Imatges de pÓgina

his fine paffages is equally ftriking. It appears to me that the dramatic requires a different fpecies of criticism from any other poetry. A drama is to be confidered in the light of a living body; regularity of features, grace of limbs, fmoothness and delicacy of complexion, cannot render it perfect, if it is not properly organized within, as well as beautiful in its external structure. Many a character in a play, like a handsome perfon paralytic, is inert, feeble, and totally unfit for its duties and offices, so that its necessary exertions must be supplied by some substitute. The action is carried on much after the manner it is done in epic poetry, by the help of description and narration, and a series of detached parts.

It is unfair to judge fingly of every line, in a work where the merit depends on the result of various operations, and repeated efforts to obtain a particular end. Works without genius are usually regularly dull, and coldly correct, refembling those living characters that want, while



They dream the blank of life along, Senfe to be right, and paffion to be wrong.

Some allowances must be made to those who are more animated and more employed, if in the bustle of great actions, and the exertion of great powers, they fall into fome little errors. The genius of Shakespear is so extenfive and profound, I have reason to fear a greater number of excellencies have escaped my difcernment, than I have fuffered faults to pass without my animadverfion but I hope this weak attempt to vindicate our great dramatic Poet, will excite fome critic able to do him more ample justice. In that confidence I have left untouched many of his pieces, which deferve the protection of more judicious zeal, and fkilful care.

* Dr. Young's Satires.






[ocr errors]





you pretend to fit as high on Olympus as Hercules? Did you kill the Nemean Lion, the Erymanthian boar, the Lernean Serpent, and the Stymphalian Birds? Did Did you destroy Tyrants and Robbers? You value yourself greatly on subduing one ferpent: I did as much as that, while I lay in my cradle.


It is not on account of the serpent, that I boast myself a greater benefactor to Greece than you. Actions fhould be valued by their utility, rather than by their eclat. I taught Greece the art of writing, to which Laws owe their precision and permanency. You fubdued Monsters; I civilized Men. It is from untamed paffions, not from wild beasts, that the greatest evils arise


« AnteriorContinua »