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instance but in one, to shew the copiousness of his invention ; it is that of Caliban, or the Monster, in The TEMPEST. He seems there to have created a person which was not in nature, a boldness which at first sight would appear intolerable ; for he makes him a species of himself,
injury to call them by so distant a name as copies of her. Those of other poets have a constant resemblance, which shews that they received them from one another, and were but multipliers of the same image : each picture, like a mock-rainbow, is but the reflexion of a reflexion. But every single character in Shakspeare is as much an indi. vidual as those in life itself: it is impossible to find any two alike; and such as from their relation or affinity in any respect appear most to be twins, will, upon com. parison, be found remarkably distinct. To this life and variety of character, we must add the wonderful preservation of it; which is such throughout his plays, that, had all the speeches been printed without the very names of the persons, I believe one might have applied them with certainty to every speaker."
If this last observation should be thought exaggerated praise, enough will yet remain in the passage here quoted, to shew that our author's amended opinion is perfectly just, and his former censure altogether groundless. " I will not” (says Dr. Johnson) “ 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.”
begotten by an incubus on a witch; but this, as I have elsewhere proved,” is not wholly beyond the bounds of credibility, at least the vulgar still believe it. We have the separated notions of a spirit, and of a witch; (and spirits, according to Plato, are vested with a subtile body; according to some of his followers, have different sexes ;) therefore, as from the distinct apprehensions of a horse and of a man, imagination has formed a centaur, ŠO from those of an incubus and a sorceress, Shakspeare has produced his monster. Whether or no his generation can be defended, I leave to philosophy ; but of this I am certain,--that the poet has most judiciously furnished him with a person, a language, and a character, which will suit him, both by father's and mother's side: he has all the discontents and malice of a witch, and of a devil, besides a convenient proportion of the deadly sins; gluttony, sloth, and lust, are manifest: the dejectedness of a slave is likewise given him, and the ignorance of one bred up in a desert island. His person is monstrous, as he is the product of unnatural lust; and his language is as hobgoblin as his person : in all things he is distinguished from other mortals.---The characters of Fletcher are poor and narrow, in comparison of Shakspeare's; I remember not one which is not borrowed from him, unless you will except that strange mixture of a man in THE KING AND NO
? See the Essay on Heroick Plays, p. 216,
KING: so that in this part Shakspeare is generally worth our imitation; and to imitate Fletcher is but to copy after him who was a copier.
Under this general head of manners the passions are naturally included, as belonging to the characters. I speak not of pity and of terrour, which are to be moved in the audience by the plot; but of anger, hatred, love, ambition, jealousy, revenge, &c. as they are shewn in this or that person of the play. To describe these naturally, and to move them artfully, is one of the greatest commendations which can be given to a poet : to write pathetically, says Longinus, cannot proceed but from a lofty genius. A poet must be born with this quality; yet, unless he help himself by an acquired knowledge of the passions, what they are in their own nature, and by what springs they are to be moved, he will be subject either to raise them where they ought not be raised, or not to raise them by the just degrees of nature, or to amplify them beyond the natural bounds, or not to observe the crisis and turns of them in their cooling and decay; all which errours proceed from want of judgment in the poet, and from being unskilled in the principles of moral philosophy. Nothing is more frequent in a fanciful writer, than to foil himself by not managing his strength : therefore, as in a wrestler, there is first required some measure of force, a well-knit body, and active limbs, without which all instruction would be vain, yet, these being granted, if he want the skill which is
necessary to a wrestler, he shall make but small advantage of his natural robustuousness ; so, in a poet, his inborn vehemence and force of spirit will only run him out of breath the sooner, if it be not supported by the help of art. The roar of passion, indeed, may please an audience, three parts of which are ignorant enough to think all is moving which is noise, and it may stretch the lungs of an ambitious actor, who will die upon the spot for a thundering clap; but it will move no other passion than indignation and contempt from judicious men. Longinus, whom I have hitherto followed, continues thus : if the passions be artfully employed, the discourse becomes vehement and lofty ; if otherwise, there is nothing more ridiculous than a great passion out of season. And to this purpose he animadverts severely upon Æschylus, who writ nothing in cold blood, but was always in a rapture, and in fury with his audience; the inspiration was still upon him, he was ever tearing it upon the tripos ; or, (to run off as madly as he does, from one similitude to another, he was always at high flood of passion, even in the dead ebb and lowest water-mark of the scene. He who would raise the passion of a judicious audience, says a learned critick, must be sure to take his hearers along with him ; if they be in a calm, it is in vain for him to be in a huff; he must move them by degrees, and kindle with them, otherwise he will be in danger of setting his own heap of stubble on a fire, and of burning
out by himself without warming the company that stand about him. They who would justify the madness of poetry from the authority of Aristotle, have mistaken the text, and consequently the interpretation : I imagine it to be false read, where he says of poetry, that it is supušs povext, that it had always somewhat in it either of a genius, or of a madman. It is more probable that the original ran thus, that poetry was su Curs 8 manns, that it belongs to a witty man, but not to a madman.* Thus then the passions, as they are considered simply and in themselves, suffer violence when they are perpetually maintained at the same height ; for what melody can be made on that instrument, all whose strings are screwed up at first to their utmost stretch, and to the same sound ? But this is not the worst ; for the characters likewise bear a part in the general calamity, if you consider the passions as embodied in them : for it follows of necessity, that no man can be distinguished from another by his discourse, when every man is ranting, swaggering, and exclaiming with the same excess, as if it were the only business of all the characters to contend with each other for the prize at Billingsgate, or that the scene of the tragedy lay in Bedlam. Suppose the
* Mr. Tyrwhitt (Aristot. de Poeticâ, p. 184, Oxon. 1794), thinks the original the true reading; and that n here means rather than. His interpretation is ". poetica ingeniosi est hominis opus magis quam insani, (ellipsi scilicet TH MANAON Atticis scriptoribus satis usitata.")