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guishes it from the rest, we must allow to the tragedy of Hamlet the praise of variety. The incident are so numerous, that the argument of the play would make a long talc. The scenes are interchangeably diversified with merriment and solemnity; with merriment, that includes judicious and instructive observations; and solemnity, not strained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of man. New characters appear from time to time in continual succession, exhibiting various forms of lise and particular modes of converfation. The pretended madness of Hamlet causes much mirth, the mournsul distraction of Ophelia fills the heart with tenderness, and every personage produces the effect intended, from the apparition that in the first act chills the blood with horror, to the fop in the last, that expofes affectation to just contempt.
The conduct is perhaps not wholly secure against objections. The action is indeed for the most part in continual progression, but there are some scenes which neither forward nor retard it. Of the seigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate cause, for he does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of fanity. He plays the madman most, when he treats Ophelia with so much rudeness, which seems to be useless and wanton cruelty.
Hamlet is, through the whole piece, rather an instrument than an agent. After he has, by the stratagem of the play, convicted the king, he makes no attempt to punish him; and his death is at last efsected by an incident which HamUt had no part ia producing.
The catastrophe is not very happily produced; the exchange of weapons is rather an expedient of necessity, than a stroke of art. A scheme might easily have been formed to kill Hamlet with the dagger, and Laertes with the bowl.
The poet is accused of having fhewn little regard to poetical justice, and may be charged with equal neglect of poetical probability. The apparition left the regions of the dead to little purpofe; the revenge which he demands is not obtained, but by the death of him that was required to take it; and the gratification, which would arise from the destruction of an usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautisul, the harmless, and the pious.
The beauties of this play impress themselves so strongly upon the attention of the reader, that, they can draw no aid from critical illustration. The fiery openness of Othello, magnanimous, artless, and credulous, boundless in his confidence, ardent in his affection, inflexible in his resolution, and obdurate in his revenge; the cool malignity of sago, silent in his resentment, subtle in his designs, and studious at once of his interest and his vengeance; the soft simplicity of Desdemona, confident of merit, and conscious of innocence, her artless perseverance in her suit, and her slowness to suspect that she can be suspected, are such proofs of Shakespeare's skill in human nature, as, I suppofe, it is vain to seek in any modern writer. The gradual progress which Iago makes in the Moor's conviction, and the cir5 . cumstances cumstances which he employs to inflame him, are so artfully natural, that, though it will perhaps nos be faid of him as he fays of himself, that he is m wnm not easily jealous, yet we cannot but pity him, when at lalt we find him perplexed in the extreme.
There is always danger, lest wickedness, conjoined with abilities, should fleal upon esteem, though it misses of approbation; but the character of Jsge is so conducted, that he is from the first scene to the last hated and despised.
Even the inserior characters of this play would be very conspicuous in any other piece, not only for their justness, but their strength. CaJJto is brave, benevolent, and honest, ruined only by his want of stubbornness to resist an insidious invitation. Rodtrigo's suspicious credulity, and impatient submission to the cheats which lie sees practised upon him, ar.d which by persuasion he suffers to be repeated, exhibit a strong picture of a weak mind betrayed by unlawful desires to a false friend; and the virtue of Æmilia is such as we often find worn loofely, but not cast off, easy to commit small crimes, but quickened and alarmed at atrocious villanies.
The scenes from the beginning to the end are busy, varied by happy interchanges, and regularly promoting the progression of the story; and the narrative in the end, though it tells but what is known already, yet is necessary to produce the death of Otbello.
Had the scene opened in Cyprus, and the preceding incidents been occasionally related, there had been little wanting to a drama of the most exact and scrupulous regularity.
TO solicit a subscription for a catalogue os books exposed to fale, Is an attempt for which some apology cannot but be necessary; for sew would willingly contribute to the expence of volumes, by which neither instruction nor entertainment could be afforded, from which only the bookseller could expect advantage, and of which the only use must cease, at the dispersion of the library.
Nor could the reasonableness of an univerfal rejection of our propoffal be denied, is this catalogue were to be compiled with no other view, than that of promoting the fale of the books which it enumerates, and drawn up with that inaccuracy and confusion which may be found in those that are daily published.
But our design, like our propoffal, is uncommon, and to be profecuted at a very uncommon expence; it being intended, that the books shall be distributed into their distinct classes, and every class ranged with some regard to the age of the writers; that every book shall be accurately described; that the
Vol. IX. Z pecupeculiarities of editions shall be remarked, and ofaservations from the authors of literary history occasionally interspersed; that, by this catalogue, 'we may insorm posterity of the excellence and value of this great collection, and promote the knowledge of scarce books, and elegant editions. For tikis purpofe men of letters are engaged, who cannot even be supplied with amanuenses, but at an expence above that of a common catalogue.
To shew that this collection deserves a particular degree of regard from the learned and the studious, that it excels any library that was ever yet offered to publick fale in the value as well as number of the volumes which it contains; and that therefore this catalogue will not be of less use to men of letters, than thofe of the Tbuanian, Heinfian, or Barberimsm libraries, it may not be improper to exhibit a general account of the different classes, as they arc naturally divided by the several sciences.
By this method we can indeed exhibit only a general idea, at once magnificent and consused; an idea of the writings of many nations, collected from distant parts of the world, discovered sometimes by chance, and sometimes by curiosity, amidst the rubbish of forfaken monasteries, and the repositories of ancient families, and brought hither from every part, as to the univerfal receptacle of learning.
It will be no unplcasing effect of this account, if those, that Ihall happen to peruse it, should be inclined by it to reflect on the character of the late proprietors, and to pay some tribute of veneration to their ardour for literature, to that generous and exalted curiosity which they gratified with incessant