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county, describes for a family there, and makes the Welsh parson descant very pleasantly upon them. That whole play is admirable; the humours are various and well opposed; the main design, which is to cure Ford of his unreasonable jealousy, is extremely well conducted. In Twelfth Night there is something singularly ridiculous and pleasant in the fantastical steward Malvolio. parasite and the vain-glorious in Parolles, in All's Well that Ends Well, is as good as any thing of that kind in Plautus or Terence. Petruchio, in The Taming of the Shrew, is an uncommon piece of humour. The conversation of Benedick and Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing, and of Rosalind, in As You Like It, have much wit and sprightliness all along. His clowns, without which character there was hardly any play writ in that time, are all very entertaining; and, I believe, Thersites, in Troilus and Cressida, and Apemantus, in Timon, will be allowed to be master pieces of ill-nature and satirical snarling. To these I might add that incomparable character of Shylock, the Jew, in The Merchant of Venice: but though we have seen that play received and acted as a comedy, and the part of the Jew performed by an excellent comedian, yet I cannot but think it was designed tragically by the author. There appears in it such a deadly spirit of revenge, such savage fierceness and fellness, and such a bloody designation of cruelty and mischief, as cannot agree either with the style or characters of comedy. The play itself, take it altogether, seems to me to be one of the most finished of any of Shakspeare's. The tale, indeed, in that part relating to the caskets, and the extravagant and unusual kind of bond given by Antonio, is too much removed from the rules of probability; but, taking the fact for granted, we must allow it to be very beautifully written. There is something in the friendship of Antonio to Bassanio, very great, generous, and tender. The whole fourth act (supposing, as I said, the fact to be probable) is extremely fine. But there are two passages that deserve a particular notice: the first is what Portia says in praise of mercy; and the other on the power of music. The melancholy of Jaques, in As You Like It, is as singular and odd as it is diverting. And if, what Horace says,
"Difficile est proprie communia dicere,"
it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him in the description of the several degrees and ages of man's life, though the thought be old and common enough.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And then, the whining school-boy with his satchel,
Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then, a soldier;
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice;
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise' saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side;
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing."
His images are, indeed, every where so lively, that the thing he would repre sent stands full before you, and you possess every part of it. I will venture to
point out one more, which is, I think, as strong and as uncommon as any thing I ever saw it is an image of Patience. Speaking of a maid in love, he says,
What an image is here given! and what a task would it have been for the greatest masters of Greece and Rome to have expressed the passions designed by the sketch of statuary! The style of his comedy is, in general, natural to the characters, and easy in itself; and the wit most commonly sprightly and pleasing, except in those places where he runs into doggerel rhymes, as in The Comedy of Errors and some other plays. As for his jingling sometimes, and playing upon words, it was the common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find it in the pulpit, made use of as an ornament to the sermons of some of the gravest divines of those times, perhaps it may not be thought too light for the stage.
But certainly the greatness of this author's genius does no where so much appear as where he gives his imagination an entire loose, and raises his fancy to a tlight above mankind, and the limits of the visible world. Such are his attempts in The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Of these The Tempest, however it comes to be placed the first by the publishers of his works, can never have been the first written by him: it seems to me as perfect in its kind as almost any thing we have of his. One may observe that the unities are kept here, with an exactness uncommon to the liberties of his writing; though that was what, I suppose, he valued himself least upon, since his excellencies were all of another kind. I am very sensible that he does, in this play, depart too much from that likeness to truth which ought to be observed in these sort of writings; yet he does it so very finely, that one is easily drawn in to have more faith for his sake, than reason does well allow of. His magic has something in it very solemn and very poetical; and that extravagant character of Caliban is mightily well sustained, shows a wonderful invention in the author, who could strike out such a particular wild image, and is certainly one of the finest and most uncommon grotesques that ever was seen. The observation, which I have been informed three very great men concurred in making upon this part, was extremely just ;-That Shakspeare had not only found out a new character in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a new manner of language for that character.
It is the same magic that raises the Fairies in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, the Witches in Macbeth, and the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and language so proper to the parts they sustain, and so peculiar to the talent of this writer. But of the two last of these plays I shall have occasion to take notice among the tragedies of Mr. Shakspeare. If one undertook to examine the greatest part of these by those rules which are established by Aristotle, and taken from the model of the Grecian stage, it would be no very hard task to find a great many faults; but as Shakspeare lived under a kind of mere light of nature, and had never been made acquainted with the regularity of those written precepts, so it would be hard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to consider him as a man that lived in a state of almost universal license and ignorance; there was no established judge, but every one took the liberty to write according to the dictates of his own fancy. When one considers, that there is not one play before him of a reputation good enough to entitle it to an appearance on the present stage, it cannot but be a matter of great wonder that he should advance dramatic poetry so far as he did. The fable is what is generally placed the first, among those that are reckoned the constituent parts of a tragic or heroic poem; not, perhaps, as it is the most difficult or beautiful, but as it is the first properly to be thought of in the contrivance and course of the whole; and, with the fable, ought to be considered the fit disposition, order, and conduct of its several parts. As it is not in this province of the drama that the strength and mastery of Shakspeare lay, so I shall not undertake the tedious and ill-natured trouble to point out the several faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were seldom invented, but rather taken efther from the true history, or novels and romances: and he commonly made use of them in that order, with those incidents, and that extent of time in which he found them in the authors from whence he borrowed them. So The Winter's Tale, which is taken from an old book, called The Delectable History of Dorastus and Fawnia, contains the space of sixteen or seventeen years, and the scene is sometimes laid in Bohe
mia, and sometimes in Sicily, according to the original order of the story. Almost all his historical plays comprehend a great length of time, and very different and distinct places: and in his Antony and Cleopatra, the scene travels over the greatest part of the Roman empire. But in recompense for his carelessness in this point, when he comes to another part of the drama, the manners of his charac ters, in acting or speaking what is proper for them, and fit to be shewn by the poet, he may be generally justified, and in very many places greatly commended. For those plays which he has taken from the English or Roman history, let any man compare them, and he will find the character as exact in the poet as the historian. He seems indeed so far from proposing to himself any one action for a subject, that the title very often tells you, it is The Life of King John, King Richard, &c. What can be more agreeable to the idea our historians give of Henry the Sixth, than the picture Shakspeare has drawn of him! His manners are every where exactly the same with the story; one finds him still described with simplicity, passive sanctity, want of courage, weakness of mind, and easy submission to the governance of an imperious wife, or prevailing faction: though at the same time the poet does justice to his good qualities, and moves the pity of his audience for him, by shewing him pious, disinterested, a contemner of the things of this world, and wholly resigned to the severest dispensations of God's providence. There is a short scene in The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, which I cannot but think admirable in its kind. Cardinal Beanfort, who had murdered the Duke of Gloucester, is shewn, in the last agonies on his death-bed, with the good king praying over him. There is so much terror in one, so much tenderness and moving piety in the other, as must touch any one who is capable either of fear or pity. In his Henry the Eighth, that prince is drawn with that greatness of mind, and all those good qualities which are attributed to him in any account of his reign. If his faults are not shewn in an equal degree, and the shades in this picture do not bear a just proportion to the lights, it is not that the artist wanted either colours or skill in the disposition of them; but the truth, I believe, might be, that he forbore doing it out of regard to Queen Elizabeth, since it could have been no very great respect to the memory of his mistress, to have exposed some certain parts of her father's life upon the stage. He has dealt much more freely with the minister of that great king; and certainly nothing was ever more justly written than the character of Cardinal Wolsey. He has shewn him insolent in his prosperity; and yet, by a wonderful address, he makes his fall and ruin the subject of general compassion. The whole man, with his vices and virtues, is finely and exactly described in the second scene of the fourth act. The distresses, likewise, of Queen Catherine, in this play, are very movingly touched; and though the art of the poet has screened King Henry from any gross imputation of injustice, yet one is inclined to wish, the queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. are the manners, proper to the persons represented, less justly observed in those characters taken from the Roman history; and of this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and disdain of the common people, the virtue and philosophical temper of Brutus, and the irregular greatness of mind in M. Antony, are beautiful proofs. For the two last especially, you find them exactly as they are described by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakspeare copied them. He has indeed followed his original pretty close, and taken in several little incidents that might have been spared in a play. But, as I hinted before, his design seems most commonly rather to describe those great men in the several fortunes and accidents of their lives, than to take any single great action, and form his work simply upon that. However, there are some of his pieces, where the fable is founded upon one action only. Such are more especially Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello. The design in Romeo and Juliet is plainly the punishment of their two families, for the unreasonable feuds and animosities that had been so long kept up between them, and occasioned the effusion of so much blood. In the management of this story, he has shewn something wonderfully tender and passionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the distress. Hamlet is founded on much the same tale with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of them a young prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father, their mothers are equally guilty, are both concerned in the murder of their husbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is, in the first part of the Greek tragedy, something very moving in the grief of Electra; but, as Mr. Dacier has observed, there is something very unnatural and shocking in the manners he has given that princess and Orestes in the latter part. Orestes imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is performed, though not immediately upon the stage, yet so near, that the audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to Ægysthus for help, and to her son for mercy: while Electra, her daughter and a princess, (both of them characters that ought to have appeared with more decency,) stands upon
the stage, and encourages her brother in the parricide. What horror does this not raise! Clytemnestra was a wicked woman, and had deserved to die; nay, in the truth of the story, she was killed by her own son; but to represent an action of this kind on the stage is certainly an offence against those rules of manners, proper to the persons, that ought to be observed there. On the contrary, let us only look a little on the conduct of Shakspeare. Hamlet is represented with the same piety towards his father, and resolution to revenge his death, as Orestes; he has the same abhorrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke him the more, is heightened by incest: but it is with wonderful art and justness of judgment, that the poet restrains him from doing violence to his mother. To prevent any thing of that kind, he makes his father's Ghost forbid that part of his vengeance:
"But howsoever thou pursu'st this act,
" Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
This is to distinguish rightly between horror and terror. The latter is a proper. passion of tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided. And certainly no dramatic writer ever succeeded better in raising terror in the minds of an audience than Shakspeare has done. The whole tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the scene where the king is murdered, in the second act, as well as this play, is a noble proof of that manly spirit with which he writ; and both shew how powerful he was, in giving the strongest motions to our souls that they are capable of. I cannot leave Humlet, without taking notice of the advantage with which we have seen this master-piece of Shakspeare distinguish itself upon the stage, by Mr. Betterton's fine performance of that part. A man, who, though he had no other good qualities, as he has a great many, must have made his way into the esteem of all men of letters by this only excellency. No man is better acquainted with Shakspeare's manner of expression, and indeed he has studied him so well, and is so much a master of him, that whatever part of his he performs, he does it as if it had been written on purpose for him, and that the author had exactly conceived it as he plays it. I must own a particular obligation to him for the most considerable part of the passages relating to this life, which I have here transmitted the public; his veneration for the memory of Shakspeare having engaged him to make a journey into Warwickshire, on purpose to gather up what remains he could of a name for which he had so great a veneration,
Other spirits attending on PROSPERO.
Scene,-The sea, with a ship; afterwards an uninhabited island.
SCENE I. On a ship at sea.
Boats. Here, master: What cheer?
Boats. Heigh, my hearts; cheerly, cheerly, my hearts; yare, yare: Take in the top-sail; tend to the master's whistle. Blow, till thou burst thy wind, if room enough!
Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, FERDINAND, GONZALO, and others. Alon. Good boatswain, have care. Where's the master? Play the men.
Boats. I pray now, keep below. Ant. Where is the master, boatswain? Boats. Do you not hear him? Yon mar our labour! keep your cabins: you do assist the Gon. Nay, good, be patient. [storm. Boats. When the sea is. Hence! What care these roarers for the name of king? To cabin: silence: trouble us not.
Gon. Good; yet remember whom thou hast
Boats. None that I more love than myself. You are a counsellor; if you can command these elements to silence, and work the peace of the present t, we will not hand a rope more; use your authority. If you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap.-Cheerly, good hearts.-Out of our way, I say.
fast, good fate, to his hanging! make the rope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage! If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable. [Exeunt.
Boats. Down with the top-mast; yare; lower, lower; bring her to try with main-course. A cry within.] A plague upon this howling! they are louder than the weather, or our office. Re-enter SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, & GONZALO. Yet again? what do you here? Shall we give o'er and drown? Have you a mind to sink? Seb. A pox o' your throat! you bawling, blasphemous, uncharitable dog!
Boats. Work you, then.
solent noise-maker, we are less afraid to be Ant. Hang, cur, hang! you whoreson, indrowned than thou art.
Gon. ' warrant him from drowning; though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell, and as leaky as an uustanched wench.
Boats. Lay her a-hold, a-hold; set her two courses; off to sea again, lay her off. Enter Mariners wet. Mar. All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all lost! [Exeunt. Boats. What, must our mouths be cold? Gon. The king and prince at prayers! let us For our case is as theirs. [assist them,
Seb. I am out of patience. Ant. We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards. [lie drowning, This wide-chapped rascal--Would thou might's t The washing of ten tides! Gon. He'll be hanged yet; [Exit. Though every drop of water swear against it, And gape at wid'st to glut him.
Gon. I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks, he hath no drowning inark upon im; his complexion is perfect gallows. Stand
[A confused noise within.] Mercy on us!We split, we split!-Farewell, my wife and $ Absolutely.