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Ou plâtôt sa valeur en cet état réduite
A&t 11. Sc. 9.
Nothing can be contrived in language more averse to the tone of the passion than this florid speech : I should imagine it more apt to proyoke laughter than to inspire concern or pity.
In a fourth class shall be given specimens of language too light or airy for a severe passion.
Imagery and figurative expression are discordant, in the highest degree, with the agony of a mother, who is deprived of two hopeful fons by a brutal murder. Therefore the following palfage is undoubtedly in a bad taste.
Queen. Ah, my poor princes ! ah, my tender babes! My unblown flow'rs, new appearing sweets! If yet your gentle souls fly in the air, And be not fixt in doom perpetual, Hover about me with your airy wings, And hear your mother's lamentation.
Richard III. A&t iv. Sc. 4.
K. Philip. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Constance. Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me, Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garment with his form ; Then have I reason to be fond of grief.
King Yobn, Act 111. Sc. 6.
A thought that turns upon the expression in. stead of the subject, commonly called a play of words, being low and childish, is unworthy of any composition, whether gay or serious, that pretends to any degree of elevation : thoughts of this kind make a fifth class.
In the Amynta of Tasso *, the lover falls into a mere play of words, demanding how he who had lost himself, could find a mistress. And for the same reason, the following passage in Corneille has been generally condemned:
Chimena Mon pere est mort, Elvire, et la premiere
Cid, A&t 111. Sc. 3.
* Act 1. Sc. 2.
To die is to be banish'd from myself :
Two Gentlemen of Verona, A& 111. Sc. 3.
Countefs. I pray thee, Lady, have a better cheer: If thou engrofseft all the griefs as thine, Thou robb'st me of a moiety.
All's well that ends well, At 111. Sc. 3.
K. Henry. O my poor kingdom, fick with civil
Second Part Henry IV. Aet iv. Sc. 11.
Cruda Amarilli, che col nome ancora
Paftor Fido, AF 1. Sc. a.
Antony, speaking of Julius Cæfar:
O world! thou wast the forest of this hart:
Julius Cæfar, AE 111. Sc. 3.
Playing thus with the sound of words, which is still worse than a pun, is the meanest of all conKk 2
ceits. But Shakespeare, when he descends to a play of words, is not always in the wrong; for it is done sometimes to denote a peculiar character, as in the following passage:
K. Pbilip. What fay'st thou, boy? look in the lady's face.
Lewis. I do, my Lord, and in her eye I find A wonder, or a wond'rous miracle ; The shadow of myself form'd in her eye; Which being but the shadow of your son, Becomes a sun, and makes your son a shadow. I do protest, I never lov'd myself Till now infixed I beheld myself Drawn in the flatt’ring table of her eye. Faulconbridge. Drawn in the flatt’ring table of her
eye! Hang'd in the frowning wrinkle of her brow! And quarter'd in her heart! he doth efpy Himself Love's traitor : this is pity now, That hang'd, and drawn, and quarter'd, there should be, In such a love so vile a lout as he.
King Fobn, A&t 11. Sc. 5.
A jingle of words is the lowest species of that low wit; which is scarce sufferable in any case, and least of all in an heroic poem: and yet Mil. ton, in some instances, has descended to that puerility :
And brought into the world a world of wo.
Beseeching or besieging-
---With a shout
One should think it unnecessary to enter a caveat against an expression that has no meaning, or no distinct meaning; and yet somewhat of that kind may be found even among good writers. Such make a sixth class.
Sebastian. I beg no pity for this mould'ring clay; For if you give it burial, there it takes Possession of your earth : If burnt and scatter'd in the air; the winds That strew my duft, diffuse my royalty, And spread me o'er your clime; for where one atom Of mine shall light, know there Sebastian reigns.
Dryden, Don Sebastian King of Portugal, AEt I.
Cleopatra. Now, what news, my Charmion?
Dryden, All for Love, Act 11.
If she be coy, and scorn my noble fire,
If her chill heart I cannot move;
Why, I'll enjoy the very love, And make a mistress of my own desire. Cowly, poem inscribed, The Request.