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irmeeness of the éventa that surround him, he is ull at amazement and fear; and «tanda in doubt wtween the world of reality and the world of :a:\cy. He sees sights not shown to mortal eye, ind hears unearthly music. All is tumult and disDrder within and without his mind; his purposes re-coil upon himself, are broken and disjointed; he и the double thrall of his passions and liis desiiny. Richard u not a character either of imagination or pithoe, but of pure self-will. There is no conflict ol opposite feeiinge in hia breast. In the busy turbulence of bis projects he never loses his self-posfesswn, and make« use of every circumstance that happens u an instrument of his long-reaching deeigne. In hu last extremity we regard him but as a mid b«att taken in the toils: But we never entirely lose our concern for Macbeth; and he calls back all our sympathy by that fine close of thoughtful melancholy.
"My way of life
la fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf: And thai which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, 1 musí not look to have! But in their stead, ('urfes not loud but deep; mouth-honour, breath, Whieh ihe poor heart would fain deny, and dares not!"— pp.26—30.
In treating of the Julius Caesar, Mr. H. extract» the following short scene, and praises it so highly, and. in our opinion, so justly, that we cannot resist the temptation of extracting i°. too—together with his brief commentary.
"Bmlat. The games are done, and Caesar is returning. [sleeve,
Cuniu. As they pass by, pluck Casca by the And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you Whv ha» proceeded worthy note to-day.
finîtes. I will do so; but look you, Cnssius— The »njry spot doth glow on Caesar's brow, Л;. i all tlic rest look like a chidden train, dlphurma's cheek is pale; and Cicero b..)-.s with such ferret and such fiery eyes, Ai w« have seen him in the Capitol, Bemj crost in conference by some senator.
Coin's». Casca will tell us what the matter is.
Семг. Let me have men about me that are fat, £j«k-headed men, and such as sleep a-nights: ^o-d Caseins has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.
.•Ufony. Fear him not, Csesar, he's not dangerous: H*'.s»noMe Roman, and well given. [not:
f«wr. Would he were falter! But I fear him ^'t if my name were liable to fear, I do not know the man I should avoid Яо мол as that spare Cassiua. He reads much; He ij a grpat observer; and he looks Qni'e through the deeds of men. He loves no plays, Aeihoodost. Antony; he hears no music: «dom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort, A« if he mock'd himself, and scorned his spirit, Thit could be moved to smile at any thing. =""h men as he be never at heart's ease У biljt ilipy behold a greater than themselves; Aid ihfTPtore are they very dangerous. Intber „¡ц thee what is to be fear'd Than what I fear; for always I am Caeear. Come от my right hand, for this car is deaf, And tell me truly what thou think'at of him."
t" We know hardly any passage more expressive 'he genius of Shakespeare than this. It is as if baa be*n actually present, had known the dif•r»m characters and what they thought of one •wher, and had taken down what he heard and
E». their looks, words, and gestures, just as they ppened."—pp. 36, 37.
I U e may add the following as a specimen 40
of the moral and political reflections which this author has intermixed with his criticisms.
"Shakespeare has in this play and elsewhere shown the same penetration into political character and the springs of public events as into those of every-day life. For instance, the whole design to liberate their country fails from the generous temper and overweening confidence of Brutus in the goodness of their cause and the assistance of others. Thus it has always been. Those who mean well themselves think well of others, and fall a prey to their security. The friends of liberty trust to the professions of others, because they are themselves sincere, and endeavour to secure the public good with the least possible hurt to ils enemies, who have no regard to any thing but their own unprincipled ends, and stick at nothing to accomplish them. Cassius was better cut out for a conspirator. His heart prompted his head. His habitual jealousy made him fear the worst that might happen, and his irritability of temper added to his inveteracy of purpose, and sharpened his patriotism. The mixed nature of his motives made him fitter to contend with bad men. The vices are never so well employed as in combating one another. Tyranny and servility are to be dealt with after their own fashion: otherwise, they will triumph over those who spare them, and finally pronounce their funeral panegyric, as Antony did that of Brutus.
"All the conspirators, save only he,
pp. 38, 39.
The same strain is resumed in his remarks on Coriolanue.
"Shakespeare seems to have had a leaning to the arbitrary side of the question; perhaps from some feeling of contempt for his own origin; and to have spared no occasion of baiting the rabble. What he says of them is very true: what he says «f their betters is also very true; But he dwells less upon it.—The cause of the people is indeed but little calculated as a subject for poetry: it admits of rhetoric, which goes into argument and explanation, but it presents no immediate or distinct images to the mind. The imagination is an exaggerating and exclusive faculty. The understanding is a dividing and measuring faculty. The one is an aristpcralical, the other a republican faculty. The principle ol poetry is a very anti-levelling principle. It aims at effect, and exists by commet. It is every thing by excess. It puts the individual for the ppecies, the one above the infinite many, might before right. A lion hunting a flock of sheep is a more poetical object than they; and we even take part with the lordly beast, because our vanity or some other feeling makes us disposed to place ourselves in the situation of the strongest party. There is nothing heroical in a multitude of miserable rogues not wishing to be starved, or complaining that they are like to be so: but when a single man comes forward to brave their cries and to make them submit to the last indignities, from mere pride and self-will, our admiration of his prowess is immediately converted into contempt for their pusillanimity. We had rather, in short, be the oppressor than the oppressed. The love of power in ourselves and the admiration of it in others are both natural to man: But the one makes him a tyrant, the other a slave.'• —pp. 69—72.
There are many excellent remarks and several fine quotations, in the discussions on Troilus and Cressida. As this is no Jorfger an acted play, we venture to give one extract, with Mr. H.'s short observations, which peífectly express our opinion of its merits. 2B
“It cannot be said of Shakespeare, as was said pf some one, that he was “without o'erflowing full.' He was full, even to o'erflowing. He gave heaped measure, running over. This was #. greatest fault. He was only in danger ‘of losing distinction in his thoughts' (to borrow his own expression)
“As doth a battle when they charge on heaps The enemy flying.”
“There is another passage, the speech of Ulysses to Achilles, showing him the thankless, nature of popularity, which has a still greater depth of moral observation and richness of illustration than the former.
“Ulysses. Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his Wherein he puts alms for Oblivion; [back, A great-siz'd monster of ingratitudes; Those scraps are good deeds past; Which are devour'd as fast as they are made, Forgot as soon as done: Persev'rance, dear my lord, Keeps Honour bright: to have done, is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery. Take the instant way; For Honour travels in a strait so narrow, That one but goes abreast; keep then the path, For Emulation hath a thousand sons, That one by one pursue; if you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forth-right, Like to an entered tide they all rush by, And leave you hindmost ; Or, like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank, [present, O'er-run and trampled on : then what they do in Tho' less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours: For Time is like a fashionable host, That slightly shakes his parting guest by th' hand, And with his arms .# he would fly, Grasps in the comer : thus Welcome ever smiles, And Farewel goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek Remuneration for the thing it was; For beauty, wit, High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all To envious and calumniating time: One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. That all, with one consent, praise new born gauds, Though they are made and moulded of things past.”
“The throng of images in the above lines is prodigious; and though they sometimes jostle against one another, they everywhere raise and carry on the feeling, which is metaphsically true and profound.”—pp. 85–87.
This Chapter ends with an ingenious parallel between the genius of Chaucer and that of Shakespeare, which we have not room to insert.
The following observations on Hamlet are very characteristic of Mr. H.’s manner of writing in the work now before us; in which he continually appears acute, desultory, and capricious—with great occasional felicity of conception and expression—frequent rashness and carelessness—constant warmth of admiration for his author—and some fits of extravagance and folly, into which he seems to be hurried, either by the hasty kindling of his zeal as he proceeds, or by a selfwilled determination not to be balked or baffled in any thing he has taken it into his head he should say.
“Hamlet is a name: his speeches and sayings but the idle coinage of the poet's brain. But are they not real? They are as real as our own thoughts. Their reality is in the reader's mind. It is we who are Hamlet. This play has a prophetic truth, which is above that of history. Whoever has become thoughtful and melancholy through his own mishaps or those of others; whoever has borne about
with him the clouded brow of reflection, and thought himself "too much i' th' sun;' whoever has seen the golden lamp of day dimmed by envious mists rising in his own breast, and could find in the world before him only a dull blank, with nothing left remarkable in it; whoever has known “the pangs of despised love, the insolence of office, or the spurns which patient merit of the unworthy takes;’ he who has felt his mind sink within him, and sadness cling to his heart like a malady; who has had his hopes blighted and his youth staggered by the apparitions of strange things; who cannot be well at ease, while he sees evil hovering near him like a spectre; whose o: of action have been eaten up by thought; e to whom the universe seems infinite, and him. self nothing; whose bitterness of soul makes him careless of consequences, and who goes to a play, as his best resource to shove off, to a second remove, the evils of life, by a mock-representation of them.—This is the true Hamlet.
“We have been so used to this tragedy, that we hardly know how to criticise it, any more than we should know how to describe our own faces. But we must make such observations as we can. It is the one of Shakespeare's plays that we think of oftenest because it abounds most in striking reflections on human life, and because the distresses of Hamlet are transferred, by the turn of his mind, to the general account of humanity. Whatever happens to him, we apply to ourselves; because he applies it so himself as a means of general reasoning. He is a great moralizer, and what makes him worth attending to is, that he moralizes on his own feelings and experience. He is not a commonplace pedant. If Lear shows the greatest depth of passion, HAMLET is the most remarkable for the ingenuity, originality, and unstudied development of character. There is no attempt to force an interest: every thing is left for time and circumstances to unfold. The attention is excited without effort; the incidents succeed each other as matters of course; the characters think, and speak, and act, just as they might do if left entirely to themselves. There is no set purpose, no straining at a point. The ob servations are suggested by the passing scene—the gusts of passion come and go like sounds of music borne on the wind. The whole play is an exact transcript of what might be supposed to have taken place at the court of Denmark, at the remote period of time fixed upon, before the modern refinements in morals and manners were heard of. It would have been interesting enough to have been admitted as a by-stander in such a scene, at such a time, to have heard and seen something of what was going on. But here we are more than spectators. We have not only ‘the outward pageants and the signs of grief,' but ‘we have that within which passes show.' We read the thoughts of the heart, we catch the passions living as they rise. Other dramatic writers give us very fine versions and paraphrases of nature; but Šio. together with his own comment, gives us the original text, that we may judge for ourselves. This is a great advantage.
“The character of Hamlet is itself a pure effusion of genius. It is not a character marked by strength of will, or even of passion, but by refinement of thought and sentiment. Hamlet is as little of the hero as a man can well be: but he is a youn and princely novice, full of high enthusiasm o: quick sensibility, -the sport of circumstances, questioning with fortune, and refining on his own feelings; and forced from the natural bias of his disposition by the strangeness of his situation.”— pp. 104–107.
His account of the Tempest is all pleasingly written, . his remarks on Caliban; but we rather give our readers his speculations on Bottom and his associates.
‘. Bottom the Weaver is a character that has not had justice done him. He is the most romantic of mechanic»; He follows a sedentary trade, and he is arcordingly represented as conceited, serious, and fantastical. He is ready to undertake any thing and every thing, as if it was as much a matter of course u the motion of his loom and shuttle. He is for play • ingthctyrant, ihe lover, the lady, the lion. 'He will rotr that it shall do any man's heart good to hear htm;' and this being objected to as improper, he •till hu a resource in his good opinion of himself, Л'Л 'will roar you an 'twere any nightingale.' Snog the Joiner is the moral man of the piece, «ho proceeds by measurement and discretion in all tilings, Vou see him with his rule and compasses in his hand. 'Have you the lion's part written Г Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.'—' You may do it extempore,' says Quince,'for it is nothing but roaring.' Starveli.ii ihe Tailor keeps the peace, and objects to the han >nd the drawn sword. 'I believe we must ¡•ne the killing out when all's done.' Starveling, bowiTer, does not start the objections himself, but seconds them when made by others, as if he had no tptrit to express his fears without encouragement. It is too much to suppose all this intentional: kt и very luckily falls out so."—pp. 126, 127.
Mr. H. admires Romeo and Juliet rather too mach—though his encomium on it is about the most eloquent part of his performance: But we really cannot sympathise with all the conceits and puerilities that occur in this play; for instance, this exhortation to Night, which Mr. H. has extracted for praise !—
"Gire ne my Romeo—and when he shall die,
We agree, however, with less reservation, in his rapturous encomium on Lear—but can Moni no extracte. The following speculation on the character of Falstaff is a striking, and, on the whole, a favourable specimen of our author's manner.
"VVii is often a meagre substitute for pleasure«Ы« sensation; an effusion of spleen and petty 44 «_« the comforts of others, from feeling none in unit FslsiafTs wit is an emanation of a tine con«¡ration; an exuberance of good-humour and goodnature; an overflowing of nis love of laughter, and f^Hi-teltowship; a giving vent to his heart's ease and over-contentment with himself and others.— He would not he in character if he were not so fat i« be is; for there is the greatest keeping in the ''indie« luxury of his imagination and me pamP- red seli-indulgence of Ыз physical appetites. He m mure» and nourishes his mind with jests, as he i-j'.i his body with sack and sugar. He carves out Ob jokes, as he would a capon, or a haunch of vsnuon, where there is raí and come again: and 1»т:«Ыу pours out upon them the oil ofgladnese. rb longue drops fatness, and in the chambers of та brtin 'it snow« of meal and drink.' He keeps "? perpetual holiday and open house, and we live JTM him in a round of invitations to a rump and lozrn.—Vet we are not left to suppose that he was 1 пи-re sensualist. All this is as much in imagina"on w in reality. His sensuality does not engross «1 impify his other faculties, but • nscends me "to the brain, clears away all the dull, crude va>''jrj that environ it, and makes it full of nimble, У and delectable shapes.' His imaginai ion »"peup i he ball long after his senses have done ^No it. He seems to have even a greater enjoy••jit of the freedom from restraint, of good cheer, 'i' »ч ease, of hi« vanity, in the ideal and exagge;4 descriptions which he gives of them, than '" htt. He never fails to enrich his discourse •M allusions to eating and drinking; but we
never see him at table. He carries his own larder about with him, and he is himself ' a tun of man.' His pulling out the bottle in the field of battle is a joke to show his contempt for glory accompanied with danger, his systematic adherence to his Epicurean philosophy in the most trying circumstances. Again, such is his deliberate exaggeration of his own vices, that it does not seem quite certain whether the account of his hostess' bill, found in his pocket, with such an out-of-the-way charge for capons and sack with only one halt-penny-worth of bread, was not put there by himself, as a trick to humour the jest upon his favourite propensities, and as a conscious caricature of himself.
"The secret of FalstafT's wit is for the most pan a masterly presence of mind, an absolute self-possession, which nothing can disturb. His repartees are involuntary suggestions of his self-love ; instinc • live evasions of every thing that threatens to interrupt the career of his triumphant jollity and self-complacency. His very size floats him out of all his difficulties in a sea of rich conceits; and he turns round on the pivot of his convenience, with every occasion and at a moment's warning. Ни natural repugnance to every unpleasant thought or circumstance, of itself makes light of objections, and provokes the most extravagant and licentious answers in his own justification. His indifference to truth puts no check upon his invention; and the more improbable and unexpected his contrivances are, the more happily does he seem to be delivered of them, the anticipation of their effect acting as a stimulus to the gaiety of his fancy. The success of one adventurous sally gives him spirits to undertake another: he deals always in round numbers, and his exaggerations and excuses are ' open, palpable, monstrous as the father that begets them.'"
It is time, however, to make an end of this. We are not in the humour to discuss points of learning with this author; and our readers now see well enough what sort of book he has written. We shall conclude with his remarks on Shakespeare's style of Comedy, introduced in the account of the Twelfth Night.
"This is justly considered as one of the most delightful of Shakespeare's comedies. It is full of sweetness and pleasantry. It is perhaps loo goodnatured for comedy. It has little satire, and no spleen. It aims at the ludicrous rather than the ridiculous. It makes us laugh at the follies of mankind; not despise them, and still less bear any ill-will towards them. Shakespeare's comic geniua resembles the bee rather in its power of extracting sweets from weeds or poisons, than in leaving a sting behind it. He gives the most amusing exaggeration of the prevailing foibles of his characters, but in a way that they themselves, instead of being offended at, would almost join in to humour; he rather contrives opportunities for them to show themselves off in the happiest lights, than renden them contemptible in the perverse construction of the wit or malice of others.
"There is a certain stage of society, in which people become conscious of their peculiarities and absurdities, affect to disguise what they are, and set up pretensions to what they are not. This gives rise loa corresponding style of comedy, the object of which is to detect the disguises of self-love, and to make reprisals on these preposterous assumptions of vanity, by marking the contrast between the real and the affected character as severely as possible, and denying to those, who would impose on us for what they are not, even the merit which they have. This is the comedy of artificial life, of wit and so, tire, such as we see in Congreve, Wycherley, Vanbrugh, etc. But there is a period in the progrese of manners anterior to this, in which the foibles and follies of individuals are of nature's planting, not the growth of art or study ; in which ihey are therefore
M,* i...- ": ms of them themselves, or care not who knows them, if they can but have their whim out; nuil in which, ae there ie no attempt at imposition, the spectators rather receive pleasure from humouring the inclinaiiuns of the persone they laugh at, than wish in give them pain by exposing their absurdity. This may be called the comedy of nature; and it is the comedy which we generally find in Sliakispeare.—Whether the analysis here given lie just or not, the spirit of his comedies is evidently quiie distinct from that of the author« above mentioned; аз it is in its essence the same with that of Cervantes, and also very frequently of Moliere, though he was more systematic in his extravagance than Shakespeare. Shakespeare's comedy is of a pastoral and poetical cast. Folly is indigenous to the soil, and shoots out with native, happy, unchecked luxuriance. Absurdity has every encouragement afforded it; and nonsense has room to flourish in. Nothing is stunted by the churlish, icy hand of indifference or severity. The poet runs riot in a conceit, and idolizes a quibble. His whole object is to turn the meanest or rudest objects to a Eleasurable account. And yet the relish which he as of a pun, or of the quaint humour of a low character, does not interfere with the delight with which he describee a beautiful image, or the most refined love. The clown's forced jests do not spoil the sweetness of the character of Viola. The same bouse is big enough to hold Malvolio, the Countess
Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew Agtwchni. For instance, nothing can fall much lower than ib last character in intellect or morale: yei bow treu weaknesses nursed and dandled by Sir ТоЬт i.v: something 'high fantastical;' when on Sir Andre« i commendation of himself for dancing and íer¡cir;, Sir Toby answers,—' Wherefore are these thmci ! hid? Wherefore have these gifis a curtain beim ; them? Are they like to take dust, like MriMolTi . picture? Why dost thou not go to church ю i galliard, and come home in a coranto? My vtrr walk should be a jig! I would not so much аз mat» water but in a cinque-pace. What dost ihuu mrac! Is this a world 10 hide virtues in > I did tank br the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was triDni under the star of a galliard !'—How air Toby, ft Andrew, and the Clown afterwards riirp ot*r u/ r cupi! how they 'rouse the night-owl ш а ока, able to draw three ouls out of one weaver!' Wan can be belter than Sir Toby's unanswerable aamr to Malvolio, 'Dost thou think, because thou ;-t virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and aie >'— In a word, the best turn is given to everything, rstead of the worst. There is a constant iniiuuoof the romantic and enthusiastic, in proportion a :..: characters are natural and sincere : whereas, ir. -ht more artificial style of comedy, everything picway to ridicule and indifference; there being netting left but affectation on one side, and on the other."—pp. 255—259.
It must be a more difficult thing to write a good play—or even a good dramatic poem— than we had imagined. Not lhat we should, a priori, have imagined it to be very easy: But it is impossible not to be struck with the fact, that, in comparatively rude times, when the resources of the art had been less carefully considered, and Poetry certainly had not collected all her materials, success seems to have been more frequently, and far more easily obtained. From the middle of Elizabeth's reign till the end of James', the drama formed by far the most brilliant and beautiful part of our poetry,—and indeed of our literature in general. From that period to the Revolution, it lost a part of its splendour and originality; but still continued to occupy the most conspicuous and considerable place in our literary annals. For the last century, it has been quite otherwise. Our poetry has ceased almost entirely to be dramatic; and, though men of great name and great talent have occasionally adventured into this once fertile field, they have reaped no laurels, and left no trophies behind them. The genius of Dryden appears nowhere to so little advantage as in his tragedies; and the contrast is truly humiliating when, in a presumptuous attempt to heighten the colouring, or enrich the simplicity of Shakespeare, he bedaubs with ob
* I have thought it best to put all my Dramatical criticisms in one series: and, therefore, I take ihe tragedies of Lord Byron in this place—and apart from his other poetry.
scenity, or deforms with rant, the genaue passion and profligacy of Antony and CJeopeti» —or intrudes on the enchanted solitude « Prospero and his daughter, with the tones of worldly gallantry, or the caricatures of affecte! simplicity. Otway, with the sweet and n>.low diction of the former age, had none oí .¡J force, variety, or invention. Its decavms n.t-s burst forth in some strong and irregular ffch -Ñ in the disorderly scenes of Lee; and sunk at
| last in the ashes, and scarcely glowing embers,
| of Rowe.
Since his time—till very lately—the «chool
! of our ancient dramatists has been dése rtfvi:
! and we can scarcely say that any new one has been established. Instead of the irrtîVi: and comprehensive plot—the rich diseurs.»e dialogue—the ramblings of fancy—the naze
! creations of poetry—the rapid succès?:«.:
| incidents and characters—the soft, flt-x.i . and ever-varying diction—and the flowing, continuous, and easy versification, which char
: acterised those masters of the gold«-n Mw.
i we have had tame, formal, élaborait", ал: stately compositions—meagre stories—fr» personages—characters décorons and consiaent, but without nature or spirit—a guarded, timid, classical diction—ingenious and me
; thodical disquisitions—turgid 01 sententious declamations—and a solemn and monotones strain of versification. Nor can thjs be i*cribed, even plausibly, to any decay of grain»
¡amoncus; for the most remarkable failure! have fallen on the highest talents. We hive already hinted at the miscarriages of Dr) dea. The eiquieite taste and fine observation of Addtson. produced only the solemn mawkishcess of Cato. The beautiful fancy, the gorgeous diction, and generous affections of Thomson, were chilled and withered as soon as he touched the verge of the Drama; where his name is associated with a mass of verbose puerility, which it is difficult to conceive could ever hire proceeded from the author of the Seasons and the Castle of Indolence. Even the ruiîhty intellect, the eloquent morality, and lolly style of Johnson, which gave too tragic and magnificent a tone to his ordinary wnlinj, failed altogether to support him in his attempt to write actual tragedy; and Irene is Do; only unworthy of the imitator of Juvenal aiiJ the author of Rasselas and the Lives of the Poets, but is absolutely, and in itself, nothing better than a tissue of wearisome ind unimpassioned declamations. We have named the most celebrated names in our literature, since the decline of the drama, almost to our own days; and if they have neither l any new honours to the stage, nor bored any from it, it is needless to say, that tb*e who adventured with weaker powers Ы no better fortune. The Mourning Bride 01 Congreve, the Revenge of Young, and the of Home [we cannot add the MysMother of Walpole—even to please bird Byron], are almost the only tragedies of ihe ia?t age that are familiar to the present; «nd they are evidently the works of a feebler ¿bd more effeminate generation—indicating, ^ much by their exaggerations as by their timidity, their own consciousness of inferiority to their great predecessors—whom they affected, however, not to imitate, but to supplant.
But the native taste of our people was not thus to be seduced and perverted; and when the wits of Queen Anne's time had lost the authority of living authors, it asserted itself I y a loml recurrence to its original standards, n.d a resolute neglect of the more regular :-id elaborate dramas by which they had been "icwded. Shakespeare, whom it had long been the fashion to decry and even ridicule, as the poet of a rude and barbarous age*, was '•'inMated in his old supremacy: and when
- legitimate progeny could no longer be wood at home, his spurious issue were hailed "ith rapture from foreign countries, and inT'ini and welcomed with the most eager '^husiasm on their arrival. The German
'i is not a little remarkable to find such a man
r? »Idsmith joining in this pitiful sneer. In his
ж of Wakefield, he constantly represents his
»non« town lad.es, Miss Carolina Amelia Wiihel
i hkcggs, and the other, as discoursing about
_"'*" We, Skakftprare, and the musical glasses!"
TM, in i more serious passage, he introduces a
^ri! astonishing the Vicar, by informing him
Dryden and Rowe's manner were quite out
'Hwhinu—our taste has gone back a whole century;
*M*r. Ben Junson. and, above all, the plays of
',]ц"Р,а.гс' "e the only things that go down."
no». layg ,he Vicar, "is it possible that the
D*4¡ '*' Can lie Please<i w'tn '*"' antiquated dia'nat о6»о(,./е tumour, and those overcharged '""•«"•t which abound in the works you тепло writer of name, who was not aiming at would venture to «ay this now
imitations, of Schiller and Kotzebne, caricatured and distorted as they were by the aberrations of a vulgar and vitiated taste, had still so much of the raciness and vigour of the old English drama, from which they were avowedly derived, that they instantly became more popular in England than any thing that her own artists had recently produced ; and served still more effectually to recaí our affections to their native and legitimate rulers. Then followed republications of Massinger, and Beaumont and Fletcher, and Ford, and their contemporaries—and a host of new tragedies, all written in avowed and elaborate imitation of the ancient models. Miss Baillie, we rather think, had the merit of leading the way in this return to our old allegiance—and then came a volume of plays by Mr. Chenevix, and a succession of single plays, all of considerable merit, from Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Maturin, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Barry Cornwall, and Mr. Milman. The first and the last of these names are the most likely to be remembered; but none of them, we fear, will ever be ranked with the' older worthies; nor is it conceivable that any age should ever class them together.
We do not mean, however, altogether to deny, that there may be some illusion, in our habitual feelings, as to the merits of the great originals—consecrated as they are, in our imaginations, by early admiration, and associated, as all their peculiarities, and the mere accidents and oddities of their diction now are, with the recollection of their intrinsic excellences. It is owing to this, we suppose, that we can scarcely venture to ask ourselves, steadily, and without an inward startling and feeling of alarm, what reception one of Shakespeare's irregular plays—me Tempest for example, or the Midsummer Night's Dream— would be likely to meet with, if it were not» to appear for the first time, without name, notice, or preparation? Nor can we pursue the hazardous supposition through all the possibilities to which it invites us, without something like a sense of impiety and profanation. Yet, though some little superstition may mingle with our faith, we must still believe it to be the true one. Though time may have hallowed many things that were at first but common, and accidental associations imparted a charm to much that was in itself indiffèrent, we cannot but believe that there was an original sanctity, which time only matured and extended—and an inherent charm from which the association derived all its power. And when we look candidly and calmly to the work? of our early dramatists, it is impossible, we think, to dispute, that after criticism hae done its worst on them—after all deductions for impossible plots and fantastical characters, unaccountable forms of speech, and occasional extravagance, indelicacy, and horrors—there is a facility and richness about them, both of thought and of diction—a force of invention, and a depth of sagacity—an originality of conception, and a play of fancy—a nakedness and energy of passion, and, above all, a copiousness of imagery, and a sweetness and flexibility of verse, which is altogether nnri