« PreviousContinue »
he who had lost himself, could find a mistress. And for the same reason, the following passage in Corneille has been generally condemned:
Chimene. Mon pere est mort, Elvire, et la pre
Cid, act 3. sc. 3.
To die is to be banish'd from myself:
Two Gentlemen of Verona, aɛt 3. sc. 3.
Countess. I pray thee, Lady, have a better
All's well that ends well, aft 3. sc. 3.
K. Henry. O my poor kingdom, fick with civil
blows! When that my care could not with-hold thy riots,
What wilt thou do when riot is thy carę ?
Second part, Henry IV. a£t 4. fc. 11.
Paftor Fido, a&t 1. fc, 2. Antony, speaking of Julius Cæsar : O world! thou wast the forest of this hart; And this, indeed, O world, the heart of thee. How like a deer, stricken by many princes, Dost thou here lie!
Julius Cæfar, act 3. fc. 3. Playing thus with the sound of words, which is still worse than a pun, is the meanest of all conceits. But Shakespear, when he descends to a play of words, is not always in the wrong; for it is done sometimes to denote a peculiar character ; as is the following passage. King Philip. What say'st thou, boy ? look in the
Which being but the shadow of your son,
eye. Faulconbridge. Drawn in the flatt'ring table of
King John, a£t. 2. fc. 5.
A jingle of words is the lowest species of this low wit; which is scarce sufferable in any
case, and least of all in an heroic poem. And yet Milton in some instances has descended to this puerility:
And brought into the world a world of wo,
Begirt th'almighty throne
With a shout
One should think it unnecessary to enter a caveat against an expression that has no meaning, or no distinct meaning; and yet somewhat of this kind may be found even among good writers. These make a sixth class.
Sebastian. I beg no pity for this mould’ring clay. For if you give it burial, there it takes Possession of your earth : If burnt and scatter'd in the air ; the winds That strow my dust, diffuse my royalty, And spread me o'er your clime; for where one 2
tom Of mine shall light, know there Sebastian reigns.
Dryden, Don Sebastian King of Portugal, act 1,
Cleopatra. Now, what news my Charmion?
Dryden, All for Love, ał 2..
If she be coy, and scorn my noble fire,
If her chill heart I cannot move;
Why, I'll enjoy the very love, And make a mistress of my own desire. Cowley, poem inscribed, The Request.
His whole poem, inscribed, My Pitture, is a jargon of the same kind :
'Tis he, they cry, by whom Not men, but war itself is overcome.
Such empty expressions are finely ridiculed in the Rehearsal :
Was't not unjust to ravish hence her breath, And in life's stead to leave us nought but death?
Axt 4. sc. To