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afforded them, been forry to fee his friend Hal ufe him fo fcurvily, when he comes to the crown in the end of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth. Amongst other extravagancies, in The Merry Wives of Windfor he has made him a deer-itealer, that he might at the fame time remember his Warwickshire profecutor, under the name of Juftice Shallow; he has given him very near the fame coat of arms which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that county, defcribes for a family there, and makes the Welsh parfon defcant very pleasantly upon them. That whole play is admirable; the humours are various and well oppofed; the main defign, which is to cure Ford of his unreasonable jealoufy, is extremely well conducted. In Twelfth-Night there is fomething fingularly ridiculous and pleafant in the fantastical steward Malvolio. The parafite and the vain-glorious in Parolles, in All's Well that Ends Well, is as good as any thing of that kind in Plautus or Terence. Petruchio, in The Taming of the Shrew, is an uncommon piece of humour. The converfation of Benedict and Beatrice, in Much Ado about Nothing, and of Rofalind in As you Like It, have much wit and fprightlinefs all along. His clowns, without which character there was hardly any play writ in that time, are all very entertaining: and I believe Therfites in Troilus and Crefida, and Apemantus in Timon, will be allowed to be mafter-pieces of ill-nature, and fatirical fnarling. To thefe I might add that incomparable character of Shylock the Jew, in The Merchant of Venice; but though we have feen that play received and acted as a comedy, and the part of the Jew performed by an excellent comedian, yet I cannot but think it was defigned tragically by the author. There appears in it a deadly fpirit of revenge, fuch a favage fiercenefs and fellness, and fuch a bloody defignation of cruelty and mifchief, as cannot agree either with the stile or characters of comedy. The play itfelf, take it altogether, seems to me to be one of the most finished of any of Shakspeare's. The tale indeed in that part relating to the cafkets, and the extravagant and unufual kind of bond given by Antonio, is too much removed from the rules of probability; but, taking the fact for granted, we must allow it to be very beautifully written. There is fomething in the friendship of Antonio to Baffanio very great, generous, and tender. The whole fourth act (fuppoling, as I faid, the fact to be probable) is extremely fine. But there are two paflages that deferve a particular notice. The firft is, what Portia fays in praise of mercy, and the other on the power of mufick. The melancholy of Jaques, in As you Like It, is as fingular and odd as it is diverting. And if, what
Difficile eft propriè communia dicere,
it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him in the defcription of the feveral degrees and ages of man's life, though the thought be old, and common enough.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
Ev'n in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice
And fo he plays his part. The fixth age shifts
Is fecond childishness and mere oblivion,
His images are indeed every where fo lively, that the thing he would reprefent Sands full before you, and you poflefs every part of it. I will venture to point out one more, which is, I think, as ftrong and as uncommon as any thing I ever faw; it is an image of Patience. Speaking of a maid in love, he fays,
be never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
Feed on her damali cheek: Jhe pia'd in thought,
What an image is here given! and what a task would it have been for the greatest maiters of Greece and Rome to have expreffed the paffions defigned by this sketch of ftatuary! The tile of his comedy is, in general, natural to the characters, and eafy in itself; and the wit most commonly iprightly and pleafing, except in those places where he runs into doggerel rhimes, as in The Comedy of Errors, and fome other plays. As for his jingling fometimes, and playing upon words, it was the common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find it in the pulpit, made ufe of as an ornament to the fermons of fome of the graveft divines of thofe times, perhaps it may not be thought too light for the stage.
But certainly the greatnels of this author's genius does no where fo much appear, as where he gives his imagination an entire loofe, and raifes his fancy to a flight above mankind, and the limits of the visible world. Such are his attempts in The Tempef, Midfummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Of thefe, The Tempest, however it comes to be placed the firit by the publishers of his works, can never have been the first written by him: it feems to me as perfect in its kind, as almost any thing we have of his. One may obferve, that the unities are kept here, with an exactness uncommon to the liberties of his writing; though that was what, I fuppofe, he valued himfelf least upon, fince his excellencies were all of another kind. I am very fenfible that he does, in this play, depart too rauch from that likeness to truth which ought to be oblerved in thefe fort of writings; yet he does it fo very finely, that one is cafily drawn in to have more faith for his fake, than reafon does well allow of. His magick has fomething in it very folemn and very poctical: and that extravagant character of Caliban is mighty well fuftained, fhews a wonderful invention in the author, who could ftrike out fuch a particular wild image, and is certainly one of the finest and most uncommon grotefques that ever was feen. The obfervation, which I have been informed three very great men concurred in making upon this part, was extremely just; That Shakspeare had not only found out a new character in his Caliban, but had alfo desifed and adapted a new manner of language for that character.
It is the fame magick that raifes the Fairies in Midfummer Night's Dream, the Witches in Macbeth, an 1 the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and language fo proper to the parts they fuftain, and peculiar to the talent of this writer. But of the two laft of thefe plays I fhall have occafion to take notice, among the tragedies of
* Lord Falkland, Lord C. J. Vaughan, and Mr. Selden.
Mr. Shakspeare. If one undertook to examine the greatest part of thefe by thofe rules which are established by Ariftotle, and taken from the model of a Grecian ftage, it would be no very hard task to find a great many faults; but as Shakspeare lived under a kind of mere light of nature, and had never been made acquainted with the regularity of thofe written precepts, fo it would be hard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to confider him as a man that lived in a state of almost univerfal licence and ignorance: there was no eftablished judge, but every one took the liberty to write according to the dictates of his own fancy. When one confiders, that there is not one play before him of a reputation good enough to entitle it to an appearance on the prefent ftage, it cannot but be a matter of great wonder that he fhould advance dramatick poetry fo far as he did. The fable is what is generally placed the first among thofe that are reckoned the conftituent parts of a tragick or heroick poem; not, perhaps, as it is the most difficult or beautiful, but as it is the firft properly to be thought of in the contrivance and courfe of the whole; and with the fable ought to be confidered the fit difpofition, order, and conduct of its feveral parts. As it is not in this province of the drama that the strength and mastery of Shakspeare lay, fo I fhall not undertake the tedious and ill-natured trouble to point out the feveral faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were feldom invented, but rather taken either from true history, or novels and romances: and he commonly made ufe of them in that order, with thofe incidents, and that extent of time in which he found them in the authors from whence he borrowed them. Almost all his hiftorical plays comprehend a great length of time, and very different and diftinct places: and in his Antony and Cleopatra, the fcene travels over the greatest part of the Roman empire. But in recompence for his carelessness in this point, when he comes to another part of the drama, the manners of his characters, in acting or speaking what is proper for them, and fit to be fhewn by the poet, he may be generally juftified, and in very many places greatly commended. For those plays' which he has taken from the English or Roman hiftory, let any man compare them, and he will find the character as exact in the poet as the hiftorian. He feems indeed fo far from propofing to himself any one action for a fubject, that the title very often tells you, it is The Life of King John, King Richard, &c. What can be more agreeable to the idea our hiftorians give of Henry the Sixth, than the picture Shakspeare has drawn of him? His manners are every where exactly the fame with the ftory; one finds him ftill defcribed with fimplicity, paffive fanctity, want of courage, weakness of mind, and eafy fubmiflion to the governance of an imperious wife, or prevailing faction: though at the fame time the poet does justice to his good qualities, and moves the pity of his audience for him, by fhewing him pious, difinterested, a contemner of the things of this world, and wholly refigned to the fevereft difpenfations of God's providence. There is a fhort fcene in the Second Part of Henry the Sixth, which I cannot but think admirable in its kind. Cardinal Beaufort, who had murdered the Duke of Gloucefter, is fhewn in the laft agonies on his death-bed, with the good king praying over him. There is fo much terror in one, fo much tenderness and moving piety in the other, as must touch any one who is capable either of fear or pity. In his Henry the Eighth, that prince is drawn with that greatnefs of mind, and all thofe good qualities which are attributed to him in any account of his reign. If his faults are not fhewn in an equal degree, and the fhades in this picture do not bear a juft proportion to the lights, it is not that the artist wanted either colours or kill in the difpofition of thein; but the truth, I believe, might be, that he forebore doing it out of regard to queen Elizabeth, fince it could have been no very great refpect to the memory of his mistress, to have expofed fome certain parts of her father's life upon the stage. He has dealt much more freely with the minister of that great king, and certainly nothing was ever more justly written, than the character of Cardinal Wolfey. He has fhewn him infolent in his profperity; and yet, by a wonderful addrefs, he makes his fall and ruin the fubject of general compaffion. The whole man, with his vices and virtues, is finely and exactly defcribed in the second scene of the fourth act. The diftreffes likewife of Queen Catharine, in this play, are very movingly touched;
and though the art of the poet has fcreened King Henry from any grofs imputation of injuftice, yet one is inclined to with, the Queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the manners, proper to the perfons reprefented, lefs justly obferved in thofe characters taken from the Roman hiftory; and of this, the fiercenefs and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and difdain of the common people, the virtue and philofophical temper of Brutus, and the irregu lar greatness of mind in M. Antony, are beautiful proots. For the two laft eipecially, you find them exactly as they are defcribed by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakspeare copied them. He has indeed followed his original pretty close, and taken in feveral little incidents that might have been fpared in a play. But, as I hinted before, his defign feems most commonly rather to defcribe thofe great men in the feveral fortunes and accidents of their lives, than to take any fingle great action, and form his work fimply upon that. However, there are fome of his pieces where the fable is founded upon one action only. Such are more efpecially, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello. The defign in Romeo and Juliet is plainly the punishment of their two families, for the unreasonable feuds and animofities that had been fo long kept up between them, and occafioned the effufion of fo much blood. In the management of this ftory, he has fhewn fomething wonderfully tender and paflionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the diftrels. Hamlet is founded on much the fame tale with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of them a young prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father, their mothers are equally guilty, are both concerned in the murder of their huíbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is in the first part of the Greek tragedy fomething very moving in the grief of Electra; but, as Mr. Dacier has obferved, there is fomething very unnatural and fhocking in the manners he has given that Princefs and Oreftes in the latter part. Oreftes imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is performed, though not immediately upon the stage, yet fo near, that the audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to gyithus for help, and to her fon for mercy: while Electra her daughter, and a Princefs (both of them characters that ought to have appeared with more decency) ftands upon the ftage, and encourages her brother in the parricide. What horrors does this not raife! Clytemneftra was a wicked woman, and had deserved to die; nay, in the truth of the ftory, the was killed by her own fon; but to reprefent an action of this kind on the stage, is certainly an offence against thofe rules of manners proper to the perfons, that ought to be obferved there. On the contrary, let us only look a little on the conduct of Shakspeare. Hamlet is reprefented with the fame picty towards his father, and refolution to revenge his death, as Orestes; he has the fame abhorrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke him the more, is heightened by inceft: but it is with wonderful art and juftness of judgment that the poet reftrains him from doing violence to his mother. To prevent any thing of that kind, he makes his father's Ghoft forbid that part of his vengeance:
But howsoever thou purf'ft this act,
This is to diftinguish between horror and terror. The latter is a proper paffion of tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided. And certainly no dramatic writer ever fucceeded better in railing terror in the minds of an audience than Shakspeare has done. The whole tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the fcene where the King is murdered, in the fecond act, as well as this play, is a noble proof of that manly fpirit with which he writ; and both fhew how powerful he was, in giving the ftrongest motions to our fouls that they are capable of. I cannot leave Hamlet, without taking notice of the advantage with which we have feen this mafter-piece of Shakspeare diftinguifh itfelf upon the stage, by Mr. Bet
terton's fine performance of that part; a man, who, though he had no other good qualities, as he has a great many, muft have made his way into the esteem of all men of letters, by this only excellency. No man is better acquainted with Shakfpeare's manner of expreffion, and indeed he has ftudied him fo well, and is fo much a master of him, that whatever part of his he performs, he does it as if it had been written on purpofe for him, and that the author had exactly conceived it as he plays it. I must own a particular obligation to him, for the most confiderable part of the paflages relating to this life, which I have here tranfmitted to the publick; his veneration for the memory of Shakspeare having engaged him to make a journey into Warwickshire, on purpofe to gather up what remains he could, of a name for which he had fo great a veneration *.
This Account of the Life of Shakspeare is printed from Mr. Rowe's fecond edition, in which it had been abridged and altered by himfelf after its appearance in 1709.
Extracted from the Registry of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Vicefimo quinto die Martii Anno Regni Domini noftri Jacobi nunc Regis Anglia, Ee, decimo quarto & Scotia quadragefimo nono, Anno Domini 1616,
in county of Warwick, gent. in perfe&t health and memory (God be praifed) do make and ordain this my laft will and teftament in manner and form following; that is to fay:
First, I commend my foul into the hands of God my creator, hoping, and affuredly believing, through the only merits of Jefus Chrift my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlafting; and my body to the earth whereof that is made.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds of Jawful English money, to be paid unto her in manner and form following; that is to fay, one hundred pounds in discharge of her marriage portion within one year after my deceafe, with confiderations after the rate of two fhillings in the pound for fo long time as the fame shall be unpaid unto her after my decease; and the fifty pounds refidue thereof, upon her furrendering of or giving of fuch fufficient fecurity as the overfeers of this my will fhall like of, to furrender or grant all her estate and right that shall defcend or come unto her after my decease, or that the now hath of, in, or to, one copyhold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford upon Avon aforetaid, in the faid county of Warwick, being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowington, unto my daughter Sufannah Hall, and her heirs for ever.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my faid daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds more, if the, or any iffue of her body, be living at the end of three years next ensuing the day of the date of this my will, during which time my executors to pay her confideration from my deceafe according to the rate aforefaid: and if the die within the faid term without iffue of her body, then my will is, and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds thereof to my niece Elizabeth Hall, and the fifty pounds to be fet forth by my executors during the life of my fifter Joan Harte, and the ule and profit thereof coming, fhall be paid to my faid fifter Joan, and after her decease the faid fifty pounds fhall remain amongst the children of my faid fifter, equally to be divided amongst them; but