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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, feems to me to be one of the most finished of any of Shakfpere's. The tale, indeed, in that part relating to the cafkets, and the extravagant and unufual 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 fomething in the friendship of Antonio to Baffanio very great, generous, and tender. The whole fourth act (fuppofing, as I faid, the fact to be probable) is extremely fine. But there are two paffages that deferve a particular notice. The firft is, what Portia fays in praise of mercy, and the other on the power of mufick. The melancholy of Jaques, in As you like it, is as fingular and odd as it is diverting. And if, what Horace fays,
Difficile eft proprie communia dicere,
it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him in the defcription of the feveral 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:
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the juftice,
In fair round belly, with good capon lin❜d,
As you like it, act 2, fc. z.
His images are indeed every where fo lively, that the thing he would reprefent ftands full before you, and you poffefs 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 faw. It is an image of Patience. Speaking of a maid in love, he fays,
-She never told her love;
But let concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
What an image is here given! and what a task would it have been for the greatest masters of Greece and Rome to have expreffed the paffions defigned by this sketch of ftatuary! The ftyle of his comedy is, in general, natural to the characters, and eafy in itself; and the wit most commonly fprightly and pleafing, except in those places where he runs into doggrel rhymes, as in The Comedy of Errors, and fome other plays. As for his gingling fometimes, and playing upon words, it was the
common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find it in the pulpit, made ufe of as an ornament to the fermons of fome of the graveft divines of thofe 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 thefe, The Tempeft, however it comes to be placed the firft by the publishers of his works, can never have been the firft written by him: it feems to me as perfect in its kind, as almost any thing we have of his. One may obferve, that the unities are kept here, with an exactness uncommon to the liberties of his writing; though that was what, I fuppofe, he valued himself leaft upon, fince his excellencies were all of another kind. I am very fenfible that he does, in this play, depart too much from that likeness to truth which ought to be obferved in these fort of writings; yet he does it fo very finely, that one is eafily 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, fhews a wonderful invention in the author, who could ftrike out fuch a particular wild image, and is certainly one of the finest and most uncom-. mon grotefques that was ever seen. The obfervation which I have been informed three very great men* concurred in making upon this part, was extremely juft; That Shakfpere had not only found out a new charafter in his Caliban, but had alfo devifed and adapted a new manner of language for that character.
* Lord Faulkland, lord C. J.Vaughan, and Mr. Selden..
It is the fame magick that raises the Fairies in Midfummer-Night's Dream, the Witches in Macbeth, and the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and language fo proper to the parts they fuftain, and so peculiar to the talent of this writer. But of the two Ïaft of these plays I fhall have occafion to take notice among the tragedies of Mr. Shakfpere. 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 task 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, fo it would be hard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to confider him as a man that lived in a state of almost universal licenfe 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 confiders, that there is not one play, before him, of a reputation good enough to entitle it to an appearance on the prefent ftage, it cannot but be a matter of great wonder that he fhould advance dramatick poetry fo far as he did.. The fable is what is generally placed the first among thofe 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 firft properly to be thought of in the contrivance and courfe of the whole; and with the fable ought to be confidered the fit disposition, order, and conduct of its feveral parts. As it is not in this province of the drama that the ftrength and maftery of Shakfpere lay, fo I fhall not undertake the tedious and ill-natured trouble to point out the feveral faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were feldom invented, but rather taken either from true history, or novels and romances: and he commonly made use of them in