Page images

a higher creature, than the generous horse that stands grasing below ? So that after all were I to shew the reader inftances of the true fublime, I should make choice of such as these :

Aude hospes contemnere opes, et te quoque dignum Finge deo. Virg. Aen. VIII, 369.

And in Milton. V, 350.

“ Mean while our primitive great fire, to meet “ His godlike guest, walks forth : without

more train “ Accompanied than with his own compleat « Perfections, in himself was all his state : - More folemn than the tedious pomp that waits « On princes, when their rich retinue long “ Of horses led, and grooms besmear'd with gold • Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all ' agape,"

9 Kixmótes. Virg. Aen. VII, 813.

Turbaque miratur matrum, et profpe&tat euntem,
Artonitis INHIANS animis.

Servias, INHIANS, Aupare quodam in ore patefa&o.


UT to return. What manners are to the fable, such are fentiments to manners; and


i sen

sentiments properly express the manners. In the sentiments, truth, nature, probability, and likelihood, are entirely to be regarded,

* Refpicere exemplar vitae morumque jubebo Doftum imitatorem, et veras binc ducere voces.

Poetic truth, and likelihood, Horace means ; such sentiments, as exhibit the truth of characters, the nature and dispositions of mankind. In this light Shakespeare is most admirable.

1 The persons must not only have manners, bụt sentiments conformable to those manners.

Sentiment (lays Aristotle) is discoverable in all those parts of our conversation, where we either prove any thing, or lay down fome maxim or general truth. διάνοιαν δε, εν όσοις λέβούλες αποδεικνύεσί τι, ή και αποφαίνονlαι γνώμην. Αriftot. σερί ποιητ. κεφ.

And prefently after, Διάνοια δε, εν οίς αποδεικνύεσί το ως έσιν, ή ως εκ έσιν, ή καθόλο τι αποφαίνονlαι. Again, Κεφ. 9. "Εσι δε καλά την διάνοιαν ταύτα, [lege τοιαύτα,] όσα υπό τ8 λόγο δεϊ παρασκευασθήναι" μέρη δε τέτων, τό, τε αποδεικνύναι, και το λύειν, και το πάθη παρασκευάζειν" οίον, έλεον, ή φόβον, ή ορχήν, και όσα τοιαύτα, και έτι μέΓεθος και σμικρότημα. Now all those things bave reference to sentiments, wbịch are the peculiar bufiness of speech or discourse : their parts are to demonftrate, to solve, and to raise the paffions, as pity, fear, anger, and the like ; and to encrease and diminish.

2 Hor. art. poet. 317. Dr. Bentley, not reflecting how to separate historical from poetical truth, has altered this paffage in his edition; he reads, Et vivas biæc ducere vachesa


Can the ambitious, and jealous man have sentiments more expressive of their manners, than what the poet gives to Macbeth and Othello ? Mark Antony, as Plutarch informs us, affected the Asiatic manner of speaking, which much resembled his own temper, being ambitious, unequal, and very rodomontade. And · Cicero in his Brutus, mentioning the Asiatic manner, gives it the following character : Aliud autem genus eft non tam sententiis frequentatum, quàm verbis volucre, atque incitatum ; qualis nunc eft


Sat. C, il

3 Cic. in Brat. sive de claris orator. 1. 95. & l. 13. Hinc Afiatici oratores non contemnendi quidem nec celeritate, nec copiâ, sed parum prelli, et nimis redundantes. Petronius,

Nuper ventosa ifthæc, et enormis loquacitas Athenas ex Afia commigravit, animosque juvenum ad magna

furgentes veluti peftilenti quodam fiderè aflavit, fimulque corrupta eloquentiæ regula ftetit et obtinuit," O&avias used to call Antony a mad man, for writing what people would rather admire at, than understand. " MARCUM !! quidem ANTONIUM ut infanum increpat, quafi ea fcri

bentem qua mirentur potius homines, quàm intelligant. De !! inde ludens malum et inconftans in eligenda genere dicendi ingenium ejus, addidit bær, Tuque dubitas, Cimberne « Annius, an Veranius Flaccus imitandi fint tibi ? ita ut ^« verbis, quæ Crispus Sallustius excerpfit ex originibus Caď tonis, utaris ? an potius AsiaTICORUM ORATORUM

IN ANIBUS SENTENTIIS VERBORUM VOLUBILITAs in f noftrum fermonem transferenda ?"


Afia tota ; nec frumine folùm orationis, fed etiam exornato, et faceto genere verborum. This style our poet has very artfully, and learnedly inter{perfed in Antony's speeches. He thus addresses Cleopatra. * Let Rome in Tyber melt, and the wide arcb of the rais'd empire fall, bere is my Space, Kingdoms are clay, &c.

Nor with less art has Shakespeare expressed the coquetry of the wanton Cleopatra. When he describes nature distorted and depraved, as in the characters of the Clown, the Courtier, the Fool, or Madman ; how juftly conformable arc the sentiments to the several characters ? One would think it impossible that Falstaff should talk otherwise, than Shakespeare has made him talk: and what not a little shews the genius of

And this observation, here made on Antony's Afiatic and bombaft Ryle, will explain the reason, why Flucllin, in K. Henry V. Act III.) miftaking, through the ho nefty and fimplicity of his heart, Piftol's real character, compares him to M. Antony. “ There is an Ancient se lieutenant there at the pridge, I think, in my very con«science, he is as valiant a man as Mark Antony, and he " is a man of no estimation in the world, but I did see him “ do gallant services.” 4 Antony and Cleop. AA 1.


eur poet, he has kept up the spirit of his humour through three plays, one of which he wrote at the requeft of queen Elizabeth. For which reason, if 'tis true what · Dryden tells Us, speaking of Mercutio's character in Romeo and Juliet, that Shakespeare faid himself, he was forced to kill him in the third act, to preyent being killed by him : it must be his diffidence and modesty that made him say this ; for it never could be thro' barrenness of invention, that Mercutio's sprightly wit was ended in the third act ; but because there was no need of him, or his wit any longer. The variety of humour, exhibited in the several characters, de serves no less our admiration; and whenever he forms a different person, he forms a different kind of man.

But when he exercises his creative art, and makes a ? new creature, a bagborn wbelp, not honoured with a human fape ; he gives him manners, as disproportion'd, as his Jhape, and sentiments proper for such manners. If on the contrary nature is to be pictured in more beautiful colours ; if the hero, the friend, the patriot, or prince appears, the thoughts

6 Dryden's defence of the epilogue : or an essay on the dramatic poetry of the last age. 7 Çaliban, in the Tempeft.


« PreviousContinue »