صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

he penned) he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been adds he) Would he had blotted out a thousand! which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by, wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candour, for I loved the man, and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as any : He was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent phantasie, brave notions and gentle expressions, wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometime it was necesary he should be stopped; Suflaminandus erat, as Augustus faid of Haterius : His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too!

I think there can be no doubt but this kind of indignant negligence with which Shakespear wrote, was greatly owing to the Night confideration he had for his audience. Jonson treated them with the dictatorial haughtinefs of a pedant; Shakespear with the careleffness of a gentleman who wrote at his eafe, and gave them the first flowings of his fancy without any dread of their correction, These were times in which the poet in

dulged

dulged his genius without restraint; he
stood alone and super-eminent, and wanted
no artificial scaffold to raise him above the
heads of his contemporaries; he was natu-
ral, lofty, careless, and daringly incorrect.
Place the same man in other times, amongst
a people polished alnıost into general equa-
lity, and he shall begin to hesitate and retract
his fallies ; for in this respect poetical are like
military excursions, and it makes a wide
difference in the movements of a skilful
general, whether he is to fally into a coun-
try defended by well-disciplined troops, or
only by an irregular mob of unarmed bar-
barians. Shakespear might vault his Pegasus
without a rein ; mountains might rise and
seas roll in vain before him; Nature herself
could neither stop nor circumscribe his ca-
Teer. The modern man of verse inounts
with the precaution of a riding-master, and
prances round his little circle full-bitted and
caparisoned in all the formality of a review.
Whilft he is thus pacing and piaffering with
every body's eyes upon him, his friends are
calling out every now and then-“ Seat
“ yourself firm in the saddle! Hold your

body straight! Keep your spurs from his

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

“ fides for sear he fets a kicking! Have a

care he does not stumble; there lies a stone, here runs a ditch; keep your whip still, and depend upon your bit, if

you have not a mind to break your “neck!"-On the other quarter his enemies are bawling out—" How like a taylor that “ fellow fits on horseback! Look at his “ feet, look at his arms! Set the curs upon “ him ; tie a cracker to his horse's tail, and "make sport for the spectators !”—All this while perhaps the poor devil could have performed paffably well, if it were not for the mobbing and hallooing about him: Whereas Shakespear mounts without fear, and starting in the jockey-phrase at score, cries out,“ Stand clear, ye fons of earth! or, “ by the beams of my father Apollo, I'll “ ride over you, and trample you into

“ dust!".

No. LXIX.

Nil intentatum nostri liquere poetæ :
Nec minimum meruere decus, vestigia Greca.
Ausi deferere, et celebrare domesiica fa&ta.

(Horat.)

T
HERE are two very striking characters

delineated by our great dramatic poet, which I am desirous of bringing together under one review, and these are Macbeth and Richard the Third.

The parts, which these two persons suftain in their respective dramas, have a remarkable coincidence: Both are actuated by the same guilty ambition in the opening of the story ; both murder their lawful sovereign in the course of it; and both are defeated and flain in battle at the conclusion of it: Yet these two characters, under circumstances so similar, are as strongly distinguished in every passage of their dramatic life by the art of the poet, as any two men ever were by the hand of nature.

Let us contemplate them in the three following periods ; viz. The premeditation of

their

F 3

their crime; the perpetration of it; and the catastrophe of their death.

Duncan the reigning king of Scotland has two sons: Edward the fourth of England has also two sons; but these kings and their respective heirs do not affect the usurpers Macbeth and Richard in the fame degree, for the latter is a prince of the blood royal, brother to the king, and next in consanguinity to the throne after the death of his elder brother the Duke of Clarence: Macbeth on the contrary is not in the succession

And to be king
Stands not within the prospect of belief.

His views therefore being further removed and more out of hope, a greater weight of circumstances should be thrown together to tempt and encourage him to an undertaking so much beyond the prospect of his belief. The art of the poet furnishes these circumstances, and the engine, which his invention employs, is of a preternatural and prodigious fort. He introduces in the very opening of his scene a troop of sybils or witches, who falute Macbeth with their divinations, and in three solemn prophetic gratulations hail him Thane

of

« السابقةمتابعة »