Page images

And in his Staple of News, Ac II. “ Mirth. How like “ you the Vice i' 'the play? Expectation. Which is he? “ Mirth. Three or four, old Covetoufness, the fordid Peniboy, the Money-bawd, who is a flesh-bawd too they say Tattle. But here is never a Fiend to carry him

away. « Befides, he has never a wooden-dagger ! I'd not give a « rush for a Vice, that has not a wooden-dagger to snap « at every body he meets. Mirth. That was the old “ way, Goslip, when Iniquity came' in like hokos pokos, “ in a juglers jerkin, &c.” He alludes to the Vice in the Alchymist, Act I. Sc. III. « Subt. And, on your stall, a puppet, with a Vice." Some places of Shakespeare will from hence appear more easy: as in the ift part of Henry IV. Act II. where Hal, humouroully characterizing Falftaff, calls him, That reverend Vice, that grey INIQUITY, that father RUFFIAN, that VANITY in years, in allusion to this buffoon character. In K. Richard III. Act III.

Thus like the formal Vice, Iniquity,

I moralize two meanings in one word. INIQUITY is the formal Vice. Some correct the passage,

Thus, like the formal wife Antiquity,

I moralize two meanings in one word, Which correction is out of alf rule of criticism. In Hamlet, A& I. there is an allusion, still more diftant, to THE Vice; which will not be obvious at first, and therefore is to be introduced with a short explanation. This buffoon cha*Pacter was used to make fun with the Devil ; and he had several trite expressions, as, I'll be with you


a trice : Ah, ha, boy, are you there, &c. And this was great enter


tainment to the audience, to see their old enemy so bela bour'd in effigy. In K. Henry V. A& IV. a boy characterizing Pistol, says, Bardolph and Nim had ten times more valour, than this roaring Devil i' th old play ; every one may pare bis nails with a wooden dagger. Now Hamlet, having been instructed by his father's ghost, is resolved to break the subject of the discourse to none but Horatio ; and to all others his intention is to appear as a sort of madman : when therefore the oath of secrefy is given to the centinels, and the Ghoft unseen calls out swear; Hamlet speaks to it as The Vice does to the Devil. Ah, he boy, says thou so ? Art thou there, trupenny ? Hamlet had a mind that the centinels should imagine this was a shape that the Devil had put on ; and in Act III. he is somewhat of this opinion himself,

The Spirit that I have seen
May be the Devil.

This manner of speech therefore to the Devil was what all the audience were well acquainted with ; and it takes off in some measure from the horror of the scene. Perhaps too the poet was willing to inculcate, that good humour is the best weapon to deal with the Devil, True penny is either by way of irony, or literally from the Greek ogúnavov, veterator. Which word the Scholiaft on Arifto. phanes' Clouds ý. 447. explains, apóun, o megélélposepévos ir τοϊς πράγμασιν, δν ημείς TPYΠANON καλέμεν. Severa) have tried to find a derivation of the Vice ; if I should not hit on the right, I should only err with others. The Vice is either a quality personalized as BIH and KAPTOE in Hesiod and Aeschylus. Sin and DEATH in Milton ; and indeed Vice itself is a person. B. XI, 517. And took wis image whom they serv'd, a brutis Vick.

[ocr errors]

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

Non Vitiofus bomo es, Zoile, fed Virium. 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 moft other Vice-roys, 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, Mūros, 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 è quoígalos, quod buccas inflaret ad rifum movendum : from whence is derived a Buffoon

Page 128. SHAKESPEARE labouring with a multiplicity of sublime ideas often gives himself not time to be delivered of them by the rules of " flow” endeavouring art :” bence be crowds various figures together, and METAPHOR upon METAPHOR ; and runs thę þazard of far-fetched expressions, whilf intent on nobler ideas be candescends not to grammatical niçeties.]

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


apologized for ; and instances are very numerous in Shake. speare. The poet is to take his share of the faults, and the critic is to keep his hands from the context. Yet 'tis strange 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 transcribers. Bentley fhew'd the way to critics, and gave a specimen, in his notes on Callimachus, of his emendations of Horace by correcting the following verse, Et male tornatos incudi reddere versus.

Hor, art. poct. 441. where he reads ter natos, for consonance of metaphor. But pray take notice, ter natos, is a metaphorical expression ; for nascor, natus, signifies to be born : and are things born brought to the anvil ? 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 soever, 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.

Shakespeare. Meafure for Measure, A& 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 re“ quires we fhould read FLAMES of her own youth."

Mr. W.

In the Merchant of Venice, Ad II.

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

In All's Well, that Ends Well, Act 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.
5. The whole figure here employ'd shews we should read,
.i' thBLAZE of youth.

Mr. W.

In the second part of K. Henry IV. A& I.
“ For from his metal was his party steel'd,
" 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 dulky torch of Mortimer,
$6 Choak'd with ambition of the meaner fort.
Mr. W. Here kies, &c."

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »