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indeed the three preceding lines, which exclude him from all social intercourse, should be expressive, of concern.—The second paffage is, where Buckingham solicits Richard for his promise, and Ri, chard meditates in these lines,
I do remember me, that Henry the fixth
'Tis odd—a king-perhapsThe last line is often spoke without a tone of continuation to the word, perbaps, which is most evidently intended : the third place is in these lines,
Hence, babbling dreams, ye threaten here in vain;
Conscience, avaunt-Richard's himself again. It is usual to speak this couplet in one continued climax of passion; whereas the two words marked in Italics, should be uttered in a lower tone, expressive of mental agony--Conscience being the constant disturber of his peace, and a great bar to his resolution ; the latter part of the line rises to a kind of triumphant exultation, which not only yaries, but gives force to the expression.
Having placed Mr. GARRICK far before all other competitors in this character. as supporting every scene throughout the whole with very capital merit ; it would be ungenerous not to acknowledge, that Mr. Mossop displays great powers, Mr. SHERIDAN much judgment, and Mr. SMITH confiderable spirit ; but had the first more delicacy, with less labour ; the second more harmony, and.. less stiffness; the third more variation, with less levity, their merit would rise several degrees beyond what it is.
Henry's character is composed of pathetic dig. nity ; in representation it should be studiously remembered, that his griefs, tho' a distressed king and father, should not be blubbered like those of a schoolboy; but should paint feelings worthy the monarch and the man-The part is admirably drawn, and highly finished, yet cannot I remember any performer doing it tolerable justice, except Mr. Dioces; who is now, I believe, retired from the stage.
Richmond requires little more than a good figure, free deportment, with smooth, spirited expression ; yet our theatres have not often filled it with ability: the late Mr. PALMER, tho' no tragedian, came nearest the idea I can form of it.
The Queen, tho' not wrought up to the pitch her circumstances seem to admit, is a character of much respect and attention ; Mrs. Pritchard did more for it in action, than the Author in writing; it is now given to second and third rates, for what reason is hard to say, as there never was, nor pere haps ever will be, an actress of higher estimation, than the lady just named: what she did not think beneath her is certainly equal to any existing merit, and the public have an undoubted right to expect capital performance, wherever it can be introduced ; nor should the ridiculous word, consequence, deter managers from fulfilling the point of duty.
The sentiments and versification of this tragedy are rather familiarly-nervous, than fowing and affluent; however, the language all through is uniformly characteristic, unless we object to a person
in Henry's situation stepping aside to the allusions of frosty Caucasus and December frow. Since it is trefpafling upon probability and nature, to make a character deeply distressed or toro with passion vent poetical similitudes; for which reason also we must condemn those lines, in the last speech of the fourth act, tho' the thought is really fine, that Speak of the fever-worn wretch : they are genenerally omitted, but more, I believe, to relieve the actor's utterance, than from any idea of impropriety.
Upon the whole, RICHARD appears much better calculated for representation than perusal, as indeed every bustling piece must be ; however, taste and judgement will not by any means hold it fight in the closer.
H A M L Ε Τ.
Written by Mr. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
The opening of this tragedy is extremely well devised ; the time of night, the place, the characters, and what they speak, all most naturally concur to raise an awful preparatory apprehension for the appearance of that supernatural agent on whom the main action totally depends ; and indeed so artfully has Shakespeare wrought upon his great patroness, nature ; so powerfully does he engage our passions upon this occasion; that even those who laugh at the idea of gltosts, as old womens' cales, cannot avoid lending an eye and ear of serious attention to this of Hamlet's father.
Introducing him previously to some of the in. ferior characters, brings him with double force upon the principal one ; and Horatio's determining to acquaint the prince with so strange and alarming a circumstance is very natural.
The fingularity of Hamlet's appearance as a mourner, when all the rest of the court are in a state of festivity and congratulation, raises our idea of his filial affection and concern ; his indifferent, contemptuous replies to the King, and his catching so eagerly at the word seems, used by his mother, are a happy commencement of his character. Laertes's soliciting leave to travel seems merely cal
culated to keep him out of the way, and to learn fencing against the fifth act.
The first soliloquy of Hamlet is particularly striking and essential, as it lays open in a pathetic, beautiful manner, the cause of his melancholy, and paints his mother's frailty with strong feeling, yet preserves a delicate respect.
The scene which introduces Horatio, &c. to communicate the circumstance of the preceding night succeeds naturally ; and the broken mode of conversation, in lines and half-lines, is so artfully contrived, is executed in so mafterly a maner, that the spectators, tho' they previously know the subject, are yet agreeably lured on to hear it related, and thoroughly sympathize in the transitions of Hamlet; whose interrogations concerning the awful ambassador of heaven are such, as give us a stronger feeling of the Ghost than even his appearance does ; on the prince's determination to watch, notwithstanding his violent agitation, he might have used a phrafe less censurable than the following,
I'll speak to it, tho' hell itself should gape,
And bid me hold my peace. Laertes's short advice to Ophelia is pregnant with affection and good sense; as Polonius is introduced to haften his son on board, I could with those excellent maxims for youth in the first scene of the second act, and which are always omitted in representation, were transposed to this place, and given personally by the father to his son : such a treasure of useful instruction should upon no ac