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As an appendix to the foregoing rule, I add the following observation, That to make a sudden and, strong impression, fome single circumstance happily selected, has more power than the most laboured de scription. Macbeth, mentioning to his lady some voices he heard while he was murdering the King, says, There's one did laugh in fleep, and one cry'd Murder ! They wak'd each other ; and I stood and heard them ; But they did say their prayers, and address them Again to sleep. Lady. There are two lodg'd together.
Macbeth. One cry'd, God bless us! and Amen the other ; As they had seen me witi these hangman's hands. Listening their tear, I could not say Amen, When thev did lay, God bless us.
Lady. Consider it not so deeply.
Macbeth. But wherefore could not I pronounce Amen? I had mott need of blefling, and Amen Stuck in my throat.
Lady. These deeds must not be thought After these ways; so it will make us mad. Macbeth. Methought, I heard a voice cry,
Sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder fleep, &c.
AEt 2. fc. 3. Alphonso, in the Mourning Bride, íhut up in the same prison where his father had been confined : In a dark corner of my
cell I found This paper, what it is this light will show. • If my Alphonfo"
[Reading “ If my Alphonso live, restore him, Heav'n ; Give me more weight, crush my declining years With bolts, with chains, imprisonment and want ; But bless my son, vilt net him for me." It is his hand ; this was his pray'r—Yet more : “ Let ev'ry hair, which forrow by the roots [Reading Tears from my hoary and devoted head, Be doubled in thy mercies to my son : Not for myself, but him, hear me all-gracious” "Tis wanting what should follow-Heav'n should follow,
But 'tis torn off-Why should that word alone
Mourning Bride, act 3. fc. 1.
I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
First part, Henry IV. act 4. fc. 2.
Second part, Henry VI. all 3. fr. 10.
The same author speaking ludicrously of an army debilitated with diseases, says,
Half of them dare not thake the snow from off their calfocks, left ihcy shake themselves 10 pieces.
I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were derolate. The flames had refounded in the halls : and the voice of the people is heard no inore. The stream of Clutha was
removed from its place by the fall of the walls. The thistle Thook there its lonely head : the moss whistled to the wind. The fox looked out from the windows : and the rank grass of the wall waved round his head. Desolate is the dwelling of Morna : filence is in the house of her fathers.
To draw a character is the master-stroke of de. scription. In this Tacitus excels : his portraits are natural and lively, not a feature wanting nor misplaced. Shakespear, however, exceeds Tacitus in liveliness, fome characteristical circumstance being generally invented or laid hold of, which paints more to the life than many words. The following instances will explain my meaning, and at the same time prove my observation to be just.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Merchant of Venice, ait, r. sc. 2. Again :
Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice: his reasons are two grains of wheat hid in two buthels of chat ; you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them they are not worth the , search
In the following passage a character is completed by a single stroke.
Shallow. O the mad days that I have spent ; and to see how many of mine old acquaintance are dead.
Silence. We shall all follow, Cousin.
Shallow. Certain, 'tis certain, very sure, very sure ; Death (as the Pfalmift faith) is certain to all : all ihall die, How a good yoke of bullocks at Stamford fair?
Slender. Truly, Cousin, I was not there.
Shallow. Death is certain. Is old Double of your town living vet?
Silence. Dead, Sir.
Shallow. Dead ! fee, fee; he drew a good bow : and dead. He thot a fine shoot. How a score of ewes now ?
Silence. Thereafter as they be. A score of good ewes may be worth ten pounds. Shallow. And is old Double dead?
Second part, Henry IV. act 3. sc. 3. Describing a jealous husband :
Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes to them by his note. There is no hiding you in the house.
Merry Wives of Windsor, aci 4. sc. 3. Congreve has an inimitable stroke of this kind in his comedy of Love for Love :
Ben Legend. Well, father, and how do all at home? how does brother Dick, and brother Val?
Sir Sampfon. Dick: body o' me, Dick has been dead these two years.
I writ you word when you were at Leghorn. Ben. Mefs, that's true : marry, I had forgot. Dick's dead, as you say.
AEt 3: sc. 6. Falstaff speaking of ancient Pistol :
He's no swaggerer, hostess : a tame cheater i'faith ; you may ftrcak him as gently as a puppy-giey-hound , he will
not fwagger with a Barbary hen, if her feathers turn back in any thew of resistance.
Second Part, Henry IV. ali 2. fc. 9. Ossian, among his other excellencies, is eminently fuccessful in drawing characters ; and he never fails to delight his reader with the beautiful attitudes of his heroes. Take the following instances.
o Oscar! bend the strong in arm ; but spare the feeble hand. Be thou a stream of many tides against the foes of thy people ; but like the gale that moves the grass to those who ask thine aid. -So Tremor lived ; fuch Trathal was; and such has Fingal been. My arm was the support of the injured ; and the weak reited behind the lightning of
We beard the voice of joy on the coast, and we thought that the mighty Cathmore came. Cathinore the friend of strangers the brother of red-haired Cairbar. But their fouls were not the same ; for the light of heaven was in the bosom of Cathmore. His towers rose on the banks of Atha : feven paths led to his halls : feven chiefs stood on these paths, and called the ftranger to the feast. But Cathmore dwelt in the wood to avoid tħe voice of praise.
Dermid and Oscar were one : they reaped the battle together. Their friendihip was strong as their steel ; and death walked between thein to the held. They rụth on the foe like two rocks falling from the brow of Ardven. Their swords are stained with the blood of the valiant : Warriors taint at their name. Who is equal to Oscar but Derinid? who to Dermid but Oscar ?
Son of Comhai, replied the chief, the strength of Morni's arm has failed ; I attempt to draw the sword of my youth, but it remains in its place : I throw the spear, but it walls short of the mark : and I feel the weight of my thield. We decay like the grass of the mountain, and our ftrangih returns, no more. I have a fon, O Fingal, his fou I nas delighted in the actions of Morni's youth ; but his sword has not been fitted against the foe, neither has his