The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 13. Edward Moores Gamester
In The Gamester, prose domestic tragedy again prevails. Moore dramatises a new commandment—“Thou shalt not gamble.” To the playful hits of Pope and the more vigorous attacks of Addison upon gambling, Moore gave tragic intensity. The very singleness of his purpose gives unity to his drama. Without remarkable dramatic skill, he conceived his framework on large lines, and, in many ways, executed it impressively. He stoops, at times, to melodrama, in the use of surprise; but, like Lillo, he shows dramatic restraint in not permitting Mrs. Beverley to expire on her husband’s corpse. His failure to introduce his hero in the actual setting of the gaming-house seems, however, a needless sacrifice of a situation that would have strengthened at least the acting possibilities of the drama. Moore’s prose, despite obvious evidences of unnaturalness, marks an advance over Lillo’s. Yet the later writer’s own confession, that in scenes of elevated passion, it was harder to refrain from verse than to produce it, helps to explain Lillo’s inflated diction. Diderot coupled The Gamester and The Merchant of London as instances of English tragedies in prose, and Saurin’s vein in Béverlei (1768) is further evidence of Moore’s influence on the continental drama.