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In these lines, besides a confirmation of the foregoing remark, and an illustration of Richard's persevering Hattery, there are two circumstances that mark great delicacy and fineness of painting in Shakspeare's execution of this excellent scene. The resentment of Lady Anne is so far exhausted, that her conversation, instead of impetuous, continued invective, assuming the more patient and mitigated form of dialogue, is not so expressive of violent passion, as it denotes the desire of victory in a smart dispute, and becomes merely a keen encounter of wits. The other thing to be observed is, that Richard, instead of specifying her husband and father-in-law in terms denoting these relations, falls in with the subsiding state of her affections towards them; and, using expressions of great indifference, speaks to her of 'those Plantagenets, Henry and Edward.'
Lady Anne having listened to the conversation of Richard, after the first transport of her wrath, occasioned by the death of the Plantagenets, showed, that the real force of the passion had suffered abatement; and, by listening to his exculpation, it seems entirely subdued. In all this, the art of the poet is eminent, and the skill he ascribes to Richard profound. Though the crafty seducer attempts to justify his conduct to Lady Anne, he does not seek to convince her understanding, for she had no understanding worth the pains of convincing, but to afford her some pretence and opportunity of giving vent to her emotion. When this effect is produced, he proceeds to substitute some regard for himself in its place. As we have already observed, he has been taking measures for this purpose in every thing he has said ; and, by soothing expressions of adulation, during the course of her anger, he was gradually preparing her mind for the more pleasing, but not less powerful, dominion of vanity. In the foregoing
lines and what follows, he ventures a declaration of the passion he pretends to entertain for her: yet he does this indirectly, as suggested by the progress of their argument, and as a reason for those parts of his conduct that seem so heinous :
Your beauty was the cause of that effect :
Richard was well aware that a declaration of love from him would, of course, renew her indignation. He accordingly manages her mind in such a manner as to correct the violence of her anger, by suggesting the idea of his passion, when he first mentions it, in terms more playful than serious; and, afterwards, when he announces it more seriously, by an indirect and seeming accidental declaration. Still, however, with all these precautions to introduce the thought in a familiar and easy manner, he is aware of her displeasure. Here, therefore, as in the former part of the scene, he must depend on his command of temper, and on the same means of artfully irritating her emotion till it entirely subsides. Accordingly, persisting in his adulation, he incenses her anger to its utmost extreme: and, finally, by varying the attitude of his flatteries, by assuming an humble and suppliant address, he subdues her soul to the dominion of guilty vanity.- In the close of the dialogue, we may trace distinctly the decline of her emotion. It follows the same course as the passion she expresses at the beginning of the scene. She is at first violent; becomes more violent; her passion subsides; yet, some ideas of propriety wandering across her mind, she makes an effort to recal her resentment: the effort is feeble; it amounts to no more than to express contempt in her aspect; it is baffled by a new attitude of adulation; and, by a
pretended indirect appeal to her compassion, she is totally vanquished.
Through the whole of this scene, our abhorrence, our disgust and contempt, excited by cruelty, falsehood, meanness, and insignificance of mind, are so counterbalanced by the feelings that arise on the view of ability, self-possession, knowledge of character, and the masterly display of human nature, as that, instead of impairing, they rather contribute force to the general sensation of pleasure. The conduct of Richard towards a character of more determined virtue, or of more stubborn passions, would have been absurd: towards Lady Anne it was natural, and attended with that success which it was calculated to obtain.
SIR, Your predecessor, the Spectator, used to be consulted in cases of difficulty. I know not if you, Mr. MinROR, set up on the same footing. I am resolved, however, to try; and, although you should refuse to prescribe, I shall at least have the satisfaction of communicating my distress.
I am between the age of a young man, and what the ladies call an old bachelor, not many years under forty, of no inconsiderable family, with an opulent fortune. I was educated like most other young heirs,
that is, very indifferently. My teachers, it is true, were eminent in their different branches. My father obliged me to give regular attendance to their instructions; but another part of the family seemed to think the restraint I was kept in too severe. The knowledge of this encouraged my want of attention at the time, though the recollection has, of late, given me much regret. I succeeded to my fortune at the age of eighteen, and engaged deeply in those pursuits which are stigmatized with the name of vices, by those who are unable to attain them. Having run on in the usual career, I became tired with the sameness and insipidity of the scenes in which I had so often been a spectator, or an actor. I began to look on my conduct as bordering on the contemptible, and wished to change it for something more rational and respectable. I wished to change it while I had a sound constitution, which I owed to nature, and an unimpaired fortune, which I owed to a spirit of independence, instilled by a worthy father, from whose counsels and example I ought never to have departed. The good effects of these, if not wholly obliterated, have at least been long obscured by intemperance and dissipation.
A man who, from being idle and dissipated, becomes sober and regular in his conduct, is immediately marked out for marriage by his former companions. Mine certainly thought of it for me long before I did so for myself. Many of my relations seemed to entertain the same opinion. They had long wished me to marry, to prevent a considerable part of my fortune from going to a worthless and distant relation; and showed so much satisfaction at my supposed resolution, that I adopted it in earnest.
You, who set up for an instructor, are, I presume, better acquainted with the world than to imagine that I would first turn my views to those young ladies with
whom I was most intimately acquainted, and in whose society I had passed a considerable part of my time. The giddy and frivolous pursuits in which I saw them constantly engaged left no room for that domestic tenderness which I looked for in a wife. The gloss of fashion might suffice for the transient intercourse of gaiety; but some more intrinsic excellence was necessary to fix an attachment for life.
I resolved, therefore, to pay my addresses only to young ladies who had received a less public education; and with that view I determined to cultivate an acquaintance in those families that were most remarkable for their prudence and moderation. I now began to look upon it as not one of the least misfortunes attending a young man in the fashionable world, that he is, in some degree, excluded from the opportunity of forming connexions with the best and most virtuous of the other sex at an early period of life, while the warm feelings of benevolence remain unblunted by those artificial manners, the consequences of which to society go near to overbalance the advantages arising from the refinements that produce them.
In the course of my researches I became acquainted with Nerissa, an only daughter, who had been educated under the eye of a mother famed for her prudence and economy:
She was at this time about twenty; though not a perfect beauty, she was agreeable, with an air of simplicity that is always engaging. Her conversation was sensible, and her ease of manner, and the facility with which she expressed herself, astonished me, in one who had had so little intercourse with the world; but Nerissa's conversation furnished not one generous sentiment. The tear of compassion never started in her eye at a tale of sorrow ; nor did the glow of pleasure ever sparkley in her countenance at the success of merit. In the elde