Obrázky na stránke

All deep passions are a sort of atheists, that believe no future. Ib. sc. 5.

Cup. Soft, take me with you, take me with you, wifeHow! will she none ? &c.

A noble scene ! Don't I see it with my own eyes ? - Yes! but not with Juliet's. And observe in Capulet's last speech in this scene his mistake, as if love's causes were capable of being generalized. Act iv. sc. 3. Juliet's speech :

O, look! methinks I see my cousin's ghost
Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body
l'pon a rapier's point:-Stay, Tybalt, stay !-

Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee. Shakspeare provides for the finest decencies. It would have been too bold a thing for a girl of fifteen ;-but she swallows the draught in a fit of fright. (s)

Ib. sc. 5.

As the audience know that Juliet is not dead, this scene is, perhaps, excusable. But it is a strong warning to minor dramatists not to introduce at one time many separate characters agitated by one and the same circumstance. It is difficult to understand what effect, whether that of pity or of laughter, Shakspeare meant to produce ;—the occasion and the characteristic speeches are so little in harmony! For example, what the Nurse says is excellently suited to the Nurse's character, but grotesquely unsuited to the occasion.

[ocr errors]

Act. v. sc. l.' Romeo's speech :

O mischief! tbou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men !

I do remember an apothecary, &c.
This famous passage is so beautiful as to be self-
justified ; yet, in addition, what a fine preparation
it is for the tomb scene!
Ib. sc. 3. Romeo's speech :

Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man,

Fly hence and leave me.
The gentleness of Romeo was shown before, as
softened by love; and now it is doubled by love and
sorrow and awe of the place where he is.
Ib. Romeo's speech :-

How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry! which their keepers call
A lightning before death. O, how


Call this a lightning ?-0, my love, my wife ! &c.
Here, here, is the master example how beauty
can at once increase and modify passion !

Ib. Last scene.

How beautiful is the close! The spring and the winter meet ;-winter assumes the character of spring, and spring the sadness of winter.





THE first form of poetry is the epic, the essence

of which may be stated as the successive in events and characters. This must be distinguished from narration, in which there must always be at narrator, from whom the objects represented receive a colouring and a manner;—whereas in the epic, as in the so called poenis of Homer, the whole is completely objective, and the representation is a pure retlection. The next form into which poetry passed was the dramatic ;— both forms having a common basis with a certain difference, and that difference not consisting in the dialoyne alone. Both are t'ounded on the relation of providence io the human will; and this relation is the universal eleinent, expressed under different points of view according to the difference of religion, and the moral and intellectual cultivation of ditferent nations. In the epic poem fate is represented as overruling the will, and making it instrumental to the accomplishment of its designs :

Διός τε τελείετο βουλή. In the drama, the will is exhibited as struggling with fate, a great and beautiful instance and illustration of which is the Prometheus of Eschylus; and the deepest effect is produced, when the fate is represented as thigher and intelligent will, and the opposition of the individual as springing from a defect.

In order that a drama may be properly historical, it is necessary that it should be the history of the people to whom it is addressed. In the composition. care must be taken that there appear no dramatic improbability, as the reality is taken for granted. It must, likewise, be poetical ;— that only, I mean, must be taken which is the permanent in our na. ture, which is common, and therefore deeply interesting to all ages. The events themselves are immaterial, otherwise than as the clothing and manitestation of the spirit that is working within. In this mode, the unity resulting from succession is destroyed, but is supplied by i liity of' it liigner order, which connects the events by reference to the workers, gives a reason for them in the motives, and presents men in their causative character. It takes, therefore, that part of real history which is the least known, and infuses a principle of life and organization into the naked facts, and makes them all the framework of an animated whole.

In my happier days, while I had yet hope and onward-Tooking thoughts, I planned an historical drama of King Stephen, in the manner of Shaks. peare. Indeed it would be desirable that some man of dramatic genius should dramatize all those omitted by Shakspeare, as far down as Henry VII.




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

drama. A few scenes of Marlow's Edward II. might be preserved. After Henry VIII., the events are too well and distinctly known, to be, without plump inverisimilitude, crowded together in one night's exhibition. Whereas, the history of our ancient kings — the events of their reigns, I mean,

I -are like stars in the sky ;-whatever the real interspaces may be, and however great, they seem close to each other. The stars—the events-strike us and remain in our eye, little modified by the difference of dates. An historic drama is, there.' fore, a collection of events borrowed from history, but connected together in respect of cause and time, poetically and by dramatic fiction. It would be a fine national custom to act such a series of dramatic histories in orderly succession, in the yearly Christmas holidays, and could not but tend to counteract that mock cosmopolitism, which under a positive term really implies nothing but a negation of, or indifference to, the particular love of our country. By its nationality must every nation retain its independence;— I mean a nationality quoad the nation. Better thus;-nationality in each individual, quoad his country, is equal to the sense of individuality quoad himself; but himself as subsensuous, and central. Patriotism is equal to the sense of individuality reflected from every other individual. There may come a higher virtue in both—just cosmopolitism. But this latter is not possible but by antecedence of the former.

« PredošláPokračovať »