صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

For others say thou dost deserve; and I
Believe it better than reportingly."

And Benedick, on his part, is equally sincere in his repentance with equal reason, after he has heard the grey-beard, Leonato, and his friend, “Monsieur Love,” discourse of the desperate state of his supposed inamorata.

“This can be no trick ; the conference was sadly borne.—They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady; it seems her affections have the full bent. Love me! why, it must be requited. I hear how I am cepsur'd: they say, I will bear myself proudly, if I perceive the love come from her; they say too, that she will rather die than give any sign of affection.-1 did never think to marry: I must not seem proud :-happy are they that hear their detractions, and can put them to niending. They say, the lady is fair; 'tis a truth, I can bear them witness: and virtuous ;-'tis so, I cannot reprove it: and wise—but for loving me:- by my troth it is no addition to her wit;-nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her.--I may chance to have some odd quirks and rempants of wit broken on me, because I have rail'd so long against marriage: but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth, that he cannot endure in his age. — Shall quips, and sentences, and these paper bullets of the brain, awe a man from the career of his humour ? No: the world must be peopled. When I said, I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were marry'd.-Here comes Beatrice : by this day, she's a fair, Jady : I do spy some marks of love in her.”

The beauty of all this arises from the characters of the persons so entrapped. Benedick is a professed and staunch enemy to marriage, and gives very plausible reasons for the faith that is in him. And as to Beatrice, she persecutes him all day with her jests (so that he could hardly think of being troubled with them at night) she not only turns him but all other things into jest, and is proof against every thing serious.

" Hero. Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Misprising what they look on; and her wit
Values itself so highly, that to her
All matter else seems weak : she cannot love,
Nor take po shape nor project of affection,
She is so self-endeared.

Úrsula. Sure, I think so;
And therefore, certainly, it were not good
She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.

Hero. Wby, you speak truth : I never yet saw man,
How wise, how poble, young, how rarely featur'd,
But she would spell him backward : if fair-fac’d,
She'd swear the gentleman should be her sister ;
If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick,
Made a foul blot : if tall, a lance ill-headed ;
If low, an agate very vilely cut:
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds ;
If silent, why, a block moved with none.
So turns she every man the wrong side out;
And never gives to truth and virtue that
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth."

These were happy materials for Shakspeare to work on, and he has made a happy use of them. Perhaps that middle point of comedy was never more nicely hit in which the ludicrous blends with the tender, and our follies, turning round against themselves in support of our affections, retain nothing but their humanity.

Dogberry and Verges in this play are inimitable specimens of quaint blundering and misprisions of meaning; and are a standing record of that formal gravity of pretension and total want of common understanding, which Shakspeare no doubt copied from real life, and which in the course of two hundred years appear to have ascended from the lowest to the highest offices in the state.

AS YOU LIKE

LIKE IT.

66 fleet

SHAKSPEARE has here converted the forest of Arden into another Arcadia, where they the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world.” It is the most ideal of any of this author's plays. It is a pastoral drama, in which the interest arises more out of the sentiments and characters thap out of the actions or situations. It is not what is done, but what is said, that claims our attention. Nursed in solitude, “ under the shade of melancholy boughs," the imagination grows soft and delicate, and the wit runs riot in idleness, like a spoiled child, that is never sent to school. Caprice and fancy reign and revel here, and stern necessity is banished to the court. The, mild sentiments of humanity are strengthened with thought and leisure ; the echo of the cares and noise of the world strikes upon the ear of those " who have felt them knowingly,” softened by time and distance. • They hear the tumult, and are still.” The very air of the place seems to breathe a spirit of philosophical poetry ; to stir the thoughts, to touch the heart with pity, as the drowsy forest rustles to the sighing gale. Never was there such

[ocr errors]

beautiful moralizing, equally free from pedantry or petulance.

“ And this their lise, exempt from publick haunts, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in every thing."

Jaques is the only purely contemplative character in Shakspeare. Ele thinks, and does nothing. His whole occupation is to amuse his mind, and he is totally regardless of his body and his fortunes. He is the prince of philosophical idlers ; his only passion is thought; he sets no value upon any thing but as it serves as food for reflection. He can “suck melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs ;" the motley fool, “ who morals on the time,” is the greatest prize he meets with in the forest. He resents Orlando's passion for Rosalind as some disparagement of his own passion for abstract truth : and leaves the Duke, as soon as he is restored to his sovereignty, to seek his brother out who has quitted it, and turned hermit.

“ Out of these convertites
There is much matter to be heard and learnt."

Within the sequestered and romantick glades of the forest of Arden, they find leisure to be good and wise, or to play the fool and fall in love. Rosalind's character is made up of sportive gayety and natural tenderness : her tongue ruos the faster to conceal the pressure at her heart, Sbe talks herself out of. breath, only to get deeper in love. The coquetry with which she plays with her lover in the double character which she has to support, is' managed with the nicest address. How full of voluble, laughing grace is all her conversation with Orlando

“ In heedless mazes running
With wanton haste and giddy cunning."

How full of real fondness and pretended cruelty is her answer to him when he promises to love her “ For ever and a day !"

“Say a day without the ever : no, no, Orlando, men are April when they woo, December when they wed: maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives: I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his ben; more clamorous than a parrot against rain; more new-fangled than an ape ; more giddy in my desires than a monkey; I will weep for nothing like Diana in the fountain, and I will do that when you are disposed to be merry; I will laugh like a hyena, and that when you are inclined to sleep.

Orlando. But will my Rosalind do so ?
Rosalind. By my life she will do as I do."

The silent and retired character of Celia is a new cessary relief to the provoking loquacity of Rosalind, nor can any thing be better conceived or more beautifully described than the mutual affection between the two cousins.

"We still have slept together,
Rose at an instant, learn'd, play'd, eat together,
And wheresoe'er we went, like Juno's swans,
Still we went coupled and inseparable.”

The unrequited love of Silvius for Phebe shews the perversity of this passion in the commonest scenes of life, and the rubs and stops which nature throws in its way, where fortune has placed none. Touchstone is not in love, but he will have a mistress as a subject for the exercise of his grotesque humour, and to shew his contempt for the passion, by his indifference about the person. He is a rare

« السابقةمتابعة »