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feeler and ready-teller is invaluable to a philosopher and moraliser immoderate wealth pines for boundless riches. What joy surpasses that of gloating over gold, one's own hardly-earned treasure ! before one discovers that guineas purchase not happiness, nor exemption from the miseries of life--joy such as the author's over his justfinished work, before time has cooled him to a quiet perception of its faults, follies, errors, and common-placeness-joy such as the mother's over her new-born child, before she has learned, by overhearing the opinion of strangers, that every feature is not the beau-ideal of personal beauty, and by experience that he is partaker of the sins to which all flesh is heir,
Portia, no longer the firm and independent woman, is now more interesting than ever, for women's attractiveness lies in yieldingness and dependence; and now our heroine leans for happiness, support, guidance, and direction, upon Bassanio. She trembles like an unfledged bird, lest he should not succeed in obtaining legal dominion over her ; she will have him to act the usurper for a darling interregnum, lest the election should prove unfavourable. She imagines that his mere presence would content her - that this hazard were not needful ! She evinces that her passion is real by doubting its existence it is not love, she fancies ; it is simply natural gratification in his profitable society, good-will, benevolence, bonhomie : she sees how much her influence elates him, how many joys he derives from it, and she charitably desires to prolong the pleasures of her friend, incited by pure friendship, unsexual attachment; she dotes on him like a sister, like a brother; and she has that veneration towards him which inspires a sister for a brother, whose sex has placed him above her, given hiin experience, introduced to a hundred-fold more extended society, caused to be instructed with more solidity, and informed of more true knowledge. Men are infinitely exalted above women ; but as rank does not insure content, as the peasant may be more light-hearted than the queen, so this elevation does not bestow a greater degree of felicity. How love weakens the judgment, while it endows other faculties with genius before undreamt of! Where was imagination till now ?-powers of glorious exaltation, brilliant description, and softest fascination. Where was refinement from corporeal cares ? We can live on air, and sleep on visions. No stoic could compete in bearing pain with the enamoured girl. She could walk through flames. Courage, bravery, heedlessness of self, where were ye till now? While love, as it were, endues her with a new sense; the sorrow, pain, slightest uneasiness of another thrills her ; her veins tingle with suffering which her own aches have ceased to induce. An invisible chain, the golden links of sunny souls, unites them. This communion is bliss upon earth, and this alone. Yet she is, as the inspired Pythoness, capable of all things, save of analysing her own emotions, and scrutinising her internal sensations. Let the excitement pass, and she looks back upon it as an enchanted dream, a mad. dening joy, a delirious rapture, an ocean of the blest, which drowned all previous and sublunary recollections, transfiguring the indwellers, while they reclined on its fairy sea, to gods and goddesses. Like Venus, they rise in beauty from the waves, but to be mingled again with earthly dross, sullied and polluted; but to be again mixed with all te vileness from which during those halcyon days they had been laved, borne onward by the billows, yet intoxicated, and unconscious of progression. Happy that such hallucination does not last, or we should be too blissful to reflect on death without repining, too preoccupied to think on preparations against eternity!
Maidens are told that they should give no tongue to their thoughts ; but the rule is oftener broken through than adhered to. Portia, like Desdemona, was superior to her lover ; that is, rich, while he was poor. Every woman is, however, once in her life enthroned; that is during courtship, when her suitor bows and bends like a slave. The parts are then reversed, as they once were with Scython, that he might not be devoid of the advantages of experience on any point; and thus a poor female is for a short space allowed to taste the pleasures of command. But by women of a noble order this rule is gently exercised, nay, is voluntarily resigned; and they entreat, as the greatest favour which can be conferred, that their lover will take the sceptre from their hands, and, as deputy, govern both him and themselves. They only retain the power of showing mercy and showering benefits-of robbing themselves to enrich him—of lavishing on him all their possessions. Yet Portia, though she yields all herself, will not give up one jot of virtue ; and her lofty principle shines out like a sun from the cloud of temptation. And she cheerfully pursues the path of duty, without repining at her fate, or condemning the instrument of her destiny. Juliet had not nerve for such behaviour ; her passion must have overmastered ; and however she resolved, or conceived that she endeavoured, the hour of meeting, though the caskets had proved inauspicious, should not have been that of parting. The farewell must have terminated in private marriage or elopement. Desdemona might have submitted to the testament; but, grieving to death under obedience, she must have sunk a martyr to a broken heart. There is not so much poetry in the expression of Portia’s as of Juliet's love; not such gorgeous imagery, such bewildering ecstasy, such resistless enthusiasm; but there is magnificence, majesty, plenteousness, bountifulness. The first may be spoken in broad daylight, on an open lawn, whilst the heroine drinks in the nectar of nature, stepping firmly, or pausing, while slie gazes honestly on her lover's face, a slight but scarcely perceptible blush on her cheek, the eye glancing subduedly, yet scarcely betraying tenderness, her air that of proud humility and maidenly self-possession. The second to be uttered in a crowded ball-room, a populous solitude to the worldforgetting lovers ; begun in a whisper ; her eyes fixing gradually, not on the beloved, but on vacancy; the voice rising; the eloquence flowing more rapidly; hurrying to a close, and dying, like the swan, in music; her cheek glowing till it burns; her eye beaming till it lightens; and her attitude, from perhaps drooping carelessness, stiffening into motionless erection; too much rapt for movement: in the end she casts on her lover one glance of mingled soul, genius, ineffable tenderness, and unearthly love, which, when reciprocated, those dazzling orbs are dimmed by the heart's rain, a shower of tears relieves he over-excitability of her frame, and, sinking on a couch, the ten
sion of her up-strung nerves is loosened. Her loving soliloquies should be spoken beneath the burning sky of a sultry day—the firmamet an indescribable and thrilling blue—the heavens cloudless and speckless --the world panting in the embraces of heat. Her first confession was appropriately uttered by starlight. And yet Portia sometimes exbibits a playfulness of demeanour ; when she blushes, pales, and blushes again ; shaking her curls coquettishly from side to side ; and when her rosy lips pout, and she glances with fairy-like cunning from the corner of her eye, expressing—“I am discovering too much; but I cannot help myself-can I?"-then she is serious once more, and the eventide of mighty love sweeps on.
Lovers ought to weigh well their words, for, however trivial, their ladies will ponder on them, considering their meaning, derivation, different bearings, and the allusions of which they may be deemed susceptible ; just as we love to study and pore over a favourite author, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting. And such doings the hearty lover enjoys, readily entering into the joke, explaining and dilating at random and at will. And why should he not enjoy them? It is pleasant to be of such paramount importance to another, to be made so much of, petted, spoiled, and worshipped. Portia is not now, as during former trials, composed and stately, mastering excitement. It is to those only whom she loves, and to whom she looks up, that she would display her feelings, unless to an inferior and habitual confidant. Portia was not one to select a superior in whom to confide; her talent rendered her sufficient to herself; where shall we find two energetic people fix on each other as bosom friends ? Variety constitutes the charm of such society; the vigorous are glad to counsel, the meek to be admonished; the former to cherish, the latter to venerate, as in the still closer intimacy of marriage. Besides, where could Portia meet with a superior ? There is a tangibleness in all she says; its sonorousness strikes, rather than its spirituality; there is not the extreme of fancy, like shivers of glass, as with Juliet ; but, instead of girlish volatility, the sober dignity of a young queen, whose heart, nevertheless, palpitates, though pride of place calms her exterior. A loving girl is impatient. If her wishes are not directly accomplished, she blames. Her genius discerns twenty means of surmounting obstacles ; and were she in like position, she must and should succeed. Portia, having a sense of effect, prohibits all subordinates from intercepting the view of Bassanio, whom she thus leaves alone in his glory to survey the caskets. She is too deeply interested to be sanguine of the consequences ;
and she has little of that confidence in affairs turning out desirably which on former occasions supported her, when her affections were disengaged. Her fears realise the worst; the inspiration of excitement imagines the best. We should like to press her to our bosom while she fancies ill, and flags; we should like to press our lips to her burning brow, as she dares to augur good—too sweet a privilege ever to be substantiated !
The first two lines of Bassanio's deliberations over the caskets were but the result of personal experience, for he had shown largely upon small means, and had found the world willing to be gulled. He does not conceive falsely, like the Moor; nor is he dull, like the Arrago
Nov. 1838,--VOL. XXIII.--NO. XCI.
nian; he is neither persuaded that he ought to think highly of him. self, like the former; nor that it would be out of the power of nature for him to avoid doing so, like the latter ; and he does not confer loudly, for the benefit of the public, like the former; nor presumptuously declaim, like the latter : he communes with his own soul, not for the purpose of display, but in order to arrive at truth ; and vanity and arrogance are sure preventives to success in such an essay. He might indulge his love of approbation after triumph had ensued; but he was too earnest to permit of any diversion while engaged in the pursuit: and without such sincere zeal we must fail in our efforts. How happily harmonising with his concentrated meditations is the light, soothing, gently-wiling, spiritual song !--so amorous-delicate food for lovers—a refined stimulus-a vision-a fragment—nothing completed-neither joyous nor sad—a pensive medium-fit introduction to either solemn or triumphant strains, as his conquest or defeat might demand—the enchanting sportiveness of genius—full of tender melody, bewitching music, and natural poetry-so artless and unstudied—so graceful, and at the same time short, that we long for a prolongation of the symphony—a passing voluntary, so masterly and exquisitely touched, that we entreat the performer, who, like all geniuses, is whimsical
, and suddenly ceases, to go on once more, and still to thrall our senses.
Portia' soon spontaneously yields to wild enthusiasm ; and it is bez seeming. The successful are free to pour out their feelings; they are ever listened to with readiness by a fame-loving mob: those who envy, wish to obtain matter for railing; those who love, wish to have their sympathies elicited ; those who admire wish to detect the combination which has produced so worthy a whole. A similar difference as that which lies between Portia's and Juliet's mode of expressing her love exists between that of Bassanio and Romeo; the former is fluent, matter-of-fact, and brilliant; the latter has the nerve of a young spirit, ardent, unpractised, and inexperienced—like the new-fledged eaglet who soars to gaze upon the sun, and deems not of aught sublunary. But long.continued happiness, we may coincide with the ingenious Mrs. Carleton in stating, seldom falls to the share of so susceptible a being : “ and in a world of cares and trouble the joys of life can only serve to brighten his horizon, as the aurora borealis illuminates the northern sky with a temporary splendour." Yet cares and troubles are words which we would fain blot from our poetical vocabulary. To inspire happiness and a trustfulness of good should be our aim; an aim which may be accomplished, we have firm faith. Why is Shakspeare so popular, but that he is the apostle of felicity? Byron had his enthusiastic followers, but they were comparatively a sect. The majority were amazed and interested in the author ; but did they press his effusions to their bosoms as dearly loved children, in whom each day must develope new beauties? There is a rich fund of enjoyment in Shakspeare's woful tales. We are impressed with a feeling that those who are now most wretched have lived hitherto in contentment and delight. It is false philosophy which holds up as doctrine that life to all is a sorrow, to most a perpetual one; and that the most fortunate taste but a few scattered instants of prosperity. Look to the miserable side, and we shall find this notion belied; and, if we are not partial, we may discover a yet brighter portion of the picture.
As with Portia, every woman, it matters not how superior, submits herself with utter devotion to the lover of her choice, it matters not how inferior, thinking her deserts poor, though beyond compare she be wealthy, beautiful, and wise, and desiring them trebled twenty times for his sake, although, even if they were, they would not content the largeness of her wishes to bestow. When she loves, the most selfsufficient becomes humble-minded as a little child. There is much grace in Bassanio's diffidence, proving him worthy the generosity of Portia. His affection for Antonio is displayed in his unwillingness to open his letter, until assured of his welfare-a genuine manifestation, for there was no object to be gained by an unsubstantial show; the merchant was not present, nor any curious spy; nor any acquaintance of his friend's sufficiently shrewd to establish an evil report, or sufficiently venomous to be on the watch for its foundation. When alone, we ţear open an epistle with frenzied haste; when in society we shrink from divulging our emotions; we converse until the first flurry has subsided, or we question so as to arrive near the truth, and enable us to break the seal with less tremor. Altogether, Bassanio is a particularly amiable character. How wife-like is the watchfulness of Portial Every sensible woman should thus partake, and reasonably insist on sharing, the sorrows, and endeavouring to lessen the difficulties of her husband. Happiness without perfect confidence is incomplete; and how rarely do we meet the latter! The husband is reserved, the wife imprudent,—not setting about breaking the ice in the right way-the husband is indiscreet, and dislikes to tell his follies to the wife who is ill-tempered—or the husband is proud, and the wife interfering. Confidence seldom exists except between a clever woman and a weak man, who has judgment, however, to appreciate and glory in her merits, while she has wisdom never to assume or protrude herself; never to take the credit of his good deeds, though she may have been their sole instigator : and thus it is we often perceive such an union especially happy:
And now, how Portia shines !—taking to her heart of hearts the justly-loved friend of her lord : and no truly loving wife seeks to alienate her husband from his previous relations and connexions, for that is a foul, selfish, base, unwarrantable, injurious act, which will always bring its punishment; on the contrary, she teaches herself to love and cherish every soul who is beloved by, or has been friendly towards her lord ; she studies their characters, so as to suit her bearing to their tastes: she humours their harmless fancies, rendering herself all things to all men; and, when subjects of annoyance arise, she checks her anger by recollecting that they pillowed the infant brow of her husband before she was privileged to know him; that they listened to his words, and were the participants of his feelings, before she had any part in his thoughts. She is sad to remember how long she existed without his acquaintance, and she tries to atone for the deficiency by living his boyhood over again with the friends of his infancy and youth, deeming herself fortunate if they consent to receive her to their bosoms, fostering her like the sister, as well as wife, of her