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_ ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 


XH 70-9 Htis 


bv Google 

. * E S S AY 

O N T IJk 


O F 



GREEK AND FRENCH Dramatic Poets. 



Upon tlie IAskbfkbskktatiOks of 

Monf deVOLTAIRt. 


Printed for J. Dodsley, Pall-mall ; MefT Baker and 

piioAy Yoik-ftrect, Covent-guden } J. Walter, 

Charing-crofs ; T. CAoeit., in the Strand; ind 

j.WiLKis, N^. St. Pauf* Church-ysird, 






Page I. 

Oft Dramatic Poetry. 

P. 2^ 

On lie Hiftorical Dnma. 

P. jj. 

nrFir/l Part of Henry IV. 

P. g,. 

tie Stcmi Part of Heniy IV. 

P. III. 

On tit Praternatural Beings. 

P. .33. 

Tie 7ragiJy of Macbeth. 

P. .73. 

Vfm the Cinaa of Corncille. 

P. 207. 

Vpm tbt Deati rf Julius Cafir. 

P. 2«. 


Ps^zj. to 51. iMtOndieDnint. 

P. 17. L. 17. ArOdjrfTf.r/iiiOdyflejr. 

P. 39. L. 18. /«rPhorbiis, rm/Phorbis. 

P. 73. L. 19. Ar LiUitcanians, rMiLufitaoiuu. 

p. tai. L. II. On valiant, iriiNEr or. 

F. 157. L. r4. nrProiDothais,rM/Promedwiu. 


M .1 .■.:.:.-3 

.A ■-' 


1 1 ] 



MR. Pope, in the-preface t6 hjs edition 
of Shakefpear, fets out by declaring* 
that» of all Engliih poets, tbis tntgedtan 
ofiers .the fulleil and faireft fubje^ for 
criticiim. ' Animated by an opinion of 
fiidi authority, feme of the moH learned 
and . ingenious of our critics have made 
corredt editions of his works, »id enriched 
them with notes. The fuporiority of 
talents and learning, which I acknowledge 
in the& editors, leaves me no room to 
entertain the vau2 prefiimption of attempt-* 
ing to correct any pa&ges of this ccle- 
brated autbor j bat the whole, as cor- 
retted and eiocidated by them, lies o^n to 
a thorough enquiry into the genius of our 
great Engliih ciaflk. Unprgiidiced and 
candid judgment will be the fiireft baSs of 
~A his 



his fame. He Is now in danger of incurring 
the fate of the heroes of the fabulous ages, 
en whom the vanify of their country, and 
the fuperftition of the times, bellowed an 
apotheofisibunded on pretenlions to achiove- 
ments beyond human capacity, by which 
they loA in a more fceptical and critical age, 
^ glory &at was due to them for what 
they had^ro^ally done; 9nd all the veneration 
^y bad obtained, fras afcribed to ignorant 
credi^ty, &nd national prepoflcffioa.-*-Ou» 
Shake^tu*.' whofe nery &ult6 pals here- un^ 
queftiop^, or are- perhaps . cottfeccatcd^enthuiia&n. of his admirers, and 
the v«»eratiot) paid <tQ long-eftaUiAud £uiiei 
^ a^t¥at wit, a great critic, and a great 
poet pf a neighbouring nation, treated -as 
the writer of. monflroos farj»s, called by him 
tragedies; and barbarifin and ignocancc art 
attributed to the nation by which he Is 9^* 
mired^ : Yet if wit£,.. poets,: critics, could 
ever becluLrg^widi'prefumptkon»one mighr 
^y there was fome degree of it in pronounc-^ 
ing, that, ip a country where Sophodes uid 
Euripides are as well uodetAood as in any 
2 in 


I N T R Q D U C T TON. > 

in £Dn:^,-th« -pttfitdioos of dnonatic poetry 
ihould be as little compr^endfd a» amaag 
the Ciuoei«, 

; ' ' ■ 1 

Xcanung hei« is not confined to ctoeli^ 
aftics, or a few letteripd &gss dtid ioaiiitinla j 
every Englifli gentleman has an education, 
vrbich. givffs him aa early aci]ttaiiitinc»with 
the writ^gs of tlie. aaoeats. His loiow- 
led^ o£ ppUto litcratupe does not b«gm wkh 
that period wluch Mr/ de Vcdtaira catls Le 
Siecle de Louis quatorze. Before he is ad- 
mitted as a Ipe^atcu- tft the dieaire at Lon- 
don» icis probable he hite heu-d die tra^d 
omfii as ftit't^fokc at Athens, and as fbe nov» 
^aaks at Paris, pr in Italy j and he can 
di&em between the natural language in 
which fhe addreiTed (he human heart, suid 
the artificial dialea: which fbe has acquired 
from the prejudices of a particular nation* 
Cff the jargon caught frotn the towt of i 
courr. To pleafe upon die French ftage^ 
cvciy perfon of every age and hatioa was 
mode to adopt ebeir nitanaeirs; 

A 2 The 



The heroes of antiquity were not more 
^gui&d in the romances of Calprenede and 
Scuderi than in the tragedies of Corneille. 
In fpite of the admonition given by that 
a4niirable: critic Boileau ' to their dramatic 
ivriters in the following lines : 

! ' ^anla done de donner, ainfi que dam CI£l[e, 
. L'atr ni I'dprit Francois i I'antique Italic ; 
Et fous de« oonu Romains iaiffimt notre portraiti 
Pctifdre Catoa galam, & Brutus damorrt. 

- The Horatii/are reprefented no Icfs obfe- 
quious ih their addrefs to their king than the 
courtiers of the grand monarque. Thcfcus 
18 mad^ a mere flghing Twain. Many of the 
greateft men of antiquity, and even the 
rougheft heroes among the Goths and Van- 
dals, wwe exhibited in this effeminate form. 
The poet dignified the piece, perhaps with 
the name of an Hercules, but, alas ! it was 
always. Hercules spinning that was flie^n to 
the ipcdator. The editor of CorneilIe'« 
works, in terms £o gro& as are hardly par-; 



donable in fucHa maft«' of fine railldry, fre- 
quently attacks our Shakefpear for the want 
of delicacy aiid politenejfs in his {ueess : it- 
mall lie owned, that iti ibme pkdes Aey 
bear the marks of the unpolilhed times in- 
which he wrote> bttt one cannotforbear finil- 
ing to hear a critic,^ whoprofefies hirnfelf an 
admirer of the tragedies of Corneillet objeA 
to the barbarifin of ^akelpcar'fe. There 
never was a more barbarous mode of writing 
than that of the French romances in. the kfl: 
age, nor which from its ledioufheis, languor, 
and want of truth of charaifter is leis fit to 
be copied on the ftage :' and wh'a^ are n^H 
tibe parts of Corneille's ' boafted tra^dies,; 
but the romantic dialogue, its tedious ..ipli-: 
loquy, and its extravagant ientiments in tho: 
true Gothic livery of rhyme ? , 

The French poets aflUrae a fiipw-iority*' ^ 
over Shake^iear, on account -of their more 
conllant adherence to Ariftotle's unities of 
time and place. ' 

The pedant who bought at a great price 
A3 the 

L ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 


lapTp fif; a fuistiiiu phUoTopber; pxptAvag 
th^ by It» tUBftofice his lucubnttioiK ffoald 
^cf^se ;^^ly cej^bratedf tvas litUe mofe 
abC^fd thdJi tbo& poets who ft)f^o£f t]ieir 
dnume wiHbeexc^eBt if they've J'^latcd 
hy AriftdUe's clock. To bring, within « 
]jlmlte4- tiAie imd an. iffigned fpace Cettain 
ftries of conver^itma (dnd Freobh pl^yj afo 
little mor^) is tio difficult natter j f<x ^lat 
i« th« e^teft' part of ^y^ry art perh^, but 
in ^try ivithout 4ifpi»t€, in wlifeb ihfi coa^ 
noi^evr. cia dke&. the artift. 

I do Kot believe the critic imagined thit a 
nWfe oJ:>$di^nce to bT^ 1iw«^ of dr&nui would 
make a good tragedy, tho' it might prevdnt 
d p6«t fndre bold Iban judiciodi, froia writ- 
ing a very abfurd one- A painter can define 
the juft proportion of the human body, and 
iht aftaCothift knows what mufcles conAitnte 
^ Arength of the iimbs j but ; grace of 
^tPtiont and faterticHi pf flrongth, depend 
on the mind, which animates thk ftxm* 
The critic but fafliions the body of a work j 
^ pout mjift add th« j&uJ^ which gives 


• I N.TH.O DUG T I O.N. f 

istce and diredion to its aflions uid gef* 
tnxe& : when bne of thelecritics has atteoopt^ 
to iiniih a work by bis own rules, he has 
ittcdy beenal^ to convey into it ode ipark. 
of divine fire ; and the hero c^ his piece^ 
whom bs de%ned for 2 man> rennains a 
cold .inaniinate ftatue ; which* monng oh 
the wood find wire of die great makers in 
the mechanical pari of the drama, - prelentt 
to the lpe£tators a kind <>f heroic puppet-* 
&ew. As thefe pie(;es take their rife m tha 
ichodl of criticiiin, they return thidier bgun» 
and are as good fubjetSts for the fti>dents iit 
that atit as a dead body to the proie^rK id 
phyfic/ Moft minutely too have they been 
anatotnil^'in learned academies : but works 
aniftaattd: by genius will not abide this kind 
of di^cdion. 

Mr. Pope fays, that, to form a ju(^ment 
of Shakeipear's works, we are not- to apply 
to the rules of Ariftotle, which . woaU be 
like tlyiftg a man by the laws of one coun- 
try, mho lived under tbofe of andtho-;-^ — . 
Heaven-bom genius afts from fomethtng 
A 4 fupcrior 

_ ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 

» INTRO D U C Tl O.N; 
&perior to rules, aod antec^cnt to rules ; 
and has a right of appeal to nature herfelf. 

: Great indulgence is due to the eitors of 

original writers, who, quitting the beatea 
track which others have travelled, make dar- 
ing incurfions into unexplored regions 'of in- 
vention, and boldly ftrike into thepathleis 
fublimc : it is no wonder if' they arc often 
bewildered, fometimes benighted j yet fu'rely 
at is.mcire eligible to partake the' - pleaforc 
and the toil of their adventures, than ftill 
to follow the cautious fteps of timid imita'- 
tors through trite and common roads^ Ge-* 
nius is of a bold eftterpfizilg nature, ill 
adapted to the formal reftraints of critic 
jnftitutions, 6r indeed to lay do^n to itfelf 
rules of nice difcretion. If .perfeft. and 
faultlefs compofition Is ever to be expected 
from human faculties, it muH be 'at fome 
happy period when a noble and graceful 
fimplieity, the .reljilt of welj r§gftl^tod"and 
Ibber magnanimity, reigns throi^h (he gene- 
ral manners. Then the mufes and the :^t$t 
fieither effeminately delicMe nor audftcioufly 
.'- ■- bold, " 

3,a,l, Google 


Md, -dliune their . high«ft charadsr^ and 
in all their compofitions feem tore^ieAdie 
chaftity of the public tafte, which would 
equally' diidain quaintneis of ornament, ' or 
the rude n^led: of elegance and decorum^ 
Such periods had Greece, had Rome ! Then 
were produced immortal works of every 
kind ! But, when the living manners dege- 
iKrafecd, in vain did an AriAotle and a Qgin* 
tiliah endeavour to reftore by dodbine what 
. had been inlpired t^ ientiments> and falhi- 
oncd by manners. 

'. If die ieverer moJies, whofe Cfhae is the 
library and the lenate, are obliged in icom- 
plaifaoce to this degeneracy, to trick them- 
&lves out with meretricious and fiivpknn 
ornaments, as is tobapparoit from, the com- 
pofitions of the hiftorians and orators in de- 
clining empires* can we wonder tluit a dra- 
matic poet, whofe chief iftitereft it is to 
pleafe the people, fliould, more dian any 
other writer, conform himfdf to their hu- 
mour i and appev moil ftrohgly in&ded 
wtb the iaolts of the times, whether they 


Doiizc^bv Google 

R, I.K T XOTfVC Tl ¥t.: 

be^iich.4nbtdoilg tp'unipcdiilxd^ or .6^4 

Sdlflkafpear vrrou aCa time wbctl Ivifaiiiig 
nvtuttuofiufcstlwiidipmiibtryj irit vras- nd-* 
poU^dd^ and inif^b: iU-brtMJU The coujt of 
Eiieab^ jjtokv a inendfic .jtvg6Di and « 
ceitdiii -4>bfccaity ' ' eif .£tf\a was . uitlvii^y 
«£bdid.: Jamei bfcoc^ht aD luldititMk i^ 
|wdAnwy,'~^iecainpaniiii^y'.indo(natrand ih' 
ddlieite.maiifm-&iand: ^digm^i i Bj doiita* 
gion, or from complaifanco: to thevtiAk' of 
the public, Shakefpear falls fomctimes into 
th« "fediMM^blb lamle: df writing ii Uct ibis 
i$.aiiyii>p'.^JiLi. &jr. Qidny parts . <if aUf hil 
fds^'a^e 'irritten wtth^^ nkoftaofadc elef 
gaait^/wkdinncaiTuptcd &iiplBGity^;.;£ucb ik 
las merit^nthat die ji^qre'^tdl and .fsfinsd tin 
tafio bf-diemation faasib6»bine, dse unite fap 
hsi elic^tafed iir npntatipn/ r:Mj3:.:.Wfls 
^proftdT-by iw Crwicagc^ admjtsdr; by! the 
i^mxt, aildis revei^edfi'ihdalmoft adored by 
^tbd inftnCJ His iiierit isdifpaMft by^iiftlc 
V^^r smd' his eirrors arc the jbfls of httie 
'critic^if' init there faij'.not "bceii 3 great 

Doiizc^bv Google 


fott, 0^ gre»t cHtlcj &w» his tiinc,i«facf 
hat not fpoken of him with t)tfe hS^finft 
veneratibii* Mr. Voltwrc ciccf)ted..- 'Hit 
trafaflatioiM c^n, lus criticiiiint Aiil oltdMr^ 
prove he did n6t p^ofefHy. undecftand tbs 
words 6f the author j and thenifbre rit:!Mi 
i^cftain he could not catcx into his memin^i 
He comprehended enotigh to percerre htt 
wis uiiobftrvant of finne eftahliihcd rula of 
compofitidn t the felicity frith wlrich hi per*' 
Somit wfaa£ no ntfofc can teach dfbapes hiM^ 
Will ndt lan intelligent fpedator' adnurt 
tbfi prodigious ftra&nres of Stono-Hengt^ 
hecalife:hd does not kncrn^ by what law 
•f medianibs they were railed i Like tlieMy 
our author's works will remain fbf ewr:die 
greateft mommiaits of the aonzi&g ftnce vt 
natuiie, which «re obght to view is vm da 
other prodigies> wldi an attfintioa to» asU 
admdratiaci of their ihipendouspartSi and 
proud inegulari^ of grcatnds. 

. It has been alresdy dedaeed thit iSfeaksn 

^9car is not to be tikd by uiy codb of catas 

laws i 

3,a,l, Google 

la INTRO DUCT 10 R ' 

hues; nor'is it more equitaUe to Judge hitn 
entirely by the practice- of ' aniy particular 
theatre..' Yet fome criterion muft be efta- 
blilbed by which we may determihe hifr 
merits. Firft; we Jiuift; t^e ihtoxonficie-: 
ntkin,.iKhat ;is' prc^led to be <ione by 
the means of dramatic imitation.' &vtt^ 
Ipecies c£ poetry has its diftln^ offices. 
Thatffe&ing certain moral purpofes, by the 
reprefentatioa of a fable^ feems to have been- 
theuniverial intention, from the firft inftitu- 
ticui of the dran^a to this tinie j and to have 
prevailed, .not only in Europe, but irt all 
countries where.the. dramatic !art has been 
atteinf>ted. It has indeed been the cOmmofv 
urn of all poetry to; pleafe and ii^lra£t'» ■ but 
l^ roeuis as various' as the kinds of cbiapo-; 
fition* We are pleafed with, the odp, the 
elegy, the cdogue-j. mot only for- hawing' 
invention, ipirit, elegance, ',j&hd fiich per- 
fe6ions as are necefiary. to recommend any 
fort of poetry, but we alio require that 
each fliould -have its -^ecific 'merit j tbeoae, 
ihxt which conftitutifs.the perfbftion'of an 

_ ,i,z<..t,CoogIf 


ode, &c.. In thefe views, then> our aiidior 
is to be examined. 1 Firft,. if his fables 
anfwer the nobleft cod 'of faMe,- moral irr- 
ftru^oh ;. next,- whether his dramatic 
imitation has. its proper dramatic exceN 
lence. In the latter of. thcfe artides, per- 
haps, there is not any thing will more affiA 
our judgment than- a. candid comparifon 
(where^the nature of the'fubjeds well bear 
tt) between his and ibme other celebrated 
dramatic compofitions. It is idle to refer 
to a vague, unrealized idea of perfeition ; 
we may iafcly pronounce that to be well 
executed, in any art, which after the rei 
peated efforts of great geniules is equal to 
any thingthat has' been produced. We may 
iecurely applaud what the ancients have 
crowned ; therein; fhould not withhold oiu* 
appcpbation wherever we find our country- 
man has equalled the.moft admired paflages 
in the Greek tragedians : but we fhall. not da 
juftice to his native talents, when they are 
the objcft of confidcrajion, .if we do not 
temembcr the different ciicun^ances under 
i which 



wUsh tfac& writers were corapalcd. Shaken 
^»a^5 plays were to be a£ted in a paltrf 
tavctB, to an onlettered audience, juft 
emerging from borliarity : the Greek trage^ 
dies were to be 'eathibitcd at the ptiblio 
cbarg^ under die care and aulpices of d» 
nug^flratcfi at Athens; idiere the very popu« 
lacfi voe critics in wit, and connoiiTettrs 
In puUk (peftacles. Hie period when 
Sof&dcles and Euripides wrote, was that 
in which diff fine arts, and polite liters* 
ture, werp in a degree c^ per&dioa 
which fttccceding ages hfvo enuilatad ia 

it happened in the literary as in ibm 
moral world ; a few £^es, from the vencndoii 
which the^ had obtained by extraordinasy 
wiitloaa and a £aultle^ condud, roie to the 
anthoci^ of' legislators. The pradice and 
maimer of the three ccldmted Greek trage« 
dians wers by Tucceeding aitics eftablifhcd 
as dramatic laws : happily for Sfaafce^>car^ 
Mr. Johnfbo, whofe genius and learning 


TKt tt O D U O T I OH. J5 

Deader him iiipenor to a. fervUe, am of 
pedantic utftitxttions. in' his.. uigeMDus 
prc&ce to his edition <^ Shakelpear.- km 
greatly obviated all that can be objet^ed to 
em autiiof's ■ a^^bcd of .the upicm nX tune 
«nd place.! . '.'.... i 

. Shakeipear*! felicity has facea. rend(w4 
gomf\93it in this age. His genius jnjod«et4 
Woiks. that time could not deftroy ::hiit.ibinf 
ef . the Ughtcr charaAcrs wcra heeoqM iltet- 
gUile ( thdb h^vc been reftored by critkt 
vAio^ learning and penetration traced htck 
thA'veAiges of fupcrannu^Ced opinjom ^4 
cuftools. They are nawno longer In d^i^ 
of being effiuad, and the teftimonifus of tb^ 
kiymed: oona^neoCativs t» hit. aKit« VriU 
guud oar: auchor'a .gfeat monument of 
hnnun wit from the prefiunptuou* iovar 
ftens of oiir rafli critics, and the.iqtiMJIf)! i)f 
onr witlingi t So that the bays will .flftt^-iih 
unwidiisred and inviobte round bis fiso^b ] 
bmI his. very ^iru Jcejns to coow f^r^ m4 
to aninuto his charafters, as o&en .as- J^t^ 



'.Garrick, who afls with the fimc infphatioa 
widi which he wrote, afllunes them on the 
ftage. : : 

' Afto- our poet had received iiicb import 
tant fervices from the united effi)rt$. of talents 
and learning in his behalf, fbme apology 
feemG neceHary for this work. Let it be 
remembered that the moil fuperfa and lafting 
monument that ever was con&crated to 
beauty, was diat to which every lover car- 
ried a tribute. I dare hope to do him 
honour only by augmenting die heap of 
volumes given by his admirers to his me- 
mory ; I will own I was incited to this 
undertaking by -great admiration of his 
genius, and ilill greater indignation at die 
treatment he had received from a French 
wit, who &ems to think he has made 
prodigious conceflions to our prejudices in 
£ivour of die works of our countryman in 
allowing them the credit of a few iplpndid 
paflages, while he fpeaks of every entire 
piece as a monllrous and iU-cooftrufted 
- . . farce. 

Doiizc^bv Google 

&te,'i-iRidiculoufljr has our poet, and ridt^ 
hiloofly has our tafte been rcpreftnted, by a 
Writer of univerfal feme ; and throii^h the 
medium of an almbft-' univerfal language; 
Superficial criticfifmK hit' the level of fallow' 
minds* to whom a bon mot will ever appestf 
reafon, and an epigrammatic turn argu- 
ment ; fo that mdny of oiir countrymen have 
haftily adopted this lively, writw^s opinioii 
of the extravagance and total want of defign 
in Shakeipear's dramas. With rfic more 
learned,- deep, and £bber critics he He? under 
one confiderafole di&dvahtage. For cof^ingf 
nature as he found it' in the buiy walks of 
fifioian lift, he drew from an original^ widt 
which tlfe literati art fdldom well ac- 
qwunted. They perceive his portraits are 
not of tlA} Grecian or nS . the Roman fchool : 
after finding them Unlike to the celebrated 
forms preferred in learoed muieums they do 
not deign to etiqaire*whether &ey refihnble 
the living perfons thi^ were intntded to re- 
prefent. Among thele connoifieurs, . wh6& 
acgtiuntance with the characters of men 1$ 
JB formed 

Doiizc^bv Google 


&n^{lia the library, nof in the ftrctt, nSm 
ca^p* (u* vijila^, vh^evcr is tu&pcdiflied 
and QDCovt^ p^es S&r £intaftic aod 
aldiird, though* tn hSt* it is a ^ilfafid 
Kpr^p9tfltioa of a reaHy exUViog cha- 

Biit it mnft be acknowledged, that, when 
tins ol^eftion is obviated there will yec 
reman another caiUe of cenfure ; for tkougli 
our authiM', from want of delicacy or from 
a defire to pleafe the populv ta^e, thought 
he had done well when he faithfu^ copied 
nature, or repr^^ted ciiftoms, it wiU ap- 
pear to politer times the err^ of an untU' 
tored mind ; which die example (^JocKciou^ 
^Btifts, and the admcuiUions of delicate 
connoifleurs had not taught, diat onl^ 
graceful nature and decent cuftc^s give 
proper fiibjeds for inutatioA. ' It may be &id 
m mkigation of hk fault that tKe vulg» 
here had not, afi at Athens, beea uied to 

•■ - Gwgeous 

Doiizc^bv Google 


<SQrteott$ ttt/grif 
la BotpOf'd -pad com* ftimfiai b]f, 
P^cncing Thtibcs «t ftalopa' Um, 
Or dft tal« 9t Trfjr (UvitK. 

{Iom«^$ works ilane srate fufficHeat td 
teach the Gfcefe poets hax to write, anii 
their audience faow to jud^« Hiefongs&ng 
liy ow bards ^t ieaAt and ftuny-moklngB 
were of a vtty. co»r& kind ^ as llhe peopte 
were totally lllltecxfie^ and only this bettet 
Sort couhl tead e«e|i iheii' mother tongtie* 
Iheir taAc anas ibrma^ oq thefe cocnpexfitions^ 
As yet onr ftagc 3iad .radsbitri only thoTe 
^pil^ aUegofies hy vi&M rude OfdettereA 
incffalijds infinite and piet^ the grols and 
ignorant nmltitude. Nodaing can more 
plainfy evince tfaeopiaign the pxts d thofe 
times hod of the ignortoiae of the p^ipte* 
than dK OQodBfcentioii ffa^vta to it 1^ the 
learned Eari of D«tiet ^ hit tragcify of 
Goriiodibc } in whidi ihg moral of eaeh a^ 
is rsfteCttmd on the ftage in dumb ikev^ 
ttieftiuage that Mr. dc Vdtaiiie who a^^ 
B 3 an 


30 r N T R o D u c r r o k. 

an impartial and philofophic ipirit, ihouf J 
not rather fpeak with admiration than con- 
tempt of an author, who by rfie force of 
genius rofe Co much above the age and 
circumftances in which he was born, and 
l»ho, even when he deviates moft frbm 
f ules, can ri/i to faults true critics dare mt 
iPiend.' In.delineatmg charaders he muft be 
lallowed far to . iiirpafs all dramatic writers, 
:and even Homer himfdf ; ke gives an air of 
reality to:every thing, and, in ipite of many 
^nd great faults, efFefts, better tiian any onc 
bas done, the chief pui^fes of the dieatrical 
reprefeotation. It avaHs little to prove that 
the means by whHi he efiefts ihim are 
not thofe pre&ribed in any art of poetry. 
While- wc feel the power and energy of his 
fpredominant genius, ihall we not' be apt to 
*reat'the cold formal precepts of the critic, 
with the ikme peevifli contempt tlrat. the 
good lady:in theGuardkn, imarting;in tfae 
.anguifh of a bum, does her fon's pedantic 
. intrufion of Mr. Lock's doctrine, to prove 
.that there is no boat m fire. Natufle and 



&ntJment will, pronounce our Shakelpear a 
mighty geniusj judgment and tafle will con- 
fefs that 2» a writer he is far from being 

B 3 ON 

^oiizccb, Google 

b, Google 





.YJi'c;!- -i Dry.T:A 

^oiizccb, Google 


P R A M At 



To form a true judgment of the merit 
of any dramatic compofition, we 
(hould firil coniider the offices and, ends c^ 
the drama; what are its.pretenfions, and for 
what purpoies It aiTiunes a manner. fo dif- 
ferent from any other kind of poetical inu-^ 
tatipo* The epic poem and the tragedy, 
fyjs Ariftode> afe purely imitations * ; but 
the dran^atic is an invitation of the anions! 
of men, by the means of a£Uoa it&lf, The- 
epic is alio an unitati(»i of the anions of 
men* but it imitatea by narration. The 
moil perfe^f and the beil imitation, is cer- 
tainly that which gives the ttioH adetjuate, 

• Aiift. Po^, C. If Chap. 3. 



j6 On tht B ». n. w a : or, 

lively, and faithful copy of the thing imi- 
tated. Homer was fo jenfil^e of the fuperior 
force and efiicacy of the dramatic manner, 
that he often drops the.narrative to ^ume 
it; and'-Ariftotle%s, thaf for hiving indented 
die dramatic imitation, and not only on 
account of his ottier excellencies. He alone 
delerves the name of, poet*. It is apparent, 
thirefor^, how far this' great critic prefers 
this, to every other Ipedes of imitation. 

Thr gctiOat' obje&l^ ^try, anMig the 
sbcites, 'was' iHrIalf»ii<^t>(t Af^AMiiJte]; 
iir neKgioD; iin»al|,^ pMtbfe^^, e^: To' 
thete gteatparpofesunm tiMet thia tHrps of 
QrphilBSi. MiifeOSi^ H«^, C^SlilSai&iR,- 
®<r. Nor ill Giece* dbi« \»a9 pbetiy^ iKs 
teadher! asdittfe gii«ifiwji iStiiii&«S!^<^ 
kninim:6<ilei»^ ^W NbftiieJh btidpalfeih^ 
«d' the itotti iniy- oftctS r thi-' f«flo fiiSeff 
ohMoaei^. "Hiliy diftS^'tht iWDde* of-diviiii? 
iR)i«liip:i (kepi taugNt dSt-'nSbraPdiAKi; iff^' 
%iKsd: anft^ CiJ^aM h»6H^' i^i ;• itiri^ 
die fnids- ae vdiat;- sSi' tHe^ cKMnV df 

*Ch3p. f.' l^l^btfifctesCeUeifl.a.c. 9; 

liberty I 


On Dramatic FoeTry. 47 
ftcr^ > and fintdrtd SBom obBvion d» 
boU stkitfremrao, and tneritoi'ious a£b^ ^ 
^tnot^ and of heroes. Ito tho Eaft» tfatt-, 
foet wiled bis iavtmcbdv int ihjflenous ails- 
g(ftie9 aad divint mjtduddgy j smd raiheg 
Aidstvopred tb mifit the nnkid ta ho«renly 
«it)idteiDpIalfoii&,. than to itiftn^ It in limiam 

In Greece, Ae gsmotA- motfafer ef atti* 
afoie the mighty genius of Homer ; of whom 
It may hit £(id, a« it 13 of SocrateS' With 
rtlMidA ^o p\aiG&jft^, dut be faroogbt 
j^bet^ £fom hxAretif to Im in cities ameog 
aien. The dioiiiift of tlw £dihr of the Biid 
!s a^ptcA to thit poUtktd ftate of: OcBGce« 
wHoii vmeus chi^s arb ^iiereby exhoftal to 
MtiAiiittaty i ^ Odyt^ to tfiegnwod con- 
£^oa of human nattfrt ; but di&^Hfodic4 
|rart <^ his wopks h« has earielMit widi 
iaythology^ phyfieal dlegofyj fhi i^art^ 
tnd whatever adorned t&e n^d of lAatit QEp 
fiieft feekty ; eveft n^ of domeAk a3C0« 
lioDny, fecia} behaTJour> and all ^e= Iweet 
^riUtiesf of life, are ttiHgfat bj this great 


28 Ow /6f Dr AM A : er, , > 

mafter, of what may. be caUed, in themcdl 
enlarged ienfe, the:haiiiani(ies. . Yet J&rft in 
the rank of all the. eminent perfections of 
thiE unequalled tordv is jidaced the iriventioB 
of die dramatic imi^on, by a er^i whofe 
judgment was ^med by philofof^, and a 
deep knowIedge.of.!hunaan nature. He faw 
the powerful agency of living words, joined 
to moving things* when ftill narration yields 
t^.^ace to aainiated adien. -• i ' 

■ It is as a moral .philofopber,. nof -fls th4 
mere cbnaalfibuh ina' polite u-tK that Arif-. 
jtotie' ghws: the' preference* above a31 ;«thev 
inojdes.fof^^aetic. iabiitti^t to tragedy* as 
O^ebfetb) purge .Uui,pa^<^9, by .the means 
of . pity . "and temSr J> The objeft erf the 
epic^ poem is to in/|rire m^apMSfityj to 
giv* jjood docurtiqitfft: pf life J to i|idtice 
good habits §,>aBd>. as a ^holeTo^g regimen* 
to prefi^rve the whgle. fiioralixconomyln a 
certain fo^^iijtegrity. But it is pot 
co^npofisd of ipgredjents of fuch e^cacy as tq 
fubd^c- die violent diflempers of the roin4t 

.. .. nor 


Off Dramatic FoE-fnY. 29* 
nor can apply, its ait t6 the benefit of the 
^norant vulgar^ wk«r« thofe diftempers are 
in thw moft aaSpctaxcd ftate. An epic 
poem is too abAmfe: for the people-; the 
moral, is too much enveloped* the language 
too elevated for their apprehen&Hi i nor have 
they leifure, or application, to trace the 
coniequcnces of ill governed paffions, or erro' 
iieous principles, through the long feries 
of a voluminous work. . The ^ama is hap- 
pily conftituted for this purpofe. Events are 
brought- within the compafs of a £bort pe- 
riod : precepts are delivered in the familiar 
way of difcourfe : the fiftion is concealed, 
the diegory is realized : and reprefentation 
and aftion take the place of cold uoaifed- 
ing narration; A trage(fy is a fable exhibited 
t» the view, and rendered palpable to the 
{ttiies i and every decoradm of the ft^ i» 
contrived toimpo& thedduiion on the Ipec- 
utor, by OMi^iring with the imitation. It 
is addrelTed to the imagination, through 
which it opens to itfelf: a communication 
to the heart, where it is to excite certain 
pa^ns and:aiFei^ons reachLcharai^r being 


3<5 On tht Drama: i^* . 

pofonated, uid taxHk event- ^iJhUHted» tbd 
attention c^dieautUenoaUgreadycapchrated^ 
aad the im^nation fin £ir aids in the dclu« 
fioB, as to fympadike with the reftfeiellta'* 
tion. To the mvft of tragedy, tberefore, 
Mr. Pope has i^gnqd thenoMe taflcy 
To wake the foul by tenlorftrolces of artj • 
To nife the geaius, and to mend the heart. 
To sake mankind in eonfeiotu virtue bolf. 
Live o'er each feme, aBdbewhat-tbejt bdmldy 

He afcribes fuch power to a well-wroughf 
feene, as to aik. 

When Cato groans who dpes not wi& to bleed ? 

He wouU not. hare &iffeScA die de«th ol' 
HeftfH*. or Sarpfidon. to have had an eqqal 
cSe3 on any reader of the Iliad; Aucb eothn-' 
fiafin iiG to he cavgfat.onLy from thcihgfi. as4 
is tlio ef&d: alooe of ftcong-workiiig Empa- 
thy, and paiBoas a^mtfidby dw peculiar force! 
and ajfUvity o£ the drann^ manao'. WiitCT) 
of feefalo gpnius, ia ibeir jCDrnpo^ions fiv th« 
ftage, frequently deviate into ^e narrative 
3ad descriptive fiyle } a £mit fqr whidi no* 
thing canatone ; for the diama is aipcxdcs td 
3 poetryy 


On Dkamatic Poetry, jt 
poetry, as diftmd: from the epic, as tia- 
tuary from painting ; and cain no mdre 
recetiie that merit vhich fpccuficsdly belong 
to it, and conftitutes its ' perie^ftion, from 
fine Terfi6cation, or any other poetical 
ornameots, than a ftatoe can be rendered 
a fine ^ecimen of &u^ture* &^m being 
beautilally cojaurod, or highly pc^fhed. 
It is &iv«lous and i^, therefore, t<> infift on 
any tittle incidents^ aitd &ccdl(»7 beauties, 
nliece tha m^ part, die very conflkution 
c^ the th^ng, is defedtivs. Y«t on ferae 
liivialbeaattes do the French fo^jid ^1 their 
{iretfinfiatts to fttpetio»ty and exGelI«ice ki 
1^£ dfjuna. 

AccoriJIng to Ariftbtle there can be na 
tNgedy withottt aSion •. Mr. Voltaire; 
confefles that fome of the moft admired 
tragedies, in France, are rather converfa- 
tions, than repreieBtatidns of an' aftion. 
It wiU hardly be allowed' to thofe who fall 
in the moft eflential part of an art,- to fet 
up their performances as models. Can they 

* Arilt. chap. vi. 


_ ,i,z<..t,CoogIf 

j2 On the Drama; «r,' 

■who have robbed the tragic mufe of sdl 
her virtue, and divefted her of whatfoevcf' 
gave her a real intereft in the human heaff, 
require we fliould adore her for the glitter 
of a few fal& brilliants, or the nice arrange- 
ment of frippery ornaments ? If {he wears 
any thing of iotrinfic value it has been 
borrowed from the an(Sents ; but by diefe 
artills it is fo ^taflically £Uhioned X6 
modern modes« as to loie all its original 
graces, and eyen that neceliary qualification 
ef all ornaments, £tnefs and [»-opriety. A 
French tragedy is a ti^ue of declamafeibiisj 
and fome laboured recitals of the cataftrophe; 
by which the fpirit of the drama is greatly 
weakened and enervated, and the theatrical 
piece is deprived of daat peculiar influence 
over the mind, which it derives from tho 
vivid force of reprefentation. 

Segnius irritant aminos ileiiii& per auremy 
Quamquxfuntoculisfubje^fideHbus, etqUv 
' Ipfe fibi tradit fpe^ator. 

The bufinefs of the drama is to excite 


On Dramatic Poetry. 33 

fympathy j and its effed on the fpcihitor 
depends on fuch a juflnefs of imitation, as 
.(hall caufe, to a certain degree, the fame 
paffions and affections, as if what was ex- 
liibited was real. We have obferved narra- 
tive imitation to be too faint and feeble a 
means to excite pafTion : declamation, ftill 
worfe, plays idly on the furface of the 
fubjed, and makes the poet, who iliould 
be concealed in the aftion, vifiblc to the 
ipcdlator. In many works of art, our 
pleafure afiies ^om,a relledtion on the art 
itfelf i and in a comparifon, drawn by the 
mind, between the original and the copy 
before us. But here the art and the artifl 
muft not appear ; for, as often as we recur 
to the poet, fo often our fympathy with the 
action on the ftage is fuipended. The 
pompous declamations of the French theatre 
are mere rhetorical ilouriihes, fuch as an 
unintereAed perfon n^ight make on the ftate 
of the perfons in the drama. They affume 
the. office" of the fpedator by expreffing his 
flings, inAead of conveying to us the 
Arpng emotions and ien&tions of the peribns 
C under 


34 On th D% AM At or, 

under the preffure of diftrdfe. Experienct 
informs us, that even the inarticulate groans, 
and involuntary convulfions, of a creature 
in agonies, affeft us much more, than the 
mofl eloquent and elaborate d^cription of 
its fituation, delivered in the propereft words> 
and moft fignificaht geftures. Our pity is 
attendant en the paflion of the unhapjr^ 
perfon, and cm his own fenfe of hiis misfor- 
tunes. From defcription, from die report 
of a deflator, we may make fome con]edhire 
of his internal ftate of mind, and fo far we 
fliall be moved : but the direfl: and imme- 
diate way to the heart is by the fufferer's ex- 
preflion of his pafHon. As there tnay be 
fome obfcurity in what I have faid on thi« 
fubjeft, I will endeavour to illuftWtc the 
doftrine by examples. 

Sophocles, in his adtnirablc tragedy of 
CEdipusColoneus, makes CEdipus expoftulate 
with his undutifui fon. The injura!! parent 
expofes die enortmty of filial iMibedience j 
fets forth the duties of this relation in a very 
ftrong and lively manner j but il is only t^ 


On Dramatic Poetry. 35 

the vehemence with which he fpeaks of 
them, and the imprecations he utters agaihft 
die delinquent &mt that we can gue& at the 
violence of his emotions s therefore he ex- 
cites more iadignation at the CDDdwd: of 
Poljnicft, than- ^naapathj^ with, his owa 
ibrrow ; of which we can judge orily as 
QieAators J for he has explained to us ttierely 
the external duties and relations of parent 
and child. The pahgs of ^tt^nal tendfer- 
heft, thus wou!id6d, ' is mbre palhatically 
expreDH by King Lear, who leaves oot 
Whaterct of this eMortriity is equally fenfiblb 
to the ^e£tatot> and immediately expofes to 
us histjwn internal fteUhgs, when, in the 
bittertiefs of his foul* curling his diughter's 
oiFspring, he adds. 

That flie may feci, 

How Iharper Utan « rerp«nt*s touh it is, 

By this we pcrceiye how deeply paternal 
affedion is wounded by filial ingratitude. 

C 2 In 

^oiizccb, Google 

36 Ob /^^ D R A M A : «/•, 

In theplay of King John, the legate offers 
many arguments of coniblation to Conftance, 
on the lols of Arthur : they appear, to the 
Spc&atot, reafonable, till ihe fo flrangly ex- 
preHes the peculiar teadernefs of maternal 
love, by anfwcring. 

He fpeaks to me that never had x (tyiu 

One might be made to conceive, in fome 
degree, the horrors of a murderer, under 
whofe knife the bleeding vi^m is expiring 
in agonies, by a defirription of the unhappy 
obje^) but how fully, and how forcibly, 
is the confciouihefs of guilt expreiTed by 
Macbeth, when, fpeaking of the grooms 
who lay near Duncan, he &ys ! 

One cry'd, God blefs us I and Amen ! the other ; 

As they had feen me with tbefe hangman's hands, 

Liftening their fear. I could not fay. Amen, 

When they did fay, God blcfs us ! 



On Dramatic Poetry. 


Thefe expreflions: open to us the internal 
ftate of the perfons interefted, and never fail 
to command our lympathy. Shakefpear 
feems to have had the art of the Dervife, 
in the Arabian talcs, who could throw his 
Saul into the body of another man, and be 
at once poffefled of his fentiments, adopt 
his paffions, and rife to all the functions and 
feelings of his lituation. 

ShakeJpear was born in a rank of life, in 
which men indulge themfelves in a free ex- 
preflion of their paffions, with little regard 
to exterior appearance. This perhaps made 
him more acquainted with the movements 
of the heart, and le^ knowing or obiervant 
of outward forms : againft the one he often 
offends, he very rarely mifreprefente the 
other.. The French tragedians, on the con- 
trary, attend not to the nature of the man 
whom they reprefent, but to the decorums 
of his rank : £} that their beft tragedies are 
made ridiculous, by changing the condition 
of the perfons of the drama -, which could 
C 3 not 

. ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 

jS ■ On the Drama : tr, 

not be fo cafily effc(5ted, if they fpoke the 
language of pillion, whie^ in all riUik^ of 
men is much alike. This kind of cxtmor 
reprefentation falla iBtiFely (hort of the inr ' 
tention of the dranu: and indted many 
pUys are little more than poems rdiearfed j 
and the theatrical decorations are ufed rathef 
to improve the ipedacle, than to aHift tha 
drama of which the poet rcmairts the appa-r 
rent hero. We are told by a French critic, 
that the great pleafurc of their audience 
ariics irom a refle£lion on the difficulty of 
rhyming in that language.— -If that bfr the 
cafo, it is plain neither the French tragedians 
endeavour at, or their audience expert ftoa\ 
them, the true perfe^ons of drama. For* 
by the ^me rule, if Hercules was repre*^ 
lented under the difficulties of peribrming 
any of the tafks enjoined by Euryitheiis^ 
the attention of the audience would not bo 
engaged fo much to the means by which ho 
atchieved his heroic labours, as to the fwcat ■ 
and toil of the poet in his clofct, in aflbrting 
male and female rhymes. We have already 
remarked, that the more we revert from the 

^oiizccb, Google 

On Dramatic Poetry. 39 
(tage to the poet, the lefs we ihall be afiei^ed 
by what is 9^ed j and therefore if the diffi- 
ca^ty of rhyme, and its appuent difference 
from the common language of dialogue, be 
(i^ch, a§ continually to iet the sat and the 
ytift before our eyes, the. ipecific merit of 
a piece intended to conceal the poet, and re- 
prefent certain perfons and events, does not, 
in any degree, Qxift in fuch comfwfitjons. 
^ophocks certainly unfolds the fat4 myftery 
of the birth of CEdipus with great art : but 
our intereft in the play arifes not from re- 
flection on the condud of the poet, but is 
1^ e£r«d of his making ua alternately bopo 
and ff9f f(»: this guiltlefs, unhappy man. 
We wait with trembling cxpe<^tiQn ftx the 
anfw«r of the oracle, and fcv the teiUmony 
of Pho/bus, becauie we imagine that the 
<fcftiny of CEdipus, and the fate of Thebes, 
depend on than ; if we confidered it 
merely as the contrivance of the poet, we 
OiQuld be as unconcerned at the unravelling 
Qf the plot, as about ihe explication of a 

C 4 The 


40 0« M^ . D R A M A : or^ 

The affeftation of elaborate art is certainly 
among the falfe re6nements of the modern 
ftage. — The firft mafters in theatrical rc- 
prefentations made ufe of a diSion, which 
united the harmony of verie to the eafy and 
natural air of prole, and was fuited to the 
movement, and buftle of a^ion, being con-- 
iidered only as fublervient to the fable, and 
not as the principal objedt of the poet or tho 

The firft endeavour of the poet fliould be 
to touch the heart, the next to mend it. 
What would the ancients fey, who would 
not fufFcr even the inarticulate founds of 
mufic to utter tones that might enervate the 
mind, if they could hear the ftage, from 
whence ilTued precepts that awakened the 
magiftrate, animated the chief, and im- 
proved the citizen, now giving leftbns of 
love ; and the dramatic art, no longer at- 
tempting to purge the paffions by pity and 
terror, but by falfe delicacy divefted of its 
power, and diverted from its end, melting 

^oiizccb, Google 

On Dramatic Poetry. 41 
away in the^-ftrains of elegy and eclogue ? 
May we not venture to affirm fuch refine- 
ments to be rather abule and degeneracy, 
than advances towards pcrfeftion ? Thefe 
poets have plainly neglei^ed the moral ends 
which were the objetS of the drama ; and 
the manner of conducing their tragedy 
feems no lefs a deviation from that which the 
great poets pra£tifed, and the beft critics 
taught. If Uiey have avoided monftrous 
errors and abfurdities, it is but the com- 
mon privilege of mediocrity to do £0 . 
but let not mediocrity a0ume the airs and 
prefumption of excellence and perfe^on, 
nor pretend to obtrude on others, as 
rules, any fantaftical forms which affec- 
tation or fafhion may have impoled on 

It cannot be denied, but there fhould be 
fome complailance to the change of manners 
and opinions. Our delicacy would be jullly 
offended, if the loud groans and naufeous 
wounds of Philoftctes Were imitated on the 
ftage; but would good fenfe be lefs of- 


42 Oa tbe Drama : or, 

fended, if. in the condud of the play, his 
fierce relentnients of bis wrongs, the noble 
fi:ankne& of the Ion of Achilles, and the 
crafty wiles of UlylTes, which are i<:i finely 
exhibited in the tragedy of Sophocles, and 
£) deeply intereft u$ in the difpute for the 
arrows, were all neglefted, in order to en- 
gage our attention to fonae love-fcenes be- 
tween Neoptolemws, atid a fair nymph of 
Lennnos ? Would the poet be excuTed by 
pleading the effeminacy and gallantry of 
aa 9ii4ience> who would pot endure ib un- 
])Ieafiag an object as a wounded man* nor 
attend to any conteft but aboitt a heart ? In 
fuch a country the lyre fhould warble 
melting ilr^ns : but let not example teach 
^s to fetter the energy, and enervate the 
nobler powers of the Britifli mufc, and of a 
language fit to exprefs fublimer fentiments. 
The bleeding, fightlc& eyes of CEdipus are 
objefis of too great horror for the fpeftator ; 
but is not Thefeus, in the midft of plagues 
and famine, adoring les beaux yeux of tbe 
priocefs Dlrce as much an objedt of ridi- 
cule ? 



On Pramatic PoETiv, 43 

Fine dialogues of lovte, interweven wiA 
a ta}e of inceft and murder, would not have 
been cndufcd in any country where tafte 
had not hwa abfalut«ly perreiled. Mr. 
Voltaire has the candor to own this is a bad 
tnq;cdy j but CdmeiUe tells us, it was his 
good fortune to find it the general opinion^ 
that none of his pieces were cranpofed mth 
more art ; So little was the dramatic arc- 
OnderAood in the polite court of Louis XIV. 
The (Sdipus of Comeille is £a f$.r below 
oiticiim, that I ihould not have taken any 
notice of it but as it was neceilary to hnng 
a ftrong proof of the dc{ffavit)r of tafte in 
tfaofe times. 

: Mc Voltaire has ci»ioavoured to convince 
tus countrymen, that the- metaphyfics of 
love, and the ibphiftry of politics, are not 
adapted to the theatre r but he durft not bring 
the ftory of CEdipus on the ftage without 
ibme love-fcenes ; and Philoiftetes, the c<»n- 
panion of Hercules, is introduced lighing 



44 Oft t&e Dr AM A : or, 

for the autumnal charms of Jocafta.— — - 

One may furely fay with her, 

JOCAS T A. ' - 

I/uti lien charmant le'ibin tendre & timiile 
Ne dut point occuper 1« fuccefleiir d'Alcide. 

Tragedy, thus converted into mere amo- 
rous ditty, drops all the ends of her infti- 
tuti<»i, which were, fays Sir P. Sydney *, 
" to open the greateft wounds, and to (hew 
*■* forth the ulcers that arc covered with' 
•^ tilTue i to make kings fear to be tyrants, 
** tyrants to manifeft their tyrannical hu- 
** mours } that ftirring the effects of admi-- 
** ration and commiferation, teachcth the 
*' uncertainty of this wodd, and upon how 
" weak foundations gilded roofs are build- 
** ed J that malteth us know, qui fceptra 
** fxvus duro in^erio rcgit^ timet -timentes, 
'* metus in autorem rcdit." The example 
to the great j the warnings to the people j 
all high and public precepts are negledled ; 
and by making the intereft of the play turn 

• Defence of Poefy. 



On Dramatic Poetry. 45 
opon the paffion of love; tQ which the man; 
the prince, the hero, is made to £ic.rtfice 
eyery other confideration, even private morals 
are corrupted. Of this *e fhall be perfeiUy 
convinced, if we compare the conduct and 
fcntiments of Thefeus,' and of the unfortu- 
nate daughter of Jocafta, in Antigone, and 
CEdipus Coloneus, with the Thefcus and 
Dirce of Corneille J where the enamoured 
pair difclaim all other regards and' duties, 
human and divine, for the charafter of mere 
lovers. In this play, great violence is done 
to the diara£ler gf the perfons, to which 
Horace,, ^d all good critics, prefcribe a' 
mofl: exad adherence. And though the 
Romans, who had conquered all odier nati- 
ons, had the bdl ri^t to- prefer their own 
manners* and defpife thoie of other countries^ 
yet their critics inculcated the necefii^ of 
imitating thoie - of the people reprefented. - 

The French tragedians not only devi:^ 

from the character of the individual ifepre- 

ientcd, but even from the general charafter 

of the age and country. Thefeus and 



46 On tht Drama : dr, 

Achilles are not ohly unlike to Thefcus and 
Achilles, but they are not Git«kfi. Sopho- 
cles dlid Euripides never introduce Et hera 
*ho had appeared ih the Iliad or Odyfl^, 
Wi^out a ftrift atttntion to making him aA 
foitaWy to the opinion conceited of him 
^ofti thofe epic poems. When Ulyltes, ill 
thb ttftgedy of HeCuba, comti« td demand 
Potixcna to be facrificfed, how ftdrtiirftbly is 
his conduct ftiited to our conceptions of him I 
He is cold, prudtnt, deaf to pity, blind to 
beauty^ and to be moved only by confidera'^ 
lioti of the public Weal. See him in thi 
Iphig^fiia tjf Rteinft, on 4 fimilw- oCcaHoni 
where he Mils Agamettinon, he is rea^ ta crji 

Je ftiis pret de pleurW j 
imd examine Vfhether. there appears any 
riling of Ulyfles Ufwh the ftage but his 
tiame. Nor is there a greater relbmblance 
between the French and Greek Adiillcs-. 
Euripides paints him with a peculiar frank- 
nds sind warmth of chara^r, abhorrent of 
fraud, and highly provoked when he diicovet^ 
his name has been ufed in a deceit. Whcfi 
he fc* Iphigenia preferring the good <rf" h« 


Oh Dramatic Pdstry. 47 
country, ahd an immortal fame, to the i^ea* 
Hires of life, he is thett ftruck with fenrf'- 
ihente fo fiiitable to the g^eatneft of his own 
mind ; and, ih the' ftyte of a heto and « 
Gteek, cjqjreffes how gkd he Qiould hav« 
been of ftich a brid«. The AchUIis of lU^ 
cine i!s not diftingttilh«d from any young 
lover of Ipirit ; yet this is one of the bcft 
Frcndi tragedies. 

It is ufual to complfinient Corneille With 
having added dignity to the Romans ; and 
he has undoubtedly given Uiem a certaiti 
ftrained elevation of Jentiment and expreffion, 
which has perhaps a theatrical grtatn^fs : but 
this is not Rcnnan dignity, nor Aiitable to 
the charaifter of republicans ; ft*, as the 
cxceltentfiifliDpofCambtayobfe^es*, hif- 
tory reprcfents the Romans great and hi^ in 
fentiment, but fimple, modeft, natural in 
words, and vbty uniikc the bombaift, turgid 
heroes of romance. A great man, fays he, 
does not declaim like a comedian, hisexpref* 
fions in conveHfation are juft and Ibong ; he 

* Lettres fur i'Eloquencc, &c. 

4 Utters 

_ ,i,z<..t,CoogIf 

4? On tSe D 9. A M A : Off 

litters nothing low, nor any thing pompou9. 
AuguAus Cieikr, reprefented to a barbaroils 
audience, would command more refpe^, if 
ieated on the Mogul's golden throne, fpark- 
ling with gems, than in the curdle chair, 
.to which power, not pomp, gave dignity. 
It is a degree of barbarifin to afcribe noble- 
nefs of mind to arrogance of phrafe, or inib- 
lence of manners. There is a certain ex- 
preflion of ftyle and behaviour which verges 
towards barbarifm ; a ftate to which wc may 
approach by roads that rife, as well as by 
thofe that fall. An European monarch 
would think it as unbecoming him to be 
ftyled light of the world, glory of nations, 
and fuch other fwelling additions, affumed 
by the Afiatic princes, as to be called the 
tamer of horfes, or the fwift-fboted,- like 
^c heroes of Homer. 

Pcrc Brumoy feems to be very fenfiblc of 
Corneille's mifreprefentation of the koman 
character, though he fpeaks of it in all the 
ambiguity of language which prudence could 
fuggeft, to one who was thwarting a natio- 


Oft DRAMAtlC PoETRT, 49 

nal opinion •!-. He talks of' un ri^nement 
dejkrti in the Romans, and aiks. If the)^ are 
of this globe> or fpirits of a fuperior wotH ? 
The Greeks of Racine* fays he> are not 
iijdeed of that univerfe which belonged only 
to CoraeiUej but with what pleafiire does 
he make as behold our&lves in the perjfons 
heprelcnts to us t and how agreeably would 
the heroes of antiquity be furfM-ifed to find 
diemielves adorned by new manners, not 
indeed like their own, but which yet do 
not qiifbecome them I 

It can hardly be iuppofed that a critic of 
Fere Brumo/s taAe did not mean to con- 
vey an oblique cenfure in thefe obfervations. 
The tragic poet is not to let his Pegafus, like 
the Hippogriffe of Aftolpho, carry him to 
the moon j he is to . reprdent men fuch as 
they were ; and, indeed, when the fable 
and manners do not agree, great impro« 
priecies. and per&A Incredibility enfue. 

. If a Grecian fable is chofen, Grecias 

t Theatre Grec. par Brumejr. 

D Qtanners 


jjo 0« /<fc D R A M A : pr, 

nunners fhould accompany it. A iliperficial 
decorum is kept up if Agsmesnuon af^ars 
a groi^t chief; but he fiiould be a Greek 
chief too, if he is to fejcrifiec his daughter 
to Diana. The iame magna&imity of fen^ 
timent might certjunly hare been foond ia 
GuAavus Adol|^us» And in other geoerak j 
but then hov? mcml^roQs would appear the 
great eatiiftr<^e of the plaLy f 

If ShM(Q^>ear bad not prieferved thb:.Ra* 
man charaAer and reritiraehts. In hii play 
of the Death of Julius Cielar, we (hould 
have abhcured 6rut«s as an' a^ifin, 
this artifice appears a tyr auoicide : and had 
not Mr. Addifbn made Cato a pztriot, 
^cording to the RoiDan. mode, we Oiotild' 
thii^ ho w%$ mad fbs Icilling himTelf be-- 
(;aufe C»&i WW hkx^. to become, perpetoat 
(tftatOT* . 

It is i^cntt ta iympaduze wtthi a Enan'a ; 

paflions, without adopting, for the time, hi& 

opinion?* cuAoms, dnd'prejudices: but it is 

certainly ncceflary to exhibit the man as 



On Dramatic PoEXKy. 5! 

fttongly tinfturcd with thofe ptejiidices and 
cuftoms as pofliblci 

To all but fuperficial critics, would it 
not appear as ridiculous to fee Thefeus and 
Achilles wear French manners as a French 
drefs ? A little reflexion would fliew it is 
more lb : for there are relations between 
manners add fentiments, and none between 
drefs and fentimenti 

It Is ilrange that painters, who are to 
give the mute inanimate figure, are required 
to be rigid obfervers of the Coftumi, and the 
dramatic poet who is to imitate fentiment, 
dilcourfe, and adion, fliould bo allowed to 
negled them^ 

Pa ON 




^i^<2- ■ -^ y,/^)^ 




D R A M A. 

Nee m'nii'""" iiiefuere deeiu, vcffigja (%Mei 
Aufi dcTeraet et cdebnre deojefticft. bSeu 


3,a,l, Google 


[ 55 1 


D R A M A. 

THOSE dramas of Shakefpear, whick 
he difting^i(hes by tbe name of his 
hiftories, being of an original kind and |>0- 
culiar conftruftlon, cannot come within anjr 
rules which are prior to their exigence. 
The office of the critic, in regard to poetry, 
is lilce that of the grammarian and rheto- 
rician in tefped to language : it is their 
^nziinefs to fhew why fuch and fuch modes 
-of fpeech are proper and graceful* othe» 
impropo* and ungraceful : but ^ey pro- 
nounce only on fuch words and expreffione 
as are afUially extant. 

The rules of Ariftotle were drawn from 
■D 4 the 


56 0«/^ Historical Drama. 
the tragedies of ^fchylus, Sophocles, Sax. 
Had that great critic feen a play lb faihtoncd 
on the chronicles of his country, thus reprc« 
Tentative of the manners of the times, and 
charaAers of the moft illuftrious perlbns 
concerned in a lenes of important events, 
perhaps he would have eAeemed fuch a fort 
of drama vcell worth his attention, as very 
peculiarly adapted to thofe ends which the 
Grecian philofophers propofed in popular 
entertainments. If it be the chief ufc of^ 
hiilory, that it teaches philofophy by expe- 
4ience, this ipecies of hiftory mail be allowed 
to be the beft preceptor. The cataftrophe 
of thefe plays is not derived frcwn a vaio and 
idle htHo of the wrath of Juno, or the 
revenge of flighted Bacchus ; nor is a man 
repre^ted .entangled in the web of fatev 
from which his virtues and his deities can- 
not extricate him : but here we are admo- 
niihed to t^erve the conlequcnces of pride 
and ambition, the tyrant's dangers and the 
traitor's fate. The ietitiments and the man*- 
ners, the paffions and their confequcnces, arc 
Openly expofed and immediately untlfed : 

^oiizccb, Google 

0»/5tf Historical Drama. 57 
the force and luftre of poetical language 
join with the weight and authori^of hif- 
tory, to impreis the moral Jeflbn on the heart. 
The poet collets, as it were, into a focw 
diole truths, which lie fcattered in tht 
diffnie volume of the hiilorian, and kindles 
&e flame of virtue, while he Ihews tiw 
miieries and calamities of vice. 

The common interefls of humanity make 
us attentive to every (lory that has an air 
of reality, but we are more afieded if we 
know it to be true ; and the intereft is ilill 
heightened if we have any relation to 
pcrfons concerned. Our noble countiym'an, 
Percy, engages us much more than Achilles; 
or any Grecian hero. The people for whofe 
uie thele public entertainments Ihonld be 
chiefly intended, know the battle of Shrews- 
bury to be a fa£t : they are informed of 
whit has pafied on the banks of the. Severn j 
all that happened on the Ihore of the ' Sea* 
mander has to them the appearance of a 



j^6 Or^i^ Historical P*rama. 

As the misfortune* of nations as well 
fls of indinduaU Q^bai arife from theit pe- 
culiar difpofidons, cuftoms, prejudices, and 
viccsi thcfc home-bom dramas are excel- 
lently calculated to corre£l: them. The 
Gredan tragedies are fo much eftafalifbed on 
their mythology as to be very improper on 
our ftage. The paffion of Pbasdra and the 
deadi of Hippoly tus, occdioned by the inter- 
p6iition of Venus and Neptune, wear the 
apparent marks of 6^ion ; and when we 
ccafe to believe, we ceafc to be aSe€ted. 

The nature of the hiftorical play gave 
icope to the extenfive talents df ,Sha^fpear. 
He had an uncommon felicity in painting 
manners and developing chara^ers, which 
he could employ with peculiar grace and 
prc^iriety, when he exhibited the chiefs in our 
civil wars. The great Earl of Wwwicfc, Car- 
•dinal Seaufctft, Humphrey Duke of Glou- 
cefter» the renowned Hotfpur, Vfete very 
jnterefting objects to their countrymen. 
Whatever flicwed them in a ftrong light, 
2 and 


On t&f Historical Dkama. 59 

And reprefented them with fentlments and 
manners agreeifale to dieir biftorical charac- 
ters i and thofe things conunon fame had 
divulged of them, muft have engaged the 
attentidn of the fpetftator, and affifted in that 
ibslafion df his imagination from niience 
his fympathies with the ftorjr muft arife. 
We ae a^e^^ by the cataikophe of a 
ih-ing?;r, we lament the deftiny of anCEdipus, 
and the misfortunes of an Hecuba ; but the 
little pecuharities of character touch us only 
where we have Come nearer affinity to the 
peffon i^n the common relation of huma- 
nity; nor, untefs we are particularly acquaint- 
ed whh the original charai^er, can theie 
diftinguifliing marks have the merit of heigh- 
tening the re^mblance and animating the 

We are apt to confider Shafcefpcar only 
as a poet j but he is certainly one of 
the greateft tnoral philefephers diat ever 
■lived, . 



6o 0«/^ Historical Drama. 

Euripides was highly efteemed for the 
moral fentences with which he has inter- 
^erfed the. speeches in bis tragedies j and 
certainly many general truths are exprefled 
in them with a fententious brevity. But he 
rather collet general opinions into maxims, 
and gives them a form which is eaiily re- 
tained by memory, than extracts any new 
cbfervations from the charaAers in aftion, 
which every reader of penetration will find 
our author do continually ; and when he in- 
troduces a general maxim, it i^ms forced 
irom him by the occalion. As it ariies out 
of the adipn, it lofes itielf again in it, and 
remains not, as in other writers, an ambi- 
tious ornament glittering alone, but is Co 
conneiled as to be an ufcful paffage very 
naturally united with the ftory. The in- 
ilances of this are fo frequent as to occur 
almoft in every Icene of his beft plays. But 
left I Ihould be mifunderftood* 1 will quote 
one from the fccond part of Henry IV,^ 
where th6 general maxim is, that 



0.9 z^. Historic AL Drama. 6i 

An h^tatiofi ^ddy and unTure 

Hath he that buBdetb on the mlgar heart. 

Yomc. -I 

Let us on t 
' And publiflt the occafion of our arms. 
The commonwealth is fxk of their own choice : 
Tlieir orer greedy love hath fuifeittd. 
Afl habitation giddy and unfure 
Hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart. 
Oh thou fond many \ with what loud applaufe, 
Did'ft thou beat heav'n with bleflingBolingbroke, 
BdFbte be was, what'thoii would'ft have Kim be I 
And now> being trim'd up in thine own defires, 
■Thoo, beaftly feeder, art fo full of him, ' ■ '■ ' 
That Aouprovok'ft thyfeir tocaft him up. ' ' - 
So,'fo, tbou c(»nmon dog,' didft thou dlfgorge 
Thy glutton, bofom of the royal Richard, " ' ' 

' And now Hiou i^ouldft cat thy dead vomit up. 
And ho'wffl to iind it. What triift in tbcfe tfmei i 
Tliey that when Rtchud liv'd would have him dfe, 
JiK now become enamour'd on his grave : , . 
Thou that throwd'ft duft upon his goodly head. 
When throii^ proud London'he came fighiag or ' 
After the admired heels of Bolingbroke,.' r 

Cry*ft now, O earth, yield us that king again. 
And take thou this. 


3,a,l, Google 


6i Ojefii' Historical DrAip^.A* 

Moral fefleftions may be more freqaoaC 
in this kind of drama, than in the other 
fpecies of tragedy, where, if not very fhort, 
they teaze the ^dator, whofe mlxid 13 in- 
tent upon, and impatient for the cat»ftro{^e> 
and unlefs they ariie nccefiarily out of the 
circumAances the per&n is in, they appqar 
unnatural, . For in the preOure «rf extrwne 
diftrefs, a perfon. is intent oniy oa htm&tf, 
and on the preicat exigwce. Tbe.Tarioas 
interdU md chara&ers in tbdie biAorioif 
plays, and tb<e tnixtuce of the coouc, wesluui 
&e operatiqas of pity and terror, huT~tS- 
troduce various opportunities <^ cnuraying 
moral ioftrudtion, as occafion is given to 
a variety gf reflections and ab&rv«tion6, 
more uf^ul io comman life thao thoie ^vrn 
from the conditions : of kings and hccocffi, 
and- peribna greatly ioperior to u( by nMnrc 
or fortune. 

As there, are poets of varions taknts^ and 

readers of various tafies, one would rathtf 

wilh all the fielda of Parnaifus might be free 




and open to men of genius, than ^t a 
proud and tjrranotcal iptrit of criticifin ihould 
coatroul us in the uTe of any of them. Thofe 
vribich wc ifaottld have judged moA bw^eob 
have hro^ht forA hohlo ptoda£lid9$, vha& 
cultivated by an able hand. 

Even fairy land h^ produced the fub- 
time; smd the wild regions of romance have 
femetimes yielded juft and genuine &Dtf* 

To write x perfeft tragedy* a poet muft 
be po0ei2Qd of the pathetic or the fublime ; 
or pcriiap9 to attain the litmoft excelktico> 
muft, hy a more uncommon felicity, be aWe 
to g^vc to the fublime t^- fineft towjiey c^ 
paffion and tendemcB* and to the p^t^ic 
the dignity of the fliblime. The fiountE^ 
* moderate or feeble genius to thejfe ar- 
duous ta&s,. has. poxKlaced the moft at^rd 
bcMshaft, and the moft pitial:4e nDnien& that 
has ever been conceived. Ariftotle's rules,' 
like Ulyflei' bow, aife held ferth to all pre- 
tenders to tra^etty, who> as unfortunate aa 

Doiizc^bv Google 

64 Oft the Historical Drama* 
Penelope's fuitors* only betray their weak* 
nefi by an attempt fuperior to their llrength> 
or ill adapted to their faculties. Why fliould 
not poetry, in all her different forms, claim 
the iame indulgence as her fifter art ? The 
niceft connoilleurs in painting have applaud- 
ed every matter, who has juftly copied 
nature. Had Michael Angela's bold pencil 
been dedicated to drawing the Graces^ or 
Rembrandt'sto tracethe foftbewitcJiing fmile 
of Venus, their works had probably proved 
very contemptible. Fafliion docs not Co 
eafily impofe on our fenfes as it mifleads our 
judgment. Truth of defign, and natural 
Colouring, will always pleaie the eye } we 
appeal not here to any fet of rules, but in an 
imitative art require only juft imitation, 
with a certain freedom and energy, which is 
always neceffary to form a compleat refem- 
blande to the pattern which is b^rowed 
from nature. I will own, the iigures of 
gods and goddcflcs, graceful nymphs, and 
"beautiful Cupids, are finer fubje«as for the 
pencil than ordinary human forms j yet if 
the painter imparts to thefe a refemblance 


Doiizc^bv Google 

On /^ Historical Drama. 6^ 
to cdebrated perfons, throws them lato 
their proper attitudes^ and gives a fdithful 
copy of the CoAaml of the age and 
country, his work will create fenfations 
of a different, but not left pleafing kind 
than thoie excited by the admiration of 
exquifite beauty and perfeiS excellence of 
workmanftiip. Perhaps he fhould rather be 
accounted a nice virtuofo than a cbnfummate 
critic, who prefers the poet or fculptor's 
faireft idea to the various and extentive merits 
of the hiitoric reprefenfation. 

Nothing great is to be expefted from any 
fet of artifts, who are to give only copies of 
copies. The treafures of nature are inex- 
hauJ!lible, as welt in moral as in phyfical 
fubje«fts. The talents of Shakefpear wer« 
univerfal, his penetrating mind faw through 
all ch^aders j and, as Mr. Pope (ays of 
him, he was not more a mafter of our 
flrongeft emotions than of our idleft fenGi-* 

One cannot wonder, that endued with fo 
% ■ great 


*6 On the HisTORiCA-L DKama* 
great and various powers, he broke down 
die burisrs thtt had before confined the 
•dramatic writers to ^ [ie|ionfi of oomedjr* 
<* tragedy. He perceived the fertility of 
ihe lubjefts that lay bctvrfcen die two cr- 
treams ; he law, that in the hiAorrcal jday 
be cot^ rej^'cfent the manners of the wh<^ 
peO|Je, give the gtraeral tcmpcrofrfic times, 
«nd bring in view the incidents diat ai^fted 
the cotamon fate of Jhs country. The 
Gothic nui& had a nide Spirit of liberty. «id 
delighted in painting popular tumults, the 
progrefs of civil wars, and the revolutions 
of govemment, rather than a cataflrophe 
'ttithin the walls of a palace. At the time 
■he wrote, the wars of the HoirfeS of York 
«nd Irincafter were frefh ^ mens minds. 
They had recesved the tale ifrom fomcNcftor 
in didr femily, or neighbourhood^ who had 
fought in the battle he related, Etray ^da^ 
tor's affe^ions were ranged under the whltb 
t}r red Role, in whofe oontentmna iJcsne had 
loft their parents and friends, others had 
gained eilablifhments and honours. 

-. : ■ ^ AU 


0«C^tf Historical Dram A. 67 

All the inducements which the Greek 
tragedians had to chufc thcif horoes from 
die works of the poets vrho had fung the 
wars of Trojr, aad the Argonautic expedi* 
tion» were ftill ia greater force with our 
countrynaan to take his fubjei^s from the 
faiftory and traditions of thofe more recent 
trafiiaflioos, in which the fpei^ator was in- 
formed and interefted more perfoDally and 
locally. There was not a family fo low, 
thct had not had £>me of its branches torn 
off in the ftorms of thefe intefline coouno- 
tioos : por a vall^ jib happily retired, that 
at ibmc time, the fiot «f bofiik faces bad not 
bruis'4 btrfiffiffren. In thefe characters the 
rudeA .pedant read the fad hiftory of his / 
country, while the better fort were informed 
of the moft miniite circumftances by our 
chronicles. The tragedians who took their 
fUbjefts from Homer, had all the advantage 
a painter would have, who wa& to draw % 
piditure from a ftatue of Phidias or Pra-ii- 
teles. Poor Shakeipear from die wooden 
E 2 images 


<8 0«/-Sf Historical Drama. 

images in our mean chronicles was to form 
his portraits. What judgment was there in 
difcovering, that by moulding them to an 
exa£t refemblancc he fliould engage and 
pleaTe ! And what difcernment and pene- 
tration into charadlers, and what amazing 
, fkiil in moral painting, to be able, from 
fuch uncouth models, to bring forth not only 
a perfect, but, when occafion required, a 
graceful likenefs ! 

The patterns from whence he drew, were 
not only void of poetical fpirit and omament, 
but alfo of all hiftorical dignity. The 
hiftories of thcfe times were a mere heap of 
rude undigeftcd annals, coarfe in their ftyle, 
and crouded with trivial anecdotes. No 
Tacitus had inveftigated the obliquities of 
our ftatefmen, or by diving into the pro- 
found fccrets of policy had dragged into 
light the latent motives, the lecret machi- 
nations of our politicians : yet how does 
he enter into the deepeft myfteries of 
ftate 1 There cannot be a ftronger proof of 

Doiizc^bv Google 

On /&e Historic A L Drama. 69 
the fuperiority of his genius over the hifto- 
nans of the times than the follawing in- 

The learned Sir Thomas More in his 

hiftory of Crook'd-Bacit Richard, tcHs, 

with the garrulity of an old nurfe, the 

■ current itories of this king's deformity, and 

the monArous appearances of his infancy, 

which he fecms with fuperftitious credulity 

to believe to have been the omens and prog- 

noftics of his future villainy. Shakcipear, 

with a more phUofophic turn of mind* con- 

fiders then;i, not as pre&ging, but as in- 

iligating his cruel ambition, and finely 

accounts in the following fpeeches for. the 

ttfperity of his temper, and his fierce and 

unmitigated defire of dominion, from his 

being by his perfon difqualified for die 

fofter engagements of fociety. 


Wdl, % there is no kingdom then for Richard j ' 

What other pleafure can the world afford i 

I'll mako m)' haatren oji a Udy^ lap ; 

E 3 And 

3,a,l, Google 

Jo 0«/^* Historical Drama." 

And deck my body in gay omimenu, 

- And 'witch (weet ladies with my words and Iflolc$_ 
Oh ! miferablc thought ! and more unlikely, - 
Than to accomplifh twenty golden crowns. 
Why, Jove forfwore me in my roodier's wcinb. 
And, for I flieuld not deal in her foft laws^ ' 
Sic did coirupt frail nature with fome bribft 

To ihrmk my arm like to a wither'd Arub } 
. To madce an envious m(>unt3tn on my backi 

Where liti deformity to mock my body ; 
■ To Ciape my legs of an uneven fize i 

To difproportion me in every part : 

Ldke to a chaos, or unlick'd bcar-whdp 

- That cairies no imprefllOTt like the dam. 
And- am I then a man to be belor'd f 

Oh monftrdut fault to harbour fuch a thought ! 
Tlien fince the world afiOTds no joy to me, 
But t* command, to check, to o'er-bear fuch 
As are of better perfon thanmyfelfi 
I'll make my heav'n to dream upon the crown. 
And while I live to account this world but hell, 
Until the mifhap'd trunk that bears thil head 
Be round impaled with a gltmous crown- 

[Henry VI. AO 3d, Scene 3(1. 


0;i /A? Historical Drama, yt 

The midwife w?iid«M, vaA tha woowr crj^J, 

Ob JtfvB btef) ui, be ta bcm with teeth ! 

And fo I wa?. whkh plainly fignlfied 

That I fhould fnwl, wd bitt* and {day the <iag 3 

Then Itnce the hnv'iu have fluqi'd my body fo, 

Let hell make crook'd my mind to anfwrcr it.- 

i have no,bra^Qr> I am like no brodiu-. 

And that wQi^i low* vbich grey-'btards call divine, 

Berefidcnt in njcn Wtc one uiothcr, 

And not in me : I am myfdf aloiie. 

{HmryVI. Aa 5tb, Sccxe 7A. " 

Our author by following minutely the 
chronicles of the times has embarrafled his 
drama's with too great a number of prions 
and events. The huriey-buriey of thefe 
plays recommended them to a rude illiterate 
audience^ who* as he fays* loved a noiie of 
targets. His poverty, and the low condition 
of the ftage (which at that time was not 
frequented by perfons of rank) obliged him 
to this complaiiance 3 qnd unfortunjttely he 
had not been tutored by any rules of wt, or 
informed by acquaintance with jufl; arid re- 
gulv drama's. Even the politer ibrt by 
£ 4 reading 


72 0»^if Historical Drama. 
reading books of chivalry, which were the 
polite literature of the times, were accuf- 
tomed to bold adventures and atchievements. 
In our northern climates heroic adventures 
pleafed more than the- gallant dialogue, 
where love and honour difpute with all the 
fophidry of the ^ools* and one knows 
not when the conteft would end, if heral- 
dry did not Aep in and decide the point, as 
in the foliloquy of the Infanta in the Cid. 


T'ecoutcFai-je encor, refpe&. de ma naiflance. 

Qui fai$ uncricnc de mci feux i 
T'4ceuterai-je, amour, dent la douce puiflance 
Contre ce ficr tyran fait rebeller mes voeux f 

Pauvre princclTe, auquel dcs deux 

Dois-tu prcta obeiflance ? 
Rodrigue, U valeur te rend digne de mei } - 
Mais pour etre vaillant tu n'ts pas fil>de-xou- 

Le Cid, Afte 5me. 

Nor is this rule, that a princefs can love 

only the fon of a king, a mere Spaniih punto j 

you ihall hear two Spartan virgins, daugh- 

- ■ ' ■ ters 


0»^ife Historical Drama. 73 
ters of Ly^tnder, faking the fame 


Cotys efl n»} bui fieur ; te eonune la courooni ' 
Fade fuffi&auneot pour lui, . . 

Aflurf de mon coeur que fon trone lui donne, 
De le trap dcnuoder U s'^m^ne I'enaui. 

This lady then proceeds to queition her 
fifter concerning her indination ibr herlovef 
Spitridates, and ui;ges in his favour j 
Car rafin, Spitridate a Tentretien dnnban^ 
L'oeil vif, I'riprit aUif, le ooeitr bon, Vsaat belle ; 
A tant de qualit& s'il joigout un vrai z&e. . . 

To which the other anfwers, 


Maiour, il n'eft pas rol eonune I'cft votrp amant. 
II n'eft pas roi, vous dis-je, & c'cfi tm grand d^&ut », 

The Queen of the Lufitcanlans, in the 
famous play of SertCM-hi?, ipeaks thus to 
that Roman general ; 

* Ag<^ilaui of Cornejllle. 



74 Oh the HTsTOKicALDtti.M As 

VlRITATa, ■ 

Car enfin pour remplir I'honneur de ma oufi^ncf > 
II me faudroit un roi da tim,. ct de puifiknce t 
Malt cemim it n'en «& plui^ yt pcnfe m'tn dtmr, 
Ou le pouvoir fans nonii on tc nom iaa penroiiL 

And upon the effcA oif this prudent dcci- 
iion turns the great intereft of the play. 
By' the laws of romance the inen are 
to be. amorous^ and die ladies unbstious. 
Poor Seitociafi in his old «ge is in love with 
this lady, for whran Perpenna is alfo dying; 
and SertxR'ias whom no had iUppc>ied; &cri- 
fice(l -toitfae amltttion of his lieutcnaot* 'is 
the vii^im of his jealbtjfy. 

Shakefpear and Corneille are equally 
blamablc, for having complied with the 
bad tafie of the age ^ aiid by doing fo, they 
have botfi brought unmerited cenfures on 
ihdr . country. The French impate bar- 
bari^-and cruelty, to a people that could 
delight in bloody ikimiiihcs on the llage. 
The Englilh, as unjuftly, but as excuiably, 
ttccufe of effeminacy and firivoloufnefs, thofe 

^oiizccb, Google 

0»/5^ Historical Drama. 75 
wbo could iit to hear the following addrcfs 
of a lover to hia miftrcfi's bodkin, with 
which (he had juft put out one of his 

eyes : 

•P V M A W T I. 
O toi, qui feeondant fon courage inhumain, 
Loin d'omer fes chnreux, defhonom fa main. 
Execrable uiftniment de fa brutalc rage, 
Tu devui pour le tnoins refpe£ter fon image : 
Ce pcHtrait accompli d'un <4eif-d'«UTte des tieux j 
Impriue dans man cceur, exprim£ Ams tats yeux, 
Quoi que tc cominaiullt une ame G crudle, 
I>evalt tee adore dc ta pointe rdielle. 

Clitaadre de CerneiUe. 
The whole foliloquy includes fcventy lines. 
I heartily wifli for the honour of both nati- 
ons, the lover and his bodkin, and the fol- 
diers and their halberds, had always been 
hifled oflF the ftage. Our countryman was 
betrayed into his error by want of judgment, 
to difcern what part of his Aory was not fit 
for reprefentation. Corneillc, for want of 
dramatic genius, was -obliged to have 
recourfc to points, conceits, cold and unin- 
terelting declamations, to fill up his plays, 
3 and 


76 0« /^f H I s T o R 1 c A I. Drama. 

and thefe heavily drag along his undrama- 
tical drama's to a fifth ad. 

The ignorance of the times paffed over 
the defedts of each author ; and the had 
fafte then prevalent did more than endure* 
it even encouraged and approved what flioirid 
have been cenfured. 

Mr. Voltaire has faid, that the plots of 
Shakeipear's plays are as wild as that of 
the Clitandre juft quoted; and it maft be 
allowed they arc often e^cceptionable, but 
at. the &me time we .muft obferve, that 
though crouded too much, they are not Co 
perplexed as to be unintelligible, which 
Corneille confeHes his Clitandre might bo 
to thofe who iaw it but ofice. There is 
ftill another more dTential difference per- 
haps, which is, that the wildeil and mofl 
incorred pieces of our poet contain fome 
incomparable fpe^ches : whereas the worft 
plays of Corneille have not a good ftanza. 
The tragedy of King Lear is very fax from 
being a regular piece, yet there are Speeches 



Ok tSf Historical Drama. 77 
in it which perhaps excel any thing that 
has been written by any tragedian, ancient 
or modem. However we will only compare 
one paflage of it at prefent, with another ia 
Clitandre j as they both happen to be on 
fimilar fubjefts. The blinded lover, after 
many complaints, and wifhes for revenge, 
hears the noife of a tempeft, and thus he 
breaks out : 

Mes menaces deja font, trembler tout 1c moaie : 
Le vent fuit d'epouvante, et le tonnctre en grondc : 
L'cell du ciel s'en retire, ct par iin voiie noir, 
N'y pouvant r^fiftcr, fc defend d'en rien vwr. 
Cent nuages epais Ce diftilant en larmce> 
A force de pitie, veulcnt m'oter les armcs. 
La nature ctonnee embrafle mon couroux, 
£t veut m'offrir Dorife, ou dcvancer mes coups. 
Tout eft de mon parti, le ciel merae n'envoie 
Tant d'eclairs redoubles, qu'alin que jc la voie. 

King Lear, whom age renders weak and 
querulous, and who is now beginning, to 
grow mad, thus very naturally, in the ge- 
neral calamity of the ftorm, recurs to his 
own particular circumllances. 



,;78 0»/itf Historical Drama. 

Spitfire, rpoutraio; 
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, src my diu^ten } 
I tax you not, you eletncAts, with unkindne^* 
I never gave you kingdoms, call'd you children, 
, You owe me no Tubmiffion. Then let fall 
Your horrible pleaTure i here I fland your flavcp 
A poor, infirm, Weak, anddeipis'dddmanl 
And yet I call you fervile miniftera. 
That have with two perDicioui daughters join'd 
Yout high engender'd battles, 'gainft a head 
So old and white as this. Oh ! oh ! 'tis foul. 

They muft have litde feeling that are fiot 
touched by this ^ech, ib hag^y pathetic. 

How fine is that which follows ! 


Let the great Gods, 
That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads. 
Find out their enemies now. Tremble thou wictcb. 
That haft within thee undivulged crimes 
Unwhipt of juftice ! Hide thee thou bloody hand» 
Thou pcrjur'd, and thou fimular of yirtuc. 
That art inceftuous ! Caitiff, fliakc to pieces. 
That under covert, and convenient feeming. 



Ojt/A/HisToRicAL Drama. 79 

Ihft pra3ia'd on nuui's Ufie ( Clofe pent up {u3ti, 
Rhc ytmr concealing oMttncntfi, tnd iflL 
Tbsfe dread&l fiuntnonen grace \ ■■! am a man 
MoR fuui'd i^«fl dnn finning. 

Thus it 18 Shakdpear redeems the non* 
ienfe, tiK iiMfeoorums, the irregularities of 
his plays ; and whoever, for want of ilatural 
ta&e, or ignorance in the EogUfh lan- 
g«age» is in&nfible to the merit of thefe 
pafli^s* is juft as unfit Co judge of his 
works, as a deaf man, who only perceived 
the blackness of tibe iky, and did not hear 
tbe deep-voiced diunder, and the roaring 
dements, would have been to have de&ribed 
the awful horrors of this midnight Horm. 

Ilie Frmch critu: apologizes for our per- 
fifting m the repre&ntatian of Shake^ar's 
fhcys, by laying we have none of a mort 
regular form. la this he is extreamly miC- 
takcn ; we have many ploys written accord- 
ing to the rules of art ; but nature, which 
^eaiks in Shake^war, prevails over them 
3IK If at one <^ our theatres there was a 



Bo 0// /'if Historical DrXmA. 
ftt of i£toTS who gave the true force of 
every fentiment, exprefled juftly every emo- 
tion of the heart, feemcd inijiired with the 
paffion they were to counterfeit, fell fo 
naturally into the circumftances and litua- 
tions the poet had appointed for them, that 
they never betrayed they were aftors, but 
fbmetimes would have an aukward gefture, 
(»* for a moment a vicious pronunciation, 
Ihould we not conftantly refort thither ? — 
If at another theatre there were a fet of 
puppets regularly featured, exadly propor- 
tioned, whofe movements were geometri- 
cally juft, that fpoke through an organ £) 
conilituted by a great maAer of mufic as 
never to give any harfh or difagreeable tones, 
and the faces, the action, the pronunciation 
of thcfe puppets had no fault, but that there 
was no expreffion in their countenance, no 
natural air in their motion, and that their 
Ipeech had not the various inflexions of the 
human voice, would a real connoiiTeur 
abandoa the living aftors for fuch lifelefs 
images, becfaufe fome nice and dainty critic 

Doiizc^bv Google 

0» <-6^. H I S T O R I C A L D 8 A M A; 8 1 

{)leaded, that the puppets were not . fub*. 
jeft to any human infirmities, would not 
cough, fneeze, or become hoarfe in the 
midft of a fine period ? or could it avail 
much to. urge that their movemetits and 
tones, being directed by juft mechanics, 
would never betray the aakwardnefs of 
rufUcity, or a falfe accent caught from bad 

Sbflkefpear's dramatis perfonx are men, 
frail by conilitution, hurt by ill habi^, .fauky 
and unequali But diey fpeak with human 
voices, are actuated by human pafiipns,,. and 
afe engaged in the common affairs of human 
life. We are intereilad In what they dor or 
fay, by feeling every moment, thatrth^^ are 
of the fiune^naturc ap ^purfelves. ITheir pre- 
cepts therefore are an infi:ru^lii3^ . -their 
fates and fortunes an experience, .their teiU- 
mony an authority, and their mi^rtunes a 

Love and atnbltion are ^e iubj^i^ of the 

French plays. From thefirftof thefepaflions 

F many 


tz On/Af Historical Dn AM A. 
many from age and Beraper are «nti«ly ex- 
empted; and from Ac fwiond many mort, by 
fituation, are Occluded. ' Among a thou£tnd 
fpe&AtorSy there are not perfiap? hiJf A 
dozen* who ever Wett, or can bei ift the 
tircumftanbes of the ' petibns rcprefented i 
they danttot fympathize with them, unltlfi 
they have fome conception c^ a tender 
paHion, combated by ambition, or atnbitiott 
ftruggling with love. The fable of the 
French plays is often taken from hiftory, but 
' ^na'Tdmahtic paffion is added to it, an4 to 
Vhich both evenft and characters, tftb tett^ 
ifcred fitbfervient. ' - ' 

■ Shakefpear, in Valloas fiature wile, does 
not confine him&lf to'any piarticukr p^on. 
When ht writes fit)itt!riftory, be attHbute^ 
to die ^ier&ns tiich fentiments as agreed with 
- tficir aftions and charaftfcrs. There is not 
a more fute way of judging of Ac merit of 
rival geniufes, than to bring them to dte t^ 
of comparifon where they have attempt^ 
fubjeih that have any refembhmce. Cor- 
ceille^ippears rnuch inferior to ow Shake- 

bv Google 

dti tie titsTCViicALDi AM Ai 8 J 

, tpeat Sa tiie vt' of cOoAuding the eventSk 
aad' ^fplajrlDg Uie dataradtet-s he h9C€ow4 
iram ^dife lailsoiian's |)^ ; hts tragdo^ of 
Odto' comprehends that period iii wlaek 
his coiirtiers are. cab^Hog to make bins 
•cbpt a .fiicG6i&r li||^o»bl9 t9 tiieir oafS" 

llK^tirt of that ampidraf is finely dk^ 
icr^Md b^ T^dtus, wtob ia a iieiw- vonb ists 
t>fi£sqcii>s >d«e i«faleintt> tiie profkigocy; and 
nqpttcioufiKft df 9. fet ctf muuffers, en* 
booH^^ iby I^B WAl^itiA of th& princ^ fi» 
dHfiHUpt'lllHtnRftfr thej' wiflicd, aai iftmtei 
liy lki$ ^ M fetttcfti by hofty lapkie -^bat- 
«?« tiMy combed. ^-^'^TfK^Mu* with hhi 
MaflSffy peflitil, ha» ttfawn dx oulihKC of 
tb*lr«ttbH£lerS d}-ib^«ffi^y, tfaxf a wetter of 
any genius mi^ ftbilSb iq) die pcA'bsuti to 
great refemUance and {ftrfedticni. One had 
fiir^ siight to oxpB^I; thti jfroiii aii di):tbor» 
^ttba' jftaicSSss id i&ve copied ' dti^- great 
iuAoKiaii dio mofi fitidifdHy dnf w«i» pof* 
dfatek - Dae would imigihc the 'AifoUat 
ll^duuis, the bold and Tubda Vip^; the 
i. F fl bafey 

Doiizc^bv Google ,__ 

84 0» /■<&? His Toft icAL Drama* 
bale, fcandalous, ilothful- Laeo fhould all 
appear in their proper chara^ere, which 
would be unfolding trough the whole pro- 
grefs of the play, as their various fchmici 
and interefis. were expofed. Inftexd of this, 
Martianus makes ■ iubmiflive love.:. Viniiis 
and Laco are two ambitious courtiers, widi- 
out any qu^ity that diftinguiflies them from 
each otber> or from any other intriguing 
fiatefinea; nor do they at all contribute tQ 
faring about the revelation in the empire : 
their whole bulinefs' feems to be no^tch- 
maldng, and in that too they are {btfnikUful 
as not to fucceed. . They undertake it indeed* 
merely as- it may influence the adoption: 
Several fenteoccs from Tacitus are ingr^Kd 
into the dialogues, but, &om~3 chattge of 
pcr£>ns and circunifbnces, they lofe much of 
their original force and beauty. 

Galba addrefles to his niece, who is in 
love with Otho, the fine Q>eech which the 
hiftorian fuppofeshim tD have made tt> Pi£> 
when he adopted him. 'The love-Jick kdy, 
tired of an harangue, the purport of which 

bv Google 


Oirri6/> HisTARi£A£ D^ama. 85 
is mrfiToniblc to her lover, and being bcfides- 
no' politician, anfwefs the fcmperor, that ihe 
does hot underftand : flate-a^rs : a cruel 
reply to a ipeech he could have no motive 
for making, but to dilplay his wi£iom and 
eloquence. The old warrior is more com- 
plaifant to her, for he enters into all the 
delicacies of her paiHon, as if he had ftudied 
la.jcarte da tendre*. - To ileal fo much 
matter from Tacitus without imbibing one 
Iparfc of ius ipirit j to tranllate whole ipeeches, 
yet.pre&fve no likened in the chara^ba^, is 
furely betraying a great deficiency of dramatic 
powers, and of the art of imitation : to re- 
prelent the gay, luxurious, dilToIute, ambi- 
tious Otho, the courtier of Nero, and the 
gallant of Poppea, as a mere Paftor Fido, 
who would die rather than be inconftant to 
his miilrefs, and is indifferent to empire but 
&r her iake, is fuch a violation of biftorical 
truth, as is not to be endured. I pafs over 
the abfurd fi:ene between the jealous ladies^ 
the improbability of their treating the pow- 
crfijl and haughty favorites of die emperor 

* Roman dc CItlie. 

F 3 widi 


1^ Oft, tie "Hi&TBtLie At Daaua, 
with indignity, and Otho's thrice r^outej 
att«mpt to kill hiftiielf hefbre bi& iiKftrqik'^ 
£tee without the leail reaibn yikj he fiioold 
put an end to his h&, op prc^bslic^ that 
Hhe woald faSKc him to do it. Tp makfl 
^nuCs critict£m where the great puts an fe 
^cScdtivp would be tnfling. ' ^ 

Havbg obfirvcd how poddy.-Gomcille ha| 
peprcfented chajadert borrowed irom iq 
great a portrait painter ^ Tacitus, let vs now 
fee what Shakeipear has done, iirom fhoft 
aukward originals our old ^hronicles. 







^oiizccb, Google 

[ 8, ] 



H E N R Y IV. 

TH £ peculiar dexteri^ with which ths 
author unfolds the . characters, and' 
spares the events of diis play, de(fuves our 

There 'is not peihaps any thing nu>re 
difficult in the whole compafe of the dra- 
matic art, than to open to the Cpcdtator the 
previous incidents that were produ^ve of 
(he pre{ent drcumfbnces, and die charafisrs 
of the perlbns from whofS conduct in iucfa 
circumftances the fuhlequent events are to 
flow. An intelligent ipedator will receive 
great plcafure from ot^oring every a£Hon 

3,a,l, Google 

90 ItBe PirJ Part eJ[]^^iiViY IV. 
naturalljr arifing out of the ientimcnts and 
manners of the perlbns reprefented. Hap- 
pier is the poet, Ac .perplexities of whofe 
fable are unfolded by the natural operation of 
the difpp^tvins of the peribns who compofe 
jt> than" even he, A> whom it is permitted 
to call a deity to his afllftance. This play 
opens by the king's dedaring his intention 
to undertake the cruiade as foon as peace 
wilhaflow him to^ it. ■ 
forms him of the defeat of Mortimer by 
Ch!rQitQlj»n4qv«e() ^ E^jng rc^s i^ ji^^ 
«f Pewy'9 vi*9iqry t^ Hq((Be(^i^, .^Juch ^- 
«naBy IfwJs huft t^; i^c pif^iife. qf ^i^ yqw?^ 
hero, and to exprefs an envy of Lq^t^ Xic^r 
thumberland's happinefs 

T«.betht.||thvof f^W***©"! . . 
.-WiiJpI(fw.J>e) . . . ., 

^o -rift Bpd(|ift9nom I^ifl. tljQ brqw 

tkcQ he:nDen|i9a9 p«epy-'i wfufi4 Q^ bU pti- 
&iurn ifibii^ Wdf^r}^ aUfIbut«s to tl)c 
paahwolcnt fiigg^ipm of Worgeiter. Tiu)& 
a» flmoe iA pfpfentf^ ^ the fpetftator, ttw 
(ioixliti«» ^ th« ^t9* ^9 teoatper of th? 

^oiizccb, Google 

IthaFirJiPart e/HknTnv IV; 91 
l^ines, and the charaders of the pet&ns fnoat 
whence the catafl^rophc is tuarifc. 

The ftern audiOEit^r the king it0km«8 en 
Hotipur's difobedience to his cotnoirads, . 
could not .£dl to inflame 4 warm ycung hero 
flulhed with recent viftory, and elate with 
|he cot)fi:iou|hefs of having fo well (fcfended 
a crown which his father and unolerhld it^ 
« maoi^ codferred. Nothing can be more 
jiatural than that, in fnch a temper, he flMHd4 
recar to the obiigations the king Jwd re^ 
iccirod from hia family ; and thus while h« 
jfeems ivnt^g<hts fploeot he explains to tb« 
fpedatof wiat is paft» and operts the Iburc* 
cf the future rebellion ; tnd by conn^^ng 
£>rmer tr&oiadtoiu with the prefent paflions 
and events, creates in the reader an iotereft 
sand a fympethy which a cold narration 01 ft 
pompoua dcclamaticm could not have ef- 
fcaKd. As the author defigned Percy fhoBkl 
be an interesting chara&er, his diibbadieaop 
to the king, in regard to the prifoners, is 
rolttgatod by hja pleading the unfitoeis of 
the perfijfi asd usfavoiiablenefs of the oQCdr 


92 the Firji Part g/" H e n R r IV. 

fion to urge him on the fubjedt. Tp this 

cSeminate courtier (&iys be) 

I tlien, all fmarting with my wounds being cold, 

Otot of my grief and my hnpadcnce 

To Iw lb pefter'd with a popingjoy, 

Anfwer'd negle^ngly— I know not what. 

Thus has the poet diveftcd the rebel of 
the hateful crimes of premeditated revolt 
and deep-laid treachery. He is hurried by 
an impetuoiity of foul out of the iphere of 
obedience, and, like a comet, though dan- 
gerous to the general fyftem, he is ftill an 
<o^ed% of admiration and wotider to every 
t>eholder. It is marvellous that Sbakeipear 
from bare chronicles, coarfe hiftory, and tra- 
ditional tales, could thus extnft the wifdom 
and caution of the politician Henry, and 
catch the fire of the martial iiHrit of Hot- 
ipur. The wrath of Achilles in Homer ia 
not iiiilaincd with more dignity. £ach hero 
is offended that the priize of valour. 

Due to many a weU- fought day, 
is Fudely fnatched frmn him by the hand of 
power-.— One fhould fofpeft an authpr of 


1'be Eirfi-Pari ^ H E rJ r V IV. 93 

more learning to have had the charafler of 
Achilles id his eye^ and alfo the advice of 
H(»ace'i[i the itanner of reprefeiiting him 
sil tlie &xgi. 

Impiger, iracunduSi ineXDniulis, vxt. 

Jun,n^t]fil>i.nata,.t)ihil^ii!:»n -arragetarmlt.' 

His ' nufdcmoaaors ri&fo naturally oat 
of his temper, and that temper is lb noble, 
that we are alnjofl: as much intereiled for 
him as for. ^ more virf uous chara^or. , 

His trofpalt may fie well 'forgot. 

It batlitli'cccafeofyoutliaiid faeat of blood* 

And an adopted name of {njvilege, 

A hare-brain'd Hotfpur govcm''d by a f^eea. 

The great airing foul of Hotfpur bears 
out rebellion : it &im^» in him^ to flow 
itato. ah uhcontroUable energy of ibul, born 
to givt laws» too potent to receive them. In 
every fcenfe he appears with the fame anisiar 
tion ; he is always that Percy 

Whofe Ipim lent a fire 
Even to tbe dullcft pca(iuit in the camp, 
Led wwieiit lords and rev'rend bUhpps on, 
'/To- Moody battles and to bruifing arms. 


:!,a,l,zc.bvG00gIf _ 

94 'fhe Firfi Par^<^UznK^ IV. 

He has too the fruikne& of Achillesi anS 
tin lame abhorrence of fatihood i -he is iu 
impatient of Glendower's pretenficmb <o fil^ 
pernatural powers, -as to the king^'s affiiimng 
a right ov«r his |)ri&A««. In 4ividaig the 
kingdom he will not 3rield a foot of ground 
to thbfe Trho diipotiB with him; Imt would 
,^re any thing w « Vell-deforing- friend. 
It', is a pardonahis negation of. biftornr^tf 
truth, to give the ftaice of W^s, wh6 
behaved very g^Uotly at the tuttki of 
Shre^n^mry, thehoDoiiirof cOaqaedng^liitn} 
and it is more agreeable to the jpedatbr, as 
the event was, to beat down 

Thenever?dauittedP«rcy to 4e oadt, 
to fufpoTe it did not happen fram the :arTOQr 
of « pK^nt, but from tlte fwotd of HeoT^r 
Montnouth, whofe^irttcam« withaiiiglur 
XKHnmiffion from the feme liery Jfdiov. 

In Worcefter the rebd appears in all his 
odious colours ; proud, envious, iioiv^anu 
ar.tful, he is iinely contrafted by the noble- 
Percy. Shakclpear, with the ■fiigacity of a 


a ctoVA,' and flie Hiig ■Widto fMe}«td- «,: 
Who witfalwiys'diiiik tM |>t«G!hee diP'OtM 
bcnrfaftors rw hold and peremptory. ■''■'■' 

Tift idlaiaaer iff rieW^ IV. 9i |)»ie&Iy 
■agteeable to thst ^^tth Mm t)JrMft*i«B. 
■fiiE' pliV- opens- T5y his 'dedariftg Ms Ifti 
teitions t» w* sgaiitA fli6 infidt3s> \>tiic\ 
he does bot utadbMlte-, i^ #« uAal' IH Oafe 
lirii(is, from a ft^Kgiitft twaiafisfln-, *(at is 
itiftieiiltoit ty^itiiSEteatftts': ■!*!«•(}* 
SSaHlSl fpjrft may'n* WSak loot^ fciSmi-'ai 
trrfl *ars i jior'peafcft aria iAMieb giv* meh 
oppormniiy to ttiqoStc fitfe his *B!e' lb thte 
crown, and too tfiofch d!fctf (i a pbiM *hkh 
Would Aot beat arool ah^ cIofe^xitiibMitibti. 
htnry had th« IjitcBuS talents, iWlfieh ^Sft 
^'Aian Uttiitt tertairi Crroimflances'lo Ufiirp a, 
kingdom, batthhet ftofli the warn (sF^hoTe 
"gre« 4hd foM qualities,' -MaiSa ai-c'neWirafy 
to maintain opinion \of& to the throne tp 
fehibh it had raifed'hihi; or -from the im- 
(loinbility -of fitisfytng tiw expcdations of 
' 3 •> thofe 


96 .7& fh-fi Tart of H«ii R yIV. 
thofe who had' ^Siled his uftirpation, a» 
iiHae of th« beft hiftorians with great appear- 
ance qfreafoa hare fuggefted*, it is cer- 
tain, his reign was full of difcontents and 

The popular arts by which he captirated 
^ imddtude, are -fiiiely dtiicribed in the 
J^ieech he makes to his ibn> in the thinU adtj 
Any odier poet would have thought he had 
acquitted himielf weUenot^ in that dia-^ 
logue, by a general fath«-ly adnionition de- 
livered.with the-digni^ becoming a monarcb: 
but Sbakefpear rarely deals in commoa- 
placo, and general .morals.. The peculiar 
temper uid circumOances of the perlbn, and 
the exigency of the ■ time, influence the 
speaker as in red life. It is not only the 
king and parent, but Henry Plantagenot, 
tiiat chides the Prince of Wales. How 
natural is it for him, on Percy's revolt, to 
recur to his own. rebellion againft Richard, 
and to apprehend that die lame levities 
which loil that king, - firft the opinion,, theri 

• Hume's Hift, of H.tV. 
4 the 

Dolizc^bv Google 

Tie Ft'rJ Pari of He KJLY IV. 97 
the allegiance of his fubj^fls, {hould deprive 
, the Priribe df his fucceflion I Nothing can 
be better imagined than the parallel he 
draws between himfelf and Percy, Richard 
and Henry of Monmouth. The affeaionate 
fether, the offended king, the provident 
politician, and the conlcious ufurper, are alt 
United in the following fpeeches : . 
K* Henry. 
I kridw not, whether God will have it f«, 
Por Tome difptealtng ferVicc I bare done ; 
Tliat, in his fecretdoom, out of my blood 
He'll breM revengetnent, and a icourge for me. 
But thou do'ft in thy paffages of life 
Make me believe that thou ait only maik'd 
For the hot vengeance and the rod of heav'n. 
To punifh my mlT-treadit^gs, Tell me, elfe 
Could fuch inordinate and low defires. 
Such poor^ fuch bafc, fuch lewd, fuch mean attempt!. 
Such barren pleafures, rude focicty 
As thou art match'd witha), and ^aftxd to. 
Accompany the greatnefs of thy blood,' 
And hold tKcir level with thy priQcdy heart I 


98 I'h Firji Part of Heuihy IV. 
K. Hemrt. 
Heav'n pardon thee. Yet let me wonder, Harry, . ^ 
At Ay afie^otu, which do hold a wing 
Quite from the flight of all ihj anccflon. 
Thy place in council thou baft rudely loft* 
Which by thy younger J>rother is ftippl/d | 
And art aimoft an alien to die hearts 
Of ^ the court and princes of my blood. 
The hope and expedUtton of thy time 
Is ruin'da 'and the Ibul of every man 
Prophetically does fere<think thy fitU. 
Had I fo lavUh of ray prefence baen* 
So common-hackney'd in the eyej of men. 
So ftale and cheap to vulgar company { 
Opinion, that did help me to die ctown. 
Had $!11 kept loyal to pofiiseoB. 
And left me in reputelels baniflimeat, 
A fdlow of no mai1c> nor likelihood. 
But being feldom feen, I could not Air, 
But, like a comet, I was vondcr'd at. 
That men would tell their children, this it he j 
Others would fay» i^cre ? which is Bcrfiagbfokc?. 
And thOi I Able all co^lte^y from heav'n. 
And drcft myfelf in much humility, 
Tbat I did pluck all^iajicc from mens hearts. 


Doiizc^bv Google 

T^PirJfPattofllEKJir IV. 99 

Loud (bouts and falutalions from thcii mouths. 

Even in the prefcncc of thecrowned king.. 

Thui I did haepmy peifon frcfliand new. 

My fn&ofx, like « robe i>pntifical. 

Ne'er feenjtut-wonder'd at ; and To my ft»te. 

Seldom, but fumptuotts, ihcw'd l*e a feaft, 

An^ won, by larenefs, fucb Solemnity. 

The fltipping long, be ambled up and down 

With Ihallow jeftcrs>.aadTaih l^tn wits. 

Soon kindled, and foon bucnt ; 'fcaided his ftate* 

Mingled bis roy^ty with^arpii^ fools ; 

Had Jiis great name pro&ncd with their fcorns ; 

And ^vc his couBtenanee, againft his name, 

To laugh at gybing boys, and ftuidtheputb 

Of every beardleTs, vain comparative j 

Grew s companion to the txinimon Jtreets, 

Eafeoff'd himfcdr to.popularity. 

That, being daily fwallow'd by mens eyes. 

They Itir&ited with honey, and began 

To'Ioatb K ta^ of fweetnefs ; whereof alittle 

More than a little, is by much too much- 

So when he had occafion to be feen, 

-He was but ai the cuckow is in June, 

-Heard, not regarded ; feen, but with fuch eyes* 

Alt Hx^ iu>d bliuited ^th community, 

G 2 Afford 

Doiizc^bv Google 

loo 7be FirJI Part e/" H E N R Y IV. 

Afibrd no extraordinary gaze ; 

Such, as is bent on fun-like majcfly. 

When it fliines fcldom in admiring eyes j 

But rather drawz'd, and hung their eye-lids down, 

Slept in his face, and rendred fuch afped 

As cloudy men ufe to their adverfartes. 

Being with his prefence glutted, goig'dand full. 

And in that very line, Harry, ftand'ft thou ; 

For thou haft loft diy princely privilege 

With vile participation ; not an eye. 

But is a-weary of thy common fight. 

Save mine, which hath defir'd to fee thee more j 

Which now doth, what I would not have it do. 

Make blind itfelf with fbolilh tendernefs. 

Our author is fb little under the diiciplinc 
of art, that we are apt to afcribe his hap- 
picft futccfles, as well as his moft unfor- 
tunate failings, to chance. But I cMinot 
help thinking, there is more of contrivance 
and care in his execution of this play, than 
in almoft any he has written. It is a more 
regular drama than his other hiftorical plays, 
lefs charged with abfurdities, and lefs in- 
volved in confulion. It is indeed liable to 


y^F;/)? Par/ (?/ Henry IV.- loi 

tbofe objections which arc made to tragi- 
comedy. But if the pedantry of learning 
CQuld ever recede from its dogmatical rules, 
I think that this play, inftead of being cou' 
demned for being of that ipecies, would 
obtain favour for the fpecies itfelf, though 
perhaps correft tafte may be offended with 
the tranfitions from grave and important, 
to light and ludicrous fubjefts, and more 
ftil] with thofe from great and illuArlous, 
to low and mean pcrfons. Foreigners unufed 
to thefc compofitions will be much di^ufted 
at them. The vulgar call all animals that 
are not natives of their own country, mon- 
ftcra, however beautiful they may be in 
their form, or wifely adapted to their cli- 
mate and natural deflinatlon. The preju- 
dices of pride are as violent and unreafon- 
able as the fuperftitions of ignorance. On 
the French Parnaffus, a tragi-comedy of 
this kind will be deemed a monfter fitter 
to be {hewn to the people at a fair, than 
exhibited to circles of the learned and 
polite. From fome peculiar circumftanccs 
G 3 relating 

Doiizc^bv Google 

102 Ti>e Fir^ Part s/Hbnry IV, 

relating to the characters in tlus piece, we 
may, perhaps, find a fort of apology for ife* 
motley mixture thrown into it. We cannot 
but fuppofe, thatat the timeit waswrittirf, 
many ftories yet fuHifted of the wild advent 
tures of this PHhcc of Wdes, and his idle 
companions. His fubfequent refonnation, 
and His conquefts in France, rendered- hini 
a very popular charafter. It was a delicate 
afRiir to cxpofe the follies of Henry V, 
before a people proud of his vtftories, and 
tender of his fame, at the fame time fo in* 
formed of the extravagancies and excefles of 
his ybuthi that he could not appear diveAed 
of them with any degree of hiftrarical proba-' 
bilrty. Their enormity would hare been 
greatly heightened, if they had appeared in a 
piece entirely fcriou? aiid fall of dignity and 
decorum. How happily therefore was the 
charafter of Falftaffe introduced, whofc wit 
and feftivity in fome meafure excufc the 
Prince for admitting him .into his familiarity, 
and fuffering himfelf to be led by him into 
Ibnic irregularities, There is hardly a young 

Doiizc^bv Google 

TlfFirJiParf of HnvViV IV. 103 

hero, full of gaiety and rptritis, who* if he 
had once fafien into the fbciety of fo pleajant 
a companion, could have the feverity to dif- 
card hifti, or wmild not fay, as the Prince 

He covld better fp>rr a better mui. 
- How fldlfiilly docs our author follow die 
tradition of the Prince's having been engaged 
in a rohhery, yet make .hie. part in it a mere 
frolic to play on the cpwardly and braggart 
temper of Falftaffe ! . The whcde condu6t 
of that incident is very artful : he rejedti 
the prc^oial of the robbery, and only com- 
plies with pla3^g a trick on the robbers ; 
and oareis taken to inform you, that the 

mimey is returned to its owners. The 

Prince feems always diverted, rather than 
ieduced by Palibi^e; he deffnies his vicee 
while, he is entertained by hishumouf : and 
thoi^h FalAaffe is for a vdiile a ilain upon 
his charafker, yet it i« of a kind with thofe 
colours, which are ufed for a diilguife in 
ijport, being of fuch a natme as are eafily 
wafhcd out, without leaving any bad tJnc- 
cture. And we See Htaiy, aa ibon as he is 
G 4 called 


I04 ^e Fir/ Part of He vjt.Y IV.: 
called to the high and feriot^s duties, of a 
king, come forth at once with unblemi£hcd 
majefty. The di^lition of the hero is made 
to pierce through the idle frolics of the boy» 
throughout the whole play j for his reforma'^ 
tion is not effeaed in the laft fcene of thelaft 
aft, as is ufual in our comedies, but is pre7 
pared from the very beginning of the play. 
The &enc between the Prince and Francis, 
is low and ridiculous, and leems one of the 
greateft indecorums in the piece j at the 
fame time the attentive fpaSator will find 
the purpofe of it is to fhew him, that Henry 
was ftudying human nature, iii all her 
variety of tempers and faculties. I am now, 
fays he, acquainted with all humours, 
(meaning difpolitions) fince the dayfr oi 
good man Adam to the pre&nt hour. . In 
the play of Henry V. you are told, that in 
his youth he had been feduloufly ob&rving 
mankind; and from an apprehenfion,perh^s, 
how difficult it was to acquire an intimate 
Icnowledgc of men, whilft he kept up the 
forms his rank prefcribed, he waved the 
ceremonies and ■decorums of his fituation, 

Doiizc^bv Google 

TJbeFir/i Part 6f Henry IV. 105 ' 
and •familiarly converfed with all orders of 
Ibciety. ■ T he jcaloufy his father Had 
conceived of him would probably have 
been increiafed, if he had afiedtcd fuch a 
fort of popularity as would have gained 
the dlecra a;id love of the multitude. 

Whether Henry in the early part of his 
life was indulging a humour that inclined 
him t& low and wild com|»any, or eftdta- 
vouringto acquires deeper ^dqwr? extenfive 
knowledge of human nature, by a gentcrill 
ficquaintance with mankind, it is the bufmer$ 
pf his hiftorians to determine. But a critic 
muft furely applaud the dexterity of Shake- 
ipear foi throwing this poloar over that part 
of his cOndu<5t, whether he feized on foMc 
^ntiniat4>ns hidorians had given of that fort, 
or, of himf^f imagiqcd (o ie(peCtab\e t 
motive for the Prince's deviations from the 
dignity of his birth. This piece nmft i^ave 
delighted (he people at the time it ^^ 
written, as the follies of their favourite 
charaiacr were fo jnaiiaged, th^t th^ rather 

Doiizc^bv Google 

io6 Tht Firfi Part af liT.ti%Y XV. 
feemed foils to iet off its virtnes, than ftains 
wbich objured them. 

Whether we ccmitder the charader of 
FalAaffe as adapted to encourage and cxcufe 
the extravagancies of the Prince, or by itfelf, 
ve muft certainly admire it* and own it to 
be perfeSJy original. 

The profeffed wit, cither in life or on 
the ftage, is ufually fevere and ^tirical. 
But mirth is the fburce of Falflaf&'s wit. 
Ho ieems rather to invite you to partake of 
his merriment, than to attend to his jeft i 
a peribn muft be ill-natured, as well as 
dull, who does not join in the mirth of 
this jovial comjxinion, who is in all refpefts 
the beft calculated to raife laughter of any 
that ever appeared on a ftage. 

He joins the finefle of wit with the 
drollery d humour. Humour is a kind of 
grotcfque wit, fliaped and coloured by the 
^ijx)fitJon of the perfon in whom it rcfides, 
cr l^ the fubjeil to which it is applied. It 


^He FirJ Ptirt tf H%Kiki£ IV. 107 

is ofteneft found in odd and irregular minds: 
but this ^UliM turn diftorts wit» and 
^ough it ^f efi if a hotline air, tvfiicfc 
excited motnent^ nHfd}> rendfera tt- leA 
juft, And ctnteqaenOy left agr«eabie to onr 
jtidgrtWMtts, GliitWiiyi cfirpaleney, and 
cowafdice, aM (he Jjcculiafitiefr of Fdftaflfc't 
competition, they rfittdcr bmi ridiciilbas 
vrifhdut folly, dtfow an air ©f jcft and ftfti- 
^ity about him, mA lAake his manners fiiit 
with hi* ferrtHBents, Without gitiflgta his 
tanderftaiiding any partieuhr bias. As the 
contempt attcmknt on thele vices' and St-^ 
feifts is the beft antidote againft any infec- 
tion that might be caught in his fociety, Co 
it was very fkilfiil to make him as ridi- 
culous as witty, and as contemptible as en- 
tertaining. The admirable fpeech upon 
honour would have been both indecent and 
dangerous from any other perfon. We muft 
every where allow his wit is juft, his 
humour genuine, and his charai^er per- 
fedly original, and fuftained through every 
ic^nCf in every play, in which it appears. 



io8 The Firji P^ifff H^^tiY IV. 

As Falftaffe, whom the author certainly 
intended to fae perfeftly witty, is lefc ad- 
dicted to quibble anid play on words, than 
any of his coooic charaftcrs, I think we 
may fairly conclude, our author was fen- 
fiUe it was but a falfe, kind of wit, which 
he pra^ifed &om the hard neceflity of the 
times : ioc ,in that age, the profeflbr quib- 
bled in his diair, the judge quibUed on the 
bench, the prelate quibbled in the pulpit, 
the ftatefman quibbled at the council-board ; 
tizy even majefty quibbled on the throne. 


I ' D,a,l,zc.bvG00gIe 



Doiizc^bv Google 


t "• ] 



o p 

H E N R Y IV, 

IT is uncommon to find the ittme ^jrit 
and intereft difiiiied through the fequel 
as in the fiiift part of a play : but the fertile 
and happy mind of Shakefpear could create or 
diverfify at pleafiire ; could produce new 
charaAers or vary the attitudes of thole be- 
fore exhibited according to the occalion . He 
leaves us in doubt, whether moil to a^lmire 
the fecundity of his imagination in the' variety 
df its produdioas, or the ftreogth and fteadi- 
nefs of his goiius in fuflsuning dw ipirit, 
and preferving unimpaired, through varioua 
circumftinoes and^tuatbns. what his invea- 
tion had originally produced. 

4 We 

Doiizc^bv Google 

112 The Second Part ofii^vcaY IV; 

We ihall hardly And. any man to-dayy 
more like to what he was yeftcrday, thari 
the peribns here arejike to what they jyere 
in the firft part of Henry iV. This is 
the more aftoniihing as the author has 
not confined himielf, as all other dfsCmatic 
writes have done, to a ceftain theatrical 
charafter ; which, formed entirely of ohe 
paffion, prefcntsto us always the patriot, the 
lover, or the conqueror, Thefe, ftill turning 
on the fame hinge, defcribe like a piece of 
clock-work a regular circle of movements. 
In human nature, of which ShakcTpear's 
charafters are ajuft imitation, every paffion 
is controlled -and forced into many, deviations 
by various incidental difpoiitions and hu- 
mours. The operations of this complicated- 
machine are far more difHcult to trace, than 
the fleady undeviating line of the artificial 
charaAer formed on one fimple principle. 
■Our, poet feems to have as great an advan- 
tage over ordinary dramatic poets, as Dxdalus 
had above his predeceflbrs in iculpture. 
They could make a reprefentation of the 

Doiizc^bv Google 

limbs- and features which compofe the hu- 
man fonn, heiirft had the ikill'to give k 
gcAuFey attitude, the eafy ^aces of real Ufe^ 
and exhibit its powers in a variety of cxer-* 


We ihall again fee Northumberland timid 
and wavering, forward in conlpir^^y, yet 
hefitating to join in an a^bioa.of doubtfiU 

King Henry is as prudent a politician oil 
his death-bed as at council ; his eye, juft 
bdbre it clofcd for ever, ftretching iffelf 
beyond the hour of death, to the view of 
tfaofe dangers, which, from the temper of 
the Prince of Wales, and the condition of 
the timefl, threatened his throne and family. 
I cannot help taking notice of %h^ remark" 
ftUe attention of the poet to the cautious and 
politic temper of Henry, when he makes 
him, even in fpeaking to his friends and par- 
tiians, diOemble lb far, in relating Richard's 
prophecy that Northumberland who helped 
H him 

Doiizc^bv Google 

•H4 Tie Second Pta^^HtM%VlVk 

hiih t6 the throne Vrbuld one day i^oU hem 

him, af to add> 

Tbougb thea» henn^ IcneM, I tad AS iWb 

-■ ifltent ; - - - , . 

' But that DcceSty fe bow'd the ftate. 
That I mi greatnel^ were compeU'd to kH«> 

: Td hlfr fncceflbf hb wprtflM hittriMf Vwy 
diffe^a>tly-wiiea heCtysv 

Heaven knows, my fbn. 
By what by-paths and indire^ crook'd way* 
1 met Aa crown; 

Thiie delicaG&es of cohdtttSt Ke feudty 
within the pact's province^ bat kavc link 
ieatce in that great »Hi luilver^i bap*cit)r 
^hich the attentive scaiSleT will find tt> htf- 
Jong to our Bu^or beyond any other writer. 
■He ^one, perhaps, troald li*ve pnceiveS 
the decbrdM and fit»e& of makii^ £} wi& a 
man itef^ved ev^n «ith his friem^* and troft 
a confeffion of the iniquities by which he 
iobtained the crdvvn only to his fuoceifibi^ 
whole intcreft it was not to difgrace what- 
■ - 3 ever 


evcir could autht^i&e bis .fittfupn^eot of it. 
\a% rrsgedy-wwtprs "tyho miilfe prince* prate 
with pigCB and waiting-WDmen of their 
murders and treiUba$, l^arn i^ once, irpm 
rade and iUiteiiate Siuke^eftr, how averie 
pride is coolly lo con£els« acd prudencB to 
betray, what she^ &wr and dfiUriwofi of 
ambitioB iud profiopted to do. 

Fdilaffpapp^r* with hi» former di&ofi- 
tioDS, but in ^>evr fituptions ; and entertains 
ns in a variety pf ^enes* 

HoCfpur is ftfi ix were revived tp the i^iec- 
tator in the foUoiving Ghara<^r give^ o^ ^im 
by his lady, >vhfia &e di^4udes Northutnher- 
land ivss^ joiUusg fhiC fofccfi of .the juch^ 

Oh, ytL for-hwv'n's fake, go not to dtefe w%n. 
The time was, father, ^t yoa broke yourwtml» 
Wfa^a ]fM wot ino(e cndear'd to it tfiKo now ; 
When your own Percy, w*en my heart-dear Harry, 
Threw .iQMiy anorthwzrd Icok, to fee bis fuher 
Bring gp.his pow'n } but he did long in rain ! 

Ha Who 


n6 the Second Part. of Yizn^Y IV. 
Who then perfuadeij you to flay at home i 
There were two honours loft; yours and your foi^W- 
For yours, may hcav'nly glory brighten it I , 
Fcrhis, it'ftHK^upon-himasthefun 
In- the grey vault of heav'n ; and byJiii lifil*- 
Did all the chivalry of England move 
To do brave tSts. He wa& indeed the gl;tfi 
Wherein the noble youth diddreft them&laies. 
He had no legs, that pra^s'd not his gait ; 
And fpeiking thick, which' nature made his blenulb» 
Became the accents of the valiant ; ' ' 

For thofe, that could fye^ low and tardily, ■ 
Would turn their ownperfcflion to abufe. 
To iiem like him : So that in fpeich, in gpi% 

■ In diet, in aiFeilions of delight, 

In military rules, humours of blood, < ' ' ■ 

-He was the tiuvk »id ghds, copy and.bbdk, - 

That fafhionM others. And him, wond'rous him ! 

O miracle of men ! him did you leave 

To look upon the hideous god of yrzx 

In difadvantage ! to abide a.fold 

Where nodiing but the' found of HotTpurV name 

Did feein defenfible. So you left him. 

Never, O, never do his ghoft the wrot^, ' 

To hold your honour more precHe and nice 


T^e Sesmd Part of H^nViY IV. iij 

With othersj than witfa him. Let them alone : 
The mailhal and the archbiOiop arc ftrong. 
Had my fweet Harry bad but half their numbers. 
To day might I (hanging en Hotfpui's neck) 
Have talk'd of Monmouth's grave, 

Juflice, Shallow is an admirably well 
drawn, comic charader, but he never ap- 
pears better, than by reflexion in the mirror 
of FalftaiFe's wit, in whofe dcfcriptionshe is 
moft ftrongly exhibited.- — It is faid by fome, 
that the juftice was meant for a particular 
gentleman who had profecuted the author 
for deer-ftealing, I know not whether that 
ftory Be well grounded. The Shallows arc 
to be found every, where, in every age, but 
thofe who. have leaft charafler of their own, 
are moft formed and modified by the falhion 
of the times, and their peculiar profeflion 
or calling. So though we often meet with a 
rcfemblancc to this juftice, we fhall never 
find an cxaift parallel to him now manners 
are fo much changed.— The fuperior danger 
of a rebellion fantSified by the church, can- 
not by hiftorians or philofophers be better 
H 3 fct 


il8 ^be Second Fart o/Hfei^RY IV. 

fct forth than by the folJowing word$ pf 

Morton : 


The gentle ArehH&op of YoHt » up 
With veil appoitAej ^oven. He is i m^f 
Who with a double furety bindi his followen. 
My lord, your fen had only but the corps, 
. But Ihsdows* And die fliews of m^n to 5ght [ 
For that fame word, rebellion, did 4md« 
The aAion of their bo<^es from their foal*. 
And they iJid figtt with quetfinds, conftriin'd, 
As men drink twtions, that their weapons only 
Seem'd on our Cde, but for tfaetr fpirits and fouli. 
This word, rebeHion, it bad froze them up. 

But how^ tht bifiiop 
Turns infurrcaion to religion ; 
Suppos'd fujcere and holy in his thoughts. 
He's foUow'd both with body and wichmind, • 
And doth enlarge his rifing with Ac blood . 
Of fair King Richard, fcrap*d from Pomfrct ftones j 
Derives from heavli his quarrel and his caufe ; 
Tells them, he doth beflride a bleeding land 
Gafping for life under great Bolingbrokc, 
And more, and Icfs, do flock to follow him. 



TkeSenxd Pja-f 9^ Hs H K V IV. 1 19 

Nor c^ the indecpncy of a prelate's 'ap- 
pearing in armSf and the abuie of an autho- 
rity derived from the iacred fiinaion, be 
more ftrpi^l^ aiTaigiied> thw in U19 ^leeches 
of Wi^ftworlandf juid John of Lutq^cf. 


Then, mylonl. 
Unto ]'xiMr ^jHtce do. I ia citief addieb 
ThefubftaactofiajrQxacb. If that rAellioB 
Came lite itl^, jn baft ^ sbjeA' routa, 
heA otthif ^AooAj yoa^i goaded wjthiigt^ 
And couqtauuw'd by bt^ and beggary; 
I Ivfy jf damn'd commodoa to a^ear'd 
la hu trae, nativE, and msA proper flupi^ 
Vao, rercnod £ithcr, and ^uTs noble Icoda, 
Had not been bete to drc6 die ugly fi>nq 
Of bafc and Uoody iafitrre^on 
With your &ir hoamni. Vou, my lord lircbbiflu)^ 
Whole fee u liy a civil ptsce inaintain'd, 
Whofe beard the fdver hand of peace bath toitdi*^ 
Whofc l^aroiag and good lettecs peace bath tutoc'd. 
Whole vhito lAveftments figure innocence, 
Tbedove.andv«tyt)eAed^nCja(peaM{ ■ 

H 4 Wberefcre 

Doiizc^bv Google 

fid TSe Sacftd Pari of HtHViY IV. 

Wherefore do you Co ill tranlUte yourfelf, 

- .Out of the fpeech of peace, that bears fucfa |?'ac«, 

- Into the haifb and boift'eoiu tongue of war ? 


■My lord of York, it better Qiev'd with you, 
When that your fleck, aHecnbled by the bell, 
Encircled you, to hear with nverence 
Your expofttibn on the bxHf text ; 
Than now to fee you here^atiiconman, ' 

Chtciing'a rout of rebels with your drum. 
Turning the word to' fword, and life to death; 
That man that fiu within a tnooarch's heart,- 
And ripens in the Hin-fhiiK of his favour. 
Would he abufe the couof nance of the king. 
Alack, wiut niifcbiefs mi^tbe fet abroach. 
In fliadoMT ef'fuch greatnels i With you, lord bilk*p» 
It is ev'n fa; Who hath not heard it fpoken. 
How deep you were within the books of heav'n i 
T^ us, the fpeakcr in bis parliament. 
To us, th' imagin'd voice of heav'n itfcl^ 
The very opener and intelligencer 
Between the grace, thefandities of heav'n, 

,And our dull workings: 0,wbo fliall believe ' 
fiat you mifeife dif lev'rence «f your pl«««, ' 

' ' •■ Employ 


Tie Second part afH^KJtY'lV. la-i. 

£mp1oy Aecountoiance «nd grace of heav'ni 

As a fiJfe fovounte doth Ixi^ prince's name, 
" In. deeds difhooouraUe I You've taken up. 

Under the counterfeited zeal.of God, 

The fubjefia of his fubflkutc, my father; 

And both ;^tnfl die. peace of heav'n and him 
■ Have here up-fwann'd thcm^ 

The archbifhop of York, even when he 
appears an' iron man, keeps up the gfavity 
and feeming fan^ty of his charafter, and 
wears the mitre, over his helmet. He is not 
like Hotfpur; or a valiant rebel, full of 
noble anger and fierce defiance, he fpeaks 
like a cool politician to his friends, aiid like 
a deep defigning hypocrite to his enemira, 
and pretends be is only adttpg as phyfician 
to the flate, 

1 have before obierved that ShakeQ)ear had 
the talents of an orator as much as of a 
poet J and I believe it will be allowed the 
Ipeechca of Weftmorland and Lancafter are 
as proper on this occafion, and the parti- 
cular circnm^ances are as happily touch'd, a« 

Doiizc^bv Google 

132 I'ieSecMdPiirtifHnHViV IV. 
they could have been by the mek Judtcioas 
orator. I know net dist any poet, Ancient 
or modern, has fiiewn fo pcr&d a judgment 
in rhetoric as our conntrynatui. I wifli lie 
had unpl9^ hia eJcipieACe cob ia anaign- 
ing the bt&atA and trev^bery of John of 
Lancafter's condu^, jn.brsftklRg hw cove- 
nant with the rebels. 

PiAol is an tidd ]pad o$ pericoMge, intemtod 
X fuppofe to ridicule ibrae fafiiiond^ xScc- 
tation of bombaft languago. When ^icfa 
diara^rs cxift no looger any vrhere luit in 
the vrritings in vhich tb^ have boco lidi- 
culcd, tfa^y &em to have beca moaAers of 
the pMt'fi brain. The ori^nals IcA and 
the: mode fingot, one can neither pcai& the 
imitation nor laugh at the ridicule. Co- 
mic writers fhould therefore always exhibit 
&sam charQ3:eriftB: diitio^ons as well as 
tempocary modes. JmlHce SfaaUow will for 
ever cacik ^i^h a certaio. fpecies of men ; ke 
is like 4 well paintod portrait in the dre& of 
his.age^ Fi&ol .i^pears a ntere antiqaaQcd 
hnbjt, fo uocouthly ^AioaeA^ wc can hardly 

Doiizc^bv Google 

fbe SicmdTaH bfRimKY IV. i«j 
faftlisf e it was made ^r my diing but i 
piafijucrade frolic. The poets who mftan 
to pleafe pofterity, Should therefore work 
a ptaiiUts, not as taylots, ^i^ give us 
pecdior feamteit iaiker thah ^fttaAk htti 
bits : but where there is fuch a {»'odigioul 
vsiriety of wdl-^cbawn portraits as In thi« 
play, we may excufe cine piece 6f flier* 
drapery, efpeci:dly when exhibited to expofe 
an ibfiird and troublefbme fajQuon. 

Mine hoftefi C^uickly is of a fjsecies firt 
tetiivft. Itmaybfe &ia, thi tiutho^ thait 
finks from pomedy to farce, but fiie helps 
to compleat thccharaaer of Falftdffe, anS 
pymc of ^M dialogues in which fii* i« 
jdfagaged tre diTerting. ETwy fcehe in 
IfAach DoU Tearflicet appears is indecent, 
and therefore not only indeftofible but in- 
cxco^ile. There arc dcHcacies of decorum 
in oAe age unknown to anodic age, but 
whatever is immoral ts equ^y Uamabte in 
til agcsi and every approach to obfeenity is 
nn f^ence for which \Ht cannot Atone, ata 

Doiizc^bv Google 

124 'The Second Part of Henry IV. 
the barlwrity or the corruption of the times 

Having conlidered the characters of this 
pi^e, I cannot paf? tfv^r the confiu^ of it 
without taking notice of the peculiar felicity 
with which the fable .begins to unfold itielf 
from the very beginning. 

The firll fceiies give the outlines of 
the characters, and the argument of the 
drama. Where is there an infhince.of any 
opening of a play equal to this P And I 
think I did not rafhly aiTert, that it is one 
of the moil difficult part$ of the dramatic 
art ; &r, that furely may be allowed fb, in 
which the grcateft mafters have very feldom 
fucceeded. Euripides is not very happy in 
this refpeCt. Iphigenia in Tauris begins, by 
telling to herfelf, in-aj>retty long foliloquy, 
who flic is, and all that happened to her at 
AuUs. As Ariilotle gives this play the 
highcft praife, ,we may be aflored it did 
not in any refpcCt offend the Greek taftc : 
and Boileau not injudlcioufly prefers this 


tbeSecentiPartpfHESK-t IV. 125 
fimplc expofition, deititute as it is of any 
grace,' to the perplexed and tedious decla- 
mation of; the modem ftage. 

Que dit lev premiers vers I'adion pr£par£e, 
; SMispeinfcjdu feijat-applsnlfffrentree, 

Je me ris d'un afleur, qui lent J s*exprimer, 

De ce qu'il reut, ilAoTd ne ftit pas m'inrormer ; 

£t qui, debrauillant mal une penible mtrigue, 

■ D'un divcitiJKiaeot me titlfutiie toigue. ' 

. ' 'J*uiAerois mieux encor qu'll didinit (on nom, 
Etdit;' Je'fuis Orefte,'X}U'bien Agamemnon: 
Que d'^ter par un tas de ConfuTes merveillei, 

■ ' Svu-'rien dire i I'elpfit etourdir les oieilles. ' 

That Ae fimpHcity of Euripides is pre- 
ferable to the perplexity or bombdl of- Cor- 
aeille^e' manner in developing the ftory of 
ievenal of his tragedies, no peribn of juil 
tafte I bdicve will difpute. The firft fcene 
of the einna has been ridiculed by Boileau. 
ThitorSertorius is not very happy. His 
&moas play of Rodogune is opened by two 
unknown pcrfofts, one q£ vrhoBi'begins, 

£nfin ce jour pompeux, cet-heureux j«urj iiiOus Ink; 


jt6 7^t StatKfJpMrtj^aeuM.-^ BT. 
tad, after un Ifts ile itoafuiBc oWtveiUef td 
^ moft urntidud nrfe, AxDanded to dii 
length of ieveojy Hnns, vhea tbc reader 
very Im^fttimdy «xpa^ to be iafaraMi of 
the whole ^ the Mrxtttkiti, ftope Jhort irith 
thefe wprtii* 

Two hrothen wilud bjr tht JnoA tmiler 
frien(]i}iif>, jiv4flgin,:^&«9 ptAeCBt hari,ng 
been I^ng ip IPWiwUb the- fonw prinofs, 
never We inttaia^4v»r po^n to «c3tch 
other, not o^ ^ ^ inp(^ of jpfXpytfy or 
diflrufl;, but that their confidents may tell 
it ^0 fpeOacor, aiid v^c b«ib finne amends 
ior the ftbt'i^ -coodi^oa of the ^»roar 
coBvet^^tioO' H^Mwyttr, ftiU the poor Qmc- 
^Mor is aiuch ip the ^atk, till tbe ,qiieen, 
who kn f€ifc&. Mitctbiavel, odLiUbcc, mecdy 
fr«Ql .low ftf ta^ag, kI1 the jnupdsfs fite 
ihas cpieiii»9o4, *nd <hoSt fte ^U iatmds 
to cobttstitt to ^r w<ulkng<-v!aman, -&r 

wh(^e $)*r«e iSbeespMi& t^ &ine tine a 

fpvprciia ^enccnhpit. 


Doiizccb, Google 

Here I ctanot hdp tctkitig notice that as 
the poet's want of art made it necelTary to 
&t the queen 16 prate of h<T former cranes, 
to let us into the fafaie^ £> ignorance of human 
nature bffiivj^ed him, la a fuccoeding feene, 
intb the ^dftlious ab&fditjh of nwkihg both 
Rodogune waA the ^om without hefitation, 
the one advifit^the lover to mandcr Us imf- 
trels, ^otiwr the fbn to muKlu-hiB mother. 
Here agi^ wi inftanoe oStts itAlf of our 
Sbakeipe v'^s ^^wiior 4cAow]a^ of ^b heart 
of man. .¥Xxtg Johh wiihcs to iaftigttaifu- 
bert to feiU Brincci likxtliiw hut QhUbtuc-mth 
what diffioility he -ejQmflea hm boaid pur- 

Come hither, Hiifteit. O sac ^|en^ Hulwrti 
WesvretlMCtnudii wtdua Ail -Wall of fleft 
l^Bte ia t foul doante 'tbae Iftf orWiMi:, 
And with 4ilmurt»ge d4»m to pty t)ir Ian.: 
Aiul, cgr fDod.'fnand, litf vtAfOOfxywaL- 
Livei in this bolims ^sKrlychflrHbecL 
Givemed^hand^ It»ia:tUngbo&]p-w> . 
But I wiH fit 9^ «^ iMRC biftter time. 


ia8 ■ ^ibe.Seco/tJ Part cf Heiir-^ IV. 

By heaven, Hubert, I'm almoft aihatn'd 
To fajr what gqod'itfpeSt I have of thsc 

I am.m^icfa bounden to yoat majefly. 

King John. 
Good-iriend, thou haA no caufe to fay fo yet,— < 
But tbou Ibalt bavc^— and oreep time ne'er &> flow, , 
Yecit&allcoaie forme to do thee jiopd.- 
I had a thing to fay-*l^t, let it go s 
.TbeAtn'is in tbebeav'n, and Uie protid day« 
A^MniJed with the [^eaf^KS of the wo^. 
It all too wanton, and too full of gaudet, . 
■To give me audience. If tb6 mtdnigbt bell r 
- Did-wkb hit iron tongue and brazen moiitb ' ) 
Sound oix uitto the drowfy race of night j 
If this lame were a chuich-yard where we ftand,. 
And thou pollcl^ uttth atllouliind wrongs ; 
Or if th^ furly fpirit mtkntdioly 
Had fcak'd thy blood and made it heaTy-ihiclr, 
Which elfe runs tidding up and down 'the veins. 
Making ihat fdiot laughter keep mens eyes. 
And ftnia their cheeks to idle merrimnit ; 
(A paffion hateful to my purpofts] 
Or if thou couM'ft fee me without eyes. 
Hear me without ttiine ears, and oiak« rtply 


Doiizc^bv Google 

Tie S^fJPart o/Hehry IV. il^ 

without a tongue, ufing conceh aldnef 
Without eyes, ears, and harmful found erf' wordt j 
Then, in defpight of broad-ey'd watcMul day> 
I would into thy bofom pour my thoughts : 
But ah, I will not— yet I love tfiee well } 
And* by my trotU, I think,- thoutor'ftiBe wolL 


Doiizc^bv Google 

^oiizccb, Google 

&fi tbi 


The poet*s eye, iri z fine frerwy roliingj 

Dotk glanc« frMS hear'n to canh, from ezrth to bcxT'Of 

Andj as imagination bodies forth 

The forms of things unknown^ the poet's peS 

Turn* them to fliape, and gives to airy nothing 

A local habiution and a fiame. 

ASdJiimmtr l^gbft Dream, 

I 2 

Doiizc^bv Google 




B E I N G S. 

AS the genius of Sbakelpear, through 
the whole extent of the poet's pro- 
vince, is the objcft of our enquiry, we 
(hould do him great injuftice, if we did not 
attend to his peculiar felicity, in thofe 
fii£bions and inventions, from which poetry 
derives its higheft diftin^ion, - and from 
whence it firft a0umed its pretentions to 
divine inipiration, and' appeared theaffodatc 
of religion. 

The ancient poet was admitted into the 
fynpd . of the Gods : he difcourfed of their 
liatures, he repeated their couniels, and, 
without the charge of impiety dr prefump- 
tion, difcloied their (UlTeniions, and published 
their vices. He peopled the woods with 
I 3 nymphs. 

Doiizc^bv Google 

jjj4 On the PraeteBfatural Beings. 
jymphs, the rivers with deities; and, thaf 
he might ftill have ibme being within call to 
his affiAance, he placed re^niive echo in th$ 
vacant regions of air. 

In the infant ages of the world, die cre- 
(iulity of ignorance greedily received Cveiy 
marvellous tale : but, as mankind incrcaied 
igkoowMsf, and a long 'fitti^s of tradiHont 
ha4 efiahliflud a certain inytb<d«gy and 
hiftoiy. ffae poot was no {bogcp permitted to 
nnge, uncohtrcdled, diron^ tike boundleft 
doibinuins «f fancy, but l^came ftftnmed, 
(n iofoic nieafure, to things believed w 
knoiva. ra- Thou^ ihe duty ipf fo«try Ut 
plet& and ^o furprife flill ^bfifted^ the 
means vacied witlf the ftate «f the workl, 
and if foon grew ncceffary to mafcc '^e tiew 
inventions lean on the old traditions.— The 
human mind delights Ia povdty, and is 
{capdvated by the marvelloofi, but even* in 
i^ble itfelf r«qnirss the CMdit^.— The poet, 
who can give to fplcndid inventions, and t6 
fi^ons n&ff and bold, the air and authority 
ef reality and truth, if m|lW of tkfr genuine 


ibavees^the Callalto ^rbigy and mij^Sij 

he felt that they were rttceiSlty to fiSMif 
itfelf. One needs only to read fome modern 
Fhniii hettAi jlb^Hi^ t<^ tte Minvliieed libw 
peatlf^^pU: (ibetty AibGlts 6n the J»ii« tle> 
InenO of hiftory and fihiloftphy : Taffi), 
thim^ he had i iiiBjea A p6paiar,tt thb 
<1M6 IK StK-dte, at (he dilivHSnCi! ctf Jecoi 
fitenii was oUi^ed to inlpldy the opefattonii 
bt itaagic, ibid the intefpdfition of angels 
and diiBiObSi to ^i^e (be atarrellous, the 
lUbliiViCi ini, I may add,- that religrobs iii' 
Id his i*6rte, which innoblfis thfe ravthufi-i 
afin» i(dd fertCtifies the fiction, of the poet-. 
ArioAo's excurUve mule wanders through 
th« rt^ijs of tonuaee, 'aiieiided by JI £he 
fut>eih train of chivalry, giants, dwatfs, and 
eiiGhantA'Sf and howtvW thsfe poetis, b/ 
tit krtte and frigid critJCS ihay Ikve been 
tiond^iiined {br giving ornaihents not purely 
1 4 clailical. 


ty6 jQm tie P n ete n atnral Beings, 
daffical* to tbeii' works ; I. beUeve evory 
reader of ta&c adioir^, not only ths, fertility 
of their imagination, but the jud^nietit with 
whidi they availed themfelves of the iuper- 
^tioa of the limes, and: of the cuftqms and 
piodes of the coontry, 14 vhiphithey laid 
fheir fcwjes qf a^o. 

To recur, as the Icamrf fpmetinje? do^ 
to the mythology and fables of pthpp.-agps^ 
^d other countries* has ever ^ poor e^e<^ ; 
Jupitea*, Minerva, and Apollo, only em-, 
bellilh a modem Apry, »$ a prii^t. from' their 
ftatues adorns thp frontJfpiece.rrW? ad- 
mire indeed the art of the icvilptors who 
givic |heir ima^s .^ith, grace and majefty j 
but no devotion is excited, no enthufiafii^ 
kindled, by the repreicntations of cbarader; 
iwhofe divinity we do not acknpwiedg?. 

When the Pagan temples c«afcd to be re- 
vered, and the p£(rnaflian mount exifled no 
longer, it would have been di^cult for th9 
poet of later times to have prelerv^ thp 
divinity of his mufe inviolate, if the weftern 

Doiizc^bv Google 

On the: Praatcrnatnral BfiingSi 13 - 
wsrld too" had not had its facrcd fableSf 
Wirilc rfiere is any ■ national fupefftition 
which credulity hae: confecrated, any hal- 
iowcd tradition long revered by vulgar faith j 
to that fanfituary, that afylurii, may the poet 
rcfort.^Lct him tread the holy ground with 
■revCTence j reipaS the eftablifhed doftrine j 
craftly obferv? the accuftomCd rites, and 
the iattributes of the obje«il of veneration ; 
then "fhall he not vainly invoke sn inexo- 
rable or:ahfent deity. Ghofts, fairies, goblins, 
^ves,- were as propitious, were as afliftant 
to iShafcefpear, 'and gave, as much of the 
TubHme, "and. of the rtiarvcllous, to his 
inaioDB, as nymphsi fatyrs, fawns-, afld even 
|:he triple Geryoni to-the works of ancient 
Jjards." Our poet >never carries his praster- 
natural beings b^ond the limits of the 
popular tradition. It is true, that heboldly 
exerts his poetic genius and fafcinating 
powers -in -that magic circle, in whicknone 
terdurfi walk but be : but as judicious as 
bold, " he contains himfelf within it. He 
falb up all the ftately phantoms iu the re- 
gions of fuperftition, which our faith will 
' ■ , receive 


ij8 On^ Pneternatoral Beki^ 
receive with reverence. He throws into 
their matiAers and language a itiyftenbiis 
folemnity, favorable to fupetftitioQ ih ge- 
neral* with fomething highly diarafberiftic 
of feach particular being which he ^s^ibits. 
Hiswildies, his ghdfts, ahd his ftlriee, fetm 
ipirits of health or goblins damn'd j h^fq^ 
mtb them mrs from hexotiit ot Biajb fmt 
hell. His ghofts afe fuUen, (nelaAChdy, 
and terrible. Evety Itaitchce, ottfcr'dbythc 
witches, is a prophecy or a chartn j their 
manners are maligfiMt. their ^irajes ank* 
biguous, their promifes dfclufive.-^— Tht 
Witches cauldron 16 a horrid coUcdion of 
what is moft horrid in their fuppt^d iii'- 
cantations. Anel is a fpirit, oiild, g^tle, 
and fweet, pofle&'d (^ fuptrnatur^ powers, 
but fabjed to the command k^ a grebt ma* 

The fairies are Iportive aild gay j tht inno- 
cent artificers c^ harmlefs frauds, and itiirthfid 
dclufions. Puck's enumeration erf" the feats of 
a fairy is the tnoft agrecaHc recital of their 
liippbied gambols. 

3 . . T. 

bv Google 

.On:fii Pi»tenut«sd fidag). a 39 

Ta all thefe bnngs ciu poet has affigncd 
tafks, and appropriated. JtsMiners adajpted ta 
their imputed di^Iitions and characters ; 
^hi^h vA eontiimaHjr dcrobiKng .through 
)tbe w})ole piece, in t feries of opera^ns 
fttfiAacvfc to the caJaftrophe. They are not 
•JHVU^t in a« fiibordinate or cafbal agents, 
-fett le^d the a£lion, and govern tiie iable t in 
tvhifih ttfpeA our coontryman has entered 
fnofC tnio ^^rical propriety than thcGreefc 

Every fpvcics of poetry has it6 diiUnA 
dati«6 aqd colligations. The draitu does 
jiat, like the epic, admit of epiibde, fuper- 
&1DUS psribfu, or things inc»diUe ; for, «« 
it is ob&rved . hy 1 critic of great ingenuity 
vad tadte, * *' that which pailes in repre&A^ 
i* tation» and chall»igefi, a« it were, the 
'* fbrutinjr of ^e eye, nw^ be truth itfey, or 
•* fometiiing very nearly approaching to It." 
it fhould indeed be what oar imaginad<Mk 
^ill adopt, though our realbn woidd rejeA 
* Hurd, CD DnuiMtic loiiutioa* 

Doiizc^bv Google 

140 On the Prstematural Beings. 

it. Great caution and dexteri^ are required 
-in the dramatic poet to give ah air of reali^ 
to fi^tious exiftence. 

In rfic bold attempt to give to airy nothing 
a local habitation and a perfbn, regard muft 
.be paid to fix it in fuch fcenesi and to display 
it in fuch adltons, as are agreeable to the 
;pqailar opinion. -^Witches holding their 
jabbathf and faluting paflengers on the blafted 
iieadi; ghoftfi* at the midnight hour, vifiting 
the glimpfes of the moon, and whifperlng t 
bloody fccrct, from propriety of place and 
adion, dd'ive a credibility very propitious to 
jhe fchcmeof the poet, Reddere perfom^- 
^pnvenientia cuique, cannot be leis his duty 
in regard to thefe fuperior and divine, than 
to human chara^rs. Indeed, irom the in- 
variablenels of their natures, a greater coniif^ 
teocy and uoifomuty is neceifary ; but moll 
t}f.aU, as the bdief of th«r intervention 
depends entirely on their manners and ienti- 
ments fuititig with the pfeconceived opinion 
j>f than, 



On the Pfaeternatural Beings. 141 

The magician Profpero rufing a ftonn ; 
witches performing infernal rites ; or any 
other exertion of the fuppofed powers toA 
qualities of the agent, were eafily credited 
by the Tulgar. 

The genius of Shakefpear informed him 
that poetic ^ble muft rife above the fimple 
tale of the nurfe ; therefore he adorns the 
beldamie tradition mth flowers gathered on 
claffic ground, but ftill. wifely fufiering diofe 
fimples of her native ibil, to which the eife- 
blilhed fuperftition of her country has attri- 
buted a mi^c Ipdl, to be predominant. Can 
any thing ^ be more poetical than Proipero'ff 
addre& to his attendant fpirits before he dif- 
milles them ? 


Ye elvet of Mils, brooks, ftanding lalces, and grores, < 
. And jt that on the fands with printlefs focK . 

Do chafe die ebbing Neptune } and do &f him 

When he comes back jye demy-puppets, that, . 

By the moonflune, the green four ringlets make> 


^oiizccb, Google 

^4^ Ok ^ PhBumactiffd' Svfogtf.- 

Whereof die ewe not bites ; and you, whofe pafHtn6 
. b-ftt. na&e ttlcliiigftt ffi«flirooiAs t tfM fejoiee'- 

To hnrtkr Toleouv curfew ;. 1^ wBbfe' di 
. |Wc>kaudei»Ao'^7etM>I»av«beAMliia 

And 'twixt the grccn-fea and the azui'd^ wJt 
Set roaring war \ to the dread rattling thunder 
Bsvslg^n fiit» vfti lifcttt olive's flout odF 

, WHIilHf •wtrbcftr: tbrftinngHia^d'pniADMiiy 
Haw Ldude-fllah^. and bythp $UBi plttda iqr 

, T^iiarattd Mdar: gneres^atny oadBUndr 
H«e wafe'd their DeqicgB » op'i^ XBd lot 4kaB Ottlv 


Here, iw i^mafafy flimioed: op' the: j^oii^ 
^nlw finno- conocnung' Ac pofref d^ 
otagietMSi. The; rotantntnau ol the \(>ict^M> 
in Macbeth are more Iblemn afltt femblb' 
than thoie of the- l^khllio of Lucan, or of 
tl^ Camdia of: Hbraee* It ma)* tw Ml, 
indeed, tluit^ Shi&^(ea<' Had* » ad^^antage 
derived frpttic dw^mvtv diroful- dism^r of 
his nationaLfiqKrflldefn. 


0»«*rPMt(W!f*|f»l'Bei»gg. »4j 

A' c^tbnta) writw » hw ing^uGoa 
lettertaa clHcaliy, ttas eb£srved, thtt tha 

a» sifira ^AipWit t» tht^ iilts o£ poctiy, 
dun tlK^ Cce«iaR. TtM dtvi«tiqi> of thotk 
limM was g)oQ«{qft a^ ftacfol, sot beiag 
purgeflt of tbe t«npr^ eif ibx Celtaa fables. 
T£e prtcO: <i^«ii«wiiM biiBi^f of tbediia 
isxaUtOBK «£ W, ^e^tceflbi, 4>t Dniid> 
Thff. c&uroh of Romctaiioftted many of thei 
Cdiic ' fiipfliftitions & oibhflirs* which waF4 
BOIr efttUiibirf 6yr iC^ aa points of £iithi 
ftill: mll>ntutl«i^ % traditieinitl: autltarit)! 
•■MDg the:vii)gar> CJimitte, tempera, modn 
e£ lifi^ ani inlUtntieita of ggiecMnOTt,. &em 
4ll:ta Uatnrcdnl^iisl to make die fiiperilih 
tioBs cifi ^ CUtic: atttomi awliHHiheljF aii4 
ttoiUe^ HniofiqihjB h8d;Bat nutigated the 
mBxat/r «£ ^nennt' dtvotion-^ or tamed 
dajfiadra -l^nrit! of enlhnfialiDi iU tho 
baodst who: vtto/ ottr; philofephera and 
postsw ju^Bodcd to bs;p«fle0ed'of the daric 
fccrets of magic and divination, the]tr cer- 
tainly encouraged the ignorant credulity, 
W^ anxioHSi £tar9, tO' which' fdcfa- impos- 

Doiizc^bv Google 

144 0« the Prasternktufal Beingi^.'' 
fUres owe their fuccefs ^d credit. ■ Thd 
fetired and gloomy fcenes appointed for' 
the moll folcmn rites of devotion j the auf- 
terity and rigour of druidtcal difcipline and 
jurifdiftion i the fafts» the penimces, the 
lad ^communications from the comforts 
and privileges of civil life j ■ the dreadfiil 
anathema, whofe vengeance puiiiied' the' 
wretched beyond the grave, which bounds 
all human power and mortal juiri^ftion, 
muft deeply imprint ' on the mind all dibfc 
forms of fuperftition Ach an iiierardiy pre-" 
fcnted. The bard, whowas fiibfervicnt: tof 
the druid, had mixed them in his heroic 
ibng ; in his hiAorical annals ; In his me-' 
dical practice : genii affifted his heroes $ 
dxmons decided die fate of the battle ; and 
charms ciired the fick, ' or the wounded^ 
After the confecrated groves were cut <ijwn^ 
and the temples demoliihef^ the tales that 
^ning from thence were ftill preferved 
with religious reverence in the minds of the 

The poet found himfelf happily fitu^ted 


Ox tie PfiEternatural Beings. 14J 
amidft enchantments, ghofts, goblins ; every 
clement fuppofed the rdidence of a. kind of 
deity i the genius, of the mountain, the fpiiit 
of the Hoods, the oak endued with facred 
prophecy, made men walk abroad with 4 
fearful apprehenfion 

Of powen unfcen, and migjitier fin than tfaey. 
On the mountains, and in the woods, Aalked 
the angry fpeftre ; and in the gayefl: and 
moft plealing fcenes, even within the cheer- 
ful haunts of men, amongft villages and 

Tripp'd the light fairies and the d^tper elves. 

The reader will eafily perceive what re- 
fources remained for the poet In this 
vifionary land of ideal forms. The general 
fcenery of nature, confidered as inanimate, 
only adorns the defcriptive part of poetry ; 
but being,- according to the Celtic traditions, 
animated by a kind of intelligences, the 
bard could better make uie of them for his 
moral purpofes. That awe of the imme- 
- diatc pre&nce of the deity, which, among 
the reft of the vulgar* is confined to temples 
jind altars, was here ditfufed over ^very 
K objeft. 


146 On the Pneternatur^ BeingSv 
obje(%. Th^ pafled trembling throt^h the 
woods, and over Ac mountain, and by the 
lakes, inhabited by thoj[e invlfible powers ; 
ibch apprehen£ons muft indeed 

Deepen the murmur of the felling floods. 

And fhed a browner hoizM on the woods \ 
give ftarfiil accents to every whifper (^ the 
aimmate or inanimate creation, and arm every 
ihadow with terrors. 

' With great rcaibn, thcrcfijre, it was 
afferted, that the weftern bards had advan- 
tage aver Homer in Ac fupcrftitidnS of their 
country. The religious ceremonies of 
Greece were more pompous than fblemo j 
aind fenned as much a part of their civil 
ipilituttons, as belonging to ipiritual matters : 
qor did they imprefs fi> deep a fenfe of invi- 
fible beings, and prepare the mind to catch 
Ae enthuiiaim of the .poet, and to receive 
with veneration the phantoms he prefented. 

Oar c;ouAtryman has another foperiority 

over tlw- Greek poets, even the earlieft of 

them, who* having imbibed the learning of 


bv Google 

On the Pnetefnatural Beitigs. 147 

ttiyilerious Egypt> addlded themfetvea to 
all^oiy J bat our Gothic bard employs the 
potent agency of fitcred £ible, inllead of 
mere amuiive allegory. When the world 
becom;^ learned and philofof^icalf fable 
refines into allegory. Bat the age of fable 
U the golden age of poetry j when the 
beams of unclouded reaibn, and the fteady 
lamp of inqnifitive phBofbphy, throw their 
penetrating rays upon the phantoms of 
imagination* they difcover them to have 
been mere ihadows* formed- by ignorance; 
The thunderbolts of Jove, forged in Cim- 
merian ca?s^ i the ceAus of Venus, woven 
by hands-<if the attradiing Graces, ceaie to 
terrify and allure. Echo^ from an amorotts 
nymph, fades into voice, and nothing more j 
,the very threads ctf Iris's fcarf are untwifted j 
all the poet's fpells are broken, his charma 
diflblved : deferted on his own ehchanted 
ground, he takes refuge in the groves of 
philofophy i but there his divinities e9apo^ 
rate in allegory," ih which myftic and 
infubftantial ftate they do but weakly affift 
his operations. By ailbciating his mufe 
K 2 with 


148 On the Preternatural Beings, 
with philofophy, he hopes flie may eilabltfb 
with the learned the worfhip (be won froift 
the ignorant j Co makes her quit the old 
traditional fable, from whence £he derived 
her firft authority and power, to follow airy 
hypothefis, and chimerical fyftems. Alle- 
gory, the daughter of fable, is admired by 
the fafUdioiis wit> and abflrufe fcbolar* when 
her mother begins to be treated as fuperarj- 
nuated, foolifh, and doting ; but however 
well fhe may plea& and amufe, not being 
Wor{hipped as divine, fhe does not awe and 
terrify like iacfed mythology, nor ever caff 
eftabliih the fame fearful devotion, nor alTume 
foch arbitrary power over the mind. Her 
perfon is not adapted to the ilage> nor her 
qualities to the bufinefs and end c>f dramatic 
reprefentation, L'Abbe du Boa has judi- 
cioufly diftinguifhed th? reafons why allegory 
is not fit for the drama. What the critic 
inveftigated l^ art and ftudy, the wifdcHn of 
nature unfolded to our unlettered poet, or 
he would not have refifted fhe prevalent 
ialhion <^ his allegorizing age; efpecially 


, D,a,l,zc.bvG00gIe 

On fie Prasternatura] Beings. 149 
as Spencer's F^ry Queen was the admired 
worlf of the tinies. 

Allegorical beings, performing a£ls of 
chivalry^ fell in with the talle of an age 
that affected abflrufe learning, romantic 
valour, and high-flown gallantry. Prince 
Arthur, the Britifli Hercules, was brought 
■from ancient ballads and romances, to be 
■allegorized into the knight of magnanimity, 
at the court o£ Gloriana. His knights fol- 
lowed him thither, in the fame moralized 
garb, and even the queftynge beaft received 
no lefs honour and improvement from the 
allegorizing art of Spencer, ?s has been 
fliewn by acritic of great learning, ingenuity, 
and tafte, in his obfervations on the Fairy 

Our firft theatrical entertainments, after 
we emerged from grofs barbarifm, were of 
the allegorical kind. The Chriftmas carol, 
and carnival {hews, the pious paftimes of 
pur holy-days, were turned into pageantries 
K 3 and 

bv Google 

150 On the Prxternatural Beings. 
And niafques, all fymbc^ical and allegorical, 
—Our ftage rofe from hymns to the virgin, 
and encomiums on the patriarchs and &ints ; 
as the Grecian tragedies from the hymns to 
Bacchus. Our carily poets added narration 
and adion to this kind of pfalmody, as 
^ichylus had done to the fi>ng of the goat. 
Much more rapid indeed was the progrcfe 
of the Grecian ftage towards perfeftion.<-^---t 
Phflofophy, poetry, eloquence, all the fine 
arts, were in their meridian glory, when the 
drama firft began to dawn at Athens, and 
glorioujly it ftione forth, illumined by every 
kind of intelledbial light. 

ShakefpeaTi in the dark fhadcs of Gothic 
barbarifm, had no refources but in the very 
phantoms that walked the night of ignorance 
and fuperftition ; or in touching the latent 
paflions of civil rage and diicord j iiire to 
pleafe bcft his fierce and barbarous audience, 
when he raifed the bloody ghoft, o? reared 
the warlike ftandard. His choice of thefe 
fubjefts was judicious, if we confider the 


On the Pc^tematural Beings. 151 
times in which he lived -, his management 
of them fo mafterly, that he will be admired 
in all times. 

In the (ame age, Ben. Johnfon, more 
proud of his learning than confident of his 
genius, was defirous to give a metaphyfical 
air to his compofitions. He compofcd many 
. pieces of the allegorical kind, eftablifhed on 
the Grecian mythology, and rehdcred his 
play-boufe a perfefl pantheon.— —Shake- 
^ear di&lained thefe quaint devices ; an 
admirable judge of human nature, with a 
capacity moll extenilve, and an invention 
moft happy, he contented himfclf with giv- 
ing dramatic manners to hiftory, fublimity 
and its appropriated powers and charms to 
fii^ion i and in both thefe arts he is une- 
qualled. The Catiline and Sejanus of 

Johnlbn are cold, crude, heavy pieces j turgid 
where they fliould be great ; bombaft where 
they fhould be fubltme ; the fentiments- 
extravagant ; the manners exaggerated ; and 
the whole undramatically conducted by long 
fenatorial ^ceches, and flat plagiarifms from 
K 4 Tacitus 


152 On ihe Pneternatural Beings. 
Tacitus and Salluft. Such of this authof'tf 
pieces as he boafts to he grounded m (mti-" 
quity and/olid learning, and to /ay bold sn 
removed myfteries *, have neither the majefty 
of Shal^efpear's ferious fables, nor thie pleaf- 
ing fportfulnefs and poetical imagination of 
his fairy tales. Indeed if we compare our 
countryman, in this refpedt, with the moft 
adniired Writers of antiquity, we {hall, per- 
haps, not find him inferior to them. • 

^fchylus, with greater impetuofity of 
genius than even our courtrj'man, makes 
bold incurfions into the blind chaos of 
mingled allegory and fable, but he is not 
fo happy in diffufing the folemn fliade j in 
cafting the dim, religious light that ihould 
reign there. When he introduces his furies, 
and other fupernatural beings, he cxpofcs 
them by too glaring a light j caufes affright 
in the Jpedtator, but never rifes to impart- 
ing that unlimited terror which we fecj 
when Macbetli to his bold addrefs, 

• Prologue to the Mafque of Q;ieeii!j, 


bv Google 

Oh the Praeternatural Beings. i^j 

How nb^ ! yc fecret, foul, and midnight bags^ 
Whatis't yedo? 

is anfwered, 

'"A deed without a name. ■ 

The witches of the foreft are as im- 
portant in the tragedy of Macbeth, as the 
Eumenides in the drama of ^fchylus j but 
our poet is infinitely more dexterous and 
judicious in the condutft of their part. The 
iecret, foul, and midnight hags are not 
introduced into the caftle of Macbeth; they 
never appear but in their allotted region of 
■folitude and night, nor aft beyond their 
^here of ambiguous prophecy, and malig- 
nant forccry. The Eumenides, fnoring in 
the temple of Apollo, and then appearing, 
as evidences againft Oreftes in the Areo-. 
pagus, feem both atSing out of their 
iphere, and below their charaflcr. It was 
the appointed office of the venerable god- 
deffes, to avenge the crimes unwhipt of 
jufticc, not to demand the public trial of 
guilty men. They niuft lofe much of the 
^ar and reverence in which they were held 



154 ^'V /i)<.Pr£ternattiral Beings, 
for their iecr^ ioflucnce on the mindi and 
the terrors they could infiift on criminal 
confcience, when they were reprefented as 
obliged to have recDurfe to the ordinary 
method of revenge, by being witnefles arid 
pleaders in a court of juftice, to obtain ihe 
corporal puhifhment of the oiFender. fn- 
deed, it is poflible, that the whole ftory 
of this play might be allegorical, as thus» 
that Oreftes, haunted by the terrors which 
purfue the guilty' mind, confeffed his 
crime to the Areopagus, with all the aggra- 
vating circumftances remorfe fuggefted to 
him, from a pious delire to expiate his 
offence, by fubmittlng to whatever fentence 
this refpeftable affembly fliould pronounce 
for that purpofe. The oracIe, which com- 
manded him to put Glytemneftra to death, 
would plead for him with his judges : 
their voices being equal' for abfolving or 
punjfliing, wifdom gives her vote for abfolv- 
ing him. 

Thus confidercd, what appears fo odd in 
the mouth of the goddefs, that- (he is little 
V . affefled 

Doiizc^bv Google 

On fii Piatcmatun!' Beings, ijj 
*&Qcd by the circiimftance of ClytemaeT^ 
tfa's . relation to the murderer, becloie flu 
herfidf had no. mother, means oaly« that 
juQioe : is not governed hj any zSeOioa or 
perfimal coAfideration, hut aOs by an inva- 
liaMe and general rule; If the oracle com. 
manded, and the- laws juftified the aft of 
Oreftes, by appointing the next in Mood to 
arenge ihe.murder, then' other circumftanpe^ 
of a ^jiecial and in&rior kind, wece not to 
htm any weight. I am inclined to think 
this: tiBgedy is a mixture of hiftory and 
•ll^ory. jEichylus aifeded the alle^ical 
manner lb macb as to form a tragedy, called 
. the Balance, upon the allegory in Homer, 
of Jupiter's weighing Ae fates of Heflof 
and AchiHes • ; and it is apparent, that the 
ProiBcllieDs oftbis audior, is tl^ ancient 
dlegpry of PtometheUf wrought into i 
^aitia, Protaetlieus thalus his-SrA ajq)ear> 
ancewith two ^nnbolic^ perfoos. Violence 
and Force, which are, -appa^ently^ of the 
poet's fidion. Pere Bnwu^ intimates a 

* ApudHut. demodolcg. poetas. ' 

'• ■ K6 ■ • fuf. 

Doiizccb, Google 

156 ©« MfPraetftmatiiral Beings!' 
fu^icion that this tragedy is an" allegory^ But 
imagines it alludes to Xerxes or Darius, bc- 
caiife it abounds with refledions on tyranny. 
To flatter the 'repijMican ipirit, '^ 'the 
Grecian tragedies arc full of fuch rcffe&ibns. 
But ari obHque cenfure 'on the ' Perfian 
monarch cduld not" have'excufcd thb dircft 
Imputations ■ thrown oh the chaj-after of 
Jupiter^ if ■ the circumftanccs of the .ftory, 
had been taken in a literal' ienic ; nor can it 
be fuppofcjd that the Athenians would have 
endured the moil violent affronts to have 
been offered to the charafler of that deity to 
whom they every day offered lacrifice. An 
^legory being fojaiietimes a mere phyfical 
Hypothecs, without impiety might be treat- 
ed with freedom.— —^It is probable' that 
many all^prjes .brought, from-thc hier^ly- 
phic fend "of Mgypt, 'wtre, in the groilcr 
times of Greece/, literally, undo-ftood by 
the ,vjijgir.j'..but^ in more jAUofophic 
Pg?s, ,wfire ;agam.tnmfindtedmto:>3ll<^oiy t 
y/h^h will accaint: for. the iuythology. of 
the Greeks and jEeypt4ai)>Tarying .greatly, 
, '• ,> / but 


Ojtihe Prajternatural Beings. IJ7 
but ftill prcferving -fuch a refemblance as 
fhews them to be derived from the iamc 

Jcajous ;of the ndgbbouririg ftatcs, and-, 
ever attentive to .the glory and intereft of 
their commonwealth, an Athenian audience 
liftened with pleafure tq any circumftances* 
in their theatrical entertainments, which 
reflefted honour on their cotintry. The 
inftitution of the Areopagus by the.exprelp 
commands of. Minerva;, a perpetual amity 
promifed by Oreftes betwwn Argos and 
Athens in the tragedy of the Eumenides $ - 
and a prophecy of Promothetis, whic^ threw 
a luftre on,the author of the race of the ' 
Heraclidx, were, circumibuices, witljout 
queftion, feduloufly ibHght by the poet, 
and favorably received by die Jpcftator- 
But thou^fuch fubjeflfi might be chofen, or, 
invented, as would introduce fome favorable 
incidents,, or flattering refleftions, this inten*; 
tion did not always reign thrqi^ the whole. 

^oiizccb, Google 

158' 0» tBe Pneternatural Beihgs. 

It has been jnfl: now obferrcd, that Shakc- 
ipear has an advantage over the Greek poets, 
in the more iblenin, gloomy, and myflerioua 
mr of his national fuperftitloiis ; but diis 
avails him only vrith critics of deep pe- 
netration and true tafte, and with whom 
lentiment has ta.6tt ivfSf than authority. 
The learned have received the popular tele» 
of Greece from dieir poet a ; ours are derived 
to them from die illiterate vulgar. The 
phantom of Darius, in the tragedy of the 
Ferfians, evoked by ancient ritds, is behdd 
with reverence by the fcholar, and endured 
by the be! efprit. To thcfe the ghoft of 
Hamlet is an objeft of contempt or ridicule. 
£et us candidly examine theie royal {hades, 
as exhibited to us by thofe great mtflers in 
the art of exciting pity and terror, ^fchylus 
and Shakefpear ; and impartially decide 
which poet throws moft of the fubHme into 
the prstematural charafteti and, alio, which 
has the art to rend^ it moift efficient in the 
drama. This enquiry may be mort in- 
tereiling. as the French wita have often 

bv Google 

On tb& Pratetnatural BcingSi 1 59 
mcQtioijed Hamlet's ghod a$ aa inflance of 
i^e bacbarllm o^ our theatre. The Forfians, 
of i^fchylos, is certainly one c£ the moft 
auguft fpe^aclfis tihat ever was teprefented 
on a tbeatre 3 nobly unagined^ bai^ily iUiti 
^lincd,. rogabrly CQiidu<%:d» deepfy into- 
ceAingto ^ Athenian iieople, and&vDrablB 
to thdr great icheme of rdiflung. the powes 
of tbo Peiikn mooaich. It would be. abluid 
to dQpre<;iate this cKcellcat piece, or to 
briug into a general ^omparifon, wtlh it, a 
drama of £> difiercnt a kind aa the tragedy, 
of H»mtet. But ib i^ fiicely altowahte t9 
compare the Perfiaji j^iantom with the 
Danifh £^oft ; and to examine, whether any 
thing but prejudice, in favoured the ancients^ 
protedts the fuperOiItiQus clrcumitanoes rela- 
tive to the one, &om the ridicule with which 
thofe. accompanying- the other ar& treated. 
Ato0a, the widow of Darius, rektes to the 
£ige8 of the Ferfian. council, a dream and an 
onwh ; they adviic her to confult the ihade 
of ber dead lord, upon what is to be done 
in the unfortunate £tuation of Xerses juft 
defeated fc^ the Greeks, In the third ad ibc 
4 enters 

. ,i,z<..t,CoogIf 

i6o 0« /i^* Pneternatural SdngS. 

enters offering to the Manes a libation com- 
poied of milk, honey, wine, oil, &cc. upori 
this Darius ifiues from his tomb. Let the 
wits, who are Co {mart on our ghoft's difap- 
pealing at the cock's crowing, explain why, 
in realbn, a ghoft in Perlia, or in Greece, 
ihould be more fond of milk and hoiiey, 
than amrCc, in Denmark, to the (rowing 
of a cock. Each-poet adopted, in his work, 
the ftperilidon- relative to his fubjed ; and 
the poet who does fo, underlUnds his bufi- 
nefs much better than the critic, who, in 
judging of that work, refufes it. his Mten- 
tion. The phantom of Darius comes forth 
in his regal robes to AtoHa and the Satraps 
in council, who, in the Eaftem manner, 
pay their filent adorations to their emperor. 
His quality of ghoft does not appear to 
make any impreffion upon them ; and the 
Satraps £o ex3.Gt\y preferve the charaders of 
courtiers, that-they do not venture to tell him 
the true ftate of the affairs of his kingdom, 
and its recent diigraces : finding he cannot 
get any information from them, he addrefles 
himfelf to Atoffa, who does not break forth 


Oft the Prxternatunl Beingg. t6t 

with that paflionand tenderneis one fhould 
luppofc ftie would do on th© fight of her 
long loft huiband j but very calmly informs 
him, after fome flattery on the conftant 
prqlperity of his reign, of the' calamitous 
ftate of Perfia under Xerxes, who has been 
Simulated by his. courtiers to make war 
upon Greece. The phantom^ who was to 
appear ignorant of what was paft, that the 
Athenian ear might be foothed and flattered 
■with the- detail of their victory at Salamis, 
is allowed, for the fame reafon* fuch pre- 
science as to foretell their future triumph at 
Platea. Whatever elfc he adds by way of 
council or reproof, either in itfelf, or in the 
mode of delivering it, is nothing more than 
-might be expedited from, any old , counfellor 
of ftate. Darius gives his advice to the old 
Tnen, to enjoy whatever they can, becauic 
riches are of no ufe in the grave. Aa this 
touches the moftabfurd and ridiculous foible 
<in human nature, the increafe of a greedy 
tmd fojicitous defire of wealth as the period 
of enjoyment of it becomes more precarious 
and fliort, the admonition has fomething of 
Xf a comic 

^lailizccbvGoOglc ■ 

i6a On tie PfictemKtural Beings, 
a comic and iktirical turn* unbecoming the 
fokmn charad;er o( the. ipeaker, and die 
iad exigency upon which he was caUed. 
Ilie intervention of this praEternatural beiog 
gives nothing of' the marvelous or the 
AiUinteto the piece, nor adds to» oriscon- 
neded with its intereil. The fu{>ernatural 
diverted of tla augufi and the ttrribk make 
but 1 poor Hgure in any Ipedes of poetiy ; 
niitlers and unconneded with the fal^, it 
ivants [x-opriety in dramatic poetry. Shake- 
fpear had fo juil: a tafte that be never intro- 
duced any prxternatund charafter on the 
Aage that did not aflift: in the conduQ of 
the drama. Indeed he had fudi a prodigious 
force of talents he could make every being 
his fency created fiibfervient to his defigns. 
The uncouth, ungainly moniler, Catil»n, is 
ib fubjeft to his genius, as to aflift in bring- 
ing things to the propo&d cod and perfec- 
tion. And the night fairies, tseak tttafters 
though tbeybet even in their wanton gambols, 
and idle Iports, perform great taiks by hisfi 
fotent art. 


Doiizc^^jv Google 

Off the Pnetenuliiral Bein^gs. 1 63 

But to return to the inlEiided ct»np»i£ba 
between the Greaiaa fhade and the Dani^ 
ghofl. The iirA proprkxy is the f^^ndui^ 
of this j^nd of macbiQery, fecms to he, 
th^ ^preternatural periba be intimately 
coBn«£ted with the fable ; that he >increaie 
^e iatereft, add m the ^letnnity of it> aad 
jhat his -efficiency, ifl bringing on the cata- 
ibophe, be in fome meafure adequate to th« 
violence done to ^ ordinary courfe of 
things in Jiis vifiUe iflterpolition. Thefe are 
points peculiarly important in dramatic 
poetry, ps has been before obferved- To 
theie ends it is nece€ary this being Should be 
acknowledged and reveicd by the national 
fupcrftitiMi, and every operation that deve- 
lopes the attributes, which the vulgar opinion, 
or Burfe's legend, taught i^s to ^cri|>p to 
him, will augment oiat pleafufe ; whether 
we give the reins to mutgiflation, and, as 
fpedlators, willi^y yw^ purfelvQS up to 
f}lea&iig deluHon, or, as criti<^$> i^^niine the 
jnerit of the cpippoiifioB. I jbope Jt xi not 
iifficult to ihew, .th^^.i*,^ ^sfe capital 
L 3 points 


1^4 On the Pneternatural Beings.' 
points our author has excelled. At the 
folemn midnight hour, Horatio and Mar- 
cellus, the fchoolfellows of young Hamlet, 
come to the centinels upon guard, excited 
by a report that the ghoft of their late 
monarch had feme preceding nights appear* 
fed to them. Horatio, not being of the 
credulous vulgar, gives little credit to the 
ftory, but bids Bernardo proceed in his rc- 

Bern A R do. 

Laft night of all. 
When yon lame ftar, that's weftward froni the pole. 
Had made his courfe t'lUumc that part of heav'n, . 

■ Whcfc nowit burns, Marcellus and myfelf. 

The bell then beating one — — 
Here enters the ghoft, after you are thus 
prepared. There is fdmething folemn and 
■fublimc in thus regulating the walking of 
the fpirit, by the courle of the" ftar : It 
intimates a connexion and correfpondence 
between things beyond our ken, and above 
the •uifible Murntd Jphere. Horatio is affefted 
'with that kind of fi^r which fuch an appear- 
ance would- Datwally excite. He tremble*, 
- - and 


Oa ibe Fnetenutural Bdng£. 165 
and turns pale. When the violence of the- 
emotion fubfides, he rcflefts, that probably 
this' fapfemaCUral event poiterads fome danger 
lurking in the ftate. Tliis fuggeftion gives 
nnportance . to' Uie phenomenon, and en- 
gages rfjur "attehtion. Horatio's relation of 
the king's comlxit with the Nonvegian, 
and of the forces the young Fortinbras is 
" affembhng in order ^o attack Denmark, 
feems to point out from what quarter the 
apprehended peril is to arife. Such appear- 
ances, fays he, preceded the fall of mighty 
Julius, and the ruin of the great common- 
wealth ; and he adds, fuch have often been 
•the omqns of difiifters in our own ftate. 
There is great art in this conduct.. The true 
caufe of the royal Dane's difcontent couM 
not be gueffed at : it was a fecret which 
could be only revealed by himfelf. In the 
mean time, it was neceflary to captivate 
our attention, by demonftrating, that the 
poet was not going to exhibit fuch idle and 
frivolous gambols as ghofls are by the vulgar 
often reprefentcd to perform. The hiftorical 
1» 3 teftimony. 


t66 On tie Frsttfnsatnral DringfL' 
f^iTO^nj, tKat> antccedeffl ta the dsaNSil tS 

The grares ftood ttiiaMdefe, and the ftMnd cbld 
tMd li^M&lc and gibW iA the Ronan ftHen^ 
gives credibility and imj«irtaftce ' W this 
plisnomenon. HtH-atio's adtlwis to A© 
ghoft is brief and pert'menc, and the wKole 
purport of it agreeable *o the vulgar concep-- 
tioBS of tliefe matfcre. 

H O R A 1 1 o. 

Stay, ilhifioft! 
If dioif haft any found, or nfe of Toicci 
8pe^ to me. 

If there he any good thing to be done* 
That may to thee do cafe, and grace to m«, 
Spe^ lo me. 

If tbou art privy to thy country's fate. 
Which happily foreknowing may avoid> 
Oh fpeak ! 

Or, if thou haft uphoarded in thy life 
Pxtortcd treafure in the womb of earth, 
For which, they fay, you fpjrits oft WaBc in deaths 
Speak of it. 


On the Pcaeteriuttural Beings." 167: 
Its vaniihing at the crowing of tke coek'is 
tmotbcTGiictinlibnce of the eAabli(h«l iu|>er- 

ftition. * 

YouB^ Hamlet's indigiifltton at his mb- 
ther's ha% and loceAuoits mairnage^ his 
forrdw for his Other's death, bi» chara^r 
of that prince, prepare the ^ftator ' to 
fympathize with his wrongs and fufferings. 
The fon, a& is natural, with much more 
vehement cnfiotion thaji Horatio did^ - ad- 
dress his father's fliade. Hamkt^s terroir, 
hi& ^onifhment, fais^ vehemuit defire' to' 
know the caufe of this vifitatipn, are irre^if- 
tibly communicated to the l|)eftator by the 
following fpeech. 

Angels ani minifeTS »i gRic« tlefend tts-! 
Tie thou » ^it of hcskll, or goblin damn'd, 
■ firing widithae3lnJii(Hn he w'n,. or bdaftb fiiawkiH, 
Be thy inte^ wicked or chsvitablef 
Thou com'ft m fuch a qucfinuab^ ihape, . 
That I will fpnk to dwa. V}1 caU tlwo BamJe^ 
King, father, royatDane: cla I aafwcr mej 
Let menotburflin tgnoraawf kiKtsU,. . 

L 4 * Why 


j68 On the Praeteraatufal Beings* 

Why thy canonized bonei, hcarfed in deaths 
Have burft their cearments \ Why the fepuldm. 
Wherein we faw thee quietly in-um'di 
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws. 
To caft tbeo up again F What may this mean. 
That thou* dead corfci again, jn cmnpleat fteeli 
ReviHt'ft thus the glim[^es of the moont 
Making night hideous \ 

Never did the Grecian mufe of tragedy relate 
a tale fo full of pity aod terror as is imparted 
by the ghoft. Every circumilance melts us 
with companion j and with what horror do 
wc hear him %! 


But that I am forbid 
To tell the fccrets of my prifon-ihoure, 
I could a tale unfold i whole lighteft word 
Would harrow up thy foul, freeze thy young blood. 
Make thy two eyes, like flars, Aart from their fpheres. 
Thy knotted and combined locks to part, 
^d each particuUr hair to ftand on end 
^ikc quilla upon the fretful .porcupine : 
But thb (ternal blazon muft not be 
Xo cfin of ^f&x vA bloody 


^oiizccb, Google 

On the Praternatural Beings. J69 
All that follows is Iblemn, fad, and deeply 

Whatever in Hamlet belongs to the prae- 
ternatural is perfedtiy fine ; the reft of the 
play does not come withia the fubje£t of this 


The ingenious criticifin on the play of (he 
Tempeft, publiihed in the Adventurer, has 
made it unneceflary to enlarge on that admi- 
rable piece, which alone would prove our 
author to have had a fertile, a fublime, and 
original genius. 


Doiizc^bv Google — 

Doiizc^bv Google ■ 



M A C B E T H. 

j.,r,i,z<,.f, Google 


I "73 ] 


M A C B E T H, 

THIS piece it perhaps orie of the 
greateft exertions of the ti;a<gic and 
poetic powers, that any age, or any country 
has produced. Here are opened new fburces 
of terror, new creations of fancy. The 
agency of witches and fpirits excites a fpecies 
of terror, that cannot be effefted by the 
operation of human agency, or hjr any 
form or difpofition of human things. For 
the known limits of their powers aod capa- 
cities fet certain bounds to our apprchen- 
fions i myfterious horrors, undefined terrors, 
are raifed by the' intervention of beings whofe 

Doiizc^bv Google 

1^4 7'<&* 5Vtf^4$f.3r Macbeth. 
nature we do not underftand, whole actions 
we cannot control* and whofe influence we 
know not how to e^ape. Here we feel 
through all the faculties^f the foul, and to 
the ubnoil .exteftt of' her cap^ity.'. The 
apprehenlion of the interpofition of fuch 
agents is the moil &hitiry of all fears. 
It keeps up in our minds a fenfe of our con- 
nexion with rnvfiil md iovifible fpiritg, 4o 
whom our moft'fecrclaftibns are '^apparent, 
and from whoi« chaitiiement innocence alone 
can defend us. From many dangers power 
*^I zprqftf^ t cAwy primes may '^ xwJar 
nnled hyi act and hypoQr^y » but wten 
^tporoatvcftl beii^ atiTq* i» ^vaoI, apd tp 
mmg/t»^i Mttfitcs tbroti^ her Ri«ft» Aod 
jSEt&blos jK^nd hor Iwdwiu-kfl. 

Sbaktfpear has bouo i]iiflioieatly. ^ttiUfi^ 
^ the b«ft cricic«> for 4Vdilit)g l^iyijflf (^ 
4l» p^^Nibr &ith i« W4tchcc«& I fuid b& is 
atrtait^ afi de&afiUe.iii this |ioiat, asf^uxi' 
jHdss, 4a4 -other Greek-trageiiiaa^, &a intro^ 
ducii^ Jupiter, Diana, Minerva, i&£, whofe 
perCo^al ini)erv^ti<m| in the events exhi- 


bitcA (>n their ^*gt, had -npt otHuoed 1001% 
credit, tvl^ the riiioking and pbiloibpiaicftl 
pert of their Ipedtator^, thaii S^les of witcb- 
cr»ft h«d done among the wife ppd karoe^ 
here. Much Uter than the agp iii which 
iyCacbeth lived, even in Shak<^ear'fi own 
time, thprp were fcvcre ftatutes extant 
fffua0i witchcraft. 

Soase c^jeftions haTe. been made to the 
Hecate tslthe Greeks being joined to -ti^ 
uritches of our country. 

MiUcw, a more ccured writer, has often 
;suxed Ithe Pf^an deities even with the 
loioft iacr«d charjt^rs c^ our ?eli^on. Our 
witchsE power was foppofed to ,be exerted 
only in little and low mifchief : this there- 
fwe hcing the only inftance where their 
ioccrpoiition is recorded in the revolutions 
iof a kingdoaiy the poet thought, perhaps, 
that the ftory would pafs off better, with 
the learned at leaft, if he added the cele- 
brated Hecate tp ihc weird fifiers j tndihe 
is introduced, eluding their presumption, 
for trading in {»D{^ci«$ and afiairs <^ ^ath. 
2 The 


176 HT)/ Tragedy c/' Mac B-ETn. 

The dexterity is admirable with which the 
prediftions of the witches (as Macbeth 
obfcrves) prove true to the ear, but falfe to 
the hope, according to the general condition 
of VMn oracles. With great judgment the 
poet has given to Macbeth the very tem- 
per to be wrought upon by fuch fuggef- 
tions. The bad man is his own tempten 
Richard III. had a heart that prompted 
him to do all that the worft demon could 
-have fuggeiled, fo that the witches had 
been only an idle wonder in his ftory j nor 
did he want fuch a counfellor as Lady Mac- 
"beth ; a ready inftrument like Buckingham, 
to adopt his projefts, and exiscutc his orders, 
was fufEcient. But Macbeth, of a generotis 
difpofition, and good propenlities, but with 
"vehement paflions and alpiring wifhes, was 
a fubjeit liable to be feduced by fplendid 
profpedts, and ambitious counfels. This 
appears from the following character given 
of him by his wife : ' 

Yet do I fear thy nature ; 
It is too full o'th* milk of human kindnefs 
To catch the neareft way. . Thou wouldft. be great i 
Art noC without ambition; but without 



The tragedy ^^Macbeth. 177 
The aineft fliouW attend it. What thou wouldft 

That wouldft thou holily } wouldft not play falfe. 
And yet wouldft wrongly win. 

So much- inherent ambition in a chara£lcr, 
without other vice, and full of the milk of 
human kindnefs, though obnoxious to 
temptation, yet would have great ftrugglc§ 
before it yielded, and as violent fits of fiib- 
fequent remorfe. 

If the mind is to be medicated by the 
operations of pity and terror, furely no 
means are fo vi^ell adapted to that end, as 
a ilrong and lively reprefentation of the 
agoni2ing ftniggles that precede, and the 
terrible horrors that foUow wicked adlions. 
Other poets thought they had fufficiently 
attended to the moral purpofe of the drama 
in making the furies purfue the perpe- 
trated crime. Our author waves their 
bloody daggers in the road to guilt, and 
demonftrates, that as foon as a man begins 
to hearken to ill fu^eflions, terrors environ, 
M ^nd 


178 . ^ite Tragafy of Macsbtr. 
.tnd fears diflria: him. Tend&rnefs ahd 
conjugal love combat in the bi'ea^s of a 
Medea and a Herod in their parpofed ven- 
geance. Perfonal ttffedion often weeps on 
the theatre, while jealoufyor revenge whet 
the bloody knife j but Macbeth''s eoMtioiM 
are the ftruggles c^ conlcience j his agonies 
are the agonic? of reinorfc. They are lef* 
fons of juiUce, and warnings io rnaocwice. 
I do not know that any dramatic writer, 
except Shakefpear, has fet forth the pangs 
of guilt fcparate from the fear of ftinUh- 
haent. Clytemneilra is re|»efentcd by- 
Euripides as under great tefror9> ott 
account of the murder t£ Agamemnon * 
but they arifc from fear, not repetiouice. 
It is not the memoty of the j^^naccd 
hufljand which haunts 9^ ttnidet her, 
but an appreheniioo of vengeance StOtM 
his furviving fon : when fhe is told <^eilN» 
is dead^ her mind is agtiin at c%fe. It mi^ 
he allowed, that on Ate Gr^ian ftftge;, it U 
the office of the chorus to moralize, and to 
point out, on every occi£on» th« ftdt^titi^i 



tf virtue met vice. Biit Haw miich let 
afe£tisg are their animadverjions thaa tht; 
teftimony of the perlbo eoncerned ! What- 
ever belangs to the part of the chorus ha^ 
hardly the force of dramatic imitation. The 
chords is iii a Qianoer without perfonal 
charaaer, or inteteft, and na way an agent 
in the draroa; We ouwot fympafhise with 
the CQ<d refle^oas of theft idle fpeftatcrsi 
as we do T^ith the featiments of the perlhns 
In whole cii-cumftaofles ind fitaatioii we are 

The hmrt »f mm, like Hoa .«n4 othet 
inetal, is hard. Md of firm wliftaoce, whea 
told, bttt, warmed, it bec(»ne« maUctble 
and duaUe, It is by tonthisg the jaflisns; 
iind eidiiiig fy nnnth e tjn enotions, not by 
lentnicea^ tiiit dK tragedian daft mak^ 
his imprefliaia en the ^KOato^ I «ill 
appbd to any peUcle of talk, whetW «hs 
following Qieethei <<f Wdbf, ia anoftef 
play of Sfaaicefpear, the fiift a Ailioquy, 
the imnd addre&d to lib Ibratit Groiaw*lI< 
Ml lit 


1 8o 'tbi 'Trage^-of Macbeth. 

in which he gives the teitimony of his cx|»- 
ricnce, and the refult of his own fedings, 
woOld make the lame imprcHion, if uttered 
bjr a itt of Ipeculatlve fages in the epifodc 
of a chorus. 


So farewell fo the little good you bear me ! 
Farewell, a long &rewell to dl my greatne& f 
This a the fiate of mui ; to-day he puts forth 
The tender leaves of hopes, to-morrow bloffinns, 

i And bears his blulhiog honours thick upon him. 
The third day comes a froft, a killing frofi. 
And when he thinks, good cafy man, full furely 

: His greainerE is a ripening, nips his root ; 

• And then he fall^ as I do. - I have ventur'd, 

>. . Like little wanton boys, that fwim oh bladders, 
, Thcfemany fummers in a^fea-of glory, 
\ But far beyond my depth ; . my high-blown jtrkle 
^ . At length .broke under nie,:And nOw has left me, 

* ; -W^ary and old with fcnrioe, to the mercy . '^ 
£-'O^JCude.ftreuD, that muftior ^ver hide me. 
V JSv^'. rWPP f"^ glory of this world, I hate ye j 
,- I'fcclioy heart'^ew open'd. Oh, how wr^ched 

. . ISi^JtS^'Vi ^Pt hangs on princes' favpiws ! . 

; • There is, betwixt thattlinil«.we would aTpire to. 

That fwcet afp;fl of frinces, and our ruin. 

Doiizc^bv Google 

7&.7rzg*^''ef MAcBETfl;- i8» 

More pangs and fears than war or women have : 
- And when he EiUt, he TaU) likoLudfer, 

Neva' ta bope agsun. 
And in another place, 

Let^rdry oiir ctCs, and tbiu ^ bear me, Cromwell j 
And when I am forgotten, as I ihall be. 
And {leepin dull cold marble, where no mentipn 
Of me muA more be heard, {jty dien, I taught, thee. 
Say, Wolley, that once trod the ways of glory. 
And [bunded all the depths and flioala of honour, -" 
. Foondthec-a way, out of his wreck, to rife in>f ' ^ 
'. A fKre<aiidialegoe, tbfag^ Ay mafter mi&'d itL ■ > 
I ftlj^t>ttt}nyf|Jiiand'tbat\Tliichinim^i^ej - 

- Cromw^i I ct)arge thee, fitog amy junbkion,- ■ * 
.- @y that fiivfell the *ng^ i how elLn nan thfn, . „■ 

- The isaaga «thi» m^ci^ hope to iwin t^t t- - 
-•'l,ov|t^th)rfUf-Ait.r..(lKrifli tM^.h^rt^-^ hfXe 

r ' thtpi ~ : ^-j c :.- >o .. 

- -Oumifffon wtw aoi^hibrg. tinn kqoefty. 

.- S^liiithyriek*^ait^.carrjgtBtkpeac^. 
. To'fikoctf eoviQu* •ofl2v^»ebe jujft, andf«ai.not. 
.- ^et all tjie onds, .thou aitB''ft at, be tbjt country's, 
Thygod'*, ai)d^^'a>,U«jiJf thou fiJl'Jt, OCrom- 
well, .,,."■- 

; TjKwfidPfttfbleacdinanyr. Scrtc theJui^i 

M i And 


And-^^yiM») Itia wt in > 

There take ait imMbty tif kll I1l«*> 
To the laft penny, 'tis the king'l. MfttlBt 
And my intregity to beav't^ ix AH . . , , 
> lilM howcall «lt|nt«»ti. OCmtwtdl, CMmtll, 
Had I bmbWtllifOtdv^ InlFitetal 
IfeVa riyfifhi, hknoulCntitlntajMBee 
<{)kTel«ftiAeodk«atttlnjM«ft«ki«». ' 

refleffitmis ef dch a gteual kind, *& might 
be mtb 4«»ft imprtiiitittf tnnifctttd to (he 
cborus^^itttf^eh d«a woiikt )aA in(Kb 
pf tbeb^lliiKe «id ptthe* tf net ijtokm by 
the &Iteiftn<4$>i«i hewMtUi t»tu«wi9Vl4 
thofe doi irhitii at- iht <9pr«Bl6Bt 9f &the 
jhftaMttiOnM ciBHish, vpd^otnti % 4ie 
peculiar fttuation of the person ^~^hom 
they are uttet«ilf 1%li'Mfx(iaBa^imtimi«f 
a murderef Itl^e*. » (WI^ ll«p fiDpsffiiji, 
upoci tis ■wttfid w(! We'BSM*^ MttlwA hitn- 
fclf; that-htwfcg, #fciiKs he *» IriBing 
DatiAinta tfthejpBoUftttjrOod fctefc us, 
^nd Amen the other^ he dqrft not fey Amen, 
JHad afcrtii^ JtBhis ebfci>«wi that * mab'in 
■ - E • itiicb 


T'if Trt^tfy of M. AC t^r h; i 83, 
fod^ a guilty moment dufft not implore that, 
mercy <rf" which he flood moft in ngcd. it- 
would hpfc bad but a flight efiei^. AU 
know the dcteftati<Mi wiih which virtuous 
men bebc^ a bad aAlon. A much iQor& 
£ilutary acbnonition is given when we iiFe. 
ihewn the terrors that arc combined ^th. 
guilt in the breafl of ^ offender. 

Our author has fo tempered th^ cwf^tu- 
tional charadler of Macbeth, by infufing 
ioto it dv: 'milk of hpFjum kituine0> zni a 
firoDg ^<9vFe of hoaow> a« to mak^ ^ 
tat^ ykAeht perturbatipn, #nd pung?pt re- 
morfc. nattusJly attend on thofe. flcps; to 
which he is led by the force c^ tenspt^ion« 
Here wfc muft commend the poet's judg- 
ment:, and hii ihvariable attention tp oonr 
fiftency of dharifter j t>ut more amusing is 
the art with which he exhibits the ^ncvc-_ 
ment of the h»m«o • ^ind* rad rende« 
audible the iUent m$rch ,of tho^ght : traces 
jtfi modes of operatiioft in the courfc of 
4eJibera$i{tg> the pzvtki eif hcfitationi and 
^e fiu4 »^ of decision ; ihews how.rea{bii 
M 4 checks. 


tStf. ^bt tragedy ^/"Macbeth. 
■ checks, and how the paffions impel ; and 
difplays to us the trepidations that precede* 
afld the horrors that purfue zQs of Woodi- No 
ipecies of dialogue but that which a man holds 
with hitnfelf could-effe(St this. The foHloquy 
has been permitted to all dramatic writtts j 
but its true ufe has been underdood only by 
Ot/r author, who alone has attained to f 
juft imitation of nature in this kind of fclf- 

It is certain men do not tell themfelves 
who they are, and whence they came ; they 
neither narrate nor declaim in the folitude 
of the clofct, as Greek and French writers 
rcprefent. Here then vi added to the drama 
an imitation of the moft difficult and delicate 
kind, that of reprefenting the internal procels 
of the mind in reafoning and refleding j and 
it is not only a difficult, but a very ufeful 
art, as it befl afliAs the pcet to expoie the 
anguifh of remorfe, td repeat every whifper 
of the internal monitor, confcience, and, 
upon occafion, to lend her a voice U amaze 
tbt guilty and affal the free. As a man is 
> averfe 


7'he trage^ of Ma c b e t h. i Sj 
aver& to expoie hJs crimes, and dUcover the^ 
turpitude of his ai^ons, eveti to the faithful 
friendt and truf^ confident, it is more 
natural for him to. breathe in foliloquy the 
dark and Iwavy jecrets of the foul, dian to 
utter them to the moft intimate aflbciate. 
The conflids in the bofom of Macbeth, 
before he committed the murder, could 
not, by any other means, have been fo 
well expofed. He entertains the prophecy 
of bis future greatneft widi con^lacency, 
but the very idea of die means by which he 
is to attain it fhocks him to the Ugheft 

This fupernatural folliciting 
Cannot be ill ; cannot be good. If ill. 
Why hath it giv'n me the carncft of fuccefs, 
Commencing in a truth \ I'm Thane of Cawdor. 
If good, why do I yield to that fuggeftion, 
Whofe horrid im^e doth unfix my hair. 
And make my feated heart knock at my ribs 
Againft the uie of nature f 
^There is an obfcurity and ftiffhefs in part 
of thefe foliloquies, which I wifli I could 
charge entirely to the confufion of Macbeth's 


i86 Tj&e Tragedy ^ MACBtTH. 

mind fitim the honor lu feds at tfaccKoog|it 
of ilie muodcff ; but ^nr anchor is too toudt 
addiftcd to the ohfeme bombafl. mudi af- 
&ded'by all ibrtt of writers in that age. Ti^e 
^^lonence Macbeth £9c1b at the fuggefiSon 
of affii^attog his king .bongs him Inck to 
this dctenninatiotr. 

If diance wUluere 4De kii^ trfajr* «lwnoe tnay down 
mi, ■ 

WiAontiny fi«r- 
After a panittr in which •«£ najr fuppoTe the 
asnUtioufi defire of a ciiown to rebim, io-^ 
at to, Make him ondetccsaisied what. be flia]) 
do» and leave the decifion to future time and 
Dnbom events, ^K concludes, 

Cocu what come mty«- 
Time and ^ faaur riuu fbra' the Mugheft da|'. 

By wiiich I confe& I ,dD: not witb bis two laft 
commcnt^toTE intake, is meant either the 
tautology of time andthsiiDur, oraa allafion 
to time painted with. an. hour-;g]af8, or an 
exhortation to time to ha^lien £»nRaird, but 
mtfaer to lay tem'pus & hora, time "and oc- 
ca'fioD, will cirrjf the riiimj thrpugh* aad 
faring it to iboK detcrmiaed pcririt jmd end, 


Doiizc^bv Google 

S^ffriCA^^ Macbeth.' ity 

let its natdra be what it will. In the next 
fbliloqny lie agitattt this ^^al queftion con* 
.cerning the propo&d ntunler. One «ig\x- 
mentBgdnil k, r, that iiich deeds niuft fan 
^i))portcd b^ othtrs of lUc« notore. 

But) in thefe calei, i ' 

We ftill liftK jidgmtu hen ) ttet ^re but teftcft ' 
BloaJy^bdfarufiiAtn^ Hhkbtbeiog taught, remm - 
TopIague4b' taveKtor} thii emi- handed juflioe 
CnlMfcclKii.ty ingrsfieMi of our pwlen'd cludtec 
To our own ]if8> 

He proceeds next to conGder the peculiar re* 
HtiMB a>-whk>h be ftwdi to Duncan. 

He*« hete in double mill ; 
Fitft, tf I nn hiskinfimn *ni hie fubjeAj 
BtroBg bffh wgurA the deed i llieti, as bit ttol^ 
^Vho Orauld agtuift his mtrd'fer fliut the door i 
Not betr the knife oqifelf. 
Chen foUow his arguments againft llie deed 
frbni the bifaniraUe qoaUties «f Uk king. 

fiffides, thifi PuHcan - 
Hath bcrae his facuhiefefo meekly, ha^ been 
fodearmbB^ato&oCitbit his'virtaea 
Will plea4 l>^ angel), tmtapA-Vaagjt'd again 
The deep duniwtioD of bis titking off* 


Doiizc^bv Google 

iS9 T&e tragedy of Macbeth. 
So, fays he, with many reaibns to diffiude, 
I. have none to urge me to- this a£t, but 
a vaulting an>bitiQn } Which, by a daring 
leap, .often procures itfelf a fiUl. And thus 
having dptermined, he tells Lady Mac- 

We will proceed no furdKfjn this biifinefs. ' " ■ ■ 
Hehath honour'dine<^liKi aod I have bought 
Golden opinions fron all ibrts of people. 
Which would be wo«i, now in their neweft ^ofi. 
Not caft aJide To Coon. 

Alacbeth, in debating with hlmfelf, chiefly 
dwells upon the guilt, and touches &>aie- 
thing on the danger . of aiTaffinating th« 
king. \Vhen he argues w^ith Lady Macbeth, 
knowing her too. yvicked to be afiedted by 
the one,' and too daring to be deterred by 
the other, he urges with great propriety 
what he thinks may have more weight 
with one of her dilpofition ; the favour he 
is in with the king, and the efleem he has 
lately acqu'i'ed of the. people. In ahfwer 
to her charge of cowardice he finely diftin- 
gnilh^ between manly courage' aind brutal 


^oiizccb, Google 

The Tragedy of Mac BZTH. 189 

Idaredo all that may become a man } 
Who dares do more is none. 

At length, overcome, rather than pcrlUaded, 
he determines oi\ the bloody deed. 

lam fettled, and bend up 

Each coip'ra) agent to -this terrible &at.' 
How terrible to him, how repugnant to his 
nature, we plainly perceive, when, even in 
the moment that he fummons up the rejblu- 
tion needful to perform It, horrid phantaims 
prelent themielves } murder alarumed by 
his centinel ; the wolf Aealing towards his 
defign.j witchcraft celebrating pale Hecate's 
offerings ; the midnight ravifher invading 
ileeping innocence, feemhis alTociates } and 
bloody daggers lead him to the very 
chamber of the king. At his return from 
thence his fenfe of the crime he has com- 
mitted appears fuitable to the repugnance he 
had to undertake it. He tells Lady Mac- 
beth, that, of the grooms who flept in 
Duncan's chamber, 


There's one did laugh ia't deep* and one cry'iy Murder ! 

^oiizccb, Google 

-t^o Tie Trv^aji of Macbeth. 

They wafc'd each othert and I ftood and heard theqi j 
' Btit they did lar duir pntjMiSi and iUids UisM 

Again to flcep. 

There m two lodg'd ttfgcthec 

One cry'd; God b)«£iUi t aad, AoKbV lUeoAeti 
Astbcy badfaenmrwitlitllricbangiBMi'ihaHds: 
t'iftcniog their fear, I C9vdd not £^^ Amen, 
When tliey did fty, Qod blciftiw! 
Confidor it not b doci^y; 
Macbitb. i 

But wheie&re codd sot I pianoBnce» Amen f 
I had moft need of bbflii^, 4n) Aisen 

Stuekto mythronti 

Macs It H« 
Mediougfatt I hcand s voice Cty^ Slttp no nwrc i 
MadKth doth murdei Saep i the innocefttCe^ 

'Then he rq>Ues« wlien his lady bids him carry 
back the daggers ; 


Hi go BO matt. 
i am afraid to thiid: inbmt I hive ddae ; 
buk Do't agun Idare n^ 

3 HbVJ' 


the tragedy tf Macbsth. tqt 
How natural is the rackiEanion of a pcrlbn, 
who, frotnthefearkft liateof unfafpeaing 
innocence is fidfen into tbe fu^icious con- 
dition c^ guilt, when t^on hearing a knock- 
ing at the gate }» cries out ; 
Row n it wMt m^ «4Ma tntf mife xppib me 1 

The poet has contrived to throw m 
tinfture of rcmorfe even into Macbeth's re- 
folation to murder Banquc-^He does not 
procffed in it like a man» who, iinpenitent 
in crimes, and wanton in focccfi, gailjr goc3 
forward in his violent career ; bat leems 
impelled 6n> and itimulated to this additi- 
onal villany, by an apjMiehenfion, that, if 
Banquo's poftttity jhoold inherit the crown, 
he has: &cri&»d his virtue, and defiled hia 
own foul ia vain. 


For Bui^tto's Ube luttc I '£l'd mj mind. 

For them, die gracnua Ouneaa have I munler'd g 

Put ranooun in the veficl «f my ;peac« 

Oaly for them j and mine etcrnxJ jewel 



102 lb« Tr^edy of IAkc^jlt'^: 

Giv'n to the common inemy of mdn. 
To ffl^.tbem k^gt,. the feed (^fianquo. kings. 
His defire to keep Lady Macbeth innocent 
of this intended murder, and yet from the 
fulnefs of a throbbing heart, uttering what 
may render fulpc^td the very thing he 
wifhes to conceal, ihews how deeply the 
author enters into human naturc,in general, 
and in every citcui^ftance prefcrves the con- 
iifiency of the character he exhibits. 

How ftrongly^ is exprelTed the great tnitb, 
that to a man of courage, the moft terrible 
objeft is the- perfon he has injured," in the 
following addrefs to Bahquo's gboil : 

What man dare, I dare. 
Approad) thou like the nigged Ruffian bear. 
The ann'd rhinoccios, or Hyrcan tygcr. 
Take any fhapc but that, and my firm nervea 
Shall never tremble ; or, be alive again. 
And dare me to the defart with thy fword ; 
If trembling I evade it, then prbteft me * 

The baby of a girl. Hence, terrible ihadow I 
Unreal mock'ry,. hence I 



the Tragedy of MACBETk. 'igcj 
It is impdfllble npt to fympathize with the 
terrors Macbe(Ji expre0cs in his, difordcrcd 
Qieech. . i . 

It will havetdood.— Thex ay, W<»<* »wU have Uood. 
Stones hare been kaom-to more, and trees to ^cafc j 
Ai^VD, that undeiflapdrelatMns, hvrCi - 
B^ magtiiM} %tid by dioughs, and n)oki> brought ibnb 
The feCiet'fi nUn of blood. 

The" pcitwrbation with whiqh Macbedi 
agaio reforts to the witches, and the'.tone of 
refcntmjtfnt and ahhdrrtojce withwhach he 
addrefles'thenii rather eXpreffes his- fenfe of 
the crimes to Mvhiich their promifes ^cited 
him, than any fatisfai^ion in the regat .con- 
dition thofe crimes had procured. 

M A C B B T H, 
How now, you fecre^ black, and mldaight hags f 
Whatis't you do f 

The unhappy and difconfolate ftatc of 

the moft triumphant villany, from a con- 

fcioufncfs of the inter naj deteftation of man- 

fciod to that flagitious greatnefi to which 

. N ihey 


-194 ^^ ^rt^^ i/" M A C B E T H. 

diey are forced to p^ (txtefnal homiige, \t 

.Biicly.cs^rtJSfed in the ^AloWing woi^ : 

Macbsth. ... 

I have livM long oiough : taj vny of life 
.! £cfiff li into ths fear, ithe y*How toi^: 
,. :AJIidtli«t-wIticfafiiaaUjicaenapahjrdd%2>^ 

As honouTy-loTie, «lwfiendi, ttioops of fiieitdt, ' 
4' lafaftitdtloolctolRnfi.itot^JaUwlrfinuJ, 

Curies not loud but deep, 'tnbuth<4icnoui^ bveatfa, ' 
Which the poor heart would baa deny, and dare nof. 
t*rtimx^s the iconchtfiOti <^ (his pteoe his 
miffid feeihs td fiiik unddr its 'ItMd «f guUt ! 
-"^rpair and ttfetetieboly hongtinl^ iMaxk! 
We fee^ifc liae griefs thiW prefs hwd^ <tn 
'iiim thdti his eitefnies* by his oddrcfe to^^ 
•jbyfic^rt*. . - 

MfcaETB. ' ■ 

Canft thou not mUiiflef fo^lntnd difeas'd ; 
Pluck fr«aithenwifioi^a *oo(ed^b^^ow; 
Raze out the written troubles of Che'bt^s 
And, with fome fweet oblivious antidote, 
.' CltaBirctheJluff^dboitm.'or0iatpe:ritdus'AufF 
■ Which TTB^hsBpwiihtKeart? 
-The dUcrity with whi6h ^w-attdc^s young 
;^)rard> 'aod-fek i^l&€laFK*e to engage -widh 

^ Macduff, 

f, Google 

.fijE^c^^i of wh<^ ^Q9d he fay^ ;^e j^^ 
flkna^ ii»d too flMKh, ficHBflsiit * icfc»»ft- 
j^ .whiiib jt MtfpiwJ)' etfiferyed &on).4w 
<>ppftiBg pf *lW .&^'». t° its <»pc)Mli8e.r»r 
j}^« !fia^-btai eyer ijpfuftpng .«> rts.iftift 

ttM<)i6Ui9 .% g»ite -.iftt flUVfC -its ^r 
fir ith#: 1m»«M fwi» iff jte^il^ MMseiyA. 

«7Tfe ton- IwWT^Sfy Mlf.ftWJWd.tiyjfiJSW 
«5WlJ8<:««Kr.. >'^ to :,pi(*f« (l»e« ,a9f 
«)>0)iwl ;}vi$b itl^ Big; li^i9|m!>^i9n3 f^ 

tto J*W»» .:*«« JSP grpiJ i«i a4w« rt* 
iBflnSBW- <if...p»ftici»Hff . 4»(illofl(V)M. If 
«PP4W» j» WS. HbMctbe !!ll»rsia« pf :WU5' 

N 2 pact 


•1^6 T&e TragfJy ^ MacbbtH. 
part of mankind may be ranked, juft be^ 
■twttn the extreams of gobd and bad j a ftatibn 
%&ilable by various temptations, and whrdi 
-ftaAds in need of Ih* giiafd of cabtionaiy 
admonifcidrr. The fupefnatural agents, in 
fome meafure, take off our attention from 
the other diaraders, eipecially as ihey are, 
throughout the piede. what they have a. 
'right to be, [vedominant in the events. Th^ 
should not interfile {^lit to weave the£aal 
web, or to unravel kj they ought ever to 
^ -the regents ^ the iable and artificers o£ 
the catilftrophe, as the witches are in this 
piece. To prefwve iii Macbeth ft juft con- 
■fiftency of charaftcr ; to rcprefcnt diat dia- 
ra^er natufally fufccptiblc of thofc defires 
that were to be ccHfimuBicated to it 5 to 
reiider il nlterefting. to the ifpe^tor by (otat 
wniabk qualities ; to make it exonplify tibe 
dangers of ambition, and the tutors of 
Temor&i was all that could be required of the 
tn^edian - and the -morallft. With all the 
powers of poetry h$ deVates a legiendory tale; 
withcKit carrying it b^ondthe limiti of vulgar 
fttth &n'd tradition. - The folettin cliaraasit 


of the infcTDal rites would be very Ariking* 
if the &enc was -not made ludicrous hy a 
mob of old women> which the players 
have added to the three weird fifters.-- 
The incantadon is lb oohloBaht to the 
dod^rine of enchantments* and receives fach 
power by the help of thofc potent minif- 
ters of direfnl fuperlHtion, the terrible and 
the myllerious, that it has not the au* of 
poetical iiiftion fb much as of a dilcovefy <^ 
magical fecrets } and thus it leizes the heart 
of the ignorant, and c6mmuhicates an irre- 
iiftible horror to the im^ination of even 
the more informed ipefbator. - 

Shakeipear was too weU read in humaa 
sature, not to know, that, though rea£>a 
may expd the fuperAitions of the nuriery, 
the iijiaginatian does not fo entirely free itfelf 
&OTa their dominion) as not to re-admit 
them, if occalionp:^fents them, in the- very 
£h^e in which they, w'ere once revered. 
The firft fcene in which the witches appear, 
is not {o happily executed as jthe others. 
IJc has too exadly followed the vulgar 
N 3 reports 

^oiizccb, Google 

(All' tovS' ttfed! to togine ehi^ cotiM purV 
dl^ d fi^t' wind. 

The cbbice bf a ft®^, that «t once tonC- 
borated King James's doftrine of d^mono^ 
le^^ «nd ihewed the long ddilir^tioA of hi» 
family ia the throne of Or«at Brttnii* wa» 
not kfs polite ikttery to his majefty* tbafr 
VfTgii tti&s to Ai^nftuG and the Romaic 
peoplcr in making Anchlies ihew td ^nea» 
die roprefeAtatiDns of teborn herods, (hH 
\Mrtf ta adiCtfR his fine^ and augnleDf th# 
glory of their conu^on-\*reidth; It u re-^ 
ported* that a great French wit often laughs 
at «h6 trag^ of Maebeth for having 4 
Itgtoii «f ^hol^ in it* OAe flmidd 
iihdgiiW he Either had not learnt EngKfh, 
or had fdrgtJt hi& latift ; for the ^jrits 
of B!afnjUo'g UiiQ are no moie ghofts than 
the - reprefintatkiils of t^ Jtilian xace 'ah 
the Mniid j and there is tip ghoft but Baa« 
quo's in the whole play. Euripideii in 
the moik pHilofophie and pdlite age of the 
Athenians} btifjgs th? fhadp of l^lydoru^ 

Doiizc^bv Google 

Sir ^rage^ of W a e 6 e t 9. 199 
Priaai's kxiy wped ^ fiage, to tell a 'pery 
long aiid ladieftfa^le t^k. Hon is .thonfen 
piodoccd> by each tragedian, th^ depaFte4 
ipirk waUclng thts t^tper world fcH* cai|fe$ 
admitted 1^ popnlur ^th. Among. . t|i9 
tH<;ientt» tfa« unburied* and with U9 the 
mocdercdt wcrd itij}|>Dre4 to do fb. Th« 
apparitiona are therefore equally jufttfiabl^ 
or blamable ; ia the laurel crown mufl: ^ 
adjcdged to the poet ^o throws mx& of th« 
fublime and the marvellous into tbo fuper-r 
natural agent; bieft preftms the credthiHty 
of its interveatjoh, and renders it moA ufeful 
in the drama. There furely can be no dif- 
pute of the ■ fwperiority df opr countryman 
lA theie articles. There are many bombaft 
fpeech'es in the_tr^dy of Macbeth; and 
the^ are the lawful priee of the critic : but 
envy, pot content to nibble at fimlts, ftrilfcs 
at its trqe object, the prime excellencies an4 
pcrfeilionS of the thing it would depreciate. 
One Ihould not wonder if a fcbool*bQy.«riti£> 
who neither knows what wert the fiiperfti- 
tions of former times, or the ppet's privf* 
)x^ in all timee, ihould floiirifl) iiway, 
N 4 with 

Doiizc^bv Google 

200 Tif Tragafy of Mac BZT v. 
with all the rafli dexterity tof wit, upoii 
the appearance of a. ghoft ; feut it is ftrangc 
rman of univerial leafniag, a real and juft 
connoiflcur, and a true genius* fbould cite>. 
as improper and abfurd, what has beoj 
^raaifed by the moft celebrated artifts in 
the dramatic way, when fucfa Oiachineiy 
was authorifcd by the belief of the people. 
Is there not reaibn ' to luliwia fosm fuch 
uncandid trc^Ument of our poet W tht» 
critic, that he 

Views him with j«Ooiu, yet with fcom/U eyw. 
And hates for arts tfc« .caus'd him&lf to rife ?. 

The diflferenoc between a mind naturally 
prone to evil, and a friail one warped by 
force of temptations* is delicately 'diftin* 
guiHied in Macbeth and his wife. There 
are alfo fome touches of the pencil that 
mark the male and female charaaer. When 
they deliberate on thf murder of the king, 
the duties of hoft and fubje^ ilrongjy plead 
•with him againft the deed, ^le paffes over 
thefc confiderations ; goes to Duncan's 
chamber rcfolved to kill him, but could not 
' ■ do 


T'beTragSy'ofMA.ciiitii, atft 
d&r it» becaufe, (he %s, he refembled hdr 
£tther while he flept. There is £»ii6thiiig 
feminine in this, and porftdtily agreeaMe to 
the nature of the fex j who, even when void 
of principle, are feldcHn entirely diverted of 
fentiment j smd thus the poet, who, to ufe 
bis own phrafe, had overftepped the modeft^ 
of nature in the exa^erated fiercene& <^ 
her character, returns back to the line and 
limits of humanity, and that very judiaoufly, 
by a iiidden imprefHon, which has only an 
inftantaneous eifeift. ' Thuis ihe may relapft 
into her fonnerwickcdnefs, and, from die 
£ime fufceptibility, by the for£:e of other 
impreffions, be afterwards driven to diftrao* 
tion. As her charai^xr %ns oc/t compoled 
of thofe gentle elements out of which regular 
npeotance could be formed, it was well 
judged to throw her mind into the chaos of 
madnefs j and, as flie had exhibited wicked- 
nefe" in its higheft degree of fercfcity and 
atrocioufnefs, (he fhould be an example of 
-the wildell agonies oi remorfe. As Shake- 
^ar could mofl; exaSIy delineate the human 

. ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 

mind in ite reg^Ur 9t»tx ^ rea^> li} i)o offi 
ev«r io hipfiily MUght its vaiyiflg fen)u jn 
dke WftDdecings t^ delirium. 

Theicone, in whi€:b Maoduff U uMformtiii 
o£ the murder of his ^nie and qhildren, it 
jb cdcbratcd, that it k noc nece0aiy to 
esltrgs: upon its merit. We fe«J tbere, 
bow nuich a 'y»A imitation of natural fcs^ 
fiments on fiick a tender occa&>n, is more 
pathetic than cboifHi terms and iliidiod 
|>braias. As ia the foregoing chapter I ban 
made ftmfi ob&rvations on our author's 
mamgonent of the Prst,ematuFtd Beings, I 
forbear to oilarge further on the fubjetft of 
the withes : thai be b«8 kept cloi^y tp the 
traditions concerning them» \& venjr AiUy 6t 
forth in the notes of a learned commenta- 
tor on his works. 

This piece may eertamly be deemed one 
of the bcH: of Sh^efpear's jcompolitiont* 
and» thoi^h it cont^nf ibme faulty Ipeecbea, 
and one whole fcene entirely abfurd and im- 

' proper. 


1l7>e Tragedy of Macbeth. 203 

proper, which art might have correded or 
lopped away j yet genius, powerful genius 
only, (wDd nature's vigour working at the 
root I) could have produced fuch ftrong and 
original beauties, and adapted both to the 
general temper and tafte of the age in which 
it appeared. 





C I N N A 




t *•? 3 

vr ow Jr-H» 

-C; .1 N- -N'A 

C O JR N E I L L E. 

thcwhole, to at£en]j]t the vindiCMion 
.c^injured<.iam9, ihe:plesftite is mndi ^aydd 
tbyits .being c(»iifaiitad ^vith a nec^ty to 
hsf open the nnfiuirnels and errors in die 
ripcocs^ngs !of •wiaidi we com|flidfi. To 
' defend is'pba&ot, toaccnieis paailFill ;' but 
-we muftipECrve the inju&ice of the Stateacc, 
;ht&m wc can demand to have It npstiled. 

^nieEsditorof die late-edibicm of Corneille's 
'Vfotktt has ^rea the -fcdlowing fve^iGe to 
-the tcagedjr^ifCinna:'* Having Jdfteti-beard 
. *^ ComeiUe and Sfaaloe^ar cdttapoivd, I 

'*' thoughtJt ptoper tp ihew tb«r diifierent 
4 *• manner 


*o8 Vpon the CttJSA of Corneille. 
" manner in fubjefts that have a lelem-* 
•• blance. I have therefore .cholen the fifft 
•' ads of the Death of Csfer, where there 
" is a conlpiracy, as in-Cinna, and tiv which 
" every thing is relithre to the conlpiracy 
•• to the end of the third a<a. The reader 
*' may compare the thoughts, the ftyle, 
** and the judgment of Shakefpear> widi 
'* the thoughtsy the flyle, and tlie jadg- 
" ment of Corneille^ It belongs to the 
*' readers of all nations to pronounce be- 
** tween: the one ani.lhe othef-. A French- 
"man or an.EngU£hman mig^ pediaps be 
" fu^i^ed of fome partiali^. To iniftitule 

/' this.pfoceis, itwas necefiary to make an 
".. ex^A tranflation ; what was pro& in the 

." tragedy of Shakeipear is rendered into 
".prtrfe; what was in blank verfe into 
" blank ivcrft, and almoft. verfc by verfe-; 
*' what h low and £uniliar is tranflated 

. *' fgpuUarly and low. The tranflator his 
** oide^voured to ri& with the audior when 
** he rifo t atul when, he is turgid and bom- 

." .baft» not to be more otltk to than he. 

" The tranflation givca here is the mtift 

" faithful 


Vf(m the CihnaV"*^orneille. 209 

** faithful that can be, and tte only faithful 

" one in our language of anyiauthou ancient 

** or modem. I have but a word to add, 

*' which is, that Uank verfe cofts nothing 

" but the trouble of diftatit^ ; it is not 

.** more difficult to write than a letter. If 

" people ihould tike it into their heaids to 

,** write tragedies in blank verfe, and to adl 

** them on our theatre, tragedy- is ruined; 

'* take away the difficulty and you take away 

'* the merit." 

An Englifli reader will hardly forbear 
fmiling at this bold aflertion concerning the 
facility of writing blank verfe. It is indeed 
no hard matter to write bad verfe of any 
kind } but, as fo few of our poets have 
attained to that perfection in it which 
Shake^>ear and Milton have done, w« have 
realbn to fuppofe the art to be difficult. 
Whatever is well done in poetry or do- 
qujsnce appears eafy to do. Theatrical 
dialogue being an imitiition of difcourie, 
pur critics do not require the appearance of 
e&}rt and labour, but, qr the contrary, the 
O language 

D,a,l,zc.bvG00gIC , 

mo VpoB the CiNMA ^CoTRNEILLE. 

language of nature, and ajuft refemblance 
to the diing imitated, PoffiMf there is as 
much of diiHculty ia folank verfi; to the 
poet> as there appears of eaie in it to the 
reader. Ijfce the ceftus of Venus, formed 
by dre bapf>y flcill erf" the Graces, it heft ex- 
erts its diarms whSe the artifice of the 
texture is partly ccHicealed. Dryden, who 
brought die art of rhyme to great excellence, 
endeavoured to introduce it on our ftage ; 
but nature and tafte revolted agunft an 
imitation of dialogue in a mode fo entirely 
different from that in whkh, men (fifcourie. 
The verfc Adr. dc Voltaire thus condemns i& 
perhaps not lefs happily adapted ^an iSnz 
iambic to the dramatic offices. It rifes 
gracefully into the fublime ; it can Hide 
happily into the familiar ; haften its career, if 
impeUod l^ vehemence of pfVffion ; paule in 
the heiitasion of lioubt ; appCEU- lingering 
and languid in dejeftion and £)n'ov ; is 
c^>al:dc of varying its accent, and adapting 
its harmony, to- die fentiment it ftould 
convey, and the pofliffli it would excite, 
mth all ^ i^W9Ct of mufioU «!^>Tefi]on. 


iEreo a [>er|pii jnr]f.o 4i4 not uoderiland ^r 

^edUd by ihe fojl|owiii£ fp f/ vh es. i^ t^t 


Fi^i wljat fiery q^aiityi )(fliy, Glo'fter» - 

r4 ^)pej^ with tJic Du^ pf Cowfv^, aad lys vife: 

Tfie ^i^ would ^^ V'tb Camw^. Tiie dev 

Would with his daughter fpeak, commandi ^jjJEiy 

vice : 
Are jj^ infortn'd of .this f myiusa^andJtd^wI ^ 
Fieryi 4]jp£^ydu^i ttUiheiiotd^lwi^hfifc-T 

I have lived long eiwifgti : wy way of l^f 
Is ii^So. iptffthe.fe^^ the.jrellow leaf: 
And that which IbiHiId acqfiDpjiny old agc^ 
As honour. Jove, ^d^e^te^of;, Ma^^ f^ int^%f ■ 
1 muft not loi^ to have ^ but in ^Cjir PfiS^'^ , 

■ CuFf^ .not loud but dc(^, mouttt-Jiqfifi^r^ ^C^/^<b* ' 
Whirfnt,c««ir4i?!« »BOuld J^jiflny, ^j. ^^cs jijt, 

1^ c^Gp ;^i^[^ &ojfa ttie tontq* of 

;^gl^ bJM ^!»^ canfipt bi? ielt by a 

O 2 foreigner. 


212 Upon ?^i?ClNNA g/"CoRNEILi;E. 

' foreigner, who is fb far from being ac- 
quainted with the pronunciation of our 
language, that he often miftakes the figniB- 
cation of the moft common words j of which 
there are many remarkable inftances in this 
boafted tranflatio/i of Julius Csfar j for he 
does not know that the word courfe fig* 
nifies method of proceeding, but imagines 
it means' a courfe of di{hes, or a race, 
Brutus replies to Cailius's propofal to kill 


Our courfe will feem too bloody, Caius CalEits, 

To cut the head off, and then hack the limbs. 

Like wrath in death, anJ envy afterwards : 

For Antony is but a limb of Csfar. 
Thus it is tranriated by Mr. dc Voltaire. 

CetK courfe aux Romains paraitrait trop fanglante ; 

On nous reprocherait la colere & 1' envie. 

Si nous coupons la tetc, &"puis hachons les owmbres, 
■ Car Antoine n'eft rien qu'^un membre de Cafar. 

The following ingenious note is added by 

the tranflator. The word courfe, fays he, 

--■ ' perhaps 

Doiizc^bv Google 

X^n the CiNKA ^ CoRNiai'i-E. ai j 

po-haps. ajlu&on to thi; Lupercal 
^urfe. It alfo figniiies a fervice of difhcs 
at tabl^.. It is vtfry extraordinary that a 
man fhould fet up for a tranHator^ with i> 
little acquaintance in the language as not to 
be able to diilinguifh whether a word in a 
certain -period fignifies a race, a iervice of 
dlflies, or a mode of <rondu£l. In 'z piece 
entitled Gaillaume de Vade; and attributed 
to Mr. dc Voltairet there is a blund^er of the 
fame kind. Polonius orders his daughter 
not to confide in the promifes of Hamlet, 
who, being heir to the crown, cannot have 
liberty of choice in marriage like a private 
pctfon. He muft not, fays the old ftatef- 
i^an, carve for himfelf las vulgac p^rfons do. 
The French author tranflates it,- l^e mud 
not cut his own vit^uals; and roos-on about 

^cnorfels, as if Hamlet's dinner, not his mar- 
riage, had been the fubjed of debata Thp 

- tranflator knew not that the word carve is 
often uled metaphorically in our language 
for a perfon's framing or fafhionlng his lot- or 
portion. We lay, the lover feeds on hope ; 
the warrior thlrils fpr gl9ry : nfould- it:be 
O J. fair 

Doiizc^bv Google 

i*4 ^pitiUfCtHuA^'GS^itlLilt.i* 
klf td ti^flate &a< thi \bv€r dfts a m&fM . 
M feopfii Jtrid tfcrfwraftidf dtf^rts to dfiftfe 9 
draught o( gXbtyf If .(U6h trwiflatiohs aW 
illowed, the works of tiii nioft cortiSt 
iutbof ihfly be rendertid ridiculous, li li 
Apparent that Mt. dt Voltdfe foad depittded 
thtjrely on tK* affiftance 6f a diftioilffery td 
enaWe hlrti /(j ghe the mjifdltbfiil tran/htiM 
that am iei and t&e onfy fMihful m^ in fbi 
French lan^ua^Ci Sf dhy- mtbot-i akchHf of- 

It is fttfcefljtiy tcf prefeht to tfiofe reiderS 
■who do not underftandFrftridii the ihifthtbifc 
tniftafces ind galirtiathetis df this didliOfiary 
i&rdrk. Bi-utuei in his foUlDqtly riieditdttftg 
on i^hat Gaflius had been xirging concerning 
Caefar, thus exprcffes his apprehenfion, fttat 
-jnipfcrial power may change the eofldUff ef 
the man. 


'Tis a common pitwf,- 
That lewlintft is young amWtion's ladder, 
' Whertte the climber Hpt»«rd -turiis hfs face ( 
But *htn ht one* attains the upnit^ rftWid, 


^oiiz^cb, Google 

• I^tbeit uAto tht ladder turns bit back, 
Looht in beclouds, Icpming thr bafe de^e«a . ,/ 
BjrwhkhVdid aldead. So C«far nuy. 

Thus Mr. Voltaire tranfiates it, 

- -^^^Oti'&itBfia quelle eft I'ambition. 

V ^bclla da grandeurs a tet yfox Ce pr&bnte ; 
Ellcy moms «n cacfaaot Ion boat ayx ft>e£tatenrs ; ■> 
£c qiivid «Be eft hut* ilon ells fe sumtre I } 

Alorb jafques aa cicl clerant fes regards, . 
lyuo aiwp d'cEtl iBcpriduit fa vanibf d&laigtit 
Lei^tctniers £c}idoBs qni &«iit & gnmdenr. 
C'eft.cequQpciit Csfa-. 

, ^' Onckaovre vrkat ambition is : the ladder 

-«f grandeurs prefeatsitielf to bn- ; in going 
up ihc hides her face from the ^dators j 
when ihe is at the top then (hefhews herfelf ; 

-rthea raifing her view to the heavens, with a 
fcorAftd look her vanity difdains the fteps of 
the; Udd^ that made her greatnels. This it is 

; tiiat C«B&- may do." 

In iSbfi original, Jowiinefs ic young ambiti- 
on's ladder : the man who by feiga'd huxmli^, 
O 4 and 


:2i6 Vpan (Aj'Cinna gTCoRKiiLLE. 
and courtefy, has attained to the power to 
which he alpired, turns his back on tHbfe 
humble means by which he afcended to it i 
the metaphor agreeing both to the man. who 
has gained the top of the ladder, or to him 
who has rifcn to the fijmmit <if power. 
In the tranllation, ambitioh afcend^ by fieps 
of grarfde^irs, hiding her fece. from- the Ipec- 
tators, when flie is at the toj), with -z look or 
glance of her eye her vanity difdaipe !.thc firft 
fteps flje took j whicb Heps observe: were 
grandeurs; ia tlw-all^c^ is, vanity* and 
ambition difdaining grandeur ; and the 
image prefented is a woman cUtnbing up a 
ladder, which is riot a very common objedl, 
Imt more fo than vanity's difdaining gran<- 

I am forry the tranflator had not a better 
Englifh dictionary, for on that, not on his 
own knowledge of our tongue, it is plain he 
depended. In another inilance it mifleads 
him. After Porcia had importuned Brutus 
to communicate to her the fecrct caufit of his 
, perturbation, he feys to her. 


XJpon the CiNNA p^ CoRFiEiLXE. 217 

B« OTU8. i 

Porcia, gO &i a whik j ■ 
And; \rf an^i>7',tta]r bcAm floU partake 
Tt» berets of my heart. 

.All m^ang^cments I irill conftrue .to thecf 
All Ac ehiiraaery of my fad brows. — . 
Xxxn me widi bafte. - 

' Thediftionary was cohfulted for the word 
conlhiie ; and thus, according to the ufual 
form, onetnay Aippofeit to have ftood : To 
conftmci to interpret. This not fcrvihg the 
pnrpoie, to interpret was next fought ; . ^agxt 
be finds, to ioterpret or to explain ; again 
with indefatigable induftry, excited by a 
defire to excel all tranfktors aod tranfl^tion^ 
he has recourie to the article to explain 5 
under this head he finds, to unfold or clear 
up ; fo aw^ goes the tranilator to clear up 
the countenance of Brutus. 

Va> mes fimrdls fronces prennent un air plus doux. 

** Go i" iays he ; "my fi-owning brow fhall 
take a Ibfter air." 

There are £> many gro& plunders in this 

^oiizccb, Google 

work it would be tedk>u» to point them out; 
but it is 10 be hoped' tbfy will deter other 
beaux efpfite frata tManxptiti^ t(> hurt itcftks 
of genius by the maiked bitttf^.of.ttC Htlfetr 
tranfiaticm' Mr^ Voltaiit: ddxm ^tet hff bis 
tranflation tSl Erirofke :^Xlrill Comptft the 
thoughts, the Hile, and tktf judgment of 
Shakefpear, with the thoughts, the ftile, and 
i^ judgment of CornctHc- It ii difficult, 
|Mfhaps imppffiUs* to make Ahe .graces c^ 
tft^lff p6& from OIK Isngtttgc to anotber ; aoA 
Our bUnk verie cabnot be eqaallcd bjFftndi 
Maftk ;vtrf0. The thoughts: tai%bt iii feme 
ftieafiite hftve bdea givxti, if liss ttshllator 
liad underftood the :^ords ' in v^fa Bhake^ 
i^eu- had ft^eHed them. Upon die judg- 
uient (^ (he aiidKirs In the choice of the 
ilot^, in the tondud of it, in excking the 
fympathies belonging to it, in the fafhioning 
of the chara£ters> ill the Dofalcnc&. of ieotl- 
ment, and reprefentation of Roman m&n- 
-ners, we iball upon ckde examination of the 
Cinna and Julius Csfar be able to pro- 


As t!he fbbjeA ctf the AxiXrtA h built m A 
conipiracy which every tsttt h ' Vitrei! had 
not any cffed* and the authcK* has io con- 
^\xQ.eA if afi to tender the ptx^n AugiWlus 
^e^ (he toti^itltoti tifl dA of pdtitkd 
pfadMic«i f iLfh^ th^fl £tMit>ti6 tletnihC!^, 
ttiere is not any ddl^td iiitdteft m bdt the 
C'haraAera of Cinna, Emilia, lind Maximtit^. 
t>et us eJCiiU^ne hoW liff &fey af<i tpbHhy tb 
A; fi) as fet forth id this piece j ibf we havfc n6 
bifto^icEtl ttcqtiAintfinee With them. EmillA 
is f he ' dauglitfer of Torahius the ttitdr of 
AugUfius, who W«S pfoftribed by him iii 
his ti-itirtivitate* As we have not thy krtow«- 
lAdge of this TotariiiiSi we arc ftd more 
toiicerned about any cruelty cotbfhitted Upon 
iiim than upon any othef mah,' ib we ait 
not prepared to enter into the outrageous 
tefentment of Efiiiliai especially as we iee her 
in the oourt of Auguftiis under tht &cred 
relation of his adopted daughter, enjoying all 
Ae privileges of that diAinguiflied fituation, 
and treated with tfaft tendernefs of paternal 
love. Nothing io much deforms the femi- 


2ZO Upon the CINHA ?/"COKN^BJl,LEi 

nine charadter as ferocity of fentimcnt. 
Nothing io deeply .fiains the hum^n , cha- 
ra&er as -ingratitude.. . 

This lady, howeter odious, flic ajqiears to 
the ipe&ator, is ot^de to ^gage Cinna her 
loV;er,,who is a nephew of the great Pompey, 
in a^ccm^racy agftinft Auguftus. S^^efpear 
moft -judicioully kboured to Hiew that 
Bru&ifi's, motives to kill Cafar were petfedly 
generous and purely public-fpiritcd. Cor- 
ncille has not kindled Cinna to, hi? enterpr^ 
with any fpark of Roman iirC. In every 
thin^he appears treacherous, bafe, and timid. 
Maximus, the other confpirator, ieems at 
firft a better charader ; but in the third a^ 
he makes a moft lamentable con;feffi(Mi to a 
Have, of his love for Emilia, and his jealoufy 
of Cinna : this flave gives fuch advice as one 
might exp^e'dt from fuch a counfcUor j he 
urges him to betray his. alTociates, and by 
means of a li^, to prevail upon Emilia to go 
off with him. Thus Maximus becomes as 
treacherous and bafe as Cinna his friend, 
and Emelia his miftrefs. The poet follows ' 


upon the CiNNA g^CoRNEILLE. 221 

Seneca's account of this affair iti making 
Livia (who has ho other bufinefs in the 
drama) advife Auguftus to try the effeft of 
meafures of clemency, as his punifhmcnt of 
former confpiracies excited new ones. Au- 
guftus tells her flie talks like a woman, 
treats her coiinfel with icorn, and then 
follows it. Auguftus appears with dignity 
and fenfe in the other fcene, and is the only 
pcrfoh in the play for whom one has any 
refpeiS. This is the plan of a work which is to 
ftiewCorneille's genius and judgment fuperior 
toShakefpear's. As Mr. Voltaire has given his 
tranflation of Julius Cafar, I will, juft pre- 
fent to the reader a literal tranflation of the 
firft fcene of the firft ad, which begins by a 

CI N N A, T R A G E D I E. 
ACTE Premier. SCENE Premirre. 

£ M I L I B. 

Impatlens defirs d'une Ulufire vengeance, 
Dont la mbrt de mon p«rc a forme la naif!znce, 
£o&ns impetueux de mon reflentiraen^ 


3,22 l^ft the CiNNA ^CeftMf;iLi.e* 

Qye jna dwleur fcduibe mbn^e wtat^JbptHtf 
Youf pvnriE fvr inotK otne uo trqp puiffimt (tmp^e : 
BurutiE qveiquet monefu CywCsz que je rcfpice, 
BtqjKJPwinfideiF, en l'eW»iljeluu» 
' £cceQui^ichwar4e, 4f(;c^iVJep«Hr(ui»; 
<2!^ao4 je .legarde AuguAe w miljev de^ |^Mf;7» 
%'tf\»if yftus repco<tez 3 -mit tr{fte nwinoin 
iQyc i>9r fit pcf pee aaowi mon p^ inai(Iacr£ 
J)« troqe ou je le veia £iit Je peeler .d^ie i 
.Quwd veus .mp-pcofei^tez «Bttei«iig1jttiitp iip'g^ 
Irf cpufe 4e -W luiiu^ &J'«^«le ja^age, . 

jCt cfpis pour vfut mprt iui (kww nylle mvts* 
Aw mlKu tmUe^is d'uncfuKW fiiu^e^ 
J'aiote cncfv plus Ciiuia ^pr jejichais Auguflc; 
^ j« Aos iffrgidir cp botiUlwit npuveiQeDt, 
Quand il fiiutpourle fuivre expofer mon amant. . , 
Oui, Cinna, centre moi moi-memejem'irritc, 
Quai^ j8 foageaux dangers oujcie(Wcd[utp. 
QiMa»e pwir fl»e fcrvir tu n'apprehcndes rici^ 
Te dcmandcr du fang, c'eft expofer Ic ticn. 
D'une fi haute place onn'abat point de tctes. 
Sans atdreriur foi mUle U mUle tcmpetes ; . 
L'iffue*neftdowteiifc, & ie peril certain. 
Un ami ddoyid psut trabir ton deflcin j 


L'ordre mal conccrt6, I'occafion mal prife, 
Peawot ^ f»n ^tevr reBvfrrcr reatrKpcile* ' 
Toiirior)lkirt« i$a wufe4fl«ttiii« mutlfflpper ^ 
Dam&JvbK v£n* il j>«rtt^eiR'«kfK:ri 

U tt pent ca Mdtbwif ^rafer fous fa chute, 

Ah ! ce& de courir a cc mortcl dMger : 

Te perdre en me vengeant cc n*eft pas mc venger. 

Un cceur eft trop cr»el ^^ndJl Wouvedes charmes 

Awe dowienirt ^ue i»rro»t l>«}«Ftuin( 4<i iiunct t 

Et I'oo dflitBiwttre w iwg dw plw*wfiM» fDS^niM 

Xn m«wt a'*fi «»e»» fiu cotf* .t»»t de pUws. 

Maw pctft-w en vcrio'ialcM-s qu'iin vcnge un fax ? 
£ft-tl jieree i at f tax fui nc femble lig^c I 
Et qvurf feo a&ffin tmbe fous ootvc effort, 
Dtnt-oo-coofidercr-oe que c«i^ f« Vfut ? 
Oeftz, vaineg^n^euK, cellez, iachee toadreftes, 
De jetttx daiu taoa orur voe indi{ne6 £ubkf{pB } 
£t toi qui Icsproduis par <es foins fuperflu^, 
Anour, fm mon devoir, & nc le Coeabats pluf • 
Lui ceder c'eft ta ^iie, & le vaincre uhonte; 
Montre-toi genej-eux, IbufFrant qu'il te funnonte. 
Plus tu lui donncras, plus il tc va dosner, 
£t ne ttioiPii^&ra que pour tc ceuroiiner> - 

I do 


224 Vpon ibe Cinna ^Corneili,e. 

I do not pretend, as Mr. Voltaire does, to 
paake the reader a judge of the ftile dS Cot- 
neille by my tranflatioa } he muft allow for 
the want of verfification, and be content 
with the thoughts, the fentiments, the con- 
ceits of the original. 

" Impatient defires of an lUuftrious veh- 
geance, to which the death of my falAax gave 
birth> impetuous children of my relentment, 
which my deluded forrow embraces too 
blindly, you aflume too great an empire over 
my mind. Sufer me to breathe a moment, 
and let me confider the ftate I am in, what I 
hazard, and what I would attempt. When I 
behold Cjefar in the midft of glory, you (I fup- 
pofe this means, you, the impetuous children 
of the impatient defires of .an illuftrious ven- 
geance) reproach my melancholy memory that 
my ftther, maffacred by his hand, was the firft 
ftep to the throne on which I fee him. And 
when you prefentme that bloody.imagc, the 
caufe of my hatred, the eiFed of his rage, I 


VpOn the C\\A^A. g/'CoRNEILLE. i.2$ 

dbandon m^^lelf to your violent traniports, 
and think that for one death I owe him £t 
thoufand deaths. In the ttiidft of fo juft an 
indignation I ftill lov6 Giniia more than I 
hate Augullus ; and I find this boiling anger 
cool> when to obey it I muft hazard my 
lOver. Yes, Citlna> againft myfelf, myfelf 
am angry, wh^n I think of th6 dangers into 
which I precipitate theej Thou^ to ierve 
me thou feafeil nothing, to aik thee for 
blood is to expofe thine. One beats not down 
heads from ib high a place without drawing 
upon one's felf a thoufand and a thou^nd 
Aorms ; the ilTue is doubtful, the peril is 
certain. The order ill eonccrtedi the op» 
portunity ill chofen, may on their author 
overturn the whole ehterprizei turn on thee 
the blow thou wouldft ftrike, and even enve- 
lope thee in his ruin ; and what thou exe- 
cuteft for my fake may cruih thee In iXA ^1. 
Ah I do not run into, this danger. To ruin 
yourfelf in revenging me is not to revenge 
me. That heart is too cruel which finds a 
fweetneis in that vengeance which is cor*- 
ruptcd by the bitternefs of forrow j and one 
P Should 

^oiizccb, Google 

226 Upoa ^K CiNNA AjTCOitNEItLIE. 

ihould put in ilie rank of the grcateft mir* 
Untunes the death <^ an enemy Mditch coAt 
fo many tears. But can one Died tears whed 
one revenges a father ? Is there a \o(s which 
does not feem light at that price ? And whoi 
his aSaffin dies by our means, ought we td 
conlider what his deadi cods us ? Ceafe vain 
fears, ceafe fooKfli tendemefs to affe€k my 
heart with your unworthy weaknefles : and 
thou who produceft them by thy fupei^utMift 
Anxieties, O love, affift my duty, db not 
combat with it % to yield to it is thy glory> 
to vanquifti it Ay difgrace ; fticw ihyfetf 
generous, Ai&r It to overcome thee. TTie 
more thou giveft to it, the more it will givfc 
thee, and will triamph only to crown thee." 

6ucfa mighty nothings in fo ftrange a ftilo 
Amaxe th' anlearn'd, and maltc tht k^ned fintle. 

The fecond fcene of Emilia, and Fulvia 
her friend> is not fo abford as ^ foli- 
loqUy i but the anfwer Emilia gives ib 
Fulvia, who ur^ to her, that the be- 
nefits flie has received from Auguftus, 
and the credit (he has with him fhould 
• mitigate 

Dolce. bvGoogle 

Vpon tht CiMMa ^ CoRDcitLS. ±tf 

mitigate her ro&ntmeot. ^eurs her <ti^- 

pofition to be uogratefuU violent^ and 

La blenbits ue lont pas tx^cAirs « ([Qe ta pqtfq* % 
■ f^unenUifloiicH&ib tRBOCntlicuil'p^ilte: 
Plus nous en prodiguom \ qui nops .pcut b»f} 
Plus d'arnes nous doanoas ^ qui oous vcut trabin 
U «t*«a.feitchaqae joarfaiudvinger ■Mmcvung^ 
^H^.cer^UBj'eUis, & 5c pah dmutBge ; 
£t ^) jneron fvcftns 4)u'il mcffe djuuaaes Dtfilil 
J'achettc eom» (« les dprin «}es Romapii 
J&reocvnis Je Un k placi. de Llvie, 
Conuac ii« najtii plus filr d'attsilter i. fa vie. 

*' Bene6t« do not akray^don^you thiak< 
From an odious hand they are fb many of- 
fences : the more we boftow upcm thofe who 
hate us> the more arms we fi^milb to thol^ 
who may beti*ay us. JHc bcAoiws them upoa 
xne evcly day vithodt djaftging my Jofo* 
lotion. I am what I was* and 1 sun abb 
to efFeft more j and with the prefeatp b* 
pours into my hands, I purchase the 
iiearts of Romans to iet tbua againft 
F 2 him. 


22^ Upon the CiNNAy Corneille. 
him. 1 would receive from him the place of 
Livia, to giun furer means to attempt his life." 

The next fcenc Cinna enters, and tdls bi» 
furious charmer, that the confpirators enter 
into the plot with as much zeal as if they too 
were ferving a miftrefs. 

Tons' s'y mootMnt portca avec tant d* allegreSe, 
Qu'ils iemUent cmnme moi fervir uire ouutrcifc.— 

Plfit aux dieux que vous-memeeuffiez vu'deipiel zele 
Crttt troupe entreprend une aflion fi bdle ! 
Au reul nom de Ci&r, d' Augufte, d' Empereur, 
Vous euffiez vil Icurs yeux s'enflammcr de fuiei» ; 
Et dans un mcme inftant, par un effct contrairc, 
Leur front paiii d* horreur, & rou&ir de colero. 

Here is a childifh play upon words, and 
a mere rant : for in thofe times neither 
the names of Caefar, Auguftus, or Em- 
peror, were dcteftedj the monfters that 
af^orwards aflUmed them might become 

The fcene is very long as we may fuppofe 

^oiizccb, Google 

Upon the Cinna of Corneille. 229 
where fuch different ientiments and pafiions 
are to be expreifed as dioie which belong to 
the lover and con^irator. Cinna alTurcs 
Emilia that he concealed from his aflbdatest 
that to avenge her father and obtain her he 
entered into this conipiracy. 

C I N H A. 

Rien n'eft pour voos i craindre ; sucun de nos ami* 
Ne Ikit ni vog defleins, ni cc qui m'dt promii : 
£t Icur pliant tantdt dcs mifcFcs Romaincs, 
Je Icur ai tu la mort qui fait nattre nos baines, 
De p«ur que mon ardeur touchant vos intcrets 
D'ua fi parfait amour ne trahit let fecrets. 

" There is nothing for you to fear j none 
of our friends know the defigns, nor what is 
promifed mt. In fpeaking of the miferies 
of the Romans I was filent about tbe death 
which ifi the caufe of our hatred, left my 
warmth for your ioterefts fhould betray the 
fecFcts of fuch 3 perfe<S lOve." 

There was not only difcretion but good 

fenfe in this, for the fecrets d'un parfait 

amour nught not have been duly attended 

Pj to 

^oiizccb, Google 

ejo D)&»a the C^hna of C6JiNEiLtE. 
to or properly rMerenced, by a fiu-Iy baftd 
of cxwfplrafors met to concert meafdrea for 
fash, a perilous enterprize. ' In the next 
fcene At^flus fends for Cinna and MaxU 
fdus, Iq advlfe with them whether he fhalj 
reftore liberty to the GotmacmWeahh. Here 
we have fome refpite from the ftrange medley 
qf tender love and dire revenge, and in lieu 
of it a long politick diibilflioli of the con- 
venienci<« and ineonveniehcies of different 
modes .of gdvernment. 

ComeiSo has borrbwed-from Diofl Caf- 
fius> and transferred to Cinna and Maximus, 
tbft ^ftfeGhes <^ Agriftpa and Mecehas, 
wheii AUgtiftus confoltM them whethef ho 
thould d&mit his power, and live a privatb 
wsn, ia& Syik' h^ don«> Mr. Fenelon has 
v&y jilftly cen'fufed, -as lU fuiting that fim-p 
■ijjicity 'of-ftyle and -RKiAner with which 
Auguftus e^fpreifed Jarnfty* the following 
Jines ; 

. 'Cetempiraabfelalur la^er^ tt AirJ'onJe, 
~C(: pOV^oir Jbuv'ciiun que j'ai fftr fout !e imn^r* 

> CettB 


Vpim fie Cum A tf Cornbul^. 231 

C«tte gra;ideur fao* bomM, ct cct itlufire nog, > 
Qui m'a jadis CQUt£ ant de ptjvae et de fangf 
- Enliji tout 66 qu'sdore^ en an baute fortune 
D'un cottitUan flateur la pieAoce im^rtui^e, 
N'efl ^uc de ccs txaut^s iont I'eclat ^blouit^ 
£t qu'on cefle d'aimer C-tot qu'on eo jouit, 

'* This abfalutc cpipire over the earth 
find ocean, this fovereign power th»t I have 
over the whole world, this greatneft with- 
out limits, and this illuArious rank which 
has heretofore coft i^e ib much labour and 
/o much blood ; in fioey all that the troa- 
blcfotne croud of flattering courtiers adores 
io my high fortune, is but a piece of 
pageantry, whofe luftre dazzles, and that 
one ceafes to admire as foon as one poflefle^s 

Theie oftentatious expreffions arc perfeftly 
xidlcidous to thofe who are acquainted with 
the character of the fpeakcr : but there is 
finother fault much more detrimental to the 
drama, which is the aversion we conceive 
8t the Wack treachery cf Cinna, who when 
P 4 Auguflus 

Doiizc^bv Google 

232 Upon the Cinna of Cormbii.i,b. 
Auguftus confults him &s his fdend, whether 
he ihall lay down his power, and rcftore 
liberty to the conunon -wealth, advifcs him 
not to do it, with a great appearance of 
perfonal attachment to him, and zeal for 
his country; but in reality, that he may 
not lofe a pretence to facrifice him to the 
Tcvcnge of Emilia. This holds forth Cinna 
to the ipcdlator as a perfidious friend, a 
wicked counlellor, a profligate citizen. A 
more atrocious condu^ was perhaps never 
afcribcd to any charaftcr on the ftage, where 
the guilty perfon was intended to excite 
indignation and abhorrence j and is therefore 
the moft flagrantly abfiird in a cafe where 
the'charafter is that on which th? Intercft 
of the play is to turn. 

Auguftus having intimated to Cinna at 
the conclufion of their conference, that he 
was willing to give Emilia to him, he be- 
gins then to refledl upon his perfidy, and 
urges to Maximus the remorle he feels for 
the intended aflTafiinatton. The poet leems 
^q be afraid he has not yet fufficiently dit- 


XJp&n the CiNNA g/" CORNEILLE. 233 

graced his hero, and therefore makes Maxi- 
inus reply to him thus ; 

Fonnez tos remors d'uoe plus jufte caufe, 
De vos Inches conf^s, qui feuls ont arret£ 
Le bonheur nnaiflant de notre liberty. 
-' C'eft voua feu] aujourd'hui qui nous T^vez 6t£ei 
De la main dt Ce&r Bnitt I'eut accep^e, ' 
£t n'eut jamais Touffert qu'un interft ]egcr 
pe vengeance ou d'amour I'eflt remife en dai^er. 

** Derive your remorfc from a juftcr caute, 
from your bafe counfels, which alone put a 
ftop to the felicity of reviving liberty. 
'Tis you alone that have now deprived us of 
it. From the hand of Casfar Brutus would 
have accepted the liberty of Rome ; and 
never, from a paltry jntereft of love or 
revenge, would have again put it to hazard." 

As every movement in this play is to turn 
on mean and lelfifli paiHons, ^s loon as 
Maximus apprehends his rival is to receive 
Emilia as the reward of his enterprize, ho 
faifefs his flave to betray the plot to Augu(i- 


^34 JJpm tie Ctfoifi. ef C(yR^f^f^l^, 
tm. He then endeavours %p p^tif^iade 
Emilia to efcape wil^ him. AU this is vtxy 

aukwardly condud^vi. 

It is 0T4rgQ thftt a drsmatic wtitw Qumld 
not have iludied baoun nature eawtgh' to 
percayc) th>t the only cbara£ler whk^ can- 
not inter^ &poa the &t^^, it that which 
is mean« lowt and contemptible. Great 
ipin^^ even thoDgh of a bad kind* engage 
our attention to all their operations, becaufe 
.^y^a^e capable of prodwiflg great ertnts. 
Wf at-f cufious to fee what Uie aud^eiow 
villain will ^JMY ^ do, what the ^unniag 
ope vfUl contrive t hut when a man is pce- 
ientcd to us as a ii:o^ndreU un i^ie, wc 
djfilain to Mtwd to hip, aOlpiK. Tfeerefiwe, 
however iKell the gr^t icenes of thi^ pla^r 
may be written i confidefed fingly^ they are 
very Jnjudicioufly managed. We ftiall now 
fee Cinoa appear So 4ef|HC4^, thaf to pupifh 
.him wotdd he below (he dignity of Augtrf- 
^us J and to retain him as a friend, unworthy 
<i( any mitn. Augyftvis, informed by the 
.double traitor Maxioaus, fends for Ciom* 



VpOtt thf CinHA cf CORHBILLE. 335 

unci reproachts him with tv«ry ^>eck& of 
baie ingratitude, tells him he iiril gave him 
his life, enrichod hitn with the ipoik' of 
Antotiy, upon every occafion had been 
profufely liberal and kind to him,' preferred 
his intcreft even to thofc who had fought 
for him, and by whoft blood he had pur- 
chafed the empire ; and had admitted hiin« 
upon the death of Mecenas, into the firft 
place in his confidence. Auguftus adds toow 
that it was by his advice he retained his 
power; and after all this, fays he, you would 
affaffinateme. Cinna does not barely deny 
the conspiracy, but exclaims, ** I, Sir, have I 
&ch a treacherous fotil, fuch a bafe dcfign t" 

Auguflius cuts him ihort in this diigrace- 
ful lie, fiiefring, bim he has full information 
of the plot; and very juftly lays, " The 
liberty of thy country could not be thy 
objeit, for theft thou wouldft not have Wn- 
dered my reftering it. Thou muft defign 
therefore to reign in my place. Alias ! 
Home muil be unhaj^ indeed, if I were 
th? ohij obftaiple, and that after my death 



236 Vpon the CiNNA of Corneille. 
it fhould not ^1 into better hands - than 
thine. Learn to know what thou art : 
defcend into thyfelf: thou art honoured, 
prufed> and loved, and all tremble before 
thee, fo high have I raifed thy fortune : but 
thou wouldft be the pity of thofe who now 
envy that fortune, if I abandoned thee .to 
thy own little merit. Contradi^ me if thou 
canft ; tell me what is Ay merit, what are 
thy virtues, what are thy glorious exploits, 
what are thofe rare qualities by which thou 
could'ft pretend to my favour, what is it 
raifes thee above the vulgar ? My fiivour is 
thy only glory -, thy power arifcs from It ; 
that alone raifes and fupports thee ; it is that, 
not thou, which is refpefted : thou haft nei- 
ther rank nor credit but what arifes fronj 
it ; and to let thee fall, I need only draw 
back the hand that fupports thee." ; 
Quel etait ton deflein, et que pretencla!, 
Apies tn'avoir au temple a tea pleds abattu ? 
Afiranchir ton pays id'unpouvoir monarchique i 
Si j'ai bjen entendittant:6t a politique. 
Son £ilut dcformais. depend d'un fouverain. 
Qui pojir tout conicrvcr ticnn? tout en ia main ; 


Upm the ClNNA'^.CORNEILLE. 237 
£t fi fii liberty te failak entreprendre, 
Tu.nem'euJIes jamais emp£ch£de Izrendic; 
Tu I'aunis accept£c au nom dc tout I'etat, 
Sans vouloir I'acquerir par im aflkfllnat. 
Quel etait done ton J?ut ? d'y regner en ma place? 
D'un etrange malhcDr Ton deftinle menace. 
Si pour mooter au tr6ne et lui donner la loi, 
Tu ne tnmves dans Rome autre obftacle que mot ; 
Si jufques ^ ce point ton. fort eft deplorable^ 
Q]ie tu fois apres moi le plus confiderable: 
£t que ce grand fardcau de I'empire Romain 
Ne puiile apies ma mort tomber mieux qu'en ta main. 
Apprcns a te coonaitre, et defcens en toi-memc. 
On t'honoie dans Rome, on te couitife, on t'aime ; 
Chacun tremble Ibus toi, chacun t" o^ des vfxux; 
Ta fortune eft bien haut, tu peux c« que je veux : 
' Mais tu ferais pilie, m£oic a ceux qu'elle irrite. 
Si je t* abandonnais \ ton peu de merite. 
Ofe me dementir, dis-moi ce que tu vaux, 
Conte-moi tes vertus, tes glorieux travaux, 
Les rates quaiitu par ou tu m'as du plaire, 
Et tout ce qui t'^Ieve au-dclTus du vulguiv. 
Ma faveur fait ta gloire, & ton pouroiren vieaCj 
Ellc fcule t' eleve> ,& feule te foutioi^ 



23? upon the CiNNA ^CORMEILtf. 
C'eft elle qu'on adore, ctnon pu » peifomu^ 
Tun'^credic,iiiratigqu'auUiitqu'eUc t'endcMUiei 
Et pour te bire dMirje n'mtais Aiyounl'luu 
Qu* i retirer la mun qui iculc eftted appuU 

Emilia enters, and behaves vnth the moil 
infblent pride> uadounted aiTttrance, and 
un&eling ingratitude j add declares fio Au- 
guflus, .that as long as ibe is haodfbme 
enough to get kwers he ^U never want 
enemies. Auguihi6 ilill adheres to fais fi^an 
of clonency, (for that too is {^an, and the 
refult of prudent deliberation, not of generous 
magnanimity) he pardons Maximus, for- 
gives Cinna in fpite of his uaworthitters, 
and beftows upon him Emilia and the con- 
fullhip. Emilia is at laft mitigated, and 
modeilly tells Auguilus that heaven has 
ordained a change in the commonwesdth 
fince it has dianged her heart. What' Is there 
in all this i^ax can move either pity orterror? 
In what cs it vmctX, in vfhzx. is it intCfefting. 
vhere is it pathetic ? 



l^9n tie Ci^KA f/'CoAMfcifcLX. 139 

ft Es a common error in chft plan of 
ComciUe's tragedies, thatthe mt«reftof ths 
focce turns upoh ibme ubknown pnlbftf 
gcnerdly a. haughty pt-incefs ; lb that inftesui 
ef the r^nicQtadon of ae itnporamt eVJsM. 
and the diarafters of iUaftrlous perfotii, the 
bufinefs of the drama is the loTCrin"^g*ie «f 
a termagant lady, "ffho^ If fhe is a Romatii 
infults the Barbarian^ if lh« is a Batbariah, 
braTos the Romwifi, and even to her lover is 
iniblent and fierce. Were fuch a perfon to 
be produced on our theatre, the would be 
taken for a mad poetelfe escaped from her 
keepers in Bedlam, who, fancying ho^lf a 
iqueen, was ranting, and delivering her m&ti« 
tlat« in rhyme upon the ftage. AU the 
excufe that can be made for Corneille in 
fnch reprefentation, is, that char«fters Ukft 
the&i, dignified indeed with nbblcr feati*- 
mentSv were admired in the romances in 
which the manners of chivalry are exagge^ 
Tated^ By the inftilutions of chivalry 
erery valjant knight profcfied a peculiar 
4 devotion 


X40 Upcn the Cinna {^CorneilLg^ 
devotion to the fair fex, in whofe caule, as 
the champion of die defencele&, and pi'o- 
tetSor of the oppfelTedt he was always ready 
to take arms. A lady's intereft being often 
the objed:, and fomettmes her ' perfon the 
prize of a combat, flic was fuppofcd to in- 
fpire his courage ; and, as he was to be not 
lefs diftinguifhed for politenels than valour^ 
he affefted an air of fubmiflive obedience, 
while flie, by the courtefy ' of knighthood* 
was allowed to affume a ftile of fuperiority 
and command. To carry thefe manners into 
ancient Greece and Rome, and weave thenl 
into a confpiracy there, betrays want of 
judgment. In the ilrain of romance this 
drama is carried on. The lady enjoins her 
lover to kill Auguftus ; that adventure 
atchieved he is to hope for her hand; his 
glory is to be derived from her acknowledge 
ing him worthy of it j ibe is continually 
exhorting him to deferve the honour of 
being beloved by her. The fate of AuguftuS', 
of the Roman empire, all the duties of the 
citizen and the friend, are to depend on hw 


Vpon the CiNNA of Corneille.; 241^ 
decifion. She fays to Auguftus» when he 
has dilcovcred the conipiracy, as a fufficient 
vindication of her lover, , 

: Out, tout cequ'il a ^t, il I'a fait pour me.plairct 
' Et j'cn ctois, feigneur, U caufe et \t falaire. 

The author certainly intended to recom- 
mend Cinna to his fpeftators merely as a 
i(yal hver, according to the phrafe of ro- 
mance : in every other light he appears con- 
temptible, and indeed fufFers himfelf to be 
ufed with the greateil contempt and indig- 
nity. As Shakcfpcar laboured to ihcw that 
the motives of Brutus were untinftured by 
any bad paflion ; on the contrary every move- 
ment in the mind of Cinna has the charafter 
of bafenefs, and whether he confpires or 
whether he repents of it, he is ftiU, as he 
acknowledges himlelf to be, 

Un efprit malheureux, 
Qui ne forme qu'en lache un delTcin genereux. 

From this unhappy wretch who bafely 

conceives a generous defign, let us turn to 

Brutus. There we fliail fee the different 

Q^ judgmept 


i42 Vpon the Cinma af Corneille. 
judgment and genius of the artifts. Brutus 
and Cinna are drawn in the fame fituation, 
confpiring againft the foremoft man of all this 
world : in the one' we have the features and 
complexion of a villain, in the other the 
high-finiflied form of a noble patriot. 













TH E tragedies of Cinna, and Julius 
Caiar, are each of them the repre- 
fentation of a conipiracy ; but it cannot be 
denied* that our countryman has been by far 
more judicious in his choice of the ftory. 
An abortive fcheme, in which fome people 
of obfcurc feme were engaged, and even in 
whom, as they are reprefented, the attempt 
was pardoned, more from contempt of their 
abilities and power, than the clemency of 
the emperor, makes a poor figure in con- 
trail with that confpiracy, which, formed 
by the firft charai^ers in Rome, effei^ed 
0^3 the 


246 Upon the Diati of Julius C^sar. 
the deftruftion of the greateft man the 
world ever produced, and was fucceeded by 
the moft memorable confequences. Hiftory 
iurniflies various examples of bafe and 
treactiftous natures, of dil^lute manners, 
ruined fortunes, and loft reputations, uniting 
in horrid aiTociation to deftroy their prince. 
Ambition often cuts itfelf a bloody way to 
gteatnefs-— ^-Exaipera^ed mifery ibmetioies 
Jilunges its defperate dagger in the breaft of 
the oppreflbr. The cabal of a court, the 
mutiny of a camp, the wild zeal of fanatics, 

•have often produced events of that nature. 
But this confpiracy was formed of very dif- 
ferent elements. It was the gemius of Rome, 
the rights of her conftitution, the fpirit of 

• her laws, that rofe againft the ambition of 
C^rj they'fteeled the heart, and whetted 

'the dagger of the mild, the virtuous, the 
gentle Brutas, to give the mortal wound, 
not to a tyrant, who had faftened fetters on 
hisL fellow-citizens, but to the conqueror, 
who had made the world wear their chains ; 
one empire only remained unful^eiSed to 
them, and that he was preparing to fubdpe. 
9 Can 


upon the Death of Julius Casar. 247 

Can there be a fubjedt more worthy of 
the tragic mufe, than . the imitation of an 
aiflion fo important in its confequences, and 
unparrelleled in all its circumftances ? How 
is our curiofity excited to difcover what 
could engage the man of virtue in an entcr-« 
prize of fuch a terrible kind ; and why, 
after its accompHlhment, inflead of being 
iligmatized with the nune of confpirator 
and aiTaHin, the decrees of an auguft fenate, 
the voice of Rome, unite to place him one 
of the firA on the roll of patriots ; and the 
fucccflbr of the murdered Cxfer, who 
devoted to deftruftion the moft iUuftrious 
men of Rome, durft not offer violation to 
the ftatue of Brutus ! 

To obtain, from the Englifh ipeftator, 
the fame reverence for him, it was neceffary 
wc fhould be made to imbibe thofe doc- 
trineSf and to adopt the opinion by which 
he himfelf was ailuated. We muft be in 
the very capitol of Rome ; Aand at the bale 
of Pompcy's ftatue, furrounded by tlio 
Q_4 effigies 


848 upon the Death of Julius Cjesar. 

cfH^es of their patriots ; we muft be taught 
to adore the images of Junius Brutue* the 
Horatii, Decli> Fabii, and all who had 
offered dear and bloody facrifice to the 
liberty of their country, to fee this aftion. 
in the point of view to which it offered itfelf 
to the deliberation of Brutus, and by which 
it was beheld by thofe who judged of it 
when done. To the very fcene, to the 
very time, therefore, does our poet tranfport 
us : at Rome, we become Romans ; we are 
affefted by their manners ; we are caught 
by their enthufiafm. But what a variety of 
imitations were there to be made by the 
artift to effeft this ! and who but Shake- 
fyax was capable of fuch a taik ? A poet 
of ordinary genius would have endeavoured 
to intereil us for Brutus, by the means of 
feme ima^ned fond mother, or fonder 
miftrefs. But can a few female tears wipe 
out the ftains of affailination ? A bafe con- 
fpirator, a vile aJTallin, like the wretched 
Cinna of Corneille, would Brutus have 
appeu'ed to us, if only the ^me feeble arts 
had been «xertcd for him. It. is for the 


Uffon thi DeafB of ]vLi\SB Cjesah. 249 
genuine Ion of ancient Rome, the lover of 
the liberty of his country, wc are interefted. 
A concern raifed for him, from compaffion 
to any other perfon, would only have ex- 
cited fome painful emotions in the fpe^- 
tor, ariling from difcordant fentiments. 
Indeed, the common aim of tragedy writers 
feems to be merely to make us uneaiy, for 
fome reafon or other, during the drama. 
They take any thing to be a tragedy in which 
there are great perfons, anS much lamenta- 
tion J but our poet never rcprefents an adtion 
of, one fort, and raifes emotions and paffions 
of another fort. He excites the fympathics^ 
and the concern, proper to the ftory. The 
paflion of love, or maternal affedtion, may 
give good fubjefts for a tragedy. In the 
fables of Phjedra and Merope thofe fenti- 
ments belong to the aftion j but they had 
no fhare in the refolution -taken to kill 
CsEiar ; and, if they are made to interfere, 
they adulterate the imitation j If to predo- 
minate, they fpoil it. Our author difdains 
the legerdemain trick of fubftituting one 
paHion for another. He is the great magi- 

Doiizc^bv Google 

25° Upon the Death of Julius Cjgsar. 

cian that can call forth p^ons of any ibrt. 
If they are fuch as time has deftroyed, or 
cuftom extinguiihed, he fununoDS from the 
dead thofe fouls in which they once exilled. 
Having fufficiently enlarged on the general 
icope of our author in this play, we will now 
conlider it in the detail. 

The firft fcene is in the ftreets of Rome. 
The tribunes chide the people for gathering 
together to do honour to Csfo's triumph. 
As certain decorums did not employ the 
attention of the writers of Shakefpcar's days« 
he ixxSets feme poor mechanics to be too 
loquacious. As it was his bufinefs to depre& 
the charader of Caetar, and render his vic- 
tory over his illuilrious rival as odious as 
poffible, he judicioufly makes one of the 
tribunes thus addrefs himfclf to the people : 

Wherefore rejoice ? What conqueft brings he home? 

What tributaries follow him to Rome, 

To{;race in captive bonds hts chariot wheels ? 

You blocks, you (tones, you worfe than ienfelefs 
things \ 

^oiizccb, Google 

■Uf9n tif'DeaT^ of ]vLias CxsAH. 251 

O you hard hearts I you crOel men of Rome .' 
Kncff you aot PtMnpey ? Many a time and oft 
Have you climb'd up towtlls and battlements. 
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops. 
Your intots in your arms, and diere have fat 
The VvK-leng day with patient cxpedation, 
To fee great Pompcy paTs the (Irects of Rome ; 
And, when you faw his chariot but appear. 
Have you not made an univerfal iheut, 
That Tyber trembled underneath his banks 
To. hear the replication of your founds, 
.Made in his concave fhores i 
And do you now put on your befl; attire * 
And do you now cull out an holiday ? 
And do you now ftrew flowers in his way. 
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood i 
Be gone— — 

Run to your houfes, fidl upon your knees. 
Pray to the gods, to intermit the plague 
That needs mull light on this ingratitude^ 

The, next fpcech (hews the genend appre- 
henfion of Csefar's aiTuming too great a degree 
of powec 



2^2 Upon the Death of Julius C^sak. 


Let no images. 

Be hung with Caefar's trophies. I'll about. 
And drive away the vulgar from the ftreets : 
So do you too, where you perceive them thick. 
Thefe growing feathers, pluckt from Ccfiur's wing, 
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch ; 
Who die would foar above the view of men. 
And keeps us all in iervile fearfulncfs. 

The fecond fccne is the courfc at the 
Lupercal games, in which Antony appears 
the humble courtier of Csefar. A foothfayer 
bids him beware the ides of March. 

In the third fcene there is a dialogue 
between Brutus and Caflius, in which the 
latter tenderly reproaches Brutus that his 
countenance is not fo open and cordial to 
him as formerly ; to this the other replies, 
he has fome inward difcontent. 

And that poor Brutus, with himfelf at war. 

Forgets the ihews of love to other men. 



Ufien the Deati of JvLivsCxsAJi. 253 

This intimation of difcontent- encourages 
CafGus to try to incenfe Brutus againft the 
growing power of Cx&r. On the ftiouts 
of the mob, Brutus exprelTes a fear that 
they are making Csfar king ; this encourages 
Caflius to proceed in his defign. He makes 
two fpcecheSf in which he appears envious 
and malignant to Cxfar> of whom he ipeaks 
as men do, who, unwilling to confefs the. 
qualities that give to a rival fuperiori^, dwell 
with malice on petty circumflances, in which 
he is not diftinguiihed from ordinary men. 
The French critic is much offended at this 
icenc, and fays, it is not in the ftyle of great 
men. The language of envy is always low. 
The fpeeches of CaiHus exprefs well his 
envious and peevifli temper, and make him 
a foil to fet off to advantage the more noble 
mind of Brutus. CalSus endeavours to 
ftimulate Brutus to oppofe the encroach- 
ments of Caeiar on the liberty of Rome, by 
fetting before him its firft deliverer^ the 
great Junius Brutus ■» a name revered by 


254 ^P<^ ^^ Death rf Julius Cjbsar, 
every Roman, but, undoubtedly^ adored by 
bis defccndants. 

This is truly imitation, whea the poet 
gives us the juft copies of all circumiHnces. 
that accompanied the adion he repre&nts. 
Corneille's drama's are fantailic eompofiti- 
ons, void of hiftorical truth, imitation of 
character, or reprefentation of maimers. 
Some few lines from Seneca, ingrafted into 
the Cinna, have given it reputation. For, 
however cuftom Aiay have taught a very 
ingenious and polite people to endure the 
infipid fccncs of ramoureux ct I'aniourcuie, 
the fault has been in the poets, not the 
fpcdators : all their critics have ftrongly 
condemned this mode of writing} and the 
public, by its approbation of this piece on 
account of the fcenes between Auguftus and 
Cinna, fhews plainly how much dialogues 
of a noble and manly kind would pleafe. 
Unhappily, Seneca's Auguftus makes the 
Cinna of Corneille appear too mean and 
little. Thefe borrowed ornaments never will 
affort perfcftly well with the piece ; they 


Vpcn t6e Deafh of JvLivs Cmsak. 255 
break in upon the harmony of fentiment, 
and the proportion of charai^ers, and fall 
greatly fliort of the eafy propriety, and be- 
coming grace, of a perfei^ fet of imitations 
defigned for, and fitted to the work, as in 
this tragedy of Julius Cxfar, where all cha- 
racters Appear in due degrees of fubordina- 
tion to the hero of the piece. Our poet, 
to intereft us the more for Brutus, takes 
every occaiion to make CaHius a foil for 
him. In the next fcene he is represented 
by Cxlar in an unamiable light j the oppor- 
tuni^ of ib fit an occafion is taken, to make 
fome fine reflections on the maUgnant md 
'envious nature of men, not foftened by the 
joys of mirth, and endearing intercour^ of 
^ial pleafures. 

Cjesar. (Tp An-r ok r, apart.) 
Let me have men about me that are Tat, 
Slcck-hcaded men, and fuch as fleep a-nights : 
Yond Caffiua has a lean and hungry look ; 
He thinks too much. Such men are dangeroui* 
Ah to NY. 
' Fear him not, Cxiar, he's not dangerouf i 
He it a nohle K.oman, and well given. 



256 Upon the Death of Julius Casak. 


, Would he were fatter. But I fear him not : 
■- Yet if my name were liable to fear, '-, 

I do not know the inan I fliould avoid. 
So foop as that iparc Caffius. He reads much ; 
. He ia a great obferver ; and he looks 
_ Quite througb the deeds of men. He loves no playsi 
^ ; As thou do'ft, Antoijiy ; he hears no muiic } 
Seldom he fmilcs, and fmiles in fuch a foit. 
As if he mock'd himfelf, and fcoro'd his Ipirit, 
That could be mov'd to fmilc at any thing. 
- Such men as he be never at heart's eafe, 
Whilft they behold a greater than tbemfelve* i 
And therefore are they very dangerous. 

Cafca's blunt recital -of the offer of a 
crown to Cmizr, in the next ;fceoe, is much 
cenfured .by the critic, accqftomed to the 
decorums of the French thciatre. It is not 
improbable the poet might , have in his eye 
fome peffon of eminence in his days, who 
was diftinguiihed by fuch manners. Many 
allufions and imitations which pleale at the 
time, arq loft to poftcrity, unlefs they point 
at tranfadiions and perlbns of the firft confe- 


tlfon ibeDeaib g/" Julius CAsAif. ^57 

quence. Whether wc approve fuch a cha- 
racter on the ftage or not, we (nuft allow 
his narration reprefents the defigns of Cafar's 
party, and the averJion of the Romad peo- 
ple to that royalty to which he afpired ; arid 
it was right to avoid engaging the parties 
in more deep difi:ourfe^ as Shakefpear in- 
tended» hy a fort of hiilorical procefs; to 
fhew how Brutus was led on to that aCt 
' to which his nature was averio; 

The firft fcene of the fecond ad preferits 
Brutus debating with himfelf upon the point 
on which Cailius had been urging him^ 
Caflius in his folilocjuy, fccnc third, aft 6rfl, 
fcemed to intimate^ that refentmcnt had a 
(hare in his defire to take off Cipfiir. Brutus^ 
on the contrary^ informs us, no peHbnal 
motives fway hiro* but fuch as ^re derived 
from an hereditary averfion to tyfanny, and 
the pledge the virtue of his anCeftors hact 
given the commonwealth, that a Brutus 
would not futfer a king in Rome j and thefts 
conGderations compel him to take the foU 
lowing refolution : 

R JBauTDs. 


258 Upon the Death o/}vi.iv& Cjssak. 

It mull be by ht9 death ; and, for my part, 

Ilcnow no pcrlbnal caufe to fpum at him ; 
But for the gensr^ He woidd be crewn'd | 

. How that might change fcis nature, tbere^ (he queftisA. 

. It k the bright day that brings fwdi the addir; 

' And that craves waiy walking ; CrowK him— that— 
And then I grant we put a> fiing in hJm, 

. That at his.wtU he may do dongtfr witb. 
Th' abufe of gre3CtK& is, when itdtsjoiBs 
Rcmorfe from power : and to fpeak truth of C^ar, 

, I have not known wkefr his aftflfon* fw^y'd 
More than his rea&n. Siit tis a cooutKln piwil^ 
That lowlinfTsi ie. young ainbitiDB.'s hUdw, 
Whereto thq clsubec upwantoinu bibfacC} 
But when be once attaloa the .upaioft ismnd^ 
Be then unto the ladder tutnsfais bask, 

' Looks intbf cloudsrftonuagtb^ba&do^^ees. 
By which be did ^cend> Sb Cr&t mtf : ^ 

Then, left he m^, prevents 

How averfe he Is to the means by which 
he is to deliver his country &ani the dann-. 
ger ELpprebended, appears in the lollbwif^ 
words : 


^oiizccb, Google 


Since Caffibs iirft did *tMt flK agdltift CiH&rf 
Ihavflnoc fflept. 

Between tb« aAing of «drealful thing* 
And the firft iddtionf ^I di« ioterirti b 
Like a phantaiina, or a hideous dream : 
Tlie genius, and the mortal inftrumentSi 
Are then m coUndt ; and the ftate of rax^i 
tiikc to ft IMe kingdom, fuSers theii 
The natittt of «i ItttirHlAion. 

t)i%uife and concealmenlt afe fo afchbrrefif 
to the open Migeniiky df his natut'e, that 
righteorfs as He thirifear the Cattfe in which 
he is going fo engagfe, oft hearing his frlenda 
arc com6 to him muffled ap at iftidniglit, 
he cannot helpf bftiking out m (he ft^owipg 

* OConfpirscy! 

Sham'ft thDufo'flleW tft]rdAt^ik)U9 tin>w by ntgUt 
IVhen tvils are inott free F O then, by day 
Where wilt thoiTfintf a cjcVeTM darkenonghi 
To mslk tKy MMftrousT^age f Seek none, Confpirae])^ 
Hide it in fmfles arid a<Abi4ity} 
For if tiloa put di)r nittvc-ieoAlanee on, 

R a Not 


26o Upon the X>eatb o/" Julius Cj«sar. 

Not Erebus itfelf vrere dim eoough 
To hide thee from prevention. 
Brutus rifes far above his friend and aflbciate 
Caflius, when, with a noble difdain, he re- 
jefts his propofal of fwearing to their refolu- 

No, not an oath. If not the face of men. 
The fufferance of our fouls, the time's abufe. 
If thcfc be motives weak, break off betimes, 
' And ev'ry man hence to his idle bed ; 
So let high-fighted tyranny rangeon, 
'Till each man drop by loCtei7. But If thele, 
As I am fure they do, bear fire enough 
To kindle cowards, ahd to ftecl with valour 
The melting fpirits of women } then, countrymen. 
What need wc any fpur, but our own caufe. 
To prick us to redrefs \ wfaat otber bond, 
Than-fecret Romans, that have fpoke the word. 
And will not palter \ and what other oath^ 
Than honcfty to honefty engag'd, 
Thatthtsfhatlbe, or wcwillfail for it? ' 
£wcar priefts, and cowards, and men cautelous. 
Old feeble carrions, ajid fuch fuliering foula 
That welcome wrongs : unto bad cauTes, fwear 



Upon the Death g/'JoLius C^sar. adi 

Such creatures as men doubt ; but do not ftain 
Tlje even virtue of our enterprize. 
Nor th' infuppneffive mettle of our fpirits, 
To think, that or our caufe, or our performance. 
Did need an oath ^'when ev'ry drop of blood 
That cv'ry Roman- bcars> and nobly bears, 
Is guilty of alevcral baJlardya . 
If he doth break the fmalicft particle 
Of any pr(»nile that hath paft fromhim. 
Is it not wonderful to fee a poor player thus 
ennoble the fentiments, and give full ex- 
panfion to the magnanimity of the man ftyled 
the deliverer ©f Rome ? 

Mr. Voltaire is fo little fenfible of the 
noble delicacy of this fpeech, that he fays 
the confptrators are not Romans, but a parcel 
of country-fellows of a former age who 
confpirc in a tippling-houfe. — Surely there 
is no fMirtiality in iaying our author has 
given Roman fcntiments with a tinifture of 
the Platonic philofophy to Brutus ; and, 
befides thefe more general charaderiftics, 
has added many nice touches which fpecify 
his perfonal (Qualities, Wo behold on the 
R 3 , ftage 


^62 upon tbt Detfih e^JiTnifj C#SAft^ 
Aage the Marcus Brutus o£ Plutarcfa rcndcr-r 
ed more amiabk vtd more inta^Hng. ^ 
peculiar gendenc& of manners, and ddicacy 
of mind, diftinguifii hi«n &0R1 all the other 
confpintGTs ; and we cannot t-efufe to concur 
yrith the confeffipn of bis ttii{Biiue.3, and the 
yvords of Antony. 

' Airvoiiy< 
This w^ tbr ^cUtft ELotninofUtcmi^ t 
^y ^ coRfpu^tor^ frve Qoly be* 
Did thtt ^Mj did U <!Jivy' of glf M Cljrar t 
He, ofHy, in a gtsoxtl bot^ft thovgbt. 
And commoii good to all, i^tM q^e ^fb^pi* 
His life was gentle, and the elements 
So ipix'd tpbiin, that |]^turenu|Iu ^^vd o^* . 
And fay to all the wod^ * Tkis tmt tf M^ I 

^he foUoviog felUcquy prophetic (^ ^ 
fijvil war, lubfcqueat to tha dea^ of Ccfar^ 
fpoken by Antony addr^og hamfdf 19 
the dead body. Is iuUime and iokmn. 

P pardon ni<9> thou blwdJQg pi«os «f eardi, . 

That I am nieok and gentle with thefe butchen, 

rf"hou art the ruins of the i»W# mw. 

That ever lived in the tidcoftimw. 



W06 to Ae hand Aatibtd this eoftly blood 1 

Ovtr th;f wounds iiotr J6 1 pn^ifaeiya 

Whicfa, like ^mb mouths, do ope their ruby lipe. 

To beg the voice uid utterance of my tongue, 

A curie ftall%tit upon thelimbfe of meitj 

Domcftk fury, and fierce civil ftrifc, 

Shall cumber afl the puts of Italy ; 

Elood and ddtnid^n fliall be lb in ufe. 

And dreadful ot:^*e£b lb famlGar, 

Tliat modiers fliall but imile^ when they bchoM 

Their tnfints qwartef*d whb the hands gf war : 

All pity choak'd with cuftom of fell deeds; 

And Cxfar*! fpirit, rtnging for revenge. 

With At€ by hit fide come hot from hell. 

Shall in thefe confines, with a monaich's mc« ' 

Cry Havock, udlct flip tke dogs of war. 

This fpeech fhews the fecret enmity An- 
tony bears to the coafpiratcn's, and prepares 
us for the inilammatwy oration which at .the 
obfequies of Cnfar he pronounces before the 
people.-*—! Ihall quote it at lengthy for as 
this tragedy has been brought by Mr. Vol- 
taire into a comparifon with the Cinna of 
Corncillc, and he is pleafed to call our 
R 4 Englilh 


4^4 Vpon the Death of Jvlivs Cjbsar. 
Englifh piece a monftrous fpcAacIe, and 
takes not the leaft notice of a fpeech which 
m^y be (?3nfidered a; one of the fipcft 
pieces of rhetoric that is extant, I am de- 
firous tp ftt it immediately before the 
reader, who will hardly find any thing 
monftrous in its form, pp abfurd in ifs matter, 
but quite the reverf^. I fuppofe a po- 
pular addrefs and manner, in an oration d&- 
£gn^ for the populace> would be deemed 
the moft proper by jthe beft critics in the art 
pf rhetqric. 

A N T O N T. 
Friends, Romans, couatrymen, lend me your ean. 
I cwmetobtiry Ciefar, itotb>piat& him. 
Theevil, that men do, lives after them, 
The good is oft interred with their bones ; 
So ler it be with Cxfkr ! noble Brutus 
H^h to]d you, Catfar was ambttibut ; 
If it were To, it was a grievous fault. 
And grievoully hath Oefar anfwer'd it> 
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the reft. 
For Brutus is m honourable man. 
So arc they all, all honourable men, 
ppme I tp fpcalc in Caefar*! fijiifraj. 


upon the Death of ]vi.ivs Cjesar. 265 

He was my friencl, faithful and juft to me ; 

But Brutus fays, he was ambidoiu ; ' ^ 

And Brutus is an honourable man. 

He hath brought many captires home to Rome, 

Whofc ranfoma did the general coffers fill ; 

Did this in Czfar teem ambitious F 

When that tJie poor have cry'd, Csfar hath wpt ;. 

Ambition fltould be made of fterner ftuiF, 

Yet Brutus.lays, he was ambitious ; . ' 

And Brutus is an hmourablc man 

You all did fee, that, on the Lupercal 

I thrice pre&hted him a kingly crown. 

Which he did thrice refufe. . Was this ambition f 

Yet Brutus lays, he was ambitious ; . 

And, furc, he is an honourable roan. 

I fpeak not, to difprove what Brutus Tpoke, 

But here I am to fpeak what I do know. 

You all did love him once, not without caufe ; 

What caufe witb^holds you then to mourn for him ? 

O judgment ! thou art fled to brutiih beafts. 

And men have loft their reafon. Bear with me. 

My heart is in the coffin there with Caefar, 

And I mnft paufe 'till it come back to me. 

I Plebeian. 
Meihinks, there is much reafon iQ his fayings, &c, 



But ycftcrday the "ikiii^ of CMar m^gU 
Have flood agaiiift die «aiM ; nbw lies 1m thtrt^ 
And mne fe posr to At Um nwcrenccw 

mifttn i if I tKte di^i'd to fttr 
Your hearts and miitdc 0> OMttMy and tags, 

1 flundd do BnittM wrsng. Mid Ci#uk «nwig* 
Who, 70U all k«bw, are lMncnmU« nttu 

I will not do tkMQ wrong : I radi«r dlufe 
To wrong the dtttd, to wiong mjftif aad you. 
Than I will wrong fuch honourable men. 
But here's a {i&rcl>Amt, with the fad of Ccftr, 
I fbttnd it ifi his dofet, 'ik bU will 1 
Let but the conUMtfM hstt duB M&nntti^ 
Which, pardon «w, Ido notnean toiead» 
And tbty would go and kKt dead Cafaj's mtnuda. 
And dip th«lr fiapklni in Ms &er^ bk»d t < 

Yea,' beg; a hair of him far m tmae y^ 
Attd dyktg, neMiOA k 'WMhin dicir mOif 
Bequeadiing It at a rich legac]^ 
Unto their ids. 

( 4 Plbxeiai*. ' 

We'll hear tiie WiH [ n«d itt Mait Ant«oy. 

TltcwitU (be wm. We wiU hear CaeTac'Jinl].. 



U^ t^r 0^i> of Jti-ius Cje^ah. 267 


Have patiowe, gentle friends, I muft not read it; 
It is not meet you Iwnr hvw Csfar lov'd you. 
You VK not wood, you bk ml flanet, bw<niM s 
And, bebg aMM« he^ng the milef CnftTk 
It will inflame f qu» it iriU nake you miit 
'Tis goo4 you knoiriiDt, dtatyonose hiaiidns, 
ForifyoufliouUa O nrfcot wdoU ««dk of k 2 

4 Pl£BKIAW< 
Read the will, m will kear it, Antonys &c 

Will you be pa^eot ? will jotl ftfty a 4^ik I 
I have o'esibbt wy&lf, to4eU you of it. ' 
I fear, I wrong the honourable men, 
Whofe daggen hKv« ftaU)'<f Ciciiu'. I do fbar it, 

4 PtBKtlAM. 

They were tTBit«ri, &C. 


You willoMt^ mediea to read tfaewilW 
Then o^e a ring about the cwfii of C»&r, 
And let iD« frew you him, that made A/t wHI. ' • 
^hall I defccnd l and will you give me leave ? 

P«nw down, 

J. Pn« 


a68 Upon the Death of Julius C^sar. 
3 Plzbeiah. 

You Ihall have leave. 
If you have tears, prepare to flicd them now. 
You all do know this mantle ; I remember 
The firft time ever C*far put it on^ 
*Twas on a fummcr's evening in his tentj 
That day he overcome the Nervii. 
Look ! in this place, ran Caffius' digger thFOUgh ; 
Sec, what a rent the envious Cafca made ; 
Through this, the weli-bcloved Brutus ftabb'd ; 
And as be piuclc'd his curfed fieel away, 
Mark, bow the blood of Cafar follow*d it ! 
Asnifhingoutof doors, b> be refolv'dj 
If Brutus fo unkindly khbck'd, or no : 
Foi[ Brutus, as you know, was Cxfar's angel, 
Judge, oh you gods ! how dearly Csefar Jov'd him; 
This was the moft unkindell cut of all ; 
For when ^ noble Caefar Taw faim ftab. 
Ingratitude, more ftrong than traitor's aims,- 
Quite vanqiiifti'd him ; tbeh burft his mighty heart ; 
And, in his' mantle muffling up his face. 
Even at the bafe of Pompey's ftatue. 
Which all the while ran blood, great Csfar fell. 

O what 


upon the Death of Julios C^sar. 269 

O what a fall was tlure, my countiymen ! 
Then I, and you, aod all of us fell down 1 
Whilft bloody trcafon flourilh'd over us. 
Oj now you weep ! and, I pcrcrive, you feel 
The dint of pity ; thde are gracious drops. 
Kindibuls ! what, weep you when you but beboU 
Our Ccfar's vefture wounded i look you here \ 
Here is himfclf, mart'd, as you fee, by traitors. 


piteous fpe^cle ! ' 

Gttod friends, fweet friends, let me not ftir you up 
To fuch afudden flood of mutiny: 
They, that have done this deed, are honounble. 
What private griefs they have, alas ! I know not. 
That made them do it j they arS wife and honourablej 
And will, no doubt, with reafons anfWer you. 

1 come not, fteal away your hearts } 
I am no orator, as Brutus is. 

But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man, 
That love my friend ; and that they know full well. 
That give me public leave to fpeak of him ; 
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, 
A£Hon nor utt'rancp, nor thc-power of fpeecb. 
To flir m^s blood ; I only fpeak right on. 



2!JQ Upon the D^b ofJ^SLvii CiESAk. 

I tell Tou'that wUck 7<rH jrawftkae* dolcBai^} 
Shcv yon fiiQU'CKto's wouihIb, paair, pdoiv dUnb 

And Wd then fpt^ fw bie. BlitiMrel ^mMB, 
And Brutoa AaMay, dm* tnccan AnMa^ 
W«ald ndB* up your fpntBf ami put a tbagot 
In eresy iir«>iid of 'CMftt, dut flwuM Aon 
The ftodcB «f t.9»e fo ri£t Ad imtit^ 

We'll mutiny.- ' ■ 


Why, fricMi^ you go to do yoviuMviiat'Alib' 
Wherein hath G«£ir dusddfenf'd.ybtir lovtsf 
Alas I yvwltncnrnoc. Irouftate tell jnd'tbHh ' 
Y«»taa*B fargdt ttts wiH 1 1^ ybn o& 

A-M« ■ ■* 

Moft"true.—thBWin.—L«:*fti«r. ****** tlfc WE 

Here is the will, and latiet Csefa^s Mk 
To cv*iy Roman ckiwin- he givtt. 
To ev'fy ftv'ral «oji, fetf'«y-«fediaAorf». 



Moreorer^lwlwtlileft you ^ hiswrflisy 



VfMi tie DttA (/* }uLiii9 Casah. Z71 

Hq prirate tfb«MB» nA new-pUndotf orcbai^ 
OntbaJtfiltTibvrj Mfatth left then x<"^ 
And to y<MV hcna ^ ever ; c^Rnvvi pleafure^ 
Yo valk abrQv), attdneretteyvWfclWcSi 
Hire «3S a C«6r \ 

U tbete any ocation extant in irkicfa dJM 
topki arc mtn fldKall}! feleacd £>r d«fl 
minds and l<ai|>er of the perfbnj to wfaoBi 
ic is Qjofceni Ehjes it mm by tlio ineA 
gentle gtadat)oo& arrive at the point to wbidh 
it was direded > Antany firft footlis his 
audience by sffariBg them, that Ca;far loved 
the poor, and fympafhized with their dii^ 
ttdTes : by Kmindisg them, that he had re- 
jeAed the proflered crown, he retnoves, from 
their fhallow underOandings, all approhen- 
fion of that ambition in him which the con- 
%iritors dle^d as the motire of their aft : 
after diefe managements he proceeds further, 
and tcUs theip of the will. There is a 
delicate touch in the ob&rvation, that Cifer 
received the mortal wound in the very 
nmth: he wore the diy in which he had 
i a vifiory over the Nervit, the fierceft 

j,=,i,z..t, Google 

272 upon the Death of Julius Ca9AR< 
of their enemies. He excites tender pity, 
by mentioning the ftab given by his beloved 
Brutus. The remark that he fell as a viftun 
at the feet of Pompcy's ftatue, whom the 
lower fort confidered as of a party unfevor- 
able to them, is another happy ilroke in 
this piece. I am lorry that I moft differ 
from the opinion of our commentator, who 
thinks the words, " O what a fall was there!" 
related to that circunoftancc j it feems ralher 
to rftfer to what immediately follows: 

Then I, and you, and all of us fell down: 
WbUfl bloody treafon flourifk'd over us. 

Meaning how the general ftatc of the re- 
public was afiefled by the ^I of fo great a 
man. As the illiterate people are afraid of 
being impofed upon by the arts of the 
learned and the eloquent, be very judicioully 
aflures thpm he is no orator. The refifle- 
ments of the French theatre, perhaps, would 
not endure the mob of Plebeians that appear 
in this fcene. The fickle humour of the 
people, and the influence of eloquence upon 
their minds, are truly exhibited j and I muft 
3 own. 

Doiizc^bv Google 

Upon tbi Df^th vf Jutius C.«sar. 273 
&vfi); as the imitationls fo juft, though the 
original may be -called mean> I think it is, 
Bot to be ^entirely condemned : one might 
pcrfiaps with the part of the mob had been 
jhorter. The miferable conceit of Ccfar's 
blood rufhing out of the wound to alk 
who fo unkindly knocked> is indefenHble.. 
The repetition of the words, honourable 
men, is perhaps too frequent. 

The oration of Brutus, io many parts, is 
t^uaint and ai&£ted, an unhappy .attqmpt, 
as the learned commentator obierves, to 
imitate that brevity and fimpltci^ of expref- 
fion, of which this noble Roman was a pro- 
feiled admirer. Our author, who followed 
with great exai^neis every ciccumftance men- 
tioned in Plutarch, would probably have 
attempted to give to Antony the pomp of 
Aliatic eloquence, if his good fenfe had not 
informed him, that to be pathetic it is ne- 
(^(Taty to be fimple. 

The quarrel between Brutus and CafTius 

-4oeft.not by .any, means deferve the ridicule 

S thrown 


274 "Vpm the Dtatb tf JtfltuA CMsAji, 
thrown upon it by the Frcridk critic^ Th# 
charadcrs of the men are well firi&iJMfd : it 
lis natural, it is intfifefting; btft It riHtlkef 
tttards than Brings fbrward ihe eafeArbphe,; 
ind is ufifrf ortly ii* Rttiiig BrntuS ift a 
good ligtit. A fobHme gehiu3, irt ■ aH k» 
operations, iicrifices IHtle things ttf gteat, 
and parts to the whrfc. Medem dritieifitt 
dwells on miirate .artkfesv The pHncipat 
objeft of our poet was to intereft the fpec- 
tatOF for BmtUs ; ter do- tfe h^ was- to' flww». 
tliathis temper was tfiefiirflteft irtiagwraHift 
froHl any tbJng ffcrodotw c* •fangoitiaiT', and 
by his fteftdVidu* ta his' wfffiy his fticnds^ 
hiis ifervaoti, to dcmohftrate, that out of 
Mfpeft ^^ poBliiJ liberty, He made as difficult 
a cohqueft over hie natural dHpoffllon, afe^ 
his great prcdeccflbr 'hafl done fot- the likfc 
caufe 0*ef natural af&^on^ Clemency and 
humanity add' luftre to the greateft ficro;; 
but here thcfc fefltimcnta determine tht 
whole charaiftec of rile man, and tht 
colour of his deed. The victories of Alex- 
ander, Gatfefi and Kanfllbil,' wh«htf» their." 
wars were }ull of ttejaft^fiauft dhOoM Ibr 


tjp9it tht J^eoihaf Jutiua C^saR. 275 
iBem die laurel wreath, which ts the a^nbi- 
kion of conquetors : bttt the ad dt Brlitut 
\xi kilting Cs&r, was of fiich an atnbigtumfl 
kind, as td teceive its denomiilftti^n fcora 
Irfae nuitiTC by which it was ibggefled ; It 
Is tlut Wuch mx& fix upon Iwn the nam^ 
(rf'piUtt(itof.a&fIin» Oiir Mithoi'^ thicrefore, 
ihewff gre&t judgroent in taking various 
t^porttinkies to di^ay Uk Ibftnefs and 
i;entlac& of Brutus i the fittle cireumAaiicc: 
bfhis forbdacing to awaken ite TervaQtwho 
was playing to him od the hiCe, is very 
beantifol ; for oae cannot conceive, that he 
Whole tcfidec bnmaiuty xefpeAed the Qomber 
of his boy Lociliusy wbuU frott miAice oi* 
cruelty, iiave cut £hoct the important and 
llluib-iou& cottr& of Cis^Lr'^ fif& 

Shakefpear &en» to have aimed at giving 
iti exai^ repreientation on the il^ge, of ajl 
the events atid, chataders comprehended ip 
Plutarch's lile of Marcus Brutus } atid he 
has wond^fully e^Kcuted his plan. One 
may perhaps wiih, that a writer, poffelTed »f 
all the magic of poeti<^ powers* had not 
S 2 lb 

Doiizc^bv Google 

276 upon the Death of JutiiiS Cj£sak. 
ib fcrupuloufly confined him&lf widiln the 
limits of true hiftory. The regions of 
imagination, in which the poet is allowed 
an arbitrary fway, feem his proper dominion. 
There he reigns like Pluto over ihadows 
huge and terrible, of mighty and auguft 
appearance, bitt yielding and unreiifting. 
The terra fintia of real life, and the open 
day-light of trudi, forbid many pleafing de- 
lufions, and produce difficulties too ilubborn 
to yield to his art. On this folid foundation 
however our author knew he could always 
eHiabUfh a flrong interefl for his piece. Great 
knowledge of the human heart had informed 
him, how eafy it is to excite a fympathy 
with things beliered reaL He knew too, 
that curiofity is a ilrong appetite, and that 
every incident connected with a great event, 
and every particularity belonging to a great 
channfter, engages the fpeftator. He wrote 
to plealean untaught people, guided wholly 
by their feelings, and. to'thoiie &elra^ be 
applied, and they are often touched by cir- 
cumilances that have not d^nity and 
> ipleodor enough to' pleafe the eye accuAomed 


' ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 

Upon the Death of Julius C^sar. 277 

to the (pecious miracles of oftehtatious art; 
and the nice felefiion of refined judgment. 
If we blame his making the tragic mufe too 
fub&rvient' to the hiftorical, we muil at 
leafl allow it to be much lets hurtful to the 
cffed of his reprefentation upon the paHions, 
than the liberties taken by man^ poets to 
fepre&Dt well-knoWn charafters and events 
in liglits fo abfolutely diiferent from what- 
ibever univer&l iame» and the tefliimony 
of ages, had taught us to believe of them, 
that the mind reiifts the new imprefGon 
attemptol to be made upon it. Shake{pear, 
perhaps not injudicioufly, thought that it 
was more the buiinefs of the dramatic 
writer to excite fympathy than admiration ; 
and that to acquire an empire over the paf- 
iions, it waswell worth while to relinquiHi 
feme pretentions to excellencies of lefs ofH-- 
ciency on the ftage. 

As it was Shakefpear's intention to make 

Brutus -his hero, he has given a difadvan- 

tageous reprefentation of Gtefar, and. thrown 

an air of pride and infolence into, hi§ be- 

S 3 haviour. 


iyS Upon tie i3iati cf Jin^ivs -CjESJiR. 

havitnir, which is ialendsd to create n 
ippr^unfioa in the {peEtntor of his di4x>fi- 
tion to tynsmitt orer his £cQInw-<iti»nE. 
In diis haughty ifyle be aiffvre^ the potitioq^ 
of Metdtui Ciaaher, awl iSta ttthKcpnipiT 
rators, for the Mpeal of Pi^ii^ Gimber's 
fcaniJhment : ti^e ^>eet^ Tuits the psrpofe of 
the poet> but is vety blaiqable if mmpBxti 
with the hiftoric^ charader of d^e %caker, 
which ought cettainly to have been more 
Attended fo* It vinti divert the Englill^ 
feader to fes what Mr< Voditait% afluics us to 
he a faithful tranflatioq of this fpeech ; and 1 
wiU therefilM-^ ^ive the original xt^ tranih- 
lion. WlKn Metellus is going to faU a^ 
<?£e^r*8 feet, he feys to him, 

' Tb^ cioqcbu^ aod Ae& lowljrcurtefin 
' Might fiie the blood of ordiiury men. 

And turn p^-qrdinance and firft decree 

Into the )aqc of children. Be not ibndi 
- "ifo think diatCasTv bears li}Cbji^'bloo4i 

THm wi)I be thaw'd from the true quiUtjr 

Wi&t that «4)idi nwlteth fools ; I mean, fvcct vrprda^ 

^oiizpcb, Google 

€^/t the Z>M/,& ff Jvi.iv^ C^AR. ?^ 

Thy biothcr by decree is baffitM i 

(f Ct9u^ft bqid, ^iid fivf.f .^of) ^gvD for fjiig, 

, I (pmn thee like a F«r opt.of piy w;iy;. 

. KtWK> Cr^r i*}^ not wa()^ j nor WAtitoU-OIU^e 

CiohfiCt ^ t^vmitf que £^ ptoAnwais^ 

. Ces g^uflextonS} ces h^a A^ertesa 

Pe,uv,mt Xuf *a twu' &Jhlc ayoir qoeljiue pomrok^ 

£txbaag!»- ^uelquefois I'oidre ev^jiel 4e» ch^fe; 

Cans I'eifiat 4cs (Vi'iuu { pe i'iif agu?e fiM 

Que le fang ie C£far puiOc Je Ebndre ainfi, 

Les pderes, les cns^ les vatnc* 4imagrieif 

Lea airs 4'ufl chi«i c^ucbant jKuveiU tqvictvr j^ fot j 

Mais le cceurde C&u r«{iAc a cesli^llcllas. 

Par un jufte d&ret ton frcre eft cxil€. 

Plate, plie i ganoux, & leche moi les pieds ; 

Va, jeteirofibraicomBKunchieD; loyi^'ifv 

Lorfqtiie Ce&r fait tut, il A toujouis rufov* 

Ben Jolinfoa. by a fswlty ti^aalcri^ of 

idi^s Ipcech, or the blunder of a jilayer, had 

beei> led into the miftal^e of chi^ging Siiake- 

/ppar witjj |i>e a^iAiidUy of wialdng Cxfyt 

" S 4 ■ fay. 


aSb tlpM the Death ig/'JuLius- Casai. 
fay, he never did wrong without juft caufe t 
and Mr. Voltaire has ftized on this falfo 
accufation. — It is perfefUy apparent to any 
perfon who underftands Engllfh, that Csfer 
by preordinance and firft decree means that 
ordinance and firft decree he had before 
paft for Cimber's banifhment. And he fays»- 
I will not be prevailed upon by thefe pro- 
flrations and prayers of yours to turn my 
decrees into fuch momentary laws as chilr 
dren make, If there had been any doubt 
of his meaning, the latter part would have 
cleared it. ■ 


I was conftant, CJmber fliould be bani/h'd ; 

And conftant do remain to keep him fo. 

It is furprifing that fome friend did not 
prevent the critip from falling into fo ftrange 
a blunder about changing the eternal order 
in the minds of children. Many of his 
countrymen undcrftand our language very 
welli and coUld eafily have explained to him 
the fignification of the prepofition into, and 
that to change into always fignifies to con- 

^oiizccb, Google 

XJpon'the Death ^Julius C^sar. 281 
Vert from iSne thing to another. Sweet 
words, crookcdcurtfies, and bafe fawnirigsi 
he tranflates, the airs of a fctting dog. Le- 
cher les pieds is not a proper tranllation of 
to fawn. Fawning courtiers would be 
ftrangely rendered by feet-licking courtiers : 
& ftwning rfyle, a fawning addrefs, arc 
common expreffionsj but did anyone ever 
think, of a fcet-Iicking ftyle ? a feet-Hckihg 
^drefs ? Nor is Je te roflerai ajufter tran-* 
flation of I will ipurn thee : the firft being a 
'jvery low phritie i and to i^rn is in our 
-Janguago a- very noble one, and not unfit 
for thfe high^ft poetry or doquence j indeed 
16 oftener fo ufed than in ordinary difcdiirfe. 

Mr. Row in the -Fair Penitent iliakes 
Horatio fay to Lothario, 

I hold thee bafe enough 

To breafcthrough Jaw, ziiA fium at facred trder. 
If Mr. Voltaire ihould tranflate thefe 
words, he would triumph much that one 
of our moft elegant poets talked of drub- 
bing fapred order.. The tranflator leems 


not even to Imow ihe £nglt{b alphabet ; for 
ia tnuiilating Pocda's words* 


If it bejut-QioKa 

FoKts ia Bnitiu' Iwclot, nettu* BB&^ 

He put« in a ooteup^a Hartot> it9 •fiwc w 
that tfae word in ^c origin«d is W— — ■■ « 
which* if he wi^eiftood our h^i»k vnfe^ 
he' would know, covid not c^J^ up -thf 

Mr. Volt«i!C formerly .ttmteriUiHt the 
Enj^iih language tolerably well. Hifi ftwir 
til»tipa of part <tf Antony's j^eech <o tfac 
people, in b« -own play of the dcftSi flf 
Jnlius Cxfar, though far inftrior to the 
tnii^ifial^ is prctty^Q6d j and in Hs -tragqdy of 
Junius Brutus he has impcowd iiptut i^ 
Brutus of our old poet Lee : he h»« ^lUewed 
the £ngli{h "poet in making the daughter of 
Tarquic tfeduce the ipn of Juiiius 'firut^is 
into a fcbnaae ft»- the reftorati^^ .ctf* her 
father } but with gresit judgment hs^ imtaled 
only what was ivorthy of intiuticm > fuid 


^oiizccb, Google 

Vfm tie Beatl af ]vtiv^CM9^^' ft8| 
^ theihength of his xivnx gemni h^reitcltf- 
M hlB piece ranch ittore cxceUeoit than that 
pf Mr. IfCe. 

. & muft be dUovned thit Mr. VdtufQ. la 
his tranflatxHi df ^uke^ar, his nobljr 
cmulsttedtboie inter^roten of HomoTf viho, 
Mr. Fopetdls us, siifiinderftand -the tex^ 
and dien tnumph - in . the aokwariinefs of 
thctf tMvn tranflaRicxns. Td ifaew he decide^ 
with the fame judgment and candour with 
which he tranflates, it will be neccflary to 
fMC&nt the fentence he has popsovacdd upon 
the genius cf our ^eat poet. SpetJung of 
Corneitie be iays. he was tmo^uti Bkc 
Shtkefye^, and like him full (£ getHu^i 
fnaig Ic geaie de CoixiciUe ctak ^ Cfdki 4e 
Sbake^ear, cs q'an fisgnenr eft a I'-^gwil d'wl 
homme du pouple tie asoc le meme 'ejlpi^ 
gue lui. I have given his pwia V9rds be* 
caufc they do not carry any determinate 
■&nte. I conjo^tune dtey.may be duns Cran- 
flated J The gepius of CorBeiUe is to that of 
■Shake^ear> what a maa c£ graat rank is tv 
flne frf" the Ipvrer ■fort born witjb the farae 


284 Vpon the Death sf Julius CksAR. 
talents of mind. When we fpeak of genius, 
we alw£^s mean that which is original ailA^-- 
inherent, not any thing produced or derived 
from what is external. But Mr. Vbltaire 
by faying the genius of Corncille has that 
fiiperiority over our countryman, which a 
perfon of rank has over a man in a low 
flation, born with the feme talents, perplexes 
the thing very much. It feems to tarry the 
compariibn from the genius to the m^nCr 
of the writers. 

If that manner is preferable, whidi gives 
the moft becoming fentiments and the 
noblcft charader to the principal perfon <^ 
his drama, tKere.isho doubt but our poet 
has fwrfcflly cftabliflied his fuperiority over 
his competitor ; for it cannot be denied, 
that Cinna is un homme du peuple, (a low 
fellow,) compared to Brutus, 

Mr. Voltaire, in all the comparifons he 

has made between thefe authors, has not 

taken into the account that Shakcfpear has 

written ' the beft comedy in our language : 



Uj>en the Death of Julius C^sar. 285 
■that the fame man ihould have had fach 
variety of talents, as to have produced Mac- 
beth and the Merry Wives of Wihdfbr» ^ 
aftoiufhing. Where is there an inilance 
amcmg. the ancients ch: moderns of' one 
poet's uniting the fablime and [atbetic, 
the boldeft inventions of fidion> and the 
moftjuftand accurate delineation of chu'ac- 
ters ; and alio poflcHing thp vJU .comica in 
its higheil per&Aion ? The beft French 
poets have been thoie 

Who from the ancients like the uicients writ ; 

and who have afpired to the fecondaty 
praiic of good imitators : but all our cri- 
tics allow 3hake^ear to be an original. 
Mr. Pope confefles him to be more fo than 
even Homer himfelf. It has been demon - 
ftrated with great ingenuity and candour, 
that he was deilitute of learning : the age 
was rude and void «f tafte : but what' had 
ft ftill more pernicious influence on his 
works, was, that the court and the univer- 
0tie6 the ftatofinert and fcholars, affeded a 
.Scientific jai^on. Anobfcurlty of expreffion 
was thought -the xa\.£>i wiiiiom and know- 
■- . I ledge J 

^oiizccb, Google 

i86 UpMiBe Death afju Litis tMkfJi. 
ledgc'f and that mift cdinnoax to die ene 
■fltid Aom (^ Hterannej, which, in £id 
proves it is . not at its high nKridian, w^ 
-affitiftolly thrown over ikt: wtidngsy imd 
enn difeoarfit of the banal* wfip oftdi 
{tRfefred hnages diftotted or magniiet^ ta a 
&lipleei^M&tian of t^ieir dxnigltts^ Shako- 
-^leur 19 never mofc wortliy of the triie 
^critic's cen&nre, than, m tiiofe infiances in 
ctvhkb he complies with tim &1£ pomp, of 
manlier. It wfts pardonlble in a inan of 
hifi rank, tiot to be mate pc^it6 and (Milfate 
dun his cOtempdf aties } but vc caimot ib 
cafily excu& fuch fiipehority of talents for 
ficoping CO any afftt^bttfeoi. 

■ I may perhaps be chat-god' with pariaadi^ 
.to my author, for n6t having indulged ifaat 
:«ialignaiir fpiclt of cri^^fifm, which delights 
in ebcpo£ng eveiy bleaillK I have pi&d 
ovep besntws and de&ds in the fame filctict« 
■where they have not elentsally affedted tlie 
■great purpofes of the drama. Thay i»re t£ 
■to palpable a natare^- the -ffloft inatlentrte 
reader muft percdvetbem: the fpkiidtn'bf 



his fifle 'paflages is equally ilnklng. It 
appears to me, that the drsriiatid •i*4«Ses 
a 'difierebt fpecies df criticifin from an}* 
driicr'poctry. A drama is to be omfidcrcd 
in the light of a living body j . regularity of 
features,' grace of limbsi finoothnefs and 
delicacy', of complexion, .cannot raider it 
pcrfea, if it is not properly organized 
within, as well as beautiful in itS' external 
IlruQure.. Many acharaftcr in a playi like 
~a handfofue peribii paralytic, is inert, feebl^ 
'and totally iinfit for its duties and offices, £> 
that its neceflary exertions mutl be fupplied 
. by fome fubftitute. The aftion is carried oh 
. much itftcr the manner it is done in epic 
.poetr^, by the help of defcriptionand narra- 
tion, andaferiesof idetachedparts. 

It is unfair to judge fingly of every line, 
in a work where the merit depends on the 
refult of various operations, and repeated 
efforts to obtain a particular end. Works 
without genius arc ufually regularly dull, 
and coldly correit, refemblin;g; thofc living 
charafters that want, while 

T They 

_ ,i,z<..t,CoogIc 

^88 l^A tht Death '^f Jtf Lioi Cjsv&k* 

§<«(« tp W ri|;ht, tivdjMieop utiw wrong ^ 
Gome alloKrancxs inBllibc nude totfaoJe wha 
iiB mate, animated »id ihora tmployed* 
if in tbe bnAle'of great adions, and the 
ezertioR of great powers, dtey ^ into 
ibme little enots. - The geaius of Shake* 
i^iear. is ib extcpfire And profbund, I have 
tcafcn to fear a greater number of excellen- 
dea )uve e&aped my difccmment, than I 
hare Yuffinvd ifwlts to |ui6 widioat my ani- 
nadverfion : botl hope this weak Mt^mpt to 
viodicate our great ;diiamatic poet, wit! excite 
Ante critic able to do him niore ample 
jiifticc. In ihu confidence I havs left un- 
toudied many of his piepes, whicit Ae&rv^ 
the protedio^ '^ nxH-c judkiotu zeal and 
flulful care. 

■ . -. • FINIS. 

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