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genuine touches of nature, and many strokes of an ex becomes the attribute of a real man, and starts into quisite pathos. It is on the whole however written in life. hat style which has unfortunately been so long imposed When we compare the plansible and seemingly afHipon the world as dignified, classical and chaste." It is
fectionate manner in which Ulysses addresses himself to naked of incidents, of ornament, of whatever should Achilles, with the key which he here furnishies to his most awaken the imagination, astound the fancy, or hurry meaning, and especially with the ephitet derision,' we away the soul. It has the stately march of a Ďutch bur have a perfect elucidation of his character, and must gomaster as he appears in a procession, or a French poet allow that it is impossible to exhibit the crafty and as he shows himself in his works. It reminds one too smooth-tongued politician in a more exact or animated forcibly of a tragedy of Racine. Every thing partakes style. The advice given by Ulysses is in iis nature of the author, as if he thought he should be everlastingly sound and excellent, and in its form inoffensive and disgraced by becoming natural, inartificial and alive. kind; the name therefore of .derision' which he gives We travel through a work of this sort as we travel to it, marks to a wonderful degree the cold and selfover some of the immense downs with which our island centered subtlety of his character. is interspersed. All is smooth, or undulates with so “ Cressida's confession to Troilus of her love is a most gentle and slow a variation as scarcely to be adverted beautiful example of the genuine Shakespearian manner. to by the sense. But all is homogeneous and tiresome; What charming ingenuousness, what exquisite naiveté, the mind sinks into a state of aching torpidity; and we what ravishing confusion of soul, are expressed in these feel as if we should never get to the end of our eternal words! We seem to perceive in them every fleeting journey; What a contrast to a journey among moun. thought as it rises in the mind of Cressida, at the same tains and vallies, spotted with herds of various kinds of time that they delmeate with equal skill all the beaucattle, interspersed with villages, opening ever and anon tiful timidity and innocent artifice which grace and to a view of the distant ocean, and refreshed with riva consummate the feminine character. Other writers lets and streams; where if the eye is ever fatigued, it is endeavour to conjure up before them their imaginary only with the boundless flood of beauty which is inces personages, and seek with violent effort to arrest and santly pouring upon it! Such is the tragedy of Shake describe what their fancy presents to them: Shakespeare.
speare alone (though not without many exceptions to this " The historical play of Troilus And Cressida exhib happiness) appears to have the whole train of his charits as full a specimen of the different styles in which this acters in voluntary attendance upon him, to listen to wonderful writer was qualified to excel, as is to be found their effusions, and to commit to writing all the words, in any of his works. A more poetical passage, if poetry and the very words, they utter. consists in sublime picturesque and beautiful imagery, “ The wliole catalogue of the dramatis persone in the neither ancient nor inodern times have produced, than play of TroilUS AND CRESSIDA, so far as they depend the exhortation addressed by Patroclus to Achilles, to upon a rich and original vein of lumour in the author, persuade him to shake off his passion for Polyxena, the are drawn with a felicity which never was surpassed. daughter of Priam, and resume the terrors of his military The genius of Homer has been a topic of admiration to greatness.
almost every generation of men since the period in Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid
which he wrote. But his characters will not bear the Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold,
slightest comparison with the delineation of the same And like a dew-drop from the lion's mane,
characters as they stand in Shakespeare. This is a Be shook to air.(Ac iii. Scene 3.)
species of honour which ought by no means to be for. “Never did morality hold a language more profound, gotten when we are making the eulogium of our immorpersuasive and irresistible, than in Shakespeare's Ulysses, tal bard, a sort of illustration of his greatness which who in the same scene, and engaged in the same cause cannot fail to place it in a very conspicuous light. The with Patroclus, thus expostulates with the champion of dispositions of men perhaps had not been sufficiently the Grecian forces.
unfolded in the very early period of intellectual refineFor emulation hath a thousand song,
ment when Homer wrote; the rays of humour had not That one by one pursue. If you give way,
been dissected by the glass, or rendered perdurable by Or hedge aside from the direct forthright.
the pencil, of the poet. Homer's characters are drawi Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by,
with a laudable portion of variety and consistency; but And leave you hindmost: there you lie,
his Achilles, his Ajax and his Nestor are, each of them, Like to a gallant horse fallen in first rank, For pavement to the abject rear, o'er-run
rather a species than an individual, and can boast more And trampled on.
of the propriety of abstraction, than of the vivacity of a -0, let not virtue seek
moving scene of absolute life. The Achilles, the Ajax, Remuneration for the thing it was !
and the various Grecian heroes of Shakespeare on the For beauty, wit, high birth, desert in service, Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
other hand, are absolute men, deficient in nothing which To envious and calumniating time.
can tend to individualise them, and already touched One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
with the Promethean fire that might infuse a soul into That all with one consent praise new-born gauds,
what, without it, were lifeless form. From the rest And give to dust, that is a little gilt, More praise than they will give to gold o'erdusted.
perhaps the character of Thersites deserves to be selected Then marvel not, thou great and complete man!
(how cold and school-boy a sketch in Homer!) as ex. That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax.
hibiting an appropriate vein of sarcastic humour amidst - The cry went once on thee,
his cowardice, and a profoundness and truth in his mode And still it might, and yet it may again,
of laying open the foibles of those about him, impossible If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,
to be excelled. And case thy reputation in thy tent.
“Before we quit this branch of Shakespeare's praise, “But the great beauty of this play, as it is of all the it may not be unworthy of our attention to advert to one genuine writings of Shakespeare, beyond all didactic of the methods by which he has attained this uncommon morality, beyond all mere fights of fancy, and beyond superiority. It has already been observed that one of all sublime, a beauty entirely his own, and in which no the most formidable adversaries of true poetry, is an atwriter ancient or modern can enter into competition tribute which is generally miscalled dignity. Shakewith him, is that his men are men; his sentiments are speare possessed, no man in higher perfection, the true living, and his characters marked with those delicate, dignity and loftiness of the poetical afflatus, which he evanescent, undefinable touches, which identify them has displayed in many of the finest passages of his works with the great delineation of nature. The speech of
with miraculous success. But he knew that no inan Ulysses just quoted, when taken by itself, is purely an ever was, or ever can be, always dignified. He knew exquisite specimen of didactic morality; but when com that those subtler traits of character which identify a bined with the explanation given by Ulysses, before
are familiar and relaxed, pervaded with passion, the entrance of Achilles, of the nature of his design, it and not played off' with an eternal eye to decorum. In
this respect the peculiarities of Shakespeare's genius are the reputation of his mistress, or lay open her sale no where more forcibly illustrated than in the play we topic for the vulgar. Creseide, however (as Mr. Ir are here considering. The champions of Greece and has observed) she proves at last a 'false un.com Troy, from the hour in which their names were first re whore,' yet in the cominencement, and for a cono's corded, had always worn a certain formality of attire, able time, preserves those ingenuous manners and to and marched with a slow and measured step. No poet propriety of conduct, which are the brightest orames till this time, had ever ventured to force them out of of the female character. Even Pandarns, low and o the manner which their epic creator had given them. honourable as is the part he has to play, is in Chanx Shakespeare first suppled their limbs, took from them merely a friendly and kind-hearted man, so easy in be the classic stiffness of their gait, and enriched them with temper that, rather than not contribute to the happers an entire set of those attributes, which might render of the man he loves, he is content to overlook the old them completely beings of the same species with our-names and construction to which his proceeding : selves.
entitled. Not so in Shakespeare: his Troilus shows " Yet, after every degree of homage has been paid to reluctance to render his amour a subject of notoriet u the glorious and awful superiorities of Shakespeare, it | the whole city; his Cressida (for example in the scene would be unpardonable in us, on the present occasion, with the Grecian chiefs, to all of whom she is a tota to forget one particular in which the play of Troilus stranger) assumes the manners of the most abandoned AND CRESSIDA does not eclipse, but on the contrary falls | prostitute; and his Pandarus enters upon his vile far short of its great archetype, the poem of Chaucer. cupation, not from any venial partiality to the desires d This too is a particular, in which, as the times of Shake his friend, but from the direct and simple love of stat speare were much more enlightened and refined than is gross, impudent and profligate. For these reasons those of Chaucer, the preponderance of excellence Shakespeare's play, however enriched with a thousand might well be expected to be found in the opposite beauties, can scarcely boast of any strong claim apos ce scale. The fact however is unquestionable, that the interest or affections. It may be alleged indeed the characters of Chaucer are much more respectable and Shakespeare, having exhibited pretty much at large the loveworthy than the correspondent personages in Shake- whole catalogue of Greek and Trojan heroes, had by me speare. In Chaucer Troilus is the pattern of an honour. means equal scope to interest us in the story from which able lover, choosing rather every extremity of want and the play receives its name: but this would scarcely he the loss of life, than to divulge, whether in a direct or admitted as an adequate apology before an impartia an indirect manner, any thing which might compromise tribunal.”