Note by A Milnes to As A Playwright a chapter of The Life Of Dryden

This opinion in some form Dryden shares with many good critics. Cf. De Quincey on the 'Porter Scene' in Macbeth, where this feeling is analysed and fully explained. De Quincey says:—

'An action in any direction is best expounded, measured, and made apprehensible by reaction. . . . . Hence it is that when the deed is done, when the work of darkness is perfect, then the world of darkness passes away like a pageantry in the clouds: the knocking at the gate is heard; and it makes known audibly that the reaction has commenced; the human has made its reflux upon the fiendish; the pulses of life are beginning to beat again; and the re-establishment of the goings-on of the world in which we live, first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful parenthesis that had suspended them.' (Works, ed. 1863, vol. xv. p. 197.)

This is of course a critique upon an extreme case; but it opens with a statement of a general principle of wide application, and which may almost be described as a psychological truism, being, in fact, only a particular form of the doctrine of the Relativity of Knowledge.

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