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just Alteration, and that I was oblig'd to sacrifice to that Justice Aufidius and the Tribunes, as well as Coriolanus.

Thus have we endeavour'd to shew that, for want of the Poetical Art, Shakespear lay under very great Disadvantages. At the same time we must own to his Honour, that he has often perform’d Wonders without it, in spight of the Judgment of so great a Man as Horace.

Natura fieret laudabile carmen, an arte,
Quæsitum est : ego nec studium sine divite vena,
Nec rude quid prosit video ingenium; alterius sic

Altera poscit opem res, & conjurat amice. But from this very Judgment of Horace we may justly conclude that Shakespear would have wonderfully surpass'd himself, if Art had been join'd to Nature. There never was a greater Genius in the World than Virgil: He was one who seems to have been born for this glorious End, that the Roman Muse might exert in him the utmost Force of her Poetry : And his admirable and divine Beauties are manifestly owing to the happy Confederacy of Art and Nature. It was Art that contriv'd that incomparable Design of the Æneis, and it was Nature that executed it. Could the greatest Genius that ever was infus'd into Earthly Mold by Heaven, if it had been unguided and unassisted by Art, have taught him to make that noble and wonderful Use of the Pythagorean Transmigration, which he makes in the Sixth Book of his Poem? Had Virgil been a circular Poet, and closely adher'd to History, how could the Romans have been transported with that inimitable Episode of Dido, which brought a-fresh into their Minds the Carthaginian War, and the dreadful Hannibal ? When 'tis evident that that admirable Episode is so little owing to a faithful observance of History, and the exact order of Time, that 'tis deriv’d from a very bold but judicious Violation of these ; it being undeniable that Dido liv'd almost 300 Years after Æneas. Yet is it that charming Episode that makes the chief Beauties of a third Part of the Poem. For the Destruction of Troy it self, which is so divinely related, is

still more admirable by the Effect it produces, which is the Passion of Dido.

I should now proceed to shew under what Disadvantages Shakespear lay for want of being conversant with the Ancients. But I have already writ a long Letter, and am desirous to know how you relish what has been already said before I go any farther : For I am unwilling to take more Pains before I am sure of giving you some Pleasure.

I am,

SIR,

Your most humble, faithful Servant.

LETTER II.

SIR,

Feb. 6. 1711 Upon the Encouragement I have receiv'd from you, I shall proceed to shew under what Disadvantages Shakespear lay for want of being conversant with the Ancients. But because I have lately been in some Conversation, where they would not allow but that he was acquainted with the Ancients, I shall endeavour to make it appear that he was not; and the shewing that in the Method in which I pretend to convince the Reader of it, will sufficiently prove what Inconveniencies he lay under, and what Errors he committed for want of being conversant with them. But here we must distinguish between the several kinds of Acquaintance: A Man may be said to be acquainted with another who never was but twice in his Company ; but that is at the best a superficial Acquaintance, from which neither very great pleasure nor Profit can be deriv'd. Our Business is here to shew that Shakespear had no familiar Acquaintance with the Græcian and Roman Authors. For if he was familiarly conversant with them, how comes it to pass that he wants Art? Is it that he studied to know them in other things, and neglected that only in them, which chiefly tends to the Advancement of the Art of the Stage? Or is it that he wanted Discernment to see the Justness, and the Greatness, and the Harmony of their Designs, and the Reasonableness of those Rules upon which those Designs are founded ? Or how come his Successors to have that Discernment which he wanted, when they fall so much below him in other things ? How comes he to have been guilty of the grossest Faults in Chronology, and how come we to find out those Faults? In his Tragedy of Troylus and Cressida, he introduces Hector speaking of Aristotle, who was born a thousand Years after the Death of Hector. In the same Play mention is made of Milo, which is another very great Fault in Chronology. Alexander is mention'd in Coriolanus, tho' that Conqueror of the Orient liv'd about two hundred Years after him. In this last Tragedy he has mistaken the very Names of his Dramatick Persons, if we give Credit to Livy. For the Mother of Coriolanus in the Roman Historian is Vetturia, and the Wife is Volumnia. Whereas in Shakespear the Wife is. Virgilia, and the Mother Volumnia. And the Volscian General in Shakespear is Tullus Aufidius, and Tullus Attius in Livy. How comes it that he takes Plutarch's Word, who was by Birth a Græcian, for the Affairs of Rome, rather than that of the Roman Historian, if so be that he had read the latter? Or what Reason can be given for his not reading him, when he wrote upon a Roman Story, but that in Shakespear's time there was a Translation of Plutarch, and there was none of Livy? If Shakespear was familiarly conversant with the Roman Authors, how came he to introduce a Rabble into Coriolanus, in which he offended not only against the Dignity of Tragedy, but the Truth of Fact, the Authority of all the Roman Writers, the Customs of Ancient Rome, and the Majesty of the Roman People ? By introducing a Rabble into Julius Cæsar, he only offended against the Dignity of Tragedy. For that part of the People who ran about the Streets upon great Festivals, or publick Calamities, or publick Rejoicings, or Revolutions in Government, are certainly the Scum of the Populace. But the Persons who in the Time of Coriolanus rose in Vindication of their just Rights, and extorted from the Patricians the Institution of the Tribunes of the People, and the Persons by whom afterwards Coriolanus was tried, were the whole Body of the Roman People to the Reserve of the Patricians, which Body included the Roman Knights, and the wealthy substantial Citizens, who were as different from the Rabble as the Patricians themselves, as qualify'd as the latter to form a right Judgment of Things, and to contemn the vain Opinions of the Rabble. So at least Horace esteems them, who very well knew his Countrymen.

Offenduntur enim, quibus est equus, aut pater, aut res,
Nec, siquid fricti ciceris probat aut nucis emptor,

Æquis accipiunt animis donantve Corona.
Where we see the Knights and the substantial Citizens are
rank'd in an equal Degree of Capacity with the Roman
Senators, and are equally distinguish'd from the Rabble.

If Shakespear was so conversant with the Ancients, how comes he to have introduc'd some Characters into his Plays so unlike what they are to be found in History? In the Character of Menenius in the following Tragedy, he has doubly offended against that Historical Resemblance. For first whereas Menenius was an eloquent Person, Shakespear has made him a downright Buffoon. And how is it possible for any Man to conceive a Ciceronian Jack-pudding? Never was any Buffoon eloquent, or wise, or witty, or virtuous. All the good and ill Qualities of a Buffoon are summ'd up in one Word, and that is a Buffoon. And secondly, whereas Shakespear has made him a Hater and Contemner and Villifier of the People, we are assur’d by the Roman Historian that Menenius was extremely popular. _He was so very far from opposing the Institution of the Tribunes, as he is represented in Shakespear, that he was chiefly instrumental in it. After the People had deserted the City, and sat down upon the sacred Mountain, he was the

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chief of the Delegates whom the Senate deputed to them, as being look'd upon to be the Person who would be most agreeable to them. In short, this very Menenius both liv'd and dy'd so very much their Favourite, that dying poor he had pompous Funerals at the Expence of the Roman People.

Had Shakespear read either Sallust or Cicero, how could he have made so very little of the first and greatest of Men, as that Cæsar should be but a Fourth-rate Actor in his own Tragedy ? How could it have been that, seeing Cæsar, we should ask for Cæsar? That we should ask, where is his unequall'd Greatness of Mind, his unbounded Thirst of Glory, and that victorious Eloquence, with which he triumph'd over the Souls of both Friends and Enemies, and with which he rivall’d Cicero in Genius as he did Pompey in Power ? How fair an Occasion was there to open the Character of Cæsar in the first Scene between Brutus and Cassius ? For when Cassius tells Brutus that Cæsar was but a Man like them, and had the same natural Imperfections which they had, how natural had it been for Brutus to reply, that Cæsar indeed had their Imperfections of Nature, but neither he nor Cassius had by any means the great Qualities of Cæsar : neither his Military Virtue, nor Science, nor his matchless Renown, nor his unparallellid Victories, his unwearied Bounty to his Friends, nor his Godlike Clemency to his Foes, his Beneficence, his Munificence, his Easiness of Access to the meanest Roman, his indefatigable Labours, his incredible Celerity, the Plausibleness if not Justness of his Ambition, that knowing himself to be the greatest of Men, he only sought occasion to make the World confess him such. In short, if Brutus, after enumerating all the wonderful Qualities of Cæsar, had resolv'd in spight of them all to sacrifice him to publick Liberty, how had such a Proceeding heighten'd the Virtue and the Character of Brutus ? But then indeed it would have been requisite that Cæsar upon his Appearance should have made all this good. And as

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