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expresser of it. His mind and hand went together: and what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, that wee have scarse received from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our province, who onely gather his works, and give them you, to praise him. It is yours that reade him. And there we hope, to your divers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you: for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade him, therefore;

and againe, and againe: And if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him. And so we leave you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides: if you neede them not, you can leade yourselves, and others. And such readers we wish him. JOHN HEMINGE, HENRIE CONDELL.



On William Shakspeare, who died in April, 1616. RENOWNED Spenser, lie a thought more nigh To learned Chaucer; and rare Beaumont, lie A little nearer Spenser, to make room For Shakspeare, in your three-fold, four-fold tomb. To lodge all four in one bed make a shift Until doomsday; for hardly will a fift Betwixt this day and that by fate be slain, For whom your curtains may be drawn again. But if precedency in death doth bar A fourth place in your sacred sepulchre, Under this carved marble of thine own, Sleep, rare tragedian, Shakspeare, sleep alone. Thy unmolested peace, unshared cave, Possess, as lord, not tenant, of thy grave; That unto us and others it may be Honour hereafter to be laid by thee.


To the Memory of my Beloved the Author, Mr William Shakspeare, and what he hath left us. To draw no envy, Shakspeare, on thy name, Am I thus ample to thy book, and fame; While I confess thy writings to be such, As neither man, nor muse, can praise too much; "Tis true, and all men's suffrage: but these ways Were not the paths I meant unto thy praise: For seeliest ignorance on these may light, Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right; Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance; Or crafty malice might pretend this praise, And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise : These are, as some infamous bawd, or whore, Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more? But thou art proof against them; and, indeed, Above the ill fortune of them, or the need: I, therefore, will begin :-Soul of the age, The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage,

My Shakspeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser; or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb;
And art alive still, while thy book doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
That I not mix thee so, my brain excuses;
I mean, with great but disproportion'd muses:
For, if I thought my judgment were of years,
I should commit thee surely with thy peers;
And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine,
Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe's mighty line.
And though thou hadst small Latin, and less Greek,
From thence to honour thee, I would not seek
For names; but call forth thund'ring Æschylus,
Euripides, and Sophocles, to us,

Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordoua dead,
To life again, to hear thy buskin tread
And shake a stage; or, when thy socks were on,
Leave thee alone; for the comparison

Of all that insolent Greece, or haughty Rome,
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britain! thou hast one to show,
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time;
And all the muses still were in their prime,
When like Apollo he came forth to warm
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm.
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines;
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit,
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit:
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all; thy art,
My gentle Shakspeare, must enjoy a part.-
For though the poet's matter nature be,
His art doth give the fashion: and that he,

Who casts to write a living line, must sweat,
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat
Upon the muses' anvil; turn the same,
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame;
Or, for the laurel, he may gain a scorn,—
For a good poet's made, as well as born:

And such wert thou. Look, how the father's face
Lives in his issue; even so the race

Of Shakspeare's mind, and manners, brightly shines
In his well-torned and true-filed lines;

In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
As brandish'd at the eyes of ignorance.
Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were,

To see thee in our waters yet appear;

And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James!
But stay; I see thee in the hemisphere
Advanc'd, and made a constellation there:-
Shine forth, thou star of poets; and with rage,
Or influence, chide, or cheer, the drooping stage;
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourn'd
like night,

And despairs day, but for thy volumes light!


Upon the Lines and Life of the famous Scenick Poet, Master William Shakspeare.

THOSE hands which you so clapp'd, go now and wring, You Britains brave; for done are Shakspeare's days; His days are done that made the dainty plays, Which made the globe of heaven and earth to ring:

Dry'd is that vein, dry'd is the Thespian spring, Turn'd all to tears, and Phoebus clouds his rays; That corpse, that coffin, now bestick those bays, Which crown'd him poet first, then poet's king. If tragedies might any prologue have,

All those he made would scarce make one to this; Where fame, now that he gone is to the grave, (Death's public tiring-house) the Nuntius is:

For, though his line of life went soon about, The life yet of his lines shall never out.


To the Memory of the deceased Author, Master
William Shakspeare.

SHAKSPEARE, at length thy pious fellows give
The world thy works; thy works, by which outly
Thy tomb, thy name must: when that stone is rent,
And time dissolves thy Stratford monument,
Here we alive shall view thee still; this book,
When brass and marble fade, shall make thee look
Fresh to all ages, when posterity

Shall loath what's new, think all is prodigy
That is not Shakspeare's, every line, each verse,
Here shall revive, redeem thee from thy herse,
Nor fire, nor cank'ring age,—as Naso said
Of his, thy wit-fraught book shall once invade :
Nor shall I e'er believe or think thee dead,
Though miss'd, until our bankrout stage be sped
(Impossible) with some new strain to out-do

Passions" of Juliet, and her Romeo ;"
Or till I hear a scene more nobly take,
Than when thy half-sword parlying Romans spake :
Till these, till any of thy volume's rest,
Shall with more fire, more feeling be express'd,
Be sure, our Shakspeare, thou canst never die,
But, crown'd with laurel, live eternally.


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THAT praises are without reason lavished on the dead, and that the honours due only to excellence are paid to antiquity, is a complaint likely to be always continued by those, who, being able to add nothing to truth, hope for eminence from the heresies of paradox; or those, who, being forced by disappointment upon consolatory expedients, are willing to hope from posterity what the present age refuses, and flatter themselves that the regard which is yet denied by envy, will be at last bestowed by time.

Antiquity, like every other quality that attracts the notice of mankind, has undoubtedly votaries that reverence it, not from reason, but from prejudice. Some seem to admire indiscriminately whatever has been long preserved, without considering that time has sometimes co-operated with chance; all perhaps are more willing to honour past than present excellence; and the mind contemplates genius through the shades of age, as the eye surveys the sun through artificial opacity. The great contention of criticism is to find the faults of the moderns, and the beauties of the ancients. While an author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his worst performance; and when he is dead, we rate them by his best.

To works, however, of which the excellence is not absolute and definite, but gradual and comparative; to works, not raised upon principles demonstrative and scientific, but appealing wholly to observation and experience, no other test can be applied than length of duration and continuance of esteem. What mankind have long possessed they have often examined and compared, and if they persist to value the possession, it is because frequent comparisons have confirmed opinion in its favour. As among the works of nature no man can properly call a river deep, or a mountain high, without the knowledge of many mountains, and many rivers; so, in the production of genius, nothing can be styled excellent till it has been compared with other works of the same kind. Demonstration immediately displays its power, and has nothing to hope or fear from the flux of years; but works tentative and experimental must be estimated by their proportion to the general and collective ability of man, as it is discovered in a long succession of endeavours. Of the first building that was raised, it might be with itainty determined that it was round or square;

but whether it was spacious or lofty must have been referred to time. The Pythagorean scale of numbers was at once discovered to be perfect; but the poems of Homer we yet know not to transcend the common limits of human intelligence, but by remarking, that nation after nation, and century after century, has been able to do little more than transpose his incidents, new name his characters, and paraphrase his sentiments.

The reverence due to writings that have long subsisted, arises therefore, not from any credulous confidence in the superior wisdom of past ages, or gloomy persuasion of the degeneracy of mankind, but is the consequence of acknowledged indubitable positions, that what has been longest known has been most considered, and what is most considered is best understood.

The poet, of whose works I have undertaken the revision, may now begin to assume the dignity of an ancient, and claim the privilege of an established fame and prescriptive veneration. He has long outlived his century, the term commonly fixed as the test of literary merit. Whatever advantages he might once derive from personal allusions, local customs, or temporary opinions, have for many years been lost; and every topic of merriment or motive of sorrow, which the modes of artificial life afforded him, now only obscure the scenes which they once illuminated. The effects of favour and competition are at an end; the tradition of his friendships and his enmities has perished; his works support no opinion with arguments, nor supply any faction with invectives; they can neither indulge vanity, nor gratify malignity; but are read without any other reason than the desire of pleasure, and are therefore praised only as pleasure is obtained; yet, thus unassisted by interest or passion, they have passed through variations of taste and changes of manners, and, as they devolved from one generation to another, have received new honours at every transmission.

But because human judgment, though it be gradually gaining upon certainty, never. becomes infallible; and approbation, though long continued, may yet be only the approbation of prejudice or fashion; it is proper to inquire, by what peculiarities of excellence Shakspeare has gained and keut the favour of his countryineu.

the sum of life, it has little operation in the dramas of a poet, who caught his ideas from the living world, and exhibited only what he saw before him. He knew, that any other passion, as it was regular or exorbitant, was a cause of happiness or calamity. Characters thus ample and general were not easily discriminated and preserved, yet perhaps, no poet ever kept his personages more distinct from each other. I will not say with Pope, that every speech may be assigned to the proper speaker, because many speeches there are which have nothing characteristical; but, perhaps, though some may be equally adapted to every person, it will be difficult to find any that can be properly transferred from the present possessor to another claimant. The choice is right, when there is reason for choice.

Nothing can please many, and please long, but | For this, probability is violated, life is misrepresented Just representations of general nature. Particular and language is depraved. But love is only one o manners can be known to few, and therefore few many passions, and as it has no great influence upon only can judge how nearly they are copied. The irregular combinations of fanciful invention may delight awhile, by that novelty of which the common satiety of life sends us all in quest; but the pleasares of sudden wonder are soon exhausted, and the mind can only repose or the stability of truth. Skakspeare is above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life. His characters are not modified by the customs of particular places, unpractised by the rest of the world: by the peculiarities of studies or professions, which can operate but upon small numbers; er by the accidents of transient fashions or temporary opinions: they are the genuine progeny of common humanity, such as the world will always supply, and observation will always find. His persons act and speak by the influence of those general passions and principles by which all minds are agitated, and the whole system of life is continued in motion. In the writings of other poets a character is too often an individual: in those of Shakspeare it is commonly a species.

Other dramatists can only gain attention by hyperbolical or aggravated characters, by fabulous and unexampled excellence or depravity, as the writers of barbarous romances invigorated the reader by a giant and a dwarf; and he that should form his expectations of human affairs from the play, or from the tale, would be equally deceived. Shakspeare It is from this wide extension of design that so has no heroes; his scenes are occupied only by meu, truch instruction is derived. It is this which fills who act and speak as the reader thinks that he should the plays of Shakspeare with practical axioms and himself have spoken or acted on the same occasion: domestic wisdom. It was said of Euripides, that even where the agency is supernatural, the dialogue every verse was a precept; and it may be said of is level with life. Other writers disguise the most Shakspeare, that from his works may be collected a natural passions and most frequent incidents; so system of civil and economical prudence. Yet bis that he who contemplates them in the book will not real power is not shewn in the splendour of parti- know them in the world: Shakspeare approximates calar passages, but by the progress of his fable, and the remote, and familiarizes the wonderful; the the tenour of his dialogue; and he that tries to re-event which he represents will not happen, but if it mmend him by select quotations, will succeed Fke the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen.

were possible, its effects would probably be such as he has assigned; and it may be said, that he has not only shewn human nature as it acts in real exigencies, but as it would be found in trials, to which it cannot be exposed.

This therefore is the praise of Shakspeare, that his drama is the mirror of life; that he who has mazed his imagination, in following the phantoms which other writers raise up before him, may here be cured of his delirious ecstasies, by reading human sentiments in human language; by scenes from which a hermit may estimate the transactions of the world, and a confessor predict the progress of the passions.

It will not easily be imagined how much Shakspeare excels in accommodating his sentiments to real life, but by comparing him with other authors. It was observed of the ancient schools of declamation, that the more diligently they were frequented, the more was the student disqualified for the world, because he found nothing there which he should ever meet in any other place. The same remark may be applied to every stage but that of Shakspeare. The theatre, when it is under any other direction, is peopled by such characters as were never seen, con- His adherence to general nature has exposed him versing in a language which was never heard, upon to the censure of critics, who form their judgments topics which will never arise in the commerce of upon narrower principles. Dennis and Rymer think Bankind. But the dialogue of this author is often his Romans not sufficiently Roman; and Voltaire Bo evidently determined by the incident which pro- censures his kings as not completely royai. Deunis duces it, and is pursued with so much ease and sim-is offended, that Menenius, a senator of Rome, should licity, that it seems scarcely to claim the merit of play the buffoon; and Voltaire perhaps thinks defiction, but to have been gleaned by diligent selec-cency violated when the Danish usurper is repretion out of common conversation, and common oc


Upon every other stage the universal agent is Love, by whose power all good and evil is distributed, and every action quickened or retarded. To bring a lover, a lady, and a rival into the fable; to entangle them in contradictory obligations, perplex them with oppositions of interest, and harass them with violence of desires inconsistent with each other; to make them meet in rapture, and art in agony; to fil their mouths with hyperbolical joy and outrageous sorrow; to distress them as nothing human ever was distressed to deliver them as nothing human ever was delivered, is the business of a modern dramatist

sented as a drunkard. But Shakspeare always makes nature predominate over accident; and if he preserves the essential character, is not very careful of distinctions superinduced and adventitious. His story requires Romans or kings, but he thinks only on men. He knew that Rome, like every other city, had men of all dispositions; and wanting a buffoon, he went into the senate-house for that which the senate-house would certainly have afforded him. He was inclined to shew an usurper and a murderer, not only odious but despicable; he therefore added drunkenness to his other qualities, knowing that kings love wine like other meu, and that wine exerts its natural power upon kings. These are the

petty cavils of petty minds; a poet overlooks the casual distinction of country and condition, as a painter, satisfied with the figure, neglects the drapery. The censure which he has incurred by mixing comic and tragic scenes, as it extends to all his works, deserves more consideration. Let the fact be first stated, and then examined.

thor's works into comedies, histories, and tragedies, seem not to have distinguished the three kinds by any very exact or definite ideas.

An action which ended happily to the principal persons, however serious or distressful through its intermediate incidents, in their opinion constituted a comedy. This idea of a comedy continued long Shakspeare's plays are not in the rigorous and among us, and plays were written, which, by changcritical sense, either tragedies or comedies, but com-ing the catastrophe, were tragedies to-day, and copositions of a distinct kind; exhibiting the real state medies to-morrow. of sublunary nature, which partakes of good and evil, joy and sorrow, mingled with endless variety of proportion and innumerable modes of combination; and expressing the course of the world, in which the loss of one is the gain of another; in which, at the same time, the reveller is hasting to his wine, and the mourner burying his friend; in which the malignity of one is sometimes defeated by the frolic of another; and many mischiefs and many benefits are done and hindered without design.

Tragedy was not in those times a poem of more general dignity or elevation than comedy; it required only a calamitous conclusion, with which the common criticism of that age was satisfied, whatever lighter pleasure it afforded in its progress.

History was a series of actions, with no other than chronological succession, independent on each other, and without any tendency to introduce and regulate the conclusion. It is not always very nicely distinguished from tragedy. There is not much nearer Out of this chaos of mingled purposes and casual-approach to unity of action in the tragedy of Antony ties, the ancient poets, according to the laws which and Cleopatra, than in the history of Richard the custom had prescribed, selected some the crimes of Second. But a history might be continued through men, and some their absurdities: some the momen-many plays; as it had no plan, it had no limits. tous vicissitudes of life, and some the lighter occurrences some the terrors of distress, and some the gaieties of prosperity. Thus rose the two modes of imitation, known by the names of tragedy and comedy, compositions intended to promote different ends by contrary means, and considered as so little allied, that I do not recollect among the Greeks or Romans a single writer who attempted both.

Shakspeare has united the powers of exciting laughter and sorrow, not only in one mind, but in one composition. Almost all his plays are divided between serious and ludicrous characters, and, in the successive evolutions of the design, sometimes produce seriousness and sorrow, and sometimes levity and laughter.

Through all these denominations of the drama, Shakspeare's mode of composition is the same; an interchange of seriousness and merriment, by which the mind is softened at one time, and exhilarated at another. But whatever be his purpose, whether to gladden or depress, or to conduct the story, without vehemence or emotion, through tracts of easy and familiar dialogue, he never fails to attain his purpose; as he commands us, we laugh or mourn, or sit silent with quiet expectation, in tranquillity without indifference.

When Shakspeare's plan is understood, most of the criticisms of Rymer and Voltaire vanish away. The play of Hamlet is opened, without impropriety, by two centinels: Iago bellows at Brabantio's That this is a practice contrary to the rules of window, without injury to the scheme of the play, criticism will be readily allowed; but there is always though in terms which a modern audience would an appeal open from criticism to nature. The end not easily endure; the character of Polonius is seaof writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to in-sonable and useful; and the Gravediggers themselves struct by pleasing. That the mingled drama, may convey all the instruction of tragedy or comedy cannot be denied, because it includes both in its alternations of exhibition, and approaches nearer than either to the appearance of life, by shewing how great machinations and slender designs may promote or obviate one another, and the high and the low co-operate in the general system by unavoidable concatenation,

It is objected, that by this change of scenes the passions are interrupted in their progression, and that the principal event, being not advanced by a due gradation of preparatory incidents, wants at last the power to move, which constitutes the perfection of dramatic poetry. This reasoning is so specious, that it is received as true even by those who in daily experience feel it to be false. The interchanges of mingled scenes seldom fail to produce the intended vicissitudes of passion. Fiction cannot move so much, but that the attention may be easily transferred; and though it must be allowed that pleasing melancholy may be sometimes interrupted by unwelcome levity, yet let it be considered likewise, that melancholy often not pleasing, and that the disturbance of one man may be the relief of another; that different auditors have different habitudes; and that, upon the whole, all pleasure consists in variety.

The players, whe in their edition divided our au

may be heard with applause.

Shakspeare engaged in dramatic poetry with the world open before him; the rules of the ancients were yet known to few; the public judgment was unformed; he had no example of such fame as might force him upon imitation, nor critics of such authority as might restrain his extravagance; he therefore indulged his natural disposition, and his disposition, as Rymer has remarked, led him to comedy. In tragedy he often writes with great appearance of toil and study, what is written at last with little felicity; but in his comic scenes, he seems to produce without labour, what no labour can improve. In tragedy he is always struggling after some occa sion to be comic, but in comedy he seems to repose, or to luxuriate, as in a mode of thinking congenial to his nature. In his tragic scenes there is always something wanting, but his comedy often surpasses expectation or desire. His comedy pleases by the thoughts and the language, and his tragedy for the greater part by incident and action. His tragedy seems to be skill, his comedy to be instinct.

The force of his comic scenes has suffered little diminution from the changes made by a century and a half, in manners or in words. As his personages act upon principles arising from genuine passion, very little modified by particular forms, their plea

sures and vexations are communicable to all times and to all places; they are natural, and therefore

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