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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

IV. The Drama and the Stage

§ 7. Young, Hughes and Thomson

Like the current of moral reform, the current of classical influence, which was very strong in queen Anne drama, encountered various obstacles in its course. Some of the early Georgian tragedies of Edward Young (1683–1765) have much of the violent action of Elizabethan drama and the unrestraint, though not the poetic imagination, of Lee’s dramatic utterance. It needed but little exaggeration for Fielding to turn the heroics of Busiris (1719) to mockery in his burlesque tragedy, Tom Thumb. The Revenge (1721), in striving to depict “the tumults of a Godlike mind,” recalls the heroic drama of the restoration, though Zanga, the Moor, is reminiscent of Othello. Thus, these tragedies of Young seem, in reality, to follow English, rather than strict continental, models. In The Siege of Damascus (1720), a tragedy far superior to the mediocre work of Young, John Hughes had turned to an English source in borrowing from D’Avenant’s play, The Siege. While the ponderous tragedies of James Thompson, to which reference is made elsewhere, lent weight rather than dignity to the cause of classical drama, the rather uneventful course of English tragedy during the second quarter of the eighteenth century was broken by one radical innovation.