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were undoubtedly Shakspere's own-innate and irrepressible manifestations of his great heart and intellect. They were not, it is certain, affected or put on for a purpose, as an actor dresses for a character, since Shakspere was for the most part writing for the rudest and most unpolished audiences, who could scarcely be supposed to be the better pleased by the so frequent portraiture on the stage of virtues to which they could see little or no resemblance in their daily intercourse with the world. In an age of ignorance, faction, and bloody persecution, it is one of the great glories of Shakspere that he was amongst the few who were entirely enlightened, merciful, and tolerant:
It is an heretic that makes the fire,
Where men, enforced, do speak anything.—Merchant of Venice. I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good. 0, there were desolation of gallows and gallowses ! I speak against my present profit, but my wish hath a preferment in it.The Jailor in Cymbeline.
II.—“ HIS LIFE WAS GENTLE." 66 In the mind of man (says Sir E. B. Lytton in his o Student”) there is always à resemblance to his works. His heroes may not be like himself, but they are like certain qualities which belong to him. The sentiments he utters are his at the moment; if you find them predominate in all his works, they predominate in his mind, if they are advanced in one but contradicted in another, they still resemble their author, and betray the want of depth or of resolution in his mind. His works alone make not up a man's character, but they are the index to that living book.” These remarks of Sir Bulwer Lytton we take to be entirely true and just; and following ap the points alluded to in the foregoing pages, we may remark that against a general characterisation of the description indicated, founded on a wide survey of the dramas, it would be very fallacious to argue, from the occasional occurrence of remarks depreciatory of human virtue, that Shakspere was other than a follower and admirer of his own precepts. He has uttered some frightfully severe things against both men and women, yet he never more delights than in pourtraying the highest excellencies of the sexes. Hamlet states to Polonius that “ to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand” (or two thousand, for the readings vary); the Clown, in All's
against founded on
argue, from than virtue, of his own
Well that Ends Well,” says of women to the Countess, “ One good woman in ten; * * * one in ten, an we, might have a good woman born but for every blazing star, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lottery well;" and another of the Clowns (in " Antony and Cleopatra”) is of a somewhat similar opinion, irreverently averring that the devils make the women, and that “these devils do the gods great harm in their women, for in every ten that they make the devils mar five." It is quite apparent, however, that these and similar expressions are in no wise to be credited to Shakspere himself; they must rather be set down as the offspring of distempered fancies, and as in themselves partial revelations of the character of the speakers. Iago has a low opinion of women, but then Iago disbelieves in human virtue altogether-o'tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.” Lear bitterly declaims against the sex; but this is in his madness, and Shakspere rebukes his anathemas in the conduct of one of his own daughters, as in the case of Posthumus he rebukes the ungracious terms used towards the sex in the purity of Imogen, and as in general he vindicates the purity of woman by the presentation of supremest excellence. In the same way, inquirers may be misled by isolated expressions in his works which seem to have a bearing on the personal history or opinions of the man. For example, that he hated school, and that he was punished for his faults by the presiding dominie, has been argued from the use of such expressions as “ creeping like snail unwillingly to school;" has willingly as e'er I came from school ;" * schoolboy's tears ;"? to sigh like a schoolboy;" and as Romeo says,
Love goes towards love as schoolboys from their books,
But love from love, towards school with heavy looks ; whereas the proper conclusion is that Shakspere was simply observing when he wrote such things. He who seems to have let nothing slip connected with human life could not avoid seeing the schoolboy's peculiarities, which it was a portion of his art to use in illustrative similes. To have said the reverse of this to have based poetical allusions on the notion that boys in general have a great affection for their school-tasks—would simply have been false to nature and truth, which Shakspere never is. That he was himself a dull and unwilling scholar is about the last supposition possible, in view of the multifarious knowledge he has shown himself possessed of." William is become a good scholar," one of his own expressions, looks like a genuine
reflection drawn from experience. Indeed, his mind seems, from his earliest years, to have caught up everything which came within its scope-lessons from books (from the Bible above all other books), from what was passing around him, and from the great volume of nature as well - to be accumulated and laid up in the storehouse of memory, and thence to be poured forth in after-life as opportunity came or necessity requireddelivered, as Holofernes says, " on the mellowing of occasion.” With him, as with Byron, the intellect appears to have been 6 wax to receive and marble to retain," and we make no doubt that his recollection of things stretched backwards as far as he has imagined that of Miranda :
ke nom dom wax to us with B" on the necessityred forth
Prospero.-Canst thou remember
Miranda. --Certainly, Sir, I can.
Other features of Shakspere's character seem to us to emerge naturally on a close examination of his works. He was à many-sided man, as all great men have been. Gravity and thoughtfulness were predominant in his constitution; but he was also at times overflowing with mirth and free sociality. Observers must admit that there is something intensely Shaksperian in the caution of Bassanio to Gratiano, that the exuberant mirthfulness of the latter, albeit suitable and proper enough amongst intimate friends, might be so far misconstrued by the stranger lady at Belmont that Bassanio's suit might suffer in consequence of the over-familiarities of the friend whom yet he loved the best:
Hear thee, Gratiano-
In “ Love's Labour Lost” Rosaline censures Biron for the same fault. He is too
replete with mocks, Full of comparisons and winding flouts,
and she in consequence awards him a heavy penance before she will promise to become his wife. This same quiet, thoughtful disposition is well exemplified in such passages as the following:
Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Be check'd for silence, But never tax'd for speech.*-All's Well that Ends Well. 1. I pray you, Sir, of what disposition was the Duke ? 2. One that, above all other strifes, contended especially to know himself. 1. What pleasure was he given to ?
2. Rather rejoicing to see another merry, than merry at anything which professed to make him rejoice-a gentleman of all temperance.—Measure for Measure.
These and other cognate moral characteristics, involving such qualities as dignity, courtesy, refinement of feeling, tenderness, delicacy of thought, are brought up so frequently in the writings of Shakspere that there is no evading the inference that they formed a portion of his own nature, making him what we understand in modern times as a " gentleman”-one of nature's nobility, who, as Burns said of a friend, 6 derived the patent of his honours direct from Almighty God.” It would be tedious to quote passages in illustration of this remark, and we can only note that the qualities alluded to occur most frequently in personages of high station, and (excluding historical characters as apart from our purpose) are to be traced most directly in the King in “ All's Well that Ends Well,'. the King in “ Love's Labour Lost," King Duncan in 66 Macbeth," King Lear; the Dukes in " Measure for Measure,” in the 66 Comedy of Errors,” in “ Midsummer Night's Dream,” in “ The Merchant of Venice,” in 66 As You Like It," in “ Twelfth Night," in 6 Othello," and in " The Tempest”—for Prospero is also a Duke. All these characters are to a great extent reflections from the mirror of Shakspere's own mind and heart.
The tenderness of the poet is seen in his poems and in * It appears that Shakspere anticipated Carlyle in inculcating the virtue of silence.
And in noticing this, another curious anticipation of a thought comes to hand. In the late inaugural address of Carlyle to the students of the Edinburgh University, one of the most laboured passages is that in which the speaker introduces Goethe's “Wilhelm Meister," the quotations made from which are taken to show that the feeling of Reverence, above and beyond all others, is that which should be taught the young as the most precious part of their education-Reverence for God, Reverence for what is about us in our equals, and Reverence also for what we may think beneath us in de. graded humanity. But the idea was uttered by Shakspere a century and a half before Goethe was born, in these words in Cymbeline“REVERENCE, THAT ANGEL OP THE WORLD."
several of the plays—as in “ Macbeth,” where Pity is imagined in the shape of " a naked new-born babe, striding the blast,” and in Coriolanus
Not of a woman's tenderness to be,
Other minor features of Shakspere's character appear clearly enough on examination of his works. He was no speculator, still less was he a revolutionist in politics. On the contrary, he seems to have been a lover of social order and of the constitution,” such as it was, not believing in the capacity of the masses for political power or influence. He would, in short, had he lived in these days, have been represented by a Conservative of aristocratic breeding and tendencies. He venerated authority—under its higher phases at least, for he more than once treats the smaller class of officials with supreme derision. For Knowledge, as such, he had the highest possible reverence-a feeling only equalled by his horror of Ignorance. « Oh thou monster Ignorance," says Holofernes (“ Love's Labour Lost") “how deformed dost thou look.” “ Knowledge” is an “ angel,” according to Biron in the same play, and in Henry VI. (second part) these “ mighty opposites” are described in language as pregnant and majestic as Bacon ever uttered :
Ignorance is the curse of God;
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to Heaven. And what says Hamlet as to the higher faculties of our nature ?
What is a man
As further indicating his opinion of ignorance, a mob is with Shakspere always a dangerous and fickle rabble, whether met with on the streets of London or on the streets
* Guizot, in his Essay, has formed a high opinion of the tenderness of Shakspere's feelings-higher than is warranted by the works. He thinks it impossible that Hubert (in “King John") should be able to burn out the eyes of young Arthur, because the act would be unendurable to the mental vision of Shakspere as too shocking, and he rejects the “ Titus Andronicus" as the work of Shakspere on account simply of the accumulation of horrors contained in it-forgetting that Forrest (in " Richard III.'') smothers the two innocent babes in the Tower, and that the entire tragedy of “Lear" is only less repulsive than “Titus" in some of its details, both productions including a general massacre of the dramatis personce.