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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 pofterity this,
but for their ignorance, who chose that circumItance 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 fide 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 fiowed with that facility, that sometime it was necesary he should
be popped; Sufflaminandus 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 slight confideration he had for his audience. Jonson treated them with the dictatorial haughtiness of a pedant; Shakespear with the careleffness of a gentleman who wrote at his eafe, and gave them the firft flowings of his fancy without
dread of their correction. These were times in which the poet in
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 natural, lofty, careless, and daringly incorrect. Place the same man in other times, amongst a people polished almost into general equality, 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 country defended by well-disciplined troops, or only by an irregular mob of unarmed barbarians. Shakespear might vault his Pegasus without a rein ; mountains might rise and leas roll in vain before him; Nature herself could neither stop nor circumscribe his ca
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
“ fides for fear he sets 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
Nil intentatum nostri liquere poete :
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 surtain 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 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 fucceffion
And to be king
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 undertakingsomuch 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