Imatges de pÓgina



is done in the uneasiness which Olivia suffers on account of her mistaken attachment to Cesario, as her insensibility to the violence of the Duke's passion is atoned for by the discovery of Viola's concealed love of him.



THIS is little more than the first outlines of a comedy loosely sketched in. It is the story of a novel dramatised with very little labor or pretension; yet there are passages of high poetical spirit, and of inimitable quaintness of humor, which are undoubtedly Shakspeare's, and there is throughout the conduct of the fable, a careless grace and felicity which marks it for his. One of the editors (we believe Mr. Pope) remarks in a marginal note to the Two Gentlemen Of Verona "It is observable (I know not for what cause) that the style of this comedy is less figurative, and more natural and unaffected than the greater part of this author's, though supposed to be one of the first he wrote." Yet so little does the editor appear to have made up his mind upon this subject, that we find the following note to the very next (the second) scene. "This whole scene, like many others in these plays (some of which I believe were written by Shakspeare, and others interpolated by the players) is composed of the lowest and most trifling conceits, to be accounted for only by the gross taste of the age he lived in: Populo ut placerent. I wish I had authority to leave them out, but I have done all I could, set a mark of reprobation upon them, throughout this edition." It is strange that our fastidious critic should fall so soon from praising to reprobating. The style of the familiar parts of this comedy is indeed made up of conceits—low they may be for what we know, but then they are not poor, but rich The scene of Launce with his dog (not that in the second, but that in the fourth act) is a perfect treat in the way of


farcical drollery and invention; nor do we think Speed's manner of proving his master to be in love deficient in wit or sense, though the style may be criticised as not simple enough for the modern taste.

"Valentine. Why, how know you that I am in love?

Speed. Marry, by these special marks: first, you have learned, like Sir Protheus, to wreathe your arms like a malcontent, to relish a love-song like a robin-red-breast, to walk alone like one that had the pestilence, to sigh like a school-boy that had lost his A B C, to weep like a young wench that had lost her grandam, to fast like one that takes diet, to watch like one that fears robbing, to speak puling like a beggar at Hallowmas. You were wont, when you laughed, to crow like a cock; when you walked, to walk like one of the lions; when you fasted, it was presently after dinner; when you looked sadly, it was for want of money; and now you are metamorphosed with a mistress that when I look on you, I can hardly think you my master."

The tender scenes in this play, though not so highly wrought as in some others, have often much sweetness of sentiment and expression. There is something pretty and playful in the conversation of Julia with her maid, when she shows such a disposition to coquetry about receiving the letter from Protheus; and her behavior afterwards and her disappointment, when she finds him faithless to his vows, remind us at a distance of Imogen's tender constancy. Her answer to Lucetta, who advises her against following her lover in disguise, is a beautiful piece of poetry.

"Lucetta. I do not seek to quench your love's hot fire, But qualify the fire's extremest rage,

Lest it should burn above the bounds of reason.

Julia. The more thou damm'st it up, the more it burns ;

The current that with gentle murmur glides,

Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage;

But when his fair course is not hindered,

He makes sweet music with th' enamell'd stones,

Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge

He overtaketh in his pilgrimage.

And so by many winding nooks he strays,

With willing sport, to the wild ocean.
Then let me go, and hinder not my course;

I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,

And make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last step have brought me to my love;

And there I'll rest, as after much turmoil,

A blessed soul doth in Elysium."

If Shakspeare indeed had written only this and other passages in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, he would almost have deserved Milton's praise of him—

And sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child,
Warbles his native wood-notes wild.

But as it is, he deserves rather more praise than this.


This is a play that in spite of the change of manners and of prejudices still holds undisputed possession of the stage. Shakspeare's malignant has outlived Mr. Cumberland's benevolent Jew. In proportion as Shylock has ceased to be a popular bugbear, "baited with the rabble's curse," he becomes a half-favorite with the philosophical part of the audience, who are disposed to think that Jewish revenge is at least as good as Christian injuries. Shylock is a good hater; "a man no less sinned against than sinning." If he carries his revenge too far, yet he has strong grounds for "the lodged hate he bears Anthonio," which he explains with equal force of eloquence and reason. He seems the depositary of the vengeance of his race; and though the long habit of brooding over daily insults and injuries has crusted over his temper with inveterate misanthropy, and hardened him against the contempt of mankind, this adds but little to the triumphant pretensions of his enemies. There is a strong, quick, and deep sense of justice mixed up with the gall and bitterness of his resentment. The constant apprehension of being burnt alive, plundered, banished, reviled and trampled on, might be supposed to sour the most forbearing nature, and to take something from that "milk of human kindness," with which his persecutors contemplated his indignities. The desire of revenge is almost inseparable from the sense of wrong; and we can hardly help sympathizing with the proud spirit, hid beneath his "Jewish gaberdine," stung to madness by repeated undeserved provocations, and laboring to throw off the load of obloquy and oppression heaped upon him and all his tribe by

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