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fituations in which the characters are placed interesting, any more than the characters themselves are justly or powerfully drawn ; Periander and Procles are Tamerlane and Bajazet, only in diffimilar situations of for
We have in this play rage without pro- . ducing 'terror, and grief that causes no commiseration. Eurydice was revived almostthirty years after its first representation, The principal characters were personated by Mr. Garrick and Mrs. Cibber, but to no effect. The passions of love and jealousy are, of all others, the most capable of affecting the minds of the spectators; but all the fire of a Garrick, and pathos of a Cibber, could not extort a tear from the audience. But the author would not take the blame upon
himself; he fat in the orchestra, and bestowed his execrations plentifully upon the players, to whom he attributed the cold reception of his tragedy.
Soon after the first acting of Eurydice he published his poem of Verbal Criticism; a trite fatire on pedants and pedantry, composed of such common-place rail
dery as that with which small wits usually attack great and eminent scholars. Bentley's Paradise Lost was indeed a fair mark for cenfure; and we muft, I am afraid, reckon it amongst the dotages of that learned maii, who públished his edition of Milton in a very advanced age. But Mallet's attack upon Theobald was equally ignorant and illiberal; for the Shakespeare Restored of this writer laid the foundation of just criticism upon our great poet. However, the poem was written with a design to ingrátiate the’author with Mr. Pope, who soon after introduced him to lord Bolingbroke.
Thomson and Mallet were recommended to the patronage of Frederick prince of Wales, who appointed them both his fe. cretaries. The politics of St. James's and of Leicester House beirig very opposite, these writers were employed by the friends of the prince to justify his conduct, and vindicate his cause, by attacking the administration of Sir Robert Walpole..
It must be confessed that no prince was ever surrounded with men of more extenfive abilities and greater worth than Fre
derick prince of Wales, who, I am well informed, sometimescon descended to take up the pen
in vindication of his own cause; but so diffident was his royal highness of his abilities, that he generally destroyed what he had written, though he might sometimes permit Dr. D---, or some other able writer, to make use of his ideas.
The two poets, Thomson and Mallet, did not pretend to understand political argument, but were supposed capable of interesting the public in favour of their master's cause by the art of working up a fable, in a tragedy, and in the drawing characters, and giving them such language, as an audience could not fail properly to apply. Thomson, under the auspices of his great patron, brought his Agamemnon on Drury-lane stage. I remember the following speech of the principal character in the play, which was spoken to Ægisthus, was greatly applauded:
But the most fruitful source,
Agamemnon, though well acted, was not written agreeably to the taste of the critics, who very justly observed, that he had not entirely preserved antient manners and characters; Clytemnestra did not resemble the portrait drawn of her by Æschylus, which is more consistent and agreeable to history. The displeasure of the audience shewn to certain scenes produced a whimsical effect upon the author; he had promised to meet fome friends at a tavern as soon as the play was ended, but he was obliged to defer his attending them to a very late hour. When he came, they asked him the reason of his stay; he told them, that the critics had sweated him so terribly by their fevere treatment of certain parts of his tragedy, that the perspiration was so violent, as to render his wig unfit to wear; and that he had spent a great deal of time amongst the peruke-inakers in procuring a proper cover for his head.
ThoughThomson'sEdward and Eleonora was excluded the stage, because the licenser saw, as he imagined, a formidable attack VoL, II. D
upon the minister; Mallet's - Mustapha, which was said to glance at the king and Sir Robert Walpole, in the characters of Solyman the Magnificent and Rustan his vizier, was, acted with great applause.
On the first night of its exhibition were assembled all the chiefs in oppofition to the court; and many speeches were applied by the audience to the supposed grievances of the times, and to perfons and characters. The play, was in general well acted; more particularly the parts of Solyman and Muftapha, by Quin and Milward. Mr. Pope was present, in the boxes; and at the end of the play went behind the fcenes, a place which he had not visited for fome
years. He expressed himself to be well pleased with his entertainment; and particularly addressed himself to Quin, who was greatly fattered with the distinction paid him by so great a man; and when Pope's servant brought his master's scarlet cloak, Quin infifted upon
the honour of putting it on him. The language of Mustapha differs widely from that of Eurydice, which abounds in