« AnteriorContinua »
The critics-Warburton, Johnson, Malone, and Holt White-have severally offered different explanations of these last words; but I am inclined to think they have all missed the poet's meaning. * Like man new made,' means, I believe, like man redeemed, like the redemption of man; and the words are to be understood as put, per epexegesin, in reference to the entire clause in the preceding line ; thus, Isabella says in effect :
"Your merciful act will be like the mercy shown in the redemption of the world, whereby mankind, lost and condemned to death (as her brother Claudio was), are restored to life.' And so the universality of the remedy will also be implied in those words, as it is plainly stated in these which follow, from King Henry VI. 2nd Part:
Now, by the death of Him that died for all !
Act i. Sc. I.
This all-important subject—the extent of evil, and its cure—will receive further elucidation in the next and subsequent sections.
Sect. 4. Of Human Life, and of 'The World.'
It was worthy of the position which Wolsey had held in church and state, that his voice should be made the instrument, at the close of his career, to recommend, in a few words, all the great points of the highest Christian morality, however he had fallen short in his own practice of them. I refer to the speech in which he gave his final charge to Cromwell :
Love thyself last. Cherish those hearts that hate * thee.
King Henry VIII. Act iii. Sc. 2.
Here we have duty to God, to our neighbour, to our country; renunciation of self; love of enemies; the practical study of truth, of justice, of integrity, of peaceableness; all these strung together like so many pearls upon one string, in a manner that may remind us of S. Paul's delineation of charity, or of the summaries of moral duty, which we read in the 12th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in the concluding chapter of the ist Epistle to the Thessalonians.
Nor was it less worthy of the highest officer in a king's household, the Lord Chamberlain Polonius, that in sending forth his son into the world he should thus give him lessons for life; lessons which again may remind us of those given to their respec
* Warburton proposed to read 'wait,' for reasons which rightly, I think, appeared unsatisfactory to Steevens.
tive sons, under circumstances more or less similar, by King James, by Sir Walter Raleigh, by Lord Burleigh, by the Earl of Strafford,* and to his nephew, afterwards Lord Camelford, by the Earl of Chatham :
There—my blessing t with you ;
[Laying his hand upon Laertes' bead.]
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.
Hamlet, Act i. Sc. 3. In the foregoing injunction respecting hearing and speaking, especially when taken in connection with one which I have not quoted, viz. Beware of entrance to quarrel
* See K. James' works, and a collection entitled Practical Wisdom, or the Manual of Life, published in 1824. + See below, Sect. 8.
| Opinion. § In one of the lines here omitted our poet probably had in view Ecclesiasticus xix. 30, quoted by Mr. Todd.
we may fancy that we hear an echo to the precepts of S. James :every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
James i. 19. And it would be easy to produce Scriptural parallels to other parts of the same passage, especially from the Book of Proverbs; but in so doing I should be losing sight of the object which I have now more immediately in hand. The design of this section is not to enter into the details, of which human life and Christian duty are made up prepare the way for entering upon such details in the sections that are to follow. A general view has been taken of the subject proposed ; and now, before we proceed further into particulars, it will be necessary to notice some abstruser points which lie at the root of all moral action for us Christians; such as the corruption of nature, already touched upon in the last section; the need of grace; and the theory of the formation of moral habits : and then to say something of the world,' and of life, as it is seen at different stages and in several conditions ; and of the duty of preserving the gift which God has given us.
How beautiful is the description, in Winter's Tale, given by Polixenes, of the innocent boyhood of himself and Leontes, which, with poetical exaggeration, he represents to have been free
from all other taint, save only that of original
We were as twinn'd lambs, that did frisk i' the sun,
any did : had we pursued that life,
Act i. Sc. 2. That is, provided the guilt imposed upon us by descent from Adam had not made us sinners. And the effect of this taint is such, and so universal, especially upon the thoughts of the heart, that Solomon enquires, Who bo can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure
my sin ? In like manner, Iago asks-
Where's that palace, whereinto foul things
Othello, Act iii. Sc. 3.
K. Henry V: Act iv. Sc. 8. is no other than the teaching of our Lord himself, in the Gospels. See Matt. xv. 18; Mark vii. 21. .
Prov. xx. 9.
* To be read as a trisyllable.
† Meetings in court.