, and insults the Tyrant. But as she is led to Execution, she is un­expectedly concerned about the Toy her Maidenhead; 'tis her great Affliction, [Page 298] that she must go out of the world with that great Burthen about her. Upon this occasion she is very clamorous, and that it may be taken notice of as her main grievance, she repeats it divers times over, and chews the Cud upon it liberally.


Poor Girl, she does not relish her Sentence half so well as an Epithala­mium. She thinks a soft Bed, and a warm Bed-fellow more comfortable by abundance, than a cold Grave. And who can blame her? But Matrimony runs strangely in her head. For a little after she's at it again, complaining of her want of a Husband, and is very sorry that she must cross the Styx, and visit her Parents with her Maiden-head about her.


And immediately after she's at it again.


[Page 299] Ʋnmarried is still the burthen of the Song. Nay, she is so full of it, that she can't forbear talking of a second Husband, in case she were a Widow.


This thought of a second Husband is such a Refreshment to her, that she can't forbear dilating upon it. One wou'd think by the odd Frolicksome­ness of her complaints, and the whim­sical Comforts she finds out, that she was only going to dance bare-foot at a Sisters VVedding. But within a few lines, she relapses again into her ago­nies of despair, and is more afraid of leading Apes in Hell, than e're a hope­less Antiquated Damsel within our Bills of Mortality. She is not so much concern'd at dying, but to go out of the world,


and not to have one Honey Moon, not so much as a merey Bout before she went, was a hardship she cou'd not bear with any temper.

[Page 300] VVe may find by this Lady's com­plaint, that she was very desirous to dispose of her Maiden-head; but for any thing that appears from her com­plaint or behaviour, she was very in­different to whom. 'Twas a Burthen she long'd to be rid of, and seem'd not to care who eas'd her; for she does not mention her Contract with Haemon, which she decently might, but laments her want of a Husband in general terms, without giving the least hint of an Ho­nourable Love for any particular person.

These are extraordinary Speculations for a dying Person. However, Mr Col­lier admires the Poets conduct in this case, and were he Ordinary no doubt but we shou'd have these Flowers transplanted in great plenty to the last Speeches of his dying Females. He thinks 'tis out of pure regard to Modesty and Decency, that Antigone takes no notice of Haemon in her complaints. I shall not dispute, whe­ther 'twere the fashion in the days of Sophocles or not; but I am sure 'tis ac­counted but an ill Symptome of Mo­desty in our Age, when a young Lady shews an impatience to be married, before she has made a Settlement of [Page 301] her Affection upon any Individual Man.

However,Instance in Electra of the same Author. Antigone's Carriage is not singular; Electra, another Lady of much the same Quality and Character, (tho not under those immediate apprehensions of Death) declares her self of the same Opinion. She's in great distress too for want of a Husband, and complains very heavily upon that score.


Nor is Euripides a whit more tender in this point. The Royal Polyxena, just before she was to be led away as a Victim to the Manes of Achilles, harps upon the same string. It lies very heavy upon her Spirits, that she must go out of the World in ignorance.


This Princess's complaint is yet more unreasonable than either of the former, and more unbecoming the Modesty of her Sex, and the greatness of her Birth [Page 302] and Courage, as 'tis both before and after­wards shew. Shewn as a Captive, a part of the Plunder of the sack'd City, one that besides her own unhappy Destiny, which hung immediately over her head, had the Ruin and Miseries of her Coun­try and Family fresh in view, to put all wanton thoughts out of her head. Besides, she cou'd not expect to ascend the insolent Conquerors Bed any otherwise than as his Vassal, the Slave of his Lust and Pleasure, which, as it was below her to comply with, but upon Force, so it must be a Slavish Baseness, as well as Wantonness and Incontinence, to desire it under her Circumstances.

It were easy to bring many Instances more of this kind, but I think. it wou'd be tedious and unnecessary to multiply instances in a plain case. I think it like­wise a labour altogether as superfluous to spend more words to shew the vast disproportion between the innocent Ex­travagance of Ophelia's Frenzy, and the sober Rants of Antigone, Electra, and Polyxena. To suppose the Reader cou'd over-look that, were to affront his Un­derstanding.

[Page 303] But before I part with Antigone, I shall beg leave to make one observation more.P. 35. Mr Collier takes notice, that Cas­sandra, in reporting the misfortunes of the Greeks, stops at the Adulteries of Clytem­nestra and Aegiale. And gives this hand­some reason for making a halt.

Foul things are best unsaid.

From whence he observes, that Some things are dangerous in report, as well as practice, and many times a Disease in the Description. This Euripides was aware of, and manag'd accordingly, and was remarkably regular both in Stile and Man­ners.

This was indeed an extraordinary piece of niceness in Euripides, more I think by a great deal, than he was ob­lig'd to, and I am sure more than he has shewn upon other occasions. Cassandra might have foretold the Discovery of the Adulteries of Clytemnestra and Aegi­ale, without any Indecencies of Lan­guage, or shocking the most tender Ear, had the Poet so pleas'd.

[Page 304] Sophoclcs, Antigone in Sopho­cles not so nice. who was as good a Judge and as careful an observer of decency as Euripides, gives his Antigone more liberty; tho had he thought it indecent, he might with better reason have ex­cus'd her. 1st, Because what Antigone says is no way necessary, being neither provok'd by any thing that preceeded, nor of use to the promoting of the Action, or the Information of the Au­dience. 2dly, Because she thereby re­vives the Infamy of her Parents, and refreshes the scandalous impressions, which her own Incestuous Birth must needs have made upon the Audience to her disadvantage.


If Antigone might be thus free with her own Family without breach of Modesty, I can't see why Cassandra shou'd be so tender of an Enemy, whom she was just going to supplant in her Bed; and in the divulging of whose Faults, as well as Misfortunes, she might be allow'd to take some [Page 305] Pleasure,Casandra not so nice as Mr Col­lier pre­tends. as a sort of anticipation of the satisfaction, which she took in the Revenge of the Destruction of her Fa­mily, which she foresaw was to come. But Casandra lov'd doing better than talking. For in the Speech foregoing to this, which Mr Collier commends so much for the Modesty of it, Casandra runs almost mad for Joy, that Agamemnon wou'd take her to his Bed, and calls in an Enthusiastick manner upon Hymen, upon Hecate, and Apollo to grace the Ceremony. She desires her Mother, and the miserable Phrygians about her to adorn themselves, be merry, and dance, and sing, as if her Father were in the heighth of his prosperity. The Chorus hereupon desires Hecuba to curb her, and keep her from running volun­tarily to the Grecian Camp. Her Mo­ther accordingly reprimands her, and tells her she thought their Calamities might have made her more modest, that Tears better became their For­tune, than Nuptial Songs or Tor­ches.

[Page 306] [...].

This Reproof has a strange Opera­tion upon Casandra. E [...]trava­gance of Casandra. For instead of re­claiming and reducing her to reason, it makes her ten times madder. She falls to cross purposes with her Mother, and as if she had been Pandress in the case, calls upon her to crown her victorious head, and wish her Joy of her Royal Match. She bids her lead her, and if she does not make hast enough, she wou'd have her push violently on.


Is this the Modest, the bashful Ca­sandra, so demure, that she can't name adultery, tho in an Enemy, and yet so forward to act it, that no restraints of Shame or Misery can keep her with­in bounds.

[Page 307] It may perhaps be objected in De­fence of Casandra, that her Joy and Transport springs not from any Plea­sure or Satisfaction, that she shou'd take in this Match, but from the Prospect she had of revenging the Quarrel of her Family, and the Ruine and De­struction which she foresaw shou'd thence come upon the House of Atreus her mortal Enemies.

Admit this to be true.Indecency again [...] Cha­racter. Yet Casandra pushes her Resentments too far, when she sacrifices her Virtue and Modesty to her Revenge. Had Casandra been represented as a Woman of a furious vindicative Spirit, she might in a sud­den fit of Rage have rashly sacrificed all Considerations to the Violence of her present Fury. But then if the Cha­racter be virtuous in the main, such Outrages are not offered to Modesty, till after prodigious struggles, and racking Convulsions of Mind. Passion must not triumph over Reason and Honour, but with vast labour and dif­ficulty, and in those Breasts only, where it is the ruling, uncontrollable Power, and where the prospect of its success is great, and immediate, and is [Page 308] in Women provoked as well by Appe­tite as Inclination.

But this is none of Casandra's case. She shared indeed amongst the rest the common Fate, and became a Slave, and a Prey to the victors Lust and Avarice. This might naturally make her wish the utter confusion of the Destroyers of her Country and Family; but not at the expence of her Fame and Virtue. 'Twas all she had left to comfort her; and as Andromache in the same Play cou'd inform her, of infinitely more worth, than the wretched remainder of a servile Life. This therefore shou'd not have been parted with at any rate, much less upon a slender consideration. Had she submitted to necessity only, and comply'd as a Slave with reluctance to the desires of Agamemnon, as Andro­mache does to Pyrrhus, she had saved hes Modesty, and secured her Revenge ev'ry whit as well. The Disasters of Aga­memnon and his House, interpreted as a Punishment of her's, and her Family's wrongs, tho they were only Propheti­cally fore-known by her, had given a sullen s [...]rt of Comfort, and afforded a reason for her resignation of her self [Page 309] to the Conquerors Pleasure. But if the Poet designed her for so implacable a Character, as to take such great satisfacti­on in, and purchase at so dear a rate a Prospect only of Revenge at such a distance, by which she herself must be crushed, and all her Friends either dead, or so dispersed as to have no interest in the accomplishment of it: he ought to have prepar'd the Audience for so unac­countable an extravagance, by some notice of the Violence of her Temper, either by something from her own mouth or Conduct previous to this, or from the mouth of some Friend of her's, that might have abated the surprize of such a resolution. Especially since he was re­solved she shou'd appear no more by her future modest behaviour to qualify the Scandal of this Misdemeanour.

This Lady being set up by Mr Collier as the Standard of Modesty, I have ex­amined her Conduct the more at large; and am very willing to leave it to the decision of the Reader, whether Casandra or Ophelia wou'd best become the Cloy­ster, or most needs the Discipline of the Nunnery in Moorfields.

[Page 310] We have seen how this Lady can behave her self upon occasion.Misbehavi­our of He­cuba. Let us examine her Mother, that corrected her wantonness so seasonably upon this occasion. She as older shou'd have more wit, and yet she forgets herself extreamly too sometimes. In the Play that bears her name, Hecuba comes to Agamemnon, complains of the murther of her Son Polydorus by Polymestor, and to move him to Compassion begins a wanton Discourse of the Pleasures of Love to him, tho she thinks at the same time, that 'tis impertinent, yet she's resolv'd it shall out.


As an old Woman she had the pri­viledge of tattling. But as a Prudent Wo­man, she ought to have handled her Daughters disgrace a little more tender­ly. The good old Lady ne'r minces the matter, but outs with all roundly, and is concerned, that any thing shou'd a­bate of the satisfaction Casandra might have in so good a Bedfellow.


[Page 311] This is plain dealing, but something below the Dignity of the Queen of Asia, at the lowest ebb of her Fortune. What follows is fit only for the Mouth of a Drunken Midwife at a Christening in Wapping.


After these remarkable Instances of the regularity of Euripides, Love and T [...]nderness used by the Moderns. Lust and Violence by the Anti­ents. both in Stile and Manners, I suppose our Poets may venture to shew their Faces in his Com­pany, without danger of putting him to the blush with their want of Mo­desty. But the Antients, it seems, had very little Love or Courtship in their Plays. Perhaps so. But they had Lust and Violence, which Mr Collier thinks more eligible. The fault of the Mo­dern Lovers, it seems, is too much tenderness and fooling away their time in idle Talk. The vigorous Antients went more roundly to work, their's were like Spanish Intrigues, two words struck the bargain betwixt 'em.

[Page 312] 'Twere easie to multiply instances of this nature from Euripides, Numerous instances of this kind to be found in Euripides. were that my Design. But I love not to rake into the Ashes of the Dead for that which isn't worth finding. Yet that the Reader, if he has the curiosity, may have the satisfaction, I shall refer him to the Places where they are to be found; where he that has a mind to a more ample Collection, may be abundantly furnished.

Hermione rails at Andromache in terms very misbecoming her Sex,Some re­ferr'd to. Quality, and Years. Andromache reproves her for it in terms yet less beseeming a sober Matron, and casts a scandalous aspersion upon her whole Sex. Creusa makes a foul relation of her rape by Apollo, and descends nauseously to par­ticulars with her Servant. Ion her Son civilly questions his Mother, whether she had not play'd the Whore with some base Groom, and to cover her dis­grace laid her Bastard (himself) falsly to Apollo's charge. Electra's manners are much of the same size and com­plexion; when she is urging her Bro­ther Orestes to the murther of Aegisthus; she bids him ring in his Ears the who­ring [Page 313] of her Mother, and tell him, that since he had a Whore of her he must expect sharers in her, and be the Cuckold of other Men, as her Father had been his. That he was notorious for her Cully all the Town over. This sort of stuff she lets run over without re­gard to Decency, and rambles as wan­tonly thro the Infamy of her Family, as is if 'twere only Scandal pickt up at a Gossipping, in which they had no par­ticular Concern.

Whoever consults these and divers Passages, as well in Sophocles as Euri­pides, will find the most exceptionable Passages in our Poets, whether Comick or Tragick very excusable, upon a fair Construction, let it be never so severe within the Bounds of Justice.

Seneca has received Absolution,Seneca examin'd upon this Article. and is pronounced clear of the sin of Un­cleanness. Yet with Mr Collier's leave, since he is introduced to vilify and de­preciate the Moderns, he is bound to confront 'em, and answer for his own Conduct, before he takes upon him magisterially to censure and correct o­thers. But since 'tis not so much his act as Mr Collier's, who has ventured to [Page 314] be his Godfather, and answer for him, a slight Inquisition shall excuse him. We shall not require so severe a Proof of his Chastity as the Ordeal Tryal. It shall be sufficient for him to enter his Protestation against what has been done in his Name.

In his Hippolytus, Miscarriage of Phaedra. Phaedra is possessed with a scandalous, incestuous Passion, and she indulges it at as loose, a scan­dalous rate. She enters first with her Resolution, as strong as her Desires. She is not concerned at the Nature or Consequences of so vile a Passion, but at the difficulty of satisfying it. She appears at first sight full grown and con­firm'd in Wickedness, and instead of condemning and endeavouring to stifle so lewd, a licentious Flame, she ani­mates her self to the accomplishment of her design by a recrimination upon her Husband, and rips up, amongst others, even those of his Faults, to which her­self had been accessary, and the sole occasion of his Guilt. But what is more strange and unnatural, she draws matter of Comfort and Encouragement from the monstrous Lewdness of her Mother, and the Infamy of her House. But [Page 315] what's most wonderful of all, she's come to this heighth of Impudence, be­fore she well knows what ails her; she is but just arrived at the Discovery of her Malady. She can neither Eat, Sleep, Work, nor Pray; but she burns, and boils inwardly like Aetna it self, and is all agog on the sudden for hunting and handling the Boarspear: She knows not why, till at length she finds, that she's her Mother's own Daughter, and so the Mystery comes out.

Quo tendis anime? quid furens saltus amas?
Fatale miserae matris agnosco malum,
Peccare noster novit in Sylvis amor.
Genetrix, tui me miseret, infando malo
Correpta pecoris efferi saevum ducem
Audax amasti. Torvus impatiens guge
Adulter ille, ductor indomiti gregis.
Sed amabat aliquid: Quis meas mise­rae Deus,
Aut quis juvare Daedalus flammas queat?
Non si ille remee [...] arte mopsopia potens,
Qui nostra caeca monstra concluset domo,
Promittat ullam casibus nostris opem.
—Nulla Minois levi
[Page 316] Defuncta amore est: jungitur semper nefas.

'Twas the fate of her Family, it seems, and she was by no means for contending with her destiny, and there­fore surrenders upon the first Summons of her passion. Her Mother, she thinks, was much oblig'd to Daedalus, whose ingenuity brought her and her horned Lover together. But alas! Poor Soul, She's hard put to't. Her Mother's Bull was a gentle tender-hearted Gallant, to her Savage obdurate Son-in-law; and she, good woman, had no such necessary helps for her Consolation. What must she do? He Nurse advises her to strangle this Incestuous Brat, her Passion, in the Birth. But she bravely resolves to push on, whatever comes on't.

Quemcun (que) dederit exitum casus, fe­ram.

Is this the modest Phaedra, whose Language is under such discipline? Can she be so free with the Infamy of her House, make such fulsome descrip­tions, and envy her Mother the caresses [Page 317] of a Bull? But the Nurse mends the matter, and reproves her severely. Here therefore we may expect a sample of strict and exemplary modesty, and chaste expression.

Sed ut secundus Numinum abscondat favor
Coitus nefandos—and immediately after
—Metue concubitus novos.
Miscere thalamos Patris, & Nati ap­paras,
Ʋtero (que) prolem capere confusam impio.

Is this the disciplin'd Language Mr Collier boasts of? Such we have in­deed sometimes under the discipline of Bridewel and Bedlam, but seldom else­where. The most accomplish'd Disciple that ever came out of the late famous Academy of the virtuous Mrs Meggs of notable Memory, cou'd not have been more free in her Language, as well as Thoughts. The Antients, good Men, did not puzzle their Heads about double entendre's to screen a foul thought, or labour for Allegories and Allusions, but honestly called a Spade, a Spade, when­ever they had occasion. I believe [Page 318] these Ladies wou'd be better company for Joan of Naples, than Mr Dryden's Leonora, if fulsome Descriptions be so toothsome to her.

But Mr Collier is mightily pleased,Modesty of Lycus con­sider. that there is no courting, except in the Hercules Furens, where the Tyrant Lycus addresses Megara very briefly, and in mo­dest remote Language. Here he has pointed us a Specimen of what he calls modest and remote. The Tyrant had court­ed Megara, the Wife of Hercules, to no purpose, she obstinately repulsed him; and therefore he turns him about, and modestly (as Mr Collier thinks) thus addresses himself to Amphitruo. You have Pimpt for Jupiter to your Wife, and shall do as much for me to your Daughter-in-Law, having so expert a Master it can be no novelty either to her, or her Hus­band, to be civil to their Betters. But if she obstinately refuses to comply, I'll force her, and beget a generous Race.

Jovi dedisti conjugem, Regi dabis.
Et te magistro non novum hoc discet Nurus,
Etiam viro probante, meliorem sequi,
Sin copulari pertinax taedis negat,
[Page 319] Vel ex coacta nobilem partum feram.

This, according to Mr Collier, is Di­stance and Modesty, Old Stile. If he will make these allowances to our Poets, I'll engage to prove there never was an immodest thing said upon the English Stage; a task I shou'd be loth to under­take upon any other terms, as much as I am perswaded of their comparative Innocence.

But 'tis not in his Judgment only,References to other in­stances. that Mr Collier can be partial; his Me­mory can be favourable too upon occa­sion. For tho he does non omnibus dor­mire, yet he can wink at the Faults of his old Friends, while he sees ev'ry slip of the Moderns double. He says, that Seneca has no courting but this of Lycus; but I suppose, he wilfully forgets the shameful solicitations which Phaedra uses to corrupt her Son-in-Law Hippolitus, against the Charter of her Sex, and the rules of Decency. They, whose curiosity invites 'em to a further enquiry, may find matter in abundance for their speculations, in the Agamemnon, particularly in the Scenes between Clytemnestra and her Nurse, [Page 320] Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, Electra and Clytemnestra; and in divers others places of the rest of the Plays of that Col­lection.

If we should examine the Ancient Co­medy These Faults less pardon­able in Tragedy, than Co­medy. with the severity that Mr Collier uses to the Moderns, we should let in such a torrent of Citations, as wou'd almost over-whelm us. But for the reasons already given, there are grains of allowance to be made to Comedy, to which Tragedy can lay no claim. Tra­gedy deals with persons of the highest Condition, by and before whom the strictest severity of Manners and Deco­rum is to be observ'd. The business is of great importance, and requires se­rious consideration, and gives no op­portunity for wantonness, or light in­decencies. Whenever therefore the Poet suffers snch persons to talk such Fooleries themselves, or others to talk 'em to 'em, he stoops 'em below their Characters and Business. But in Come­dy the case is quite different, both the persons and business are little, and exact neither State nor Ceremony. Most of the persons are such, as either don't [...]now, or don't regard Forms and [Page 321] Punctilio's of good Breeding. This we have a plain Proof of in all the Co­medies of Antiquity, whether of the old or new Cut.Slaves th [...] top Cha­ract [...]rs of the Ro­man Co­medy. The Slaves ate so fa­miliar with their Masters, that by the freedoms they take, 'tis hard to distin­guish one from t'other, except that the Slave bears the Character of Advantage, and appears generally to have more wit than his Master, whom he is to assist if he be young, and cheat if he be old. Accordingly we find 'em al­most always bantering, quibbling, drol­ling, and jesting upon their Masters, when they are together. Their em­ployment is usually to purchase their young Master a Mistress, with the Hunks their Old Masters money. By this means the Slaves become the Prin­cipal Character in the Antient Comedy, and are the main Spring, by which the whole Machine of the Fable is set a going. The rest, which are usually in the new Come­dy, a covetous old Fellow, an extravagant young one, a Bawd, a Whore, a stolen Vir­gin, are but the under Wheels, whose motions are regulated altogether by those of the Slave, who is the Man of Intrigue, and carries all the Brains the [Page 322] Poet can spare about him. The old Man is froward, suspicious, severe, and close­fisted; and sometimes he is represented easy and indulgent, but has a scolding, turbulent, griping Wife, a churlish, par­simonious Brother, or Relation, or con­ceited Wise Friend, that takes upon him­self to correct and govern him. The young Fellow is in Love, extravagant, and in want of Money. The Bawd, whether Male, or Female, is faithless, imposing, and acted only by present profit. The Whore, if an experienc'd one, is altogether Mercenary, if raw in her Trade, she is dotingly fond and loving, but under the care of the Bawd. The stoln Virgin is always next to a Mute.

Their Plots are confined to as nar­row a compass,Very little variety In th [...]r Plots. as their Characters. The young Man is in Love with a Slave, and wants money to purchase her of the Bawd, who is about to sell, or prostitute her to another. The young Man in this exigent has recourse to a crafty Servant, who helps by some Stra­tagem to squeeze the money out of the old Spunge his Father, or to cheat some other Body. A discovery at length is [Page 323] made to his Father, who is vehemently provoked at his Sons folly and extrava­gance, and threatens to difinherit him. Young Master and Man are at their wits end, to reconcile themselves to the old Man, and no fetch, no contri­vance left to bring themselves off, when in comes some Merchant or Stranger, who discovers that this Maiden is a Citizen, and well born; which paci­fies the Old Fellow, the young Man thrives in his amours, a match is struck up by consent of all Parties, and all's well again.

'Tis true,Greater Li­berty taken by Aristo­phanes. Aristophanes took a much greater compass, and brought not only Mankind, but Gods, Brute Animals, and even inanimate Bodies within the Pale of the Stage. This, as it inlarg'd his walk, encreas'd his Liberty, which he sometimes abuses at a scandalous unju­stifyable rate. Mr Collier, to obviate all objections that might be rais'd from the practice of Aristophanes, whose Co­medies are the only pieces of that kind remaining of the Greek Stage, by way of prevention excepts against his Cre­dit, and endeavours to invalidate his Evidence by accusing him of Atheism.

[Page 324] But tho I think Mr Collier's Argu­ments to prove him an Atheist to be of no validity,Aristo­phanes whether an Atheist or not [...] to the pur­pose. as I could easily shew, were it not an impertinent digression in this place; yet I shall wave the particular refutation of 'em, because I think it not material to the point in hand, whe­ther he were so or not. For tho we should grant, that the Poet himself was an Athiest, yet Mr Collier himself will not pretend that his Audience, the people of Athens were so too. On the contrary it appears that they were as arrant Bigots, as Mr Collier himself could wish to trade with. They put Socrates to death, only because he would not be cullied out of his reason, and be the Priest's Fool, to counte­nance and encourage a senseless extra­vagant superstition. This made some Christian Fathers reckon him among the Martyrs for the Unity of the De­ity.

But Mr Collier, who has a much bet­ter hand at supposing than proving, takes a very odd method to clear the reputation of that great man from the suggestions of Aristophanes, and the censure of his Country, by whom he was condemn'd for Atheism.

[Page 325] That Socrates was no Atheist is clear from Instances enow. To mention but one. The confidence he had in his Daemon or Genius, by which he govern'd his Affairs, puts it beyond dispute.

That Socrates held,This Argu­ment consi­dered. and believ'd the existence of Daemons or Genii, may be an argument, that he was no Atheist. But that he pretended to have any Fa­miliarity, or hold any Correspondence with such a Daemon or Genius, gives me but a very indifferent notion of his Faith and Integrity. It smells rank of Imposture, and must needs make but a bad Impression upon men of Integrity, and Understanding of those Principles, which want the support of such disho­nest shifts. But this was Plato's report of him, and perhaps was neither the real practice nor opinion of Socrates, whom therefore we shall dismiss, as ha­ving been brought in only to shew how unluckily Mr Collier is gifted for Ar­gument.

But if the Athenians could proceedRigour of the Athe­nians to Socrates a sort of Ac­qui [...]ment of Aristo­phanes. with such Rigou [...] against a man so much rever'd for his Virtue and Wisdom, and supported by the favour of their best and greatest men only, for holding [Page 326] Opinions contrary to their Notions of Religion, 'tis not to be imagin'd, that they who were so very tender in this case, so extreamly sensible of any affront to the Common Faith, would with so little concern, or rather so much satis­faction, have heard it publickly insulted by Aristophanes. They shew'd in the case of Socrates, that their Blood could rise and ferment upon such occasions as high as any people's. How comes it then, that they who were so outrage­ous and impatient with Socrates, are so tame, and passive as to bear much greater Provocations of the same Na­ture from Aristophanes without the least sign of Resentment? Was the interest of the Poet so much superiour to the Philosophers, that what was capital in one shou'd deserve no manner of cor­rection, or notice in t'other? No such matter, for he was call'd in question, and took his Tryal for a thing of much less moment, viz. For assuming the Liber­ties of a Citizen of Athens being a Foreign­er. Now there is [...] doubt, but his Ene­mies who had the malice and the power to get him thus arraign'd, would have strengthen'd their Charge, with an Ar­ticle [Page 327] so considerable as Atheism, and Blasphemy against their Gods, before such superstious bigotted Judges as the Athenians, had there been any ground or colour of suspicion. The Power and Malice of Cleon wou'd have reach'd, him, had there been any plau­sible pretence, to have fixt the guilt of a Crime so unpopular upon him.

Mr Collier pretends to maintain his assertion by divers instances of irreve­rent passages in relation to their Gods,Mr Col­lier's [...]o proof of [...] assertion. to be found in the Plays of Aristopha­nes. I grant there are such passages, even more than Mr Collier has cited, tho many of those which he has select­ed to prove his Allegation by, will by no means bear the weight of such a Charge. But the people of Athens, who were in these matters much more delicate,The Opini­on of the Man not measured by the Ex­pressions of the Poet at Athens than Mr Collier seems to be, had the niceness to distinguish justly be­tween the Private Sentiments of the Man, and the Publick one's of the Poet. In this latter capacity almost all sorts of Characters belong' [...] to him, and he must of consequence be frequently ne­cessitated to make use of Thoughts and Expressions very contrary to his own [Page 328] proper opinion. The Athenians there­fore did not lay these Liberties of the Stage, which they knew the nature of those Characters which he represented must of course oblige him to, as ble­mishes either in his Faith or Morals, to his Charge. Had Mr Collier been Ma­ster of as much Understanding and Ju­stice, as these Heathens, not only Ari­stophanes, but our English Poets too had met with a fairer Adversary, and found civiller and honester treatment. 'Twere easie to enlarge in the Justification of Aristophanes; but Mr Collier gives him up, and therefore we need no parallel between him, and the English Comick Poets, to prove the comparative mode­sty of the latter; for which reason we shall proceed directly to Plautus whom he justifies upon the compari­son.

Plautus, Liberties of Plautus greater than those of the En­glish Stage. P. 15. by reason of the narrow Cir­cle that he moves in, affords no great variety, yet there is plenty enough in him, to make Mr Collier blush for his defence, if it were all produc'd at large. For what he calls very moderate, and says, that our single Plays shall far out­do all this put together, wou'd in his [Page 329] Microscopical way of observing appear monstrous, and infinitely exceed the most malicious collection he can make out of the English Poets. But he pre­sumes upon the ignorance of his Rea­ders, and imposes arbitrarily and ma­gisterially what sense he pleases upon every thing, and despotically coins Ci­tations, which he forces upon 'em for genuine, upon no better warrant than his own Will and Pleasure. But to proceed to instance.

In the Amphitruo, Mercury, Instances from the Amphi­ [...]io. after a long scene of gross Drollery upon Amphitruo, bids him be gone, and not disturb his Master's pleasure with his Wife.

Abscede moneo, molestus ne sies, dum Amphitruo,
Cum uxore modo ex hostibus adveniens, voluptatem capit.

Upon this Amphitruo asks, What Wife? and is answer'd Alcumena. This does not satisfy his curiosity, but he must know whether he lies with her or not; and is not contented till he has doubl'd the Question, and must be inform'd, whether they lie in the same room both [Page 330] or not. Hereupon Mercury, to cut the debate short, gives him this plain an­swer.

Corpore corpus incubat.

Upon this Amphitruo bewails his mi­sery, and Mercury in mockery says,

Lucri'st, quod hic miseriam deputat. Nam uxorem usurariam
Perinde est praebere, ac si agrum sterilem fodiendum loces.

The man's a gainer by what he calls his misery. For 'tis as profitable to have ones Wife, as ones Field till'd by another.

At this rate Mercury drolls on;Remarka­ble Circum­stances of this Pas­sage. wherein there is this remarkable, besides the quality of the persons, one a God, t'other a Heroe, that the words last cited are suppos'd to be spoken aside out of the hearing of Amphitruo; and consequently are immediately address'd and peculiarly recommended to the Au­dience,The Dis­guise under which Mercury appears no excuse for his misbe­haviour. as containing something very edifying or very entertaining.

I defy Mr Collier to prove any such licentious freedoms upon the English [Page 331] Amphitruo, as angry as he is with it. But perhaps Mr Collier thinks the dis­guise of Sosia, may excuse the ribaldry of Mercury. But this excuse won't serve his turn. For Mercury is under no disguise to the Audience, to whom this last Speech is particularly address'd.

But lest he should think Mercury a Mad God,Jupiter not more mo­dest. and allow him the liberty of Ribaldry, let us hear how cleanly Iupiter will express himself. It the last Scene this Soveraign of the Gods ap­pears in state, owns his Quality and Intrigue, and bids Amphitruo receive his Wife. For, says he, ‘Mea vi subacta'st.’

Mr Collier knows the meaning of the word Subigo in this case, and must strain as hard in this place, as he thinks Lam­bin has done in another, if he will de­fend it.

The Asinaria, Instances from the Asinaria. the next Play in order, affords besides the Scene betwixt Cleare­ta the Bawd, and Argyrippus, (which Mr Collier confesses to border upon rude­ness, and I think down-right Bawdy in several places) two more, one betwixt [Page 332] Argyrippus, Philenium, Leonida, and Libanus, which is very loose, and ano­ther, which is singularly instructive, between Argyrippus and Demaenetus his Father.Instance of singular Morality. The old man, like a good Fa­ther, purchases a Whore for his Son, upon condition that himself may come in for snacks, and withal tells him, that it becomes a young man to be modest, and let his Betters go before him, that he had provided a Mistress for him to solace himself with all the year, if he could but be content, to let his Father be his Taster. This is wholesom Doctrine, and season'd with such grave Morality, no doubt very e­difying. This Mr Collier finds no fault with, and therefore we may very well pass it by; since, if it will bear the Test of his Hypothesis, it will unque­stionably of ours. Tho, had this been of English growth, it had found no fa­vour, but had smarted unmercifully un­der his discipline.

One thing 'tis necessary to take no­tice of before we go any further,Plautus's Lovers more active than talka­tive. and that is, that whether Plautus's Lovers talk Love, or not, they act it very plainly and vigorously before Folks, [Page 333] where-ever they come together.Instanced from the Curtulio. An instance of this kind we have in the Curculio at the meeting of Phaedromus, and Planesium, (who by the by is sup­pos'd to be a modest Virgin). At their purchas'd opportunity of coming toge­ther, they are so active and boisterous, that Palinurus the Slave stands amaz'd, and cries out,

—uterque insaniunt.
Viden' ut misere moliuntur, nequen nt complecti satis.

These words are more expressive of Action than Passion, though indeed they imply both. Planesium, to mend the matter, expresses her discontent, that the Servant did not withdraw, but staid to be a check upon 'em.

Iam huic voluptati hoc adjunctum odi­um est.

The Servant replies with indignation, and reprimands his Master for behaving himself so immodestly, ‘—Ut immodestis hic te moderere moribus’

[Page 334] I mention this only to shew howCompara­tive Mo­desty of the Virgins of the Anti­ent Stage hence to be observed. much even the modest Virgins of the Antient Stage valued an opportunity. This, according to Mr Collier's Hypothe­sis, would have been a Capital misde­meanour upon the English Stage, what­ever it was upon the Roman. Many more instances of this kind, and more plain ones might be produc'd, but I have not room for 'em here. Howe­ver, this may serve to shew what sort of Nun's Flesh Mr Collier wou'd be at, when he makes Vestals of such Lasses as this.

Mr Collier is so very fond of the So­briety of Plautus's Plays,Mr Col­lier's own exceptions taken no­tice of. that he de­fends even then Conduct of the Pandars and Slaves, and maintains, that they don't misbehave themselves before Wo­men. He is sure at least, that there are but four instances to the contrary,P. 17. as he remembers, Olympio, Palaestrio, Strati­lax and Dordalus are the persons. And the Women they discourse with, are two of them Slaves, and the third a Wench.

I'm sorry Mr Collier's memory is so bad,His instance in Olym­pio grosly mistaken or misrepre­sented. when he has so much occasion for a better. He takes notice of but three Women thus freely dealt with, two [Page 335] whereof, as he tells us by way of miti­gation of damages, were Slaves, and the third a Wench. From whence he seems to infer, that before Women of Modesty and Condition, these Slaves and Pandars were more cautious and reserv'd in their Language. But Olym­pio, whom he has subpaena'd as an Evi­dence for himself, will tell him other­wise. The persons he plays his Gambols before, are Cleostrata and Murrhina, two principal Citizens Wives, Matrons of as great Quality and Virtue as any, that e're trod the Roman Stage in Comedy; Alcumena excepted. These Matrons had shamm'd him with a man in woman's Cloaths for a Bride, and big with the expectation of the Issue of their jest, fell to catechizing him about the business. The Clown, without regard to their Quality, which was the more conside­rable in Cleostrata, because she was his proper Mistress, and might severely cha­stise any rudeness, yet the Clown, I say, makes a very rank description, and what's worse, the women were pleased with it, and urge and prompt him for­ward.

[Page 336]
Ol.—illa haud verbum facit,
Casina Act 5 Scen. 2.
& sepit veste, id qui estis,
Ubi illum saltum video obseptum, rogo, ut altero sinat adire.
Enim jam magis jam appropero, magis jam lubet in Casinam irruere.—

This, instead of rebating the edge of his Mistresses Appetite, inflames her curiosity yet more; she's impatient till he proceeds.

Cl. Perdis, quin pergis.
Cl.—continuo stricto gladio: atat babae papae. Cl. Quid papae.
Ol.—Gladium ne haberet metui, id quaerere occaepi
Dum gladium ne habeat quaero, arripio capulum,
Sed quem cogito non habuit gladium, nam id esset Frigidius.

Here the Booby began to mince the matter; and his Mistress, that lov'd plain-dealing, corrects him for it, and bids him speak out, but he is asham'd, he says,

Cl. Eloquere. Ol. At pudet.

[Page 337] The Slave however has some grace. His Mistress can't be satisfy'd so, she's for every thing in as proper terms, as if he was giving evidence in a Court of Record. But not prevailing that way, she prompts and pumps him with Interrogatories as loosely as a waggish Councel at a Bawdy Tryal.

Cl. Nam radix fuit? Num cucumis?

The Woman, 'tis plain, had a true apprehension of the matter, but she did not like his clownish Bashfulness. Still the fellow boggles at naked Image­ry; however he improves, and comes on apace.

Ol. Profecto non fuit quicquam olerum
Nisi quicquid erat, calamitas profecto at­tigerat nunquam:
Ita quicquid erat, grande erat.
Volo, ut obvortat cubitissim,
Verbum ullum mutit,
Surgo ut ineam.

If we measure the Conversation of Plautus's Ladies of Quality by this Stan­dard, the Ladies of our Stage, taking [Page 338] even the loosest, need not be asham'd of their Breeding. Nay, they wou'd blush for their company if they were brought together.

But Cleostrata and Murrhina are not singular.In [...]ance from the As [...]naria. In the Asinaria, Artemona, upon the discovery of her Husbands intrigue, reflects upon his Failings to­wards her, and makes a very odd dis­covery of her own wants.

Art. —Ego censeo
Eum etiam hominem Senatui dare operam, aut Clientibus
Ibi labore delassatum noctem totam stertere.
Ille opere foris faciundo lassus noctu ad­venit.
Fundum alienum arat, incultum familia­rem deserit.

He was (says she) so taken up with tilling another's ground, that he let his own lye fallow.

This frankness of the Lady's com­plaint gave the Slave her Informer the boldness to put a very homely question to her.

[Page 339]
Possis si forte accubantem tuum virum con­specteris
Cum corona amplexum amicam, si videas cognoscere?

Cou'd you know your Husband, if you shou'd see him and his Mistress in a posture that wou'd not shew his Face.

This passage (to use a Phrase of Mr Collier's) I have translated softly, but very fairly. Yet even thus the Image, which in the Original is ex­press'd in the proper vulgar terms, ap­pears too gross and plain, and is such as wou'd not be endur'd upon our Stage, as lewd as Mr Collier thinks that and the Age.

However,Slaves not the only Off [...]nders of this kind in Plautus. The Men who talk intempe­rately are generally Slaves, says Mr Col­lier; and he can't find any Gentleman guilty of an indecent expression, ex­cept Lusiteles, who is once over airy. I shall help him to another, out of a great number, that are ready upon de­mand, which is the more authentick, because it comes from a grave old Gen­tleman in no very airy mood, but while [Page 340] he is correcting another for his Lewd ness and Debauchery. In the Miles Gloriosus, Periplectomenes asks Pyrgopoli­nices the Souldier, ‘Cur es ausus subagitare alienam uxorem,Miles Glo [...]iosus. impudens?’

The Gravity of the man here makes the grossness of the Expression the more remarkable. After these instances I hope Mr Collier may upon second thoughts have a better opinion of the Gentlemen and Ladies of our Stage, than heretofore, at least that he will do 'em more Justice in his next Parallel.

But Mr Collier has one hold to retreat to yet, [...] logues and [...]pi­logues no [...] always [...]n­off [...]ns [...]. from whence he must be driven before we part. Plautus his Prologues and Epilogues are inoffensive. If this can be maintain'd, he has gain'd a great point;P 17. but here, as in other places, he triumphs before Victory. The Prologue and Epilogue are properly the Speeches of the Poet, and 'tis in them, if any where, that we discover the Morals of a Comick Poet. Lambin finds a double entendre in the Prologue to the Paenulus; Mr Collier thinks there is a strain in the [Page 341] construction. I must own my self of Lambin's opinion; but, since Mr Collier does not here deliver himself after his usual dogmatical way, I shall not insist upon this passage, but proceed to in­stances, which no violence of Con­struction can wrest to a wrong sense.

Here let us return to the Casina, This prov'd from the Epilogue to the Ca­sina. to which the Poet gives a very smutty conclusion, and a more smutty Epilogue. Grex, that speaks the Epilogue, advises the Audience to clap lustily and give the Poet his due, and to those that did it, he wishes as many Whores as they pleased, unknown to their Wives; but to those that did not clap, he wishes a He-Goat besmear'd with the Filth of a Ship for a Concubine.

Nunc nos aequum est, manibus meritis meritam mercedem daffre,
Qui faxit, clam uxorem ducat scortum semper quod volet.
Verum qui non manibus clare, quantum poterit, pluserit,
Ei pro scorto suppon [...]tur hircus unctus nautea.

[Page 342] Here we have a Sample of the Poet's Morals, Epilogue to the A­sinaria an Encourage­ment to Lewdness. which Mr Collier has warrant­ed, as we have already seen. In the Epilogue to the Asinaria, if we may take Plautus's word, we may have a Taste of the Manners of his Age and Country, which Mr Collier is likewise very fond of. From both which put together, we may give a reasonable guess at Mr Collier's own Palate in such matters. Demaenetus his Wife had caught him in a Bawdy-house, whoring in his Son's company, and rated him home, which concludes the Action of the Play. Hereupon Grex by way of ap­plication thus accosts the Audience.

Hic senex siquid clam uxorem suo animo fecit volupe,
Ne (que) novum, ne (que) mirum fecit, nec secus quam alii solent,
Nec quisqua st tam ingenio duro, nec tam firmo pectore
Quin ubi quicquam occasionis sit, sibi faciat bene.

Here the Poet justifies Whoring, even in an old married man, and pleads the common practice in defence of it. He [Page 343] thinks no man can withstand a fair temptation to do himself good. For with that Phrase, he sweetens the busi­ness and qualifies the offence.

Let Mr Collier compare these two Epilogues with those English ones to which he refers, and then condemn them, and absolve these if he can. Nay, even the Play of which Plautus himself makes his boast,Captivi. That 'twas written up to the strictest rules of Chastity; that few such Comedies were to be found, by which those that were already good, might be made better, has a very broad touch of Smut in the Epilogue, even at the time he is valuing himself upon his Mo­desty,

Epilogue to the Cap­tivi.
ad pudicos mores facta haec fabula est.
Ne (que) in hac subagitationes sunt—
Hujusmodi paucas Poetae reperiunt Co­maedias,
Ʋbi boni meliores fiant—

Such Instances as these crowd them­selves so upon us almost every where in Plautus, that 'tis hard to pass 'em over, and endless to take notice of 'em. But [Page 344] having already far transgressed the in­tended limits of this discourse, I shall trespass no farther upon the Reader's patience on this head.

His next complaint is the abuse of the Clergy. Complaint of the Abuse of the Clergy not well grounded. Were this complaint justly grounded, it would merit not only his, but all honest men's Indignation, and Resentments. But this Charge does not seem to be sufficiently made out. For 'tis raised upon a very weak foun­dation, a mistaken Notion, that Priests above all the rest of Mankind, are by priviledge exempted from having their faults taken notice of this way; His reason for this shall be consider'd by and by. I suppose, if Mr Collier's Band hung awry, or his Face was dirty, he would use the assistance of a Glass to make all right and clean. Why then does he reject the use of that which might do the same office for his mind, and help him to correct the fol­lies and management of his Life? The case is plain, he is blind to his own Faults, and mad that any one else should see 'em. This makes him call the shewing any of their failings, expo­sing the Clergy, as if thereby only [Page 345] they became publick, not considering that the Glass shews our Faults to our selves only; other people can see 'em as plainly and as readily without its help. But Mr Collier, who takes every thing by the wrong handle, looks upon a correction as a reproach, and had rather a Fault should pass unmended, than be taken notice of. But because he pleads a peculiar Charter for the exemption of the Priesthood, let us see how he makes out his Title. The Considerations, upon which he founds it, are three.

First, Because of their Relation to the Deity.

This Relation to the Deity he swells to a monstrous size,Their Rela­tion to the Deity to considered. and blows himself presumptuously up in his own conceit, to a Condition something above mor­tal. He pretends to no less, than to be one of the Principal Ministers of Gods Kingdom, P. 127. 128. to represent his Person, to publish his Laws, Pass his Pardons, and Preside in his Worship. Mr Collier's Pride has here hurried him into prodi­gious Insolence and Folly. To raise his own Character, he has made a Pope of every individual Priest, and given [Page 346] that to the meanest of 'em, which the most Orthodox part of the Christian World deny to the pretended Successor of St Peter? Is not the whole world God's Kingdom? What then, are its Kings, Princes, and Rulers, if every Priest be before 'em in Authority? Mr Collier, I believe, is the first bold Mor­tal, that ever pretended to represent the person of God Almighty seriously. This to me sounds more like Blasphe­my, than any thing in the most pro­fane Poet. The Pope indeed presumes to stile himself Christ's Vicar general, but he does not presume to be the Re­presentative of his Person. As Mr Collier has assum'd a higher Title, so, I suppose, he expects more reverence. 'Tis strange that Enthusiasm should shoot to such a heighth in our cold Climate, which it scarce ever reach'd in Rome its Native Place. But Mr Collier keeps a hot Bed, where he forces up violent Notions, in spight of the opposition of an unnatural Soil and Season.

But I should be glad to know,Personal Represen­tation of Deity ab­surd. where­in this personal Representation consists. Does he pretend, like the Pope, to pos­sess [Page 347] any of the Divine Attributes? In­fallibility, even of the Church itself, has been long since justly exploded by all sober Christians, that know, and dare to use their Reason in the gui­dance of their Consciences. And the Pope himself in the heighth of his Pride and Usurpation, never pretended to more. But in what does this vain Creature resemble his Creator? Can a groveling Mortal sustain the Majesty and Figure of Omnipotence.

If notwithstanding all these Magni­ficent expressions of himself,The Power of the Church not lodged with the Priest. and his order, Mr Collier means no more, than than that a Priest derives a subordinate Authority from the Church, to exercise his Function in Spiritual matters con­formably to her directions, then all this insolent profane Bombast dwindles to nothing. For tho a very great power and trust is repos'd in the Church, yet I don't find, that this Power was ever lodg'd entire with the Priest, or any other single person what­soever. And therefore Mr Collier grasps at too much, when he claims the same respect, and deference for every Priest, that is, or ought to be paid to the [Page 348] Church, and the Governours of it.

But Mr Collier finds,Mission of St. Paul, and the A­postles what and how circumstan­tiated. that St. Paul calls himself and the rest of the Apostles the Ambassadors of Christ, and thinks himself thereby sufficiently warranted to take upon him to represent the per­son of God. The word which St Paul employs, 2 Cor. 5. 20. is [...], which signifies to come by commission from another, and consequently may proba­bly enough be render'd, We are the Em­bassadors, tho it does not always im­port so much. Mr Collier lays hold of the word Embassadour, and fancies himself in the highest, and most ho­nourable post that can be, under God Almighty, that is, to represent his Per­son, to publish his Laws, Pass his Pardons, and Preside in his Worship. All this in­deed, except the Personal Representati­on, was the Office of St Paul, and the rest of the Apostles. But without af­fronting, or lessening the Authority of the Clergy, I think I may lawfully que­stion whether Mr Collier's Commission be of equal Extent or Validity with theirs. They were call'd to the Mini­stry immediately by God himself, en­dued with supernatural and miraculous [Page 349] Faculties, and Powers both of Discern­ing, and Operation by Inspiration from the Holy Ghost himself. They were to plant in the World a new Faith, which had not yet been heard of, ex­cept in a very small part of the world. Their Doctrines were reveal'd immedi­ately to themselves, and had no other Evidence than their own Affirmation, and the Works that they did, to back and confirm what they taught. They had occasion for a Spirit more than natural­ly discerning to be assur'd of the since­rity of their Converts, and for a Com­mission and Power extraordinary, to remit the sins of those that they found to be true Penitents, and to support themselves and their Proselytes against the Oppressions of the Civil Power.

These circumstances,Difference betwixt their Com­mission and that of the present Mi­nistry. as I take it, make a very wide difference between the Ministry, and Commission of the Apostles, and the other immediate Disci­ples of our Saviour, and the Christian Mi­nistry at this time. For first, They have now no immediate call to the Ministry, whatever some Enthusiastick or Knavish Sectaries may pretend. Secondly, They have no natural Gifts above other men, [Page 350] to warrant a Pretence to an extraordi­nary Mission. Thirdly, They have now no peculiar Revelation, nor any other Rule of Faith, or Source of Do­ctrine, which is not common to all mankind with them. The Scriptures lie open for all that will look into 'em, and our Clergy pretend to no su­pernatural Gift of Exposition above the Laity, and consequently can offer no new matter of Faith. Fourthly, They pretend to no Spirit of Discerning above the condition of meer humanity to ena­ble 'em to see into mens hearts, and judge of the sincerity of their repen­tance, and consequently must dispose of Pardons blindfold, if they exercise any such power, otherwise than condi­tional, and upon the terms express'd in Scripture. But the pronouncing an Ab­solution on those terms, is not passing a Pardon, any more than allowing the benefit of the Clergy to a Malefactor in a Court of Judicature is an act of Grace in the Bench. Lastly, Since the World became Christian, those extraordinary Commissions, which the Apostles and Primitive Christians had, ceas'd with the reasons of 'em. For when the [Page 351] Princes and Rulers of the World be­came the Proselytes and Protectors of Christianity, there was no further oc­casion to propagate the Gospel by ex­traordinary methods, which had the Civil Power on its side. By this means the care of the Church devolv'd upon the State, and the Priesthood became subordinate to it. For tho no State or Prince can make any thing a Rule of Faith, which was not so before in its Nature, or by some higher obligation, yet in matters of Practice in things in­different towards which the Scriptures leave us at liberty, they have in all Countries (not under the usurpation of the Pope) asserted their Authority by ordering and directing the Forms and Models of Church Government, and appointing the Persons of the Gover­nours, who are therefore undoubtedly subordinate to those, by whose Autho­rity they govern.

From these differences 'tis plain, that the Ministry at present stands upon quite another foot, than it did in the time of the Apostles; and that Mr Col­lier challenges a relation to the Deity which he has not, and in right of that [Page 352] a greater Reverence and respect than is due to him.

His second consideration is,Importance of their Office no exemption. The Im­portance of their Office. What that is, has been in great measure laid down in the preceding Article. How far they are concerned in publishing Gods Laws, and passing his Pardons has been already examin'd. There was indeed a time, when the Priests had a Monopoly of Faith and Salvation, and retail'd out Articles and Indulgences to the Laity, who repair'd to the Bank of Implicit Faith and Merit for as much as their occasions requir'd. But the weakness of their Fund being discover'd, that Bank is broke long since in England. and the Laity have taken their Consciences in­to their own Custody again, to Mr Collier's great Disappointment. How­ever they preside (he says) in the Wor­ship of God. If he means by presiding, Officiating, he presides over his con­gregation, as a Clerk in Parliament pre­sides over the House, because he reads the Bills, Petitions, &c. to 'em. That to officiate in the House of God is an Employment of great Importance and honour, I shall readily grant. And as [Page 353] they that perform their duty in that station conscientiously and well deserve all due respect and honour; so on the other hand, those that prostitute their Character to base ends, and make the Cassock a Cover for Pride, Ambition, Avarice, Hypocrisie, Knavery, or Folly, deserve to be corrected, and expos'd to the Publick. The importance of the Office, which Mr Collier pleads in bar to any Lay Censure upon 'em, is a strong Argument for it. For in pro­portion to the weight of the trust, ought to be the check upon it.

There may be many Faults amongst the inferiour Clergy,Some faults not cogniza­ble by the Ordinary. which escape the notice, or do not fall properly under the cognizance of the Ordinary, which 'tis convenient shou'd be amended, for the reputation of the Order, and the good of the Offenders themselves. Mr Collier thinks otherwise, he owns that they ought not to be seen, but he would have the People's Eyes put out, rather than the Offence remov'd. A Blot's no Blot till 'tis hit; so the reputation of the Clergy be safe, 'tis no matter for their Man­ners; for the Sin lies in the Scandal. Else why is he so angry with the Poets, [Page 354] for taking notice, that there is such a thing now and then to be seen in the world as a Faulty Clergy-man? The Order does not pretend to be any more exempt from failings, than other men. Then where's the Offence in shewing what those Frailties are, to which they lie most expos'd? 'Tis true, this can't be done in the Dramatick way, with­out the appearance of the Offender by his Proxy; which stirs Mr Collier's Blood, who would have the Laity be­lieve 'em absolutely without Fault. 'Twere well if they were so indeed, but since they are not, I think it not just nor reasonable, that the Laity shou'd be cheated into such a belief. The man that labours too much to conceal his Faults, shews that he aims rather at Impunity than Repentance. For men seldom think of Reformation, while they can run on in a prosperous course of undiscover'd Villany.

Upon this account Mr Collier's reason­ing appears very odd and singular. For if the concealing and covering of Men's Vices, be the means to advance and pro­mote their corruption, he seems to take a sort of retrograde way to Reformation. [Page 355] But his fear is, that the Vices of some few thus publickly shewn, shou'd reflect upon the whole Order, and weaken their Credit and Authority in the Mini­sterial Function. This objection is alrea­dy answered in the article of the Misre­presentation of Women; what has been there said holds good here, and needs no repetition. It can therefore be of no ill consequence; For those that are just, and Conscientious in the exer­cise of their Functions will lose no Credit or Authority; and those that are not, have too much, if they have any.

If Priests be without Fault,Priests not misrepre­sented unless fault­less. then to paint 'em with any is a Misrepresenta­tion, and an abuse, a malicious slander­ing of the Order. But if they be not, 'tis fit that the rotten Sheep shou'd be mark'd and driven from the Flock, to prevent the contagion, whether of the Disease or the Scandal, which are equally catching. But Mr Collier has learnt Politicks of Hudibras, and wou'd have Priests whipt by Proxy; their Faults shou'd be chastised on Laymens Backs. We thank him for his kindness, and are very willing to be his Deputies, pro­vided [Page 356] he can prove that the Physick will have its effect that way. I have been told, that a Purge given to a wet Nurse, wou'd operate with the Child; but I never heard of a Med'cine that wou'd work Vice versa. I grant, that they ought not to be corrected on the Stage for Lay Follies. Their Characters must be proper, in order to which, whether they play the Fool or the Knave, it must be seasoned with a cast of the Profession; otherwise they are Lay Fools and Knaves in Masquerade. But as the Characters ought not to be so general, as to represent whole Bodies of Men, so neither ought they to be so particular, as to stigmatize Individuals, as they did in the Old Comedy. If this C [...]ution be observed, not only the Col­l [...]ctive Body of the Clergy, but every individual Man amongst 'em is safe from scandal from that Quarter. If the Poets have not observ'd it, Mr Collier in vin­dication of the Clergy has a just Provo­cation to lash 'em severely. But if they have, then Mr Collier does 'em wrong, and the Poets ought to resume the Whip­cerd, and return the Compliment.

[Page 357] His last,His Plea from Pre­scription examined. and, as it appears by his di­lating so largely upon it, his strongest Consideration is, that They have Pre­scription for their Priviledge. Their Pro­fession has been in possession of esteem in all Ages and Countries. That it has been in Esteem, and that it ought still to be so, more than it is, I believe the Poets them­selves will allow. But that it has al­ways been esteemed so sacred, that the Antient Poets durst never suffer any of their Persons of the Drama to make bold with it, I deny; and I think I shall de­monstrate the contrary.

I shall confine my self to the Dra­matick Poets, Instance to the contrary from So­phocles. and only observe, that so the Priest be well treated 'tis no mat­ter how his God is served. For Homer is caressed at a high rate, for putting a Crown upon Chryses's head, tho he uses the whole Tribe of the Gods like Scoun­drels. The first Poet, that I shall pro­duce is Sophocles. In the close of his Ajax the Chorus gives us the Moral of the Play in these words; Experience teaches us much, but before the Event is seen, ne'r a Prophet of 'em all can tell what things will come to.

[Page 358]
X. [...]
Ajax Fla­gellifer.

This is a plain reflection upon the Profession, and so remarkably circum­stantiated, that there is no doubt, but 'twas the Poets real sense. For 'tis spoken by the Chorus, and made the Mo­ral of the Play.

I shall pass by the reproaches which Oedipus makes Tiresias, because Mr Col­lier says they relate only to his Person, tho he himself in his Defence will allow no distinction betwixt the Man and the Priest. If you make the Man a Knave, the Priest must suffer under the Imputation. However in the same Play [...] Jocasta says, She wou'd not give a Rush for Divi­nation.

Oedipus Tyran­nus.

In the next Play Creon amongst other reproaches tells Tiresias, that They were all a Pack of Mercenary Corrupt Fel­lows.

[Page 359] [...].

We have not room to multiply in­stances so far, as we might, but these may suffice to shew, that Sophocles was not so much afraid of a Priest as Mr Col­lier pretends.

Euripides is not a whit more tender of 'em,Eurip [...]des not mo [...]e tender of Priests. Agamemnon calls the whole tribe of 'em a vain-glorious rascally Race.

Iphigenia in Aulid▪.

Achilles in the same Play (the So­briety of whose Character Mr Collier is much in love with) threatens Calohas the Prophet before spoken of, and breaks out into this exclamation; What are Prophets? Fellows that by guess some­times tell truth, but generally Lies.


Pentheus in the Bacchae uses Tiresias very ruggedly. He charges him with being Mercenary, and an Impostor, with seducing the People, and intro­ducing [Page 360] a new false superstitious Wor­ship, and orders the Seats from whence he took his Augural Observation to be pull'd down, with abundance of other Menaces, and hard words. These may suffice for Euripides at this time.

Seneca makes little use of the Pro­phets, or Priests;S [...]neca meddles lit­tle with [...]. Tiresias appears twice in his Oedipus, and Calchas once only to deliver an Oracle. Oedipus charges Tiresias with confederating with Creon, and charging a false crime upon him, and traiterously endeavouring to sup­plant him in his Throne. These In­stances sufficiently demonstrate, that the Antients were not afraid to make their Persons of the Drama speak pertinently to their Character, tho they should thereby happen to bear hard upon their Priests. Nay, they thought it no of­fence to make 'em speak things incon­sistent with Piety, and the Religion of their Country.

The Instances of this are innumera­ble.Ajex An­ [...]igone and Ph [...]octe­tes. The Rants of Ajax, Creon, and Philoctetes in Sophocles are extravagant. This Tragedian affords abundance, but to make a collection of scattered ex­pressions, would require more room [Page 361] than we can at present spare;Euripides and Sene­ca full of prophane expressions. however, Euripides and Seneca afford divers so very remarkable, that I can't pass 'em over absolutely without notice. In the Hecu­ba, Talthybius exclaims at a strange rate upon the Consideration of the turn of Hecuba's fortune. O Jupiter! what shall I say? should mankind address themselves to you: Or have we been cheat­ed with a sham Story of Gods, and Pro­vidence, while Chance governs all things?


Polymestor is much such another sort of a Comforter, he cries out in the same Play, and upon the same occasion, Oh what a slippery thing is Human Gran­deur, which is never secure. The Gods perplex and harrass Mankind, that our Ignorance may support their Altars, and Worship.


[Page 362] Electra, for a short one has a very pithy Ejaculation. O Nature, what a curse art thou upon Mortals.


Her Brother Orestes is allied to her in Principles as near as in Blood; he can't tell what to make of the Gods, any more than the two Gentlemen be­fore. Yet he serves 'em whatever they be.


All that he knows of 'em is, that they are naturally dilatory.


Hecuba is much of his mind; Troades. she thinks the Gods but bad Friends, [...]. The Cyclops tell Ʋlysses, That Riches were the wise mans only God, and that he did not care a fart for Jupi­ter; but thought himself as great a God as he.

[Page 363]

In the Ion, which is pretended to be a Moral Play, Creusa addresses herself direct­ly to Apollo, Ion. and cals him [...], lewd Whoremaster. Her Servant afterwards calls him Rascal, and advises her to set fire to his Temple. With such Flow­ers as these Euripides abounds, which I leave for others to gather.

Seneca is as full of 'em as he, but I shall refer the Reader only to the Chorus of the second Act of his Troas, which being spoken by the Chorus looks more like the Poet's own Opinion, than if it had come from any other Person of the Drama.

Post mortem nihil est,
ipsa (que) mors nihil,
Velocis spatij meta novissima.
Spem ponant avidi, soliciti metum.
Quaeris quo jaceas post obitum loco?
Quo non nata jacent.
Tempus nos avidum devorat, & chaos.
Mors individua est noxia corpori,
Nec parcens animae. Taenara, & aspero
Regnum sub Domino, limen & obsidens
[Page 364] Custos non facili Cerberus ostio,
Rumores vacui, verba (que) inania,
Et par solicito fabula somnio.

Which is thus translated by the Earl of Rochester.

After Death nothing is, and nothing Death,
The utmost Limits of a Gasp of Breath.
Let the Ambitious Zealot lay aside
His Hopes of Heaven (whose Faith is but his Pride)
Let slavish Souls lay by their Fear,
Nor be concern'd which way, or where,
After this Life they shall be hurl'd,
Dead they become the lumber of the World.
And to that Mass of Matter shall be swept,
Where things destroy'd with things un­born are kept.
Devouring Time swallows us whole,
Impartial Death confounds Body and Soul.
For H [...], and the foul Fiend that rules
The everlasting fiery Goals,
Devis'd by Rog [...]s, dreaded by Fools,
With his grim griezly Dog that keeps the Door,
Are senseless Stories, idle Tales,
Dreams, Whimseys, and no more.

[Page 365] Another exception,Rude treat­ment of the Nobility a false charge. which Mr Collier makes to the Stage is, that they treat the Nobility rudely. I must confess 'tis no complement to make a Fool of a Lord. But if Birth or any other Chance shou'd make a Lord of a Fool, I suppose the rest of that Noble Order wou'd not think themselves accountable for his Follies, or abus'd in his Picture. Shou'd the Poets presume to make such a one the Representative of his Order, and pro­pose him as a common Standard, by which the Endowments of Quality in general were to be measur'd, their In­solence wou'd deserve the severest cha­stisement that cou'd be given. Or shou'd any one of 'em dare to characte­rize too nearly and particularly any of those Noble Persons, no doubt but he wou'd soon feel the weight of his Re­sentments, and smart sorely for his sawcy Liberty. But while the Poet contents himself with feign'd Persons, and copies closely after Nature, with­out pressing upon her in her private recesses, and singling out Individuals from the herd, if any Man, of what Quality or Employment soever, fancies himself concern'd in the representation, [Page 366] let him spoil the Picture by mending the Original. For he only is to be blam'd for the Resemblance. If Men of Honour and Abilities cou'd entail their Wisdom and Virtues upon their Posterity, then a Title wou'd be a pret­ty sure sign of Personal Worth, and the Respect and Reverence that was paid to the Founders of honourable Families ought to follow the Estate, and the heir of one shou'd be heir of t'other. But since Entails of this kind are of all kinds the most liable to be cut off, 'tis not absolutely impossible but there may be such a thing in the world, as a Fop of Quality. Now if there be such a thing, it does not ap­pear to me, that because the Persons are great, and elevated by their Digni­ty above the rest of Mankind, and draw the Eyes of the People upon 'em, more than other men do, that there­fore their Faults or Imperfections will be less visible, or less taken notice of, or that the Splendour of their Figure is an infallible Antidote against the In­fection of their Examples. Unless it be so, it is convenient that some rea­sonable Expedient shou'd be allow'd to [Page 367] prevent the Mischief of Imitation, and that those who are too big to be aw'd out of their Follies, may be sham'd out of 'em. But this is only Hypothetical­ly offer'd. Mr Collier perhaps will tell us, that there are no such Persons, that a Fool of Quality is a meer Poetical Animal, and ought to be rank'd amongst the Harpyes, Hippogryphs, Centaurs, and Chimaera's of Antiquity. If he proves this, my Hypothesis in this point falls to the ground, otherwise I think it may stand in opposition to any thing that has yet been said.

If these and abundance of other Pas­sages in the Antient Poets were compar'd with those which Mr Collier produces out of the Moderns, the comparative Rudeness and Prophaness of the latter wou'd vanish. But he presumes upon the laziness, or ignorance of the Majo­rity of his Readers, and does not expect that any of 'em shou'd be at the pains to confront his arbitrary, and unfair accounts, with genuine quotations. But 'tis time to have compassion upon the Reader, who has run the Gauntlet thro a tedious Refutation; in which if his sa­tisfaction equals his Patience, the Author thinks his pains sufficiently recompenc'd.


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