Abbildungen der Seite

ence of a tax, might apply. To that board let the father transmit evidence of the number of his children, and claim those privileges which a wife people ought to bestow on the fruitful parent. One of the first philosophers in Europe, who has enriched the age by his discoveries in nature, told me that he had been obliged to relinquish almost all correspondence with learned foreigners, because the expence of postage was too great for his small fortune. This is deplorable! A generous people ought to refund to such a man, a sum equivalent to his disbursements in the cause of science and discovery. It is a debt due by a people. .

Critical Remarks on the Othello of Shakcspear, continued from page 6z. »

Shakespear has adorned the hero of this tragedy with every virtue that can render human nature great and amiable; and he has brought him into such trying situations, as give full proof of both. His love for Defdemefla is of the most refined and exalted kind; and his behaviour, upon the supposition of his false return, is an indication of his great spirit, and such as might be expected from his keen fense of honour and warlike character; though naturally susceptible of the tenderest passions, yet being engaged from his early youth in scenes that required the exercise of those of a higher nature, he has not learned

Those soft parts of conversation

That Chamberers have. —Rude (says he)am I in speech, And little bless'd with the set phrase of peace. His manners have nothing of that studied courtesy which is the consequence of polite conversation.—a tincture of which is delicately spread over the behaviour of Lodovico and Giatiano; but all is the natural effusion of gentleness and magnanimity. His generous and soaring mind, always occupied with ideas natural to itself, could not brook, according to his own expression, to jiudy all the qualities of human dealings, the artifices of interest, and the meanness of servile attentions. To a man like Iago himself, the affected interest which he takes in the welfare of his master, profound as it was, must have been very suspicious; but to Othello it is the effect of exceeding honejly! His enlarged affections were used to diffuse happiness in a wide circle, to be pained with misery, and displeased with injustice, if. within his view; butrhe did not consider the small proportion of mankind that was inspired by similar sentiments; and therefore the parade of Iago was in his eyes unbounded generosity.

With so much nature and dignity does he always afi, that, even when distorted with angry passions, he appears amiable.

Eniil. I would you had never seen him.

Des. So would not I; my love doth so approve him,

That even his stubbornness, his checks, and frowns,

Have grace and favour in them.

A character of this kind commands respect; and in his actions we naturally interest ourselves.

Iago, who is the prime mover of the events of this tragedy, is a character of no simple kind; hepossesfes uncommon sagacity in judging of the actions of men good and bad; he discerns the merit of CafTio to lie more in the theory than in the practice of war. Rodorigo he comprehended completely: the amiable nature of Desdemona he was not ignorant of: be often praises the free and noble nature of Othello; the beauty of Caslio's life he felt with much regret ; and he is sensible of the intrinsic value of virtue, as well as its estimation among men ; he knew well, that, without virtue, no solid or lasting reputation could be acquired; and, without dontt, he understood the force of Casiio's feeling reflections on this subject, though he makes an appearance of despising them. Iago, it must be observed, artfully assumes the character rather of strong, than of high and refined benevolence. In the second scene of the first-, act he says,

With the little godliness I have, I did full hard forbear-him. A character-which he knew would, be more easily fup-ported, which would render him less liable of being supposed acting from pride, and consequently create po envy ; content for the present with the humble appellation of honest creature, he found sufficient amends - in ■ the prospect of being recompensed with double interest in the accomplishment of his plans.

In. his first inter view with Othello, Iago: begins his deep scenes very successfully, by labouring, with bold and masterly cunning, to impress him with a strong fense of his fidelity and attachment to his interests; he represents himself as sustaining a difficult conflict between two of the best principles, regard to his master, and a fear of seeming to act. with a malicious cruelty. He speaks like a person fired with anger that he cannot contain; he does not give a detail of Brabantio's proceedings like an unconcerned spectator, but in t'..«t confused and interrupted manner worthy of the truest passion; his reflections^ which, according to calm reason, ought to come last, according to passion come first. The scene which occasioned his passion is over; he then revolves in his thoughts the nature of it; and* lastly, the part which he ought to have acted, takes possession of his mind. In this last state, he finds himself when he meets Othello, perplexed in deliberating whether he ought in conscience to do contrived murder. Having disburdened himself of-this, the subject opens in his mind ; he goes backward, and describes what were his: sensations, in a very striking manner— . '". Nine or ten times

I thought to have jerked him under the ribs»

[ocr errors]

The fumes of passion are now supposed to be dissipating; and the cause of his anger, and reflections, he unfolds more clearly, but in the fame enraged and animated strain.

Nay, but he prated,
And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms
Against your honour,
That with the little godliness I have,
I did full hard forbear him.

Having fully vented himself, he begins now coolly to urge some prudential arguments with regard to Othello's conduct in this critical affair:

—— But I pray, Sir,

Are you fast married? For, be sure of this,.

That the Magnifico is much belov'd.

And hath in his effect a voice potential,

As double as the Duke's: he will divorce you,- .

Or put upon you what restraint or grievance

The law, (with all his might to inforce it on,)

Will give him cable.

Having managed his part in the succeeding transactions of this scene with the fame kind of propriety, the busy rascal makes haste to act in a very different character with Rodorigo.

To be continued.

On the prevailing Rage for inventing new Names. Without entering into the consideration of the first origin of words, it is sufficient for our purpose here to observe, that after certain sounds have been appropriated to denote certain ideas, it will ever afterwards happen, that when men find it necessary to invent new w ords for expressing new ideas as they arise", they will not employ mere arbitrary sounds for this purpose, but naturally choose to compound words in those ways they can, by the help of those elements of speech already established. But as the compounding of words

is often a troublesome process, even this also will be avoided where it can be easily done. If a word has been invented in one language to denote the idea, those who employ another language, and who have access to 4snow that word, will naturally adopt it, instead of forming a new one for themselves. In this manner, words pass from one language into another in great numbers; so that it is impossible to find any civilized nation which has not in this manner borrowed a great deal from the languages of others who have preceded it, or with cotemporaries, with whom they keep up a continued intercourse.

In forming compound words, however, it must always happen, that the ideas which prevail at the time, will influence in the choice of the elements employed to form the words. These ideas may in time appear' to have been false and ill founded; but the words, when once formed, will continue to be employed as proper names, without being influenced by the obvious original meaning of the elements of which they were composed. They may even in time come to exprtss things directly incompatible with the idea entertained at the time the words were formed, without occasioning the smallest ambiguity or embarrassment to those who are acquainted with the use of the language in which these words occur; because, whenever the word is employed, it immediately excites the idea it was intended to denote, without necessarily indicating the compound idea that influenced in the choice of the simple elements of the words. These therefore are disregarded, or not adverted to.

To give an example,—The Romans at an early period in their scientifical knowledge, believed that the earth which we inhabit, consisted of a flat surfaee of great extent, which stretched out much farther from, •east to west, than from north to south. They therefore denoted these dimensions by the words long and broad. Any distance, therefore, measured on the earth's

« ZurückWeiter »