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Shakespeare. We have no low buffoonery in the former, such as disgraces Enobarbus, and is hardly redeemed by his affecting catastrophe. Even the Egyptian Alexas acquires some respectability, from his patriotic attachment to the interests of his country, and from his skill as a wily courtier. He expresses, by a beautiful image, the effeminate attachment to life, appropriated to his character and country:

O, that I less could fear to lose this being,
Which, like a snow-ball in my coward hand,
The more 'tis grasp'd, the faster melts away.

The Octavia of Dryden is a much more important personage than in the " Antony and Cleopatra" of Shakespeare. She is, however, more cold and unamiable; for, in the very short scenes in which the Octavia of Shakespeare appears, she is placed in rather an interesting point of view. But Dryden has himself informed us, that he was apprehensive the justice of a wife's claim upon her husband would draw the audience to her side, and lessen their interest in the lover and the mistress. He seems accordingly to have studiedly lowered the character of the injured Octavia, who, in her conduct towards her husband, shews much duty and little love ; and plainly intimates, that her rectitude of conduct flows from a due regard to her own reputation, rather than from attachment to Antony's person, or sympathy with him in his misfortunes. It happens, therefore, with Octavia, as with all other very good selfish kind of people; we think it unnecessary to feel any thing for her, as she is obviously capable of taking very good care of herself. I must not omit, that her scolding scene with čleopatra, although anxiously justified by the author in the preface, seems too coarse to be in character, and is a glaring exception to the general good taste evinced throughout the rest of the piece.

It would be too long a task to contrast the beauties of these two great poets in point of diction and style. But the reader will doubtless be pleased to compare the noted descriptions of the voyage of Cleopatra down the Cydnus. It is thus given in Shakespeare :

The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burn’d on the water : The poop was beaten gold ;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that
The winds were love-sick with them : The oars were silver ;
Which, to the tune of Autes, kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat, to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description : she did lie
In her pavilion (cloth of gold, of tissue,

O'er-picturing that Venus, where we see
The fancy outwork nature; on each side her,
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With diverse colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid, did.
Her gentlewomen, like the Nereids,
So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
And made their bends adornings : At the helm
A seeming mermaid steers : The silken tackle
Swells with the touches of those flower-soft hands
That yarely frame the office. From the barge
A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her; and Antony,
Enthroned in the market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to the air ; which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in nature.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act i. Scene 2

The parallel passage in Dryden runs thus :

The tackling silk, the streamers waved with gold,
The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails :
Her nymphs, like Nereids, round her couch were placed ;
Where she, another sea-born Venus, lay.

Dola. No more: I would not hear it.

Ant. 0, you must !
She lay, and leant her cheek upon her hand,
And cast a look so languishingly sweet,
As if, secure of all beholders hearts,
Neglecting she could take them : Boys, like Cupids,
Stood fanning, with their painted wings, the winds
That play'd about her face! But if she smiled,
A darting glory seem'd to blaze abroad,
That men's desiring eyes were never wearied,
But hung upon the object : To soft flutes
The silver oars kept time; and while they play'd,
The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight;
And both to thought. "Twas heaven, or somewhat more :
For she so charm'd all hearts, that gazing crowds
Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath
To give their welcome voice.
Then, Dolabella, where was then thy soul ?
Was not thy fury quite disarm’d with murder ?
Didst thou not shrink behind me from those eyes,
And whisper in my ear, Oh, tell her not
That I accused her of my brother's death?

In judging betwixt these celebrated passages, we feel almost afraid to avow a preference of Dryden, founded partly upon the easy flow of the verse, which seems to soften with the subject, but chiefly upon the beauty of the language and imagery, which is flowery

without diffusiveness, and rapturous without hyperbole. I fear Shakespeare cannot be exculpated from the latter fault; yet I am sensible, it is by sifting his beauties from his conceits that his imitator has been enabled to excel him.

It is impossible to bestow too much praise on the beautiful passages which occur so frequently in “ All for Love." Having already given several examples of happy expression of melancholy and tender feelings, I content myself with extracting the sublime and terrific description of an omen presaging the downfall of Egypt.

Serap. Last night, between the hours of twelve and one,
In a lone isle of tħe temple while I walk’d,
A whirlwind rose, that, with a violent blast,
Shook all the dome : The doors around me clapt ;
The iron wicket, that defends the vault,
Where the long race of Ptolemies is laid,
Burst open, and disclosed the mighty dead.
From out each monument, in order placed,
An armed ghost starts up: The boy-king last
Rear’d his inglorious head. A peal of groans
Then follow'd, and a lamentable voice
Cried," Egypt is no more !” My blood ran back,
My shaking knees against each other knock'd ;
On the cold pavement down I fell entranced,
And so, unfinish’d, left the horrid scene.

Having quoted so many passages of exquisite poetry, and having set this play in no unequal opposition to that of Shakespeare, it is, perhaps, unnecessary to mention by what other poets the same subject has been treated. Daniel, Mary Countess of Pembroke, May, and Sir Charles Sedley, each produced a play on the fortunes of Antony. Of these pieces I have never read the three former, and will assuredly never read the last a second time.

Lest any reader should have anticipated better things of “ Sedley's noble muse,” the Lisideius of our author's dialogue on dramatic poetry, I subjoin a specimen, taken at hazard :

Gape, hell, and to thy dismal bottom take
The lost Antonius ; this was our last stake :
Warn’d by my ruin, let no Roman more
Set foot on the inhospitable shore.
Cowards and traitors filld this impious land,
Faithless and fearful, without heart or hand.

“ All for Love," as the most laboured performance of our author, received the full tribute of applause and popularity which had often graced his less perfect and more hurried performances. Davies gives us the following account of its first representation.

“ In Dryden's All for Love,' Booth's dignified action and forcible elocution, in the part of Antony, attracted the public to that heavy, though, in many parts, well written play, six nights successively, without the assistance of pantomime, or farce, which, at that time, was esteemed something extraordinary.-But, indeed, he was well supported by an Oldfield, in his Cleopatra, who, to a most harmonious and powerful voice and fine person, added grace and elegance of gesture. When Booth and Oldfield met in the second act, their dignity of deportment commanded the applause and approbation of the most judicious critics. When Antony said to Cleopatra,

You promised me your silence, and you break it
Ere I have scarce begun,

this check was so well understood by Oldfield, and answered with such propriety of behaviour, that, in Shakespeare's phrase, her. bendings were adornings.'

“ The elder Mills acted Ventidius with the true spirit of a rough and generous old soldier. To render the play as acceptable to the public as possible, Wilkes took the trifling part of Dolabella, nor did Colley Cibber disdain to appear in Alexas. These parts would scarcely be accepted now by third-rate actors. Still to add more weight to the performance, Octavia was a short charac

Some ran to Cæsar, like a headlong tide,
The rest their fear made useless on our side.

“ This passion, with the death of a dear friend, would go nigh to make one sad;" yet some of the authors of the day held a very different doctrine. Shad. well, in his dedication to “ A true Widow," tells Sedley, “ You have in that Mulberry Garden shewn the true wit, humour, and satire of a comedy; and, in Antony and Cleopatra, the true spirit of a tragedy ; the only one, except two of Jonson's and one of Shakespeare's, wherein Romans are made to speak and do like Romans. There are to be found the true characters of Antony and Cleopatra, as they were ; whereas a French author would have made the Egyptian and Roman both become French under his pen. And even our English authors are too much given to make history (in these plays) romantic and impossible ; but, in this play, the Romans are true Romans, and their style is such ; and I dare affirm, that there is not in any play of this age so much of the spirit of the classic authors, as in your Antony and Cleopatra.” I cannot help suspecting that much of this hyperbolical praise of Sedley was obliquely designed to mortify Dryden.

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ter of a scene or two, in which Mrs Porter drew not only respect, but the more affecting approbation of tears, from the audience. Since that time, All for Love' has gradually sunk into forgetfulness.”

If this last observation be true, it is, under Mr Davies' favour, a striking illustration of the caprice of the public taste. The play of “ All for Love” was first acted and printed in 1678.

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