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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. lo Twelfth Night there is something singularly ridiculous and pleasant in the fantastical steward Malvolio. The parasite and the vain-glorious in Parolles, in All's Well thut 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 a savage Bierceness and fellness, and such a bloody designation of cruelty aud mirchief, 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 Jagues, in As You Like It, is as singular and odd ar 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 beveral degrees and ages of man's life, though the thought be old and common enough
- All the world's a stage,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing." His images are, indeed, every where so lively, that the thing he would repre sen: stands fult 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
She never told her love,
Smiling at GRIEF.”
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 flight above mankind, and the limits of the visible world. Such are bis attempts in The Tempesi, 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 bim: 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 i: 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 80 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 bave 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 precepte, so it would be hard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to consider bim 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 tit 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 tedions and ill-natured trouble to point out the several faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were seldom invented, but rather taken either 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 thein. So The Wl'inter's Tule, which is taken from an old book, called The Dalectable History of Dorustus and Fawnia, contains the space of ixteen or seventeeti years, and the scene is sometimes laid in Bohe
wia, 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 charao 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 bas taken from the English or Roman history, let any nan 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 tee title very often tells you, it is The Life of King
John, King Richard, &c. What can be more agreeable to the idea our bistorians give of Henry the Sixth, than the pictare Shakspeare has drawn of him! His manners are every where exactly the same with the story; one finds him still described with sin. plicity, 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, disinierested, a contemner of the things of fis 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 bad 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 hic faults are not shewn in an equal degree, and the shades in this picture do not bear a jast 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 bave 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 inore 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 bis vices and virtues, is finely and exactly described in the second scene of the fourth act. The distresses, likewise, of Queeu 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 bad met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the manners, proper to the persons represented, less justly observed in those characters taken froin the Roman history, and of this, ihe fierceness and imputience of Coriolanus, his courage and disdain of the common people, the viriue 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 avd 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 mach 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 ; bat, 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 irbrues his hands in the blood of bis 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 uwn son; but to represent an action of this kind on the stage is certainly an offenoe 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 reveuge 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 be makes bis father's Ghost forbid that part of his vengeance :
“ But howsoever thou pursu'st this act,
« To prick and sting her.” 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 capuot leave Humlet, without taking notice of the advantago 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 inade his way into the esteem of all inen 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 be 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 wbich he had so great a veneration.
Persons represented. Alonso, king of Naples.
TRINCULO, a jester, SEBASTIAN, his brother.
STEPHANO, a drunken butler.
MIRAND1, daughter to Prospero.
Other spirits attending on PROSPERO.
ACT I. SCENE I. On a ship at sea. fast, good fate, to his hanging! make the rope A storm, with thunder and lightning.
of his destiny our cable, for our own doth
little advantage! If he be not born to be Enter a Ship-master and a Boatswain.
hanged, our case is miserable. (Eseunt. Master. Boatswain,
Re-enter Boatswain. Boats. Here, master : What cheer?
Boats. Down with the top-mast; yare; lowMast. Good : Speak to the mariners: fall lo't yarely', or we run ourselves agronnd: er, lower; bring her to try with main-course. bestir, bestir.
(Exit: 14 cry within.) A plague upon this bowling!
they are louder than the weather, or our othee. Enter Mariners. Boats. Heigh, my hearts; cheerly, cheerly,
Re-enter SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, & GonzsLO. my hearts; yare, yare: Take in the top-sail; | Yet again? what do you here? Shall we give tend to the master's whistle. Blow, till thou o'er and drown? Have you a mind to sirik? burst thy wind, if room enough!
Seb. A pox o' yonr throat! you bawling, Enter ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO,
blasphemous, uncharitable dog! FERDINAND, GONZALO, and others.
Boats. Work you, then.
Ant. Hang, cur, hang! you whoreson, inAlon. Good boatswain, have care. Where's solent noise-maker, we are less afraid tú be the master? Play the men.
drowned than thou art. Boats. I pray now, keep below.
Gon. I'll warrant him from drowning; Ant. Where is the master, boatswain? Boats. Do you not hear him? You niar our shell, and as leaky as an unstanched I wench.
though the ship were no stronger than a nutlaboor! keep your cabins : you do assist the
Boats. Lay her a-hold, a-hold; set her two Gon. Nay, good, be patient. (storm.
courses; Boats. When the sea is. Hence! What care
off to sea again, lay her off. these roarers for the name of king? To cabin:
Enter Mariners wet. silence: tronble us not.
Mar. All lost! to prayers, to prayers! ali Gon. Good; yet remember whom thou hast lost!
Boats. What, must our mouths be cold? Boats. None that I more love than myself.
Gon. The king and prince at prayers! let 119 You are a counsellor; if you can cominand For our case is as theirs. (assist them, these elements to silence, and work the peace
Seb. I am out of patience. of the present t, we will not hand a rope more; Ant. We are merely ý cheated of our lives by ose your authority. If you cannot, give thanks drunkards.
[lie drowning, you have lived so long, and make yonrself This wide-chapped rascal--Would thou might'st rezdy in your cabin for the mischance of the The washing of ten tides ! hour, if it so hap.- Cheerly, good hearts.-Out Gon
He'll be hanged yet ; say.
(Exit. Though every drop of water swear against it, Gon. I have great comfort from this fellow : And gape at wid'st to glut him. methinks, he hath no drowning inark upon (A confused noise within.) Mercy on us :hims luis complexion is perfect gallows. Stand We split, we split!-Farewell, iny wife and • Readily. + Present instant. • Incontinent.
of our way,