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Act IV. SCENE viii. (iv. ix. 15-16.)
I brow my beart Against the flint and bardness of my fault. The pathetick of Shakespeare too often ends in the ridiculous. It is painful to find the gloomy dignity of this noble scene destroyed by the intrusion of a conceit so far-fetched and unaffecting. Act V. SCENE V. (v. ü. 242.) The pretty worm of Nilus.
Worm is the Teutonick word for serpent; we have the blind worm and slow worm still in our language, and the Norwegians call an enormous monster, seen sometimes in the Northern ocean, the Sea-worm.
This Play keeps curiosity always busy, and the passions always interested. The continual hurry of the action, the variety of incidents, and the quick succession of one personage to another, call the mind forward without intermission from the first Act to the last. But the power of delighting is derived principally from the frequent changes of the scene ; for, except the feminine arts, some of which are too low, which distinguish Cleopatra, no character is very strongly discriminated. Upton, who did not easily miss what he desired to find, has discovered that the language of Antony is, with great skill and learning, made pompous and superb, according to his real practice. But I think his diction not distinguishable from that of others : the most tumid speech in the Play is that which Cæsar makes to Octavia.
The events, of which the principal are described according to history, are produced without any art of connection or care of disposition.
Act I. SCENE vü. (1. v. 18–24.)
I will try tbe forces
We count not worth the banging, but none buman,
Your Highness Sball from this practice but make bard your beari. There is in this passage nothing that much requires a note, yet I cannot forbear to push it forward into observation. The thought would probably have been more amplified, had our authour lived to be shocked with such experiments as have been published in later times, by a race of men that have practised tortures without pity, and related them without shame, and are yet suffered to erect their heads among human beings.
Cape saxa manu, cape robora, pastor. Act II. SCENE iv. (11. iii. 118-20.) CLOTEN. The contract you pretend with that base wretcb ...
it is no contract, none. Here Shakespeare has not preserved, with his common nicety, the uniformity of character. The speech of Cloten is rough and harsh, but certainly not the talk
Who can't take two from twenty, for his heart,
And leave eighteen. His argument is just and well enforced, and its prevalence is allowed throughout all civil nations : As for rudeness, he seems not to be much undermatched. Act III. SCENE Üï. (11. iii. 35-6.) ARVIRAGUS. What should we speak of
When we are old as you? This dread of an old age, unsupplied with matter for discourse and meditation, is a sentiment natural and noble. No state can be more destitute than that of him who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind. Act III. SCENE Ü. (III. üi. 101.) I stole these babes ;
Shakespeare seems to intend Belarius for a good character, yet he makes him forget the injury which he has done to the young princes, whom he has robbed of a kingdom only to rob their father of heirs.
The latter part of this soliloquy is very inartificial, there being no particular reason why Belarius should now tell to himself what he could not know better by telling it.
Act IV. SCENE iv. (ıv. ii. 105–7.)
The snatches in his voice,
'Twas very Cloten. This is one of our authour's strokes of observation. An abrupt and tumultuous utterance very frequently accompanies a confused and cloudy understanding. Act IV. SCENE V. (sv. ü. 258-81.)
For the obsequies of Fidele, a song was written by my unhappy friend, Mr. William Collins of Chichester, a man of uncommon learning and abilities. I shall give it a place at the end in honour of his memory. Act V. SCENE I. (v. i. i foll.)
POSTHUMOUS. 'rea, bloody cloth, &c. This is a soliloquy of nature, uttered when the effervescence of a mind agitated and perturbed spontaneously and inadvertently discharges itself in words. The speech, throughout all its tenour, if the last conceit be excepted, seems to issue warm from the
heart. He first condemns his own violence ; then
And cancel those cold bonds. This equivocal use of bonds is another instance of our authour's infelicity in pathetick speeches.
This Play has many just sentiments, some natural dialogues, and some pleasing scenes, but they are obtained at the expence of much incongruity.
To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events
any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecillity, upon faults too evident for detection, and too gross for aggravation.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
Act V. SCENE I. (v. i. 23.) Cold palsies.
This catalogue of loathsome maladies ends in the folio at cold palsies. This passage, as it stands, is in the quarto ; the retrenchment was in my opinion judicious.
It may be remarked, though it proves nothing, that, of the few alterations made by Milton in the second edition of his wonderful poem, one was, an enlargement of the enumeration of diseases.
Act V. SCENE vi. (v. üi. 23.)
CASSANDRA. It is the purpose that makes strong the vow.
The mad Prophetess speaks here with all the coolness and judgment of a skilful casuist. The essence of a lawful vow, is a lawful purpose, and the vow of which the end is wrong must not be regarded as cogent.
This Play is more correctly written than most of Shakespeare's compositions, but it is not one of those in which either the extent of his views or elevation of his fancy is fully displayed. As the story abounded with materials, he has exerted little invention ; but he has diversified his characters with great variety, and preserved them with great exactness. His vicious characters sometimes disgust, but cannot corrupt, for both Cressida and Pandarus are detested and contemned. The comick characters seem to have been the favourites of the writer, they are of the superficial kind, and exhibit more of manners than nature, but they are copiously filled and powerfully impressed.
Shakespeare has in his story followed for the greater part the old book of Caxton, which was then very