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is nothing elegant in this, and yet we hardly know which of the two passages is the best.
THE TAMING OF THE Skrew is a play within a play. It is supposed to be a play acted for the benefit of Sly the tinker, who is made to believe himself a lord, when he wakes after a drunken brawl. The character of Sly, and the remarks with which he accompanies the play, are as good as the play itself. His answer, when he is asked how he likes it, " Indifferent well; 'tis a good piece of work, would 'twere done,” is in good keeping, as if he were thinking of his Saturday night's job. Sly does not change his tastes with his new situation, but in the midst of splendor and luxury still calls out lustily and repeatedly " for a pot of the smallest ale." He is very slow in giving up his personal identity in his sudden advancement-"I am Christophero Sly, call me not honor nor lordship. I ne'er drank sack in my life: and if you give me any conserves, give me conserves of beef: ne'er ask me what raiment I'll wear, for I have no more doublets than backs, no more stockings than legs, por no more shoes than feet, nay, sometimes more feet than shoes, or such shoes as my toes look through the over-leather. What, would you make me mad! Am not I Christophero Sly, old Sly's son of Burton-heath, by birth a pedlar, by education a card. maker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present pro. fession a tinker ! Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Win. cot, if she know me not; if she say I am not fourteen-pence on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lying'st knave in Christendom."
This is honest. * The Slies are no rogues," as he says of himself. We have a great predilection for this representative of the family, and what makes us like him the better is, that we take him to be of kin (not many degrees removed) to Sancho Panza.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
This is a play as full of genius as it is of wisdom. Yet there is an original sin in the nature of the subject, which prevents us from taking a cordial interest in it. “ The height of moral ar. gument” which the author has here maintained in the intervals of passion, or blended with the more powerful impulses of nature, is hardly surpassed in any of his plays. But there is in general a want of passion; the affections are at a stand ; our sympathies are repulsed and defeated in all directions. The only passion which influences the story is that of Angelo ; and yet he seems to have a much greater passion for hypocrisy than for his mistress. Neither are we greatly enamored of Isabella's rigid chastity, though she could not act otherwise than she did. We do not feel the same confidence in the virtue that is “sublimely good” at another's expense, as if it had been put to some less disinterested trial. As to the Duke, who makes a very imposing and mysterious stage-character, he is more absorbed in his own plots and gravity than anxious for the welfare of the state ; more tenacious of his own character than attentive to the feelings and apprehensions of others. Claudio is the only person who feels naturally; and yet he is placed in circumstances of distress which almost preclude the wish for his deliverance. Mariana is also in love with Angelo, whom we hate. In this respect, there may be said to be a general system of cross-purposes between the feelings of the different characters and the sympathy of the reader or the audience. This principle of repugnance seems to have reached its height in the character of Master Barsardine, who not only sets at defiance the opinions of others, bat has even thrown off all self-regard, one that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as a drunken sleep ; careless, reckless, and fearless of what's past, present, and to come." He is a fine antithesis to the morality and hypocrisy of the other characters of the play. Barnardine is Caliban transported from Prospero's wizard island to the forests of Bohemia or the prisons of Vienna. He is a creature of bad habits, as Caliban is of gross instincts. He has, however, a strong notion of the natural fitness of things, according to his own sensations" He has been drinking hard all night, and he will not be hanged that day" and Shakspeare has let him off at last. We do not understand why the philosophical German critic, Schlegel, should be so severe on those pleasant persons, Lucio, Pompey, and Master Froth, as to call them “wretches.” They appear all mighty comfortable in their occupations, and deterinined to pursue them, * as the flesh and fortune shall serve." A very good exposure of the want of self-knowledge and contempt for others, which is so common in this world, is put into the mouth of Abhorson, the jailor, when the Provost proposes to associate Pompey with him in his office " A bawd, sir? Fie upon him, he will discredit our mystery." And the same answer would serve, in nine instances out of ten, to the same kind of remark, “ Go to, sir, you weigh equally; a feather will turn the scale." Shakspeare was in one sense the least moral of all writers; for morality (commonly so called) is made up of antipathies; and his talent consisted in sympathy with human nature, in all its shapes, degrees, depres. sions, and elevations. The object of the pedantio moralist is to find out the bad in everything : his was to show that "there is some soul of goodness in thingsevil." Even Master Barnardine is not led to the mercy of what others think of him; but, when he comes in, speaks for himself, and pleads his own cause, as well as if counsel had been assigned him. In one sense, Shak. speare was no moralist at all : in another, he was the greatrst of all moralists. He was a moralist in the same sense in which nature is one. He taught what he had learnt from her. lle showed the greatest knowledge of humanity, with the greatest fellow.leeling for it.
One of the most dramatic passages in the present play is the interview between Claudio and his sister, when she comes to
him of the conditions on which Angelo will spare his
“ CLAUDIO. Let me know the point.
ISABELLA. O, I do fear thee, Claudio: and I quake,
CLAUDIO. Why give you me this shame?
ISABELLA. There spake my brother! there my father's grave
CLAUDIO. The princely Angelo ?
ISABELLA. Oh, 'tis the cunning livery of hell,
CLAUDIO. Oh heavens! it cannot be.'
ISABELLA. Yes, he would give it thee, for this rank offence,
CLAUDIO. Thou shalt not do 't.
ISABELLA. Oh, were it but my life,
CLAUDIO. Thanks, dear Isabel.
CLAUDIO. Yes.--Has he affections in him,
CLAUDIO. Ir it were damnable, he, being so wise,
ISABELLA. What says my brother?
ISABELLA Alas! alas!
CLAUDIO. Sweet sister, let me live:
What adds to the dramatic beauty of this scene and the effect of Claudio's passionate attachment to life is, that it immediately follows the Duke's lecture to him, in the character of the Friar, recommending an absolute indifference to it.
- "Reason thus with bfe,