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Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spiced
One of his most dreadful imprecations is that which occur iinmediately on his leaving Athens.
* Let me look back upon thee, O thou wall,
Timon here is just as ideal in his passion for ill as he had before been in his belief of good. Apemantus was satisfied with the mischief existing in the world, and with his own ill-nature. One of the most decisive intimations of Timon's morbid jealousy of appearances is in his answer to Apemantus, who asks him,
"What things in the world canst thou nearest compare with thy flatter
Timox. Women nearest : but men, men are the things themselves.”
Apemantus, it is said, “loved few things better than to abhor himself.” This is not the case with Timon, who neither loves to abhor himself nor others. All his vehement misanthropy is forced, up-hill work. From the slippery turns of fortune, from the turmoils of passion and adversity, he wishes to sink into the quiet of the grave. On that subject his thoughts are intent, on that he finds time and place to grow romantic. He digs his own grave by the sea-shore ; contrives his funeral ceremonies amidst the pomp of desolation, and builds his mausoleum of the elements.
“Come not to me again: but say to Athens,
And again, Alcibiades, after reading his epitaph, says of him,
“ These well express in thee thy latter spirits :
thus making the winds his funeral dirge, his mourner the murmuring ocean; and seeking in the everlasting solemnities of nature oblivion of the transitory solendor of his life-time.
SRAKSPEARE has in this play shown himself well versed in history and state-affairs. CORIOLANUS is a store house of political com. monplaces. Any one who studies it may save himself the trouble of reading Burke's Reflections, or Paine's Rights of Man, or the Debates in both Houses of Parliament since the French Revolu. tion or our own. The arguments for and against aristocracy or democracy, on the privileges of the few and the claims of the many, on liberty and slavery, power and the abuse of it, peace and war, are here very ably handled, with the spirit of a poet and the acuteness of a philosopher. Shakspeare himself seems to have had a leaning to the arbitrary side of the question, per. haps from some feeling of contempt for his own origin ; and to have spared no occasion of baiting the rabble. What he says of them is very true : what he says of their betters is also very true, though he dwells less upon it. The cause of the people is indeed but ill calculated as a subject for poetry ; it admits of rhetorie, which goes into argument and explanation, but it pre sents no immediate or distinct images to the mind, " no jutting frieze, buttress, or coigne of vantage " for poetry * to make its pendant and procreant cradle in." The language of poetry naturally falls in with the language of power. The imagination is an exaggerating and exclusive faculty ; it takes from one thing to add to another : it accumulates circumstances together to give the greatest possible effect to a favorite object. The un. derstanding is a dividing and measuring faculty: it judges of things, not according to their immediate impression on the mind, but according to their relations to one another. The one is a monopolizing faculty, which seeks the greatest quantity of present excitement by inequality and disproportion; the other is a distributive faculty, which seeks the greatest quantity of ultimate good, by justice and proportion. The one is an aristocratical, the other a republican faculty. The principle of poetry is a very anti-levelling principle. It aims at effect, it exists by contrast. It admits of no medium. It is everything by excess. It rises above the ordinary standard of sufferings and crimes. It presents an imposing appearance. It shows its head turreted, crowned and crested. Its front is gilt and blood-stained. Before it, “it carries noise, and behind it, it leaves tears." It has its altars and its victims, sacrifices, human sacrifices. Kings, priests, nobles, are its train-bearers ; tyrants and slaves its executioners." Carnage is its daughter.” Poetry is rightroyal. It puts the individual for the species, the one above the infinite many, might before right. A lion hunting a flock of sheep or a herd of wild asses, is a more poetical object than his prey; and we even take part with the lordly beasts, because our vanity or some other feeling makes us disposed to place ourselves in the situation of the strongest party. So we feel some concern for the poor citizens of Rome when they meet together to compare their wants and grievances, till Coriolanus comes in, and with blows and big words drives this set of “ poor rats,” this rascal scum, to their homes and beggary, before him. There is nothing heroical in a multitude of miserable rogues not wishing to be starved, or complaining that they are like to be so; but when a single man comes forward to brave their cries, and to make them submit to the last indignities, from mere pride and self-will, our admiration of his prowess is immediately coupled with contempt for their pusillanimity. The insolence of power is stronger than the plea of necessity. The tame submission to usurped authority, or even the natural resistance to it, has nothing to excite or flatter the imagination; it is the assumption of a right to insult or oppress others, that carries an imposing air of superiority with it. We had rather be the oppressor than the oppressed.
The love of power in ourselves, and the admiration of it in othere, are both natural to man: the one makes him a tyrant, the other a slave. Wrong dressed out in pride, pomp, and circum
stanoe, has more attraction than abstract right. Coriolanus cornplains of the fickleness of the people : yet the instant he cannot gratify his pride and obstinacy at their expense, he turns his arms against his country. If his country was not worth defend. ing, why did he build his pride on its defence! He is a conqueror and a hero ; he conquers other countries, and makes this. plea for enslaving his own; and when he is prevented from doing so, he leagues with its enemies to destroy his country. He rates the people * as if he were a God to punish, and not a man of their infirmity." He scoffs at one of their tribunes for maintain ing their rights and franchises: “ Mark you his absolute shall ?" not marking his own absolute will to take everything from them; his impatience of the slightest opposition to his own pretensions being in proportion to their arrogance and absurdity. If the great and powerful had the beneficence and wisdom of gods, then all this would have been well: if with greater knowledge of what is good for the people, they had as great a care for their iaterest as they have for their own, if they were seated above the world, sympathizing with the welfare, but not feeling the passions of men, receiving neither good nor hurt from them, but bestow. ing their benefits as free gifts on them, they might thra rule over them like another Providence. But this is not the case. Corio lanus is unwilling that the senate should show their " cares" for the people, lest their " cares" should be construed into “ fears," to the subversion of all due authority; and he is no sooner dis appointed in his schemes to deprive the people not only of the cares of the state, but of all power to redress themselves, than Volumnis is made madly to exclaim,
"Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome, And occupatious perush."
This is but natural: it is but natural for a mother to have more regard for her son than for a whole city; but then the city should be left to take some care of itsell. The care of the state cannot, we here see, be safely entrusted to maternal affeotion, or to the domestie charities of high life. The great have private feelings of their own, to which the interests of humanity