صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


on this PR_EF AC, E. adınirable genius pierced into the necesity of such a fule.


??" given in 1107) 11 21 Servetur ad imum

his o: Qualis, ab inccepto processerit, & fibi canflet. modern writers, to make a debauched young man, immersed in all the vices of his age and time, in a few hours take up, confine himself in the way of honour to one woman, and moralize in good earnest on the follies of his paft beha? viour ? Nor can, that great examplar of Comic regard; who, in his Adelphi, has left Demea in the baft scenes so unlike himself: whom, as Shakes Speare expresses it, he has turn’d with the seamy < fide of his wit outward." This conduct, as errors are more readily imitated than perfections, Beaumont and Fletcher seem to have followed in a character in their Scornful Lady. It may be objected, perhaps, by some who do not go to the bottom of our Poet's .conduct, that he has like, wife tranfgrefied against the rule himself, by making Prince Harry at once, 'upon coming to the crown, throw off bis former diffolutenefs and take up the practice of a sober morality and all the kingly virtues. But this would be a mistaken objection. The Prince's reformation is not fo fudden, as not to be prepared and expected by the audience. He gives, indeed, a loose to vanity, and a light unweighed behaviour, when he is trifing among his dissolute companions; but the


fparks of innate honour and true nobleness break from him upon every proper occasion, where we would hope to see him awake to fentiments suiting his birth and dignity. And our Poet has so well, and artfully, guarded his character from the fuspicions of habitual and unreformable profligateness; that even from the first fhewing him upon the stage in the First Part of Henry IV. when he made him consent to join with Falstaff in a robbery on the highway, he has taken care not to carry him off the scene, without an intimation that he knows them all, and their unyoked humour, and that, like the fun, he will permit them only for a while to obscure and cloud his brightness; then break through the mist, when he pleases to be himself again ; that his lustre, when wanted, may be the more wondered at.

Another of Shakespeare's grand touches of nature, and which lies ftill deeper from the ken of common observation, has been taken notice of in a note upon The Tempeft; where . Profpero at once interrupts the mafque of spirits, and ftarts into a fudden passion and disorder of mind. As the latent cause of his emotion is there fully inquired into, I thall no farther dwell upon it here.

Such a conduct in a poet (as Shakespeare has manifested on many like occasions ;) where the turn of action arises from reflections of his chan racters, where the reason of it is not expreffed in words, but drawn from the inmoft resources of natdrey thews him truly capable of that art, 6501 * 5


concealments of our author, and shall either think them

which is more in rule than práctice ? Ars'eft telare ertem. 'Tis the foible of your

your worfer poets to make a parade and oftentation of that little fcience they have; and to throw it out in the most ambitious colours. And whenever a writer of this

[ocr errors]

easy, or practised by a writer for his "eale, he will foon be convinced of his mistake by the diffi

yn culty of reaching the imitation of them.s.

be, 25, biqini Speret idem, sudet multùm, fruftráque laboret, i Ausus idem:

t","?irn otorrdo del Another grand touch of nature in our author, (not less difficult to imitate, tho' more obvious to the remark of a common reader) is, when he brings down at once any character from the ifer. ment and height of passion, makes him correct bimself for the unruly difpofition, and fall into reflecitions of a sober and moral tenours An exquisite fine instance of this kind occurs in Lear, where that old King, bafty and intemperate in his paffions, coming to his fon and daughter Cornwall, is told by the Earl of Gloucester that they are not to be spoken with : and thereupon throws himself into a rage, supposing the excuse of fickness and weasiness in them to be a purposed contempt : Gloucester begs him to think of the fiery and unremoveable quality of the Duke: And this,, which 'was defigned to qualify his pasiiong serves to exaggerate the transports of it.

As 3

As the conduct of Prince. Henry in the first instance, the secret and mental reflections in the

sale of Prospero, and the instant detour of Lear from the violence of rage to a temper of reasonhing, do fo much honour to that surprising knowledge of human nature, which is certainly our aythor's masterpiece, I thought, they could not be set in too good a light. Indeed, to point out, and exclaim upon, all the beauties of Shakespeare, as they come fingly in review, would be as infipid, as endless; as tedious, as unnecessary : But the explanation of those beauties, that are less obvious to common readers, and whose illurtration depends on the rules of just criticism, and an exact knowledge of human life, should defervedly have a fhare in a general critic upon the author.!!o?

! on I Phall difmifs the examination into these his latent beauties, when I have made a short comment upon a remarkable paffage from Julius

Cæfar, which is inexpreffibly fine in itself, and greatly discovers our Author's knowledge and

researches into nature. gd Between the acting of a dreadful thing, 00: And the first motion, all the interim is

Pori -59 Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:

The genius, and the mortal instruments sic. Are then in council ; and the state of man, .si, Like to a little kingdom, fuffers then The nature of an insurrection.

[ocr errors]

ul. It has been allowed on all hands, how far our author was indebted to nature : it is not fo well agreed, how much he owed to languages and acquired learning. The decifions on this subject were certainly set on foot by the hint from Ben Fohnfon, that he had fmall Latin and lefs Greek: And from this tradition, as it were, Mr. Rowe has thought fit peremptorily to declare, that, h It is & without controversy, he had no knowledge of

the writings of the ancient poets, for that in his

works we find no traces of any thing which «c looks like an imitation of the ancients. For the \ delicacy of his tafte (continues he,) and the " natural bent of his own great genius (equal, “ if not fuperior, to some of the best of theirs 3) 6 would certainly have led him to read and study

them with fo much pleasure, that some of their es fine images would naturally have insinuated

themselves into, and been mixed with, his own al writings: fo that his not copying, at least, * something from them, may be an argument of s his never having read them.” I shall leave it to the determination of my learned readers, from the numerous paffages, which I have occasionally quoted in my notes, in which our Poet seems closely to have imitated the claffics, whether Mr. Rowe's affertion be so absolutely to be depended

The result af the controversy must cere tainly, either way, terminate to our Author's honour; how happily be could imitate them, if that point be allowed; or bow gloriously he could

« السابقةمتابعة »