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say he is a man of modesty and merit. Should you be told that was Prince Eugene, he would be diminished no otherwise, than that part of
your distant admiration would turn into familiar good will.
This I thought fit to entertain my reader with, concerning an hero who never was equalled but by one man;* over whoin also he has this advantage, that he has had an opportunity to manifest an esteem for him in his adversity.
No. 341. TUESDAY, APRIL 1.
-Revocate animos, mæstumque timorem Mittite.
Resume your courage, and dismiss your care.
Having, to oblige my correspondent
Physibulus, printed his letter last Friday, (No. 338) in relation to the new epilogue, he can not take it amiss, if I now publish another, which I have just received from a gentleman who does not agree with him in his sentiments upon that matter.
I am amazed to find an epilogue attacked in your last Friday's paper, which has been so generally applauded by the town, and received such
* The Duke of Marlborough.
honours as were never before given to any in an English theatre.
The audience would not permit Mrs. Oldfield to
go off the stage the first night till she had repeated it twice; the second night the noise of ancora was as loud as before, and she was again obliged to speak it twice; the third night it was still called for a second time; and, in short, contrary to all other epilogues, which are dropt after the third representation of the play, this has already been repeated nine times.
• I must own I am the more surprised to find this censure in opposition to the whole town, in a paper which has hitherto been famous for the candour of its criticisms.
"I can by no means allow your melancholy correspondent, that the new epilogue is unnatural because it is gay. If I had a mind to be learned, I could tell him that the prologue and epilogue were real parts of the ancient tragedy, but every one knows that on the British stage they are distinct performances by themselves, pieces entirely detached from the play, and no way essential to it.
• The moment the play ends, Mrs. Oldfield is no more Andromache, but Mrs. Oldfield: and though the poet had left Andromache stone-dead upon she stage, as your ingenious correspondent phrases it, Mrs. Oldfield might still have spoke a merry epilogue. We have an instance of this in a tragedy where there is not only a death but a martyrdom. St. Catherine was there personated by Nell Gwin: she lies stone dead stage; but, upon those gentlemen's offering to remove her body, whose business it is to carry
off the slain in our English tragedies, she breaks out into that abrupt beginning of what was a very ludicrous, but at the same time thought a very good, epilogue:
'Hold, are you mad? you damn'd confounded dog, 'I am to rise and speak the epilogue.'
« This diverting manner was always practised by Mr. Dryden, who, if he was not the best writer of tragedies in his time, was allowed by every one to have the happiest turn for a prologue or an epilogue. The epilogues to Cleomenes, Don Sebastian, the Duke of Guise, Aurengzebe, and Love Triumphant, are all precedents of this nature.
• I might further justify this practice by that excellent epilogue which was spoken a few years since, after the tragedy of Phædra and Hippolitus;* with a great many others in which the authors have endeavoured to make the audience merry. If they have not all succeeded so well as the writer of this, they have however shown that it was not for want of good-will.
• I must further observe, that the gayety of it may be still the more proper, as it is at the end of a French play; since every one knows that nation, who are generally esteemed to have as polite a taste as any in Europe, always close their tragic entertainments with what they call a petite pièce, which is purposely designed to raise mirth, and send away the audience well pleased. The
* A tragedy by Mr. E. Neal. Addison wrote a prologue to this play, in ridicule of Italian operas, and Prior wrote the epilogue here mentioned.
same person who has supported the chief character in the tragedy, very often plays the principal part in the petite pièce; so that I have myself seen at Paris, Orestes and Lubin acted the same night by the same man.
Tragi-comedy, indeed, you have yourself in a former speculation found fault with very justly, because it breaks the tide of the passions while they are yet flowing; but this is nothing at all to the present case, where they have already had their full course. See Nos. 324, 332, 347.
• As the new epilogue is written conformably to the practice of our best poets, so it is not such a one, which, as the duke of Buckingham says in his rehearsal, might serve for any other play; but wholly rises out of the occurrences of the piece it was composed for.
The only reason your mournful correspondent gives against this facetious epilogue, as he calls it, is, that he has a mind to go home melancholy. 'I wish the gentleman may not be more grave than wise. For my own part, I must confess I think it very sufficient to have the anguish of a fictitious piece remain upon me while it is representing, but I love to be sent home to bed in a good humour. If Physibulus is however resolved to be inconsolable, and not to have his tears dried up, he need only continue his old custom, and when he has had his half crown's worth of sorrow, slink out before the epilogue begins.
It is pleasant enough to hear this tragical genius complaining of the great mischief Andromache had done him. What was that? Why, she made him laugh. The poor' gentleman's
sufferings put me in mind of Harlequin's case, who was tickled to death. He tells us soon after, through a small mistake of sorrow for rage, that during the whole action he was so very sorry, that he thinks he could have attacked half a score of the fiercest Mohocks in the excess of his grief. I can not but look upon it as a happy accident, that a man who is so bloody-minded in his affliction, was diverted from this fit of outrageous melancholy, The valour of this gentleman in his distress brings to one's memory the knight of the sorrowful countenance, who lays about him at such an unmerciful rate in an old romance. I shall readily grant him that his soul, as he himself
66 would have made a very ridiculous figure, had it quitted the body, and descended to the poetical shades,” in such an encounter.
• As to his conceit of tacking a tragic head with a comic tail, in order to refresh the audience, it is such a piece of jargon, that I don't know what to make of it.
• The elegant writer makes a very sudden transition from the playhouse to the church, and from thence to the gallows.
6 As for what relates to the church, he is of opinion, that these epilogues have given occasion to those “merry jigs from the organ-loft, which have dissipated those good thoughts and dispositions he has found in himself, and the rest of the
pew, upon the singing of two stayes culled out by the judicious and diligent clerk.”
He fetched his next thought from Tyburn; and seems very apprehensive lest there should