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the continual theme from speech to speech, till the fatal conclusion, which never fails to be caused by some long-expected and obvious discovery. During the course of the representation, the wearied spectator, instead of that tumultuous joy which is produced by the agitation of hope and fear, is only amused at times with the inferior pleasure of poetical description, and many laboured attempts to excite the mind by pathetic and sublime sentiments. Though often interrupted by different speakers, it is no other than an uninteresting and declamatory poem, where, if there is any display of character, it is but in general terms, of a man splendidly good, or on the contrary, outrageously wicked; of a fair female, gentle and amiable, and of her fierce and haughty oppressor.—The qualities of good and bad are sometimes expressed with much vigour and fire, but the rest of the man is wanting; the imagination cannot lay hold on a distinct and natural character, intermixed with some foibles, which never fail to attend the best, with a peculiar bias of mind towards a particular object, or the prejudices which are expected to be found from the profession, the situation, or any of the circumstances of his life. The few who have succeeded in this sphere, is a proof, that to excel in it requires a genius of the highest and most finished kind. The enthusiasm of imagination, and the calm and minute observation of judgment, qualities so plainly requisite, are seldom found united in any high degree among mankind.
The characters which make a chief figure in the tragedy of Othello, are the Moor himself, Desdemona, and Iago. The subject is, the destruction 2 of Desdemona; and this catastrophe the author never loses sight of. It is indeed remarkable for unity of action, which of all the three unities is of principal consequence. Unity of time and place peculiar to this species of composition, arises from the nature of dramatic representation, the action being supposed to be in view of spectators for a moderate space of time. But a strict attention to the unities of time and place has never been completely attained by any writer. When an action is to be represented, of such importance as to awaken, keep alive, and at last gratify curiosity, it must necessarily give rise to many incidents; and in these incidents, if consistent with nature and probability, in different places and with different intervals, much time is spent, and much is done behind the curtain, which cannot be brought in review : such liberties never offend the reader, and seldom the spectator; and when a certain degree of liberty is thought proper, the writer may go a considerable length without offending our sense of propriety; and we partly consider it as dramatic narration. To be scrupulously attentive to the unities of time and place, confines the genius of the writer, makes the work barren of incidents, and consequently less interesting : much must be forced and improbable, and the internal merit and beauty of the story must be sacrificed to the external and artificial nature of representation.
Those who contend for a strict resemblance of the artificial action to the story, require what can never take place: the scene is often changed on the same spot, and it matters very little whether from one room of the palace to another, or from London to York, as both are equally impossible; and the same may be said of supposing five minutes, when we well know it is really five hours; it may, without much greater improbability, be protracted to five weeks. A natural train of incidents can scarcely be expected from a story accommodated to the strict rules of the stage. They must be dull, few, and uniform, because they are all in some measure within view, and comprehended at first sight; and in place of incident, there must be spun out long harangues of common-place morality. Few or none but those who are critically conversant with controversies of this kind, observe infringements of time and place; but all are offended with awant of probability in the management of the plot. I have made these observations, as Shakspeare is more remarkable for adhering to unity of action than to the other two: the one is the offspring of genius alone, the other of art."
• These observations on the unities of time and place are correctly and powerfully given; and when added to the remarks which have been previously quoted in a former note from Dr. Gregory, cannot but convince the reader how judiciously, and with what happy effect, Shakspeare has liberated himself from an arbitrary and overwhelming yoke.
e Anderson's Bee, Vol. 1, p. 56, et seq.
CRITICAL REMARKS ON OTHELLO CONTINUED.
SHAKSPEARE has adorned the hero of this tragedy with every virtue that can render human nature great and amiable, and he has brought him into such trying situations as give full proof of both. His love for Desdemona is of the most refined and exalted kind; and his behaviour, upon the supposition of his false return, is an indication of his great spirit, and such as might be expected from his keen sense of honour and warlike character: though naturally susceptible of the tenderest passions, yet being engaged from his early youth in scenes that required the exercise of those of a higher nature, he has not learned
Those soft parts of conversation
Rude (says he) am I in speech,
His manners have nothing of that studied courtesy which is the consequence of polite conversation, a tincture of which is delicately spread over the behaviour of Ludovico and Gratiano ; but all is the natural effusion of gentleness and magnanimity. His generous and soaring mind, always occupied with ideas natural to itself, could not brook, according to his own expression, to study all the qualities of human dealings, the artifices of interest, and the meanness of servile attentions. To a man constituted' like Iago himself, the affected interest which he takes in the welfare of his master, profound as it was, must have been very suspicious; but to Othello it is the effect of erceeding honesty! His enlarged affections were used to diffuse happiness in a wide circle, to be pained with misery, and displeased with injustice, if within his view ; but he did not consider the small proportion of mankind that was inspired by similar sentiments, and therefore the parade of Iago was in his eyes unbounded generosity.
With so much nature and dignity does he always act, that, even when distorted with angry passions, he appears amiable.
Emil. I would you had never seen him.
That even his stubborness, his checks, and frowns,
A character of this kind commands respect; and in his actions we naturally interest ourselves.
Iago, who is the prime mover of the events of this tragedy, is a character of no simple kind: he possesses uncommon sagacity in judging of the actions of men good and bad ; he discerns the merit of Cassio to lie more in the theory than in the practice of war. Roderigo he comprehended completely; the amiable nature of Desdemona he