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We might read, without the cumberous prepo
“ To have him suddenly convéyéd hence, “ Earth gapes, hell burns,” &c.
Something resembling the terrible beauty of this passage, though I think not equal to it, we find in Milton : “ Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round “Environ'd thee; some howld, some yelld, some
shriek’d, “ Some bent at thee their fiery darts.”_ Paradise Regained, Book IV.
B. STRUTT. 453. “ A dream of what thou wast.”—
Right: but presently we find (nineteen lines forward)—
- No more, but thought of what thou
wert.” The error is too common with our best writers, and certainly, without any scruple, should be corrected by editors. 462. “ Cousins, indeed, and by their uncle.
cousin'd.” This jingle was too pleasing not to be repeated on another occasion. See King Henry IV. First Part: "'Twas gentle Harry Percy and kind cousin : “The devil take such cousiners."
ACT V. SCENE III.
505. “ I died for hope, ere I could lend thee
aid.” I believe the meaning is, I died in consequence of adventuring too boldly and prematurely, before I was sufficiently prepared, or strong, to attain the object of my hope, in giving thee effectual aid: 511. “ - If I thrive, the gain of my at
tempt, “The least of you shall share his part
thereof." As this sentence stands in the text, there is an apparent pleonasm in the first part of the compound " thereof;" but it is, like many other passages, a broken or interrupted sentence, where the structure of it, in the speaker's mind, undergoes a change, and ought to be so distinguished :
“If I thrive, the gain of my attempt
" Shall be divided among you,” is the natural sequence of the proposition-but the drift of the speech is suddenly altered, “ If I thrive, the gain of my attempt, “ The least of you shall share his part thereof.”
SCENE IV. 523. “ Well hast thou acquit thee !"
“ Acquit,” for “ acquitted.”
obserh the st, which 7
Doctor Johnson, adverting to the popularity of this play, observes, that " it may, in this instance, have happened to the author to be praised most where praise was not most deserved," and, I believe, few people will dissent from the justness of the remark. But though Richard the Third cannot aspire to a competition with Macbeth, or Othello, I am inclined to think, that, were the dramas of our poet to be formed into classes, three or four, of gradual excellence, this would be entitled to a place at least in the second class. The manner in which the play is generally exhibited on the stage, is, doubtless, as Mr. Steevens observes, upon the whole, judicious, though I cannot commend Cibber for superinducing compunction into the character of Richard. But when Mr. Steevens, applauding the retrenchments that have been made, triumphantly asks what modern audience would patiently listen to the narration of Clarence's dream, I am hurried back to the scene, amazed, and eager to find out whether I myself have not long been in a profound dream about the captivating beauty which I fancied was existing in that description. I really have never been more astonished—not even when I heard the author of a modern tragedy extol a dream which is there introduced, and tell us it was better than this by Shakspeare.
KING HENRY VIII.
There can be little doubt, in my opinion, of Dr. Johnson's being right, in ascribing this prologue, together with the epilogue, to Ben Jonson, whose manner is clearly discernible in both. To this conjecture Dr. Farmer has added, that he thinks he can " now and then” perceive the hand of Ben in the dialogue. It is to be lamented that the Doctor did not produce the instances on which his opinion was formed ; and the omission is the more remarkable, as there seems to have been required less skill and perspicacity than that critic possessed, to ascertain indubitably the interpolations. If strong and peculiar features of style are evidence admissible, I do not hesitate to pronounce, that not only the prologue and epilogue are not of Shakspeare's writing, but that the whole third scene in the first act, and all the third scene of the fifth, are interpolated ; and I assert, with equal confidence, that these interpolations, together with the prologue and epilogue, are not only not Shakspeare's, but positively and bona fide old Ben’s. My argument, which in this instance I hold to be complete, does not rest on a particular phrase, line, or passage, but upon every line and every passage throughout those two scenes; not one part of which has the least resemblance to our poet, but is inalienably Jonson's. With respect to the character of the play itself, I believe there will be found few readers agreeing with Dr. Johnson, while he says that “ the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Catharine,” and that “ every other part may be easily conceived and easily written.” The poet's genius appears to me not more conspicuous, even in those fine scenes which Dr. Johnson justly applauds, than in many other places; in the parts of Cromwell, Griffith, Buckingham, and the whole of Cardinal Wolsey.
4. “Richly in two short hours. Only they."
“Hours,” here, as in other places where it is a dissyllable, should so be printed, according to the old orthography, “hówérs,” or “hcúérs.” 5. “ The opinion that we bring,
“ (To make that only true we now intend.)”
I believe," the opinion that we bring,” means the “ expectation we entertain,” and that " intend” is put, somewhat pedantically, for hold out, display, exhibit,
ACT I. SCENE I.
9. “ How have you done,
"Since last we saw in France ?”
A mode of expression resembling this occurs in Cymbeline, Act l, Scene 5 :
“ We have known together in Orleans :" And in Milton's Lycidas: