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iling and a mage has take all ranks humours

medy; the reit, however they are called, have something of both kinds. It is not very easy to determine which way of ayriting he was most excellent in. There is certainly a great deal of entertainment in his comical humours; and though they did not then strike at all ranks of people, as the fatire of the present age has taken the liberty to do, yet there is a pleasing and a well-distinguished variety in thoie characters which he thought fit to meddle with. Falstall is allowed by every body to be a master-piece; the character is always well sustained, though drawn out into the length of three plays; and even the account of his death, given by his old landlady Mrs. Quickly, in the first act of Henry the Fifth, .though it be extremely natural, is yet as diverting as any part of his life. If there be any fault in the draught he has made of this lewd old fellow, it is, that though he has made him a thief, lying, cowardly, vain-glorious, and in short every way vicious, yet he has given him so much wit as to make himn almost too agreeable; and I do not know whether fome people have not, in remembrance of the diversion he had formerly afforded them, been sorry to see his friend Hal are him so scurvily, when he comes to the crown in the end of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth. Amongst other extravagancies, in The Mirry Wives of Windfor he has made him a deer-stealer, that he might at the same time remember his Warwickshire prosecutor, under the name of Justice Shalow; he has given him wery near the same coat of arms which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that county, describes for a family there, and makes the Welsh parson defcant 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. In Twelfth Night there is something singularly ridiculous and pieafant in the fantastical Reward Ivalvoiio. The parasite and the vain-glorious in Parolles, in All's W'ell that Ends Weil, is as good as any thing of that kind in Plautus or Terence. Petruchio, in The Toming of the Shrew, is an uncommon piece of humour. The conversation of Benedict 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, Therfites in Troilus and Cressida, and Apemantus in Timon, will be allowed to be master-pieces of ill-nature, and satirical snarling, T:) these [M4]

I might

and mirchillness, andpirit of rey by the alli: yet I cannt of the

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 a deadly spirit of revenge, such a favage fierceness and fellness, and such a bloody designation of cruelty and mischief, as cannot agree either with the stile or characters of comedy. The play itself, take it altogether, seems to me to be one of the most finished of any of Shakespeare'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 musick. The melancholy of Jaques, in As you like it, is as singular and odd as it is diverting. And if, what Horace says,

Difficile eft proprie communia dicere,

it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him in the description of the several degrees and ages of man's life, though the thought be old, and common enough.

- All the world's a flage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His ofls being seven ages. First the infant
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms :
And then, the whining school.boy with his fatchel,
And shining morning-face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then a soldier
Full of range oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Evin in the çonnon's mouth. And then the juftice.

In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise faws and modern instances ;
And so he plays his part. The fixth age shifts
Into the lean and Nipper'd pantaloon,
With Spectacles on nose, and pouch on fide ;
His youthful bose, well favd, a world too wide
For his shrunk Thanks; and his big manly voice,
Turning again tow'rd childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his found. Laft fcene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childisness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, fans tafte, fans every thing.

Vol. II. p. 203.

His images are indeed every where so lively, that the thing he would represent stands full before you, and you poffess every part of it. I will venture to point out one more, which is, I think, as strong and as uncommon as any thing I ever saw; it is an image of patience. Speaking of a maid in love, he says,

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i'ih' bud,
Feed on her damask check: me pin'd in thought,
And fat like Patience on a monument,

Smiling at grief. What an image is here given! and what a task would it have been for the greatest masters of Greece and Rome to have expreffed the passions designed by this sketch of statuary! The stile of his comedy is, in general, natural to the characters, and easy in itself; and the wit most commonly {prightly and pleasing, except in those places where he runs into doggerel rhimes, as in The Comedy of Errors, and some pther plays. As for his jingling fometimes, and playing upon words, it was the common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find it in the pulpit, made use of as an ornament to the sermons of some of the graveft divines of those times; perhaps it may not be thought too light for the stage. . 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 fight above mankind, and the limits of the visible world. Such are his at

tempts tempts in The Tempest, Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Hamlit. Of thefe, The Tempes, however it comes to be placed the firit by the publishers of his works, can never have been the first written by him : it seems to me as perfect in its kind, as almost any thing we have of his. One may obferve, that the unities are kept here, with an exactners uncommon to the liberties of his writing; though that was what, I suppose, he valued himself least úpon, lince 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 thefe sort of writings; yet he does it so very finely, that one is calily drawn in to have more faith for his fake, than reason does well allow of. Eis magick has something in it very solemn and very poetical: and that extravagant character of Caliban is mighty well sustained, fhew's a wonderful invention in the author, who could strike out such a particular wild image, and is certainly onc of the finest and most uncommon gratesques 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 Shakespeare had net only found out a new characler in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a new manner of language for that charaéler. Y It is the same magick that raises the Fairies in Midsummer Night's Dream, the Witches in Macbeth, and the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and language fo proper to the parts they sustain, and so peculiar to the talent of this writer. But of the two lait of these plays I shall have occasion to take notice, among the tragedics of Mr. Shakespeare. If one undertook to examine the greateft part of these by those rules which are established by Aristotle, and taken from the model of a Grecian stage, it would be no very hard talk to find a great many faults; but as Shakespeare lived under a kind of mere light of nature, and had never been made acquainted with the regularity of those written precepts, so it woulů be lard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to consider him as a man that lived in a state of almost universal licence and ignorance: there was no establighed judge, but every one took the liberty to write according to the dictates of his own fancy. When one confiders, 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 dra, matick poetry so far as he did. The fable is what is generally placed the first, among those that are reckoned the conftituent parts of a tragick or heroick 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 fit disposition, order, and conduct of its several parts. As it is not in this province of the drama that the strength and mastery of Shakespeare lay, so I shall not undertake the tedious and ill-natured trouble to point out the several faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were seldom invented, but ratber taken either from 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 them. Almost all his historical plays comprehend a great length of time, and very different and distinct places: and in his Antony and Cleopátra, the scene travels over the greatest part of the Roman empire. But in recompence for his carelessness in this point, when he comes to another part of the drama, The manners of his charaēlers, in acting or speaking what is proper for them, and fit to be mewn by the poet, he may be generally justified, and in very many places greatly commended. For those plays which he has taken from the English or Roman history, let any man 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 the title very often tells you, it is The Life of King John, King Richard, &c. What can be more agreeable to the idea cur historians give of Henry the Sixth, than the picture Shakespeare has drawn of him! His manncrs are every where exactly the same with the story; one finds him ftill dcfcribed with fimplicity, passive fancity, want of courage, weakness of mind, and easy submillion 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, disinterefted, a contemner of the things of this world, and wholly resigned to the severelt dispensations of God's providence. There is a short scene in the Second part of Henry the Sirih, which I cannot but think admirable in its kind. Cardinal Beaufort, who had murdered the Duke of Gloucester, is shewn in the last agonies on his death-bed,

* Lord Falkland, Lord C. J. Vaughan, and Mr. Selden,

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