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title should be, The troubles and death of King John. For John having unjustly seized the crown, and excluded the rightful heir, his nephew Arthur Plantagenet, the king of France espouses the interest of the young prince. Hence arise king John's troubles, his punishment and death. The life of K. Henry VIII. would not improperly be entitled, The fall of cardinal Woolsey. The cardinal is Thewn in the summit of his
power and pride; and his fall was in a good measure owing to the king's marriage with Anna Bullen. Here therefore the play should have ended ; but flattery to princes has hurt the nothing for the whole, cannot be any part of that whole. Again in chap. xxiii. Ταύτη θεσπέσιος αν φανείη "Ομηροσαρα τες άλλως, το μηδέ τον πόλεμον καίπερ έχουλα αρχήν και τέλΘ», επιχειρήσαι ποιεϊν όλον λίαν γας αν μέγας, και εκ ευσύνοπτο- έμελλεν έσεσθαι" το μεγέθει μετριάζολα καλαπεπλεγμένον τη ποικιλία. Νύν δ' εν μέρG- απολαβών, επεισοδίοις κέχρηζαι αυτών πολλούς. The latter part is corrupted, avtão is got out of its place, and should be changed into autē; viz. worée, and placed after péço, thus ; No 8 μέρG- αυτά απολαβών, επεισοδίοις κέχρηται πολλούς. Ηomer, in respect to other poets, herein appears divine, in that he treats not of the whole war, though it has a beginning, and an end: for it would be too great, and not to be comprehended at one view: or suppose he could have reduced it to a just extent, yet it would have been perplexed with such a variety of incidents. But now taking one part only of the war, he introduces a great number of episodes.
best between what 1 °σ. μάλιςα σειράται υπό μίαν σερίοδον ηλίο είναι, και μικρόν έξαλλάττειν' η δε εποποιία, αόρισΘ- τα χρόνω. Tragedy as much as possible tries to confine itself to one period of the Jun, (speaking with respect to it's supposed diurnal motion] or to exceed it as little as may be : the epopaeia is unlimited as to time. Arist. argi molnt. *EQ. 6,
best poems : and of this, I shall speak s hereafter. Other plays of our poet are called, First and second parts, as The first and second parts of king Henry IV. But these plays are independent each of the other. The first part, as ’tis named, ends with the settlement in the throne of king Henry IV. when he had gained a compleat victory over his rebellious subjects. The second part contains king Henry's death ; fhewing his son, afterwards Henry V, in the various lights of a good-natured rake, 'till he comes to the crown; when 'twas necessary for him to assume a more manlike character, and princely dignity. To call these two plays, first and second parls, is as injurious to the author-character of Shakespeare, as it would be to Sophocles, to call his two plays on Oedipus, first and second parts of King Oedipus. Whereas the one is • Oedipus King of Thebes, the other, Oedipus at Athens.
Julius Caesar is as much a whole, as the Ajax of Sophocles : which does not end at the death of Ajax, but when the spectators are made acquainted with some consequences, that might be expected after his death; as the reconciliation
See below fect. XIV. 6. Οιδίπος τύραννο». Οιδίπες επι κολωνώ. viz.. a hilloc near Athens, where his daughter Antigone conducted him after his expulsion from Thebes.
between Teucer and the Grecian chieftains, and the honourable interment of Ajax. Nor does our poet's play end, at the death of Julius Caesar, but when the audience are let into the knowledge of what befel the conspirators, being the consequences of the murder of the hero of the play.
The story hangs together as in a heroic poem.
The fable is one in The Tempeft, viz. the restoration of Prospero to the dukedom of Milan : and the poem haftens into the midst of things, presenting the usurping duke shipwrecked on the inchanted island, where Prospero had long resided.
The unity of action is very visible in Measure for Measure. That reflection of Horace,
Quid leges fine moribus
is the chief moral of the play. How knowing in the characters of men is our poet, to make the severe and inexorable Angelo incur the penalty of that fanguinary law, which he was so forward to revive?
The three plays containing several historical transactions in the reign of K. Henry VI. (if entirely written by Shakespeare, which I somewhat suspect) are only rude and rough draughts ; and tho' they have in them many fine passages, yet I shall not undertake to justify them according to the strict rules of criticism.
ROM what has been already observed, it
becomes less difficult to see into the art and design of Shakespeare, in forming and planing his dramatic poems. The unity of action he seems to have thought himself obliged to regard ; but not at all the unities of time and place; no more, than if he were writing an epic poem. Aristotle (our chief authority, because he drew his observations from the most perfect models) tells us, that the epic poem has no determined time, but the dramatic he fixes to a
single day : the former is to be red, the latter to be seen. Now a man cannot easily impose on himself, that what he sees represented in a continued action, at a certain period of time, and in
a certain place, should take up
several be transacted in several places. But dramatic poetry is the art of imposing; and he is the best poet, who can best impose on his audience; and he is the wisest man, who is easiest imposed on. The story therefore (which is the principal part, and as it were the very foul of tragedy) being made a whole, with natural dependance and connexion ; the spectator feldom considers the
length of time necessary to produce all these incidents, but passes all that over ; as in Julius Caefar, Macbeth, Hamlet, and in other plays of our poet.
2 The real length of time in Julius Caefar is as follows, A. U. C. 709. a frantic festival, sacred to Pan and called Lupercalia, was held in honour of Caesar, about the middle of february, when the regal crown was offered him by Antony : March 15, he was slain. A. U. C. 710. Nov. 27. the triumvirs met at a small island, formed by the river Rhenus, near Bononia, and there adjusted their cruel proscription. A. U. C. 711. Brutus and Cassius were defeated near Philippi.Macbeth reigned seventeen years. So Johan. de Fordin Scoticron. L. iv. C. 45. Machabeus malignorum vallatus turmis et opibus praepotens regali dignitate potitus an, dom. MXL. regnavit annis XVII.- -But the time is so artfully passed over, and the incidents so connected, that the spectator imagines all continued, and without interruption.