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:isms with which those poems of his,* that were plement is as beneficial to the sense, as it is ne printed under his own immediale eye, are altoge- cessary to the rhythm, Malone's line is, ther unstained? But, establishing the double com- “And with the brands fire the trajtors' houses :" parative as one of the peculiar anomalies of Shakspeare's grammar, Malone proceeds to arraign the the editor's unfortunate editor as a criminal, for substituting, in

“And with the brands fire all the traitors' houses.” a passage of Coriolanus, more worthy for more wor- The next charge, brought against the editor, may thiet ; in Otheilo—for," opinion, a sovereign mis- be still more easily repelled. In a noted passage tress, throws a more safer voice on you," opinion, of Macbeth&c. throws a more safe voice on you;" and, in Hamlet, instead of “ Your wisdom should show itself “ I would while it was smiling in my face more richer to signify this to the doctor," “ Your Have pluck'd my nipple from its boneless gums, wisdom should show itself more rich to signify this to

And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn the doctor.” Need I express my conviction that in

As you have done to this." these passages the

editor has corrected the text into “ Not perceiving,” says Malone, " that "sworn what actually fell from Shakspeare's pen? Can it was used as a dissyllable,” (the devil it was ?) be doubted also that the editor is accurate in his “He (the editor) reads had 'I but so sworn, printing of the following passage in “ A Midsum- much as we think, to the advantage of the sense mer Night's Dream ?" As adopted by Malone it as well as of the metre; and supplying, as we constands.

ceive, the very word which Shakspeare had writ “ So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,

ten, and the carelessness of the transcriber omit. Ere I will yield my virgin patent up.

ted. Charms' our Poet sometimes uses, accordUnto his lordship, whose unwished yoke

ing to Malone, as a word of two syllables."-No! My soul consents not to give sovereignty."

impossible! Our Poet might, occasionally, be guilty

of an imperfect verse, or the omission of his tran :. e., says the critic, to give sovereignty to, &c.—To scriber might furnish him with one : but never be sure--and, without the insertion, in this instance, could he use charms” as a word of two syllables. of the preposition, the sentence would be nonsense. We feel, therefore, obliged by the editor's supply As it is published by the editor, it is,

ing an imperfect line in “ The Tempest," with the

very personal pronoun which, it is our persuasion, “ So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,

was at first inserted by Shakspeare. In the mosi Ere I will yield my virgin patent up. Unto his lordship, to whose unuish'd yoke

modern editions, the line in question standsMy soul consenis not to give sovereignty.”

“Cursed be I that did so ! all the charms," &c.

but the second folio reads with unquestionable pro Having now sufficiently demonstrated the editor's priety, "Cursed be l that I did so ! all the charms, ignorance of Shakspeare's language, let us proceed &c. As 'hour' has the same prolonged sound with his critic to ascertain his ignorance of Shak- with fire, sire, &c. and as it is possible, though, speare's metre and rhythm. In “The Winter's with reference to the fine ear of Shakspeare, i Tale,” | says Malone, we find,

think most improbable, that it might sometimes be

made to occupy the place of two syllables, I shall " What wheels, racks, fires ; what flaying, boiling pass over the instance from “Richard II." in which In leads and oils !"

Malone triumphs, though without cause, over his Not knowing that "fires' was used as a dissyllable, "All's Well that End's Well," in which a defec

adversary; as I shall also pass over that from the line (I wish that he had inserted it before boil-live line has been happily supplied by our editor,

in consequence of his not knowing that 'sire' was ing')

employed as a dissyllable. In the first part of “What wheels, racks, fires ; what Naying, boiling, lish,” is prolonged by the editor with a syllable

Henry VI." " Rescued is Orleans from the Eng. buruing.”

which he deemed necessary because he was ignoIt is possible that fires may be used by Shakspeare rant that the word, 'English,' was used as a trias a dissyllabie, though I cannot easily persuade syllable. According to him the line is—“Rescued. myself that, otherwise than as a monosyllable, it is Orleans from the English wolves.”

We rejoice would satisfy an ear, attuned as was his, to the at this result of the editor's ignorance; and we finest harmonies of verse; yet it may be employed wish to know who is there who can believe that as a dissyilable by the rapid and careless bard; 'English' was pronounced, by Shakspeare or his and I am ready to allow that the defective versé contemporaries, as Engerlish, or even as Engleish, was not happily supplied, in that place at least, with three syllables ? Again, not knowing that with the word, burning, yet I certainly believe that Charles' was used as a word of two syllables, (and Shakspeare did not leave the line in question as he was sufficiently near to the time of Shakspeare Malone has adopted it, and that some word has to know his pronunciation of such a common word: been omitted by the carelessness of the first tran- but the blockhead could not be taught the most scriber. In the next instance, from Julius Cæsar, common things,) this provoking editor instead of I feel assured that the editor is right, as his sup- “Orleans the bastard, Charles, Burgundy."

has printed, * In his “Venus and Adonis," and his “Rape of Lu.

“Orleans the bastard, Charles, and Burgundy." srece," printed under his immediate inspection; and in his 154 sonnets, printed from correct MSS., and no doubt In the next instance, I must confess myself to be with his knowledge, are not to be found any of these ignorant of Malone's meaning. “Astræa being barbarous anomalies. "The Lover's Complaint,” are, also, free from them. used,” he says “as a word of three syllables," (i Worser and lesser may sometimes occur in these po: conclude thai he intended to say, as a word of four ems: but the last of these improprieties will occasionally syllables, the diphthong being dialytically separated find a place in the page of modern composition. In the into its component parts, and the word written and “Rape of Lucrece,” the only anomaly of the double pronounced Astraea,) for “ Divinest creature, Asnegative, which I have been able to discover, is the fol. træa's daughter," the editor has given “ Divinest lowing :

creature, bright Astræa's daughter."-Shameless “She touch'd no unknown baits, nor feard no hooks." interpolation ! Not aware that sure' is used as a and the same impropriety may be found in three or four dissyllable, this grand corrupter of Shakspeare's instances in the Sonnels. And substituted for nor would text has substituted, “ Gloster, we'll meet to thy restore these few passages to perfect grammar.

dear cost, be sure,” for “ Gloster, we'll meet to thy

cost, be sure."-Once more, and to conclude an Act iii. sc. ?

examination which I could extend to a much greate

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length in favour of this much-injured editor, but a few years, another was projected; and that it which I feel to be now becoming tedious, for, might be more adequate to the claims of Shakspeare “ And so to arms, victorious father,” and of Britain, the conduct of it was placed, in

homage to his just celebrity, in the hands of Pope. as the line is sanctioned by Malone, arms, being Pope showed himself more conscious of the nature used, as he asserts, for a dissyllable, (arms a dis- of his task, and more faithful in his execution of syllable!) the second folio presents us with it than his predecessor. He disclosed to the pub.

“And so to arms, victorious, noble father.” lic the very faulty state of his author's text, and I have said enough to convince my readers of the collated many of the earlier editions, and her ared

suggested the proper means of restoring it: he falsity of the charges of stupidity and cross igno- the page of Shakspeare from many of its deformirance, brought by Malone against the editor of the ties: but his collations

were not sufficiently extensecond folio edition of our Poet's dramatic works. sive ; and he indulged, perhaps, somewhat too I am far from assuming to sindicate this editor much in conjectural emendation. This exposed from the commission of many flagrant errors : but him to the attacks of the petty and minute critics; he is frequently right, and was unquestionably con, and, the success of his work falling short of his exversant, let Malone assert what he pleases, with peciations, he is said to have contracted that enhis author's language and metre. It was not, mity to verbal criticism, which actuated him during therefore, without cause, that Steevens held his la- the remaining days of his life. His edition was bours in much estimation. Malone was an inval- published in the year 1725. Before this was underuable collector of facts: his industry was indefati, taken, Theobald, a man of no great abilities and of gable : his researches were deep: his pursuit of little learning, had projected the restoration of truth was sincere and ardent: but he wanted the Shakspeare, but his labours had been suspended, talents and the taste of a critic; and of all the edi- or their result had been withheld from the press, tors, by whom Shakspeare has suffered, I must till the issue of Pope's attempt was ascertained by consider him as the most pernicious. Neither the its accomplishment, and publication. The Shakindulged fancy of Pope, nor the fondness for inno- speare of Theobald's editing was not given to tho vation in Hanmer, nor the arrogant and headlong world before the year 1733; when it obtained more self-confidence of Warburton has inflicted such of the public regard than its illustrious predecessor, cruel wounds on the text of Shakspeare, as the aso in consequence of its being drawn from a somewhat suming dulness of Malone. Barbarism and broken wider field of collation ; and of its less frequent and rhythm dog him at the heels wherever he treads.

presumptuous admission of conjecture. Theobald, In praise of the third and the fourth folio editions indeed, did not wholly abstain from conjecture; of our author's dramas, printed respectively in 1664 but the palm of conjectural criticism was placed and 1685, nothing can be advanced. Each of these much too high for the reach of his hand. editions implicitly followed its immediate predeces To Theobald, as an editor of Shakspeare, sucsor, and, adopting all its errors, increased them to ceeded Sir Thomas Hanmer, who, in 1744, publisha frightul accumulation with its own.

edition of the great dramatist from the loxt of Shakspeare in this disorder, the public of press of Oxford. But Hanmer, building his work Dritain remained satisfied during many years. on that of Pope, and indulging in the wildest anul Hrom the period of his death he had not enforced most wanton innovations, deprived his edition of Biat popularity to which his title was undeniable. all pretensions to authenticity, and, consequently, w Grein, though inferior, men, Jonson, Fletcher, merit. Massinger, Shirley, Ford, &c. got possession of The bow of Ulysses was next seized by a the stage, and retained it túll it ceased to exist un- mighty hand-by the hand of Warburton ; whose der the puritan domination. On the restoration of Shakspeare was published in 1747. !t failed of the monarchy in 1660, the theatre indeed was again success; for, conceiving that the editor intended to opened ; but, under the influence of the vicious taste make his author his showman to exhibit his erudi. of the new monarch, it was surrendered to a new tion and intellectual power, the public quickly neg. school (the French school) of the drama ; and its lected his work ; and it soon disappeared from cirmastery was held by Dryden, with many subordi- culation, though some of its proffered substitutions nates, during a long succession of years. Through- must be allowed to be happy, and some of its ex out this whole period, Shakspeare was nearly for- planations to be just. gotten by his ungrateful or blinded countrymen. His After an interval of eighteen years, Shakspeare splendour, it is true, was gleaming above the horizon; obtained once more an editor of great name, and and his glory, resting in purple and gold upon the seemingly in every way accomplished to assert the hill-summits, obtained the homage of a select band rights of his author. In 1765 Doctor Samuel Johu of his worshippers : but it was still hidden from son presented the world with his long-promised the eyes of the multitude ; and it was long before edition of our dramatist: and the public expectait gained its “meridian tower," whence it was to tion, which had been highly raised, was again throw its " glittering shafts" over a large portion doomed to be disappointed. Johnson had a powerof the earth. At length, about the commencement ful intellect, and was perfectly conversant with huof the last century, Britain began to open her eyes man life : but he was not sufficiently versei in to the excellency of her illustrious son, THE GREAT black-letter lore; and, deficient in poetic taste, ho POET OF NATURE, and to disco ** a solicitude for was unable to accompany our great bard in th:3 the integrity of his works. A w and a more higher fights of his imagination. The public .n perfect edition of them became the demand of the general were not satisfied with his commentary is public; and, to answer it, an edition, under the his text: but to his preface they gave the most un superintendence of Rowe, made its appearance in limited applause. The array and glitter of its 1709. Rowe, however, either forgetting or shrink- words; the regular and pompous march of its peing from the high and laborious duties, which heriods, with its pervading affectation of deep thought had undertaken, selected, most unfortunately, for and of sententious remark, seem to have fascinated his model, the last and the worst of the folio edi- the popular mind; and to have withdrawn from tions; and, without collating either of the first two the common observation its occasional poverty of folios or any of the earlier quartos, he gave to the meaning; the inconsistency of its praise and cen, disappointed public a transcript much tog exact of sure; the falsity in some instances of its critical the impure text which lay opened before him. remarks ; and its defects now and then even with Some of its grosser errors, however, he corrected; respect to composition. It has, however, its merits, and he prefixed to his edition a short memoir of and Heaven forbid that I should not be just 10 tliem. the life of his author ; which, meagre and weakly It gives a right view of the difficulties to be encoun written as it is still constitutes the

most authentic tered by the editor of Shakspeare: it speaks mor biography that we possess of our mighty bard. dostly of himself, and candidly of those who had

On the failure of this edition, after the pause of preceded him in the path which he was tread ng:

it assigns to Pope, Hanmer, and Warburton, those and was content to lose it!” Shakspeare lost tho victims to the rage of the minute critics, their due world! He won it in an age of intellectual giaris proportion of praise: it is honourably just, in short, -the Anakims of mind were then in the land; to all, who come within the scope of its observa- and in what succeeding period has he lost it? But, tions, with the exception of the editor's great au- not to take advantage of an idle frolic of the edithor alone. To him also the editor gives abundant lor's imagination, can the things be which he aspraise; but against it he arrays such a frightful serts ? Can the author, whom he thus degrades, host of censure as to command the field; and to be the man, whom the greater Jonson, of James's leave us to wonder at our admiration of an object reign, hails as, “The pride, the joy, the wonder so little worthy of it, though he has been followed of the age !” 'No! it is impossible! and if we by the admiration of more than two entire centuries. come to a close examination of what our preface But Jolinson was of a detracting and derogating writer has here alleged against his author, of spirit. He looked at mediocrity with kindness : which I have transcribed only a part, we shall but of proud superiority he was impatient; and he find that one half of it is false, and one, some always seemed pleased to bring down the man of thing very like nonsense, disguised in a garb of tin the ethereal soul to the mortal of mere clay. His sel embroidery, and covered, as it moves statelilr Inaxim seems evidently to have been thai, which along, with a cloud of words :was recommended by the Roman poet to his counlrymen,

Infert se septus nebula, mirabile dictu,

Per medios, miscetque viris neque cernitur ulli “ Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos "

To discover the falsity or the inanity of the ideas, In the pre-eminence of intellect, when it was imme- which strut in our editor's sentences against the diately in his view, there was something which ex- fame of his author, we have only to strip them of cited his spleen; and he exulted its abasement. the diction which envelopes them; and then, with In his

page, “Shakspeare, in his comic scenes, is a Shakspeare in our hands, to confront them, in seldom successful when he engages his characters their nakedness, with the truth as it is manifested in reciprocations of smartness and contests of sar- in his page. But we have deviated from our casm : their jests are commonly gross, and their straight path to regard our editor as a critic in his pleasantry licentious. In tragedy, his performance preface, when we ought, perhaps, to consider him seems to be constantly worse as his labour is more. only in his notes, as a commentator to explain the The effusions of passion, which exigence forces out, obscurities; or, as an experimentalist to assay are, for the most part, striking and energetic: but the errors of his author's text. As an unfolder of whenever he solícits' his invention or strains his intricate and perplexed passages, Johnson must faculties, the offspring of his throes is tumour, be allowed to excel. His explanations are alwavs meanness, tediousness, and obscurity! In narra- perspicuous; and his proffered amendments of a tion he affects a disproportionate pomp of diction, corrupt text are sometimes successful. But the and a wearisome train of circumlocution, &c. &c. expectations of the world had been too highly His declamations or set speeches are commonly raised to be satisfied with his performance ; and cold and weak, for his power was the power of it was only to the most exceptionable part of it, Nature! when he endeavoured, like other tragic the mighty preface, that they gave their unmingled writers, to catch opportunities of amplification ; applause.' In the year following the publication of and, instead of inquiring what the occasion demand Johnson's edition, in 1766, George Steevens mado ed, to show how much his stores of knowledge his first appearance as a commentator on Shakcould supply, he seldom escapes without the pity speare; and he showed himself to be deeply conor resentment of his reader ?”. “But the admirers versant with that antiquarian reading, of which his of this great poet have never less reason to indulge predecessor had been too ignorant. In 1768, an their hopes of supreme excellence, than when he edition of Shakspeare was given to the public by seems sully resolved to sink them in dojection, and Capell; a man fondly attached to his author, but mollify them with tender emotions by the fall of much too weak for the weighty task which he ungreatness, the danger of innocence, or the crosses dertook. He had devoted a large portion of his of love. He is not long soft and pathetic without life to the collection of his materials: he was an some idle conceit or contemptible equivocation. He industrious collator, and all the merit, which he no sooner moves than he counteracts himself; and possesses, must be derived from the extent and terror and pity, as they are rising in the mind, are the fidelity of his collations. In 1773 was pub checked and blasted with sudden frigidity !” The lished an edition of our dramatist by the associaegregions editor and critic then proceeds to con- ted labours of Johnson and Steevens ; and this found his author with his last and most serious edition, in which were united the native powers charge, that of an irreclaimable attachment to the of the former, with the activity, the sagaciiy, and offence of verbal conceit. This charge the editor the antiquarian learning of the latter, still forms illustrates and enforces, to excite our attention and the standard edition for the publishers of our Poet. to make an irresistible assault on our assent, with In 1790 Malone entered the lists against them as a variety of figurative and magnificent allusion. a competitor for the editorial palm. After this First, "a quibble is to Shakspeare, what luminous publication, Malone seems to have devoted the vapours (a Will o'tiie wisp) are to travellers : he remaining years of his life to the studies requisite follows it at all adventures : it is sure to lend him out for the illustration of his author; and at his death of his way, and sure to ingulf him in the mire. It he bequeathed the voluminous papers, which he has some malignant power over his mind, and its had prepared, to his and my friend, James Bosfascinations are irresistible," &c. It then becomes well, the younger son of the biographer of John a partridge or a pheasant;, for whatever be the son; and by him these papers were published in dignity or the profundity of his disquisition, &c. &c. twenty octavo volumes, just before the close of let but a quibble spring up before him and he leaves his own valuable life.' That the fund of Shakhis work unfinished.” It next is the golden apple spearian information has been enlarged by this of Atalanta ::-“A quibble is to Shakspeare the publication, cannot reasonably be doubted: that golden apple for which he will always turn aside ihe text of Shakspeare has been injured by it, may from his career, or stoop from his elevation. A confidently be asserted. As my opinion of Maquibble, poor and barren as it is, gave him such lone, as an annotator on Shakspeare, has been delight that he was content to purchase it at the already expressed, it would be superfluous to resacrifice of reason, propriety, and truth ;" and, peat it. His stores of antiquarian knowledge were lastiy, the meteor, the bird of game, and the golden at least equal to those of Steevens : but he was apple are converted into the renowned queen of not equally endowed by Nature with that popular Egypt: for “a quibble is to him (Shakspeare) commentator : Malone's intellect was unquestionthe fatal Cleopatra, for which he lost the worid, I ably of a subordinate class. He could collect and


amass; but he could not combine and arrange. I and their recurrence in cases were their aid seems
Like a weak soldier under heavy armour, he is to be unnecessary. Mr. Singer and I may occa-
oppressed by his means of safely and triumph. sionally differ in our opinions respecting the text,
He sinks beneath his knowledge, and cannot pro- which he has adopted : but, in these instances of
fitably use it. The weakness of his judgment de- our dissent, it is fully as probable that I may be
prived the result of his industry of its proper effect. wrong as he. I feel, in short, confident, on the
He acts on a right principle of criticism: but, ig- whole, that Mr. Singer is now advancing, not 10
norant of its right application, he employs it for claim, (for to claim is inconsistent with his modesty,).
the purposes of error. He was not, in short, but to obtain a high place among the editors of
formed of the costly materials of a critic; and no Shakspeare; and to have his name enrolled with
abour, against the inhibition of Nature, could the names of those who have been the chief bene-
fashion him into a critic. His page is pregnant factors of the reader of our transcendent Poet.
with information : but it is thrown into so many We have now seen, from the first editorial at.
involutions and tangles, that it is lighter labour to tempt of Rowe, a whole century excited by the
work it out of the original quarry than to select it greatness of one man, and sending forth its most
annid the confusion in which it is thus brought to ambitious spirits, from the man of genius down to
your hand. If any copy of indisputable authority the literary mechanic, to tend on him as the vas-
had been in existence, Malone would have produced sals of his royalty, and to illustrate his magnifi
a fac-simile of it, and would thus, indeed, have been cence to the world. Has this excitement had an
an admirable editor of his author, for not a prepo- adequate cause? or has it been only the frenzy of
sition, a copulative, a particle, a comma to be found the times, or a sort of meteorous exhalation from
in his original, would have been out of its place in an idle and over-exuberant soil? Let us examino
his transcript. But no such authentic copy of our great poet, and dramatist, with the eye of im-
Shakspeare could be discovered ; and something partial criticism; and then let the result of our
more than diligence and accuracy was required in examination form the reply to these interrogatories
his editor : and to nothing more than diligence and of doubt.
accuracy could Malone's very humble and circum Shakspeare took his stories from any quarter,
scribed abilities aspire. Attaching, therefore, fic- whence they were offered to him; from Italian
titious authority to some of the earlier copies, he novels;, from histories; from old story-books ;
followed them with conscientious precision ; and, from old plays; and even from old ballads. In oné
disclaiming all emendatory criticism, he rejoiced in instance, and in one alone, no prototype has been
his fidelity to the errors of the first careless or illi- found for his fiction ; and the whole of " The Tem
terate transcriber. He closed the long tile of the pest," from its first moving point to the pleni-
editors of Shakspeare. But although no formaliude of its existence, must be admitted to be the
editor or commentator has hitherto appeared to offspring of his wonderful imagination.* But
supply the place left vacant by Malone, yet does whence soever he drew the first suggestion of his
the importance of our bard continue to excite the story, or whatever might be its original substance,
man of talents to write in his cause, and to refresh he soon converts it into an image of ivory and
the wreath of fame, which has hung for two centu- gold, like that of the Minerva of Phidias ; and then,
ries on his tomb. On this occasion I must adduce beyond the efficacy of the sculptor's art, he breathes
the name of Skottowe, a gentleman who has recently into it the breath of life. This, indeed, is spoken
gratified the public with a life of Shakspeare, invol- only of his tragedies and comedies: for his histories,
ving a variety of matter respecting him, in a style as they were first called, or historical dramas, aró
eminent for its compression and its neatness. To transcripts from the page of Hall or Hollingshead;
Mr. Skottowe I must acknowledge my especial and, in some instances, are his workings on old
obligations, for not infrequently relieving me from plays, and belong to him no otherwise than as he
the prolixities and the perplexities of Malone ; and imparted to them the powerful delineation of cha-
sometimes for giving to me information in a com- racter, or enriched them with some exquisite scenes.
pendious and lucid form, like a jewel set in the These pieces, however, which affect not the com
rich simplicity of gold.

bination of a fable; but, wrought upon the page of
When I speak of Malone as the last of the editors the chronicler or of the elder dramatist, follow tho
of Shakspeare, I speak, of course, with reference current of events, as it flows on in historic succes-
to the time at which I am writing, when no later sion, must be made the first subjects of our re-
editor has shown himself to the world. But when marks ; and we will then pass to those dramas,
I am placed before the awful tribunal of the Public, which are more properly and strictly his own.
a new Editor of our great dramatist will stand by these historical plays, then, whatever may be their
my side: who, whilst I can be only a suppliant for original materials, the power of the Poet'has com-
pardon, may justly be a candidate for praise. With municated irresistible attraction; not, as Samuel
Mr. Singer, the editor in question, I am personally Johnson would wish us to believe, “by being not
inacquainted; and till a period, long subsequent to long soft or pathetic without some idle conceit or
my completion of the little task which I had under- contemptible equivocation :" not “by checking
taken, I had not seen a line of his Shakspearian and blasting terror and pity, as they are rising in
illustrations. But, deeming it right to obtain some the mind, with sudden frigidity," but by the strong.
knowledge of the gentleman, who was bound on est exertions of the highest poetry; and by com-
the same voyage of adventure, in the same vessel manding, with the royalty of genius, every avenue
with myself, I have since read the far greater part to the human heart. For the truth of what we
of his commentary on my author; and it would be assert, we will make our appeal to the frantic and
unjust in me not to say, that I have found much in it soul-piercing lamentations of Constance in “ King
to applaud, and very little to censure. Mr. Singer's John;" to the scene between that monarch and
antiquarian learning is accurate and extensive : his Hubert; and between Hubert and young Arthur ;
critical sagacity is considerable ; and his judgment to the subsequent scene between Hubert and his
generally approves itself to be correct. He enters murderous sovereign, when the effects of the re-
on the field with the strength of a giant; but with ported death of Arthur on the populace are de.
the diffidence and the humility of a child. We scribed, and the murderer quarrels with his agent ;
sometimes wish, indeed, that his humility had been to the scene, finally, in which the king dies, an]
less : for he is apt to defer to inferior men, and to which concludes the play.
be satisfied with following when he is privileged For the evidence of the power of our great Poet
10 lead. His explanations of his author are fre- we might appeal also to many scenes and descriz.
quently happy; and sometimes they illustrate a tions even in “Richard II. ;" though of all h.:
passage, which had been left in unregarded dark- historical dramas this, perhaps, is the least instír::t
ness by the commentators who had preceded him.
The sole fault of these explanatory notes (if such

* Thir, perhaps, may be affirmed also of “A MG indved can be deemed a fault) is their redundancy; I summer Night's Dreamı »


with animation, and the least attractive with dra-1 inimitable effect; and in the minor parts of the exo matic interest. Of “ Richard II.” we may say ecution of the drama, there is nothing among all with Mr. Skollowe, thai," though it is an exquisite the creations of poetry more splendid and terrific poem, it is an indifferent play." But in the drama than the dream of Clarence. But this noble effort which, in its historic order, succeeds to it, we re- of the tragic power is not altogether faultless. ceive an ample compensation for any failure of the Some of its scenes, as not promoung the action of dramatist in “Richard II." In every page of “Henry the drama, are superfluous and even tedious; and, IV.," both the serious and the comic, Shakspeare “is the violation of history, for the purpose of introduo! himself again;" and our fancy is either elevated cing the deposed queen, Margaret, upon țhe stage, or amused without the interruption of a single dis- may reasonably be censured. I am not certain,

cordant or uncharacteristic sentiment. Worcester, however, that I should be satisfied to resign her on | indeed, says,

the requisition of truth. Her curses are thrilling,

and their fulfilment is awful. Shakspeare, as it " And 'tis no little reason bids us speed may be remarked, has accumulated uncommitted To save our heads by raising of a head,"

crimes on the head of the devoted Richard. By

the historian, this monarch is cleared of the deaths and is thus guilty of a quibble; an offence of which of Clarence and of Anne, his wife : to the latter of the Prince, on iwo occasions, shows himself to be whom he is said to have approved himself an affeccapable; once when he sees Falstaff apparently tionate husband; whilst ihe murder of Clarence dead on the field of Shrewsbury; and once when, is imputed to the intrigues of the relations of his on his accession to the throne, he appoints his sister-in-law, the queen. His hand certainly did father's Chief Justice to a continuance in his high not shed the blood of the pious Henry; and even office: and these, as I believe, are the sole in his assassination of the two illegitimate sons of his stances of our Poet's dalliance with his Cleopatra, brother, Edward, is supported by very questionfor whose love he was content to lose the world, able evidence, for there is reason to think that the throughout the whole of the serious parts of this eldest of these young princes walked at his uncle's long and admirable drama.

coronation ; and thai the youngest escaped to The succeeding play of “ Henry V.” bears noble meet his death, under

the name of Perkin Warbeck, testimony to the poetic and the dramatic supremacy from the hand of the first Tudor. But the scene of of Shakspeare: to the former, more especially in Shakspeare has stamped deeper and more indelible its three tine choruses, one of them serving as the deformity on the memory of the last sovereign of prologue to the play, one opening the third act, and the house of York, than all the sycophants of the one describing the night preceeding the battle of Tudors had been able to impress ; or than all that Agincourt: to the latter, in every speech of the the impartiality, and the acute research of the moKing's, and in the far greater part of the remaining dern historian have ever had the power to erase, dialogue, whether it be comic or tragic. “ Henry We are certain that Richard possessed a lawful V.," "however, is sullied with some weak and silly title to the throne which he filled: that he was a scenes; and, on the whole, is certainly inferior in wise and patriotic sovereign: that his death was a dramatic attraction to its illustrious predecessor. calamity to his country, which it surrendered to a But it is a very fine production, and far-far above race of 'usurpers and tyrants, who trampled on its the reach of any other English writer, who has been liberties, and stained its soil with much innocent devoted to the service of the stage.

and rich blood :-to that cold-blooded murderer of "Henry VI.,” that drum and trumpet thing, as and extortioner, Henry VII.-10 that monster of it has happily been called by a man of genius,* who cruelty and lust, his ferocious son: to the sangui ranged himself with the advocates of Shakspeare, I nary and ruthless bigot, Mary: to the despotic and shall not take any notice on the present occasion, unamiable Elizabeth ; the murderess of a suppliant as the three parts of this dramatized history aré queen, of kindred blood, who had tied to her for nothing more than three old plays, corrected by the protection. Such was the result of Bosworth's hand of Shakspeare, and here and there illustrious field, preceded, as it was on the stage of Shakwith the fire-drops which feil from his pen. Though speare, by visions of bliss to Richmond, and by we consider them, therefore, as possessing much visions of terror to Richard. But Shakspeare wrote attraction, and as disclosing Shakspeare in their with all the prejudices of a partisan of the Tudors: outbreaks of fine writing, and in their strong cha- and at a time also when it was still expedient to racteristic portriature, we shall now pass them by to flatter that detestable family. proceed without delay to their dramatic successor, His next task was one of yet greater difficulty :« Richard III.” Of' “ Richard II.," fine as it oc- to smooth down the rugged features of the eighth casionally is in poetry, and rich in sentiment and Henry, and to plant a wreath on the brutal and pathos, we have remarked that, with reference to blood-stained brow of the odious father of Eliza. the other productions of its great author, it was low beth. This task he has admirably executed, and in the scale of merit. In “Richard II.” he found without offering much violation to the truth of hisan insufficient and an unawakening subject for history. He has judiciously limited his scene to that genius, and it acted drowsily, and as if it were half period of the tyrant's reign in which the more dis. asleep: but in the third Richard there was abun- gusting deformities of his character had not yet dant excitement for all its powers; and the victim been revealed—to the death of Catharine, the fall of Tudor malignity and calumny rushes from the of Wolsey, and the birth of Elizabeth: and the scene of our mighty dramatist in all the black effi- crowned savage appears to us only as the generous, ciency of the demoniac tyrani. Besides Sir Tho- the munificeni, the magnanimous monarch, striking mas More's history of Richard of Gloster, our Poet down the proud, and supporting with a strong arm had the assistance, as it seems, of a play upon the the humble and the oppressed. But the whole samo subject, which had been popular before he pathos and power of the scene are devoted to Cabegan his career upon the stage.' Adhering ser-liharine and Wolsey. On these two characters the vilely neither to the historian nor to the old drama-i dramatist has expended all his force; and our pity tist, Shakspeare contented himself with selecting is inseparably attached to them to the last moment from each of them such parts as were suited to his of their lives. They expire, indeed, bedewed with purpose ; and with the materials thus obtained, our tears. Of this, the last of Shakspeare's dracompounded with others supplied by his own inven- matic histories, it may be remarked that it is writ. Lion, he has produced a drama, which cannot be ten in a style different from that of its predeces. read in the closel, or seen in its representation on sors: that it is less interspersed with comic scenes; the stage without the strongest agitation of the that in its serious parts its diction is more stately mind. The character of Richard is drawn with and formal; more elevated and figurative : that its

figures are longer and more consistently sustained : * The late Mr. Maurice Morgann; who wrote an that it is more rich in theatric exhibition, or in the kouen essay on the dramatic character of Falstaff. spectacle, as Aristotle calls it, and by whom it is

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