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What a noble pair of ears this worthy Theobald must have had! The eight amphimacers or cretics,—
Over hill, over dale, Thoro' bush, thoro' briar, Over park, over pale, Thoro' flood, thoro' fire— have a delightful effect on the ear in their sweet transition to the trochaic,— I do wander ev'ry where Swifter than the moones sphere, &c.— The last words as sustaining the rhyme, must be considered, as in fact they are, trochees in time.
It may be worth while to give some correct examples in English of the principal metrical feet :—
Pyrrhic or Dibrach, u o = body, spirit.
The paucity of spondees in single words in English and, indeed, in the modern languages in general, makes, perhaps, the greatest distinction, metrically considered, between them and the Greek and Latin.
Dactyl, — u o zz merrily.
Anapaest, o o — — a propos, or the first three syllables of cSrSmony,*
• Written probably by mistake for " ceremonious."
Amphibrachys, o — o = deUghtful.
Antibacchius, o r= the" Lord God.
Bacchius, u — Helvellyn.
Molossus, =: John James Jones.
These simple feet may suffice for understanding the metres of Shakspeare, for the greater part at least;—but Milton cannot be made harmoniously intelligible without the composite feet, the Ionics, Paeons, and Epitrites.
lb. sc. 2. Titania's speech:—(Theobald adopting Warburton's reading.)
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gate
Follying (her womb then rich with my young squire')
Would imitate, &c. Oh! oh! Heaven have mercy on poor Shakspeare, and also on Mr. Warburton's mind's eye!
Act. v. sc. 1. Theseus' speech:—(Theobald.)
And what poor [willing] duty cannot do,
To my ears it would read far more Shakspearian thus:—
And what poor duty cannot do, yet would, Noble respect, &c.
lb. sc. 2.
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Very Anacreon in perfectness, proportion, grace, and spontaneity! So far it is Greek;—but then add, O! what wealth, what wild ranging, and yet what compression and condensation of, English fancy! In truth, there is nothing in Anacreon more perfect than these thirty lines, or half so rich and imaginative. They form a speckless diamond.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
THE myriad-minded man, our, and all men's, Shakspeare, has in this piece presented us with a legitimate farce in exactest consonance with the philosophical principles and character of farce, as distinguished from comedy and from entertainments. A proper farce is mainly distinguished from comedy by the license allowed, and even required, in the fable, in order to produce strange and laughable situations. The story need not be probable, it is enough that it is possible. A comedy would scarcely allow even the two Antipholuses; because, although there have been instances of almost indistinguishable likeness in two persons, yet these are mere individual accidents, casus ludentis natures, and the verum will not excuse the inverisimile. But farce dares add the two Dromios, and is justified in so doing by the laws of its end and constitution. In a word, farces commence in a postulate, which must be granted.
AS YOU LIKE IT.
Act. I. 8C. 1.
Oli. What, boy!
Orla. Come, come, elder brother, yon are too young in this.
Oli. Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?
THERE is a beauty here. The word 'boy' naturally provokes and awakens in Orlando the sense of his manly powers; and with the retort of ' elder brother,' he grasps him with firm hands, and makes him feel he is no boy.
lb. Oli. Farewell, good Charles.—Now will I stir this gamester: I hope, I shall see an end of him; for my soul, yet I know not why, hates nothing more than him. Yet he's gentle; never school'd, and yet learn'd; full of noble device; of all sorts enchantingly beloved! and, indeed, so much in the heart of the world, and especially of my own people, who best know him, that I am altogether misprized: but it shall not be so long; this wrestler shall clear all.
This has always appeared to me one of the most un-Shakspearian speeches in all the genuine works of our poet; yet I should be nothing surprized, and greatly pleased, to find it hereafter a fresh beautv, as has so often happened to me with other supposed defects of great men. 1810.
It is too venturous to charge a passage in Shakspeare with want of truth to nature; and yet at first sight this speech of Oliver's expresses truths, which it seems almost impossible that any mind should so distinctly, so livelily, and so voluntarily, have presented to itself, in connection with feelings and in
tentions so malignant, and so contrary to those
Celia. If yoo saw yourself with your eyes, or knew yourself with your judgment, the fear of your adventure would counsel you to a more equal enterprise.
Surely it should be 'our eyes' and ' our judgment.' Ib.sc.3.
Cel. But is all this for your father?
Roi. No, some of it is for my child's father.
Theobald restores this as the reading of the older editions. It may be so: but who can doubt that it is a mistake for' my father's child,' meaning herself? According to Theobald's note, a most indelicate anticipation is put into the mouth of Rosalind without reason; — and besides what a strange thought, and how out of place, and unintelligible!
Act. iv. sc. 2.
Take thou no scorn
To wear the horn, the lusty horn;
It was a crest ere thou wast born.