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The last speech of Atalide, in the tragedy of Bajazet, of the same author, is a continued discourse; and but a faint representation of he violent passion which forced her to put an end to her own life.

Enfin, c'en est donc fait. Et par mes artinces,
Mes injustes soupçons, mes funestes caprices,
Je suis donc arrivée au douloureux moment,
Où je vois, par mon crime, expirer mon amant.
N'étoit-ce pas assez, cruelle destinée,
Qu'à lui survivre, hélas! je fusse condamnée?
Et falloit-il encor que, pour comble d'horreurs,
Je ne pusse imputer sa mort qu'à mes fureurs!
Oui, c'est moi, cher amant, qui t'arrache la vie;
Roxane, ou le Sultan, ne te l'ont point ravie.
Moi seule, j'ai tissu le lien malheureux
Dont tu viens d'éprouver les détestables nœuds.
Et je puis, sans mourir, en souffrir la pensée ?
Moi, qui n'ai pû tantôt, de ta mort menacée,
Retentir mes esprits, prompts à m'abandonner
Ah! n'ai-je eu de l'amour que pour t'assassiner?
Mais c'en est trop. Il faut par un prompt sacrifice,
Que ma fidelle main te venge, et me punisse.
Vous, de qui j'ai troublé la gloire et le repos,
Héros, qui deviez tous revivre en ce héros,
Toi, mère malheureuse, et qui dès notre enfance,
Me confias son cœur dans une autre espérance,
Infortuné Visir, amis désespérés,
Roxane, venez tous contre moi conjurés,
Tourmenter à la fois une amante eperdue;
Et prenez la vengeance enfin qui vois est dûe.

Act V. Sc. last.

[Elle se tue.

Though works, not authors, are the professed subject of this critical undertaking, I am tempted, by the present speculation, to transgress, once again, the limits prescribed, and to venture a cursory reflection upon that justly celebrated author; that he is always sensible, generally correct, never falls low, maintains a moderate degree of dignity, without reaching the sublime, paints delicately the tender affections, but is a stranger to the genuine language of enthusiastic or fervid passion.

If, in general, the language of violent passion ought to be broken and interrupted, soliloquies ought to be so in a peculiar manner: language is intended by nature for society: and a man when alone, though he always clothes his thoughts in words, seldom gives his words utterance, unless when prompted by some strong emotion; and even then by starts and intervals only. Shakspeare's soliloquies may be justly established as a model; for it is not easy to conceive any model more perfect: of his many incomparable soliloquies, I confine myself to the two following, being different in their


Hamlet. Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! O fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,

* Soliloquies accounted for, Chap. 15.

That grows to seed: things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely.- -That it should come to this!
But two months dead! nay, not so much; not two;-
So excellent a king, that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr: so loving to my mother,
That he permitted not the winds of heav'n
Visit her face too roughly. Heav'n and earth!
Must I remember-why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what fed on; yet, within a month-
Let me not think-Frailty, thy name is Woman!
A little month! or ere those shoes were old,
With which she followed my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears- -Why she, ev'n she-
(O heav'n! a beast that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourn'd longer)-married with mine uncle,
My father's brother; but no more like my father,
Than I to Hercules. Within a month!

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her gauled eyes,
She married---Oh, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Hamlet, Act I. Sc. 3.

Ford. Hum! ha! is this a vision? is this a dream? do I sleep? Mr. Ford, awake; awake, Mr. Ford; there's a hole made in your best coat, Mr. Ford! this 'tis to be married! this 'tis to have linen and buck-baskets! Well, I will proclaim myself what I am; I will now take the leacher; he is at my house; he cannot 'scape me; 'tis impossible he should; he cannot creep into a halfpennypurse, nor into a pepper-box. But lest the devil that guides him should aid him, I will search impossible places, though what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would not, shall not make me tame.

Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III. Sc. last.

These soliloquies are accurate and bold copies of nature: in a passionate soliloquy one begins with thinking aloud; and the strongest feelings only, are expressed; as the speaker warms, he begins to imagine one listening, and gradually slides into a connected discourse.

How far distant are soliloquies generally from these models? So far, indeed, as to give disgust instead of pleasure. The first scene of Iphigenia in Tauris discovers that princess, in a soliloquy, gravely reporting to herself her own history. There is the same impropriety in the first scene of Alcestes, and in the other introductions of Euripides, almost without exception. Nothing can be more ridiculous: it puts one in mind of a most curious device in Gothic paintings, that of making every figure explain itself by a written label issuing from its mouth. The description which a parasite, in the Eunuch of Terence,* gives of himself, makes a sprightly soliloquy but it is not consistent with the rules of propriety; for no man, in his ordinary state of mind, and upon a familiar subject, ever thinks of talking aloud to himself. The same objection lies against a soliloquy in the Adelphi of the same author. The soliloquy which makes the third scene, act third, of his Heicyra, is insufferable; for there Pamphilus, soberly and circumstantially, relates to himself an adventure which had happened to him a moment before.

Act II. Sc. 2.

Act I. Sc. 1

Corneille is not more happy in his soliloquies than in his dialogue. Take for a specimen the first scene of Cinna.

Racine also is extremely faulty in the same respect. His soliloquies are regular harangues, a chain completed in every link, without interruption or interval: that of Antiochus in Berenice* resembles a regular pleading, where the parties pro and con display their arguments at full length. The following soliloquies are equally faulty: Bajazet, act 3. sc. 7; Mithridate, act 3. sc. 4. and act 4 sc. 5; Iphigenia, act 4. sc. 8.

Soliloquies upon lively or interesting subjects, but without any turbulence of passion, may be carried on in a continued chain of thought. If, for example, the nature and sprightliness of the subject prompt a man to speak his thoughts in the form of a dialogue, the expression must be carried on without break or interruption, as in a dialogue between two persons; which justifies Falstaff's soliloquy upon honor.

What need I be so forward with Death, that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter, Honor pricks me on. But how if Honor prick me off, when I come on? how then? Can Honor set a leg? No: or an arm? No: or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is Honor? A word.-What is that word honor? Air; a trim reckoning.Who hath it? He that dy'd a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. Is it insensible then? Yes, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it; honor is a mere scutcheon; and so ends my catechism.

First Part Henry IV. Act V. Sc. 1. And even without dialogue, a continued discourse may be justified, where a man reasons in a soliloquy upon an important subject; for if in such a case it be at all excusable to think aloud, it is necessary that the reasoning be carried on in a chain; which justifies that admirable soliloquy in Hamlet upon life and immortality, being a serene meditation upon the most interesting of all subjects. And the same consideration will justify the soliloquy that introduces the 5th act of Addison's Cato.

The next class of the grosser errors which all writers ought to avoid, shall be of language elevated above the tone of the sentiment; of which take the following instances:

Zara. Swift as occasion, I

Myself will fly; and earlier than the morn
Wake thee to freedom. Now 'tis late; and yet
Some news few minutes past arriv'd, which seem'd
To shake the temper of the King-Who knows
What racking cares disease a monarch's bed?
Or love, that late at night still lights his lamp,
And strikes his rays through dusk, and folded lids,
Forbidding rest, may stretch his eyes awake,
And force their balls abroad at this dead hour.
Mourning Bride, Act III. Sc. 4.

I'll try.

The language here is undoubtedly too pompous and labored for describing so simple a circumstance as absence of sleep. In the following passage, the tone of the language, warm and plaintive, is well suited to the passion, which is recent grief: but every one will

Act I. Sc. 2.

be sensible, that in the last couplet save one, the tone is changed, and the mind suddenly elevated to be let fall as suddenly in the last couplet :

Henriade, Chant. VIII. 229.

Language too artificial or too figurative for the gravity, dignity, or importance, of the occasion, may be put in a third class.

Ildéteste à jamais sa coupable victoire,

Il renonce à la cour, aux humains, à la gloire
Et se fuïant lui-même, au milieu des deserts,
Il va cacher sa peine au bout de l'univers;
La, soit que le soleil rendit le jour au monde,
Soit qu'il finit sa course au vaste sein de l'onde
Sa voix faisoit redire aux échos attendris,
Le nom, le triste nom, de son malheureux fils.

Chimene demanding justice against Rodrigue who killed her father, instead of a plain and pathetic expostulation, makes a speech stuffed with the most artificial flowers of rhetoric :

And again,

Sire, mon père est mort, mes yeux ont vû son sang
Couler à gros bouillons de son généreux flanc;
Ce sang qui tant de fois garantit vos murailles,
Ce sang qui tant de fois vous gagna des batailles,
Ce sang qui, tout sorti, fume encore de courroux
De se voir répandu pour d'autres que pour vous,
Qu'au milieu des hazards n'osoit verser la guerre,
Rodrigue en votre cour vient d'en couvrir la terre.
J'ai couru sur le lieu sans force, et sans couleur:
Je l'ai trouvé sans vie. Excusez ma douleur,
Sire; la voix me manque à ce récit funeste,
Mes pleurs et mes soupirs vous diront mieux le reste.


Son flanc étoit ouvert, ct, pour mieux m'émouvoir,
Son sang sur la poussière écrivoit mon devoir;
Ou plûtôt sa valeur en cet état réduite

Me parloit par sa plaie, et hâtoit ma poursuite,
Et pour se faire entendre au plus juste des Rois,
Par cette triste bouche elle empruntoit ma voix.

Act II. 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 pro voke 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 sons by a brutal murder. Therefore the following passage 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. Act 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 John, Act III. Sc. 4.

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 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:

Chimene. Mon père est mort, Elvire, et la premiéré è pée
Dont s'est armé Rodrigue a sa trame coupée.
Pleurez, pleurez, mes yeux, et fondez-vous en eau:
La moitié de ma vie a mis l'autre au tombeau,
Et m'oblige à venger, après ce coup funeste,
Celle que je n'ai plus, sur celle qui me reste.

Cid, Act III. Sc. 3.

To die is to be banish'd from myself:
And Sylvia is myself; banish'd from her,
Is self from self; a deadly banishment!

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act III. Sc. 1.
Countess. I pray thee, lady, have a better cheer:
If thou engrossest all the griefs as thine,
Thou robb'st me of a moiety.

All's well that ends well, Act III. Sc. 2.
K. Henry. O my poor kingdom, sick with civil blows!
When that my care could not withhold thy riots,
What wilt thou do when riot is thy care?
O, thou wilt be a wilderness again,
Peopled with wolves, thy old inhabitants.

Second Part Henry IV. Act IV. Sc. 4.

Antony, speaking of Julius Cæsar:

O world! thou wast the forest of this hart
And this, indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
How like a deer, stricken by many princes,
Dost thou here lie!

Julius Cæsar, Act III. Sc. 1.

Playing thus with the sound of words, which is still worse than a pun, is the meanest of all conceits. But Shakspeare, 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 say'st thou, boy? look in the lady's face.
Lewis. Ido, 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

*Act 1. Sc. 2.

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