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CATILINE'S CONSPIRACY. FONDNESS for judging one work by com
parison with others, perhaps altogether of a different class, argues a vulgar taste. Yet it is chietly on this principle that the Catiline has been rated so low. Take it and Sejanus, as compositions of a particular kind, namely, as a mode of relating great historical events in the liveliest and most interesting manner, and I cannot help wishing that we had whole volumes of such plays. We might iis rationally expect the excitement of the Vicar of Wakefield from Goldsmithı’s History of England, as that of Lear, Othello, &c. from the Sejanus or Catiline.
Act i. sc. 1.
(He spies one of his boys not answer.)
This is either an unintelligible, or, in every sense, a most unnatural, passage,-improbable, if not impossible, at the moment of signing and swearing such a conspiracy, to the most libidinous satyr. The very presence of the boys is an outrage to probability. I suspect that these lines down to the words • throat opens,' should be removed back so as to follow the words on this part of the
house,' in the speech of Catiline soon after the
-He is but a new fellow,
Can these or such be any aids to us, &c.
gus of his !
INDUCTION. Scrivener's speech :
If there be never a serrant-monster i’ the Fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques?
HE best excuse that can be made for Jonson,
and Fletcher, in respect of these base and silly sneers at Shakspeare, is, that his plays were present to men's minds chiefly as acted. They had not a neat edition of them, as we have, so as, by compar
ing the one with the other, to form a just notion of the mighty mind that produced the whole. At all events, and in every point of view, Jonson stands far higher in a moral light than Beaumont and Fletcher. He was a fair contemporary, and in his way, and as far as Shakspeare is concerned, an original. But Beaumont and Fletcher were always imitators of, and often borrowers from, him, and yet sneer at him with a spite far more malignant than Jonson, who, besides, has made noble compensation by his praises.
Act ii. sc. 3.
Just. I mean a child of the horn-thunb, a babe of booty, boy, a cut purse.
Does not this confirm, what the passage itself cannot but suggest, the propriety of substituting • booty' for 'beauty in Falstatt's speech, Henry IV. Pt. I. act. i. sc. 2. • Let not us, &c. ?'
It is not often that old Ben condescends to imitate a modern author; but Master Dan. Knockhum Jordan and his vapours are manifest reflexes of Nym and Pistol.
Ib. sc. 5.
Quarl. She'll make excellent geer for the coachmakers here in Smithfield, to anoint wheels and axletrees with.
Good! but yet it falls short of the speech of a Mr. Johnes, V. P., in the Common Council, on the invasion intended by Buonaparte: Houses plundered - then burnt;- -sons conscribed - wives
and daughters ravished, &c. &c.—" But as for you, you luxurious Aldermen! with your fat will he grease the wheels of his triumphant chariot!" Ib. sc. 6.
Cuk. Avoid i' your satin doublet, Vumps. This reminds me of Shakspeare's' Aroint thee, witch!' I find in several books of that age the words aloiyne and eloigne-that is, - keep your distance !' or ' off with you!' Perhaps aroint' was a corruption of aloigne' by the vulgar. The common etymology from ronger to gnaw seems unsatisfactory.
Act iii. sc. 4.
Quarl. Ilow now, Numps! almost tired i' your protector. ship? orerparted, overparted ?
odd sort of propheticality in this Numps and old Noll! Ib. sc. 6. Knockhum's speech :
He eats with his eyes, as well as his teeth. A good motto for the Parson in Hogarth's Election Dinner,-- who shows how easily he might be reconciled to the Church of Rome, for he worships what he eats.
Act v. sc. 5.
Pup. Di. It is not prophane.
Pup. It is not prophane.
Lun. Well said, coufute bim with Not, still. An imitation of the quarrel between Bacchus and the Frogs in Aristophanes :
THE DEVIL IS AV ASS.
Act. i. sc. 1.
Pug. Why any: Fraud,
Or old Iniquity, I'll cull him hither. The words in italics should probably be given to the master-devil, Satan. Whalley's note.
HAT is, against all probability, and with a
(for Jonson) impossible violation of character.
The words plainly belong to Pug, and mark at once his simpleness and his impatience.
Ib. sc. 4. Fitz-dottrel's soliloquy:-