Other Literary Forms
Although Samuel Foote is known chiefly for his dramatic works, he wrote several critical essays and letters and translated a French comedy. His The Roman and English Comedy Consider’d and Compar’d (1747) and A Treatise on the Passions (1747) are well written and sound, but they are short and reflect traditional, conservative Augustan literary and dramatic criticism. A Letter from Mr. Foote, to the Reverend Author of the “Remarks, Critical and Christian,” on “The Minor” (1760) and Apology for “The Minor” (1771) are significant because in them Foote delineates his critical ideas concerning affectation, hypocrisy, comedy, farce, the humorist, and the man of humor. Foote’s thinking as presented in these two essays is strikingly similar to Henry Fielding’s ideas on these topics as stated in the famous preface to Joseph Andrews (1742). Several of Foote’s prologues and prefaces, such as the preface to Taste and the preface to The Minor, are critically important for their discussions of the aims and purposes of his satires. (The prologue to Taste that was written and spoken by actor David Garrick seems also to present some of Foote’s views.) Foote’s The Comic Theatre, Being a Free Translation of All the Best French Comedies, by Samuel Foote and Others (1762) was an ambitious undertaking, and although he wrote the preface for it, he translated only one play, The Young Hypocrite, leaving “the others” to translate the remainder of the five volumes.