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It is yours that reade him. And there we hope, to not to understand him. And so we leave you to your divers capacities, yoa will finde enough, both other of his friends, whom if you need, can bee to draw, and hold you for his wit can no more lie your guides : if you neede them not, you can leade bid, iben it could be lost. Reade him, therefore ; yourselves, and others. And such readers we wish ead againe, and againe : And if then you doe not him.

John HEMINGE, lite luin, sorely you are in some manifest danger,


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Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the muses' anvil; turn the same,
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame;
Or, for the laurel, he may gain a scorn,-
For a good poet's made, as well as born:
And such wert thou. Look, how the father's face
Lives in his issue ; eveo so the race
Of Shakspeare's mind, and manners, brightly shines
In his well-torned and true-filed lines ;
Iu each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were,
To see thee in our waters yet appear;
And make those figlits upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James!
But stay; I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there :-
Sbine'forth, thou star of poets; and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer, the drooping stage;
Which, since thy flight froin hence, bath mourn'd like

And despairs day, but for thy volumes light!

BEN Jonson, Upon the lines and Life of the famous Scenick Poet,

Master William Shakspeare. Those hands which you so clapp d, go now and wring, You Britains brave ; for done are Shakspeare's days; His days are done that made the dainty plays,

Which made the globe of heaven and earth to ring:

Dry'd is that vein, dry'u is the Thespian spring, Tum'd all to tears, and Phæbus clouds his rays; That corpse, that coffin, now bestick those bays,

Which crown'dhim poet first, then poet's king. If tragedies might any prologue have,

All those he made would scarce make one to this; Where fame, now that he gone is to the grave,

(Death's public tiring-house) the Nuntius is: For, though his line of life went soon about, The life yet of bis lines shail never out.


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Or William Shakspeare, who died in April, 1616. RENOWNED Speaser, lie a thought more night To learned Chancer; and rare Beaumont, lie A little prater Spenser, to make room For Sakspeare, in your three-fold, four-fold tomb. To lodge all four in one bed make a shift Uatil doomsday, for hardly will a fist Betvin this day and that by fate be slain, For stion your curtains may be drawn again, Bat if precedency in death doth bar A fourth place in your sacred sepulchre, Under this carved marble of thine own, Sleep, rare tragelian, Sbakspeare, sleep alone. Thyun molested peice, unshared cave, Posses, as lord, not tenant, of thy grave; That cata in and others it may be Hongar bereafter to be laid by thee.--WILLIAM BASSE.

To the Memory of my Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakspeare, and what he hath left us. To drar no enry, Shakspeare, on thy name, Am I thus ample to thy book, and fame; While I confess thy writings to be such, As neilber man, nor muse, can praise too much; Tis true, and all men's suffrage: but these ways Were pof the paths I meant unto thy praise: for seliest ignorance on these may light, Which, wben it sounds at best, but echoes right; Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance The truth, bat gropes, and urgeth all by chance ; Orafty mnalice might pretend this praise, Aod think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise: These me, as some infamous bawd, or wliore, Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more! But thou art proof against them; and, indeed, Above the ill fortune of them, or the need : I, therefore, will begin:-Soul of the age, The applause, deright, the wonder of our stage, My Shakspeare, rise! I will pot lodge thee by Charicem, or Spenser; or bid Beaumont lie A hule further, to make thee a room: Thou art a monument without a tomb; And at alive still, while thy book doth live, Ak we have wits to read, and praise to give. That I Dot mix thee so, my brain excuses ; I mean, with great but disproportion'd muses: Por, if I thought my judgment were of years, I should commit tliee surely with thy peers; And tell--how far thon didst our Lyly outshine, Or spotting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line. And though thou hadst small Latin, and less Greek, From thence to bonour thee, I would not seek Fernanes; but call furth lhiand'ring Æschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, to us, Pæuvius, Accias,' him of Cordoua dead, To life again, to hear thy buskin tread And shake a stage; or, when thy socks were on, Lave thee alone ; for the comparison Of all that insolent Greece, or hanghty Rome, Seat forth, or since did from theis ashes come. Tromph, my Britain! thou hast one to show, To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe, He was not of an age, but for all time; And all the muses still were in their prime, When like Apollo he came forth to warm Dar ears, or like a Mercury to charm. Natare herself was proud of his designs, And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines; Which were so richly spuo, and woven so fit, As, since, she will vouchisale no other wit: The Betty Greek, tart Aristophanes, Nat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please; Bet antiquated and deserted lie, Asthry were not of Nature's family. Yet nost not give Nature all; thy art, My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part:For though the poet's matter pature be, His at doth give the fashioni: and that he,

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To the Memory of the deceased Author, Master

William Shakspeare. SHAKSPEARE, at length thy pious fellows give The world thy works; thy works, by which outlive Thy tomb, thy name must : when that stone is rent, And time dissolves thy Stratford monument, Here we alive shall view thee still; this book, When brass and marble fade, shall niake thee look Fresh to all ages, when posterity Shall loath what's new, ihink all is prodigy That is not Shakspeare's, every line, each verse, Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy hers Nor fire, nor cank'ring age,-as Naso said Of his,-thy wit-fraught book shall once invade : Nor shall I 'e'er believe or think thee dead, Though miss'd, until our bankrout stage be sped (Impossible) with some new strain to out-do Passions " of Juliet, and her Romeo ;" Or till I hear a scene more nobly take, Than when thy half-sword parlying Romans spake: Till these, till any of thy volume's rest, Shall with more fire, more feeling be expressid, Be sure, our Shakspeare, thou canst never die, But, crown'd with laurel, live eternally.-L. DIGGES.

To the Memory of Master W. Shakspeare. We wonder'd, Shakspeare, that thou went'st so soon From the world's stage to the grave's tiring-room: We thought thee dead; but tliis tby printed worth Tells thy spectators, that thou went'st but forth To enter with applause : an actor's art Can die, and live to act a second part: That's but an exit of mortality,

J. M. This a re-entrance to a plaudite.

(Perhaps John Marston.]



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Preface: by Dr. Samuel Johnson.

(First printed in 1765.) That praises are without reason lavished on the which they once illuminated. The effects of fadead, and that the honours due only to excellence

voor and competition are at an end; the tradition are paid to antiquity, is a complaint likely to be of his friendships and his epmities bas perished; always continued by those, who, being able to add his works support no opinion with arguments

, por nothing to truth, hope for eminence from the here- supply any faction with invectiver; they can nei. sies of paradox; or those, who, being forced by ther indulge vanity, nor gratify malignity; but are disappointment upon consolatory expedients, are read without any other reason tban the desire of willing to hope from posterity what the present age pleasure, and are therefore praised only as plearefuses, and flatter themselves that ibe regard sore is obtained; yet, thus unassisted by interest wbich is yet denied by envy, will be at last be or passion, they have past through variations of stowed by time.

taste and changes of manners, and, as they devolved Antiquity, like every other quality that attracts from one generation to another, have received new the notice of mankind, has undoubtedly votaries honours at every transmission. that reverence it, pot from reason, but from preja But because human judgment, though it be gradice. Some seem to admire indiscriminately what. dually gaining upon certainty, never becomes inever has been long preserved, without considering fallible; and approbation, though long continued, that time has sometimes co-operated with chance; may, yet be only the approbation of prejudice or all perhaps are more willing to honour past than fashion; it is proper to inquire, by what peculiapresent excellence; and the mind contemplates ge- rities of excellence Shakspeare has gained and kept nius through the shades of age, as the eye surveys the favour of his countrymen. the sun through artificial opacity. The great con Nothing can please many, and please long, bot tention of criticism is to find the faults of the mo- just representations of general nature. Particular derns, and the beauties of the ancients. Wbile an manners can be known to few, and therefore few author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his only can jadge how nearly they are copied. The worst performance; and when he is dead, we rate irregular combinations of fanciful invention may them by bis best.

delight awhile, by that novelty of which the comTo works, bowever, of wbich the excellence is, mon satiety of life sends us all in quest; but the not absolute and definite, but gradual and compa- pleasures of sudden wonder are soon exhausted, rative; to works, not raised upon principles de- and the mind can only repose on the stability of monstrative and scientific, but appealing wholly to truth. observation and experience, no other test can be Shakspeare is above all writers, at least above applied than length of duration and continuance of all modern writers, the poet of patare; the poet

Wbat mankind have long possessed they that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of have often exainined and compared, and if they manners and of life. His characters are not modipersist to value the possession, it is because fre- fied by the customs of particular places, unpracquent comparisons have coufirmed opinion in its tised by the rest of the world: by the peculiarities favour. As among the works of nature no man can of studies or professions, which can operate but properly call a river deep, or a mountain high, upon small numbers; or by the accidents of tranwithout the knowledge of many mountains, and sient fashions or temporary opinions: they are the many rivers; so in the production of genius, no- genuine progeny of common humanity, such as the thing can be styled excellent till it bas been com world will always supply, and observation will pared with other works of the same kind. De always find. His persons act and speak by the inmonstration immediately displays its power, and fluence of those general passions and principles by bas nothing to hope or fear from the lux of years; which all minds are agitated, and the whole sysbut works tentative and experimental must be es tem of life is continued in motion. In the writings timated by their proportion to the general and col- of other poets a character is too often an iudividual: lective ability of man, as it is discovered in a long in those of Shakspeare it is commonly a species. succession of endeavonrs. of the first building It is from this wide extension of design that so that was raised, it might be with certainty deter- much instruction is derived. It is this which tills mined that it was round or square; but wbether the plays of Shakspeare with practical axioms and it was spacious or lofty must have been referred to domestic wisdom. It was said of Euripides, that time. The Pythagorean scale of numbers was at every verse was a precept; and it may be said of once discovered to be perfect; but the poems of Shakspeare, that from his works may be collected Homer we yet know not to transcend the common a system of civil and economical prudence. Yet Jimits of human intelligence, but by remarking, his real power is not shewn in the splendour of parthat nation after nation, and century after century, ticular passages, but by the progress of his fable, has been able to do little more than transpose his and the tenour of his dialogue ; and he that tries to incidents, new name his characters, and paraphrase recommend him by select quotations, will succeed kis sentiments.

like the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered The reverence due to writings that have long his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a subsisted, arises therefore, not from any credulous specimen. confidence in the superior wisdom of past ages, or It will vot easily be imagined how much Shakgloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of mankind, speare excels in accommodating his sentiments to but is the consequence of acknowledged indubitable real life, but by comparing him with other authors. positions, that what has been longest known has It was observed of the ancient schools of declamabeen most considered, and what is most considered tion, that the more diligently they were frequented, is best understood.

the more was the student disqualified for the world, The poet, of whose works I have undertaken the because he found nothing there which he should revision, may now begin to assume the dignity of ever meet in any other place. The same remark an ancient, and claim the privilege of an established may be applied to every stage but that of Shak fame and prescriptive veneration. He has long speare. The theatre, when it is under any otber oatlived his century, the term commonly fixed as direction, is peopled by such characters as were the test of literary merit. Whatever advantages never seen, conversing in a language which wa he might once derive from personal allusions, local never heard, upon topics wbich will never arise is customs, or temporary opinions, have for many the commerce of mankind. But the dialogue years been lost; and every topic of merriment or this author is often so evidently determined by th motive of sorrow, which the modes of artificial incident which produces it, and is pursued withs life afforded him, now only obscure the scenes much ease and simplicity, that it seems scarcelyt

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claim the merit of fiction, but to have been gleaned | he thinks only on men. He knew that Rome, like by diligent selection out of common conversation, every other city, lad men of all dispositions; and and common occurrences.

wanting a buffoon, be went into the senate-house l'pon every other stage the universal agent is for that which the senate-house would certainly love, by wbose power all good and evil is distri- have afforded bim. He was inclined to shew an bated, and every action quickened or retarded. To usurper and a murderer, not only odious but desbring a lover, a lady, and a rival into the fable; to picable ; he therefore added drunkenness to his estangle them in contradictory obligatious, perplex other qualities, knowing that kings love wine like them with oppositions of interest, and harass them other men, and that wine exerts its natural power with violence of desires inconsistent with each upon kings. These are the petty cavils of petty

to make them meet in rapture, and part in minds; a poet overlooks the casual distinction of spony; to fill their mouths with hyperbolical joy country and condition, as a painter, satisfied with and outrageous sorrow; to distress then as 'nothing the figure, neglects the drapery. honan ever was distressed; to deliver them as no The censure which he bas incurred by mixing thing boman erer was delivered, is the business of comic and tragic scenes, as it extends to all bis a modern dramatist. For this, probability is violated, works, deserves more consideration. Let the fact life is misrepresented, and language is depraved. be first stated, and then examined. Bat love is only one of many passions, and as it has Shakspeare's plays are not in the rigorous and bo great influence upon the sum of life, it has little critical sense either tragedies or comedies, but operation in the dramas of a poet, who caught bis compositions of a distinct kind; exhibiting the real ideas from the living world, and exhibited only state of sublunary nature, which partakes of good what he saw before him. He knew, that any other and evil, joy and sorrow, mingled with endless passion, as it was regular or exorbitant, was a variety of proportion and innumerable modes of cause of bappiness or calamity.

combination; and expressing the course of the Characters thus ample and general were not easily world, in which the loss of one is the gain of anodiseriminated and preserved, yet perhaps, no poet ther; in which, at the same time, the reveller is eter kept his personages more distinct from each hasting to his wine, and the mourner burying bis other. I will not say with Pope, that every speech friend; in which the malignity of one is soinetimes may be assigued to the proper speaker, because defeated by the frolic of another; and many mismany speeches there are which bave nothing cha-chiefs and many benefits are done and hindered racteristical ; but, perhaps, though some may be

without design.
equally adapted to every person, it will be difficult Out of this chaos of mingled purposes and casuale
to find any that can be properly transferred from ties, the ancient poets, according to the laws which
the present possessor to another claimant. The custom had prescribed, selected some the crimes of
choice is right, wben there is reason for choice. men, and some their absurdities: some the moment-

Other dramatists can only gain attention by hy. ous vicissitudes of life, and some the lighter occor-
perbolical or aggravated characters, by fabulous rences; some the terrors of distress, and some the
and unexampled excellence or depravity, as the gaieties of prosperity. Thus rose the two modes
writers of barbarous romances invigorated the of imitation, known by the names of tragedy and
reader by a giant and a dwarf; and he that should comedy, compositions intended to promote different
form bis expectations of human affairs from the ends by contrary means, and considered as so little
play, or from the tale, would be equally deceived. allied, that I do not recollect among the Greeks of
Shakspeare has no heroes; his scenes are occupied Romans a single writer who attempted both.
only by men, who act and speak as the reader Shakspeare has united the powers of exciting
thinks ihat be should himself have spoken or acted laughter and sorrow, not only in one mind, but in
on the same occasion: even where the agency is one composition. Almost all his plays are divided
supernatural, the dialogue is level with life. Other between serious and ludicrous characters, and, in
Writers disguise the most natural passions and most the successive evolutions of the design, sometimes
frequent incidents ; so that he who contemplates produce seriousness and sorrow, and sometimes
them in the book will not know them in the world: | levity and laughter.
Stakspeare approximates the remote, and famili That this is a practice contrary to the rules of
arizes the wonderful; the event which he repre- criticism will be readily allowed; but there is always
sents will not happen, but if it were possible, its an appeal open from criticism to cature. The end
efects would probably be such as he has assigned ; of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to in-
and it may be said, that lre has not only shewn bu struct by pleasing. That the mingled drama may
man nature as it acts in real exigencies, but as it convey all the instruction of tragedy or comedy
would be found in trials, to which it cannot be ex cannai be denied, because it includes both in its

alternations of exbibition, and approaches bearer
This therefore is the praise of Shakspeare, that than either to the appearance of life, by shewing
bis drama is the mirror of life ; that he who has how great machinations and slender designs may
mazed bis imagination, in following the phantoms promote or obviate one another, and the high and
shich other writers raise up before him, may here the low co-operate in the general system by una-
be cured of his delirious ecstacies, by reading hu- | voidable concatenation.
Dan sentiments in human language; by scenes from It is objected, that by this change of scenes the
which a hermit may estimate the transactions of the passions are interrupted in their progression, and
world, and a confessor predict the progress of the that the principal event, being, not advanced by a

doe gradation of preparatory incidents, wants at His adherence to general nature has exposed him last the power to move, which constitutes the perto the censure of critics, who form their judgments fection of dramatic poetry. This reasoning is 80 spon narrower principles. Dennis and Rymer think specious, that it is received as true even by those bis Romans not suficiently Roman ; and Voltaire who in daily experience feel it to be false. The tessures his kings as not completely royal. Dennis interchanges of mingled scenes seldom fail to prois offended, that Menenius a senator of Rome, duce the intended vicissitudes of passion. Fiction stoold play the buffoon; and Voltaire perhaps

thinks cannot move so much, but that the attention may deceney violated when the Danish usurper is re

be easily transferred ; and though it must be alpresected as a dronkard. But Shakspeare always lowed that

pleasing melancholy may be sometimes makes nature predominate over accident; and if interrupted by unwelcoine levity, yet let it be conbe preserves the essential character, is not very sidered likewise, that melancholy is often not careful of distinctions superinduced and adventi- pleasing, and thai the disturbance of one man mar tinus. His story requires Romans or kings, but

be the relief of another; that different auditors have

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different habitudes; and that, upon the whole, all crimination of trae passion are the colours of tapleasure coosists in variety.

ture; they pervade the whole mass, and can only The players, who in their edition divided our perish with the body that exhibits them. The acauthor's works into comedies, histories, and trage- cidental compositions of heterogeneous modes are dies, seem not to have distinguished the three kinds, dissolved by the chance that combined themn; but by any very exact or definite ideas.

the uniform simplicity of primitive qualities neither An action which ended happily to the principal admits increase, nor suffers decay. The sand heappersons, however serious or distressful througli its ed by one flood is scattered by another, but the intermediate incidents, in their opinion constituted rock always continges in its place. The stream of a comedy. This idea of a comedy continued long time, which is continually washing the dissoluble among us, and plays were written, which, by fabrics of other poets, passes without injury by the changing the catastrophe, were tragedies 10-day, adamant of Shakspeare. and comedies to-morrow.

If there be, what I believe there is, in every naTragedy was not in those times a poem of more tion, a style which never becomes obsolete, a cergeneral dignity or elevation than comedy; it re tain mode of phraseology so consonant and congenial quired only a calamitous conclusion, with which to the analogy and principles of its respective lanthe common criticism of that age was satisfied, guage, as to remain setiled and unaltered: this whatever lighter pleasure it afforded in its progress. style is probably to be sought in the common inter

History was a series of actions, with no other course of life, among those who speak only to be than chronological succession, independent on each understood, without ambition of elegance. The poother, and without any tendency to introduce and lite are always catching modish innovations, and the regulate the conclusion. It is not always very learned depart from established forms of speech, in nicely distinguished from tragedy. There is not hope of finding or making better; those wlio wish much nearer approach to unity of action in the for distinction forsake the vulgar, when tbe valgar tragedy of Autony and Cleopatra, than in the his- is right; but there is a conversation above grosstory of Richard the Second. Bai a history might ness and below refinement, where propriety resides, be continued through many plays; as it had no plan, and where this poet seems to have gathered his coit had no limits.

mic dialogue. He is, therefore, more agreeable to Through all these denominations of the drama, the ears of the present age, than any other author Sbakspeare's mode of composition is the same; an equally remote, and, among his other excellen, interchange of seriousness and merriment, by which cies, deserves to be studied as one of the original the mind is softened at one time, and exhilarated masters of our language. at another. But whatever be his purpose, whether These observations are to be considered not as to gladden or depress, or to conduct the story, unexceptionably constant, but as containing geo without vehemence or emotion, through tracts of neral and predominant truth. Sbakspeare's famieasy and familiar dialogue, he never fals to attain liar dialogue is affirmed to be smooth and clear, his purpose ; as he commands us, we laugh or yet not wholly without ruggedness or difficulty; as mourn, or sit silent with quiet expectation, in tran a country may be eminently fruitful, though it has quillity without indifference.

spots unfit for cultivation: bis characters are praisWhen Shakspeare's plan is onderstood, most of ed as natural, though their sentiments are sometimes the criticisms of Rymer and Voltaire vanish away. forced, and their actions improbable; as the earth The play of Hamlet is opened, without impropriety, apon the whole is spherical, though its surface is by two centinels : Iago bellows at Brabantio's win- varied with protuberances and cavities. dow, without injury to the scheme of ihe play, Shakspeare with his excellencies bas likewise though in terms wbich a modern audience would faults, and faults sufficient to obscure and overnot easily endare; the character of Polonius is whelm any other merit. I shall shew them in the seasonable and useful; and the Gravediggers them- proportion in which they appear to me, without selves may be heard with applause.

envious malignity or superstitious veneration. No Shakspeare engaged in dramatic poetry with the question can be more innocently discussed than a world open before him; the rules of the ancients dead poet's pretensions to renown; and little rewere yet known to few; the public judgment was gard is due to that bigotry which sets candour unformed; he had no example of such fame as might higher than truth. force him upon imitation, nor critics of such autho His first defect is that to which may be imputed rity as might restrain his extravagance; be there most of the evil in books or in men. He sacrifices fore indulged his natural disposition, and bis dispo- virtue to convenience, and is so much more careful sition, as Řymer has remarked, led bim to comedy. to please than to instruct, that he seems to write In tragedy he often writes with great appearance without any moral purpose. From bis writings inof toil and study, what is written at last with little deed a system of social duty may be selected, for felicity; but in his comic scenes, be seems to pro- he that thinks reasonably must think morally; but duce without labour, what no labour can improve. his precepts and axioms drop casually from him: be In tragedy be is always struggling after some occa makes no just distribution of good or evil, nor is alsion to be comic, but in comedy he seems to repose, ways careful to shew in the virtuous a disapprobation or to luxuriate, as in a mode of thinking congenial of ihe wicked; he carries his persons indifferently to his nature. In his tragic scenes there is always through right and wrong, and at the close dismisses something wanting, but his comedy often surpasses them without further care, and leaves their examexpectation or desire. His comedy pleases by the ples to operate by chance. This fault the barbarity thoughts and the language, and his tragedy for the of his age cannot extenuate; for it is always a greater part by incident and action. His tragedy writer's duty to make the world better, and justice seems to be skill, his comedy to be instinct. is a virtue independent on time or place.

The force of his comic scenes has suffered little The plots are often so loosely formed, that a very diminution from the changes made by a century and slight consideration inay improve them, and so a half, in manners or in words. As his personages curelessly pursued, that he seems not always fully act upon principles arising from genuine passion, to comprehend his own design. He omits opporvery little modified by particular forms, their plea- tunities of instructing or delighting, wbich the trair sures and vexationis are communicable to all times of his story seems to force upon him, and appa: and to all places; they are natural, and therefore rently rejects those exhibitions wbich would be durable; the adventitious peculiarities of personal more affecting, for the sake of those which are habits, are only superficial dies, bright and pleasing

more easy. for a little while, yet soon fading to a diin tinci, It may be observed, that io many of bis plays thu without any remains of former lustie; and the dis- ' latter part is evidently neglected. Wben be foude

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himself near the end of his work, and in view of sink them in dejection, and mollify them with tenbis reward, he shortened the labour to spatch the der emotions by the fall of greatnes3, the danger of proft. He therefore remits his efforts where be innocence, or the crosses of love. What he does should most vigorously exert them, and his catas- best, he soon oeases to do. He is not long soft trophe is improbably produced or imperfectly re and pathetic without some idle conceit, or conpresented.

temptible equivocation. He no sooner begins to He had no regard to distinction of time or place, move, than he coupteracts himself; and terror and bat gives to one age or nation, without scraple, the pity, as they are rising in the mind, are checked customs, institutions, and opinions of another, at and blasted by sudden frigidity. the expense not only of likelihood, but of possibi A quibble is to Shakspeare, what luminous vality. These faults Pope has endeavoured, with pours are to the traveller; be follows it at all admore zeal than judgment, to transfer to bis imagin- ventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way, ed interpolators. We need not wonder to find and sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some Hector quoting Aristotle, when we see the loves of malignant power over bis mind, and its fascinations Theseas and Hippolyta combined with the Gothic are irresistible. Whatever be the dignity or promythology of fairies. Shakspeare, indeed, was not fundity of his disquisitions, whether he be enlargthe only violator of chronology, for in the same age ing knowledge, or exalting affection, whether he Sidney, wbo wanted not the advantages of learning, be amusing attention with incidents, or enchaining has, in bis Arcadia, confounded the pastoral with it in suspense, let but a quibble spring up before the feadal times, the days of innocence, quiet, and him, and he leaves his work unfinished. 'A quibsecority, with those of turbulence, violence, and ble is the golden apple for which he will always adventure.

tarn aside from his career, or stoop from bis elevaIn his comic scenes, he is seldom very success tion. A quibble, poor and barren as it is, gave bim ful, when be engages his characters in reciprocations such delight, that he was content to purchase it by of smartness and contests of sarcasm; their jests the sacrifice of reason, propriety, and truth. X are commonly gross, and their pleasantry licen- quibble was to bim the fatal Cleopatra for which lie tions; neither his gentlemen nor his ladies have much lost the world, and was content to lose it. delicacy, nor are sufficiently distinguished from bis It will be thought strange, that, in enumerating clowns by any appearance of refined manners. the defects of this writer, I have not yet mentioned Whetber be represented the real conversation of bis neglect of the unities; bis violation of those bis time is not easy to determine ; the reign of Eli- laws which have been instituted and established by zabeth is commonly supposed to have been a time the joint authority of poets and of critics. of stateliness, formality, and reserve, yet perhaps For his other deviations from the art of writing, the relaxations of that severity, were pot very ele. I resign bim to critical justice, without making gant. There must, however, have been always any other demand in bis favour, than that which come modes of gaiety preferable to others, and a must be indulged to all human excellence; that writer ought to choose the best.

bis virtues be rated with his failings : but, from In tragedy his performance seems constantly to the censure which this irregularity may bring upon be worse, as bis labour is more.

The effusions of him, I shall, with due reverence to that learn. passion, which exigence forces oat, are for the most ing which I must oppose, adventure to try how part striking and energetic; but whenever be soli. I can defend bim. cits his invention, or strains bis faculties, the off His histories, being neither tragedies nor comespring of his throes is tumour, meanness, tedious- dies, are not subject to any of their laws; nothing bess, and obscurity.

more is necessary to all the praise which they exIn narration he affects a disproportionale pomp pect, than that the changes of action be so prepared of diction, and awearisome train of circumlocation, as to be understood, that the incidents be various and tells the incident imperfectly in many words, and affecting, and the characters consistent, natuwhich might have been more plainly delivered in ral, and distinct. No other unity is intended, and fex. Narration in dramatic poetry is paturally te

therefore none is to be sought. dious, as it is unanimated and inactive, and ob In his other works be has well enough preserved structs the progress of the action; it should there- the unity of action. He has not, indeed, an infore always be rapid, and enlivened by frequent in- trigue regularly perplexed and regularly unravelterraption. Shakspeare found it an incumbrance, led; he does not endeavour to bide his design and instead of lightening it by brevity, endeavour- only to discover it, for this is seldom the order of ed to recommend it by dignity and splendour. real events, and Shakspeare is the poet of nature :

His declamations or sei speeches are commonly but bis plan has commouly what Aristotle requires, cold and weak, for his power was the power of a beginning, a middle, and an end; one event is tatore ; when he endeavoured, like other tragic concatenated with another, and the conclusion folwriters, to catch opportunities of amplification, lows by easy consequence. There are perhaps and instead of inquiring what the occasion de some incidents that might be spared, as in other banded, to shew bow much his stores of know- poets there is much talk that only fills

up time

apon ledge could supply, he seldom escapes without the the stage; but the general system makes gradual pity or resentment of his reader.

advances, and the end of the play is the end of exIt is incident to him to be now and then entan- pectation. gled with an unwieldy sentiment, which he cannot To the unities of time and place he has shewn po well express, and will not reject; he struggles regard : and perhaps a nearer view of the princiwith it awbile, and if it continues stubborn, com- ples on which they stand will diminis! their value, prises it in words such as occur, and leaves it to and withdraw from them the veneration which, froin be disentangled and evolved by those who have the time of Corneille, they bave very generally remore leisure to bestow upon it.

ceived, by discovering that they have given more Not that always where the language is intricate, trouble to the poet, than pleasure to the auditor. the thought is subtle, or the image always great The necessity of observing the unities of time where the line is bulky; the equality of words to and place arises from the supposed necessity of things is very often neglected, and trivial senti- Imaking the drama credible. "The critics hold it ments and vulgar ideas disappoint the attention, to impossible, that an action of months or years can which they are recommended by sonorous epitbets be possibly believed to pass in three hours; or that aod swelling figures.

the spectator can suppose himself to sit in the Bat the admirers of this great poet have most theatre, while ambassadors go and return

between kis bighest excellence, and seems fully resolved to besieged, while an exile wanders and returns, or

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