Every movement of the theater by a skilful poet is communicated, as it were, by magic, to the spectators; who weep, tremble, resent, rejoice, and are inflamed with all the variety of passions which actuate the several personages of the drama.
The drama embraces and applies all the beauties and decorations of poetry. The sister arts attend and adorn it. Painting, architecture, and music are her handmaids. The costliest lights of a peoples intellect burn at her show. All ages welcome her.
The tragedy of Hamlet is critically considered to be the masterpiece of dramatic poetry; and the tragedy of Hamlet is also, according to the testimony of every sort of manager, the play of all others which can invariably be depended on to fill a theater.
The dramatist, like the poet, is born, not made. * * * There must be inspiration back of all true and permanent art, dramatic or otherwise, and art is universal: there is nothing national about it. Its field is humanity, and it takes in all the world; nor does anything else afford the refuge that is provided by it from all troubles and all the vicissitudes of life.
The drama is not a mere copy of nature, not a facsimile. It is the free running hand of genius, under the impression of its liveliest wit or most passionate impulses, a thousand times adorning or feeling all as it goes; and you must read it, as the healthy instinct of audiences almost always does, if the critics will let them alone, with a grain of allowance, and a tendency to go away with as much of it for use as is necessary, and the rest for the luxury of laughter, pity, or poetical admiration.