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preserved, which the criticks of following ages were to contend for the fame of restoring and ca. plaining.
Among these candidates of inferior fame, I 2.1 now to stand the judgment of the publick; and wis that I could confidently produce my commentary as equal to the encouragement which I have had the honour of receiving. Every work of this kind is by its nature deficient, and I should feel litele solicitude about the sentence, were it to be pronounced only by the skilful and the learned.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS :
PLAYS OF SHAKESPEARE.
IT is observed of The Tempest, that its plan is re. 1 gular; this the author of The Revisal * thinks, what I think too, an accidental effect of the story, not intended or regarded by our author. But whatever might be Shakespeare's intention in forming or adopting the plot, he has made it instrumental to the production of many characters, diversified with boundless invention, and preserved with profound skill in nature, extensive knowledge of opinions, and accurate observation of life. In a single drama are here exhibited princes, courtiers, and sailors, all speaking in their real characters. There is the agency of airy spirits, and of an earthly goblin ; the operations of magick, the tumults of a storm, the adventures of a desart isand, the native effusion of untaught affection, the punishment of guilt, and the final happiness of the pair for whom our passions and reason are equally interested.
* Mr. Heath, who wrote a revisal of Shakespeare's text, pub. lithed in 8vo. circa 1760.
TWO GENTLEMEN OP VERONA. In this play there is a strange mixture of kony. ledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. T:. verification is often excellent, the allusions 2: learned and juít; but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the 12.10 country; he places the emperor at Milan, and fer.es his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more ; he makes Protheus, after an inksty.es with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture; and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reatoa of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel, which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forfook, sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot.
That this play is rightly attributed to Sbake fout?, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given ? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Ardronicus; and it will be found more credible, that Suke peure might sometimes sink below his higher fights, than that any other thould rise up to ins loweit.
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. of this play there is a tradition preserved by Mr. Rome, that it was written at the command of queca Elizabeth, who was so delighted with the character of Faff, that she wished it to be diffused througa more plays; but suspecting that it might pall by continued uniformity, directed the poet to diversify
his manner, by shewing him in love. ·No talk is harder than that of writing to the ideas of another. Shakespeare knew what the queen, if the story be true, seems not to have known, that by any real passion of tenderness, the selfish craft, the careless jollity, and the lazy luxury of Falstaff must have suffered so much abatement, that little of his former cast would have remained. Falstaf could not love, but by ceasing to be Falstaff. He could only counterfeit tove, and his professions could be prompted, not by the hope of pleasure, but of money. Thus the poet approached as near as he could to the work enjoined him; yet having perhaps in the former plays completed his own idea, seems not to have been able to give Falstaff all his former power of entertainment.
This comedy is remarkable for the variety and number of the personages, who exhibit more characters appropriated and discriminated, than perhaps can be found in any other play.
Whether Shakespeare was the first that produced upon the English stage the effect of language distorted and depraved by provincial or foreign pronunciation, I cannot certainly decide. This inode of forming ridiculous characters can confer praise only on him, who originally discovered it, for it requires not much of either wit or judgment: its success must be derived almost wholly from the player, but its power in a skilful mouth, even he that despises it, is unable to resist.
The conduct of this drama is deficient; the action begins and ends often before the conclusion, and the different parts might change places without inconvenience; but its general power, that power by Vol. IX,
which all works of genius shall finally be tried, is such, that perhaps it never yet had reader or spez tor, who did not think it too soon at an end.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
There is perhaps not one of Sbakemeare's plans more darkened than this, by the peculiarities of is author, and the unskiltulnels of its editors, by dj tortions of phrase, or negligence of transcrip tion.
The novel of Giraldi Cyn:bic, from which series Speare is supposed to have borrowed this fable, rray be read in Skakespeare illustrated, elegantly tranflated, with remarks, which will assist the enquirer to 2.1. cover how much absurdity S2ake peare has ad.niks or avoided.
I cannot but surpce that some other had new. modelled the novel of Cyntbio, or written a toy which in some particulars resembled it, and tha: Cynthio was not the author whoin Skake peare imne. diately followed. The emperor in Cyntbio is named Maximine; the duke, in Sbaka suare's enumeratioa of the persons of the drama, is called Tinien::a. This appears a very night remark; but since the duke has no name in the play, nor is ever mentioned but by his title, why should he be called linsensio among the persons, but because the name was copied from the story, and placed superfluously at the head of the list by the mere habit of transcription? It is therefore likely that there was then a story of his centio duke of Vienna, different from that of Maxin. ine emperor of the Romans.