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whether some people have not, in remembrance of the diversion he had formerly afforded them, been forry to see his friend Hal use him fo fcurvily, when he comes to the crown in the end of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth. Amongst other extravagances, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, he has made him a deerstealer, that he might at the same time, remember his Warwickshire prosecutor, under the name of Juftice Shallow. He has given him very near the same coat of arms, which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that county, describes for a family there, and makes the Welih parfon descant very pleasantly upon them. That whole play is admirable ; the humours are
; various, and well opposed : the main design, which is to cure Ford of his unreafonable jealousy, is extremely well conducted. In Twelfth Night there is fomething singularly ridiculous and pleasant in the fantastical steward Malvolio. The parasite and the vain-glorious in Parolles, in All's well that ends well, is as good as any thing of that kind in Plautus or Terence. Petruchio, in The Taming of the Shrew, is an uncommon piece of humour. The conversation of Benedict and Beatrice, in Much Ado about Nothing, and of Rosalind in As you like it, have much wit and sprightlinefs all along. His clowns, without which character there was hardly any play writ at that time, are all very entertaining; and I believe Therfites in Troilus and Creffida, and Apemantus in Timon, will be allowed to be master-pieces of ill-nature and satirical snarling. To these I might add that incomparable character of Shylock the Jew, in The Merchant of Venice. But though we have seen that play received and acted as a comedy, and the part of the Jew performed by an excellent comedian, yet I cannot but think it was designed tragically by the author. There appears in it a deadly spirit of revenge, such a favage fierceness and fellness, and uch a bloody designation of cruelty and mischief, as cannot agree either with the style or characters of comedy. The play itfelf, take it altogether, seems to me to be one of the most finished of any of Shakfpere's. The tale, indeed, in that part relating to the caskets, and the extravagant and unusual kind of bond given by Antonio, is too much removed from the rules of probability. But taking the fact for granted, we must allow it to be very beautifully, written. There is something in the friendship of Antonio to Bassanio very great, generous, and tender. The whole fourth act (supposing, as I said,
I the fact to be probable) is extremely fine. But there are two passages that deserve a particular notice. The first is, what Portia says in praise of mercy, and the other on the power of musick. The melancholy of Jaques, in As you like it, is as singular and odd as it is diverting. And if, what Horace says,
Dificile eft proprie communia dicere, it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him in the description of the several degrees, and ages of man's life, though the thought be old, and common enough.
-All the world's a ftage, And all the men and women merely players : They have their exits and their entrances ; And one man in his time plays many parts ; His acts being seven ages. First the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. And then, the whining school-boy with his satchel, And shining morning-face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mitress' eye-brow. Then a foldier, Full of frange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justices:
In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd,
like it, act 2, sc. 78
His images are indeed every where so lively, that the thing he would represent stands full before you, and you possess every part of it. I will venture to point out one more ; which is, I think, as strong and as uncommon as any thing I ever saw. It is an image of Patience. Speaking of a maid in love, he says,
She never told her love ;
What an image is here given ! and what a talk would it have been for the greatest masters of Greece and Rome to have expressed the passions designed by this sketch of statuary ! The style of his comedy is, in general, natural to the characters, and easy in itself; and the wit most commonly sprightly and pleasing, except in those places where he runs into doggrel rhymes, as in The Comedy of Errors, and some other plays. As for his gingling sometimes, and playing upon words, it was the
common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find it in the pulpit, made use of as an ornament to the sermons of some of the graveft divines of those times, perhaps it may not be thought too light for the stage.
But certainly the greatness of this author's genius does no where fo much appear, as where he gives his imagination an entire loose, and raises his fancy to a flight above mankind, and the limits of the vifible world. Sueh are his attempts in The Tempeft, Midfummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Hamlet. of these, The Tempeft, however it comes to be placed the first by the publishers of his works, can never have been the first written by him : it seems to me as perfect in its kind, as almost any thing we have of his. One may observe, that the unities are kept here, with an exactness uncommon to the liberties of his writing though that was what, I suppose, he valued himself least upon, since his excellencies were all of another kind: I am very sensible that he does, in this play, depart too much from that likeness to truth which ought to be observed in these fort of writings; yet he does it fo very finely, that one is. easily drawn in to have more faith for his fake, than. reafon does well allow of. His magick has fomething in it very folemn and very poetical :.and that extravagant character of Caliban is mighty well. fuftained, shews a wonderful invention in the author, who could strike out such a particular wild image, and is certainly one of the finest and most uncom.. mon grotesques that was ever seen. The observation which I have been informed three very great men*. concurred in making upon this part, was extremely juft ; That Shakspere had not only found out a new charader in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a new manner of language for that chara&ter.
Lord Faulkland, lord C. J.Vaughan, and Mr. Selden..
It is the same magick that raises the Fairies is Midsummer-Night's Dream, the Witches in Macbeth, and the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and language fo proper to the parts they luftain, and fo peculiar to the talent of this writer. But of the two last of these plays I shall have occasion to take notice among the tragedies of Mr. Shakspere. If one undertook
to examine the greatest part of these by those rules which are established by Aristotle, and taken from the model of a Grecian stage, it would be no very hard talk to find a great many faults ; but as Shakspere lived under a kind of mere light of nature, and had never been made acquainted with the regularity of those written precepts, so it would be hard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to consider him as a man that lived in a state of almost universal license and ignorance : there was no established judge, but every one took the liberty to write according to the dictates of his own fancy. When one considers, that there is not one play, before him, of a reputation good enough to entitle it to an appearance on the prefent stage, it cannot but be a matter of great wonder that he should advance dramatick poetry so far as he did., The fable is what is generally placed the first among those that are reckoned the constituent parts of a tragick or heroick poem; not, perhaps, as it is the most difficult or beautiful, but as it is the first properly to be thought of in the contrivance and courte of the whole ; and with the fable ought to be con. fidered the fit difpofition, order, and conduct of its feveral parts. As it is not in this province of the drama that the strength and mastery of Shakspere lay, so I shall not undertake the tedious and ill-na. tured trouble to point out the feveral faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were seldom invented, but rather taken either from true history, or novels and romances : and he commonly made use of them in