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interest, brevity, and lightness: but they who look in our pages for
any of that species of humour which good sense and taste reject as ribaldry, will find themselves completely disappointed.
In our criticisms we have been influenced by no prejudice, passion, or predilection—we have bent to no dictator-we have followed no judgment but our own. A few there are whom we have failed to satisfy—we expected as much, and therefore, are not disappointed. Some, more fastidious than we pretend to be, have censured us for not finding fault enough; others again, more swayed by favouritism than influenced by sober judgment, have impeached us of a too rigid severity. Were we to be moved by the opinions of these two sets of critics, we should but insure the fate of the man with his ass, in the fable; while by marching on in our old road, our critieism will catch additional force, from the united impetus of their hostile projections. Men in general are more disposed to censure than commend; it is no bad prognostic of the success of a new work, therefore, that it has incurred the censure only of a poor few who being eager for the reputation of keen sagacity and wit, pride themselves on detecting faults which es cape the notice of the more phlegmatically wise. Should one of this description think any of our future numbers worthy his animadversion, though we may regret his disapprobation, we cannot fail to comfort ourselves with the thoughts that we have afforded him an opportunity of parading his wit, and evincing his good nature.
With the encouragement received from the public, howeever, we have sufficient cause to be satisfied. Notwithstanding many obstacles our list of subscribers is greater than we expected, and though in that list we look in vain for names that we had some right to hope we should see there, we find many more in their stead, of which we never entertained the slightest expectation.
It happened that about the time we commenced this work, } weekly publication, partly on the same plan, was dropped by
the proprietors: from this arose a report that the Mirror had fallen to the ground, in consequence of which this work suffered, or at least was for a while considerably retarded in its circulation. It is hoped that the appearance of a second volume will, on that head, serve to quiet the apprehensions of our friends.
The public may be assured that the MIRROR OF TASTE AND DRAMATIC CENSOR will be continued, and that no labour will be spared by the editors, nor expense by the proprietors, to render it worthy of the favour and patronage of a liberal and enlightened people.
Finally the subscribers to this work are intreated to recollect that on the completion of the first volume, a year's subscription money became payable, by the terms stipulated in the original proposals. And the proprietors entertain no doubt that not only this intimation will be readily excused, but that the subscribers will attend to it with the prompt and cheerful compliance, so essential to the carrying on of the work with vigour, spirit, and satisfaction to all parties.
(Continued from page 437 of the last Volume.) It has already been shown that comedy rose in Athens by progressive degrees and on a regular system; but in Rome it grew up at once from seeds borrowed from the Grecian writers. Plautus and TERENCE who brought comedy to the highest perfection itever attained with the latter, were among the earliest writers, the former having written for the stage during the life time of Livius ANDRONICUS, and the latter who was a grown up boy before the death of PLAUTUS, having flourished about the time of Pacuvius and Ascius. As the whole of their drama therefore was at once adopted by the Romans from their illustrious preg decessors, tragedy and comedy arose at the same time among them, and the stage of Rome, at its very commencement, cxhibited
every kind of dramatic amusement from the most sublime productions of the tragic muse, down to the lowest buffoonery of farce and pantomime.
Plautus and Terence were gifted with powers which in any age or nation would have placed them high in the very first rank of dramatic poets. But it was their lot to flourish among a people, whose barbarous manners and miserable taste were little calculated to be improved by such men, or to give full effect to any endeavours that could be used to improve the drama, or es
tablish a standard for true comedy among them. The clumsy satires, and uncouth, broad-faced farce which at once took possession of the stage, demanded the application of a sharp and vigorous pruning wit, and a resolute zeal in the cause of true taste to put that instrument in action. PLAUTUS had the one, but wanted the other; accordingly his readers have to deplore the prostitution of his wonderful talents to the gratification of the bad taste of the Roman people, whom he might perhaps have improved, but did not—nay, on the contrary, confirmed in their errors by the fascinating powers of his genius, while on the other hand Terence by adopting a studied chasteness, an overrefined purity of style, and a correctness which appeared to the multitude cold, spiritless and inanimate, rendered his efforts to reform the stage totally inoperative.
PLAUTUS possessed an extraordinary share of comic wit; and has left behind him comedies, from which some of the greatest dramatic writers of modern times, English as well as French, have enriched their productions. It is related that he was at one time of his life reduced to such extreme poverty by commercial speculations, that in order to maintain himself he became a common labourerto a baker; but even that in that degraded state, while grinding corn for his employer, he continued to cultivate his comic genius. It is of little real consequence whether this slory be founded in truth or not yet, as the most trivial incidents acquire importance when related of persons of high distinction, it would be wrong to omit it in this place. Whatever his other employments might have been, his pen was not suffered to be clogged in idleness, for he wrote a vast number of excellent comedies, of which twenty are now extant.
The opinions which various writers have delivered upon the merits of Plautus display in a strong light the uncertainty and fallibility of the human judgment. That he was greatly esteemed at Rome, and that the purity, the energy and the elegance of his language were so greatly admired by other writers as to be considered objects of imitation is allowed: Varro, one of the most learned of the Romans, whose judgment in all such things, was universally acknowledged to be conclusive, declares that if the Muses were willing to speak Latin), they would speak in the