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much enhance the value of them to the more capable readers; which has never, I think, been observed. The images, in each poem, which he raises to excite mirth and melancholy, are exactly the same, only shewn in different attitudes. Had a writer, less acquainted with nature, given us two poems on these subjects, he would have been fure to have fought out the most contrary images to raise these contrary passions. And, particularly, as Shakespeare, in the passage I am now commenting, speaks of thefe different effects in mufick; fo Milton has brought it into each poem as the exciter of each affection : and left we fhould mistake him, as meaning that different airs had this different power, (which every fidler is proud to have you understand, he gives the image of those self-fame strains that Orpheus used to regain Eurydice, as proper both to excite mirth and melancholy. But Milton most industriously copied the conduct of our Shakespeare, in passages that shewed an intimate acquaintance with nature and science.
I have not thought it out of my province, whenever occasion offered, to take notice of some of our Poet's grand touches of nature : Some, that do not appear fuperficially such ; but in which he seems the most deeply instructed ; and to which, no doubt, he has so much owed that happy preservation of his Characters, for which he is justly celebrated. If he was not acquainted with the rule as delivered by. Horace, his own
admirable genius pierced into the necessity of such a rule,
-Servetur ad imum Qualis ab incæpto procefferit, & fibi conftet. For what can be more ridiculous, than, in our 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 earneft on the follies of his past behaviour ? Nor can, that great examplar of Comic writing, Terence, be altogether excused in this regard ; who, in his Adelphi, has left Demea in the last scenes so unlike himself: whom, as ShakeSpeare expresses it, he has turn’d with the seamy « side 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 likewisc transgressed, against the rule himself, by making Prince Harry at once, upon coming to the crown, throw off his former di Toluteness, 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 so sudden, 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 trifling among his dissolute companions; but the
sparks of innate honour and true nobleness break from him upon every proper occasion, where we would hope to see him awake to sentiments suiting his birth and dignity. And our Poet has so well, and artfully, guarded his character from the suspicions of habitual and unreformable profligateness; that even from the first shewing 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 sun, 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 still deeper from the ken of common observation, has been taken notice of in a note upon The Tempeft; where Prospero at once interrupts the masque of spirits, and starts into a fudden passion and disorder of mind. As the latent cause of his emotion is there fully inquired into, I. fhall 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 'characters, where the reason of it is not expressed in words, but drawn from the inmost resources of nature, thews him truly capable of that art,
which is more in rule than practice: Ars eft celare arten. 'Tis the foible of your worser poets to make a parade and oftentation of that little science they have; and to throw it out in the most ambitious colours. And whenever a writer of this class shall attempt to copy these artful concealments of our author, and shall either think them easy, or practised by a writer for his ease, he will soon be convinced of his mistake by the diffi, culty of reaching the imitation of them.
Speret idem, sudet multùm, fruftráque laboret, Aufus idem : 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 fermentand height of passion, makes him correct himself for the unruly disposition, and fall into reflections of a sober and moral tenour. An exquisite fine instance of this kind occurs in Lear, where that old King, hasty and intemperate in his passions, coming to his son 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, suppofing the excuse of fickness and weariness 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 passion, seryes to exaggerate the transports of it.
As the conduct of Prince Henry in the first instance, the secret and mental reflections in the case of Prospero, and the instant detour of Lear fron the violence of rage to a temper of reasoning do so much honour to that surprising knowledge of human nature, which is certainly our author'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 Shake. Speare, as they come singly in review, would be as insipid, as endless; as tedious, as unnecessary : But the explanation of those beauties, that are less obvious to common readers, and whose illustration depends on the rules of just criticism, and an exact knowledge of human life, should defervedly have a share in a general critic upon the author.
I shall dismiss the examination into these his : latent beauties, when I have made a short comment upon a remarkable passage from Julius Cæfar, which is inexpresibly fine in itself, and greatly discovers our Author's knowledge and researches into nature,
Between the acting of a dreadful thing,