Eighteenth Century Studies: Essays

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S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1881 - English literature - 386 pages
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Aeschylus is the first of the great Greek playwrights, and the four plays in this volume demonstrate the remarkable range of Greek tragedy. Persians is the only surviving tragedy to draw on contemporary history, the Greeks' extraordinary victory over Persia in 480 BC. The Persians' aggression is inhuman in scale and offends the gods, but while celebrating the Greek triumph, Aeschylus also portrays the shock of the defeated with some compassion. In Seven Against Thebes a royal family is cursed with self-destruction, in a remorseless tragedy that anticipates the grandeur of the later Oresteia. Suppliants portrays the wretched plight of the daughters of Danaus, fleeing from enforced marriage; as refugees they seek protection and must plead a moral and political case to gain it. And in Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is relentlessly persecuted by Zeus for benefitting mankind in defiance of the god. - Publisher.

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Page 160 - Cato it has been not unjustly determined that it is rather a poem in dialogue than a drama, rather a succession of just sentiments in elegant language than a representation of natural affections, or of any state probable or possible in human life. Nothing here 'excites or assuages emotion'; here is 'no magical power of raising phantastick terror or wild anxiety.
Page 232 - Here Cumberland lies, having acted his parts, The Terence of England, the mender of hearts; A flattering painter, who made it his care To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are.
Page 109 - If thorough knowledge of the human heart ; If powers of acting vast and unconfined ; If fewest faults with greatest beauties join'd ; If strong expression, and strange powers which lie Within the magic circle of the eye ; If feelings which few hearts, like his, can know, And which no face so well as his can show, Deserve the preference ; — Garrick ! take the chair, Nor quit it — till thou place an equal there.
Page 30 - Wilkes, esq. herewith sent you, for being the author and publisher of a most infamous and seditious libel, intitled, The North Briton, No. 45, tending to inflame the minds and alienate the affections of the people from his majesty, and to excite them to traitorous insurrections against the government...
Page 182 - For physic and farces his equal there scarce is— His farces are physic, his physic a farce is.
Page 160 - Let him be answered, that Addison spenks the language of poets, and Shakespeare of men. We find in Cato innumerable beauties, which enamour us of its author, but we see nothing that acquaints us with human sentiments or human actions; we place it with the fairest and the noblest progeny which judgment propagates by conjunction with learning; but Othello is the vigorous and vivacious offspring of observation impregnated by genius.
Page 165 - When he appears most perfect, still we find Something which jars upon and hurts the mind ; '.. Whatever lights upon a part are thrown, We see too plainly they are not his own ; No flame from Nature ever yet he caught, Nor knew a feeling which he was not taught : He rais'd his trophies on the base of art, And conn'd his passions as he conn'd his part.
Page 129 - Independence, and the Times, were catchpennies. Gotham, unless I am a greater blockhead than he, which I am far from believing, is a noble and beautiful poem, and a poem with which I make no doubt the author took as much pains as with any he ever wrote. Making allowance, (and Dryden in his Absalom and Achitophel stands in need of the same indulgence,) for an unwarrantable use of Scripture, it appears to me to be a masterly performance.
Page 200 - Garrick, then young and light and alive in every muscle and in every feature, come bounding on the stage, and pointing at the wittol Altamont and heavy-paced Horatio— heavens, what a transition ! — it seemed as if a whole century had been swept over in the transition of a single scene...
Page 232 - Adopting his portraits, are pleased with their own. Say, where has our poet this malady caught? Or wherefore his characters thus without fault? Say, was it, that vainly directing his view To find out men's virtues, and finding them few, Quite sick of pursuing each troublesome elf, He grew lazy at last, and drew from himself?

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