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Cleo. “What! shall I staym
(Dies.) Char. “ In this vile world, alone? “ No, I will follow strait , fare thee
too oftes in the instances
Antony and Cleopatra, with instances abundant of those depravations in the sense, construction, and metre, too often recurring throughout these works, is written in our author's best manner; and though Dryden has dilated and nobly refined some passages, the ALL For Love will, I believe, for interest, animation, and energy, be found far inferior to its original.
The character of Mark Antony, as he is represented here and in Julius Cæsar, exhibits a very remarkable difference; and this, probably, it was that induced Mr. Upton to make, too hastily, the remark which Dr. Johnson controverts. Undoubtedly, the sentiments, diction, and deportinent of Antony display, in the present drama, a pomp and stateliness which was no where assumed in the former; but the disparity or alteration did not proceed from Shakspeare's learning, or any purpose to conform to the real practice of his hero, but simply from our poet's knowledge of human life, and his skill in describing it under all vicissitudes; from his having observed that, with many men, a change of fortune will produce a change in their manners, " that lowliness is young Ambition's ladder,” and that a mind, such as Antony's, would, at one time, be meek, tractable, and courteous, and at another, haughty, inflexible, and overbearing, One peculiarity of this play is, that we shall find in it, without suspecting extraordinary corruption, a much greater number of hypermetrical lines than any of the others will furnish; but these hypermeters do not consist of the redundant and super-redundant endings, so often infesting the measure of Jonson, Fletcher, and Massinger, as shewn in the Introduction, but that kind of superfluity which the ear will admit of by intermediate contraction in the utterance of the vowels, such as :' “ Like Cæsar's sister, thị wife of Antony." "The soldier's virtue rathěr makes choice of loss."
Where " rather” must be delivered in the time of a monosyllable. Lines of this kind, not too frequently occurring, are a grace rather than an imperfection, in dramatic verse; and Milton has invigorated and enriched his numbers by the use of them, in his two great poems. In this tragedy, I fear, they are too numerous.
ACT I. SCENE I. Enter Kent, Gloster, and Edmund. This scene, in which Gloster speaks of the division that Lear makes of his kingdom, before that event takes place, is a very idle anticipation, of no sort of use or convenience, and I cannot suppose it to have proceeded from the poet. 307. “ I shall, my liege.”
These words are unnecessary, and interrupt the measure: it would be sufficient for Gloster to bow, and retire.
“ Our darker purpose.” “Our darker purpose” is “ our close intent.” 308. “ Give me the map there. Know, that we
have divided.” “That should be omitted. “ In three, our kingdom : and 'tis our fast in
tent.” “ And” should be withdrawn to preserve the metre.
“ Our fast intent.” “ First intent,” the reading of the quarto, is, I think, right: our main, or leading purpose, that which is first or uppermost in our mind.
“ Conferring them on younger strengths.” Here, too, I must prefer the quarto, which has confirming. The “ cares and business” of state had already been exercised by those "younger strengths,” and now their authority was to be formally confirmed: thus, afterwards, Lear says,
“To thee and thine
“ Than that confirm'd on Goneril.” Which the folio editors, as before, altered to conferrid. “ And you, our no less loving son of Albany."
There appears to be corruption here. I would read : " Our son of Cornwall, “And you, our no less lovod, of Albany."
Again, the exuberance in the following line should be removed : “ May be prevented now. The princes, France
and Burgundy.” “ May be prevented. France and Burgundy.” 309. “Where merit doth most challenge it.”
I would adopt the alteration in the folio, and read: “Where nature doth with merit challenge.”
And regulate the metre thus : “ Where nature doth with merit challenge it. " Goněril, our eldest born, speak first."
Sir, I “ Do love," &c.
Again, in the following line, the exuberance what says might be removed : 310.“ Be this perpetual. (What says) our se
cond daughter"" I am made of that self metal as my sister,
“ And prize me at her worth."This abrupt change of the mood after the conjunction is not warrantable: it occurs again in As You Like It: “I almost die for food, and let me have it." 312." My love's
“ More richer than my tongue.” There appears to be something lost here. Cordelia's love was far from being rich, if it were not richer than her tongue. -Perhaps the passage ran thus : “
I am sure my love. " More richer than my tongue, outralucs theirs.". 313. “ Strive to be interess'd; what can you
. say, to draw". The hypermeter here might be removed thus : “ Strive to be intéress’d; what say you, to
draw”The succeeding disorder might be repaired in this manner: Córd. “Nothing, my lord.” . Lear.. "
How ! nothing !!! . Cord. “ Nothing, sir.”
Again : 314. “ To love my father all.” Lear, ."
But goes this with