chapter  27
4 Pages

Two unfavorable notices, 1773

Comedy has been defined by all theatrical Critics, from Aristotle down to the correspondents of a News-paper. We do not, however, remember a definition exactly in the following terms: Comedy is a dramatic representation of the prevailing manners of people not in very high or very low life. It must therefore vary, as those manners vary; and be wholly regulated by them. Hence the difference between Plautus and Menander; (as Menander is represented by Terence} and between all those original writers, who at different periods of time have written immediately from the manners passing in review before them. Few of our English writers of Comedy have aimed at being originals. Some exception may be made in favour of Vanbrugh, Congreve, and Farquhar; the great merit of whose Comedies is, that they represent the manners of the times. Sir Richard Steel, Mr. Cibber, & c. did little more than translate; they were happy, however, in the choice of their plays, and in accommodating them to the customs which it was the business of the stage to regulate or correct.-Our