Imatges de pÓgina

much enlarged, and now included a vast number of gentlemen. Gertrude's manner was kindness itself, but a more studied kindness than before. She had lost much of her youth and her simplicity. Richard wondered whether she had pledged herself to spinsterhood, but of course he did n't ask her. She inquired very particularly into his material prospects and intentions, and offered most urgently to lend him money, which he declined to borrow. When he left her, he took a long walk through her place and beside the river, and, wandering back to the days when he had yearned for her love, assured himself that no woman would ever again be to him what she had been. During his stay in this neighborhood he found himself impelled to a species of submission to one of the old agricultural magnates whom he had insulted in his unregenerate days, and through whom he was glad to obtain some momentary employment.

But his pres

ent position is very distasteful to him, and he is eager to try his fortunes in the West. As yet, however, he has lacked even the means to get as far as St. Louis. He drinks no more than is good for him. To speak of Gertrude's impressions of Richard would lead us quite too far. Shortly after his return she broke up her household, and came to the bold resolution (bold, that is, for a woman young, unmarried, and ignorant of manners in her own country) to spend some time in Europe. At our last accounts she was living in the ancient city of Florence. Her great wealth, of which she was wont to complain that it excluded her from human sympathy, now affords her a most efficient protection. She passes among her fellow-countrymen abroad for a very independent, but a very happy woman; although, as she is by this time twentyseven years of age, a little romance is occasionally invoked to account for her continued celibacy..


N an article on Shakespeare in the tained, are these. Shakespeare went

I June number of this Magazine, we

spoke of his general comprehensive ness and creativeness, of his method of characterization, and of the identity of his genius with his individuality. In the present article we purpose to treat of some particular topics included in the general theme; and as criticism on him is like coasting along a continent, we shall make little pretension to system in the order of taking them up.

The first of these topics is the succession of Shakespeare's works, considered as steps in the growth and development of his powers, -a subject which has already been ably handled by our countryman, Mr. Verplanck. The facts, as far as they can be ascer

to London about the year 1586, in his twenty-second year, and found some humble employment in one of the theatrical companies. Three years afterwards, in 1589, he had risen to be one of the sharers in the Blackfriars' Theatre. In 1592 he had acquired sufficient reputation as a dramatist, or at least as a recaster of the plays of others, to excite the jealousy of the leading playwrights, whose crude dramas he condescended to rewrite or retouch. That graceless vagabond, Robert Greene, addressing from his penitent death-bed his old friends Lodge, Peele, and Marlowe, and trying to dissuade them from "spending their wits" any longer in "making plays," spitefully

declares: "There is an upstart crow beautified with our feathers, that, with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, supposes he is as able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shake-scene in the country." Doubtless this charge of adopting and adapting the productions of others includes some dramas which have not been preserved, as the company to which Shakespeare was attached owned the manuscripts of a great number of plays which were never printed; and it was a custom, when a play had popular elements in it, for other dramatists to be employed in making such additions as would give continual novelty to the old favorite. But of the plays published in our editions of Shakespeare's writings, it is probable that "The Comedy of Errors," and the three parts of "King Henry VI.," are only partially his, and should be classed among his early adaptations, and not among his early creations. The play of "Pericles " bears no marks of his mind, except in some scenes of transcendent power and beauty, which start up from the rest of the work like towers of gold from a plain of sand; but these scenes are in his latest manner. In regard to the tragedy of "Titus Andronicus," we are so constituted as to resist all the external evidence by which such a shapeless mass of horrors and absurdities is fastened on Shakespeare. Mr. Verplanck thinks it one of Shakespeare's first attempts at dramatic composition; but first attempts must reflect the mental condition of the author at the time they were made; and we know the mental condition of Shakespeare in his early manhood by his poem of "Venus and Adonis," which he expressly styles "the first heir of his invention." Now leaving out of view the fact that "Titus Andronicus" stamps the impression, not of youthful, but of matured depravity of taste, its execrable enormities of feeling and incident could not have proceeded from the sweet and comely nature in which the poem had

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its birth. The best criticism on "Titus Andronicus" was made by Robert Burns, when he was nine years old. His schoolmaster was reading the play aloud in his father's cottage, and when he came to the scene where Lavinia enters with her hands cut off and her tongue cut out, little Robert fell a-crying, and threatened, in case the play was left in the cottage, to burn it. It is hard to believe that what Burns despised and detested at the age of nine could have been written by Shakespeare at the age of twenty-five. Taking, then, "Venus and Adonis point of departure, we find Shakespeare at the age of twenty-two endowed with all the faculties, but relatively deficient in the passions, of the poet. The poem is a throng of thoughts, fancies, and imaginations, but somewhat cramped in the utterance. Coleridge says, that "in his poems the creative power and the intellectual energy wrestle as in a war embrace. Each in its excess of strength seems to threaten the extinction of the other. At length in the drama they were reconciled, and fought each with its shield before the breast of the other." Fine as this is, it would perhaps be more exact to say, that in his earlier poems his intellect, acting apart from his sensibility, and playing with its own ingenuities of fancy and meditation, condensed its thoughts in crystals. Afterwards, when his whole nature became liquid, he gave us his thoughts in a state of fusion, and his intellect flowed in streams of fire.

Take, for example, that passage in the poem where Venus represents the loveliness of Adonis as sending thrills of passion into the earth on which he treads, and as making the bashful moon hide herself from the sight of his bewildering beauty:

"But if thou fall, O, then imagine this!

The earth, in love with thee, thy footing trips, And all is but to rob the of a kiss.

Rich preys make true men thieves; so do thy

Make modest Dian cloudy and forlorn,
Lest she should steal a kis and die forsworn.

"Now of this dark night I perceive the reason:

Cynthia for shame obscures her shiver shine,

Till forging Nature be condemned of treason, For stealing moulds from heaven that were divine,

Wherein she framed thee, in high heaven's despite, To shame the sun by day and her by night." This is reflected and reflecting passion, or, at least, imagination awakening passion, rather than passion penetrating imagination.

Now mark, by contrast, the gush of the heart into the brain, dissolving thought, imagination, and expression, so that they run molten, in the delirious ecstasy of Pericles in recovering his long-lost child:

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"O Helicanus, strike me, honored sir!

Give me a gash; put me to present pain;
Lest this great sea of joys, rushing upon me,
O'erbear the shores of my mortality,
And drown me with their sweetness."

77 66

If, as is probable, "Venus and Adonis" was written as early as 1586, we may suppose that the plays which represent the boyhood of his genius, and which are strongly marked with the characteristics of that poem, namely, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," the first draft of "Love's Labor's Lost," and the original "Romeo and Juliet," were produced before the year 1592. Following these came "King Richard III.," King Richard II.," "A Midsummer Night's Dream,' King John," "The Merchant of Venice," and "King Henry IV.," all of which we know were written before 1598, when Shakespeare was in his thirty-fourth year. During the next eight years he produced "King Henry V.," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," ," "As You Like It," "Hamlet," "Twelfth Night," "Measure for Measure," "Othello," "Macbeth," and "King Lear." In this list are the four great tragedies in which his genius culminated. Then came "Troilus and Cressida," "Timon of Athens," "Julius Cæsar," 66 Antony and Cleopatra," "Cymbeline," "King Henry VIII.," "The Tempest," "The Winter's Tale," and "Coriolanus." If heed be paid to this order of the plays, it will be seen at once that a quotation from Shakespeare carries with it a very different degree of authority, according as it refers to the youth or the maturity of his mind.

Indeed, when we reflect that between the production of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "King Lear" there is only a space of fifteen years, we must admit that the history of the human intellect presents no other example of such marvellous progress; and if we note the giant strides by which it was made, we shall find that they all imply a progressive widening and deepening of soul, a positive growth of the nature of the man, until in Lear the power became supreme and becomes amazing. Mr. Verplanck considers the period when he produced his four great tragedies to be the period of his intellectual grandeur, as distinguished from an earlier period which he thinks shows the perfection of his merely poetic and imaginative power; but the fact would seem to be that his increasing greatness as a philosopher was fully matched by his increasing greatness as a poet, and that in the devouring swiftness of his onward and upward movement imagination kept abreast of reason. His imagination was never more vivid, all-informing, and creative, never penetrated with more unerring certainty to the inmost spiritual essence of whatever it touched, - never forced words and rhythm into more supple instruments of thought and feeling, than when it miracled into form the terror and pity and beauty of Lear.

Indeed, the coequal growth of his reason and imagination was owing to the wider scope and increased energy of the great moving forces of his being. It relates primarily to the heart rather than the head. It is the immense fiery force behind his mental powers, kindling them into white heat, and urging them to efforts almost preternatural, -it is this which impels the daring thought beyond the limits of positive knowledge, and prompts the starts of ecstasy in whose unexpected radiance nature and human life are transfigured, and for an instant shine with celestial light. In truth he is, relatively, more intellectual in his early than in his later plays, for in his later plays his

intellect is thoroughly impassioned, ception, while Macbeth is a complex

and, though it has really grown in strength and massiveness, it is so fused with imagination and emotion as to be less independently prominent.

The sources of individuality lie below the intellect; and as Shakespeare went deeper into the soul of man, he more and more represented the brain as the organ and instrument of the heart, as the channel through which sentiment, passion, and character found an intelligible outlet. His own mind was singularly objective; that is, he saw things as they are in themselves. The minds of his prominent characters are all subjective, and see things as they are modified by the peculiarities of their individual moods and emotions. The very objectivity of his own mind enables him to assume the subjective conditions of less-emancipated natures. Macbeth peoples the innocent air with menacing shapes, projected from his own fiendhaunted imagination; but the same air is "sweet and wholesome" to the poet who gave being to Macbeth. The meridian of Shakespeare's power was reached when he created Othello, Macbeth, and Lear, complex personalities, representing the conflict and complication of the mightiest passions in colossal forms of human character, and whose understandings and imaginations, whose perceptions of nature and human life, and whose weightiest utterances of moral wisdom, are all thoroughly subjective and individualized. The greatness of these characters, as compared with his earlier creations, consists in the greater intensity and amplitude of their natures, and the wider variety of faculties and passions included in the strict unity of their natures. Richard III., for example, is one of his earlier characters, and though excellent of its kind, its excellence has been approached by other dramatists, as, for instance, Massinger, in "Sir Giles Overreach." But no other dramatist has been able to grasp and represent a character similar in kind to Macbeth, and the reason is that Richard is comparatively a simple con

one. There is unity and versatility in Richard; there is unity and variety in Macbeth. Richard is capable of being developed with almost logical accuracy; for though there is versatility in the play of his intellect, there is little variety in the motives which direct his intellect. His wickedness is not exhibited in the making. He is so completely and gleefully a villain from the first, that he is not restrained from convenient crime by any scruples and relentings. The vigor of his will is due to his poverty of feeling and conscience. He is a brilliant and efficient criminal because he is shorn of the noblest attributes of man. Put, if you could, Macbeth's heart and imagination into him, and his will would be smitten with impotence, and his wit be turned to wailing. The intellect of Macbeth is richer and grander than Richard's, yet Richard is relatively a more intellectual character; for the intellect of Macbeth is rooted in his moral nature, and is secondary in our thoughts to the contending motives and emotions it obeys and reveals. In crime, as in virtue, what a man overcomes should enter into our estimate of the power exhibited in what he does.


The question now comes up, we suppose it must be met, though we should like to evade it,- How, amid the individualities that Shakespeare has created, are we to detect the individuality of Shakespeare himself? In answer it may be said, that, if we survey his dramas in the mass, we find three degrees of unity; - first, the unity of the individual characters; second, the unity of the separate plays in which they appear; and third, the unity of Shakespeare's own nature, a nature which deepened, expanded, and increased in might, but did not essentially change, and which is felt as a potent presence throughout his works, binding them together as the product of one mind. He did not go out of himself to inform other natures, but he included these natures in himself; and though he does not infuse his individuality into

his characters, he does infuse it into the general conceptions which the characters illustrate. His opinions, purposes, theory of life, are to be gathered, not from what his characters say and do, but from the results of what they say and do; and in each play he so combines and disposes the events and persons that the cumulative impression shall express his own judgment, indicate his own design, and convey his own feeling. His individuality is so vast, so purified from eccentricity, and we grasp it so imperfectly, that we are apt to deny it altogether, and conceive his mind as impersonal. In view of the multiplicity of his creations, and the range of thought, emotion, and character they include, it is a common hyperbole of criticism to designate him as universal. But, in truth, his mind was restricted, in its creative action, like other minds, within the limits of its personal sympathies, though these sympathies in him were keener, quicker, and more general than in other men of genius. He was a great-hearted, broadbrained person, but still a person, and not what Coleridge calls him, an“omnipresent creativeness." Whatever he could sympathize with, he could embody and vitally represent; but his sympathies, though wide, were far from being universal, and when he was indifferent or hostile, the dramatist was partially suspended in the satirist and caricaturist, and oversight took the place of insight. Indeed, his limitations are more easily indicated than his enlargements. We know what he has not done more surely than we know what he has done; for if we attempt to follow his genius in any of the numerous lines of direction along which it sweeps with such victorious ease, we soon come to the end of our tether, and are confused with a throng of thoughts and imaginations, which, as Emerson exquisitely says, "sweetly torment us with invitations to their own inaccessible homes." But there were some directions which his genius did not take, not so much from lack of mental power as from lack of disposition

or from positive antipathy. consider some of these.

Let us

And first, Shakespeare's religious instincts and sentiments were comparatively weak, for they were not creative. He has exercised his genius in the creation of no character in which religious sentiment or religious passion is dominant. He could not, of course, - overlook — he, the poet of feudalism, religion as an element of the social organization of Europe, but he did not seize Christian ideas in their essence, or look at the human soul in its direct relations with God. And just think of the field of humanity closed to him! For sixteen hundred years, remarkable men and women had appeared, representing all classes of religious character, from the ecstasy of the saint to the gloom of the fanatic; yet his intellectual curiosity was not enough excited to explore and reproduce their experience. Do you say that the subject was foreign to the purpose of an Elizabethan playwright? The answer is, that Decker and Massinger attempted it, for a popular audience, in “The Virgin Martyr "; and though the tragedy of "The Virgin Martyr" is a huddled mass of beauties and deformities, its materials of incident and characters, could Shakespeare have been attracted to them, might have been organized into as great a drama as Othello. Again, Marlowe, in his play of “Dr. Faustus,” has imperfectly treated a subject which in Shakespeare's hands would have been made into a tragedy sublimer than Lear could he have thrown himself into it with equal earnestness. Marlowe, from the fact that he was a positive atheist, and a brawling one, had evidently at some time directed his whole heart and imagination to the consideration of religious questions, and had resolutely faced facts from which Shakespeare turned away.

Shakespeare, also, in common with the other dramatists of the time, looked at the Puritans as objects of satire, laughing at them instead of gazing into them. They were doubtless grotesque

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