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eyes to be together; and which an ordinary Poet durft not have brought fo near one another] by difcipline, practifed in a fpecies of wit and eloquence, which was ftiff, forced, and pedantic; and by trade a Politician, and therefore, of confequence, without any of the affecting notices of humanity. Such is the man whom Shakespear has judiciously chofen to reprefent the falfe tafte of that audience which had condemned the play here reciting. When the actor comes to the finest and most pathetic part of the fpeech, Polonius cries out, this is too long; on which Hamlet, in contempt of his ill judgment, replies, It ball to the barber's with thy beard. [intimating that, by this judgment, it appeared that all his wifdom lay in his length of beard.] Pr'ythee, Jay on. He's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, [the common entertain. ment of that time, as well as this, of the people] or he fleeps, fay on. And yet this man of modern tafte, who flood all this time perfectly unmoved with the forcible imagery of the relator, no fooner hears, amongst many good things, one quaint and fantastical word, put in, I fuppofe, purpofely for this end, than he profeffes his approbation of the propriety and dignity of it. That's good. Mobled Queen is good. On the whole then, I think, it plainly appears, that the long quotation is not given to be ridiculed and laughed at, but to be admired. The character given of the Play, by Hamlet, cannot be ironical. The paffage itself is extremely beautiful. It has the
effect that all pathetic relations, naturally written, should have; and it is condemned, or regard ed with indifference, by one of a wrong, unnatural tafte. From hence (to obferve it by the way) the Actors, in their reprefentation of this play, may learn how this fpeech ought to be spoken, and what appearance Hamlet ought to affume during the re cital.
That which fupports the common opinion, concerning this paffage, is the turgid expreffion in fome parts of it; which, they think, could never be given by the poet to be commended. We fhall therefore, in the next place, examine the lines moft obnoxious to cenfure, and fee how much, allowing the charge, this will make for the induction of their conclufion.
Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in
Th' unnerved Father falls.
Out, out, thou frumpet Fortune! All you Gods, In general Synod, take away her power: Break all the Spokes and fellies from her wheel, And bowl the round nave down the bill of Heaven, As low as to the Fiends. Now whether these be bombaft or not, is not the question; but whether Shakespear esteemed them fo. That he did not fo efteem them appears from his having ufed the very fame thoughts in the fame expreffion, in his best plays, and given them
to his principal characters, where he aims at the fublime. As in the following paffages.
Troilus, in Troilus and Creffida, far outftrains the execution of Pyrrhus's fword, in the character he gives of Hector's,
When many times the cative
Ev'n in the fan and wind of
You bid them rife and live. Cleopatra, in Antony and Cleopatra, rails at Fortune in the fame manner.
No, let me speak, and let me rail fo high,
That the false hufwife Fortune break her wheel,
Provok'd at my offence.
But another ufe may be made of these quotations; a difcovery of the Author of this recited
Play; which, letting us into a circumftance of our Author's life (as a writer) hitherto unknown, was the reason I have been fo large upon this question. I think then it appears, from what has been faid, that the Play in difpute was Shakespear's own: and that this was the occafion of writing it. He was defirous, as foon as he had found his strength, of reftoring the chastness and regularity of the ancient Stage; and therefore composed this Tragedy on the model of the Greek Drama, as may be seen by throwing fo much action into relation. But his attempt proved fruitless ; and the raw, unnatural tafte. then prevalent, forced him back again into his old Gothic manner. For which he took this revenge upon his Audience. WARB
DUKE of Venice.
Lodovico, Kinfman to Brabantio and Gratiano.
Othello, the Moor.
Iago, Standard-bearer to Othello.
Montano, the Moor's Predeceffor in the Government of
Clown, Servant to the Moor
Desdemona, Wife to Othello.
Officers, Gentlemen, Messengers, Muficians, Sailors, and Attendants.
SCENE, for the First Act, in Venice; during the reft of the Play, in Cyprus.
Of this Play the Editions are,
Preface by Thomas Walkely. 1622. N. O. for Thomas Walkely. 1630. A. M. for Richard Hawkins. 1650. for William Lenk.
I have the folio, and the third Quarto collated with the fecond, and the fourth.
The Moor of VENICE.
ACT I. SCENE I.
A Street in VENICE.
Enter Rodorigo and Iago.
EVER tell me. I take it much unkindly,
Iago. But you'll not hear me.
If ever I did dream of fuch a matter, abhor me.
Iago. Despise me,
If I do not. Three Great ones of the city,
* Othello, the Moar of Venice.] The story is taken from Cynthio's Novels.