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merits of these great productions, I must suppose they would describe them as of different pedigrees. They would add, that one was of the school of Raphael, the other from that of Michael Angelo; and that if the steady Sophocles and Virgil should have decided in favour of Othello, the remonstrances of the daring Eschylus and Homer would have claimed the laurel for Macbeth.
To the sentiments of Dr. Lowth respecting the tragedy of Othello, a general eulogium on the dramatick works of Shakspeare, imputed by a judicious and amiable critick to Milton, may be not improperly subjoined:
"There is good reason to suppose (says my late friend the Rev. Thomas Warton, in a note on L'Allegro,) that Milton threw many additions and corrections into the THEATRUM POETARUM, a book published by his nephew Edward Philips, in 1675. It contains criticisms far above the taste of that period. Among these is the following judgment on Shakspeare, which was not then, I believe, the general opinion."-" In tragedy, never any expressed a more lofty and tragick heighth, never any represented nature more purely to the life; and where the polishments of art are most wanting, as probably his learning was not extraordinary, he pleases with a certain WILD and NATIVE elegance." P. 194.
What greater praise can any poet have received, than that of the author of Paradise Lost? STEEVENS.
See p. 271.
Of the canibals, that each other eat,
These lines have been considered by Pope and others, as the interpolation of the players, or at least vulgar trash, which Shakspeare admitted merely to humour the lower part of his audience. But the case was probably the very reverse, and the poet rather
meant to recommend his play to the more curious and refined among his auditors, by alluding here to some of the most extraordinary passages in Sir Walter Raleigh's celebrated voyage to Guiana, performed in 1595: in which nothing excited more universal attention, than the accounts which he brought from the new world of the canibals, Amazons, and especially of the nation
Hear his own solemn relation: "Next unto the Arvi" [a river, which he says falls into the Orenoque or Oronoko] are two rivers, Atoica and Caora; and on that branch, which is called Caora, are a nation of people, whose heads appear not above their shoulders; which though it may be thought a meere fable, yet FOR MINE OWN PART I AM RESOLVED IT IS TRUE, because every childe in the province of Arromaia and Canuri affirme the same: they are called Ewaipanoma; they are reported to have their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouthes in the middle of their breasts, and that a long traine of haire groweth backward betweene their shoulders," &c.
[See Sir Walter Raleigh's Narrative of the Discoverie of Guiana, printed in Hackluyt's Voyages, Vol. III. Lond. 1600, folio, p. 652, 653, 665, 677, &c.]
As for the Anthropophagi, or canibals "that each other eat," the same celebrated voyager tells us: At "one of the outlets of Orenoque, we left on the right hand of us, a nation of inhumaine canibals," [p. 659.] And in the second Voyage to Guiana, in 1596, published also by Sir Walter, one of the nations, called Ipaios, are thus described: "They are but few, but very cruel to their enemies; for they bind, and eat them alive peecemeale. -These Indians, because they eate them whom they kill, use no poyson." [Ibid. p. 688. See also p. 507, 516, 682, &c.]
These extraordinary reports were universally credited, and therefore Othello assumes here no other character but what was very common among the celebrated commanders of his timethat of an adventurer and voyager into the East or West-Indies. As for Sir Walter Raleigh's strange discoveries, a short extract of the more wonderful passages was published in several languages, accompanied with a map of Guiana, by Iodocus Hondius, a Dutch geographer, and adorned with copper-plates, representing these Amazons, canibals, and headless people, &c. in different points of view. The drawing below is copied from the frontispiece to one of these pamphlets, intitled, Brevis et admiranda Descriptio Regni Guianæ, &c.... Quod nuper admodum annis nimirum, 1564, 1595, et 1596, per ... Dn. Gualtherum Raleigh Equitem Anglum detectum est. Ex quibus Iodocus Hondius
tabulam geographicam adornavit, addita explicatione Belgico Sermone scripta: Nunc vero in Latinum Sermonem translata, &c. Noriberga, 1559. 4to. P.