British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview

H. SCRIBLERUS SECUNDUS
HIS PREFACE

The town hath seldom been more divided in its opinion than concerning the merit of the following scenes. Whilst some publicly affirmed that no author could produce so fine a piece but Mr. P[ope], others have with as much vehemence insisted that no one could write anything so bad but Mr. F[ielding].

Nor can we wonder at this dissension about its merit, when the learned world have not unanimously decided even the very nature of this tragedy. For though most of the universities in Europe have honored it with the name of egregium et maximi pretii opus, tragœdiis tam antiquis quam novis longe anteponendum;1 nay, Dr. B[entley] hath pronounced, Citius Mævii Æneadem quam Scribleri istius tragœdiam hanc crediderim, cujus auctorem Senecam ipsum tradidisse haud dubitarim;2 and the great Professor Burman3 hath styled Tom Thumb, Heroum omnium tragicorum facile principem.4 Nay, though it hath, among other languages, been translated into Dutch, and celebrated with great applause at Amsterdam (where burlesque never came) by the title of Mynheer Vander Thumb, the burgomasters receiving it with that reverent and silent attention which becometh an audience at a deep tragedy: notwithstanding all this, there have not been wanting some who have represented these scenes in a ludicrous light; and Mr. D[ennis]5 hath been heard to say with some concern, that he wondered a tragical and Christian nation would permit a representation on its theatre so visibly designed to ridicule and extirpate everything that is great and solemn among us.

This learned critic and his followers were led into so great an error by that surreptitious and piratical copy which stole last years6 into the world -- with what injustice and prejudice to our author, I hope will be acknowledged by everyone who shall happily peruse this genuine and original copy. Nor can I help remarking, to the great praise of our author, that, however imperfect the former was, still did even that faint resemblance of the true Tom Thumb contain sufficient beauties to give it a run of upwards of forty nights, to the politest audiences. But, notwithstanding that applause which it received from all the best judges, it was as severely censured by some few bad ones and, I believe, rather maliciously than ignorantly reported to have been intended a burlesque on the loftiest parts of tragedy and designed to banish what we generally call fine things from the stage.

Now, if I can set my country right in an affair of this importance, I shall lightly esteem any labor which it may cost. And this I the rather undertake; first, as it is indeed in some measure incumbent on me to vindicate myself from that surreptitious copy before mentioned, published by some ill-meaning people under my name; secondly, as knowing myself more capable of doing justice to our author than any other man, as I have given myself more pains to arrive at a thorough understanding of this little piece, having for ten years together read nothing else; in which time I think I may modestly presume, with the help of my English dictionary, to comprehend all the meanings of every word in it.

But should any error of my pen awaken Clariss Bentleium7 to enlighten the world with his annotations on our author, I shall not think that the least reward or happiness arising to me from these my endeavors.

I shall waive at present what hath caused such feuds in the learned world, whether this piece was originally written by Shakespeare, though certainly that, were it true, must add a considerable share to its merit, especially with such as are so generous as to buy and to commend what they never read, from an implicit faith in the author only -- a faith which our age abounds in as much as it can be called deficient in any other.

Let it suffice that the Tragedy of Tragedies, or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb, was written in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Nor can the objection be made by Mr. D[ennis] that the tragedy must then have been antecedent to the history, have any weight, when we consider that though the History of Tom Thumb, printed by and for Edward M[idwinte]r, at the Looking-Glass8 on London Bridge, be of a later date; still must we suppose this history to have been transcribed from some other, unless we suppose the writer thereof to be

____________________
1
'A distinguished and most valuable work, vastly to be preferred alike to ancient and to modern tragedies.'
2
'More readily should I believe that Mævius wrote the Æneid than that this Scriblerus of yours wrote this tragedy, the author of which, I have no doubt, Seneca himself recorded.'
3
A learned Latin scholar of Amsterdam.
4
'Easily the first of all tragic heroes.'
5
English essayist and dramatist, whom Fielding frequently hits in his 'Annotations'
6
Referring to the two-act 1730 version of Tom Thumb.
7
'The most illustrious Bentley,' the leading English classical scholar already cited by Fielding (line 7).
8
Midwinter's shop. Midwinter and Curll (cited below) were London printers and publishers.

-577-

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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • Restoration Drama 1
  • Heroic Drama 3
  • Reference Works 6
  • Prologue to the First Part 9
  • Act I 11
  • [scene I] 11
  • Act II 15
  • [scene I] 15
  • Act III 18
  • [scene I] 18
  • Act IV 24
  • [scene I] 24
  • [scene Ii] 25
  • Act V 31
  • [scene I] 31
  • [scene Ii] 32
  • [scene Iii] 33
  • Epilogue 38
  • The Rehearsal 39
  • Prologue 41
  • Act I 43
  • Scene I 43
  • [scene Ii] 44
  • Act II 48
  • Scene I 48
  • Scene II 49
  • Scene III 50
  • Scene IV 50
  • Scene V 52
  • Act III 52
  • Scene I 52
  • Scene II 54
  • Scene III 54
  • Scene IV 55
  • Scene V 55
  • Act IV 57
  • Scene I 57
  • Scene II 61
  • Act I 62
  • Scene I 62
  • Epilogue 67
  • Blank-Verse Tragedy (1677-1700) 69
  • Reference Works 72
  • Preface 75
  • Prologue 81
  • Act I 83
  • Scene [i] 83
  • Act II 88
  • [scene I] 88
  • Act III 94
  • [scene I] 94
  • Act IV 100
  • [scene I] 100
  • Act V 107
  • [scene I] 107
  • Epilogue 114
  • Prologue 117
  • Act I 119
  • Scene I 119
  • Act II 123
  • [scene I] 123
  • Scene [ii] 124
  • [scene Iii] 125
  • Act III 128
  • [scene I] 128
  • Scene II 130
  • Act IV 136
  • [scene I] 136
  • Scene [ii] 137
  • Act V 143
  • [scene I] 143
  • [scene Ii] 145
  • [scene Iii] 147
  • [scene Iv] 149
  • Epilogue 150
  • Comedy of Errors 151
  • Reference Works 154
  • Prologue 157
  • Act I 159
  • Scene I 159
  • Act II 165
  • [scene I] 165
  • Scene II 167
  • Act III 170
  • [scene I] 170
  • Scene II 172
  • Scene III 176
  • Act IV 180
  • [scene I] 180
  • Scene II 185
  • Scene III 187
  • Act V 188
  • [scene I] 188
  • Scene II 191
  • Epilogue 197
  • Dedication 201
  • Prologue. Spoken by the Plain Dealer. 205
  • Act I 207
  • Scene I 207
  • Act II 214
  • Scene I 214
  • Act III 226
  • Scene I 226
  • Act IV 236
  • Scene I 236
  • [scene Ii] 241
  • Act V 246
  • Scene I 246
  • [scene Ii] 248
  • [scene Iii] 254
  • Epilogue 257
  • The Preface 261
  • Prologue 263
  • Act I 265
  • Scene I 265
  • [scene Ii] 266
  • [scene Iii] 268
  • Act II 271
  • Scene I 271
  • Act III 279
  • [scene I] 279
  • [scene Ii] 281
  • [scene Iii] 284
  • [scene Iv] 285
  • [scene V] 286
  • Act IV 286
  • [scene I] 286
  • [scene Ii] 288
  • [scene Iii] 290
  • [scene Iv] 291
  • [scene V] 292
  • Act V 295
  • [scene I] 295
  • [scene Ii] 297
  • [scene Iii] 299
  • [scene Iv] 301
  • [scene V] 303
  • Epilogue 307
  • Dedication to the Right Honorable Ralph, Earl of Mountague, &c. 311
  • Act I 313
  • Scene I 313
  • Act II 318
  • Scene I 318
  • Act III 324
  • Scene I 324
  • Act IV 332
  • Scene I 332
  • Act V 340
  • Scene I 340
  • Epilogue 347
  • Prologue 351
  • Act I 353
  • Scene I 353
  • [scene Ii] 359
  • Act III 362
  • [scene I 362
  • [scene Ii] 363
  • [scene Iii] 365
  • Act IV 370
  • Scene I 370
  • [scene Ii] 376
  • [scene Iii] 381
  • [scene Iv] 383
  • An Epilogue Designed to Be Spoke in 'the Beaux' Stratagem.' 386
  • Jeremy Collier's Attack on the Stage 387
  • Reference Works 388
  • Eighteenth-Century Drama 395
  • Sentimental Comedy 397
  • Reference Works 398
  • The Prologue 401
  • Act I 403
  • Scene I 403
  • Act II 408
  • Scene I 408
  • [scene Ii] 410
  • Act III 413
  • Scene I 413
  • Act IV 420
  • Scene I 420
  • Act V 426
  • Scene I 426
  • [scene Ii] 427
  • [scene Iii] 428
  • [scene Iv] 429
  • [scene V] 429
  • [scene Vi] 430
  • [scene Vii] 432
  • The Epilogue 436
  • The Preface 439
  • Prologue 441
  • Act I 443
  • Scene I 443
  • Scene II 447
  • Act II 450
  • Scene I 450
  • [scene Ii] 451
  • Act III 455
  • Scene I 455
  • Act IV 460
  • Scene I 460
  • Scene [ii] 463
  • Scene [iii] 465
  • Act V 466
  • Scene I 466
  • Scene [ii] 467
  • Scene [iii] 468
  • Epilogue 472
  • Blank-Verse Tragedy 473
  • Reference Works 475
  • Prologue 479
  • Act I 481
  • Scene I 481
  • Scene II 482
  • Scene III 483
  • Scene IV 483
  • [scene V] 485
  • [scene Vi] 485
  • Act II 486
  • Scene I 486
  • [scene Ii] 487
  • [scene Iii] 488
  • [scene Iv] 489
  • [scene V] 489
  • [scene Vi] 491
  • Act III 492
  • Scene I 492
  • [scene Ii] 492
  • [scene Iii] 494
  • [scene Iv] 494
  • [scene V] 494
  • [scene Vi] 495
  • [scene Vii] 495
  • Act IV 496
  • Scene I 496
  • [scene Ii] 496
  • [scene Iii] 497
  • [scene Iv] 498
  • Act V 500
  • Scene I 500
  • [scene Ii] 500
  • [scene Iii] 501
  • [scene Iv] 501
  • Epilogue 503
  • Prologue 507
  • Act I 509
  • Scene I 509
  • Scene II 510
  • Act II 512
  • Scene I 512
  • Act III 516
  • Scene I 516
  • Act IV 519
  • [scene I] 519
  • Act V 524
  • Scene I 524
  • Epilogue 530
  • Ballad Opera 531
  • Reference Works 532
  • Introduction 534
  • Act I 537
  • Scene I 537
  • Scene II 537
  • Scene III 538
  • Scene IV 538
  • Scene V 540
  • Scene VI 540
  • Scene VII 540
  • Scene VIII 541
  • Scene IX 543
  • Scene X 543
  • Scene XI 544
  • Scene XII 545
  • Scene XIII 545
  • Scene XIII 546
  • Scene II 546
  • Scene II 550
  • Scene VI 551
  • Scene VII 551
  • Scene VIII 551
  • Scene IX 552
  • Scene X 553
  • Scene XI 554
  • Scene XII 554
  • Scene XIII 555
  • Scene XIV 556
  • Scene XIV 557
  • Scene II 557
  • Scene II 559
  • Scene III 559
  • Scene IV 559
  • Scene V 560
  • Scene VI 561
  • Scene VII 562
  • Scene VIII 563
  • Scene IX 564
  • Scene X 564
  • Scene XI 564
  • Scene XII 566
  • Scene XIII 566
  • Scene XIV 567
  • Scene XV 568
  • Scene XVI 568
  • Scene XVII 568
  • Mid-Eighteenth-Century Drama (1730-1770) 571
  • Reference Works 573
  • H. Scriblerus Secundus His Preface 577
  • Act I 581
  • Scene I 581
  • Scene II 582
  • Scene III 583
  • Scene IV 585
  • Scene V 585
  • Scene VI 586
  • Act II 586
  • Scene I 586
  • Scene II 586
  • Scene III 587
  • Scene IV 588
  • Scene V 588
  • Scene VI 589
  • Scene VII 590
  • Scene VIII 590
  • Act II 593
  • Scene I 593
  • Scene II 593
  • Scene III 594
  • Scene IV 594
  • Scene V 595
  • Scene VI 595
  • Scene VII 595
  • Scene VIII 596
  • Scene IX 596
  • [dedication] 601
  • Prologue 603
  • Act I 605
  • Scene I 605
  • Scene II 606
  • Act II 609
  • Scene I 609
  • Scene II 611
  • Scene II 613
  • Act III 613
  • Scene I 613
  • Scene II 615
  • Scene III 616
  • Scene IV 617
  • Scene IV 618
  • Act IV 618
  • Scene I 618
  • Scene II 619
  • Act V 622
  • Scene I 622
  • Scene II 623
  • Epilogue 628
  • Act I 633
  • Scene I 633
  • Scene [ii] 635
  • Act II 638
  • [scene I] 638
  • Epilogue 646
  • Prologue 649
  • Prologue 651
  • Act I 653
  • Act II 656
  • Act III 659
  • Act IV 663
  • Act V 668
  • Epilogue 673
  • Prologue 677
  • Act I 679
  • Scene [i] 679
  • Act II 684
  • [scene Ii] Scene Changes to Oakly's. 684
  • [scene Ii] 686
  • Scene [iii] 687
  • Act III 691
  • Scene [i] 691
  • [scene Ii] 695
  • Act IV 698
  • Scene [i] 698
  • [scene Ii] 701
  • Act V 704
  • Scene [i] 704
  • Scene [ii] 705
  • Scene [iii] 706
  • Epilogue 712
  • Later Eighteenth-Century Drama - (1770-1780) 713
  • Sentimental Versus Laughing Comedy 713
  • Reference Works 717
  • Prologue 721
  • Act I 723
  • Scene I 723
  • Scene II 724
  • Scene III 724
  • Scene IV 724
  • Scene V 725
  • Scene VI 726
  • Act II 728
  • Scene I 728
  • Scene II 728
  • Scene III 729
  • Scene IV 730
  • Scene V 730
  • Scene VI 731
  • Scene VII 731
  • Scene VIII 732
  • Scene IX 733
  • Scene X 734
  • Scene XI 735
  • Act III 736
  • Scene I 736
  • Scene II 737
  • Scene III 737
  • Scene IV 739
  • Scene V 739
  • Scene VI 740
  • Scene VII 740
  • Scene VIII 742
  • Scene IX 743
  • Scene X 743
  • Scene IV 743
  • Scene I 743
  • Scene II 743
  • Scene III 744
  • Scene IV 745
  • Scene V 745
  • Scene VI 745
  • Scene VII 746
  • Scene VIII 746
  • Scene IX 747
  • Scene X 748
  • Act V 750
  • Scene I 750
  • Scene II 751
  • Scene III 751
  • Scene IV 751
  • Scene V 752
  • Scene VI 752
  • Scene VII 753
  • Scene VIII 754
  • Epilogue 756
  • Prologue 767
  • Act I 769
  • Scene [i] 769
  • Scene [ii] 771
  • Act II 773
  • Scene [i] 773
  • Act III 781
  • [scene I] 781
  • Act IV 785
  • [scene I] 785
  • Act V 791
  • [scene I] 791
  • [scene Ii] 792
  • [scene Iii] 794
  • Epilogue 797
  • Epilogue 798
  • Prologue 801
  • Prologue 803
  • Act I 805
  • Scene I 805
  • Scene II 806
  • Act II 810
  • Scene I 810
  • Scene II 816
  • Act III 817
  • Scene I 817
  • Scene II 818
  • Scene III 820
  • Scene IV 822
  • Act IV 824
  • Scene I 824
  • Scene II 826
  • Scene III 829
  • Act V 831
  • Scene I 831
  • Scene II 834
  • Scene III 835
  • Epilogue 839
  • A Portrait; Addressed to Mrs. Crewe, with the Comedy of the School for Scandal 843
  • Prologue 847
  • Act I 849
  • Scene I 849
  • Scene II 854
  • Act II 855
  • Scene I 855
  • Scene II 857
  • Scene III 860
  • Act III 861
  • Scene I 861
  • Scene II 864
  • Scene III 865
  • Act IV 868
  • Scene I 868
  • Scene II 870
  • Scene III 871
  • Act IV 876
  • Scene I 876
  • Scene II 878
  • Scene III 881
  • Epilogue 885
  • [dedication] 889
  • Prologue 891
  • Act I 893
  • Scene I 893
  • Scene II 898
  • Act II 902
  • Scene I 902
  • Scene II 902
  • Act III 908
  • Scene I 908
  • Textual Notes 913
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