Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

Ib. lago's soliloquy:

dod what's be then that says-I play the villain ? When this advice is free I give, and honest, Probable to thinking, and, indeed, the course To win the Moor again. He is not, you see, an absolute fiend; or, at least, he wishes to think himself not so.

Act ii. sc. 3.

Des. Before Emilia liere,

I give the warrant of this place.
The over-zeal of innocence in Desdemona.
Ib.

Enter Desclerona w Emilii.
Oih. If she he false, (), then, leaven mocks itself!
I'll not believe it.

Divine! The effect of innocence and the better genius!

Act. iv. sc. 3.

Emil. Why, the wrong is but a wrong i' the world; and having the world for your labour, 'tis a wrong in your own world, and you might quickly make it right.

Warburton's note.

What any other man, who had learning enough, might have quoted as a playful and witty illustration of his remarks against the Calvinistic thesis, Warburton gravely attributes to Shakspeare as intentional; and this, too, in the mouth of a lady's woman !

Act. v. last scene. Othello's speech :

-Of one, whose hand,
Like the base Indiun, threw a pearl'away

Richer than all his tribe, &c.
Theobald's note from Warburton.

Thus it is for no-poets to comment on the greatest of poets! To make Othello say that he, who had killed his wife, was like Herod who killed Mariamne!-(, how many beautics, in this one line, were impenetrable to the ever thought-swarming, but idealess, Warburton! Othello wishes to excuse himself on the score of ignorance, and yet not to excuse himself,—to excuse himself by accusinr. This strugule of feeling is finely conveyed in the word “base,' which is applied to the rude Indian, not in his own character, but as the momentary representative of Othello's. •Indian'for I retain the old reading--means American, a Savage in genere.

Finally, let me repeat that Othello does not kill Desdemona in jealousy, but in a conviction forced upon him by the almost superhuman art of lago, such a conviction as any man would and must have entertained who had believed Iago’s honesty as Othello did. We, the audience, know that Iago is à villain from the beginning; but in considering the essence of the Shakspearian Othello, we must perseveringly place ourselves in his situation, and under his circumstances. Then we shall immediately feel the fundamental difference between the

6

solemn agony of the noble Moor, and the wretched fishing jealousies of Leontes, and the morbid suspiciousness of Leonatus, who is, in other respects, a fine character. Othello had no life but in Desdemona:- the belief that she, his angel, had fallen from the heaven of her native innocence, wrought a civil war in his heart. She is his counterpart; and, like him, is almost sanctified in our eyes by her absolute unsuspiciousness, and holy entireness of love. As the curtain drops, which do we pity the most ?

Extrem hunc

Tliere are three powers :-\l'it, which discovers partial likeness hidden in general diversity; subtlety, which discovers the diversity concealed in general apparent sameness ; — and protundity, which discovers an essential unity under all the semblances of difference.

Give to a subtle man fancy, and he is a wit; to a deep man imagination, and he is a philosopher. Add, again, pleasurable sensibility in the threefold form of sympathy with the interesting in morals, the impressive in form, and the harmonious in sound, -and you have the poet.

But combine all,-wit, subtlety, and fancy, with profundity, imagination, and moral and physical susceptibility of the pleasurable,—and let the object of action be man universal; and we shall have—0, rash prophecy! say, rather, we have-a SHAKSPEARE!

VOTES ON BEN JONSON.

IT

T would be amusing to collect out of our dra

matists from Elizabeth to Charles I. proofs of the manners of the times. One striking symptom of general coarseness of manners, which may coexist with great refinement of morals, as, alas! rice rersa, is to be seen in the very frequent allusions to the olfactories with their most disgusting stimulants, and these, too, in the conversation of virtuous ladies. This would not appear so strange to one who had been on terms of familiarity with Sicilian and Italian women of rank: and bad as they may, too many of them, actually be, yet I doubt not that the extreme grossness of their language has impressed many an Englishman of the present era with far darker notions than the same language would have produced in the mind of one of Elizabeth's or James's courtiers. Those who have read Shakspeare only, complain of occasional grossness in his plays; but compare him with his contemporaries, and the inevitable conviction, is that of the exquisite purity of his imagination.

The observation I have prefixed to the Volpone is the key to the faint interest which these noble efforts of intellectual power excite, with the exception of the fragment of the Sad Shepherd; because in that piece only is there any character with whom you can morally sympathize. On the other hand, Measure for Measure is the only play of Shakspeare's in which there are not some one or more characters, generally many, whom you follow with affectionate feeling. For I confess that Isabella, of all Shakspeare's female characters, pleases me the least; and Measure for Measure is, indeed, the only one of his genuine works, which is painful to me.

Let me not conclude this remark, however, without a thankful acknowledgment to the manes of Ben Jonson, that the more I study his writings, I the more admire them; and the more my study of him resembles that of an ancient classic, in the minutive of his rhythm, metre, choice of worils, forms of connection, and so forth, the more numerous have the points of my admiration become. I may add, too, that both the study and the admiration cannot but be disinterested, for to expert therefrom any advantage to the present drama would be ignorance. The latter is utterly heterogeneous from the drama of the Shakspearian age, with a diverse object and contrary principle. The one was to present a model by imitation of real life, taking from real life all that in it which it ought to be, and supplying the rest ;—the other is to copy what is, and as it is,-at best a tolerable, but most frequently a blundering, copy. In the former the difference was an essential element; in the latter an involuntary defect. We should think

a

« PredošláPokračovať »