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The action began with giving one another the lye in the most reproachful terms,
Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart, Thro' the false pasage of thy throat, thou lyest !
The vanquished were always deem'd guilty, and deserving their punishment. In the second part of K. Henry VI. there is exactly such a duel fought, as, in Don Quixote, the squire of the knight of the wood proposes between himself and Sancho. For the plebeians, not being allowed the use of the sword or lance, fought with wooden staves, at the end of which they tied a bag filled with sand and pebbles. When poor
Peter is killed with this weapon by his master, K. Henry makes this reflection,
Go take bence that traitor from our fight,
For by bis death we do perceive his guilt. When our judges now a days ask the accused person, how he will be tryed ; they would hardly I belive allow his appealing to his sword or his sandbag to prove his innocency.
Our Gothic chivalry Shakespeare has likewise touched on, in his K. Henry VIII. Hall and Holingshed, whom our poet has followed, tells 8 Don Quixote, vol. 2. chap. 14,
us, that in the year 1520 a king of arms from France came to the English court, with a solemn proclamation, declaring, that in June ensuing, the two kings, Henry and Francis, with fourteen aids, would in a camp, between Ardres and Guisnes, answer all comers that were gentlemen, at tilt, tourney and barriers. The like proclamation was made by Clarencieux in the French court: and thefe defiances were fent likewise into Germany, Spain and Italy. Knights and squires accordingly assembled, All clinquant, all in gold, as our poet has it : And the two kings, especially our sturdy Henry, performed wonders equal to any knight-errant in fairy land. The ladies were not only spectators of these knightly justs and fierce encounters, but often the chief occasion of them : for to vindicate their unspotted honours and beauty, what warrior would refuse to enter the lists? The witty Earl of Surry, in Henry the eighth's reign, like another Don Quixote, travelled to Florence, and there, in honour of a fair Florentine, challenged all nations at single combat in defence of his Dulcinea's beauty. The more witty and wise Sir Philip Sydney,
Yclad in mightie arms and sylver shield,
in honour of his royal mistress, shewed his knight-errant chivalry before the French nobles, who came here on an embassy about the marriage of Elizabeth with the duke of Anjou.
Would it not be unjust to ridicule our forcfathers for their aukward manners, and at the same time have no other test of ridicule but mode or fashion ? For wc, of a modern date, may possibly appear, in many respects, equally ridiculous to a critical and philosophical inquirer, who takes no other criterion and standard to judge from, than truth and nature.
We want natural and rightly improved manners: for thief: our poets must go abroad ; and from the Attic and Roman Aowers collect their honey ; and they should give a new fashion and dress, not contradicting however probability and fame, to whatever is mcerly of a British and barbarous growth, agreeable to their imagination and creative fancy. Shakespeare never writes so below himiült, as when he keeps closest to our most authentic chronicles, and fights over the battles between the houses of York and Lancaster. Not that he is to blame for following fame in known characters, but in the ill " choice of his subject ;
for 10 Αίτης δε της ποιητικής διτη η αμαρτία. . να και αυτην, και οι καλα σιμο: ηκος. Η με, για προειλίο μιμή
for he should have rejected what was incapable of embelishment. But in those stories where his imagination has greater scope, and where he can " lye without being contradicted, there he reigns without a rival.
S E C T.
σασθαι αδυναμίας αυτής, η αμαρτία. Η δε το προιλίσθαι pent of @ws, xalal oupe GsGnxós. After i apaglia, by the tranfcriber's negligence, xal' avons is omitted. The passage I would thus read, Aυτής δε της ποιητικής διττή και αμαρτία η μεν καθ' αυτήν, η δε καλα συμβεβηκός. Ει μεν γαρ προείλειο μιμήσασθαι κατ' αδυναμίας αυτής, η αμαρίία καθ' αυτήν η δε το προελέσθαι μη ορθώς, καλα συμβεβηκός. Αriftot. σερί ποιητ. κεφ. κε. In poetry there are two defects, the one arises from itself, [per fe,] the other is accidental : (per accidens :] for if it chufes fubje&ts for imitation, out of its power and reach, the fault is from itself ; (per fe,] but when it chufes not rightly, the fault is accidental (per accidens. ] Το illuftrate from Shakefpeare, The αμαρτία καθ' αυτήν, is the historical transactions of York and Lancaster : the making choice of such a story as the Winter's Tale, &c. The αμαρία καλα συμβεβηκός, is where Shakefpeare, not heeding geography, or blindly following the old story books, calls Delphi an ifle, in the Winter's Tale, Ad III. Not knowing physic fays pleurife, instead of plethory, in Hamlet, Act IV. With others of the like nature.
11 Homer knew the whole art of lying, and has taught other poets the way. Δεδίδακε δε μάλιςα "ΟμηρG- και της άλλες ψευδή λέγειν ως δεί. Αriftot. σερί ποιητ. κεφ. κδ. Horace has given this an elegant turn in his art of poetry, y.151.
UT perhaps our poet's art will appear to
greater advantage, if we enter into a detail, and a minuter examination of his plays. There are many who, never having red one word of Aristotle, gravely cite his rules, and talk of the unities of time and place, at the very mentioning Shakespeare's name ; they don't seem ever to have given themselves the trouble of considering, whether or no his story does not hang together, and the incidents follow each other naturally and in order ; in short whether or no he has not a beginning, middle and end. If you will not allow that he wrote strictly tragedies ; yet it may be granted that he wrote dramatic heroic poems ; in which, is there not an imitation of one action, serious, entire, and of a just length, and which, without the help of narration, excites pity and terror in the beholders breast, and by the means of these refines such
Atque ita mentitur, fic veris falsa remiscet,
• The truest poetry is the most feigning.' says the Clown in Shak. As you like it, Act III.