« 上一頁繼續 »
takes occasion to intimate that excessive obesity, or as Shakespeare would say, “three fingers on the ribs,” is not favorable to courage : the Spanish Boniface alluded to, is said to be " a man extremely corpulent, and therefore inclined to be peaceable.”
Sancho and his master are in every respect distinguished from each other, both in mind and body ; and even in those points in which some slight resemblance may be traced there is a still stronger dissimilitude than likeness. There is, for instance, great simplicity of character in both ; but the rustic simplicity of the squire is as different in quality and degree from the pure-minded simplicity of the Knight, as the simplicity of Roderigo is from that of Othello, the Moor. It is curious to observe how Don Quixote's superior, though warped understanding, and his fine though disordered imagination, at last exercise a complete control over the literal mind of Sancho Panza. With all his shrewdness he is long before he discovers his master's madness, though he is such a frequent eye-witness of his extraordinary mistakes. His master's conversation is so manifestly superior to the suggestions of his own mind, that he is half inclined to distrust the evidences of his senses, and believe the Knight is less mistaken than he appears to be. He makes little doubt of obtaining the government of the island promised by Don Quixote, and comforts himself with this expectation when he is suffering from the clubs of the Yanguesian carriers. The following conversation between Sancho and the woman at the inn, when he and his master put up after the pommelling, is highly characteristic :
“ What is this Cavalier called ? quoth the Austurian Maritornes. • Don Quixote de la Mancha,' answered Sancho Panza, “he is a knighterrant, and one of the best and most valiant that has been seen this long time in the world.' What is a knight-errant ?' replied the wench. ‘Are you such a novice, that you do not know that ?' answered Sancho Panza. • Then learn, sister of mine, that a knight-errant is a thing that, before you can count two, may be cudgelled and an emperor ;-to-day he is the most unfortunate creature in the world, and the most necessitous; and
to-morrow, will have two or three crowns of kingdoms to give to his squire.' • How comes it then to pass, that you, being squire to this worthy a gentleman,' said the hostess, have not yet, as it seems, got so much as an earldom ? " It is early days yet,' answered Sancho ; for it is but a month since we set out in quest of adventures, and hitherto we have met with none that deserve the name. And sometimes a man looks for one thing, and finds another. But if my master, Don Quixote, should recover of this wound or fall, and I am not disabled thereby, I would not truck my hopes for the best title in Spain.'"
There is a fine stroke of nature in that passage, in which Sancho is represented as under no alarm as to his own capability of meeting all demands upon his capacity in the office of a Governor, but as being somewhat puzzled about his wife's qualifications to share his dignity.
««So then,' said Sancho to his master, if I were to be a king by any of those miracles you are pleased to mention, Mary Gutierrez, my crooked rib, would at least come to be a queen, and my children in fantas? • Who doubts it?' said Don Quixote. “I doubt it,' replied Sancho Panza, 'for I am verily persuaded, that if God were to rain down kingdoms upon the earth, none of them would sit seemly upon the head of Mary Gutierrez; for you must know, Sir, she is not worth two farthings for a queen. The title of Countess, with the help of God and good friends, would sit better upon her.'*Recommend the matter to Providence, Sancho,' answered Don Quixote,' and he will do what is best for her: but do thou have a care not to debase thy mind so low, as to content thyself with being less than a lord-lieutenant.' Sir, I will not,' answered Sancho, especially having so great a man for my master as your worship, who will know how to give us whatever is most fitting, and what I am best able to bear.'
• Do you think,' quoth Sancho, * I should know how to give authority to indignity?' Dignity, thou shouldst say, not indignity,' said his master. “So let it be,' answered Sancho Panza ; *I dare say, I shall do well enough with it ; for I assure your worship I was once beadle of a company, and the beadle's gown became me so well, that every one said, I had a presence fit to be a warden.''
Sancho had as little notion of the value of military honor as Falstaff, and thought with him that discretion was the better part of valour. He cares less for disgraces than for bruises.
Let us now turn to the pages of the Spectator. A higher compliment cannot possibly be paid to the fine genius of Addison than to associate his Sir Roger de Coverley with Falstaff and Don Quixote. It would be preposterous overpraise to compare Addison as a dramatist or as a writer generally with Shakespeare and Cervantes ; but the single character of Sir Roger de Coverley would not have been unworthy of any comic writer that the world has yet produced. It exhibits not indeed the fertility of imagination and strength of hand that are displayed in the conception and embodiment of Falstaff and Don Quixote; but it is touched with traits of humour that have never been surpassed in delicacy and truth*. The highest perfection in these respects is not unworthy of being ranked with the different orders of excellence exhibited in the delineations of Shakespeare and Cervantes. There are painters of greater vigour and versatility than Raphael himself, but who do not therefore lead us to undervalue his unrivalled purity and refinement. If Addison had produced a few other characters as exquisite in conception and as highly finished as his Sir Roger de Coverley, his name would probably have stood in the first rank of British genius ; but a single fine picture of this nature was not sufficient to rescue him from the comparatively humble station which he occupies as a writer of elegant moral essays and of a play, which, with all its sonorous rhetoric, is singularly deficient in dramatic truth and in the spirit of genuine poetry.
The world would have had little to regret, if Addison's contributions to English Literature had been confined to the papers in the Spectator especially devoted to Sir Roger de Coverley, and a few others of a more miscellaneous nature, including the Vision of Mirza and the reflections in Westminster Abbey. But the
No slight portion of the humour in the character of Falstaff and Don Quixote depends opon his external appearance. It is not so with Sir Roger de Coverley, nor even with Sterne's Uncle Toby.
loss of these would leave an hiatus that could never be filled up by another hand.
The enviable fame of being the intellectual parent of his Roger de Coverley has been disputed on behalf of Sir Richard Steele, on the ground of his having first introduced him in the account of the Club in the second number of the Spectator : but we are to recollect, that the notice of him amongst the other members is a mere outline ; that it is but fair to conclude that Addison and Steele had sat together in consultation, and exchanged hints and suggestions as to the persons of which the Club was to be composed; and that unquestionably the best and greatest number of papers on the subject of Sir Roger's eccentricities were from the pen of the former, and that he is known to have taken upon himself the charge of preserving a due consistency in the character. It is said that he was so vexed with either Steele or Budgell, (for it is uncertain which wrote the obnoxious paper*) because one of them had made the Knight walk arm and arm with a woman of the town, that he swore with some vehemence that he would himself kill Sir Roger, lest somebody else should murder him.
The first outline of the character is not sketched with Addisonian delicacy, though it is more than probable that the general idea and some of the leading traits were suggested by Steele's coadjutor. Mention is made of Sir Roger's bad success with the widow, which is very injudiciously followed up with a hint, which Addison could never have given, that he grew humble in his desires, and frequently offended in point of chastity with beggars and gypsies." It is also added, that there is such a mirthful cast in his behaviour that he is more beloved than esteemed. This is making almost another Falstaff of him; and Addison, who has so delicately explained the difference between mirth and cheerful.
* It is more probable that the paper was Steele's than Budgell's, as the anecdote is told by Budgell himself, who was not very likely to have mentioned it, if he had written the paper that occasioned Addison's indignation.
ness would never have made his favorite character a man of merri, ment. In his own papers he has taken care to represent him as something better than a boon companion, and to make him as much respected as beloved. Sir Richard Steele describes the knight as "a gentleman very singular in his behaviour, but wbose singu. larities proceed from his good sense, and are contradictions to the manners of the world, only as he thinks the world is in the wrong.” But there is assuredly more good sense in complying with the prevalent forms and modes (for it is in these alone that he is singular) than in a solitary endeavour to breast the stream. Addison may be supposed to have expostulated with his friend and coadjutor on these points, for in number 113, which is written by Steele, Sir Roger is represented as a man who is so far from being merry, that he is perpetually haunted by the recollection of his bad success in love, a misfortune which has ever since affected his words and actions." “I am convinced,” continues the writer, “that the widow is the secret cause of all that inconsistency which appears in some parts of my friend's discourse." Addison himself invariably attributes the knight's eccentricities, not to "good sense," but to an unrequited passion for the widow. One cannot help wishing that Addison had kept Sir Roger entirely to himself, and there would then have been no inconsistencies in this most charming portrait. It is but bare justice, however, to remark that the number of the Spectator, froin which we have just been quoting, is a particularly fine one, and does infinite honor to Sir Richard Steele. If all his papers had been written with the same success, we should not have regretted that Addison had left so much to his hand. But if we object to Steele's touches, we have greatly more reason to object to the supernumerary daubs of Eustace Budgell, “ the man that used to call Addison, cousin.” In number 116, that person, in total disregard of the character of the Knight, has made him “not scruple to own amongst his most intimate friends," that in order to establish