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his Hern, any one wis and movinere is som
with the good king praying over him. There is so much terror in one, so much tenderness and moving piety in the other, as muft touch any one who is capable either of fear or pity. In his Henry the Eighth, that prince is drawn with that greatness of mind, and all those good qualities which are attributed to him in any account of his reign. If his faults are not shewn in an equal degree, and the shades in this picture do not bear a just proportion to the lights, it is not that the artist wanted either colours or skill in the disposition of them; but the truth, I believe, might be, that he forbore doing it out of regard to queen Elizabeth, fince it could have been no very great respect to the memory of his mistress, to have exposed some certain parts of her father's life upon the stage. He has dealt much more freely with the minister of that great king, and certainly nothing was ever more justly written, than the character of Cardinal Wolfey. He has shewn him insolent in his prosperity; and yet, by a wonderful address, he makes his fall and ruin the subject of general compassion. The whole man, with his vices and virtues, is finely and exactly described in the fecond scene of the fourth act. The distresses likewise of Queen Catharine, in this play, are very movingly touched; and though the art of the poet has screened King Henry from any gross imputation of injustice, yet one is inclined to wish, the Queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the manners, proper to the perfons represented, less justly observed, in those characters taken from the Roman history; and of this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and disdain of the common people, the virtue and philosophical temper of Brutus, and the irregular greatness of mind in M. Antony, are beautiful proofs. For the two last especially, you find them exactly as they are described by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakespeare copied them. He has indeed followed his original pretty close, and taken in several little incidents that might have been spared in a play. But, as I hint. ed before, his design seems most commonly rather to describe those great men in the several fortunes and accidents of their lives, than to take any single great action, and form his work simply upon that. However, there are fome of his pieces, where the fable is founded upon one action on. ly. Such are more especially, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Otheil. The design in Romeo and Juliet is plainly the pupilliment of their two families, for thč unreasonable feuds
less, her husband is in the botief of Elvery unnatund Orel
Orchas given in very un but, as M.
and animofities that had been so long kept up between them, and occafioned the effusion of so much blood. In the management of this story, he has shewn something wonderfully tender and passionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the diftrefs. Hamlet is founded on much the same tale with the Electra of Sophacles. In each of them a young prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father, their mothers are equally guilty, are both concerned in the murder of their husbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is in the first part of the Greek tragedy fomething very moving in the grief of Electra; but, as Mr. Dacier has observed, there is something very unnatural and shocking in the manners he has given that Princess and Oreftes in the latter part. Orestes imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is performed, though not immediately upon the stage, yet so near, that the audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to Ægysthus for help, and to her son for mercy: while Electra her daughter, and a Princefs (both of them characters that ought to have appeared with more decency) stands upon the ftage, and encourages her brother in the parricide. What horror does this not raise! Clytemnestra was a wicked wom man, and had deserved to die; nay, in the truth of the story, she was killed by her own fon; but to represent an action of this kind on the stage, is certainly an offence againft chofe rules of manners proper to the persons, that ought to be observed there. On the contrary, let us only look a little on the conduct of Shakespeare. Hamlet is represented with the same piety towards his father, and resolution to revenge his death, as Orestes; he has the same abhorrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke him the more, is heightened by incest: but it is with wonderful art and juste nefs of judgment, that the poet restrains him from doing violence to his mother. To prevent any thing of that kind, he makes his father's Ghost forbid that part of his vengeance :
But howsoever thou pursu's this act,
This is to distinguish rightly between horror and terror. The latter is a proper passion of tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided. And certainly no dramatick writer ever succeeded better in raising terror in the minds of an audience than Shakespeare has done. The whole tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the scene where the King is murdered, in the second act, as well as this play, is a noble proof of that manly spirit with which he writ; and both shew how powerful he was, in giving the strongest motions to our fouls that they are capable of. I cannot leave Hamlet, without taking notice of the advantage with which we have seen this master-piece of Shakespeare distinguish itself upon the stage, by Mr. Betterton's fine performance of that part. A man, who, though he had no other good qualities, as he has a great many, must have made his way into the eiteem of all men of letters, by this only excellency. No man is better acquainted with Shakespeare's manner of expression, and indeed he has studied him to well, and is so much a master of him, that whatever part of his he performs, he does it as if it had been written on purpose for him, and that the author had exactly conceived it as he plays it. I muft own a particular obligation to him, for the most considerable part of the passages relating to this life, which I have here transmitted to the publick; his veneration for the me.. mory of Shakespeare having engaged him to make a journey into Warwickshire, on purpose to gather up what remains he could, of a name for which he had so great a veneration*.
• This Account of the Life of Shakespeare is printed from Mr. Rowe's second edition, in which it had been abridged and altered. by himself after its appearance in 1709.
The The following Instrument was transmitted by John . :
Anstis, Esq. Garter King at Arms: It is mark'd G. 13. p. 349.
[There is also a Manuscript in the Herald;' Office *, mark'd W.
2. p. 276; where Notice is taken of this Coat, and that the Person, to whom it was granted, had borne Magijlracy at Sıralford upon Avon.]
Kinn, send greetond and rememruhy men
To all and singular noble and gentlemen of all estates
I and degrees, bearing arms, to whom these presents fhall come; William Dethick, Garter Principal King of Arms of England, and William Camden, alias Clarencieulx, King of Arms for the south, east, and west parts of this realm, send greetings. Know ye, that in all nations and kingdoms the record and remembrance of the valiant facts and virtuous dispositions of worthy men have been made known and divulged by certain fields of arms and tekens of chivalrie; the grant or teftimony whereof appertaineth ento us, by virtue of our offices from the Queen's moft Excellent Majesty, and her Highness's most noble and victoria ous progenitors: wherefore being solicited, and by credible seport informed, that John Shakespeare, now of Stratford upon Avon, in the county of Warwick, gentleman, whose great grandfather, for his faithful and approved service to the late molt prudent prince, king Henry VII. of famous memory, was advanced and rewarded wich lands and tenements, given to him in those parts of Warwickshire, where they have continued by some descents in good reputation and credit; and for that the faid John Shakespere having married the daughter and one of the heirs of Robert Arden of Wellingcote, in the said county, and also produced this his ancient coat of arms, heretofore afligned to him whilst he was her majesty's officer and Lailiff of that town. In consideration of the premises, and for the encouragement of his posterity, unto whom such blazon of arms and atchievements of inheritance from their said mother, by the ancient cultom and laws of arms, may lawfully descend; we the
* In the Herald's Office are the first draughts of John Shakepeare's grant or confirmation of arms, by Williain Dethick, Garter, Principal King at Arms, 1996. See Vincents Preis, vol. 157, No 23, and No 24.
said Garter and Clarencieulx have assigned, granted, and confirmed, and by these presents exemplified unto the said John Shakespere, and to his posterity, that shield and coat of arms, viz. In a field of gold upon a bend fables a spear of the first, the point upward, headed argent; and for his crest or cognisance, A falcon, or, with his wings displayed, Nanding or a wreathe of his colours, supporting a spear armed headed, or fleels ed filver, fixed upon an helmet with mantles and tafels, as more plainly may appear depicted in this margent; and we have likewise impaled the same with the ancient arms of the faid Arden* of Wellingcote; signifying thereby, that it may and shall be lawful for the said John Shakespere, gent. to bear and use the same shield of arms, single or impaled, as aforesaid, during his natural life; and that it shall be lawful for his children, issue, and posterity, lawfully begotten, to bear, use, and quarter, and shew forth the fame, with their due differences, in all lawful warlike feats and civil use or exercises, according to the laws of arms, and custom that to gentlemen belongeth, without let or interruption of any person or persons, for use or bearing the same. In witness and testimony whereof we have subscribed our names, and fastened the feals of our offices. Given at the office of arms, London, the day of in the forty-second year of the reign of our most gracious sovereign lady Elizabeth, by the grace of God, queen of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. 1599.
ingeth, without of arms, and civil use of
* It is faid by the modern editor of Arden of Fevershan (first published in 1592 and republished in 1970) that Shakespeare defcended by the female line from the gentleman whose unfortunate end is the subject of this tragedy. But the assertion appears to want support, the true name of the person who was murdered at Fevertham being Ardern and not Ården. Ardern might be called Arden in the play for the sake of better sound, or might be corrupte ed in the chronicle of Holingshed: yet it is unlikely that the true spelling should be overlooked among the Heralds, whose interest it is to recommend by ostentatious accuracy the triftes in which they deal.