« PreviousContinue »
Byr. Do it, and, if at one blow thou art short,
Hang. Let me beseech you, I may cut your hair.
Vit. My lord, you make too much of this your body,
Byr. Nor is it yours.
I'll take my death with all the horrid rites
You wish my quiet, yet give cause of fury:
Should that man make me that would shoot it through!
By such a bloody and infamous stroke."
With the following illustration of the nature of man to pine after what he has not, and neglect that which he has.
"Men ne'er are satisfied with what they have;
Far out of wit and out of countenance:
And Byron's comparison of beasts with men.
They are compar'd to lions, wolves, and boars;
But, by conversion, none will say a lion
We conclude our enormous extracts from the tragedies of Chapman, which we fear exceed the space which their intrinsic worth has a right to claim. Should the impatience of our readers be such as to demand a farther excuse, we can allege the extreme scarcity of these works, which renders it a very trying task to lea buried in oblivion any parts of these writings which betray the genius of our author, however they may be disfigured by his absurdities. We will moreover observe this, that these absurdities lie on the surface, but that the excellent sense of much of Chapman's writings is only to be discovered after attentive consideration and repeated perusal. His expressions are frequently quaint, his language often forced, much of it borrowed from the Latin, and all of it employed rather for its force, than either its elegance or beauty. Another serious grievance to those who peruse only the flowing productions of the mob of gentlemen who write with ease, will be found in the crabbedness of the versification and the general absence of rhythm in these works. But he who will not dig for precious ore is unworthy of it. And we may safely promise our readers, that a laborious investigation of Chapman's meaning, even when it sometimes appears most obscure, will be attended with a copious reward of gratification.
Of the remaining tragedies, we have not much to say-the truth is, the works of this author are most unequal. In different parts of the same play, we find fustian and excellent sense, rhodomontade and beautiful observations, mixed together in strange confusion. But in different plays, it has sometimes happened, that he has never once hit on the happy vein, but raved on from prologue to epilogue without one single moment
of true inspiration. We may safely assert this of the Cæsar and Pompey. The Revenge for Honour is considerably better, but, superior as it is to the other, it does not afford us a single good extract. From the Alphonsus, Emperor of Germany, however, something good might be gleaned, had we room for it; as, for instance, the feigned madness of the emperor, and the struggle between Edward and his aunt, Isabella, which should be first put to death, " a strained courtesy at a bitter feast," as the villanous Alphonsus calls it. But, on the whole, the play is a bloody and clumsy production, and, as we before observed of it and the Revenge for Honour, entirely divested of the descriptive and didactic poetry which so often graces the plays from which we have so largely extracted. The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois we regret to say we have never seen. The rarity of the old plays is such, that they are only to be found in some publie libraries, and in the extensive hoards of private collectors; and in such applications as we have reluctantly caused to be made, we confess, we have rather found the exclusive spirit of the monopolist, than the liberality of the enlightened lover of literature.
END OF VOL. IV.
Maurice, Printer, Fenchurch-street.