« PreviousContinue »
Too little payment for so great a debt.
(21) Then vail your stomachs. ] Cover your
resentments. See note on Love's Labour loft, Act 5. Mrs G. omits these four last lines, “ because” says Me, “ the doctrine of pafive obedience and non resistance in the state of marriage, is there carried, perhaps, rather a little too far. But I will quote them,” adds the,“ as they afford me an opportunity of remarking on the nature of too prompt reformers, who are apt to run into the very contrary extreme at once ; betraying more of the time server, than the convert.
But, in general, indeed, it has been observed, that the most haughty tyrants become, on a reverse of fortune, the moft abject llaves; and this, from a like principle, in both cases; that they are apt to impute the same spirit of defpotism the conqueror, that they were before impreft with themselyes; and consequently, are brought to tremble at the apprehension of their own vice.".
In token of which duty, if he please,
General Observation. " The title of this play,” says St., “ was probably taken from an old story, called The Wyf lapped in Morells Skin, or the Taming of a Shrew.”
“ Nothing has yet been produced,” says C., “ that is likely to have given the poet occafion for writing this play, neither has it (in truth) the air of a novel ; so that we may reasonably suppose it a work of invention. That part of it, I mean, which gives it its title. For one of its underwalks, or plots, to wit, the story of Lucentio, in almost all its branches (this love affair, and the artificial conduct of it; the pleasant incident of the pedant; and the characters of Vincentio, Tranio, Gremio, and Biondello) is formed upon a comedy of George Gascoigne's, called Supposes, a translation from Ariosto's I Suppofiti: which comedy was acted by the gentlemen of Gray's-Inn in 1566; and may be seen in the translator's works, of which there are several old editions. And the odd induction of this play is taken from Goulart's Histoires admirables de notre Temps; who relates it as a real fact, practised upon a mean artisan at Brusels, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Goulart was translated into English, by one Edward Gremefton : the edition I have of it was printed in 1607, quarto, by George Eld, where this story may be found, at p. 587. but for any thing that there appears to the contrary, the book might have been printed before." Farmer labours hard to prove that this comedy is not genuine. Steevens however observes, that the players delivered it down amongst the rest as one of S's own: and its intrinsic merit bears sufficient evidence to the propriety of their decision, for S’s hand is very visible in every scene. “ Of this play,” says J., “ the two plots are lo well united, that they can hardly be called two without injury to the art with which they are interwoven. The attention is entertained with all the variety of a double plot, yet it is not distracted by unconnected incidents. The part between Catherine and Petruchio is eminently spritely and diverting. At the marriage of Bianca, the 4
arrival of the real father, perhaps, produces more perplexity, than pleasure. The whole play is very popular and diverting." See the Tatler, Vol. IV. No. 231. In Act 5. latter end of Sc. 2. Lucentio says,
Counterfeit supposes blear'd thine eye. For so, says an ingenious Annotator, it should be read, plainly alluding to Gascoigne's Supposes above mentioned.
On the Praternatural Beings of SHAKESPEAR
[From Mrs. Montague.]
E should do great injustice to the genius of S..
if we did not attend to his peculiar felicity, in those fictions and inventions, from which poetry derives its highest distinction, and from whence it first aflumed its pretenfions to divine inspiration, and appeared the affociate of religion.
The ancient poet was admitted into the synod of the Gods: he discoursed of their natures, he repeated. their counsels, and, without the charge of impiety or presumption, disclosed their diffenfions, and published their vices. He peopled the woods with nymphs, the rivers with deities; and, that he might still have fume being within call to his affistance, he placed responsive echo in the vacant regions of air.
In the infant ages of the world, the credulity of ignorance greedily received every marvellous tale : but, as mankind increased in knowledge, and a long series of traditions had established a certain mythology and history, the poet was no longer permitted to range, uncontrolled, through the boundiefs dominions of fancy, but became restrained, in some measure, to things believed or known. Though the duty of poetry to please and to surprise ftill subfifted, the means varied with the state of the world, and it soon grew necessary to make the new inventions lean on the old traditions. The human mind delights in novelty, and is captivated by the marvellous; but even in table itself requires the credible.-The poet, who
On the Præternatural Beings, &e. 19 can give to splendid inventions, and to fictions new and bold, the air and authority of reality and truth, is master of the genuine sources of the Caftalian spring, and inay justly be said to draw his inspiration from the well-bead of pure poesy.
S. saw how useful the popular superstitions had been to the ancient poets: he felt that they were necessary to poetry itself. One needs only to read some modern French heroic poems to be convinced how poorly epic poetry subsists on the pure elements of history and philosophy: Taso, though he had a subject fo popular, at the time he wrote, as the deliverance of JeruJalem, was obliged to employ the operations of magic, and the interposition of angels and dæmons, to give the marvellous, the sublime, and, I may add, that religious air to his work, which ennobles the enthufie asm, and fanctifies the fiction of the poet. Ariosto’s excursive mufe wanders through the regions of romance, attended by all the superb train of chivalry, giants, dwarfs, and enchanters; and however these poets, by the fovere and frigid critics may have been condemned for giving ornaments not purely classical, to their works, I believe.every reader of taste admires, not only the fertility of their imagination, but the judgment with which they availed themselves of the superstition of the times, and of the customs and modes of the country, in which they laid their scenes of action.
To recur, as the learned sometimes do, to the mythology and fables of other ages, and other countries, has ever a poor effect: Jupiter, Minerva, and Apollo, only embellish a modern story, as a print from their ftatues adorns the frontispiece. We admire indeed the art of the sculptors who give their images
with grace and majesty ; but no devotion is excited, no enthusiasm kindled, by the representations of characters whose divinity we do not acknowledge.