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Qui color albus erat, nunc est contrarius albo.


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At the time when this tragedy appeared, the nation was divided into factions by opposite opinions, both religious and political. This disposition was continually inflamed and aggravated, for insidious and interested purposes, by several of the leaders on both sides, who were equally notorious for profligacy and ambition; till the popular enthusiasm spread into every corner of the kingdom, and invaded even the peaceful retreat of the muses. Most of the literary productions of that period are replete with the intolerant spirit of party, and some of the most excellent have no other than a political object. Otway, who was as much distinguished for his loyalty, and his steady adherence to the Duke of York in the midst of his persecutions, as for his misfortunes, was not likely to abstain from a conduct so successfully practised by his contemporaries. Accordingly, most of his tragedies, and this in particular, abound with allusions to political occurrences, and exhibit, without disguise, his individual sentiments. The convulsions which Rome experienced during the alternate predominancy of the parties of Marius and Sylla, and the miseries entailed upon

the empire by their contentions, were adapted, without difficulty, to the circumstances of the times; and

pointed out the dangers which threatened the nationi from the frenzy of popular triumph, and the intrigues of deceitful patriots.

The greater part of this tragedy has been transferred from Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet;" nainely, the characters of Marius junior, Lavinia, Sulpitius, and the Nurse : so that there will be little left from which Otway can derive any considerable merit as the author.

He has displayed some judgment in the selection of the borrowed passages, and the dne adjustment of them to his own design, as may be seen by comparing the two plays; to facilitate which, references to the principal passages are inserted among the notes. The diction of Shakespeare has been polished and improved without losing the spirit of his meaning: and some of Otway's emendations of the text bave been even adopted by the editors of our great dramatic poet. The character of Sulpitius is prolonged by Otway till the last scene; although Shakespeare confessed, according to Dryden, “ That he was forced to kill Mercutio in the third act, to prevent being killed by him." The character of Caius Marius is drawn with force and accuracy, and in the genuine style of Shakespeare.

The play appears to have been rather a hasty composition; and if we are to understand literally the expressions in the Epilogue, was intended to supply him with the means of returning home from the Continent. It was represented in 1680; and was the first in which he relinquished rhyme: Dryden, it's great patron and advocate, having already set him the example.

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