Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Prov.

His name is Barnardine. · Duke. I would thou had'st done so by Claudio.Go, fetch him hither; let me look upon him.

[Exit Provost. Escal. I am sorry, one so learned and so wise As you, lord Angelo, have still appear'd, . Should slip so grossly, both in the heat of blood, And lack of temper'd judgment afterward.

Ang. I am sorry, that such sorrow I procure:
And so deep sticks it in my penitent heart,
That I crave death more willingly than mercy;
'Tis my deserving, and I do entreat it.
Re-enter Provost, BARNARDINE, CLAUDIO, and Juliet.

Duke. Which is that Barnardine?
Prov.

This, my lord.
Duke. There was a friar told me of this man :-
Sirrah, thou art said to have a stubborn soul,
That apprehends no further than this world,
And squar’st thy life according. Thou’rt condemn'd;
But, for those earthly faults, I quit them all;
And pray thee, take this mercy to provide
For better times to come :- Friar, advise him ;
I leave him to your hand.—What muffled fellow's that?

Prov. This is another prisoner, that I sav'd,
That should have died when Claudio lost his head;
As like almost to Claudio, as himself.

[Unmuffles CLAUDIO.
Duke. If he be like your brother, [to ISABELLA.] for his
Is he pardon'd; And, for your lovely sake, [sake
Give me your hand, and say you will be mine,
He is my brother too: But fitter time for that.
By this, lord Angelo perceives he's safe ;
Methinks, I see a quick’ning in his eye :-
Well, Angelo, your evil quitsa you well:
Look that you love your wife; her worth, worth yours.b

a quits—] Recompenses.—Johnson.

b her worth, worth yours.-) I have no doubt but Sir Thomas Hanmer was correct in reading her worth works yours, i. e. her virtues atone for your offences.—It were indeed a bad compliment to Mariana to compare her worth with that of Angelo.

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

. an

I find an apt remission in myself:
And yet here's one in place I cannot pardon :-
You, sirrah, (to Lucio.] that knew me for a fool, a coward,
One all of luxury, an ass, a madman;
Wherein have I so deserved of you,
That you extol me thus?

Lucio. 'Faith, my lord, I spoke it but according to the trick: If you will hang me for it, you may, but I had rather it would please you, I might be whipp’d.

Duke. Whipp'd first, sir, and hang'd after. -
Proclaim it, provost, round about the city ;
If any woman's wrong'd by this lewd fellow,
(As I have heard him swear himself, there's one
Whom he begot with child,) let her appear,
And he shall marry her: the nuptial finish’d,
Let him be whipp'd and hang'd.

Lucio. I beseech your highness, do not marry me to a whore! Your highness said even now, I made you a duke: good my lord, do not recompense me, in making me a cuckold.

Duke. Upon mine honour, thou shalt marry her.
Thy slanders I forgive; and therewithal
Remit thy other forfeits :-Take him to prison:
And see our pleasure herein executed.

Lucio. Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging.

Duke. Slandering a prince deserves it.-
She, Claudio, that you wrong’d, look you restore.-
Joy to you, Mariana !-love her, Angelo;
I have confess'd her, and I know her virtue.-
Thanks, good friend Escalus, for thy much goodness :
There's more behind, that is more gratulate.d
Thanks, provost, for thy care and secrecy;
We shall employ thee in a worthier place :-
Forgive him, Angelo, that brought you home
The head of Ragozine for Claudio's;

C a ccording to the trick :) To the common practice of pretending famiJiarity with the great, and representing them as resembling ourselves.

d that is more gratulate.] Some other reward in store for him more acceptable than thanks.-M. Mason. ,

The offence pardons itself.—Dear Isabel,
I have a motion much imports your good;
Whereto if you'll a willing ear incline,
What's mine is your's, and what is your's is mine:
So, bring us to our palace; where we'll show
What's yet behind, that's meet you all should know.

[Exeunt. e Of this play, the light or comic part is very natural and pleasing, but the grave scenes, if a few passages be excepted, have more labour than elegance. The plot is rather intricate than artful. The time of the action is indefinite; some time, we know not how much, must have elapsed between the recess of the duke and the imprisonment of Claudio; for he must have learned the story of Mariana in his disguise, or he delegated his power to a man already known to be corrupted. The unities of action and place are sufficiently preserved.—Johnson.

There are very few readers whose admiration for Shakspeare will not be outraged by reading the above harsh and tasteless observations of Dr. Johnson. It may perhaps allay their irritation to find that all critics are not equally cold to the various merits of this beautiful play.--" Of Measure for Measure,” says Dr. Drake, “independent of the comic characters, which afford a rich fund of entertainment, the great charm springs from the lovely example of female excellence exhibited in the person of Isabella. Piety, spotless purity, tenderness combined with firmness, and an eloquence the most persuasive, unite to render her singularly interesting and attractive, C'est un ange de lumiere sous l'humble habit d'une novice.* To save the life of her brother she hastens to quit the peaceful seclusion of her convent, and moves amid the votaries of corruption and hypocrisy, amid the sensual, the vulgar, and the profligate, as a being of a higher order, as a ministering spirit from the throne of grace. Her first interview with Angelo, and the immediately subsequent one with Claudio, exhibit, along with the most engaging feminine diffidence and modesty, an extraordinary display of intellectual energy, of dexterous argument, and of indignant contempt. Her pleadings before the lord deputy, are directed with a strong appeal both to his understanding and his heart, while her sagacity and address in the communication of the result of her appointment with him to her brother, of whose weakness and irresolution she is justly apprehensive, are, if possible, still more skilfully marked, and add another to the multitude of instances which have established for Shakspeare an unrivalled intimacy with the finest feelings of our nature.”+ There is one beauty in this play which I do not remember to have seen observed : though the vice of Claudio is one which the world is inclined to think too lightly of, and though there was offered so easy and popular a way of exciting an interest for him in the minds of the audience, by diminishing the heinousness of his offence, and representing the transgressor rather as a martyr than a culprit ; Shakspeare has in no in stance breathed a syllable that might seem to extenuate his guilt. Throughout the play, the crime which is so much debated, is represented as an object of disgust, both in its own impurity and in the mean, the selfish, and the loathsome baseness of its ministers. The very passages of a gross and indecent nature that occur, only serve to heighten the general, moral effect of the whole, and raise the reader's admiration of the holy chastity of Isabel, by placing it in contrast with the repulsive levity of the votaries of licentiousness.

* Schlegel Cours de la literature Dramatique, vol. iii. 22.
+ Drake's Shakspeare and his Times, vol. ii. 454.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

THis play was printed in quarto in the year 1600; and entered at Stationers' Hall, August 23, of that year: and as it is not mentioned by Meres, in his list of our Author's works published in 1598, the date of its production is ascertained with more than usual accuracy.

Mr. Pope says that the plot was taken from the fifth book of the Orlando Furioso.—Mr. Steevens conceives that not Ariosto but Spenser afforded the subject of the play, and that it was taken from the Fairy Queen, b. 2. c. 4. But as both these originals are most justly acknowledged to be remote, it has been suggested that the story might have been copied from the 18th history of the third volume of Belleforest. It never appears to have entered into the minds of the critics that Shakspeare might occasionally have dramatized a story of his own invention. Much ado about Nothing, is reported in Mr. Vertue's MSS. to have passed formerly under the name of Benedick and Beatrice.

« AnteriorContinuar »