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in, and meet for a princess descended from the race please, its strong and spirited delineation has not been o many noble kings. She said no more, but fell down sufficiently observed. It is, indeed, only a poetic origj. ed hard by the bed. Some report that this aspic was nality: the type was in the courtesan of common lite; pught unto her in the basket with figs, and that she | but the resemblance is that of Michael Angelo's Sybils 1 commanded them to hide it under the fig-leaves, in a muscular woman. In this tragedy, the events that at when she should think to take ont the figs the aspic do not pass on the stage are scarcely made clear enough ould bite her before she should see her. How beit, to one who is not previously acquainted with history; at, when she should have taken away the leaves from and some of the persons appear and vanish again without e figs, she perceived it, and said, Art thou here then? sufficient cause. He has, in fact, copied Plutarch too nd so, her arm being naked, she put it to the aspic to exactly:-Hallam.
bitten. Other say again she kept it in a box, and at she did prick and thrust it with a spindle of gold, To these cold criticisms, yet not wholly unjust, of • that the aspic, being angered withal, leapt out with these two great names, we may put in contrast the more reat fury, and bit her in the arm.—North's Plutarch. fervid sympathy of Coleridge, of Campbell, and of
Scott:“ Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness,” etc. “Shakespeare can be complimented only by compari
It has been already observed, that the parts of females son with himself: all other eulogies are either beterorere played by boys on our ancient stage. Nash, in his geneous, as when they are in reference to Spenser or
Pierce Pennilesse," makes it a subject of exultation Milton; or they are flat truisms, as when he is gravely qat “our players are not as the players beyond sea, preferred to Corneille, Racine, or even his own immehat have whores and common courtesans to play wo- diate successors, Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger and nen's parts." To obviate the impropriety of men rep- the rest. The highest praise, or rather form of praise, esenting women, T. Goff, in his tragedy of the “ Raging of this play, which I can offer in my own mind, is the Curk,” (1631,) has no female character.
doubt which the perusal always occasions in me, The fulfilment of the prophecy was not confined to whether the ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA is not, in all exhe English stage, for the history of the French theatre hibitions of a giant power in its strength and vigour of informs us that, in the “ Cleopatra" of Jodelle, one of maturity, a formidable rival of MACBETH, LEAR, HAMthe earliest French tragedies, the part of the heroine LET, and OTHELLO: Feliciter audar is the motto for its was performed by the author, who was fortunately style comparatively with that of Shakespeare's other young and boyish in appearance.
works, even as it is the general motto of all his works
compared with those of other poets. Be it remembered. " — Sirran, Iras, go”—“Sirrah” was not anciently an appellation either reproachful or injurious; being sentative and result of all the material excellencies so
too, that this happy valiancy of style is but the repreapplied, with a sort of playful kindness, to children,
expressed. friends, and servants, and what may seem more extra
** This play should be perused in mental contrast with ordinary, as in the present case, to women. It is noth
Romeo And Juliet;-as the love of passion and appe. ing more than the exclamation, Sir ha! and we some
tite opposed to the love of affection and instinct. But times find it in its primitive form, “A syr a, there said you wel." (Confutation of Nicholas Shaxton, 1546.)
the art displayed in the character of Cleopatra is pro
found; in this, especially, that the sense of criminality The Heus tu of Plautus is rendered by an old translator,
in her passion is lessened by our insight into its depila Ha Sirra. In Beaumont and Fletcher's “Knight of
and energy, at the very moment that we cannot but per: Malta," one gentlewoman says to another, “ Sirrah, why dost thou not marry ?"
ceive that the passion itself springs out of the habitual
craving of a licentious nature, and that it is supported “ In this wild world"-Stevens and Dyce think that and reinforced by voluntary stimulus and sought-for the original word was vild, the old orthography for vile;
associations, instead of blossoming out of spontaneous and the misprint is one often found in the old dramatists.
emotions. Many modern editions have “vide world,” which is
“Of all Shakespeare's historical plays, ANTONY AND clearly wrong.
CLEOPATRA is by far the most wonderful. There is no one in which he has followed history so minutely, and
yet there are few in which he impresses the notion This play keeps curiosity always busy, and the pas- of angelic strength so much ;—perhaps none in which sions always interested. The continual hurry of the ac- he impresses it more strongly. This is greatly owing to tion, the variety of incidents, and the quick succession the manner in which the fiery force is sustained throughof one personage to another, call the mind forward with
out, and to the numerous momentary flashes of nature ont intermission from the first act to the last. But the counteracting the historic abstraction. As a wonderful power of delighting is derived principally from the fre- specimen of the way in which Shakespeare lives up to quent changes of the scene; for, except the feminine the very end of this play, read the last part of the conarts, some of which are too low, which distinguish Cleo- cluding scene. And if you would feel the judgment as patra, no character is very strongly discriminated. Up- well as the genius of Shakespeare in your heart's core. ton, who did not easily miss what he desired to find, compare this astonishing drama with Dryden's All for has discovered that the language of Antony is, with Love.”—COLERIDGE. great skill and learning, made pompous and superb, according to his real practice. But I think his diction not "If I were to select any historical play of Shakespeare, distinguishable from that of others. The most tumid in which he has combined an almost literal fidelity to speech in the play is that which Cæsar makes to Octavia. | history with an equal faithful adherence to the truth of The events, of which the principal are described accord- nature, and in which he superinduces the merit of skiling to history, are produced without any sort of connec- ful dramatic management, it would be the above play: tion or care of disposition.—Johnson.
In his portraiture of Antony there is, perhaps, a flattered
likeness of the original by Plutarch; but the similitude ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA does not furnish, perhaps, loses little of its strength by Shakespeare's softening and so many striking beauties as Julius CÆSAR, but is at keeping in the shade his traits of cruelty. In Cleopaleast eqnally redolent of the genius of Shakespeare. tra, we can discern nothing materially different from Antony, indeed, was given him by history, and he has the vouched historical sorceress ; she nevertheless has a but embodied, in his own vivid colours, the irregular more vivid meteoric and versatile play of enchantment mind of the Triumvir, ambitious and daring against all in Shakespeare's likeness of her, than in a dozen of enemies but himself. In Cleopatra he had less to guide other poetical copies in which the artists took much him; she is another incarnation of the same passions, greater liberties with historical truth :-he paints her more lawless and insensible to reason, as they are found as if the gipsy herself had cast her spell over him, and in women. This character being not one that can given her own witchcraft to his pencil.
" At the same time, playfully interesting to our fancy as he makes this enchantress, he keeps us far from a vi. cious sympathy. The asp at her bosom, that lulls its nurse asleep, has no poison for our morality. A single glance at the devoted and dignified Octavia recalis our homage to virtue ; but with delicate skill he withholds t!le purer woman from prominent contact with the wanwon qneen, and does not, like Dryden, bring the two to u scolding match. The latter poet's “ All for Love" was regarded by himself as his inaster-piece, and is by no means devoid of merit; but so inferior is it to the prior drama, as to inake it disgraceful to British taste for one hundred years that the former absolutely banished the latter from the stage. A French critic calls Great Britain the island of Shakespeare's idolaters; yet so it happens, in this same island, that Dryden's “All for Love' has been acted ten times oftener than Shake. speare's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
Dryden's Marc Antony is a weak voluptuary from first to last. Not a sentence of manly virtue is ever m'lered by him that seems to come from himself; and wlienever he expresses a moral feeling, it appears not to have grown up in liis own nature, but to have been planted there by the intluence of his friend Ventidius, like a flower in a child's garden, only to wither and take no root. Shakespeare's Antony is a very different being. When he hears of the death of his first wife, Fulvia, his exclamation, • There's a great spirit gone!' and his reflections on his own enthralment by Cleopatra, mark the residue of a noble mind. A queen, a siren, a Shakespeare's Cleopatra alone could have entangled Mark Antony, while an ordinary wanton could have enslaved Dryden's hero."-T. CAMPBELL.
Walter Scott, in his edition of Dryden's works, has drawn an adinirable critical parallel between this play and the scarcely less splendid drama of “ All for Love," written by Dryden, in professed imitation, as he himself says, of ..
the divine Shakespeare;” which, that he ** might perform more freely, he disencumbered himself from rhyme," which he had hitherto, in conformity to the taste of his age, borrowed from France, considered indispensable to heroic dialogue. As the criticism is only to be found in Scott's edition of Dryden's complete works, which has never been reprinted in the United States, many of the readers of this edition will be gratified by finding it inserted here :
The first point of comparison is the general conduct, or plot, of the tragedy. And here Dryden, having, to use his own language, undertaken to shoot in the bow of Ulysses, imitates the wily Antinous in using art to eke out his strength, and suppling the weapon before he attempted to bend it.
"Shakespeare, with the license peculiar to his age and character, had diffused the action of his play over Italy, Greece, and Egypt; but Dryden, who was well aware of the advantage to be derived from a simplicity and concentration of plot, has laid every scene in the city of Alexandria. By this he guarded the audience froin that vague and puzzling distraction which must necessarily attend a violent change of place. It is a mistake to suppose, that the argument in favour of the unities depends upon preserving the deception of the scene; they are necessarily connected with intelligibility of the piece. It may be true, that no spectator supposes that the stage before him is actually the court of Alexandria; yet, when he has once made up his mind to let it pass as such during the representation, it is a cruel tax, not merely on his imagination, but on his powers of comprehension, if the scene be suddenly transferred to a distant country. Time is lost before he can form new associations, aud reconcile their bearings with tiuso originally presented to him; and if he be a person of slow comprehension, or happens to lose any part of the dialogue, announcing the changes, the whole becomes unintelligible confusion. In this respect, and in discarding a number of uninteresting characters, the plau of Dryden's play must be unequivocally preferred to that of Shakespeare in point of coherence, unity, and
simplicity. It is a natural consequence of this more ful arrangement of the story, that Dryden contras! self with the concluding scene of Autony's histerstead of introducing the incidents of the war with: Pompey, the negotiation with Lepidus, death att wife, and other circumstances, which, in Shakese only tend to distract our attention from the main rest of the drama. The union of time, as neces that of place to the intelligibility of the drame, te like manner, been happily attained; and an intens event is placed before the audience with no other the of place, and no greater lapse of time, than can bera ly adapted to an ordinary imagination.
“ But, having given Dryden the praise of superi dress in managing the story, I fear he must be r nounced in most other respects inferior to his a prototype. Antony, the principal character in the plays, is incomparably grander in that of Shakers The majesty and generosity of the military hero sh pily expressed by both poets; but the awful hor grandeur, undermined by passion, and totteriaz to fall, is far more striking in the Antony of Shakesan Love, it is true, is the predominant, but it is not the se ingredient in his character. It has usurped posti of his mind, but is assailed by his original passions, 13 bition of power, and thirst for military fame. He a therefore, often, and it shonld seem naturally ? sented, us feeling for the downfall of his ele a power, even so intensely as to withdraw his that from Cleopatra, unless considered as the canse o mnin. Thus, in the scene in which he compares hind to black vesper's pageants,' he runs on in a traag fantastic and melancholy similes, having rela:ion only: his fallen te, till the mention of Egypt suddenly calls the idea of Cleopatra. But Drydeu has taka: different view of Antony's character, and more cises approaching to his title of “All for Love.' • Head not now that awful Antony.' His whole thonghits su. being are dedicated to his fatal passion ; and ibaba spark of resentment is occasionally struck out by the It proaches of Ventidius, he instantly relapses iuto love sick melancholy. The following beautiful speech es. hibits the romance of despairing love, without the deep and mingled passion of a dishonoured soldier, and die throned einperor:
Ant. (Throwing himself douu.)
Methinks I fancy
The herd come jumping by me,
And take me for their fellow.citizen.
, and be is less sensible to the idea of Cæsar's successful arms. than the risk of Dolabella's rivalling him in the affectious of Cleopatra. It is true, the Antony of Shakespeare also starts into fury upon Cleopatra permitting Thy reus to kiss her hand; but this is not jealousy—it is pride offended, that she, for whom he had sacrificed his glory and empire, should already begin
to court the favour of
e conqueror, and vouchisafe her hand to be saluted by It would be too long a task to contrast the beauties · jack of Czesar's.' Hence Enobarbus, the witness of of these two great poets, in point of diction and style. ne scene, alludes immediately to the fury of mortified But the reader will doubtless be pleased to compare the nbition and falling power:
noted descriptions of the voyage of Cleopatra down the l'is better playing with a lion's whelp,
Cydnus. It is given in Shakespeare, in act i. scene 2. Than with an old one dying.
The parallel passage in Dryden runs thus :“ Having, however, adopted an idea of Antony's
The lackling silk, the streamers waved with gold, haracter, rather suitable to romance than to nature, or The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails : istory, we must not deny Dryden the praise of having Her nyanphs, like Nercids, round her couch were placed ; -xquisitely brought out the picture he intended to draw. Where whe, another sea-born Venus, lay.
Dol. No more : I would not hear it. le has informed us, that this was the only play writ
O, you must! en to please himself; and he has certainly exerted in it She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand, he full force of his incomparable genius. Antony is, And cast a look so languishingly sweet, hrougbout the piece, what the author meant him to be:
As if secure of all beholders' hearts,
Neglecting she could taky them: Boys, like Cupids, 1 vietiin to the omnipotence of love, or rather to the in
Stood fanning, with their painted wings, the winds fatuation of ore engrossing passion.
That played about her face ! But it she smiled, * In the Cleopatra of Dryden, there is greatly less A darting glory seemed to blaze abroad: spirit and originality than in Shakespeare's. The pre
That men's desiring eyes were never wearied,
But hung upon the object : To soft flutes paration of the latter for death has a grandeur which
The silver oars kept time; and while they played, puts to shame the same scene in Dryden, and serves to The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight; support the interest during the whole fifth act, although And both to thought. 'Twas heaven, or somewhat more :
For she so charmed all hearts, that gazing crowds Antony has died in the conclusion of the fourth. No
Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath circumstance can more highly evince the power of To give their welcome voice. Shakespeare's genius, in spite of his irregularities; Then, Dolabella, where was then thy soul ? since the conclusion in Dryden, where both lovers die Was not thy fury quite disarmed with murder ?
Didst thou not shrink behind me from those cycs. in the same scene, and after a reconciliation, is infinitely
And whisper in my ear, Oh, tell her not more artful and better adapted to theatrical effect.
That I accused her of my brother's death? “ In the character of Ventidius, Dryden has filled up, with ability, the rude sketches, which Shakespeare has
In judging betwixt these celebrated passages, we thrown off in those of Scava and Eros
feel almost afraid to avow a preference of Dryden,
The rough old Roman soldier is painted with great truth; and the quar
founded partly upon the easy flow of the verse, which
seems to soften with the subject, but chiefly upon the rel betwixt him and Antony, in the first act, is equal to any single scene that our author ever wrote, excepting,
beauty of the language and imagery, which is flowery
without diffusiveness, and rapturous without hyperbole. perhaps, that betwixt Sebastian and Dorax; an opinion in which the judgment of the critic coincides with that
I fear Shakespeare cannot be exculpated from the latter of the poet. It is a pity, as has often been remarked,
fault; yet I am sensible, it is by sifting his beauties from
his conceits that his imitator has been enabled to excel that this dialogue occurs so early in the play, since what
lim. follows is necessarily inferior in force. Dryden, while writing this scene, had unquestionably in his recollec
" It is impossible to bestow too much praise on the tion the quarrel betwixt Brutus and Cassins, which was
beautiful passages which occur so frequently in . All for justly so great a favourite in his time, and to which he
Love.' Ilaving alrearly given several examples of had referred as inimitable in luis prologue to · Aureng. happy expression of inelancholy and tender feelings, I Zebe.'
content myself with extracting the sublime and terrific “ The inferior characters are better supported in Dry- description of an omen presaging the downfall of den than in Shakespeare. We have no low buffoonery
Egypt:in the former, such as disgraces Enobarbus, and is hardly
Serap. Last night, between the hours of twelve and one,
In a lone aisle of the temple while I walked, redeemed by his affecting catastrophe. Even the Egyp- A whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast, tian Alexas acquires some respectability from his patri- Shook all the dome: The doors around me clapt; otic attachunent to the interests of his country, and from The iron wicket, that defend3 the vault, his skill as a wily courtier. He expresses, by a beauti.
Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid,
Hurst open, and disclosed the mighty dead. ful image, the effeminate attachment to life, appropriated From out each monument, in order placed, w his character and country :
An armed ghost starts up: The boy-king last
Reared his inglorious head. A peal of groans
Then followed, and a lamentable voice
Cried, — Egypt is no more!' My blood ran back,
My shaking knees against each other knocked;
On the cold pavement down I fell entranced, personage than in the ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA of And so, untinished, left the horrid scene. Shakespeare. She is, however, more cold and unami- “ Having quoted so many passages of exquisite poetry, able: for, in the very short scenes in which the Octavia and having set this play in no unequal opposition to that of Shakespeare appears, she is placed in rather an inte- of Shakespeare, it is, perhaps, unnecessary to mention resting point of view. But Dryden has himself informed by what other poets the saine subject has been treated. us, that he was apprehensive the justice of a wife's Daniel, Mary Countess of Pembroke, May, and Sir claim upon her husband would draw the audience to Charles Sedley, each produced a play on the fortunes hier side, and lessen their interest in the lover and the of Antony. Of these pieces I have never read the three mistress. He seems accordingly to have studiedly low- former, and will assuredly never read the last a second ered the character of the injured Octavia, who, in her time." conduct towards her husband, shows much duty and little love; and plainly intimates, that her rectitude of To this list of English poets who have, as Dryden conduct flows from a due regard to her own reputation, phrases it, “ tried the bow of Ulysses," Scott might have rather than from attachment to Antony's person, or sym- added the “ False One" of Fletcher, where Cleopatra is pathy with him in his misfortunes. It happens, there- exbibited in what Shakespeare makes her style her fore, with Octavia, as with all other very good selfish “sallad days," in her youthful love for Julius Caesar. kind of people; we think it unnecessary to feel any It is full of poetical beauty, but otherwise the heroine, thing for her, as she is obviously capable of taking very a lovely, majestic, and lofty personage, has nothing in good care of herself. I must not onit, that her scold- common with the Shakespearian Cleopatra, or much ing scene with Cleopatra, although anxiously justified by with her history. the author in the preface, seems too coarse to be in char- Above thirty tragedies, in various languages, are ex. acter, and is a glaring exception to the general good taste tant, of which Cleopatra is the heroine, besides others evinced throughout the rest of the piece.
noticed in dramatic catalognes, which have probably died in manuscript. That of Lady Pembroke, the sister speare's Roman dramas; for, with some bad taste and of Sir Philip Sydney, is said to have been the first dra- extravagance, it is full of the noblest passages. Ces: matic composition by a female, in English. It is, how address to the remains of his dead rivalever, not quite an original, being an adaptation and Restes d'un demi-dieu, dont a peine je puis, translation of a French tragedy, by Garnier. This poet Egaler le grand nom, tout vainquieur que j'en suiswas a scholar, a student and imitator of the Greek and affords a stately counterpart to the manly grief of Art Latin poets, especially of Seneca and Lucan ; and, with dius over the fallen Coriolanus, or Antony's lofty enter much bad taste, his verses, of which La Harpe and other of the dead Brutus. critics give specimens, exhibit not a little rhetorical There are several (at least four) Italian tragediese splendour. It was his drama, first printed in 1580, which the story of Antony and Cleopatra. Of these are the Countess of Pembroke translated and published, as belongs to the literature of Europe—the “Cleopain ** Antonius,” in 1592, and in a second edition in 1602. of Alfieri. His Cleopatra is a very atrocions weemaFrom her rank and her connection with Sir Philip Syd- || false, ambitious, and sternly bad. His Antony i ney, it is every way probable that Shakespeare must brave and credulous hero, much like his ancestor Ha have read the book; and his retentive memory may cules, who “ loves not wisely, but too well." Nothing have transfused some of its thoughts into his own drama. can be more far apart than the splendour of dictisa z But the commentators are silent on this point, and I imagery, the crowded variety of characters and incidesi have not been able to procure either Garnier or his noble and the bright, glancing, quickly-varying shades a translator, for the use of this edition. Jodelle, the father changes of individual character, of the Shakespeare of the French stage, had handled the same theme some drama ; and the simple plot, the few and strongly matei years before, and there are said to be sixteen French
personages, the hard and unshadowed ontline of the tragedies on this subject, of which the last was the few, the pure but often harsh simplicity of style, Farini “Cleopatra” of Marmontel-a second-rate and frigid with none of the lesser traits that give personal individ piece, of the old classic taste of the French stage. uality, in the “Cleopatra" of Alfieri. It is, neverthe
To these might be added a drama of a far nobler | less, the work of genius, and has so much of thongst strain, the “ Pompee" of Corneille, of which Cleopatra and power, and bitter passion, that he who reads Alter is the heroine, in the days of the “mightiest Julius's" | and does not feel these merits, is hardly able to do je lovesnot in those of Antony. The poet has, to use tice to the variety and magnificence of Shakespeare his own words, “ in the character of Cleopatra preserved There are some German plays on the same subject, so much resemblance to the original as could be enno- of which the “ Octavia” of Kotzebue is the only one al bled by the most splendid qualities. I have made her which I know any thing. It was attempted as a b (says he) to love only from ambition, so that she appears experiment in dramatic rhythm, which is said by critas to have no passion except so far as it may promote her not to have been successful. The interest of the piece own greatness." This presents but a cold counterpart turns wholly on the mild virtues of Octavia. It has not to the Cleopatra of the two English dramatists. Other kept its place on the German stage, nor gained any fane wise the piece is one worthy to be read with Shake- hold in the literature of Europe.
SOURCE AND MATERIALS OF THE PLOTS OF
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, JULIUS CÆSAR, AND CORIOLANUS.
The readers of this edition have seen, from the fre- there may be in the sense, North's graceful freedom of rent quotations in the notes, and references to North's style, and command of all the riches of our ancient lanPlutarch,” how very largely Shakespeare was indebted guiage, have made, under all these strange disadvantages, • that translation for the materials of his three great a translation breathing far more of the spirit of the origi. oman historical tragedies. The critics and commenta- nal than any of the others, made under more anspicious irs have been so sparing in their accounts of this trans- circumstances, and, in itself, one of the most delightful ition, and one or two of them so unjust, that some ac- books of our older literature. The present editor bought ount of it will not be out of place here.
his copy, of the edition of 1612, on the strength of a About the middle of the sixteenth century, Jacques | criticism contained in William Godwin's rambling volamyot, a learned French priest, afterwards bishop of ume, entitled the " Lives of Edward and John Philips," luxerre, translated into French a selection of Plutarch's rich in literary history and excellent criticism; and he Lives," which so charmed the “reading public" of cannot better express his own opinion of North's transahe day, that he was urged to complete the whole; and lation than by extracting Godwin's remarks:nable him to do so. His scholarship was, perhaps, not Amyot, who lived and died in the sixteenth century, of the highest order, and he was accused, on the strength for the prince of all their writers, in translation. The of some mistakes or oversights in his version, of having | Old English translation of Plutarch's Lives,' by Sir translated, not from the Greek original, but from the Thomas North, (1579.) has the disadvantage of being Italian. This, however, was quite unfounded, what- avowedly taken from the French of Amyot; and yet I ever assistance, as a moderate Greek scholar, he might must confess that, till this book fell into my hands, I had have received from prior versions. But though not the no genuine feeling of Plutarch's merits, or knowledge most accurate of Grecians, he was a man of taste of what sort of a writer he was. The philosopher of and talent, had seen much of the world, and (as he ob. Cheronea subjects himself, in his biographical sketches, serves of Plutarch) had himself “ dealt much in weighty to none of the rules of fine writing; he has not digested affairs of state," had lived among the highest and ablest the laws and ordinances of composition, and the dignified personages of his times, and, like the old Grecian too, and measured step of an historian; but rambles just as was himself a most delightful narrator of the events and his fancy suggests, and always tells you, without scruple anecdotes of his own country. To this he added a re- or remorse, what comes next in his mind. How beaumarkable command of his own language, imperfectly tiful does all this show in the simplicity of the old Engformed and unpolished as it then was; thus giving to lish! How aptly does this dress correspond to the time his translation, according to the high anthority of Racine, and manner of thinking in the author! When I read a charm and grace which modern elegance and correct- Plutarch in Sir Thomas North, methinks I see the grayness have never eqnalled. He was thus enabled to ful- headed philosopher, full of information and anecdote fil his own idea of the duty of a good translator, which a veteran in reflection and experience, and smitten with (he says in his preface) is “ not merely to render the the love of all that is most exalted in our nature; pourmeaning of his author, but to reflect his very mind and ing out, without restraint, the collections of his wisdom, manner." The most remarkable proof of the excel- as he reclines in his easy chair, before a cheerful win. lence of this translation is that, though first printed in ter's blaze. How different does all this appear in the 1558, it is still regarded as the most agreeable and pop- translation of the Langhornes! All that was beautiful ular French version of Plutarch, although several others and graceful before, becomes deformity in the finical have been since made, with more scholar-like accuracy, and exact spruceness with which they have attired it.”by eminent translators. Within the present century, it (Godwin's Lives of Edward and John Philips.) has been repeatedly reprinted in Paris, following the This well-filled folio, of 1250 pages, Shakespeare old French text, and with no other change than the ad- studied diligently; for, not content with drawing thence dition of the notes of Brotier, and other modern scholars. the plots and main characters of his Roman tragedies,
In 1579, Sir Thomas North, an English gentleman, and embodying its noblest speeches into still nobler translated the whole of Amyot's translation of the verse, he has gathered up from different parts slight and " Lives" into English, and printed them in one large transient tints of character, and entwined them into his folio. His English, though now, in the progress of the dialogue, so as to give a matchless individuality and two languages, become more antiquated than Amyot's variety to his historic personages, such as we look for French, is as spirited, graceful, and idiomatic, with in vain among the Roman and Grecian heroes of Cor. that same undefinable air of an original, which is so neille, of Racine, or of Alfieri, magnificent as are the conseldom found in translations. He made his version ceptions and majestic as are the personages of those very honestly from the French, without professing any great poets. knowleıge of the Greek: printing it with the title of Whether Shakespeare went at all beyond his “Plu"The Lives of the noble Grecians and Romaines, com- tarch” for such materials, is a question I am not prepared together by that grave learned philosopher and pared to decide. In Coriolanus he certainly did not; historiographer, Plutarke of Chæronea ; Translated out for, though Livy had been translated before he wrote of Greek into French by James Amiot, Bishop of that play, he makes use of no fact or circumstance not Auxerre, etc.; and out of French into English by Sir in Plutarch. Had he consulted Livy, either in the origThomas North, Knight—1570.". It was, of course, not inal or in Holland's translation, he would have found without some errors; and an epigram of the times, pre- several thoughts and expressions quite in unison with served by Dr. Farmer, thus assailed it:
the spirit of Plutarch's narrative, and such as he would 'Twas Greck at first, that Greek wag Latin made,
not willingly have rejected. But he was evidently conThat Latin French, that French to English straid ;
tent with the grand materials he found in Plutarch, and The 'twixt one Plutarch, there's more difference
these, without the addition of any other historical acces. Tuan i' the same Enzlishman return'd from France.
sories—such as a writer like Walter Scott would have This was altogether unjust; for, whatever slight errors delighted to interweave with his main narrative-he