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VARIOUS THEORIES ADOPTED ON THE SUBJECT BY THE
ENGLISH, FRENCH, AND GERMAN
By M. M DERMOT,
DISSERTATION ON THE NATURE
Sunt lacryme rerum, et nientem mortalia tangunto--VIRGIL.
TO MISS F. H. KELLY.
The object of the Work, to which I have the honour of prefix. ing your name, is to ascertain the source of the Pleasures derived from Tragic Representations, that branch of the drama in which you so eminently excel. Other names, it is true, enjoy a more fixed and established reputation than your's, that reputation which, when once established, critics dare not venture to molest; but this reputation awaits you, and in the estimation of those who judge for themselves, and who need not the slow but certain decisions of time to confirm their judgment, you have obtained it already. Were I to inscribe this Work to any of those names, I could not pretend to exercise any judgment in doing so; I should only travel in the footsteps of the public, and re-echo the praises which they have already abundantly enjoyed. By inscribing it to you, I exercise a judgment which I am certain will soon be confirmed by the universal suffrages of the public, and discharge, at the same time, that duty which Pope justly imposes upon all writers and critics :
Be thou the first true merit to befriend,
Cold, indeed, must be that public, and indurated to all the finer influences, and corresponding feelings of humanity,
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which cannot perceive, that, in the character of Juliet, you appear Juliet herself, in all her alternations of passion and vicissitudes of fortune, not her cold and formal representative.
But of your delineation of that character I have fully expressed my opinion in the concluding part of this work, and shall, therefore, only add, that if I neglected to arail myself of this opportunity of confirming the judgments which I there advanced, and of testifying the high opinion which I entertain of your dramatic T powers, particularly in that branch of the drama which is the subject of the following pages, I should feel that I had neglected
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obiit na suzby v I. io u The title page of this work expresses, as clearly as the author conld express, and, he believes, as
asu clearly as can be expressed, its nature and objecto a What more then has he to say in a preface? The cas subject wants not to be recommended to those who delight in the softer sympathies and affections, -the inelting strains, and soul-subduing influence of the Tragic Muse,—while those to whom nature bas not deigned to impart those finer feelings and susceptibilities of the heart, would look upon all I could advance in its favour, as the specious eloquence of an interested author. To such indurated stoics I choose not to address myself: let them enjoy, if they are capable of enjoyment, the cold approbation of that frozen judgment which smiles at all that is humane and sympathetic in our nature, and who view them as evidences, not of our virtues and benevolence, but of our frailties and imbecility. I shall not, therefore, endeavour to convince my readers, that the subject of the following pages possesses any intrinsic merit in itself, it being useless to recommend it to one class of