Imatges de pÓgina


my lifetime do make an end of this war. For if I cannot persuade thee rather to do good unto both parties, than to overthrow and destroy the one, preferring love and nature before the malice and calamity of wars, thou shalt see, my son, and trust unto it, thou shalt no sooner march forward to assault thy country, but thy foot shall tread upon thy mother's womb, that brought thee first into this world, for I may not defer to see the day, either that my son be led prisoner in triumph by his natural countrymen, or that he himself do triumph of them, and of his natural country. For if it were so, that my request tended to save thy country, in destroying the Volsces, I must confess thou wouldest hardly and doubtfully resolve on that. For as to destroy thy natural country, it is altogether unmeet and unlawful, so were it not just and less honorable to betray those that put their trust in thee. But my only demand consisteth, to make a gaol delivery of all evils, which delivereth equal benefit and safety, both to the one and the other, but most honorable for the Volsces. For it shall appear, that having victory in their hands, they have of special favor granted us singular graces, peace and amity, albeit themselves have no less part of both than Of which good, if so it came to pass, thyself is the only author, and so hast thou the only honor. But if it fail, and fall out contrary, thyself alone deservedly shall carry the shameful reproach and burthen of either party. So, though the end of war be uncertain, yet this, notwithstanding, is most certain, that if it be thy chance to conquer, this benefit shalt thou reap of thy goodly conquest, to be chronicled the plague and destroyer of thy country. And if fortune overthrow thee, then the world will say, that through desire to revenge thy private injuries, thou hast for ever undone thy good friends, who did most lovingly and courteously receive thee.' Martius gave good ear unto his mother's words, without interrupting her speech at all, and after she had said what she would, he held his peace a pretty while, and answered not a word. Hereupon she began again to speak unto him, and said: 'My son, why dost thou not answer me? Dost thou think it good altogether to give place unto thy choler and desire of revenge, and thinkest thou it not honesty for thee to grant thy mother's request in so weighty a cause? Dost thou take it honorable for a nobleman, to remember the wrongs and injuries done him, and dost not in like case think it an honest nobleman's part to be thankful for the goodness that parents do show to their children, acknowledging the duty and reverence they ought to bear unto them? No man living is more bound to show himself thankful in all parts and respects than thyself; who so universally showest all ingratitude. Moreover, my son, thou hast sorely taken of thy country, exacting grievous payments upon them, in revenge of the injuries offered thee; besides, thou hast mot hitherto showed thy poor mother any courtesy. And therefore it is not only honest, but due unto me, that without compulsion I should obtain my so just and reasonable request of thee. But since by reason I cannot persuade thee to it, to what purpose do I defer my last hope? And with these words herself, his wife and children, fell down upon their knees before him: Martius seeing that, could refrain no longer, but went straight

and lifted her up, crying out, Oh mother, what have you done to me? And holding her hard by the right hand, 'Oh mother,' said he, 'you have won a happy victory for your country, but mortal and unhappy for your son: for I see myself vanquished by you alone.' These words being spoken openly, he spake a little apart with his mother and wife, and then let them return again to Rome, for so they did request him; and so remaining in the camp that night, the next morning he dislodged, and marched homeward unto the Volsces' country again."

He did not think

Shakspeare has, in giving a dramatic form to this passage, adhered very closely and properly to the text. it necessary to improve upon the truth of nature. Several of the scenes in Julius Cæsar, particularly Portia's appeal to the confidence of her husband by showing him the wound she had given herself, and the appearance of the ghost of Cæsar to Brutus, are, in like manner, taken from the history.


THIS is one of the most loose and desultory of our author's plays it rambles on just as it happens, but it overtakes, together with some indifferent matter, a prodigious number of fine things in its way. Troilus himself is no character: he is merely a common lover; but Cressida and her uncle Pandarus are hit off with proverbial truth. By the speeches given to the leaders of the Grecian host, Nestor, Ulysses, Agamemnon, Achilles, Shakspeare seems to have known them as well as if he had been a spy sent by the Trojans into the enemy's camp—to say nothing of their being very lofty examples of didactic eloquence. The speech, for instance, commencing,

"Troy, yet upon her basis, had been down," &c.

is very stately and spirited declamation.

It cannot be said of Shakspeare, as was said of some one, that he was "without o'erflowing full." He was full, even to o'erflowing. He gave heaped measure, running over. This was his greatest fault. He was only in danger "of losing distinction in his thoughts" (to borrow his own expression)

"As doth a battle when they charge on heaps

The enemy flying."

There is another passage, the speech of Ulysses to Achilles, showing him the thankless nature of popularity, which has a still greater depth of moral observation and richness of illustration than the former. It is long, but worth the quoting. The

sometimes giving an entire extract from the unacted plays of our author may with one class of readers have almost the use of restoring a lost passage: and may serve to convince another class of critics, that the poet's genius was not confined to the production of stage effect by preternatural means.

"Ulysses. Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for Oblivion;
A great-siz'd monster of ingratitudes :

Those scraps are good deeds past,

Which are devour'd as fast as they are made,

Forgot as soon as done : Persev'rance, dear my lord,
Keeps Honor bright: to have done, is to hang

Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail

In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For Honor travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast; keep then the path,
For Emulation hath a thousand sons,
That one by one pursue; if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forth-right,
Like to an entered tide, they all rush by,
And leave you hindmost ;-

Or, like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank,

O'er-run and trampled on: then what do they in present
Tho' less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours;

For time is like a fashionable host,

That slightly shakes his parting guest by th' hand,
And with his arms out-stretched, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: the Welcome ever smiles,
And Farewell goes out sighing. 0, let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was; for beauty, wit,
High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time:

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
That all, with one consent, praise new-born gauds,
Tho' they are made and moulded of things past.
The present eye praises the present object.
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye,
Than what not stirs. The cry went out on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou would'st not entomb thyself alive,
And case thy reputation in thy tent.."

The throng of images in the above lines is prodigious; and though they sometimes jostle against one another, they everywhere raise and carry on the feeling, which is metaphysically true and profound. The debates between the Trojan chiefs on the restoring of Helen are full of knowledge of human motives and character. Troilus enters well into the philosophy of war, when he says, in answer to something that falls from Hector—

Why there you touch'd the life of our design:
Were it not glory that we more affected,
Than the performance of our heaving spleens,

I would not wish a drop of Trojan blood

Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector,
She is a theme of honor and renown,

A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds."

The character of Hector, in the few slight indications which appear of it, is made very amiable. His death is sublime, and shows in a striking light the mixture of barbarity and heroism of The threats of Achilles are fatal; they carry their own means of execution with them.

the age.

"Come here about me, you my myrmidons,
Mark what I say.—Attend me where I wheel:
Strike not a stroke, but keep yourselves in breath;
And when I have the bloody Hector found,
Empale him with your weapons round about:
In fellest manner execute your arms.
Follow me, sirs, and my proceedings eye."

He then finds Hector and slays him, as if he had been hunting down a wild beast. There is something revolting as well as terrific in the ferocious coolness with which he singles out his prey nor does the splendor of the achievement reconcile us to the cruelty of the means.

The characters of Cressida and Pandarus are very amusing and instructive. The disinterested willingness of Pandarus to serve his friend in an affair which lies next his heart is immediately brought forward. "Go thy way, Troilus, go thy way; had I a sister were a grace, or a daughter were a goddess, he should take his choice. O admirable man! Paris, Paris is dirt

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