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defcrib'd with fimplicity, paffive fanctity, want of courage, weakness of mind, and eafie fubmiffion to the governance of an imperious Wife, or prevailing Faction: Tho' at the fame time the Poet does juftice to his good qualities, and moves the pity of his audience for him, by fhewing him pious, difinterested, a contemner of the things of this world, and wholly refign'd to the fevereft difpenfations of God's providence. There is a fhort Scene in the fecond part of Henry VI. which I cannot but think admirable in its kind. Cardinal Beaufort, who had murder'd the Duke of Gloucefter, is fhewn in the laft agonies on his death-bed, with the good King praying over him. There is fo 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 VIII. that Prince is drawn with that greatness of mind, and all thofe good qualities which are attributed to him in any account of his reign. If his faults are not fhewn in an equal degree, and the fhades in this picture do not bear a juft proportion to the lights, it is not that the Artist wanted either colours or skill in the difpofition of 'em; 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 Miftrefs, to have expos'd fome certain parts of her father's life upon the ftage. He has dealt much more freely with the Minifter of that great King, and certainly nothing was ever more juftly written, than the character of Cardinal Wolfey. He has fhewn him infolent in his profperity; and yet, by a wonderful addrefs, he makes his fall and ruin the fubject of general compaffion. The whole man, with his vices and virtues, is finely and exactly defcrib'd in the second scene of the fourth act. The diftreffes likewife of Queen Catharine, in this Play, are very movingly touch'd; and tho' the art of the Poet has fcreen'd King Henry from any grofs imputation of injuftice, yet one is inclin'd to with, the Queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the Manners, proper to the perfons reprefented, lefs juftly obferv'd, in thofe characters taken from the Roman Hiftory; and of VOL. I.



this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and difdain of the common people, the virtue and philofophical temper of Brutus, and the irregular greatness of mind in M. Antony, are beautiful proofs. For the two laft especially, you find 'em exactly as they are defcrib'd by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakespear copy'd 'em. He has indeed follow'd his original pretty clofe, and taken in feveral little incidents that might have been fpar'd in a Play. But, as I hinted 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 fingle great action, and form his work fimply upon that. However, there are fome of his pieces, where the Fable is founded upon one action only. Such are more efpecially, Romes and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello. The defign in Romeo and Juliet, is plainly the punishment of their two families, for the unreasonable feuds and animofities that had been fo long kept up between 'em, and occafion'd the effufion of fo much blood. In the management of this story, he has fhewn fomething wonderfully tender and paffionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the diftrefs. Hamlet is founded on much the fame Tale with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of 'em a young Prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father, their mothers are equally guilty, are both concern'd in the murder of their husbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is in the firft part of the Greek Tragedy, fomething very moving in the grief of Electra ; but as Mr. D' Acier has obferv'd, there is something very unnatural and fhocking in the Manners he has given that Princefs and Oreftes in the latter part. Oreftes embrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is perform'd, tho' not immediately upon the ftage, yet fo near, that the audience hear Clytemneftra crying out to gyfibus for help, and to her fon for mercy: While Electra, her daughter, and a Princess (both of them characters that ought to have appear'd with more decency) ftands upon the stage and encourages her brother in the Parricide. What horror does this not raife! Clytemneftra was a wicked woman, and had deferv'd to

die; nay, in the truth of the ftory, fhe was kill'd by her own fon; but to represent an action of this kind on the ftage, is certainly an offence against those rules of manners proper to the perfons, that ought to be observ'd there. On the contrary, let us only look a little on the conduct of Shakespear. Hamlet is reprefented with the fame piety towards his father, and resolution to revenge his death, as Oreftes; he has the fame abhorrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke him the more, is heighten'd by inceft: But 'tis with wonderful art and justnefs 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 Ghoft forbid that part of his vengeance.

But bowfoever thou purfu'ft this Act,

Taint not thy mind, nor let thy foul contrive
Against thy mother ought; leave her to heav'n,
And to thofe thorns that in ber bofom lodge,
To prick and fting ber.

This is to diftinguifh rightly between Horror and Terror. The latter is a proper paffion of Tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided. And certainly no dramatick Writer ever fucceeded better in faifing Terror in the minds of an audience than Shakespear has done. The whole Tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the scene where the King is murder'd, in the second act, as well as this Play, is a noble proof of that manly fpirit with which he writ; and both fhew 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 feen this Mafter-piece of ShakeSpear diftinguish itself upon the ftage, 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 esteem of all men of letters, by this only excellency. No man is better acquainted with Shakespear's manner of expreffion, and indeed he has ftudy'd him fo well, and is fo much a mafter


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 conceiv'd it as he plays it. I muft own a particular obligation to him, for the most confiderable part of the paffages relating to this life, which I have here tranfmitted to the publick; his veneration for the memory of Shakespear 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 fo great a veneration.


The following Inftrument was tranfmitted to us by John Anftis, Efq; Garter King at Arms: It is mark'd, G. 13. p. 349.

[There is also a Manufcript in the Hexald's Office, marked, W. 2. p. 276; where notice is taken of this Coat, and that the Perfon to whom it was granted, had born Magifiracy at Stratford upon Avon.]


O all and fingular Noble and Gentlemen of all Eftates 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, Eaft, and Weft Parts of this Realm, send Greetings. Know ye, that in all Nations and Kingdoms the Record and Remembrance of the valiant Facts and virtuous Difpofitions of worthy Men have been made known and divulged by certain Shields of Arms and Tokens of Chivalrie; the Grant or Teftimony whereof apperteineth unto us, by virtue of our offices from the Queen's moft Excellent Majesty, and her Highness's most noble and victorious Progenitors: Wherefore being follicited, and by credible Report informed, that John Shakefpere, now of Stratford upon Avon in the County of Warwick, Gentleman, whofe Great Grandfather for his faithful and approved Service to the late moft prudent Prince, King Henry VII. of famous Memory, was advanced and rewarded with Lands and Tenements, given to him in those Parts of Warwickshire, where they have continued by fome 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 faid County, and also produced this his ancient Coat of Arms, heretofore affigned to him whilst he was her Majesty's Officer and Bailiff of that Town. In confideration of the Premifes, and for the Encouragement of his Pofterity,

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