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or painted by Hamlet with the brush of memory; and that they were the latter is far from improbable.
It may be reasonably urged that there is a striking evidence in the text itself, that this pourtrayal of the two brothers was a purely imaginative operation, for the phrase, 'Look you here—what follows'
(this expression is most significant), surely rather indicates a chain of argument which Hamlet is about to set forth, and to enforce by the most vivid illustrations which his perfervid mind could furnish, than that he is going to point out what is already before his mother's eyes.
The practical difficulties in the way of a literal conformity with the text offer complete justification for an actor's departure from it. It is not a question of violating the poet's ideal, but of choosing from amongst certain effects those which will create the most vivid impression.
If the pictures are to be in full view of the audience, they must be placed on the further wall of the chamber, and the actor in describing them must face them and so turn his back upon the spectators, whose attention will thus be distracted from Hamlet's words.
If they be placed at the side or on opposite sides, they can be but partially seen, and then not by the entire house.
It should never be forgotten that the stage has four walls, though the fourth is only theoretical, and I believe it to be in every sense advantageous that the audience should be left to imagine, if they like, either that the pictures are on this fourth wall, or that Hamlet is painting them from his imagination. Whichever view be adopted, the result then is that the mind is concentrated upon the impressive language of the poet, instead of being diverted from it by some mechanical device.
The notoriously hazardous character of stage portraits, especially in these realistic days, disposes me to contend that my method satisfies the requirements of the situation. Signor Salvini, one of the most accomplished of actors, on seeing my method, paid me the compliment of adopting it in preference to that which he had originally practised. I venture to think that this is one of those points of detail on which Shakespeare himself would have allowed a large discretion to the actor. No one had less scruple than he in departing from strict realism when it ceased to be effectual, and I think he would be surprised, were he to return to earth, by the reverence for his supposed intentions displayed by the distinguished dilettante manager-stage-manager-who in a comparatively recent revival of Hamlet gravely introduced into another part of the platform' (act i. sc. 5) what seemed to be the counterfeit presentment of a crane-presumably to indicate the commercial genius of the Danes.
However, in many of these matters, we are enlightened neither by Shakespeare nor by sound tradition, and therefore when an actor has to exercise his own judgment as to the means of illustration at his command, it would be well for all who are genuinely interested in the drama to deal with his efforts in a sympathetic spirit, and not to treat them as if they were inexpiable offences against laws as immutable as those of the Medes and Persians.
LIBERTY IN GERMANY.
THE year 1840 saw Germany perplexed and ill at ease. Danger was looming beyond the borders and discontent sat brooding within the gates. It was thought that France, the old enemy, was preparing to renew the struggle. What else, men asked, could France mean but a threat to Germany when the body of Napoleon was brought to Paris with military pomp and civic enthusiasm ?
The new King of Prussia, Frederick William the Fourth, now felt keenly enough that there might at no distant period be need for the patriotism of the people. He knew too how his father's perfidious tyranny, that is to say, his continual promises of liberty and perpetual practice of despotism, had gone far to estrange men's hearts. He feared that in long years of misgovernment the devotion that had in 1813 brought loyal soldiers to the struggle must inevitably have perished. A poet indeed now came to the rescue; and all Germany singing his brave verses 'Sie sollen ihn nicht haben, den freien deutschen Rhein' seemed to have forgotten the wrongs her masters had wrought on her and to think only of defending the beloved territory against the imaginary foe without.
But Frederick William the Fourth could not believe that the people had forgiven the injuries and the disappointment of five and twenty years, and determined while danger lasted to woo popularity in every possible way. Accordingly, he began his reign by various. acts that pointed to pronounced liberalism. He removed the censorship on books over twenty sheets, and gave the obnoxious office of censor to well-known liberals. Further, he called a distinguished Liberal named Schön to his ministry, and invited the two brothers Grimm (who had been among the professors who had protested against the tyranny of Ernst August of Hanover) to the University of Berlin. But in 1842 the danger was over. France had obviously no hostile intentions now. Germany was safe from all invaders. The mask could accordingly be thrown aside. Frederick William the Fourth could show himself in his true colours; he could show the people that he was the true son of his father, and the contemporary of the Sultan of Hanover.
Nowhere in Germany had the tyranny been planned more carefully, or executed more persistently, than in the petty government of Hesse. The chief administration of the government had been in the hands of one Hassenpflug. Hassenpflug was now summoned to Berlin, to be the confidential minister of Frederick William the Fourth.'
The old cry rang forth again. Why was there no representative system? It was useless to convoke the old Stände-they did not satisfy the universal desire. The promise of 1813, of a real representative system, must be fulfilled, and was that fulfilment to be still further postponed ?
What every one was thinking, earnestly but vaguely, was embodied in two vigorous pamphlets, each of which was sent by its author to the king. The first was Jacoby's Vier Fragen-Four Questions.' All related, of course, to the representative system. In the course of his argument, Jacoby roundly denied that the provincial assemblies were in any way representative, and added that no institution in the world was so useless and so detested. The pamphlet ended in this way: Question IV. What is to be done now? Take by force what we cannot get by begging: it is our right.'
Schön, the minister of Frederick William, while the king was still feigning liberalism, was the author of the second pamphlet. It was called Whence and Whither. Whence meant, what is the origin of the demand for a representative system?-Answer: The promise of the sovereigns in the year 1813. Whither will the representative system lead?-Answer: To a proper administration of the finances; to restrictions on the rapacity of government officials; to a purer system of justice; and, finally, to more useful legislation, for none but the people can know the people's needs. This was stated with much emphasis, and with admirable brevity. Material which nineteen Germans out of twenty would scarcely have found space for in a hundred pages, Schön crowded into eleven. At the end came a passage which could only have one meaning:- Paternal government is a thing of the past. If you do not take the Present as it is, and assist its natural development, then will the Present surely mete out your punishment.'
Only a few copies of the pamphlet were printed, and it was, of course, instantly suppressed. But it was reprinted at Strasburg, sent on to Germany, and was soon in everyone's hands. A postscript was added to it by one Fein. The postscript held up to ridicule the liberal acts with which the new king had begun his reign. He had released Jahn and Arndt. Yes, truly, but only because they were old men, and could not harm him. He had invited the brothers Grimm to Berlin: how was this compatible with the restraint he still imposed upon the press? But then the king had wide views. He
1 His name lent itself to a pun, and the people spoke in bitter jesting of the man of hate (Hass) and curse (Fluch).
could give his right hand to the liberty-loving professors, while with his left he drew the King of Hanover near to his royal heart, that beat in sympathy with every despot, great or small. Fein spoke of the devotional attitude the new king was fond of assuming when public eyes were fixed upon him. Was it not the manner of the Pharisees, says our satirist, to pray in public? Tyrants were not priests; and as for Frederick William, if he meant to play the tyrant, let him play it; but let him not feign the while that he was a Christian too.
The last sentence in this postscript points to the new influences that had now crept into politics. These were the religious influences, of which a very brief sketch must suffice.
In the first place, the Ultramontane interest had acted and reacted in the liberal movement. In the year 1841 Frederick William the Fourth peremptorily forbade the priests to refuse to celebrate mixed marriages. Now the pope had forbidden them as stringently to consent to celebrate such marriages. The priests declared that the king had no power to tell them what they should or should not do in the matter, and to interfere with what they owed to the Pope and their consciences. The liberals strongly sympathised with them. Görres, who had passed out of the pages of history since the year 1819, and who was now a very old man, returned to public life to protest in favour of the priests against this new demand of the king. In the end the king won the battle; but people knew that others were infallibly impending between king and pope. And when these other battles came, the argument of the Ultramontanes to the people invariably was, 'See how the king wishes to curtail our liberties. If we submit, and if you encourage us to submit, he will in the next place curtail yours.' And often the liberal leaders would adopt the same argument, and, like Görres, bid the people resist encroachment on Roman Catholic liberty, as it meant only the future encroachment on other liberties.
The Ultramontane faction was not the only religious element that. was opposed to the king. The Church in Germany received a new factor of strength which was to be a new contending force against the secular government.
There had been among many of the Roman Catholics themselves a certain feeling of dissatisfaction at the new demands of the pope, and a still more bitter feeling against the king for the way in which he had met those demands. Of this double feeling there arose a most powerful exponent. Ronge, a man of great eloquence, commenced a series of pastoral journeys all over Prussia, in which he pointed out the dangers of the Church from the pope on the one side and from the king on the other. There was, he insisted with very skilful argument, no safety for Germany while she allowed the pretensions of either. Let the deep religious feeling that had always been the stronghold of the fatherland assert itself now in the formation of a national German Church, acknowledging the wider doctrines of Rome, but none of its discipline,