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Even at the last Bertram's attainment is but small; he is still no more than a potential piece of worthy manhood. We cannot suppose that Shakspere has represented him thus without a purpose. Does not the poet wish us to feel that although much remains to be wrought in Bertram, his welfare is now assured? The courageous title of the play "All's Well that ends Well," is like an utterance of the heart of Helena, who has strength and endurance to attain the end, and who will measure things, not by the pains and trials of the way, not by the dubious and difficult means, but by that end, by the accomplished issue. We need not, therefore, concern ourselves any longer about Bertram; he is safe in the hands of Helena; she will fashion him as he should be fashioned; Bertram is at length delivered from the snares and delusions which beset his years of haughty ignorance and dulness of the heart; he is doubly won by Helena; therefore he cannot wander far, therefore he cannot finally be lost.*

The changes of type which took place in the prominent female characters of Shakspere's plays as the poet passed from youth to manhood, and from early manhood to riper maturity, would form an interesting subject for detailed study. The emotional women of the early plays, if not turbulent and aggressive, are still deficient in delicacy of heart, in refinement of instinct, impulse, and

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On this play consult Professor Karl Elze's article in Shakespeare Jahrbuch, vol. vii., and preface by Hertzberg in the German Shakspere Society's edition of Schlegel's and Tieck's Translation of Shakspere, vol. xi. Hertzberg maintains that love of Lafeu's daughter is a motive of Bertram's rejection of Helena. But see Elze's reply in the above mentioned article, p. 226.


The intellectual women, who stand by the side of these, are bright and clever, but over-confident, forward, or defiant. In the early historical plays appear terrible female forms,-women whose ambitions have been foiled, whose hearts have been torn and crushed, who are filled with fierce sorrow, passionate indignation, a thirst for revenge. Such are the Duchess of Gloster, Margaret of Anjou, Queen Elinor, Constance. As comedy succeeds comedy, the female characters become more complex, more subtile, more exquisite. Rosaline's flouting of Berowne, becomes Rosalind's arch mockery of Orlando, or the sportive contests of Beatrice with Benedict. In Portia of "The Merchant of Venice" intellect and emotions play into one another with exquisite swiftness, brightness, and vital warmth.

Just at the close of the period which gave birth to Shakspere's most joyous comedies, and at the entrance to the tragic period, appear types of female character which are distinguished by some single element of peculiar strength, Helena, Isabella, Portia of Julius Cæsar (type of perfect womanly heroism, yet environed by the weakness of her sex); and over against these are studies of feminine incapacity or ignobleness— Ophelia, Gertrude, Cressida. It is as if Shakspere at this time needed some one strong, outstanding excellence to grasp and steady himself by, and had lost his delight in the even harmony of character which suits us, and brings us joy when we make no single, urgent, and peculiar demand for help. Next follow the tragic figures-Desdemona, the invincible loyalty

of wifehood; Cordelia, the invincible filial loyalty; sacrificial lives, which are offered up, and which sanctify the earth, lives which fall in the strife with evil, and which falling achieve their victories of love. And as these make the world beautiful and sacred, even while they leave it strange and sorrowful, so over against them appear the destroyers of life-Lady Macbeth, and the monsters Goneril, Regan.

Finally, in Shakspere's latest plays appear upon the one hand the figures of the great suffererscalm, self-possessed, much enduring, free from selfpartiality, unjust resentment, and the passion of revenge-Queen Katharine, Hermione; and on the other hand are exquisite girlish figures, children who have known no sorrow, over whom is shed a magical beauty, an ideal light, while above them Shakspere is seen, as it were, bowing tenderly-Miranda, Perdita. How great a distance has been traversed! Instead of the terrible Margaret of Anjou we have here Queen Katharine. Shakspere in his early period would have found cold, and without suitability for the purposes of art, Katharine's patience, reserve, and equilibrium of soul. Instead of Rosaline here is Perdita. A death-bed glorious with a vision of angels, and the exquisite dawn of a young girl's life, these are the two last themes on which the imagination of the poet cared to dwell affectionately and long.

Here for the present we may pause. We have glanced at the growth of Shakspere's mind and art as far onward as the opening of the period of the great tragedies. What

Shakspere gained of insight and of strength during that period a subsequent chapter will attempt to tell.*

* I am unwilling to offer any criticism of the play of Troylus and Cressida until I see my way more clearly through certain difficulties respecting its date and its ethical significance. Mr Fleay believes that three stories can be distinguished—(1.) Troylus and Cressida; (2.) Hector; (3.) Ajax, Ulysses, and the Greek Camp; and that these stories were written at different periods. (See Transactions of the New Shakspere Society.) Mr Furnivall says "that there are two parts, an early and a late, I do not doubt." Hertzberg assigns the date 1603. See his valuable Preface in the German Shakespeare Society's edition of Tieck's and Schlegel's Translation of Shakspere, vol. xi., and on the sources of the play his article in Shakespeare Jahrbuch, vol. vi. ; also in vol. iii. the article by Karl Eitner. Hertzberg believes that the play remained unprinted and unacted until 1609. Ulrici's article on Troilus and Cressida in Shakespeare Jahrbuch, vol. ix., make it clear that the play belongs rather to comedy than tragedy. This article may be consulted (as well as Hertzberg's preface) on the questions raised by the concluding lines of the difficult epilogue by Pandarus.

So far was written in 1875; but since then I have come to understand in some degree, I believe, the significance of this difficult play. See ante, preface to the third edition.



DURING the first ten years of Shakspere's dramatic career he wrote quickly, producing (if we suppose that he commenced authorship in 1590 at the age of twentysix), on an average, about two plays in each year. These eighteen or twenty plays written between 1590 and 1600, include some eight or nine comedies, and the whole of the great series of English historical dramas, which, when Henry V. was written, Shakspere probably looked upon as complete. To this field he did not return, except in one instance when it would seem that a portion of a play on the subject of Henry VIII. was written, and while still incomplete was handed over on some special occasion to the dramatist Fletcher to expand from three acts into five. In the first decade of Shakspere's authorship (if we set aside Titus Andronicus as the work of an unknown writer), a single tragedy appears,-Romeo and Juliet. This play is believed to have engaged Shakspere's attention during a number of years. Dissatisfied probably with the first form which it assumed, Shakspere worked upon the play again, rewriting and enlarging it.* But it is not unlikely that

*The opinion of Mr Richard Grant White deserves to be stated, It is "That the Romeo and Juliet which has come down to us (for

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