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Play, are very movingly touch’d; and tho' the art of the Poet has screen’d King Henry from any gross imputation of injustice, yet one is inclin'd to wish, the Queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the Manners, proper to the persons represented, less justly observ’d, in those characters taken from the Roman History; and of this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and disdain of the common people, the virtue and philosophical temper of Brutus, and the irregular greatness of mind in N. Antony, are beautiful proofs
. For the two laft especially, you find 'em exactly as they are describ'd by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakespear copy'a 'em. He has indeed follow'd bis original pretty close, and taken in several little incidents that might have been spar’d in a Play. But, as I hinted before, his design seems most commonly rather to describe those great men in the several fortunes and accidents of their lives, than to take any fingle great action, and form his work simply upon that. However, there are some of his pieces, 'where the Fable is founded upon one action only. Such are more especially, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello. The design in Romeo and Juliet, is plainly the punishment of their two families, for the unreasonable feuds and animofities that had been so long kept up between 'em, and cccafion'd the effufion of so much blood. In the management of this story, he has shewn something wonderfully tender and passionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the distress. Hamlet is founded on much the same Tale with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of 'em a young Prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father, their mothers are equally guilty, are both concern’d in the murder of their husbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is in the first part of the Greek Tragedy, fomething very moving in the grief of Electra; but as Mr. D'Ácier has observ'd, there is something very unnatural and shocking in the Manners he has given that Princess and Oreftes in the latter part. Orestes embrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is perform'd, tho' not immediately upon the stage, yet so near, that the audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to Ægfthus for help, and to her fon for mercy: While Electra her daughter, and a Princess (both of them characters that ought to have appear'd with more decency) stands upon the stage and encourages her brother in the Parricide. What horror does this not raise! Clytemnestra was a wicked woman, and had deserv'd to die; nay, in the truth of the story, she was kill’d by her own son ; but to represent an action of this kind on the stage, is certainly an of fence against those rules of manners proper to the persons, that ought to be observ'd there. On the contrary, let us only lock a little on the conduct of Shakespear. Hamlet is represented with the
fame piety towards his father, and resolution to revenge his death, as
But howsoever thou pursu'f this Act,
To prick and sting her.
Tbe following Instrument was transmitted to us by
John Anstis, Esq; Garter King at Arms: It is mark'd, G. 13. p. 349.
(There is also a Manuscript in the Herald's Office, marked
W. 2. p. 276; where notice is taken of this Coat, and that the person to whom it was granted, bad born Magistracy at Stratford upon Avon.]
all and singular Noble and Gentlemen of all Estates and
Degrees, bearing Arms, to whom these Presents shall come: William Dethick, Garter Principal King of Arms of England, and William Camden, alias Clarencieulx, King of Arms for the South, East, and West Parts of this Realm, send Greetings. Know ye, that in all Nations and Kingdoms the Record and Remembrance of the valiant Facts and virtuous Difpofitions of worthy Men have been made known and divulged by certain Shields of Arms and Tokens of Chivalrie; the Grant or Testimony whereof apperteineth unto us, by virtue of our offices from the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, and her Highness's most noble and victorious Progenitors: Wherefore being follicited, and by credible Report informed, that John Shakespere, now of Stratford upon Avon in the County of Warwick, Gentleman, whose Great Grandfather for his faithful and approved Service to the late most prudent Prince, King Henry VII. of famous Memory, was advanced and rewarded with Lands and Tenements, given to him in those Parts of Warwickshire, where they have continued by some Descents in good Reputation and Credit; And for that the said yohn Shakespere having married the Daughter and one of the Heirs of Robert Arden of Wellingcote in the laid County, and also produced this his ancient Coat of Arms, heretofore asigned to him whilft he was her Majesty's Officer and Bailiff of that Town. In confi-. deration of the Premises, and for the Encouragement of his Posterity, unto whom such Blazon of Arms and Atchievements of Inheritance from their faid Mother, by the ancient Custom and Laws of Arms, may lawfully descend; We the said Garter and Clar encieulx have assigned, granted, and confirmed, and by these Presents exemplified unto the said John Shakespere, and to his Pofterity, that Shield and Coat of Arms, viz. "In a Field of Gold upon a Bend Sables a Spear of the first, the Point upward, headed Argent; and for his Creft or Cognisance, A Falcon, Or, with his
displayed, ftanding on a Wreathe of his Colours, supporting a Spear armed beaded, or steeled Silver, fixed upon an Helmet with Mantles and Taffels, as more plainly may appear depicted
in this Margent; And we have likewise impaled the same with the ancient Arms of the said Arden of Wellingcote; signifying thereby, that it may and shall be lawful for the faid John Shakefpere, Gent. to bear and use the same Shield of Arms, fingle or impaled, as aforesaid, during his natural Life; and that it shall be lawful for his Children, issue, and Posterity, lawfully begotten, to bear, use, and quarter, and shew forth the same, with their due Differences, in all lawful warlike Feats and civil Use or Exercises, according to the Laws of Arms, and Custom that to Gentlemen belongeth, without Let or Interruption of any Person or Persons, for use or bearing the same. In Witness and Testimony whereof we have subscribed our Names, and fastned the Seals of our Offices. Given at the Office of Arms, London, the Day of in the Forty second Year of the Reign of our most Gracious Sovereign Lady Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, & c. 1599.
MEMORY of my beloved the AUTHOR,
And what he hath left us.
O draw no envy (Shakespear) on thy Name,
Am I thus-ample to thy Book, and Fame: 1
I therefore will begin, Soul of the Age!
nd shake a Stage: Or, when thy Socks were on,