« PreviousContinue »
bling and most earnest manner, asked • Well, sir, if I'm poor, I an't a Titmouse whether he was really jok- rogue," said Titmouse, preparing to ing or serious.
give him what he asked for; when a “ Never more serious in my life, faint shriek was heard, plainly from sir."
Miss Tag-rag, overhead. Then the “ It's really all up?"
seething caldron boiled over.
You Titmouse groaned. A satanic scowl infernal scoundrel," said Tag-rag, alshot over Tag-rag's disgusting fea- most choked with fury; and suddentures.
ly seizing Titmouse by the collar, 66 Oh, ma- -I do feel so ill !" faintly scarce giving him time, in passing, to exclaimed Miss Tag-rag, turning get hold of his hat and stick, he urged deadly pale. Titmouse was on the him along through the passage, down verge of dropping on his knees, and the gravel walk, threw open the gate, confessing the trick, greatly agitated thrust him furiously through it, and at the effect produced on Miss Tag. sent after him such a blast of execrarag; when Tag-rag's heavy hand tion, as was enough to drive him a was suddenly placed on his shoulder, hundred yards down the road. Tit. and he whispered in a fierce under tone mouse did not fully recover his breath
-“ You impostor!" and that stopped or his senses for more than half an Titmouse, and made something like a hour afterwards. When he did, the Man of him. He was a fearful fool, first thing that occurred to him was, but he did not want for mere pluck, an inclination to fall down on his and now it was roused. Mrs Tag.rag knees on the open road, and worship exclaimed, “Oh, you shocking scamp!" the sagacious and admirable GAMMON. as she passed Titmouse, and led her And now, Tittlebat Titmouse, for daughter out of the room.
some little time, I have done with you. “ If I'm an impostor, sir, I'm no fit Away!-give room to your betters. company for you, I suppose, sir, said But don't think that I have yet Titmouse, rising.”
“ rifled all your sweetness," or am “ Pay nie my five-pound note,” al- about to “ fling you like a noisome most shouted Tag-rag.
Edinburgh : Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.
The Greek tragedy is a great pro- swell surviving from periods of intes: blem. We cannot say that the Greek tine tumult and insecurity. The times drama is such in any more compre- were still martial and restless ; men hensive sense ; for the comedy of still wore swords in pacific assemblies ; Greece depends essentially upon the the intellect of the age was a fermentsame principles as our own. Comedy, ing intellect; it was a revolutionary as the reflex of the current of social intellect. And comedy itself, coloured life, will shift in correspondence to by the moving pageantries of life, was the shifting movements of civilisation. more sinewy, more audacious in its Inevitacly as human intercourse in movements ; spoke with something cities grows more refined, comedy will more of an impassioned tone; and was grow more subtle ; it will build itself hung with draperies more rich, more on distinctions of character less grossly voluminous, more picturesque. On defined, and on features of manners the other hand, the age of the Athemore delicate and impalpable. But nian Menander, or the English Conthe fundus, the ultimate resource, the greve, though still an unsettled age, well-head of the comic, must for ever was far less insecure in its condition be sought in the same field-viz. the of police, and far less showy in its exludicrous of incident, or the ludicrous terior aspect. In England, it is true of situation, or the ludicrous which that a picturesque costume still prearises in a mixed way between the vailed; the whole people were still character and the situation. The age draped * professionally; each man's of Aristophanes, for example, answer- dress proclaimed his calling; and so ed in some respects to our own earliest far it might be said, " natio comodia dramatic era, viz. from 1588 to 1635, est." But the characteristic and dian age not (as Dr Johnson assumes it viding spirit had fled, whilst the forms to have been, in his elaborate preface survived; and those middle men had to Shakspeare) rude or gross; on the universally arisen, whose equivocal recontrary, far more intense with intel- lations to different employments broke lectual instincts and agencies than his down the strength of contrast between own, which was an age of collapse. them. Comedy, therefore, was thrown But in the England of Shakspeare, as more exclusively upon the interior in the Athens of Aristophanes, the man; upon the nuances of his nature, surface of society in cities still rocked, or upon the finer spirit of his manners. or at least undulated, with the ground. It was now the acknowledged duty of
* “ The whole people were still draped professionally." For example, physicians never appeared without the insignia of their calling; clergymen would have incurred the worst suspicions had they gone into the streets without a gown and bands. Ladies, again, universally wore masks, as the sole substitute known to our ancestors for the modern parasol ; a fact, perhaps, now first noticed. NO, CCXCII. VOL. XLVII,
comedy to fathom the coynesses of appearances, so that an object shall human nature, and to arrest the fleet- affect us first of all as an idealized or ing phenomena of human demeanour. unreal thing, and next as itself a sort
But tragedy stood upon another of relation to some secondary object footing. Whilst the comic muse in still more intensely unreal, we shall not every age acknowledges a relationship attempt to describe ; for in some techwhich is more than sisterly-in fact, nical points we should, perhaps, fail to little short of absolute identity—the satisfy the reader: and without tech tragic muse of Greece and England nical explanations we could not satisfy stand so far aloof as hardly to recog- the question. But, as to the poetnise each other under any common all the depths of philosophy, at least designation. Few people have ever of any known and recognised philosostudied the Grecian drama-and hence phy, would less avail to explain, spemay be explained the possibility that culatively, the principles which, in so little should have been said by such a case, should guide him, than critics upon its characteristic differ- Shakspeare has explained by his pracences, and nothing at all upon the tice. The problem before him was philosophic ground of these differ- one of his own suggesting : the diffi.
Hence may be explained the culty was of his own making. It was fact, that, whilst Greek tragedy has –so to differentiate a drama that it always been a problem in criticism, it might stand within a drama, precisely is still a problem of which no man has as a painter places a picture within a attempted the solution. This problem picture; and therefore that the seconit is our intention briefly to investic dary or inner drama should be nongate.
realized upon a scale that would throw, 1. There are cases, occasionally by comparison, a reflex colouring of occurring in the English drama and reality upon the principal drama. the Spanish, where a play is exhibited This was the problem : this was the within a play.
To go no further, thing to be accomplished: and the every person remembers the remark- secret, the law, of the process by which able instance of this in Hamlet. Some- he accomplishes this is – to swell, times the same thing takes place in tumefy, stiffen, not the diction only painting. We see a chamber, suppose, but the tenor of the thought ; in fact, exhibited by the artist, on the walls to stilt it, and to give it a prominence of which (as a customary piece of fur- and an ambition beyond the scale niture) hangs a picture. And as this which he adopted for his ordinary life. picture again might represent a room It is, of course, therefore in rhymefurnished with pictures, in the mere an artifice which Shakspeare employs logical possibility of the case we might with great effect on other similar ocimagine this descent into a life below casions, (that is, occasions when he a life going on ad infinitum. Practi. wished to solemnize or in any way cally, however, the process is soon differentiate the life ;) it is condensed stopped. A retrocession of this nature and massed as respects the flowing of is difficult to manage.
The original the thoughts ; it is rough and horrent picture is a mimic-an unreal life. with figures in strong relief, like the But this unreal life is itself a real life embossed gold of an ancient vase : with respect to the secondary picture; and the movement of the scene is conwhich again must be supposed realized tracted into short gyrations-so unwith relation to the tertiary picture, like the free sweep and expansion of if such a thing were attempted. Con- his general developments. sequently, at every step of the intro- Now, the Grecian tragedy stands volution, (to neologize a little in a case in the very same circumstances, and justifying a neologism,) something rises from the same original bàsis
. must be done to differentiate the gra- If, therefore, the reader can obtain a dations, and to express the subordina. glimpse of the life within a life, which tions of life ; because each term in the the painter sometimes exhibits to the descending series, being first of all a eye, and which the Hamlet of Shakmode of non-reality to the spectator, speare exhibits to the mind-then he is next to assume the functions of a may apprehend the original phasis real life in its relations to the next under
which we contemplate the Greek lower or interior term of the series. tragedy.
What the painter does in order to 11. But, to press further into the produce this peculiar modification of centre of things, perhaps the very
element in the situation of the Gre- tenance; hence the mechanism by cian tragedy, which operated by de- which it was made to swell the intogrees to evoke all the rest, was the nations of the voice like the brazen original elevation of the scale by tubes of an organ. which all was to be measured, in con- Here, then, you have a tragedy, by sequence of two accidents-Ist, the its very origin, in mere virtue of the sanctity of the ceremonies in which accidents out of which it arose, standa tragedy arose ; 2d, the vast size of the ing upon the inspiration of religious ancient theatres.
feeling ; pointing, like the spires of The first point we need not dwell on : our English parish churches, up to every body is aware that tragedy in heaven by mere necessity of its earliest Greece grew by gradual expansions purpose, from which it could not alter out of an idolatrous rite out of sacri. or swerve per saltum; so that an inficial pomp: though we do not find any fluence once there, was always there. body who has noticed the consequent Even from that cause, therefore, you overruling effect which this had upon have a tragedy ultra-human and Ti. the quality of that tragedy: how, tanic. But next, from political causes in fact
, from this early cradle of falling in with that early religious tragedy, arose a sanctity which com- cause, you have a tragedy forced into pelled all things to modulate into a more absolute and unalterable de. the same religious key. But next, parture from a human standard. That the theatres-why were they so vast figure so noble, that voice so profound, in ancient cities, in Athens, in Syra- and, by the very construction of the
in Capua, in Rome? Purely theatres as well as of the masks, refrom democratic influences. Every ceiving such solemn reverberations, citizen was entitled to a place at the proclaim a being elevated above the public scenical representations. In ordinary human scale. And then Athens, for example, the state paid comes the countenance always adjustfor him. He was present, by possi- ed to the same unvarying tone of senbility and by legal fiction, at every timent, viz. the presiding sentiment of performance; therefore, room must the situation, which of itself would go be prepared for him. And, allowing far to recover the key-note of Greek for the privileged foreigners, (the do- tragedy. These things being given, miciled aliens called μετοικοι,) we are
we begin to perceive a life removed not surprised to hear that the Athenian by a great gulf from the ordinary theatre was adapted to an audience of human life even of kings and heroes: thirty thousand persons. It is not
we descry a life within a life. enough to say naturally-inevitably III. Here, therefore, is the first out of this prodigious compass, ex- great landing-place, the first station, actly ten times over the compass of from which we can contemplate the the large Drury-Lane burned down a Greek tragedy with advantage. It is, generation ago, arose certain imme- by comparison with the life of Shakdiate results that moulded the Greek speare, what the inner life of the mitragedy in all its functions, purposes, metic play in Hamlet is to the outer and phenomena. The person must life of the Hamlet itself. It is a life be aggrandized, the countenance must below a life. That is it is a life be idealized. For upon any stage treated upon a scale so sensibly difcorresponding in its scale to the co- ferent from the proper life of the lossal dimensions of such a house, the spectator, as to impress him profoundly unassisted human figure would have with the feeling of its idealization. been lost ; the unexaggerated human Shakspeare's tragic life is our own features would have been seen as in a life exalted and selected: the Greek remote perspective, and besides, have tragic life presupposed another life, had their expression lost ; the unre- the spectator's, thrown into relief beverberated human voice would have fore it.
fore it. The tragedy was projected been undistinguishable from the sur- upon
eye from a vast profundity rounding murmurs of the audience in the rear : and between this life and
urnus to raise the ac. the spectator, however near its phantor
; hence the voluminous robes to tasmagoria might advance to him, hide the dispro portion thus resulting was still an immeasurable gulf of
Hence, coming nearer still to the determinate nature and circumscrip
Hence the cothu
to the figure ; hence the
a narrow scene.
tion of the Greek tragedy, it was not and reflux of passion, through no conin any sense a development-l. Of vulsions of jealousy on the one hand, human character ; or, 2. Of human or maternal love on the other. She is passion. Either of these objects, at- tossed to and fro by no hurricanes of tributed to tragedy, at once inoculates wrath, wrenched by no pangs of antiit with a life essentially on the common cipation. All that is supposed to have human standard. But that neither passed out of the spectator's presence. was so much as dreamed of, in the The dire conflict no more exhibits Grecian tragedy, is evident from the itself scenically and coram populo, mere mechanism and ordinary con- than the murder of her two innocent duct of those dramas which survive; children. Were it possible that it those especially which seem entitled should, how could the mask be justito be viewed as fair models of the fied? The apparatus of the stage common standard. About a thousand would lose all decorum ; and Grecian lines, of which one-fifth must be de. taste, or sense of the appropriate, ducted for the business of the chorus, which much outran the strength of may be taken as the average extent of Grecian creative power, would have a Greek tragic drama. Five acts, of been exposed to perpetual shocks. one hundred and sixty lines each, IV. The truth is now becoming allow no sweep at all for the sys- palpable: certain great situations-not tole and diastole, the contraction and passion in states of growth, of moveexpansion, the knot and the dénoues ment, of self-conflict-but fixed, unment, of a tragic interest, according moving situations were selected; these to our modern meaning. The ebb held on through the entire course of and flow, the inspiration and expira. one or more acts. A lyric movement tion, cannot find room to play in such of the chorus, which closed the act,
Were the interest and gave notice that it was closed, made to turn at all upon the evolu- sometimes changed this situation; but tion of character, or of passion modi. throughout the act it continued unfied by character, and both growing changed, like a statuesque attitude. upon the reader through various as- The story of the tragedy was pretty pects of dialogue, of soliloquy, and of nearly involved and told by implimultiplied action-it would seem a cation in the tableaux vivans which storm in a wash-hand basin. A passion presided through the several acts. which advanced and precipitated itself The very slight dialogue which goes through such rapid harlequin changes, on, seems meant rather as an addi. would at bestimpress us with the feeling tional exposition of the interest-a properto a hasty melodrame, or perhaps. commentary on the attitude originally serious pantomime. It would read assumed—than as any exbibition of like the imperfect outline of a play; passions growing and kindling under or, still worse, would seem framed to the eye of the spectator. The mask, move through such changes as might with its monotonous expression, is raise an excuse for the dancing and not out of harmony with the scene ; the lyric music. But the very external for the passion is essentially fixed phenomena, the apparatus and scenic throughout, not mantling and undudecorations of the Greek tragedy, all lating with the breath of change, but point to other functions. Shakspeare- frozen into marble life. that is, English tragedy-postulates And all this is both explicable in the intense life of flesh and blood, itself, and peremptorily determined, by of animal sensibility, of man and the sort of idealized life-life in a state woman--breathing, waking, stirring, of remotion, unrealized, and translated palpitating with the pulses of hope into a neutral world of high cloudy and fear. In Greek tragedy, the antiquity -- which the tragedy of very masks show the utter impossi- Athens demanded for its atmosphere. bility of these tempests or conflicts. Had the Greeks, in fact, framed to Struggle there is none, internal or ex- themselves the idea of a tumultuous ternal : not like Hamlet's with his passion-passion expressing itself by own constitutional inertia, and his the agitations of fluctuating will
, as any gloomy irresolution of conscience; not fit, or even possible, subject for scenic like Macbeth's with his better feeling treatment; in that case they must have as a man, with his generosity as a host. resorted to real life, the more real the Medea, the most tragic figure in the better. Or, again, had real life offer. Greek scene, passes through no flux ed to their conceptions a just field for