Imatges de pÓgina

OCT. Do so, good Messala 1.

MES. How died my master, Strato?

STRA. I held the sword, and he did run on it. MES. Octavius, then take him to follow thee, That did the latest service to my master.

ANT. This was the noblest Roman of them all: All the conspirators, save only he 2,

Did that they did in envy of great Cæsar;
He, only, in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle; and the elements

So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up,
And say to all the world, This was a man3!

I Do so, Messala.] Old copy, neglecting the metre-“ Do so, good Messala." STEEVENS.


save only he, &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "For it was sayd that Antonius spake it openly diuers tymes, that he thought, that of all them that had slayne Cæsar, there was none but Brutus only that was moued to do it, as thinking the acte commendable of it selfe: but that all the other conspirators did conspire his death, for some priuate malice or enuy, that they otherwise did beare vnto him." STEEVENS.

[blocks in formation]

So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up,

And say to all the world, This was a man!] So, in The Barons' Wars, by Drayton, canto iii. :

"He was a man (then boldly dare to say)

"In whose rich soul the virtues well did suit ;

"In whom so mix'd the elements all lay,

"That none to one could sov'reignty impute;
"As all did govern, so did all obey:
"He of a temper was so absolute,

"As that it seem'd, when nature him began,

"She meant to show all that might be in man.” This poem was published in the year 1598. The play of our author did not appear before 1623. STEEVENS.

Drayton originally published his poem on the subject of The Barons' Wars, under the title of Mortimeriados, the lamentable Civil Warres of Edward the Second and the Barrons: Printed by J. R. for Humphrey Lownes, and are to be solde at his shop at the west end of Paules Church. It is in seven-line stanzas, and was, I believe, published before 1598. The quarto copy before me has no date. But he afterwards new-modelled the piece entirely, and

OCT. According to his virtue let us use him,
With all respect, and rites of burial.
Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie,
Most like a soldier, order'd honourably.-
So, call the field to rest: and let's away,

To part the glories of this happy day. [Exeunt1.

threw it into stanzas of eight lines, making some retrenchments and many additions and alterations throughout. An edition of his poems was published in 8vo. in 1602; but it did not contain The Barons' Wars in any form. They first appeared with that name in the edition of 1608, in the preface to which he speaks of the change of his title, and of his having new-modelled his poem. There, the stanza quoted by Mr. Steevens appears thus:

"Such one he was, (of him we boldly say,)

"In whose rich soule all soveraigne powres did sute,
"In whom in peace the elements all lay

"So mixt, as none could soveraigntie impute;

"As all did govern, yet all did obey;

"His lively temper was so absolute,

"That 't seem'd, when heaven his modell first began,
"In him it show'd perfection in a man."

In the same form is this stanza exhibited in an edition of Drayton's pieces, printed in 8vo. 1610, and in that of 1613. The lines quoted by Mr. Steevens are from the edition in folio printed in 1619, after Shakspeare's death. In the original poem, entitled Mortimeriados, there is no trace of this stanza; so that I am inclined to think that Drayton was the copyist, as his verses originally stood. In the altered stanza he certainly was. He perhaps had seen this play when it was first exhibited, and perhaps between 1613 and 1619 had perused the MS.

But after all it is not improbable that both poets were indebted to Ben Jonson, who has this passage in Cynthia's Revells, acted in 1600, and printed in 1601, Act II. Sc. III. [Vol. ii. p. 266, Gifford's edit.] "A creature of a most perfect and divine temper : one in whom the humours and elements are peaceably met without emulation of precedency." MALONE.

4 Of this tragedy many particular passages deserve regard, and the contention and reconcilement of Brutus and Cassius is universally celebrated; but I have never been strongly agitated in perusing it, and think it somewhat cold and unaffecting, compared with some other of Shakspeare's plays : his adherence to the real story, and to Roman manners, seem to have impeded the natural vigour of his genius. JOHNSON.

Gildon has justly observed, that this tragedy ought to have

been called Marcus Brutus, Cæsar being a very inconsiderable personage in the scene, and being killed in the third Act.



* *The substance of Dr. Warburton's long and erroneous comment on a passage in the second Act of this play: "The genius and the mortal instruments," &c. (see p. 37, n. 7,) is contained in a letter written by him in the year 1726-7, of which the first notice was given to the publick in the following note on Dr. Akenside's Ode to Mr. Edwards, which has, I know not why, been omitted in the late editions of that poet's works :


During Mr. Pope's war with Theobald, Concanen, and the rest of their tribe, Mr. Warburton, the present lord bishop of Gloucester, did with great zeal cultivate their friendship; having been introduced, forsooth, at the meetings of that respectable confederacy: a favour which he afterwards spoke of in very high terms of complacency and thankfulness. At the same time, in his intercourse with them he treated Mr. Pope in a most contemptuous manner, and as a writer without genius. Of the truth of these assertions his lordship can have no doubt, if he recollects his own correspondence with Concanen; a part of which is still in being, and will probably be remembered as long as any of this prelate's writings."

If the letter here alluded to, contained any thing that might affect the moral character of the writer, tenderness for the dead would forbid its publication. But that not being the case, and the learned prelate being now beyond the reach of criticism, there is no reason why this literary curiosity should be longer withheld from the publick:


Duncan is in his grave;

"After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;

"Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
"Malice domestick, foreign levy, nothing

"Can touch him further."



"Dear Sir,

Having had no more regard for those papers which I spoke of and promis'd to Mr. Theobald, than just what they deserv'd, I in vain sought for them thro' a number of loose papers that had the same kind of abortive birth. I used to make it one good part. of my amusement in reading the English poets, those of them I mean whose vein flows regularly and constantly, as well as clearly, to trace them to their sources; and observe what oar, as well as what slime and gravel they brought down with them. Dryden I observe borrows for want of leisure, and Pope for want of genius:

Milton out of pride, and Addison out of modesty. And now I speak of this latter, that you and Mr. Theobald may see of what kind these idle collections are, and likewise to give you my notion of what we may safely pronounce an imitation, for it is not I presume the same train of ideas that follow in the same description of an ancient and a modern, where nature when attended to, always supplys the same stores, which will autorise us to pronounce the latter an imitation, for the most judicious of all poets, Terence, has observed of his own science Nihil est dictum, quod non sit dictum prius: For these reasons I say I give myselfe the pleasure of setting down some imitations I observed in the Cato of Addison.

Addison. "A day, an hour of virtuous liberty


"Is worth a whole eternity in bondage." Act II. Sc. I. Quod si immortalitas consequeretur præsentis periculi fugam, tamen eo magis ea fugienda esse videretur, quo diuturnior esset servitus. Philipp. Or. 10.

Addison. "Bid him disband his legions


"Restore the commonwealth to liberty
"Submit his actions to the publick censure,
"And stand the judgement of a Roman senate,
Bid him do this and Cato is his friend."


Pacem vult? arma deponat, roget, deprecetur.
Neminem equiorem reperiet quam me. Philipp. 5".
But what is life?

Addison. "


""Tis not to stalk about and draw fresh air

"From time to time

""Tis to be free.

When liberty is gone,

"Life grows insipid and hast lost its relish." Sc. III. Non enim in spiritu vita est: sed ea nulla est omnino servienti. Philipp. 10a.

Addison. "Remember O my friends the laws the rights "The gen'rous plan of power deliver'd down "From age to age by your renown'd forefathers. "O never let it perish in your hands." Act III. Sc. V. Hanc [libertatem scilt] retinete, quæso, Quirites, quam vobis, tanquam hereditatem, majores nostri reliquerunt. Philipp. 4a.


Addison. "The mistress of the world, the seat of empire, "The nurse of Heros the Delight of Gods."


Roma domus virtutis, imperii dignitatis, domicilium gloriæ, lux orbis terrarum, de oratore.

"The first half of the 5 Sc. 3 Act, is nothing but a transcript

from the 9 book of lucan between the 300 and the 700 line. You see by this specimen the exactness of Mr. Addison's judgment who wanting sentiments worthy the Roman Cato sought for them in Tully and Lucan. When he wou'd give his subject those terrible graces which Dion. Hallicar: complains he could find no where but in Homer, he takes the assistance of our Shakspeare, who in his Julius Cæsar has painted the conspirators with a pomp and terrour that perfectly astonishes. hear our British Homer. Between the acting of a dreadful thing "And the first motion, all the Int'rim is "Like a phantasma or a hideous dream, "The genius and the mortal Instruments "Are then in council, and the state of Man "like to a little Kingdom, suffers then "The nature of an insurrection."


Mr. Addison has thus imitated it :



O think what anxious moments pass between The birth of plots, and their last fatal periods "O'tis a dreadful interval of time,

"Filled up with horror all, & big with death."

I have two things to observe on this imitation. 1. the decorum this exact Mr. of propriety has observed. In the Conspiracy of Shakespear's description, the fortunes of Cæsar and the roman Empire were concerned. And the magnificent circumstances of "The genius and the mortal instruments

"Are then in council."

is exactly proportioned to the dignity of the subject. But this would have been too great an apparatus to the desertion of Syphax and the rape of Sempronius, and therefore Mr. Addison omits it. II. The other thing more worthy our notice is, that Mr. A. was so greatly moved and affected with the pomp of Sh: description, that instead of copying his author's sentiments, he has before he was aware given us only the marks of his own impressions on the reading him. For,

"O'tis a dreadful interval of time

"Filled up with horror all, and big with death.” are but the affections raised by such lively images as these all the Int'rim is

[ocr errors]

"Like a phantasma or a hideous dream.


"The state of man-like to a little kingdom suffers then "The nature of an insurrection."

Again when Mr. Addison would paint the softer passions he has recourse to Lee who certainly had a peculiar genius that way. Thus his Juba

"True she is fair. O how divinely fair!"

coldly imitates Lee in his Alex:

"Then he wou'd talk: Good Gods how he wou'd talk!"

« AnteriorContinua »