Imágenes de páginas

to believe that she is faithful; and then genial. He does not stand above men by Cressida kills herself; and Troilus kills lowering men. Social life is not made worse Diomede ; and Achilles kills Troilus; and than it is, that he who describes it may all the Trojans are killed : and the Greeks appear above its ordinary standard. It is who remain upon the field are very happy; not a travestie of Homer or of Nature. The and Ulysses tells us,

heroic is not lowered by association with the

ridiculous. Shakspere's heroes of the 'Iliad' Now peaceful Order has resumed the reins, Old Time looks young, and Nature seems

show us very little of the vulgar side of human renew'd."

life,—not much even of the familiar ; but

the result is, that they cease to be heroic. Here is a tragedy for you, which " is an How this is attained is the wonder. It is imitation of one entire, great, and probable something to have got rid of the machinery action, not told, but represented ; which, by of the gods,—something to have a Thersites moving us to fear and pity, is conducive to eternally despising and despised. But this the purging of those two passions in our is not all. The whole tendency of the play, minds.” So Dryden quotes Aristotle ; and —its incidents, its characterization,-is to so, not understanding Aristotle, he takes lower what the Germans call herodom. Ulupon himself to mend Shakspere, (“incom- rici maintains that “the far-sighted Shakparable,” as he calls him,) according to the spere most certainly did not mistake as to notions of “my friend Mr. Rymer,” and of the beneficial effect which a nearer intimacy “Bossu, the best of modern critics.” with the high culture of antiquity had pro

The feeling which the study of Shakspere's duced, and would produce, upon the Chris• Troilus and Cressida' slowly but certainly tian European mind. But he saw the danger calls forth is that of almost prostration be- of an indiscriminate admiration of this fore the marvellous intellect which has pro- classical antiquity ; for he who thus accepted duced it. But this is the result of study, it must necessarily fall to the very lowest as we have said. The play cannot be under station in religion and morality :-as, instood upon a superficial reading: it is full deed, if we closely observe the character of of the most subtle art. We may set aside the eighteenth century, we see has happarticular passages, and admire their sur- pened. Out of this prophetic spirit, which passing eloquence, their profound wisdom; penetrated with equal clearness through the but it is long before the play, as a whole, darkness of coming centuries and the clouds obtains its proper mastery over the under- of a far-distant past, Shakspere wrote this standing. It is very difficult to define what deeply significant satire upon the Homeric is the great charm and wonder of its en herodom. He had no desire to debase the tirety. To us it appears as if the poet, elevated, to deteriorate or make little the without the slightest particle of presump- great, and still less to attack the poetical tion, had proposed to himself to look down worth of Homer, or of heroic poetry in upon the Homeric heroes from an Olympus general. But he wished to warn thoroughly of his own.

He opens the 'Iliad,' and there against the over-valuation and idolatry of he reads of “ Achilles' baneful wrath.” A them, to which man so willingly abandons little onward he is told of the “high threat- himself. He endeavoured, at the same time, ening” of “the great cloud-gatherer.” The to bring strikingly to view the universal gods of Homer are made up of human pas- truth, that everything that is merely human, sions. But he appears throned upon an even when it is glorified with the nimbus of eminence, from which he can not only com a poetic ideality and a mythical past, yet, mand a perfect view of the game which men seen in the bird's-eye perspective of a pure play, but, seeing all, become a partisan of moral ideality, appears very small." All none,-perfectly cognizant of all motives, this may seem as super-refinement, in which but himself motiveless. And yet the whole the critic pretends to see farther than the representation is true, and it is therefore poet ever saw. But to such an objection

there is a very plain answer. A certain result is produced :-is the result correctly described ? If it be so, is that result an effect of principle or an effect of chance ? As a proof that it was the effect of principle, we may say that Dryden did not see the principle; and that, not seeing it, he entirely changed the character of the play as a work of art. For example, there is no scene in the drama so entirely in accordance with the principle as that in which Ulysses stirs up the slothful and dogged Achilles into a rivalry with Ajax. It is altogether so Shaksperean in its profundity,—it presents such a key to the whole Shaksperean conduct of this wonderful drama,—that we cannot be content merely to refer to it.

Fronting the sun, receives and renders back His figure and his heat. I was much rapt in

this, And apprehended here immediately The unknown Ajax. Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse; That has he knows not what. Nature, what

things there are, Most abject in regard, and dear in use ! What things again most dear in the esteem, And poor in worth! Now shall we see to



Now, great Thetis' son !
Achil. What are you reading ?

A strange fellow here Writes me,

That man, how dearly ever parted, How much in having, or without, or in, Cannot make boast to have that which he

hath, Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection; As when his virtues shining upon others Heat them, and they retort that heat again To the first giver.

Achil. This is not strange, Ulysses. The beauty that is born here in the face The bearer knows not, but commends itself To others’eyes: nor doth the eye itself (That most pure spirit of sense)'behold itself, Not going from itself; but eye to eye op

posed Salutes each other with each other's form. For speculation turns not to itself, Till it hath travell’d, and is married there Where it may see itself: this is not strange

at all. Ulyss. I do not strain at the position, It is familiar; but at the author's drift: Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves, That no man is the lord of anything (Though in and of him there is much con

sisting), Till he communicate his parts to others : Nor doth he of himself know them for aught Till he behold them form'd in the applause Where they are extended; which, like an arch,

reverberates The voice again; or like a gate of steel,

An act that very chance doth throw upon him,
Ajax renown'd. O heavens, what some men do,
While some men leave to do!
How some men creep in skittish fortune's

Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes !
How one man eats into another's pride,
While pride is feasting in his wantonness !
To see these Grecian lords !—why, even al-

ready They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder, As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast, And great Troy shrinking.

Achil. I do believe it; for they pass'd by me As misers do by beggars ; neither gave to me Good word, nor look: What, are my deeds

forgot? Ulyss. Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his

back, Wherein he puts alms for oblivion, A great-sized monster of ingratitudes: Those scraps are good deeds past; which are

devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done: Perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright: To have done, is to

hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery. Take the instant

way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow, Where one but goes abreast: keep then the

path; For emulation hath a thousand sons, That one by one pursue: If you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by, And leave you hindmost; Or, like a gallant horse fallen in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear, O’errun and trampled on: Then what they do

in present,


Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop / which was in its place in Julius Cæsar;' yours:

and gives us, altogether, a set of mongrel For time is like a fashionable host,

characters, compounded of the common-place That slightly shakes his parting guest by the heroic and Shakspere’s reduction of the false hand;

heroic to truth and reason. And yet, with And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would all his labour, Dryden could not make the

thing consistent. He is compelled to take Grasps-in the comer: Welcome ever smiles,

Shakspere's representation of Ajax, for exAnd farewell goes out sighing. Oh, let not

ample. One parallel passage will be suffivirtue seek

cient to show how Dryden and Shakspere Remuneration for the thing it was; For beauty, wit,

managed these things :High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,

Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.

“ Thank Heav'n, my lord, you ’re of a gentle One touch of nature makes the whole world


Praise him that got you, her that brought you kin,

forth; That all, with one consent, praise new-born

But he who taught you first the use of arms, gawds,

Let Mars divide eternity in two, Though they are made and moulded of things past;

And give him half. I will not praise your And give to dust, that is a little gilt,

wisdom, More laud than gilt o'er-dusted.

Nestor shall do’t; but pardon, father Nestor, The present eye praises the present object:

Were you as green as Ajax, and your brain Then marvel not, thou great and complete

Temper'd like his, you never should excel him,

But be as Ajax is.” man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;

SHAKSPERE. Since things in motion sooner catch the eye, Than what not stirs. The cry went once on Ulyss. Thank the heavens, lord, thou art thee,

of sweet composure; And still it might; and yet it may again, Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,

suck: And case thy reputation in thy tent;

Famed be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of Thrice-famed, beyond all erudition: late,

But he that disciplined thy arms to fight, Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods Let Mars divide eternity in twain, themselves,

And give him half: and, for thy vigour, And drave great Mars to faction."

Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield

To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom, Now, of this scene Dryden has not a word. Which, like a bourn, a pale, a shore, confines This was a part of the “rubbish” which he Thy spacious and dilated parts: Here's Nesdiscarded. But in the place of it he gives


Instructed by the antiquary times, us an entirely new scene between Hector and Troilus—“almost half the act.” He says,

He must, he is, he cannot but be wise;“the occasion of raising it was hinted to me

But pardon, father Nestor, were your days by Mr. Betterton; the contrivance and

As green as Ajax, and your brain so temper'd,

You should not have the eminence of him, working of it was my own.” The scene, he

But be as Ajax.” admits, was an imitation of the famous scene in "Julius Cæsar' between Brutus and One of the most extraordinary subtleties Cassius. And so Dryden transposes the of Shakspere's “Troilus and Cressida' arises principle of one play into another ; destroys out of the circumstance that the real heroic the grave irony of Troilus and Cressida' by tragedy is found side by side with the the introduction of the heroic seriousness ironical heroic. Cassandra, short as the

character is, may be classed among the finest own feebler conceptions ? The Cassandra of creations of art. Dryden omits Cassandra Shakspere is introduced to heighten the altogether. Was this a want of a real effect of the petty passions, the worldliness, perception of “the grounds” of tragedy; or which are everywhere around her. The an instinct which avoided the higher heroic, solemn and the earnest are in alliance with when it would come into contrast with his madness.



The famous History of the Life of King , tain chambers in way of triumph, the fire Henry the Eighth' was first published in catch’d.” But this does not establish that the folio collection of Shakspere's works in it was Shakspere's play. The accomplished 1623. The date of the original production Sir Henry Wotton, writing to his nephew on of this drama has been a subject of much the 6th of July, 1613, gives a minute and discussion. The opinions in favour of its graphic account of the accident at the Globe: having been produced in the reign of —“Now to let matters of state sleep, I will Elizabeth are far more numerous than entertain you at the present with what hapthose which hold it to be a later production. pened this week at the Bankside. The king's As the question is one of more than usual players had a new play, called 'All is True,' interest, we shall examine it somewhat in representing some principal pieces of the reign detail.

of Henry the Eighth, which was set forth with And first, of the external evidence. The many extraordinary circumstances of pomp Globe, Shakspere's theatre, was burnt down and majesty, even to the matting of the stage; in June, 1613. The cause of this accident, the knights of the order, with their Georges and the circumstances attending it, are and Garter, the guards with their embroidered minutely related by several witnesses. In coats, and the like; sufficient, in truth, within Winwood's Memorials' there is a letter a while to make greatness very familiar, if from John Chamberlain to Sir Ralph not ridiculous. Now King Henry, making a Winwood, dated from London the 12th of mask at the Cardinal Wolsey's house, and July, 1613, which describes the burning, certain cannons being shot off at his entry, “ which fell out by a peal of chambers.” some of the paper, or other stuff, wherewith This conflagration took place on the previous one of them was stopped, did light on the 29th of June. The play acted on this occa- thatch, where, being thought at first but an sion was one on the story of 'Henry VIII. | idle smoke, and their eyes being more atWere the “chambers” (small cannon) which tentive to the show, it kindled inwardly, and produced the misfortune those fired according run round like a train, consuming, within to the original stage-direction in the fourth less than an hour, the whole house to the scene of the first act of Shakspere's 'King very ground. This was the fatal period of Henry VIII.,' Drum and trumpet, chambers that virtuous fabric, wherein yet nothing did discharged ?In the Harleian Manuscripts perish but wood and straw, and a few forthere is a letter from Thomas Lorkin to Sir saken cloaks: only one man had his breeches Thomas Puckering, dated" this last of June, set on fire, that would perhaps have broiled 1613,” in which the writer says, “No longer him, if he had not, by the benefit of a prosince than yesterday, while Bourbage his vident wit, put it out with bottle ale.”* company were acting at the Globe the play Here, then, is a new play described “ repreof Henry VIII., and there shooting of cer

*.Reliquiæ Wottonianæ.'

senting some principal pieces of the reign of opinion, maintains that the fact of a play Henry VIII.;" and further, the passage of on the subject of Henry VIII. being termed Shakspere's play in which the “chambers new in 1613 is decisive as to the date of its are discharged, being the “entry” of the original production at that time. Malone, on king to the “mask at the cardinal's house," the contrary, conjectures that the 'Henry is the same to the letter. But the title | VIII.' was written in 1601, and revived in which Sir Henry Wotton gives the new play 1613, with a new title and prologue, “having is · AU is True.' Gifford thinks this suf- lain by some years unacted.” This conjecture ficient to show that the play represented at rests upon no external evidence. We proceed, the Globe in June, 1613, was not Shakspere's. therefore, to the other division of the subject But other persons call the play so represented the evidence of its date which is furnished ' Henry VIII. Howes, in his continuation by the play itself. of Stow's 'Chronicle,' so calls it. He writes In the prophecy of Cranmer in the last some time after the destruction of the Globe, scene, the glories of the reign of Elizabeth for he adds to his account of the fire, “ And are carried on to that of her successor, in the the next spring it was new builded in far following lines :fairer manner than before.” He speaks of

Nor shall this peace sleep with her: But as the title of the play as a familiar thing :

when “ the house being filled with people to be

The bird of wonder dies, the maiden phonix, hold the play, viz. of 'Henry the Eighth.””

Her ashes new create another heir, When Howes wrote, was the title 'All is True

As great in admiration as herself; merged in the more obvious title derived from

So shall she leave her blessedness to one, the subject of the play, and following the (When Heaven shall call her from this cloud character of the titles of Shakspere's other of darkness) historical plays? There can be no difficulty Who, from the sacred ashes of her honour, in showing that the Prologue to ‘Henry VIII.' Shall star-like rise, as great in fame as she was, especially keeps in view such a title as Sir And so stand fix'd: Peace, plenty, love, truth, Henry Wotton has mentioned :


That were the servants to this chosen infant, “Such as give

Shall then be his, and like a vine grow to him; Their money out of hope they may believe, Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine, May here find truth too."

His honour, and the greatness of his name, “ Gentle hearers, know, Shall be, and make new nations : He shall To rank our chosen truth with such a show

flourish, As foot and fight is,” &c.

And, like a mountain cedar, reach his branches “ To make that only true we now intend.” To all the plains about him :--Qur children's

children Boswell has a very ingenious theory that

Shall see this, and bless Heaven.” this Prologue had especial reference to another play on the same historical subject, This passage would appear to be decisive as “When You See Me You Know Me, or the to the date of the play, by the introduction Famous Chronicle History of King Henry of these lines :the Eighth, &c., by Samuel Rowley,' in which “ the incidents in Henry's reign are thrown

“Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine,

His honour, and the greatness of his name, together in the most confused manner.”

Shall be, and make new nations.” But, upon the whole, the probability is that the · Henry VIII. of Shakspere, and the That the colonization of Virginia is here ' AU is True' described by Wotton, are one distinctly alluded to is without doubt. The and the same play. The next question is, first charter was granted in 1606 ; the then, whether Wotton was correct in de- colony was planted in 1607, in which year scribing the “Henry VIII.' as a new play. James Town was built; another charter was Chalmers, who almost stands alone in his given to the colonists in 1612, and a lottery

« AnteriorContinuar »