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writing by rule, are apt to try every com- | He goes on to say,-“ Even that the name position by those laws which we have been of Cymbeline') has its advantages in pretaught to think the sole criterion of ex-paring the audience for the chaos of time, cellence. Critical taste is universally diffused, place, and costume, by throwing the date and we require the same order and design back into a fabulous king's reign.” We do which every modern performance is expected not understand that Coleridge meant to say to have, in poems where they never were that the play of 'Cymbeline' had neither regarded or intended." Warton was a man co-ordination of characters nor a prominent of too high taste not in some degree to object; but we do apprehend that the name despise this “criterion of excellence;" but was symbolical, in his belief, of the main he did not dare to avow the heresy in his features of the play-the chaos of time, own day. We have outlived all this. The place, and costume. For he proceeds, im“critical taste" to which Warton alludes mediately, to remark, in reference to the belongs only to the history of criticism. judgment displayed by our truly dramatic But, even amongst those upon whom we have poet in the management of his first scenes, been accustomed to rely as infallible guides, | “With the single exception of Cymbeline, it does appear to us that Cymbeline' has they place before us at one glance both the been, in some degree, considered a departure past and the future in some effect, which from the great law of unity-not of time, implies the continuance and full agency of nor of place, but of feeling—which Shakspere its cause."* We venture to believe that has unquestionably prescribed to himself. Cymbeline' does not form an exception to Neither Tieck nor Schlegel, according to the usual course pursued by Shakspere in their usual custom, attempt to show that any | the management of his first scenes; and predominant idea runs through Cymbeline.' that the first scenes of Cymbeline' do place They each speak of it as a succession of before us the past and the future in a way splendid scenes, and high poetry; and, in which we think very strikingly discloses what deed, it cannot be denied that these attri- | he intended to be the leading idea of his butes of this drama most forcibly seize upon | drama. the mind, somewhat, perhaps, to the ex- The dialogue of the “two Gentlemen" in clusion of its real action. We venture to the opening scene makes us perfectly acexpress our opinion that one predominant quainted with the relations in which Posthuidea does exist; although Coleridge, even | mus and Imogen stand to each other, and to more distinctly than the German critics, if | those around them. “She 's wedded, her we apprehend him rightly, inferred the con- | husband banish'd." We have next the chatrary:-“In the “Twelfth Night,' 'Mid racter of the banished husband, and of the summer Night's Dream,' 'As You Like It,' unworthy suitor who is the cause of his and Winter's Tale,' the total effect is pro banishment; as well as the story of the duced by a co-ordination of the characters king's two lost sons. This is essentially the as in a wreath of flowers. But in ‘Coriolanus,' | foundation of the past and future of the * Lear,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' Hamlet,' | action. Brief indeed is this scene, but it

Othello,' &c., the effect arises from the well prepares us for the parting of Posthumus subordination of all to one, either as the and Imogen. The course of their affections prominent person, or the principal object." is turned awry by the wills of others. The Coleridge is speaking of the great significancy angry king at once proclaims himself to us of the names of Shakspere's plays. The as one not cruel, but weak; he has before consonancy of the names with the leading been described as "touch'd at very heart." ideas of each drama is exemplified in this It is only in the intensity of her affection passage. He then adds—“'Cymbeline’ is the for Posthumus that Imogen opposes her own only exception ;" that is, the name of Cym- will to the impatient violence of her father, beline' neither expresses the co-ordination and the more crafty decision of her stepof the characters, nor the principal object. ! * Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 207.

mother. But she is surrounded with a | The immediate danger is passed; but there third evil,

is a new danger approaching. The will of "A father cruel, and a step-dame false, her unhappy husband, deceived into madness, A foolish suitor to a wedded lady."

is to be added to the evils which she has Worse, however, even than these, her honour

already received from violence and selfishis to be assailed, her character vilified, by a

ness. Posthumus, intending to destroy her, subtle stranger ; who, perhaps more in sport

writes, “ Take notice that I am in Cambria, than in malice, has resolved to win a paltry

at Milford-Haven ; what your own love will wager by the sacrifice of her happiness and

out of this advise you, follow.” She does that of her husband. What has she to

follow her own love;—she has no other oppose to all this complication of violence

guide but the strength of her affections ; and cunning? Her perfect purity - her

that strength makes her hardy and fearless entire simplicity-her freedom from every

of consequences. It is the one duty, as well thing that is selfish-the strength only of as the one pleasure, of her existence. How her affections. The scene between Iachimo

is that affection requited ? Pisanio places in and Imogen is a contest of innocence with

her hand, when they have reached the deepest guile, most profoundly affecting, in spite of

solitude of the mountains, that letter by the few coarsenesses that were perhaps un

| which he is commanded to take away her avoidable, and which were not considered

| life. One passing thought of herself—one offensive in Shakspere's day. The supreme

faint reproach of her husband, and she beauty of Imogen's character soars triumph

submits to the fate which is prepared for antly out of the impure mist which is around

her : her; and not the least part of that beauty is

“Come, fellow, be thou honest: her ready forgiveness of her assailant, briefly 1 Do thou thy master's bidding: When thou and flutteringly expressed, however, when he see'st him, relies upon the possibility of deceiving her

A little witness my obedience: Look ! through her affections :

I draw the sword myself: take it; and hit

The innocent mansion of my love, my heart." “O happy Leonatus! I may say: The credit that thy lady hath of thee

But her truth and innocence have already Deserves thy trust; and thy most perfect subdued the will of the sworn servant of her goodness

husband. He comforts her, but he necesHer assured credit !”

sarily leaves her in the wilderness. The This is the First Act; and, if we mistake

spells of evil wills are still around her:not the object of Shakspere, these opening

“ My noble mistress, scenes exhibit one of the most confiding and Here is a box: I had it from the queen." gentle of human beings, assailed on every side by a determination of purpose, whether Perhaps there is nothing in Shakspere more in the shape of violence, wickedness, or folly, beautifully managed,-more touching in its against which, under ordinary circumstances, romance,-more essentially true to nature, innocence may be supposed to be an insuf- than the scene between Imogen and her ficient shield. But the very helplessness of unknown brothers. The gentleness, the grace, Imogen is her protection. In the exquisite the “grief and patience,” of the helpless Second Scene of the Second Act, the perfect Fidele, producing at once the deepest revepurity of Imogen, as interpreted by Shak rence and affection in the bold and daring spere, has converted what would have been mountaineers, still carry forward the chaa most dangerous situation in the hands of racter of Imogen under the same aspects. another poet-Fletcher, for example-into Belarius has beautifully described the broone of the most refined delicacy :

thers :“'T is her breathing that

« They are as gentle Perfumes the chamber thus."

1 As zephyrs, blowing below the violet,

Not wagging his sweet head: and yet, as another victim of worldly craft and selfishrough,

ness :Their royal blood enchafed, as the rud'st wind,

“Gods! if you That by the top doth take the mountain pine, Should have ta'en vengeance on my faults, I And make him stoop to the vale."

never It was in their gentleness that Imogen found

Had lived to put on this; so had you saved

The noble Imogen to repent; and struck a support for her gentleness ;-it was in their

Me, wretch, more worth your vengeance." roughness that the roughness of Cloten met its punishment. Imogen is still saved from In the prison scene his spirit is again united the dangers with which craft and violence with hers :

“O Imogen, have surrounded her. When she swallows

I'll speak to thee in silence. the supposed medicine of the queen, we know beforehand that the evil intentions of her

The contest we now feel is over between the step-mother have been counteracted by the selfish and the unselfish, the crafty and the benevolent intentions of the physician :

simple, the proud and the meek, the violent

and the gentle. "I do know her spirit,

It is scarcely within our purpose to follow And will not trust one of her malice with

the unravelling of the incidents in the conA drug of such damn'd nature.”

cluding scene. Steevens has worthily en“ The bird is dead ;” she was sick, and we deavoured to make amends for the injustice almost fear that the words of the dirge are of the criticism which 'Cymbeline' has retrue:

ceived from his associate commentator :

“Let those who talk so confidently about "Fear no more the frown o' the great, Thou art pass’d the tyrant's stroke.

the skill of Shakspeare's contemporary,

Jonson, point out the conclusion of any one But she awakes, and she has still to endure

of his plays which is wrought with more the last and the worst evil—her husband, in

artifice, and yet a less degree of dramatic her apprehension, lies dead before her. She

violence, than this. In the scene before us, has no wrongs to think of—“O my lord, my

all the surviving characters are assembled ; lord,” is all, in connexion with Posthumus,

and at the expense of whatever incongruity that escapes amidst her tears. The beauty

the former events may have been produced, and innocence which saved her from Iachimo,

perhaps little can be discovered on this -which conquered Pisanio,—which won the

occasion to offend the most scrupulous adwild hunters,—commend her to the Roman

vocate for regularity: and, I think, as little general-she is at once protected. But she

is found wanting to satisfy the spectator by has holy duties still to perform :

à catastrophe which is intricate without “I'll follow, sir. But, first, an 't please the confusion, and not more rich in ornament gods,

than in nature." I'll hide my master from the flies, as deep . The conclusion of Cymbeline' has been As these poor pickaxes can dig: and when lauded because it is consistent with poetic With wild wood-leaves and weeds I have justice. Those who adopt this species of strew'd his grave,

reasoning look very imperfectly upon the And on it said a century of prayers,

course of real events in the moral world. It Such as I can, twice o'er, I'll weep and sigh;

is permitted, for inscrutable purposes, that And, leaving so his service, follow you,

the innocent should sometimes fall before So please you entertain me.”

the wicked, and the noble be subjected to It is the unconquerable affection of Imogen the base. In the same way, it is sometimes which makes us pity Posthumus even while in the course of events that the pure and the we blame him for the rash exercise of his gentle should triumph over deceit and outrevengeful will. But in his deep repentance rage. The perishing of Desdemona is as true we more than pity him. We see only as the safety of Imogen ; and the poetical

truth involves as high a moral in the one ' Have made you finish. case as in the other. That Shakspere's Iach.

I am down again: notion of poetical justice was not the hack But now my heavy conscience sinks my knee, neyed notion of an intolerant age, reflected

As then your force did. Take that life, even by a Boccaccio, is shown by the dif

'beseech you, ference in the lot of the offender in the

Which I so often owe: but, your ring first;

And here the bracelet of the truest princess, Italian tale and the lot of Iachimo. The

That ever swore her faith. Ambrogiolo of the novelist, who slanders a


Kneel not to me; virtuous lady for the gain of a wager, is

The power that I have on you is to spare you; fastened to a stake, smeared with honey, and

The malice towards you to forgive you: Live, left to be devoured by flies and locusts. The

And deal with others better. close of our dramatist's story is perfect Shak

Nobly doom'd: spere :

We 'll learn our freeness of a son-in-law; Post. Speak, Iachimo; I had you down, Pardon 's the word to all.”

and might




This comedy stands the first in the folio | Shakspere himself is Prospero, or rather the collection of 1623, in which edition it was superior genius who commands both Prospero originally printed. In the entry upon the and Ariel. But the time was approaching Stationers' registers of November the 8th, when the potent sorcerer was to break his 1623, claiming for the booksellers Blount staff, and to bury it fathoms in the ocean, and Jaggard such plays of Shakspere “as were not formerly entered to other men,” it

'Deeper than did ever plummet sound.' also is the first in order. The original text That staff has never been, and never will be, is printed with singular correctness.

recovered.” But this feeling, pretty and A very genera: belief has always prevailed fanciful as it is, is certainly somewhat that The Tempest' was the last of Shakspere's deceptive. It is not borne out by the internal works. We are inclined to think that this evidence of the play itself. Shakspere never belief was rather a matter of feeling than of could have contemplated, in health and judgment. Mr. Campbell has put the feeling intellectual vigour, any abandonment of that very elegantly :-“The Tempest' has a sort occupation which constituted his happiness of sacredness as the last work of a mighty and glory. We have no doubt that he wrote workman. Shakspere, as if conscious that on till the hour of his last illness. His later it would be his last, and as if inspired to plays are unquestionably those in which the typify himself, has made his hero a natural, | mighty intellect is more tasked than the a dignified, and benevolent magician, who unbounded fancy. His later plays, as we could conjure up spirits from the vasty deep, believe, present the philosophical and hisand command supernatural agency by the torical aspect of human affairs rather than most seemingly natural and simple means. the passionate and the imaginative. The And this final play of our poet has magic Roman historical plays are, as it appears to indeed ; for, what can be simpler in language us, at the end of his career, as the English than the courtship of Ferdinand and Miranda, historical plays are at the beginning. Noand yet what can be more magical than the thing can be more different than the principle sympathy with which it subdues us? Here of art upon which the 'Henry VI.' and the 'Antony and Cleopatra' are constructed. that there are any productions of the human The Roman plays denote, we think, the mind in existence, ancient or modern, which growth of an intellect during five-and-twenty can give us so complete a notion of what years. The Tempest' does not present the Roman life was under its great general characteristics of the latest plays. It has aspects. This was the effect, not only of the playfulness and beauty of the comedies, his instinctive wisdom, but of that leisure mingled with the higher notes of passionate for profound inquiry and extensive investigaand solemn thought which distinguished the tion which Sbakspere possessed in the latter great tragedies. It is essentially, too, written years of his life. We cannot bring ourselves wholly with reference to the stage, at a | to believe that The Tempest' belonged to period when an Ariel could be presented to the latest period. Ulrici has said “The an imaginative audience without the prosaic Tempest' is the completing companion-piece encumbrance of wings. The later plays, of the Winter's Tale' and 'A Midsummersuch as "Troilus and Cressida,' and the three Night's Dream.'” The Midsummer-Night's Roman subjects, are certainly written without Dream' was printed in 1600;—it was probably any very strong regard to dramatic effect. written some five or six years previous. The They are noble acting plays, especially ‘Julius Winter's Tale' was acted in 1611. From Cæsar' and 'Coriolanus;' but even in these the 'Extracts from the Accounts of the the poet appears to have poured himself forth Revels at Court,' edited by Mr. Peter Cunwith a philosophical mastery of the great ningham, we learn that on Hallowmas Night principles by which men are held in the (November 1), 1611, “was presented at social state, without being very solicitous as Whitehall, before the King's Majesty, a play to the favourable reception of his opinions called “The Tempest.'” Four nights afterby the mixed audiences of the days of wards the “Winter's Tale' was also presented. James I. The 'Antony and Cleopatra' is The Winter's Tale' appears to us to bear still more remarkable for its surpassing marks of a later composition than The historical truth-not the mere truth of Tempest.' But we are not disposed to chronological exactness, but that truth which separate them by any very wide interval: is evolved out of the power of making the | more especially we cannot agree with Mr. past present and real, through the marvellous Hunter, who has brought great learning to felicity of knowing and representing how an investigation of all the points connected individuals and masses of men must have with The Tempest,' that this play, " instead acted under circumstances which are only of being the latest work of this great master, assimilated to the circumstances of modern is in reality one of the earliest, nearly the times by the fact that all the great principles first in time, as the first in place, of the and motives of human action are essentially dramas which are wholly his." The diffithe same in every age and in every condition culty of settling the chronology of some of of civilization. The plays that we have | Shakspere's plays by internal evidence is, mentioned must have been the result of very much increased by the circumstance very profound thought and very accurate that some of them must be regarded as early investigation. The characters of the “Troilus performances that have come down to us and Cressida' are purposely Gothicised. An with the large additions and corrections of episode of “ the tale of Troy divine” is maturer years. For example: "Pericles', seized upon, to be divested of its romantic was, it is probable, produced as a novelty in attributes, and to be presented with all the 1608, or not long before. There are portions bold colouring of a master regardless of of that play which we think no one could minute proprieties of costume, but producing have written but the mature Shakspere; the most powerful and harmonious effect mixed up with other portions which indicate, through the universal truth of his delinea not so much immature powers as the treattions. On the contrary, the Roman playsment of a story in the spirit of the oldest are perfect in costume. We do not believe dramas. So it is with Cymbeline;' and, to

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