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as all your learned readers know, conducted his pious hero to the infernal regions."
“ I see it now clearly," said I, “and it reconciles me at once to a composition, of which viewed in a serious light, I could not but reprobate the weak and pernicious tendency. It is an admirable piece of ridicule indeed, and I hope will afford a useful lesson, to young, and old ladies too, who mistake the sallies of an uncorrected fancy, for real genius, and the ravings of a conceited brain, for the genuine offspring of a sound judg. ment.—Every sentence now carries with it indubitable marks of ironical bearing—and what I before considered as florid no-meaning,—seeming at first to possess some signification, but becoming less and less intelligible the oftener it was read, now really grows interesting, from the ridicutous light in which it places false taste,-misdirected talents-erroneous systems of education, and all the nauseous spawn of spurious sentiment.”
“ The very epithets of these pretty misses are sickening, “my sculpturally beautiful Clara" - Geraldine with “ diamond eyes and cupidon euris” (cupidon 1 presume is a lap dog) the genius-lit countenance of the intellectual Charlotte, &c. A lady it is true might be serious in these and similar extravagancies, but if she were, I should advise her to look to the fate of the ass, and if she must gratify her real propensities, to avoid committing them to paper, and bray at home.”
“ But are there not some," said I,“ whom this writer really wishes to praise, and who do not come into immediate contact with the main subject of his irony?"
“ I believe there are se said my friend,” but he has indulged his panegyrical propensities to such an excess, that it is a matter of no small difficulty to know, when he means to be sincere, and when otherwise. His praises are heaped with such unqualified adulation, such unsparing extravagance, that the object, if he has either merit or modesty, would prefer an honest censure, from which he might derive some benefit, to an indiscriminating profusion of compliment, which he must know himself not to deserve--- In his parallels he is equally unfortunate---assimilating Mr. Wash ington Irving, to an author with whom he has not the smallest congeniality, One thing however I am bound to reprehend on a different and mucn more serious ground, no wit can excuse the introduction of that which is profane or blasphemous, and in these letters we find instances of both--coming too, most preposterously, from the lips of virgin innocence! will not quote the passages, the intelligent reader will too easily find them.---With respect to Mr. Southey, if serious in his charges, he has been less fortunate in establishing, than in removing them. To disprove these charges he has said nothing to the purpose, because he has une fairly slurred over, or rather studiously concealed, the particular work against which those charges were principally, if not wholly directed.”
When the advocates of Lord Byron shall have succeeded in vindicating Don Juan from those merited animadversions, which have been brought against its baleful tendency, by every reader who takes an interest in the moral character of human society, who respects the laws of man, and who bows with humble veneration to the awful injunctions of his God.---Then let them vaunt their triumphant refutation of the erroneous piety of Mr. Southey; then it will be time enough to set their favorite author at the head of those christian seminaries, from whose intellectual stores, the purity of virgin innocence, shall be able to draw the brightest lessons of
evangelic duty, the happiest illustrations of apostolic virtue.---Then will the panegyrist of this noble bard be entitled to a niche in the temple of fame,---above that of the all enlightened and all enlightening Jeffrey himself---and then---but not until then---let those who live to see it---wind up his ball of praise!
The last letter introduces us to some new, and rather unsuspected faFourites ---Moore the poet, and Kean the player! Here indeed the irony has too thin a diguise to escape detection, even for a moment---you must take notice that this fair lady, whether muse or sybil, poetic or prosaic, prophetess or preacher, is represented as the daughter, of a most reverend and orthodox old pillar of the established church. This being her acknowledged condition, under what possible construction of serious meaning can either the little literary hero, or the little theatrical strutter, claim to be ranked among the distinguished lights of the nineteenth century! The thing is absolutely impossible---a contradiction in terms---a plain and palpable humbug.---For who could have expected to see, emblazoned in the page, and canopied under the rosy bower of female panegyric---Mr. Moore the poet, and Mr. Kean the player! The former no doubt has every claim to the gratitude as well as the admiration of poetical ladies, for whose angelical charms, thinking mortal gallants unworthy of such favour. he has brought down lovers from the regions above. That he was not quite so celestial in his first amatory essays, perhaps no person regrets more than himself, and therefore it is but fair to let him enjoy the incense of this ingenious panegyrist's refined adulation. Of the little theatrical hero, the less that is said the better, especially as his abilities to please the fair, are matters of public record–His panegyrist would have done him more justice in assigning him a different character in the the Moor of Venice- not that of the person who feels the pangs of jealousy himself, but of him who excites them in the unsuspecting breast of his friendOthello is not one of Mr. Kean's shining parts—but every body allows, him to be a capital lago.—How either of those favorites of fame should have happened to attract the peculiar notice of a parson's daughter reading moral lectares to misses in their teens, is not easy to conjecture, unless we adopt the proposed interpretations, and consider the whole as, what if it is not, it ought to be,
We hope old Quiz will not deter our fair correspondent from communicating to oar journal, such addititional papers of her deceased and valued friend, as she may judge proper to publish ; as well for the gratification of her own feelings, as in justice to the memory of Amy Grey. We feel confident, that she who has proved herself so capable of appreciating her virtues and talents, will also be able to vindicate the direction that they took, and the objects on which they were expended.
À maiden dwelt, old iegends say, Beside Loch Lene's mysterious waters, And eye more bright, and heart more gay, Ne'er boasted Earth's most gifted daughters. But shadows o'er her spirit came, Vague fancies fed the mind within ; and love sprung up with fatal Alame. Where all things pure and good had been. Alas! 'twere painful sight to see, Upon the shore of that sweet lake The maiden gazing wistfully, Upon the billows as they break. So clearly pare, and purely bright The first May-morn, before her eyes, With strange wild looks of love and light, Waiting until her chief would rise. Up from the waves he comes to her, O'Donoghue the brave, the gay, So soon to be her worshipper, And bear her as his bride away. Why comes he not? ah, can he prove Faithless! or doth the maid but rave; What could inspire this mystic love, She springs into the yielding wave. Down to the palace, deep beneath The clear blue lake the maid is gone, And the princely chief with a golden wreath, Will place his bride on a royal throne.
No, tho' in sorrows weeds array'd,
REMARKS ON SHAKSPEARE.
On the dramatic works of this incomparable Bard, so much has been written, and so well that it may seem a superfluous, as well as a presumptuous task, to make any addition. In a harvest-field, however, so rich and extensive, there will always be room for gleaners. Dr. Johnson, too, one of his last and best expositors, admits that there is room still for critical ingenuity; and that there are many things dubious, obscure, and erroneous, on which future diligence and lucky conjecture may succeed in throwing light. This candid avowal, if not an encouragement to inferior critics, at least softens the charge of presumption, and renders the attempt to supply acknowledged wants, if not a very hopeful, yet an inoffensive, and by no means illaudable labour. Were genius alone sufficient for the purpose, who could have thought that Mr. Pope's edition would leave any thing undone, or afford room for a successor? yet, though he unquestionably accomplished much, a great deal did remain to be done, of which no small part was performed by laborious diligence, and the cool reflections of common understanding. Shakspeare's utter carelessness about the publication of his works, the licentiousness of the players who probably often altered and mutilated their copies, and the very rude manner in which they were first committed to the press, not only loaded this immortal poet with faults not his own, but have disfigured his text with perplexities never to be disentangled, and errors never to be rectified. Even under the pressure of these multiplied disadvantages, his genius breaks through the surrounding gloom in all the force and freshness of its power, and all the warmth and radiance of its unrivalled imagination; and though he lived in an age of which the language is comparatively barbarous, and whose other literary ornaments have become nearly obsolete, Shakspeare alone maintains his ground—the increasing wonder of each succeeding generation! An illustrator of Shakspeare has therefore the advantage of strong prepossession in favour of the subject on which he writes: this at least will be relished by every reader already prepared to approve and admire; and though the critic may do but little towards the elucidating and explaining the obscurities of the text, yet his endeavours if urged with becoming diffidence and modesty, have a fair chance of being favourably received.
But whatever may remain to succeeding commentators, in the way of removing difficulties affecting the text, the great moralist has left little unoccupied ground in the department either of defence, as regards the irregularities of the mighty dramatist, or of illustration as regards his transcendant beauties. The preface to his edition, is indeed a work of first-rate excellence, equal, if not superior to any thing else that he has written, and far surpassing the efforts of every other competitor in the same field.
One of his positions has been controverted, and I think justly; though possibly the meaning imputed and certainly deducible from his words, is not exactly that which the author meant to convey. They are these," In the writings of other poets, a character is too often an individual; in those of Shakspeare it is commonly a species.” It has been shewed clearly that the reverse of this is in reality the case, and that Shakspeare's characters, instead of representing a particular class or species, are distinct individuals of the class to which they belong. Thus Pistol and Parolles are both brag
garts and cowards, appertaining to a particular class, but in place of being general representatives of that class, they are perfectly distinct and definite individuals of it. Othello's jealousy is very different from that of Leontes, and so of others. It is hard to conceive that this could have escaped the sagacity of the great critic, and we may reasonably suppose that his meaning has been mistaken. By individual, it seems probable that he understood one taken from a certain elass, and not distinguished sufficiently from that class to which he belonged,
1,-a character odd and eccentric rather than one likely to be found in human life; by species, a particular and remarkable cast of character either actually existing, or drawn with so much probability as easily to mark the species of which he is a member. If this interpretation be admitted, the only thing chargeable against Johnson, is a fault of which he is as rarely guilty as most writers,---namely, a want of perspicuity.
There are however, some observations in this preface, with which I do not concur, and which though not noticed by others, that I know of, appear to be pushed to a reprehensible excess. His strictures on Shakspeare's imperfections are not only too severe as well as too general, but capable of being refuted even by his own authority. He fully admits the poet's wonderful power of forming, diversifying and supporting characters, of fascinating the reader's or the spectator's mind, and of keeping the attention for ever ardent and for ever gratified. Of such a writer can it be justly said, “In tragedy his performance seems constantly to be worse, as his labour is more: the effusions of passion which exigence forces out, are for the most part striking and energetic; but whenever he solicits his invention, or strains his faculties, the offspring of his throes is tumor, meanness, tediousness, and obscurity?" It appears hard to conceive how a tragic poet to whom this character was applicable, should ever have attained celebrity, and still more that he should retain it with an increasing reputation, from the end of the sixteenth to the commencement of the nineteenth century. But the Doctor, more studious, in this instance of strong and sounding phrase, than of just and sober criticism, has incidentally invalidated his own judgment by subsequent remarks. Of Othello he observes, comparing it with Addison's tragedy of Cato, “ that it is the vigorous and vivacious offspring of observation impregnated by genias." This is justly and happily expressed, and of course, this subject of commendation ought to have been excepted from the condemned tragedies, for it will hardly be said that the author of this noble drama neither solicited his invention, nor strained or exerted his mental faculties. I apprehend he did both, and certainly without producing“ tumor, meanness, tediousness and obscurity.” It will also, I suppose, be admitted that there are other exceptions, for the admirers of Shakspeare will not easily submit to so unfavourable a judgment on Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, &c. &c. In truth I am disposed to think that the critic's censure would more justly fall on those passages in which the poet did not solicit his invention, and, to use a phrase lately in disrepute,“ exert the energies” of his poetic imagination. Where the occasion did not call for those powers, where there was no striking passion to be displayed, no deep feeling to be developed, he is often languid and obscure, but as Dryden more happily expresses it, “he is always great when some great occasion is presented to him; no man can say he ever had a subject fit for his wit (genius), and did not then raise himself as high above other poets,
quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.”