THE DISCIPLES OF DIDEROT
Bless me, sir, a terrible progeny! they belong to the tribe of Incubi.--THE REV. DR. FOLLIOTT, in Crotchet Castle.
WE may safely leave aside any general enquiry into the dramatic theories of Diderot: they make on the whole rather a wearisome display of dialectic, only redeemed by Diderot's loquacious instinct: the father of the encyclopaedias, even in his most encyclopaedic moments, managed to vivify his prose with the accents of his tongue--which, if we are to believe his contemporaries, was by far the best witness to his real powers. But on one question of dramatic art Diderot remains a very authentic voice; and the voice is the voice of a prophet. The lesser theologians who derive from his original gospel still thrive with that luxuriance so characteristic of later theologies of every kind. For this reason it seems worth while to isolate the particular theory to which I refer: to see the shape it took in the mind of Diderot; to follow its reverberations in the larger critical intelligence of Lessing; to connect it with the conditions that gave it birth; and finally to ask whether the theory has any general