Thursday, 13 December 2012

Biographia Dramatica

Coleridge (in a footnote to BL chapter 18 [2:80]) makes mock of the tendency of inflating ordinary discourse into bathetic poetry. '‘As the ingenious gentleman under the influence of the Tragic Muse contrived to dislocate, "I wish you a good morning, Sir! Thank you, Sir, and I wish you the same," into two blank-verse heroics:—
To you a morning good, good Sir! I wish.
You, Sir! I thank: to you the same wish I.
This, I reckon, is elaborated out of the following example:
Pope, in his Art of Sinking in Poetry, which was published after the death of Rowe, has the following observation: "I have seen a play professedly writ in the style of Shakspeare, wherein the resemblance lay in one single line,
And so good morrow t'ye, good master lieutenant.
The satirist, however, was mistaken. The line is not in Jane Shore, but in Lady Jane Gray, which professes no imitation of Shakspeare; nor is the quotation a fair one, being interpolated to render it ridiculous.
And so good morning, good master lieutenant,
is the verse as printed by Rowe. [Biographia Dramatica, or a Companion to the Playhouse: containing Historical and critical Memoirs, and original Anecdotes, of British and Irish Dramatic Writers. Originally Compiled to the Year 1764 by David Erskine Baker, Continued Thence to 1782 by Isaac Reed, and brought down to the End of November 1811, with very considerable Additions and Improvements throughout by Stephen Jones (3 vols 1812) 2:341]
Cool title, no?

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