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livened imagination, cannot be the language of
anguish or distress.
Otway, fenfible of this, has
painted a scene of diftrefs in colours finely adapted
to the fubject: there is fcarce a figure in it, ex-
cept a fhort and natural fimile with which the
fpeech is introduced. Belvidera talking to her
father of her husband :

Think you faw what paft at our laft parting;
Think you beheld him like a raging lion,
Pacing the earth, and tearing up his steps,
Fate in his eyes, and roaring with the pain
Of burning fury; think you faw his one hand
Fix'd on my throat, while the extended other
Grafp'd a keen threat'ning dagger; oh, 'twas thus
We laft embrac❜d, when, trembling with revenge,
He dragg'd me to the ground, and at my bofom
Presented horrid death; cry'd out, My friends!
Where are my friends? fwore, wept, rag'd, threaten'd,


For he yet lov'd, and that dear love preferv'd me
To this last trial of a father's pity.
I fear not death, but cannot bear a thought

That that dear hand should do th' unfriendly office;
If I was ever then your care, now hear me;
Fly to the fenate, fave the promis'd lives
Of his dear friends, ere mine be made the facrifice.
Venice preferv'd, act 5.

To preserve the forefaid resemblance between words and their meaning, the fentiments of active and hurrying paffions ought to be dreffed in words where fyllables prevail that are pronounced VOL. I. Hh


fhort or faft; for these make an impreffion of hurry and precipitation. Emotions, on the other hand, that reft upon their objects, are best expreffed by words where fyllables prevail that are pronounced long or flow. A perfon affected with melancholy has a languid and flow train of perceptions: the expreffion beft fuited to this ftate of mind, is where words, not only of long, but of many fyllables abound in the composition; and for that reason, nothing can be finer than the following paffage.

In those deep folitudes, and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-penfive Contemplation dwells,
And ever-mufing Melancholy reigns.

Pope, Eloifa to Abelard. To preserve the fame refemblance, another circumstance is requifite, that the language, like the emotion, be rough or fmooth, broken or uniform. Calm and fweet emotions are best expreffed by words that glide foftly: furprise, fear, and other turbulent paffions, require an expreffion both rough and broken.

It cannot have escaped any diligent inquirer into nature, that in the hurry of paffion, one generally expreffes that thing firft which is most at heart *: which is beautifully done in the following paifage,

* Demetrius Phalereus (of Elocution, fect. 28.) juftly observes, that an accurate adjustment of the words to the thought, fo as to make them correfpond in every particular, is only proper for fedate Aubjects; for that paffion speaks plain, and rejects all refinements.


Me, me; adfum qui feci: in me convertite ferrum,
O Rutuli, mea fraus omnis.

Eneid. ix. 427.

Paffion has often the effect of redoubling words, the better to make them exprefs the ftrong conception of the mind. This is finely imitated in the following examples.

Thou fun, faid I, fair light!

And thou enlighten'd earth, fo fresh and gay!

Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains!
And ye that live, and move, fair creatures! tell,
Tell, if ye faw, how came I thus, how here.-
Paradife Loft, b. viii. 273.

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Both have finn'd! but thou

Against God only; I, 'gainst God and thee:
And to the place of judgement will return.
There with my cries importune Heav'n; that all
The fentence, from thy head remov'd, may light
On me, fole cause to thee of all this wo;
Me! Me! only just object of his ire.

Paradife Loft, book x. 930.

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Shakespear is fuperior to all other writers in delineating paffion. It is difficult to fay in what part he most excels, whether in moulding every paffion to peculiarity of character, in discovering the sentiments that proceed from various tones of paffion, or in expreffing properly every different sentiment: he difgufts not his reader with general declamation and unmeaning words, too Hh 2


common in other writers: his fentiments are adjufted, with the greatest propriety, to the peculiar character and circumftances of the speaker; and the propriety is not lefs perfect between his fentiments and his diction. That this is no exaggeration, will be evident to every one of taste, upon comparing Shakespear with other writers, in fimilar paffages. If upon any occafion he fall below himself, it is in thofe fcenes where paffion enters not by endeavouring in this cafe to raife his dialogue above the ftyle of ordinary converfation, he fometimes deviates into intricate thought and obfcure expreffion*: fometimes,

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Of this take the following fpecimen.

They clepe us drunkards, and with fwinish phrafe
Soil our addition; and, indeed it takes

From our atchievements, though perform'd at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.

So, oft it chances in particular men,

That for fome vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty,
Since Nature cannot chufe his origin),

By the o'ergrowth of fome complexion
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reafon;
Or by fome habit, that too much o'er leavens
The form of plaufive manners; that these men
Carrying, I fay, the ftamp of one defect,
(Being Nature's livery, or Fortune's fcar),
Their virtues elfe, be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,
Shall in the general cenfure take corruption
From that particular fault.

Hamlet, act 1. fc. 7.


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to throw his language out of the familiar, he employs rhyme. But may it not in fome measure excufe Shakespear, I fhall not fay his works, that he had no pattern, in his own or in any living language, of dialogue fitted for the theatre ? At the fame time, it ought not to escape observation, that the stream clears in its progrefs, and that in his later plays he has attained the purity and perfection of dialogue; an obfervation that, with greater certainty than tradition, will direct us to arrange his plays in the order of time. This ought to be confidered, by thofe who exaggerate every blemish, that is discovered in the finest genius for the drama ever the world enjoy'd: they ought alfo for their own fake to confider, that it is easier to discover his blemishes, which lie generally at the furface, than his beauties, which cannot be truly relished but by those who dive deep into human nature. One thing must be evident to the meanest capacity, that where-ever paffion is to be difplay'd,, Nature shows itself strong in him, and is confpicuous by the most delicate propriety of fentiment and expreffion *.

*The critics feem not perfectly to comprehend the genius of Shakespear. His plays are defective in the mechanical part, which is lefs the work of genius than of experience; and is not otherwife brought to perfection but by diligently obferving the er. rors of former compofitions. Shakespear excels all the ancients and moderns, in knowledge of human nature, and in unfolding even the most obfcure and refined emotions. This is a rare faculty, and of the greatest importance in a dramatic author; and it is this faculty which makes him furpafs all other writers in well as tragic vein.


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