« السابقةمتابعة »
place. Thus he not only discovers much discernment of human nature, but also great command of temper, and great dexterity of conduct.
In order, as soon as possible, to exhaust her temporary resentment, for she expresses, resentment rather than grief in her lamentation for Henry, it is necessary that it be exasperated to its fiercest extreme. Accordingly Richard, breaking in abruptly upon the funeral procession, inflames and provokes her anger. He persists in his plan ; appears cool and unconcerned at her abuse ; and thus urges her to vent the rage and vehemence of her emotion in rude invectives and imprecations.
O God, which this blood mad'st, revenge his death!
All this is general; but, before the vehemence of her wrath can be entirely removed, she must bring home to her fancy every aggravating circumstance, and must ascertain the particular wrongs she has suffered. After this operation of her mind, and that she has expressed the consequent feelings, she has no longer any topics or food for anger, and the passions will, of course, subside.
Richard, for this purpose, pretends to justify or extenuate his offences; and thus, by advancing into view, instead of concealing, his enormities, he overcomes the resentment of Lady Anne. To this effect also, his assumed appearance of candour will readily contribute.
Glo. Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman!
Of those supposed crimes, to give me leave,
Anne. Didst thou not kill this King?
I grant ye. Anne. Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then God grant me
too Thou may'st be damned for that wicked deed, &c.
Here also we may observe his application of those flatteries, which, if they cannot take effect in the
present moment, otherwise than to give higher provocation; yet, when her wrath subsides, their recollection will operate in a different tendency, and assist in working upon that vanity by which he will compass his design.
It was not alone sufficient to provoke her anger and resentment to the utmost, in order that they might immediately subside ; but, by alleging plausible reasons for change of sentiment, to assist them in their decline. Though Lady Anne possesses no decided, determined virtue, yet her moral nature, unimproved as it appears, would discern impropriety in her suddenly acquiescing in the views of Richard, would suggest scruples, and produce hesitation. Now, in order to prevent the effect of these, it was necessary to aid the mind in finding subterfuge or excuse, and thus assist ber in the easy business of imposing upon herself.
Her seducer, accordingly, endeavours to gloss his conduct, and represents his actions as less criminal than she at first apprehended.
But, gentle Lady Anne,
As blameful as the executioner?
Glo. Your beauty was the cause of that effect, &c.
In these lines, besides a confirmation of the foregoing remark, and an illustration of Richard's persevering flattery, there are two circumstances that mark great delicacy and fineness of painting in Shakspeare's execution of this excellent scene. The resentment of Lady Anne is so far exhausted, that her conversation, instead of impetuous, continued invective, assuming the more patient and mitigated form of dialogue, is not so expressive of violent passion, as it denotes the desire of victory in a smart dispute, and becomes merely a keen encounter of wits. The other thing to be observed is, that Richard, instead of specifying her husband and father-in-law in terms denoting these relations, falls in with the subsiding state of her affections towards them; and, using expresssions of great indifference, speaks to her of those Plantagenets, Henry and Edward.'
Lady Anne having listened to the conversation of Richard, after the first transport of her wrath, occasioned by the death of the Plantagenets, showed, that the real force of the passion had suffered abatement; and, by listening to his exculpation, it seems entirely subdued. In all this, the art of the poet is eminent, and the skill he ascribes to Richard, profound. Though the crafty seducer attempts to justify his conduct to Lady Anne, he does not seek to convince her understanding, for she had no understanding worth the pains of convincing, but to afford her some pretence and opportunity of giving vent to her emotion. When this effect is produced, he proceeds to substitute some regard for himself in its place. As we have already observed, he has been taking measures for this purpose in every thing he has said ; and, by soothing expressions of adulation, during the course of her anger, he was gradually preparing her mind for the more pleasing, but not less powerful, dominion of vanity. "In the foregoing lines and what follows, he ventures a declaration of the passion he pretends to entertain for her ; yet he does this indirectly, as suggested by the progress of their argument, and as a reason for those parts of his conduct that seem so heinous :
Your beauty was the cause of that effect :
Richard was well aware that a declaration of love from him would, of course, renew her indignation. He accordingly manages her mind in such a manner as to correct the violence of her anger, by suggesting the idea of his passion, when he first mentions it, in terms more playful than serious; and, afterwards, when he announces it more seriously, by an indirect and seeming accidental declaration. Still, however, with all these precautions to introduce the thought in a familiar and easy manner, he is aware of her displeasure. Here, therefore, as in the former part of the scene, he must depend on his command of temper, and on the same means of artfully irritating her emotion till it entirely subsides. Accordingly, persisting in his adulation, he incenses her anger to its utmost extreme: and, finally, by varying the attitude of his flatteries, by assuming an humble and suppliant address, he subdues her soul to the dominion of guilty vanity. In the close of the dialogue, we may trace distinctly the decline of her emotion. It follows the same course as the passion she expresses at the beginning of the scene. She is at first violent ; becomes more violent; her passion subsides; yet, some ideas of propriety wandering across her mind, she makes an effort to recal her resentment: the effort is feeble ; it amounts to no more than to express contempt in her aspect; it is baffled by a new attitude of adulation; and, by a pretended indirect appeal to her compassion, she is totally vanquished.
Through the whole of this scene, our abhorrence, our disgust and contempt, excited by cruelty, falsehood, meanness, and insignificance of mind, are so counterbalanced by the feelings that arise on the view of ability, self-possession, knowledge of character, and the masterly display of human nature, as that, instead of impairing, they rather contribute force to the general sensation of pleasure. The conduct of Richard towards a character of more determined virtue, or of more stubborn passions, would have been absurd : towards Lady Anne it was natural, and attended with that success, which it was calculated to obtain.
No 67. TUESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1779.
TO THE AUTHOR OF THE MIRROR.
SIR, Your predecessor, the Spectator, used to be consulted ,in cases of difficulty. I know not if you, Mr. MIRROR, set up on the same footing. I am resolved, however, to try; and, although you should refuse to prescribe, I shall at least have the satisfaction of communicating my distress.
I am between the age of a young man, and what the ladies call an old bachelor, not many years under forty, of no inconsiderable family, with an opulent Fortune. I was educated like most other