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on us, that they seem to make Stupidity their Science, and to have associated for the Destruction of Wit and Sense, and that we were bound to support them, while they despised us in return.

It is not more our Intention to expose Dulness, than to relieve from the vitiated Relish of pert and ignorant Coxcombs, such Productions of our own as promise a Genius. Merit in perfection may be easily seen, but it will require a Taste and Penetration extraordinary to discover it in the Bud --and how worthy a Labour this is, may appear by the Number of excellent Men this Nation has from time to time produced, and who the Moment their Parts began to ripen, were forced to leave it for more indulgent Regions; depriving us at once of the Benefit and Ornament we should have from their residing amongst us.

Where Science flourishes, Vice flies before it; who then is so audacious as to affirm Knowledge begets Vice? what opinion can be more senseless? if so, its Opposite Quality, Ignorance should be the Parent of Virtue. But so false is this Assertion, that we may venture to say, where Ignorance sways, there can scarce be any true Virtue. But Men who look with an envious Eye on Talents they can never hope to equal, are willing to bring every thing to their own Level; and thus many decry the Arts, not that they think them hurtful, but that they despair of ever coming to any excellence in them.

The Poverty of this Kingdom can be no Excuse for not encouraging Men of Genius, one tenth of what is expended on Fidlers, Singers, Dancers and Players, would be able to sustain the whole Circle of Arts and Sciences.

But tho' we undertake this Paper, we do not pretend a Monopoly of Taste, but rather to make it universal; to which Purpose we invite the ingenious to send Hints or Essays in what Form they think proper to the Printer, which, if consistent with our Design, shall be inserted. But no Songs on Celia, smart Replies from Chloe, or

Lovers dreams

By purling Streams,

shall be admitted.

And we hope no one will take it ill, if their Pieces be not inserted, as it shall not be done without good Reason; of which we must be the Judges, since we have first undertaken it, and must hold it, till some of superior Capacity think proper to relieve us. In the mean time we'll continue this paper every Thursday till we have cleared ourselves of an indispensible Debt we owe to our Country: namely, the restoring Taste to its long usurped Rights, and to discountenance domestic Petulance, and all foreign Immorality and Dulness. And since more than Gothick Barbarism can please at the other side of the Channel: we intreat the Clergy of all Denominations to pray for our fallen Brethren in England; and as we are resolved, if possible, to prevent the like Calamity on this Side, we publish the following Proclamation:

O yes! O yes! if any Man can tell

Where WIT or SENSE are fled, or where they dwell;

Let him stand forth, and if he love Mankind,

Say where th' illustrious Fugitives to find.

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Ye modern Poets! who soft Lays indite,

And without either make a shift to write;
Ye Lawn-sleev'd Levites! Deans! and Parsons sleek,
Who once a Twelve-month preach, or once a Week:
Ye well-taught Lawyers! who for sordid Fee

Will rail no less at Wit than Honesty:

Ye Quacks! who poison with your murth'ring Pen
Good Sense, as with your Pills you murther Men:
Ye Courtiers gay! who more to Poets owe
For witty Fragments, than to Birth-day shew:
Ye Play'rs! who like Parrots, jabber Wit,
Who speak the Words, but can't the Meaning hit:
Ye Cits! who Cozenage reduce to Rules,

And prove yourselves, tho' dull, yet cunning Fools:
Ye Students! who to Colleges do run,

Not to learn Wit or Wisdom, but to shun;
Say! if by clubbing each his Blockhead's Head.
Any can tell me whither WIT is fled;

For a Reward, he who resolveth best,
This Doubt, shall have the Brains of all the rest.

THE REFORMER

THURSDAY the 4th of February, 1747-8.

Si foret in terris rideret Democritus—

Scriptores autem narrare putaret assello
Fabellam surdo-

B.

No. 2

Hor. Lib. 2. Epist. 1.

NOTHING can be more ridiculous than the Presumption with which some Men promise things, that so far from being able to perform, 'tis evident from their Practice they don't understand. The Manager of the Theatre after having, for the most part, entertained the Town with the worst chosen Plays; promised in a pompous Speech to raise the Irish stage to an equal Eminence with any in Europe. What steps he has hitherto taken to this great End are pretty apparent. He has cleared the Stage of that Mob of Spectators which was indeed a Disgrace to it; he has taken Pains with the Actors to make them diligent in getting their Parts; and their Entries and Exits are now more regular; he has put a Stop to the bad

Practice of admitting for odd Money, a Set of Wild Fellows who generally came flustered from Taverns, to the Disturbance of the more orderly part of the Audience; he has been expensive in procuring Scenes for the Embellishment of the Stage (those for the Harlequinades, Men of Taste will not thank him for, when they see such provision made for Buffooneries they have long wish'd banished it) In short, he has done all but the most material; namely, the acting good and moral Plays, which, and which only, could have intitled him to the Name of a Stage Reformer.

We make no doubt but this Charge against Pieces liked by most others, as well as himself, will alarm those, who have had their Taste vitiated by the ill Customs of a Play-house: To those, the Pieces we object to, seem unexceptionable, and consequently, any Design of reforming unnecessary. But 'tis with Taste, as with Custom, those who are used to a low one can conceive nothing above it: Talk to an American on his savage Course of Life, and you will never be able to persuade him that such Living is wretched; the Means of Comparison not being within his Reach, he can have no Idea of the Difference. Those will be always ready to fight against Reason, and Conviction, who lie under the Prejudice of ill ingrafted Principles.

A Set of Writers have stolen into the Esteem of this City, who while they continue in vogue, will never suffer good Taste to make any Advances among us; such are, Farquhar, Cibber, Centlivre, &c, and the fustian Tragedies of Lee and Young. Those we study; from those we have our Notion of Dramatick Perfection; when, in truth, if their Merits were exactly weighed, they would be found to have not one of those Excellencies which constitute a just Dramatick performance.

To begin then with the comic ones, and the better to illustrate this Point, we will first lay down the Parts, which we take when joined constitute a good Piece: First, Humour without Smut or Buffoonry; Wit free from the pert and vapid; Judgment to conduct the Fable so as all the parts shall seem to depend one on another, and center in the Conclusion as in a Point; Propriety of Characters, that the form of each Person's speech may be peculiar to himself only: And lastly, the whole of the Piece to be wrote for the Sake of one great Moral. Where all these Excellencies unite, we may, without Hesitation, pronounce it a good Piece; where some only, midling: but where all are wanting, we may, I think, account it execrable; and such, for the most part, are the Authors above-mentioned. Farquhar's Wit is all of the frothy and pert Kind; his Humour approaching to the Mountebank; his Judgment in Composition (even as his Admirers confess) none; his Characters, though seemingly well kept, insignificant; and for a Moral, 'tis never so much as aim'd at! Cibber indeed seems to moralize sometimes, but it comes so awkwardly from him, that a Person is at a loss to judge which is most fulsom, his Morals or his Bawdry: As to the rest, they seem to be so much on this Level, that the Reasons which would serve to convict one, may all. Vanbrugh for true Wit, Humour, and some Propriety of Character, has got a deserv'd Reputation; tho' his Deficiency in Morals, and Plot be as great as any of the former. But he who seems to

have shared the Gifts of Nature as largely as he has abused them, was the celebrated Mr Congreve, who, to the charms of a lively Wit, solid Judgment and rich Invention, has added such Obscenity, as none can, without the greatest Danger to Virtue, listen to; the very texture and groundwork of some of his Plays is Lewdness, which poisons the surer, as it is set off with the Advantage of Wit. I know 'tis said in his Excuse, that he drew his Pictures after the times; but whoever examines his Plays will find, that he not only copied the ill Morals of the Age, but approved them, as may be seen in such Characters as he plainly proposes for Imitation; thus his Angelica in Love for Love, (the chastest of all his Plays) he meant for a perfect Character, and such perhaps as he would have wished his own Mistress to have been; but the Rankness of her Ideas, and Expressions, in the Scene between her and old Foresight, (as well as in other parts of the Play) are scarce consistent with any Male, much less Female Modesty. Much of that Respect we pay the Sex is owing to the Opinion we have of their Innocence; but if the Lady lets her Lover understand she is as knowing as himself, a great Part of it must necessarily vanish. Mr Wycherly who in all his Plays, except the inimitable Plaindealer, is as lewd as the former, has yet this Excuse to soften it; that whatever vicious Characters he draws, he commonly endeavours to make them ridiculous: However as the Satyr contained in a lewd Picture, can never be so instructive as the foul Ideas it will raise, pernicious; Prudence, and a Regard to Decency require, they should be sedulously avoided.

Tho' in his Pictures Lust be well display'd
Few are the Converts Aretine has made.

POPE'S Transl. of DR. DONNE.

Ben. Johnson, of all the Comic Writers is the only one in whom unite all the Graces of true Comedy without the monstrous Blemishes that stain and disfigure the Merit of the others. He has Wit sufficient, Humour in abundance, and a Judgment not to be match'd by any, since or before him; his Morals are sound, and the way he takes to attack Vice and Folly, the most efficacious that can be thought to overcome them. In short, had this Man liv'd in the times of Gracian learning, he might have stood up for the Laurel against the most excellent of them; but his Writings, instead of doing Honour to our Age, will always be a Proof of its Degeneracy, that could neglect such delicious Feasts as his happy Muse has provided for us, to feed on the Garbage of vile, and uninstructive Authors.

I should now, as it comes in Order, say something of Tragedy, but (except the divine Shakespear) there being none who made any extraordinary Figure in that Way: our Trouble in enumerating them will be but small. And here 'tis to be observed that dull Writers have not so great an Opportunity of doing Mischief as in Comedy; the Nature of the Subject confining them to a Gravity, which however awkward in them, is not so hurtful as Obscenity. All that they can do is by loud Explosions of Bombast and an affected Air of Heroism, to draw such Pictures of Virtue, as are no where to be found, but in the troubled Brains of those who composed them: Nor

1 Such are the Hannibals, Alexanders, Zangas, and Varanes's, &c.

do we know in what Shakespear is more faulty, than by giving Examples in the turgid Part of his Works, to such vile Imitators who copy his Faults with as much Servility and Exactness as if they had a Relish for no other part of his Writings.

Shakespear had a Genius perhaps excelling any thing that ever appeared in the World before him, so divine as even sanctify'd (if I may use the Expression) those Blemishes which in him only are pardonable; he had but little Occasion for Rules, who found the Springs of Nature so copiously supply'd within him; for as Homer's Works are said to have furnish'd Aristotle with them; so this great Genius has (tho in a less Degree) given Rise and Sanction to the best among us; so impossible is it for Men to be exact in copying of Nature without coinciding in the same things; such is Shakespear's Praise, that Parts which in other Men might be encreased with Labour and Study, were in him the absolute Gift of Heaven;Otway's small Spark is lost in his Blaze; and as for Dryden, he as industriously avoided Nature as this great Genius imitated it:-With Respect to the minores Poeta, such as Rowe, Addison, and those who have wrote Tragedies since them, their Works may be termed ingenious rather than great, and such as have deserv'd the Approbation, not wonder of Mankind.

There are two Authors of great Note whom in my Hurry I forgot to mention, Beaumont, and Fletcher; but as they are fallen into the hands of a great Genius of this Kingdom, who intends to revise and correct them for Stage use, I shall wait their coming forth in Order to judge of this their Regeneration, and shall, in the mean time give this friendly Admonition to the generous Undertaker, that, as they are Authors of Merit, he alter nothing that he cannot give a sound Reason for, or interpolate any thing of their own that is not correspondent, and of equal Spirit to the rest of the Performance, which if he be so happy as to do, I will rejoice in his good Fortune, and say he has succeeded much better than in his late modest Attempts on Shakespear.

This is the second Paper we have published under this Title, and what Judgment the Town forms of our Undertaking we cannot tell: As Men's Humours are various, so they will, no doubt, variously talk of us.-But this we promise, as long as Providence gives us ability, and the Publick Countenance, we will go on to do all the good in our Power, to reprehend Vice and Folly in general, and to establish a Spirit of Benevolence, good Sense and Religion in this City; which if we after all our Labours find to be the least effected; we will sit down contented with this Thought, that we have not been the worst of Patriots.

As we have employed this Paper in pointing out what Plays in the English Tongue are fittest to be represented; so we intend to make the Subject of our next, the Decorum of the Stage, in pointing out what action is improper or indecent for it. As also some Remarks on clapping, hissing, and other Customs peculiar to an Audience; and this dispatch'd in our next Paper, we'll pass to other Subjects.

B.

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