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sought for resemblance in the words, as, for instance, in the third line of the play, ᅦ And then grace us in the disgrace of death ;
this being a figure often having its force and propriety, as justified by the law of passion, which, inducing in the mind an unusual activity, seeks for means to waste its superfluity, when in the highest degree-in lyric repetitions and sublime tautology-(at her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down'; at her fort he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell down dead),—and, in lower degrees, in making the words themselves the subjects and materials of that surplus action, and for the same cause that agitates our limbs, and forces our very gestures into a tempest in states of high excitement.
The mere style of narration in Love's Labour's Lost, like that of Egeon in the first scene of the Comedy of Errors, and of the Captain in the second scene of Macbeth, seems imitated with its defects and its beauties from Sir Philip Sidney; whose Arcadia, though not then published, was already well known in manuscript copies, and could hardly have escaped the notice and admiration of Shakspeare as the friend and client of the Earl of Southampton. The chief defect consists in the parentheses and parenthetic thoughts and descriptions, suited neither to the passion of the speaker,
purpose of the person to whom the infor
mation is to be given, but manifestly betraying the author himself,—not by way of continuous undersong, but-palpably, and so as to show themselves addressed to the general reader. However, it is not unimportant to notice how strong a presumption the diction and allusions of this play afford, that, though Shakspeare's acquirements in the dead languages might not be such as we suppose in a learned education, his habits had, nevertheless, been scholastic, and those of a student. For a young author's first work almost always bespeaks his recent pursuits, and his first observations of life are either drawn from the immediate employments of his youth, and from the characters and images most deeply impressed on his mind in the situations in which those employments had placed him ;—or else they are fixed on such objects and occurrences in the world, as are easily connected with, and seem to bear upon, his studies and the hitherto exclusive subjects of his meditation. Just as Ben Jonson, who applied himself to the drama after having served in Flanders, fills his carliest plays with true or pretended soldiers, the wrongs and neglects of the former, and the absurd boasts and knavery of their counterfeits. So Lessing's first comedies are placed in the universities, and consist of events and characters conceivable in an academic life.
I will only further remark the sweet and tempered gravity, with which Shakspeare in the end کرر
draws the only fitting moral which such a drama
Ros. Oft have I heard of you, my lord Biron,
Biron. To move wild laughter in the throat of death?
Ros. Why, that's the way to choke a gibing spirit,
scorns, continue then,
— and, therefore, like the eye,
Either read stray, which I prefer ;. or throw full back to the preceding lines,
like the eye, full Of straying shapes, &c.
In the same scene :
Biron. And what to me, my love? and what to me?
Ros. You must be purged too, your sins are rank ;
But seek the weary beds of people sick. There can be no doubt, indeed, about the propriety of expunging this speech of Rosaline's; it soils the
; very page that retains it. But I do not agree with Warburton and others in striking out the preceding line also. It is quite in Biron's character; and Rosaline not answering it immediately, Dumain takes up the question for him, and, after he and Longaville are answered, Biron, with evident propriety, says;
Studies my mistress ? &c.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
Act i. sc. 1.
Her. O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low-
Her. O hell! to chuse love by another's eye!
THERE is no authority for any alteration ;-but
I never can help feeling how great an improve. mentit would be, if the two former of Hermia's exclamations were omitted; the third and only appropriate one would then become a beauty, and most natural. Ib. Helena's speech :
I will go tell him of fair llermia's flight, &c. I am convinced that Shakspeare availed himself of the title of this play in his own mind, and worked upon it as a dream throughout, but especially, and, perhaps, unpleasingly, in this broad determination of ungrateful treachery in Helena, so undisguisedly avowed to herself, and this, too, after the witty cool philosophizing that precedes. The act itself is natural, and the resolve so to act is, I fear, likewise too true a picture of the lax hold which principles have on a woman's heart, when opposed to, or even separated from, passion and inclination. For women are less hypocrites to their own minds than men are, because in general they feel less proportionate abhorrence of moral evil in and for itself, and more of its outward consequences, as detection, and loss of character than men,—their natures being almost wholly extroitive. Still, however just in itself, the representation of this is not poetical; we shrink from it, and cannot harmonize it with the ideal. Act. ii. sc. 1. Theobald's edition.
Through bush, through briar