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The only intent which his act did not overtake, was the defilement of Isabel. Of this Angelo was only intentionally guilty.
Angelo's crimes were such, as must sufficiently justify punishment, whether its end be to secure the innow cent from wrong, or to deter guilt by example ; and I believe every reader feels some indignation when he finds him spared. From what extenuation of his crime can Isabel, who yet supposes her brother dead, form any plea in his favour. Since he was good 'till he looked on me, let him not die. I am afraid our Varlet Poet intended to inculcate, that women think ill of nothing that raises the credit of their beauty, and are ready, however virtuous, to pardon any act which they think incited by their own charms.
Act V. SCENE viji. (v. i. 479 foll.)
It is somewhat strange, that Isabel is not made to express either gratitude, wonder or joy at the sight of her brother.
After the pardon of two murderers Lucio might be treated by the good Duke with less harshness; but perhaps the Poet intended to show, what is too often seen, that men easily forgive wrongs which are not committed against themselves.
The novel of Cynthio Giraldi, from which Shakespear is supposed to have borrowed this fable, may be read in Shakespear illustrated, elegantly translated, with remarks which will assist the enquirer to discover how much absurdity Shakespear has admitted or avoided.
I cannot but suspect that some other had new modelled the novel of Cynthio, or written a story which in some particulars resembled it, and that Cinthio was not the authour whom Shakespear immediately followed. The Emperour in Cinthio is named Maximine, the Duke, in Shakespear's enumeration of the persons of the drama, is called Vincentio. This appears a very slight remark; but since the Duke has no name in the play, nor is ever mentioned but by his title, why should he be called Vincentio among the Persons, but because the name was copied from the story, and placed superfluously at the head of the list by the mere habit of transcription? It is therefore likely that there was then a story of Vincentio Duke of Vienna, different from that of Maximine Emperour of the Romans.
Of this play the light or comick part is very natural and pleasing, but the grave scenes, if a few passages be excepted, have more labour than elegance. The plot is rather intricate than artful. The time of the action is indefinite; some time, we know not how much, must have elapsed between the recess of the Duke and the imprisonment of Claudio; for he must have learned the story of Mariana in his disguise, or he delegated
his power to a man already known to be corrupted. The unities of action and place are sufficiently preserved,
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
Act I. SCENE Ü. (1. ii. 48.)
There is the Count Palatine. I am always inclined to believe, that Shakespear has more allusions to particular facts and persons than his readers commonly suppose. The Count here mentioned was, perhaps, Albertus a Lasco, a Polish Palatine, who visited England in our Authour's time, was eagerly caressed, and splendidly entertained, but running in debt, at last stole away, and endeavoured to repair his fortune by enchantment.
Act II. SCENE viii. (11. vii. 78.)
Lei all of his complexion couse me so.
Edition of 1600 has no distribution of acts, but proceeds from the beginning to the end in an unbroken tenour. This play therefore having been probably divided without authority by the publishers of the first folio, lies open to a new regulation if any more commodious division can be proposed. The story is itself so wildly incredible, and the changes of the scene so frequent and capricious, that the probability of action does not deserve much care; yet it may be proper to observe, that, by concluding the second act here, time is given for Bassanio's passage to Belmont.
Act V. SCENE i. (v. i. 32–3.
LORENZO. W bo comes with ber? MESSENGER. None, but a boly bermit, and ber maid. I do not perceive the use of this hermit, of whom nothing is seen or heard afterwards. The Poet had first planned his fable some other way, and inadvertently, when he changed his scheme, retained something of the original design.
Of The MERCHANT of VENICE the stile is even and easy, with few peculiarities of diction, or anomalies of construction. The comick part raises laughter, and the serious fixes expectation. The probability of either one or the other story cannot be maintained. The union of two actions in one event is in this drama eminently happy. Dryden was much pleased with his own address in connecting the two plots of his Spanish Friar, which yet, I believe, the critick will find excelled by this play.
AS YOU LIKE IT.
Act II. SCENE I. (11. i. 12–14.)
Sweet are the uses of Adversity,
Wears yet a precious jewel in bis bead. It was the current opinion in Shakespeare's time, that in the head of an old toad was to be found a stone, or pearl, to which great virtues were ascribed. This stone has been often sought, but nothing has been found more than accidental or perhaps morbid indurations of the skull.
Act II. SCENE viii. (11. vii. 94-6.)
The thorny point
Of smooth civility.
Set down your venerable burtben. Is it not likely that Shakespear had in his mind this line of the Metamorphoses ?
Patremque Fert humerus, venerabile onus Cythereius heros. Act III. SCENE Ü. (. ii. 2.)
Thrice crowned Queen of Night. Alluding to the triple character of Proserpine, Cynthia, and Diana, given by some Mythologists to the same Goddess, and comprised in these memorial lines :
Terret, lustrat, agit, Proserpina, Luna, Diana,
ACT III. SCENE V. (in. č. 136-7.)
Tongues r'u bang on cery tree,
Thai sball civil sayings show. Civil is here used in the same sense as when we say civil wisdom or civil life, in opposition to a solitary state, or to the state of nature. This desart shall not appear unpeopled, for every tree shall teach the maxims or incidents of social life.
Act III. SCENE V. (111. ïi. 150–2.)
I berefore beaven nature charg'd,
Witb all graces wide enlarged. From the picture of Apelles, or the accomplishments of Pandora.
Πανδώρην, ότι πάντει ολύμπια δώματ' έχοντες
Of ev'ry creature's best.—Tempest.
Act III. SCENE V. (111. ii. 156.)
Atalanta's better part. I know not well what could be the better part of Atalanta here ascribed to Rosalind. Of the Atalanta most celebrated, and who therefore must be intended here where she has no epithet of discrimination, the better part seems to have een her heels, and part was so bad that Rosalind would not thank her lover for the comparison. There is a more obscure Atalanta, a Huntress and a Heroine, but of her nothing bad is recorded, and therefore I know not which was