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Ford. Hum! ha! is this a vision ? is this a dream? do I sleep? Mr Ford, awake ; awake, Mr Ford; there's a bole made in your best coat, Mr Ford ! this 'tis to be married ! this 'tis to have linen and buck-baskets ! Well, I will proclaim myself what I am ; I will now take the leacher; he is at my house; he cannot 'scape me ; 'tis impossible he should; he cannot creep into a halfpenny. purse, nor into a pepper-box. But left the devil that guides him should aid him, I will search impoflible places, though what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would not, llall not make me tame.
Merry Wives of Wind for, Act 111. Sc. last.
These soliloquies are accurate and bold copies of nature: in a passionate soliloquy one begins with thinking aloud ; and the strongest feelings only, are expressed ; as the speaker warms, he begins to imagine one listening, and gradually slides into a connected discourse.
How far diftant are soliloquies generally from these models ? So far, indeed, as to give disgust instead of pleasure. The first scene of Iphigenia in Tauris discovers that Princess, in a soliloquy, gravely reporting to herself her own history, There is the same impropriety in the first scene of Alcestes, and in the other introductions of Euripides, almost without exception. Nothing can be more ridiculous: it puts one in mind of a moft curious device in Gothic paintings, that of making every figure explain itself by a written label issuing from its mouth. The descrip
tion which a parasite, in the Eunuch of Terence *, gives of himself, makes a sprightly soliloquy: but it is not consistent with the rules of propriety; for no man, in his ordinary state of mind, and upon a familiar subject, ever thinks of talking aloud to himself. The same objection lies against a soliloquy in the Adelphi of the same author t. The soliloquy which makes the third scene, act third, of his Heicyra, is insufferable; for there Pamphilus, soberly and circumftantially, relates to himself an adventure which had happened to him a moment before.
Corneille is not more happy in his soliloquies than in his dialogue. Take for a specimen the first scene of Cinna.
Racine also is extremely faulty in the same respect. His soliloquies are regular harangues, a chain completed in every link, without inter
ruption or interval: that of Antiochus in Bere. · nice resembles a regular pleading, where the
parties pro and con display their arguments at full length. The following soliloquies are equal. ly faulty: Bajazet, act 3. sc. 7.; Mithridate, act 3. sc. 4. and act 4. sc. 5. ; Iphigenia, act 4. fc. 8.
Soliloquies upon lively or interesting subjects, but without any turbulence of passion, may be carried on in a continued chain of thought. If, for example, the nature and sprightliness of the
* AC 2. Sç. 2
+ Ad 1. Sc. i.
I Act 1. Sc. 2, subject prompt a man to speak his thoughts in the form of a dialogue, the expression must be carried on without break or interruption, as in a dialogue between two persons; which justifies Falstaff's soliloquy upon honour:
What need I be so forward with Death, that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter, Honour pricks me on. But how if Honour prick me off, when I come on? how then? Can Honour set a leg? No: or an arm? No: or take away the grief of a wound ? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is Honour? A word.—What is that word bonour Air; a trim reckoning. Who hath it? He that dy'd a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living ? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it; ho. nour is a mere scutcheon; and so ends my catechism,
First Part, Henry IV. A£t v. Sc. 2.
And even without dialogue, a continued difcourse may be justified, where a man reasons in a soliloquy upon an important subject; for if in such a case it be at all excusable to think aloud, it is necessary that the reafoning be carried on in a chain ; which justifies that admirable soliloquy in Hamlet upon life and immortality, be. ing a serene meditation upon the most interesting of all subjects. And the same consideration will justify the soliloquy that introduces the 5th act of Addison's Cato.
The next class of the grosser errors which all writers ought to avoid, shall be of language elevated above the tone of the sentiment; of which take the following instances :
Zara. Swift as occasion, I Myself will fly; and earlier than the morn Wake thee to freedom. Now 'tis late; and yet Some news few minutes past arriv’d, which seem'd To shake the temper of the King.-_Who knows What racking cares disease a monarch's bed ? Or love, that late at night still lights his lamp, And strikes his rays through dusk, and folded lids, Forbidding reft, may stretch his eyes awake, And force their balls abroad at this dead hour, I'll try.
Mourning Bride, Alt i. Sc. 4.
The language here is undoubtedly too pompous and laboured for describing so simple a circumstance as absence of sleep. In the following palsage, the tone of the language, warm and plaintive, is well suited to the passion, which is recent grief: but every one will be sensible, that in the last couplet fave one, the tone is changed, and the mind suddenly elevated to be let fall as fud. denly in the last couplet :
Il détest à jamais sa coupable victoire,
OF PASSION. [ch. 17. La, foit que le soleil rendît le jour au monde, Soit qu'il finit sa course au vaste seine de l'onde, Sa voix faisoit redire aux echos attendris, Le nom, le triste nom, de son malheureux fils.
Henriade, chant. viii, 229.
Language too artificial or too figurative for the gravity, dignity, or importance, of the occafion, may be put in a third class.
Chimene demanding justice against Rodrigue who killed her father, instead of a plain and pathetic expoftulation, makes a speech stuffed with the most artificial flowers of rhetoric:
Sire, mon pere est mort, mes yeux ont vû son sang
Son flanc étoit ouvert, et, pour mieux m'emouvoir, Son sang sur la poulliere écrivoit mon devoir ;