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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 paffage 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. at 4. fc. 4,
K. Philip. You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Constance. Grief fiils 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 Jon, at 3. Jc. 6
A thought that turns upon the expression instead 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 Aminta of Tailo * the lover falls into
* A. fc. 2.
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 :
Chimene. Mon pere est mort, Elvire, et la premiére
Cid, ait 3. sc. 31
To die is to be banish'd from myself :
Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 3. sc. 3.
Countess. I pray thee, Lady, have a better checr :
, ačí 3. sc. 3.
K. Henry. O my poor kingdom, fick with civil blows !
Second part, Henry IV. act 4. fo. 11.
Cruda Amarilli, che col nome ancora
Pastor Fido, act 1. sc. 2.
Antony, speaking of Julius Cæfar:
O world! thou wast the forest of this hart;
Julius Cafar, act 3. fc. 3,
Playing thus with the found of words, which is still worse than a pun, is the meanest of all conceits. But Shakespear, 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. Philip. What fay'st thou, boy ? look in the lady's
Faulconbridge. Drawn in the fart’ring table of her eye!
King John, act 2. fc. 5.
A jingle of words is the lowest species of this low wit; which is scarce sufferable in any cafe,
and and least of all in an heroic poem : and yet Milton in some instances has descended to this pueri, lity :
And brought into the world a world of wo.
Begirt th'almighty throne
-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 this kind may be found even among good writers. Such make a sixth class.
Sebastian. I beg no pity for this mould'ring clay.
Dryden, Don Sebastian King of Portugal, act 1.
Cleopatra. Now, what news, my Charmion?
Dryden, All for Love, act 2.
If she be coy, and scorn my noble fire,
If her chill heart I cannot move;
Why, I'll enjoy the very love,
Cowley, poem inscribed, The Request.
His whole poem, inscribed, My Picture, is a jargon of the same kind.
Tis he, they cry, by whom Not men, but war itself is overcome.
Such empty expressions are finely ridiculed in the
Was't not unjust to ravish hence her breath,
A&t 4. f. 1.