« PreviousContinue »
So, call the field to rest: and let 's away,
3 Of this tragedy many particular passages deserve regard, and the contention and reconcilement of Brutus and Cassius is universally celebrated; but I have never been strongly agitated in perusing it, and think it somewhat cold and unaffecting, compared with some other of Shakspeare's plays: his adherence to the real story, and to Roinan manners, seem to have impeded the natural vigour of his genius. Johnson.
Gildon has justly observed, that this tragedy ought to have been called Marcus Brutus, Cæsar being a very inconsiderable personage in the scene, and being killed in the third Act. Malone.
The substance of Dr. Warburton's long and erroneous comment on a passage in the second Act of this play: “The genius and the mortal instruments,” &c. (see p.31, n.7,) is contained in a letter written by him in the year 1726-7, of which the first notice was given to the publick in the following note on Dr. Akenside's Ode to Mr. Edwards, which has, I know not why, been omitted in the late edi. tions of that poet's works:
During Mr. Pope's war with Theobald, Concanen, and the rest of their tribe, Mr. Warburton, the present lord bishop of Gloucester, did with great zeal cultivate their friendship ; having been introduced, forsooth, at the meetings of that respectable confederacy: a favour which he afterwards spoke of in very high terms of complacency and thankfulness. At the same time, in his intercourse with them he created Mr. Pope in a most contemptuous manner, and as a writer without genius. Of the truth of these assertions his lordship can have no doubt, if he recollects his own correspondence with Concanen; a part of which is still in being, and will probably be remembered as long as any of this prelate's writings.”
If the letter here alluded to, contained any thing that might affect the moral character of the writer, tenderness for the dead would forbid its publication. But that not being the case, and the learned preJate being now beyond the reach of criticism, there is no reason why this literary curiosity should be longer withheld from the publick:
Duncan is in his grave;
Tréason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
LETTER FROM MR. W. WARBURTON TO MR.M.CONCANEN.
" Dear Sir,
having had no more regard for those papers which I spoke of and promis’d to Mr. Theobald, than just what they deserv'd I in vain sought for them thro' a number of loose papers that had the same
kind of abortive birth. I used to make it one good part of my amusement in reading the English poets, those of them I mean whose vein flows regularly and constantly, as well as clearly, to trace them to their sources; and observe what oar, as well as what slime and gravel they brought down with them. Dryden I observe borrows for want of leisure, and Pope for want of genius: Milton out of pride, and Addison out of modesty. And now I speak of this latter, that you and Mr. Theobald may see of what kind these idle collections are, and likewise to give you my notion of what we may safely pronounce an imitation, for it is not I presume the same train of ideas that follow in the same description of an ancient and a modern, where nature when attended to, always supplys the same stores, which will autorise us to pronounce the latter an imitation, for the most judicious of all poets, Terence, has observed of his own science Nihil est dictum, quod non sit dictum prius : For these reasons I say I give myselfe the pleasure of setting down some imitations I observed in the Cato of Addison : Addison. A day, an hour of virtuous liberty
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage. Act 2, Sc 1. Tully. Quod si immortalitas consequeretur præsentis periculi fu
gam, tamen eo magis ea fugienda esse videretur, quo diu
turnior esset servitus. Philipp. Or. 10a Addison. Bid him disband his legions
Restore the commonwealth to liberty
Bid him do this and Cato is his friend.
Neminem equiorem reperiet quam me. Philipp. 5a
But what is life?
Life grows insipid and has lost its relish. Sc. 3.
vienti. Philipp. 10a
The gen'rous plan of power deliver'd down
O never let it perish in your hands. Act 3, Sc. 5.
quam vobis, tanquam hereditatem, majores nostri reli.
querunt. Philipp. 4a Addison. The mistress of the world, the seat of empire,
The nurse of Heros the Delight of Gods Tully. Roma domus virtutis, imperii dignitatis, domicilium glo
riæ. lux orbis terrarum, de oratore. " The first half of the 5 Sc. 3 Act, is nothing but a transcript from the 9 book of lucan between the 300 and the 700 line. You see by this
specimen the exactness of Mr. Addison's judgment who wanting sentiments worthy the Roman Cato sought for them in Tully and Lucan. When he wou'd give his subject those terrible graces which Dion. Halicar: complains he could find no where but in Homer, he takes the assistance of our Shakspeare, who in his Julius Cæsar has painted the conspirators with a pomp and terrour that perfectly astonishes. hear our British Homer.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
The nature of an insurrection.
O think what anxious moments pass between
with horror all, & big with death. I have two things to observe on this imitation. 1. the decorum this exact Mr. of propriety has observed. In the Conspiracy of Shakespear's description, the fortunes of Cæsar and the roman Empire were concerned. And the magnificent circumstances of
" The genius and the mortal instruments
" Are then in council." is exactly proportioned to the dignity of the subject. But this wou'd have been too great an apparatus to the desertion of Syphax and the rape of Sempronius, and therefore Mr. Addison omits it. II. The other thing more worthy our notice is, that Mr. A. was so greatly moved and affected with the pomp of Sh:description, that insteado copying his author's sentiments, he has before he was aware given us only the marks of his own impressions on the reading him. For,
" O'tis a dreadful interval of time
“Filled up with horror all, and big with death." are but the affections raised by such lively images as these
all the Int’rim is
" The nature of an insurrection.” Again when Mr. Addison would paint the softer passions he has recourse to Lee who certainly had a peculiar genius that way. thus his Juba
" True she is fair. O how divinely fair !" coldly imitates Lee in his Alex:
" Then he wou'd talk: Good Gods how he would talk! I pronounce the more boldly of this, because Mr. A. in his 39 Spec. expresses his admiration of it. My paper fails me, or I should now offer to Mr. Theobald an objection agt: Shakspeare's acquaintance with the ancients. As it appears to me of great weight, and as it is necessary he shou'd be prepared to obviate all that occur on that head. But some other opportunity will present itselfe. You may now, Sr, justly complain of my ill manners in deferring till now, what shou'd have been first of all acknowledged due to you, which is my thanks for all your favours when in town, particularly
for introducing me to the knowledge of those worthy and ingenious Gentlemen that made up our last night's conversation. I am, Sir, with all esteem your most obliged friend and humblo servant
W. Warburton. Newarke Jan 2. 1726.
[The superscription is thus:] For
Mr. M. Concanen at
The foregoing Letter was found about the year 1750, by Dr. Gawin Knight, first librarian to the British Museum, in fitting up a house which he had taken in Crane Court, Fleet Street. The house had, for a long time before, been let in lodgings, and in all probability, Concanen had lodged there. The original letter has been many years in my possession, and is here most exactly copied, with its several little peculiarities in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. April 30, 1766. M. A.
The above is copied from an indorsement of Dr. Mark Akenside as is the preceding letter from a copy given by him to Mr. Steevens. I have carefully retained all the peculiarities above mentioned.
Malone. Dr. Joseph Warton, in a note on Pope's Dunciad, Book II, observes, that at the time when Concanen published a pamphlet entitled, A Supplement to the Profund, (1728) he was intimately acquainted with Dr. Warburton. Steevens.