Page images
PDF
EPUB

bis image, i.e. a brutish Vice's image: the Vice Gluttony ; not without some allufion to the Vice of the old .plays. Or Vice may be in the abstract, as in Martial,

Non Vitiofus homo es, Zoile, sed VITIUM. But rather, I think, 'tis an abbreviation of Vice-Devil, as Vice-roy, Vice-doge, &c. and therefore properly called The Vice. He makes very free with his master, like most other Viceroys, or prime-ministers. So that he is the Devil's Vice, and prime minister ; and 'tis this, that makes him so fawcy.

The other old droll characters, are the Fool, and the Clown, which we have in Shakespeare's plays. The Ro. mans in their Atellan interludes, and Mimes, had their buffoons, called Maccus, Māxos, from whence the English word mocker ; and Sannio, from whence the Italian Zanni, and Zang. See Cicer. de Orat. L. 2. c. 61, and Bucco Quoigalos, quod buccas inflaret ad rifum movendum : from whence is derived a Buffoon.

Page 128. SHAKESPEARE labouring with a multiplicity of sublime ideas often gives bimself not time to be delivered of them by the rules of “ Now“ endeavouring art:" bence be crowds various figures together, and METAPHOR upon metaPHOR ; and runs the bazard of far-fetched expressions, whilft intent on nobler ideas be condescends not to grammatical niceties.]

The crouding and mixing together heterogeneous metaphors is doing a sort of violence to the mind ; for each new metaphor calls it too foon off from the idea which che former has rais'd : 'tis a fault doubtless, and not to be

apologized

speare. The

apologized for ; and instances are very numerous in Shake.

poet

is to take his share of the faults, and the critic is to keep his hands from the context. Yet 'tis Atrange to see how many paffages the editors have corrected, meerly for the case of consonance of metaphor : breaking thro' that golden rule of criticism : mend only the faults of tranfcribers. Bentley shew'd the way to critics, and gave a specimen, in his notes on Callimachus: of his emendations of Horace by correcting the foliowing verse, Et male tornatos incudi reddere versus.

Hor. art. poet. 441. where he reads ter natos, for confora of metaphor. But pray take notice, ter natos, is a metaphorical expression; for nafcor, natus, fignifies to be born: and are things born brought to the apvil? Is not here dissonance of metaphor with a witness ?

This verse of Horace has been variously criticized. So at present I say no more concerning it; but return to our poet, whose vague and licentious use of metaphors is so visible to almost every reader, that I wonder any editor, of what degree foever, should in this respect think of altering his manner of expression. Some few alterations of this kind I here exhibit to the reader, and leave it to him to make his own reflections.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Shakespeare. Measure for Measure, Act II. “ Look, here comes one ; a gentlewoman of mine, Who falling in the flaws of her own youth, “ Hath blister'd her report. “ Who doth not see that the integrity of metaphor requires we should read FLAMES of her own youth."

Mr. W.

Io

[ocr errors][merged small]

In the Merchant of Venice, Act II.

“ How much honour « Pickt from the chaff and ruin of the times, - To be new varnib'd. Mr. W. has printed it, To be new vanned."'

. In All's Well, that Ends Well, A& I. Hel, The composition that their valour and fear makes

“ in you, is a virtue of a good wing, and I like 66 the wear well.”

Mr. W.-" is a virtue of good ming.".

Ibid. Act V.

Count. « 'Tis paft, my liege; “And I beseech your Majesty to make it « Natural rebellion, done i' th' blade of youth, « When oil and fire, too strong for reason's force,

66 Oer-bears it and burns on. • The whole figure here employ'd shews we should read,

' th’ BLAZE of youth." Mr. W.

In the second part of K. Henry IV. A& I. 6 For from his metal was his party steeld, 6. Which once in him abated, all the rest

“ Turn'd on themselves, like dull and heavy lead: Mr. W. “ rebated."

In the last part of K. Henry VI. A& II. Sc. the laft,

Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer, “ Choak'd with ambition of the meaner fort. Mr. W. Here hies, &c."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In King Henry VIII. A& III. Sc. the laft. “ Say, Wolfey, that once trod the ways of glory, “ And founded all the depths and shoals of honour, « Found thee a way, &c. Mr. W.-" Rode the waves of glory.In Julius Cæsar, A& II.

" But do not stain « The even virtue of our enterprize, " Nor th' insuppressive mettle of our spirits " To think that or our cause, or our performance,

« Did need an oath.
Mr. W. to preserve the integerity of the metaphor, reads,
“ do not sTRAIN.”

In Antony and Cleopatra, A& I.
Take but good note, and you shall see in him
“ The triple pillar of the world transform’d

“ Into a trumpet's fool.
“ The metaphor is here miserably mangled ; we should
66 read.

Into a Arumpet's stool.” Mr. W. There is much more of this kind of uncritical stuff in the late edition; but I am already weary with tranfcribing.

[ocr errors]

Page 216. SHAKESPEARE was a great reader of the scriptures, and from the bold figures and metaphors be found there enriched bis own elfewhere unmatched ideas.

I could with some of our modern poets would follow the example of the three best Makers, that our nation, or

perhaps,

perhaps any nation, ever saw; and like them search the fcriptures, at least for furnishing their minds with interesting images and expressions. SPENCER is full of beauties of this kind : and I could easily shew in many places of Milton, how finely he has enriched his verses with scriptural thoughts, even where he seems moft closely to have copied Virgil or Homer. For example, B. I, 84.

If thou beeft he-But o how fallen ! how changed
From him, who in the happy realms of light
Cloth'd with transcendent brightness, didst outshine
Myriads tho bright!

Tho' this seems closely followed from Virgil, Aen. II. 274:

Hei mibi qualis erat, quantum mutatus ab illo
Hectore, qui, &c.

Yet what additional beauty does it receive from Isaiah xiv, 12. How art thou fallen from heaven, o Lucifer, son of the morning! &c.

Neither the mythological account of Pallas being born from the brain of Jupiter, nor the poetical description of Error by Spencer in his Fairy Queen, would have been suffi. cient authority for our divine poet's episode in his second book of sin and DEATH : had not scripture told us, James i, 14. Then when Lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth SIN ; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth DEATH.

In B. IV, 996, &c. Tho' it is plain the poet had strongly in his mind the golden scales of Jupiter, mentioned both by Homer and Virgil ; yet he is entirely governed by scripture ; for Satan only is weighed, viz. his parting and his fight, Dan. v, 27. TEKEL, Thou art weigh'd in the balances, and art found wanting. And before, *.998. His

Dd

ftature

« PreviousContinue »