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no kind of argument or evidence ; and I | labour hastily taken up, pursued in a light cannot find that any persons who have re- temper, assuming the character of “pleasant peated it after him have shown any probable jest and courtesy." The Princess and her grounds for the opinion.” Malone, in the ladies would not accept it as “labour" withfirst edition of his 'Chronological Order of out a year's probation. It was offered, they Shakspeare's Plays,' assigns the date of this thought, “in heat of blood ;"—theirs was a comedy to 1598, upon the authority of the love which only bore "gaudy blossoms." passage in Meres. He says, “No other of What would naturally be the counterpart of our author's plays could have borne that such a story? One of passionate, enduring, title ('Love's Labour Won') with so much all-pervading love-of a love that shrinks propriety as that before us; yet it must be from no difficulty, resents no unkindness, acknowledged that the present title is in- fears no disgrace, but perseveres, under the serted in the body of the play :
most adverse circumstances, to vindicate its
own claims by its own energy, and to achieve All's well that ends well : still the fine 's the
success by the strength of its own will. crown.'
This is the Labour of Love which is Won. This line, however, might certainly have Is not this the story of ‘All's Well that suggested the alteration of what has been Ends Well ?' thought the first title, and affords no deci- When Helena, in the first scene, so beausive proof that this piece was originally tifully describes the hopelessness of her called “All's Well that Ends Well.'” When love Coleridge describes this play as “originally
" It were all one intended as the counterpart of 'Love's La- That I should love a bright particular star, bour's Lost,'”—when Mrs. Jameson, with
And think to wed it, he is so above me"reference to the nature of the plot and the suitableness of the title found in Meres, could she propose to come within “his states, complainingly, “Why the title was sphere” without some extraordinary effort ? altered, or by whom, I cannot discover,”- “ Hic labor, hoc opus est.” She does resolve and when Tieck says, “The poet probably to make the effort; it is within the bounds first called this play 'Love's Labour Won," of possibility that her labour may be suc-we may add the opinions of these eminent cessful, and therefore her “ intents are writers on Shakspere to the original opinion fix'd :"of Malone, in opposition to the opinion of
"The mightiest space in fortune nature brings Mr. Hunter, that “the leading features of
To join like likes, and kiss like native things. the story in ‘All's Well' cannot be said to
Impossible be strange attempts to those be aptly rep ated by the title in Meres'
That weigh their pains in
and do suplist.”
pose Coleridge described this play as the coun- What hath been cannot be.” terpart of 'Love's Labour's Lost.' Shakspere's titles, in the judgment of our philosophical | Inferior natures, that estimate their labours critic, always exhibit “great significancy.” | by a common standard—“that weigh their The Labour of Love which is Lost is not a
pains in sense”—that are not supported in very earnest labour. The King and his
their labours by a spirit which rejects all courtiers are fantastical lovers. They would
fear and embraces all hope,-confound the win their mistresses by “ bootless rhymes" difficult with the impossible : they know and “speeches penn'd," and their most sin
that courage has triumphed over difficulty, cere declarations are thus oply received as
but they still think “what hath been cannot “mocking merriment.” The concluding
be" again. Helena is not of their mind :speeches of the ladies to their lovers show
"My project may deceive me, clearly that Shakspere meant to mark the But my intents are fix'd, and will not leave cause why their labour was lost-it was
This is the purpose avowed from the com- The reward, however, which she seeks is mencement of the dramatic action ; which avowed without hesitation. Her will was marks every stage of its progress ; which is too strong to admit of that timidity which essentially 'Love's Labour,' whether it be might have clung to a feebler mind :won or be lost. How beautifully does Shak
“ Then shalt thou give me, with thy kingly spere relieve us from the feeling that it is unsexual for the labour to be undertaken by
hand, Helena, through the compassion which she
What husband in thy power I will command.” inspires in the good old Countess :
Up to this point all has been “labour”“ It is the show and seal of nature's truth, the conception of a high and dangerous purWhere love's strong passion is impress’d in pose—the carrying it through without shrinkyouth."
ing. When the cure is effected, and she has
to avow her choice, comes a still greater How delicately, too, does he make Helena hold to her determination, even whilst she
labour. The struggle within herself is most
intense :confesses to the Countess the secret of her ambitious love :
“Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly;" “My friends were poor but honest; so 's my andlove:
“ The blushes in my cheeks thus whisper me,Be not offended; for it hurts not him
• We blush, that thou shouldst choose,'"That he is loved of me: I follow him not Be any token of presumptuous suit ;
these expressions sufficiently give the key to Nor would I have him, till I do deserve him."
what passes within her. Her feelings amount Again :
almost to agony when Bertram refuses her, “There 's something hints, and for a moment she abandons her fix'd More than my father's skill, which was the intent : greatest
“That you are well restor'd, my lord, I 'm glad; Of his profession, that his good receipt
Let the rest go."
“But shall she weakly relinquish the golden
opportunity, and dash the cup from her lips not for the cure of the King only, but for at the moment it is presented ? Shall she the winning of her labour. To obtain the cast away the treasure for which she has full advantage of her legacy no common
ventured both life and honour, when it is qualities were required in Helena. “Wis- just within her grasp ? Shall she, after comdom and constancy” are her characteristics
, promising her feminine delicacy by the pubas Lafeu truly describes. The “constancy
lic disclosure of her preference, be thrust with which she enforces her power upon the back into shame, 'to blush out the remainmind of the incredulous King is prominently der of her life,' and die a poor, lost, scorned exhibited by the poet. Her modesty never
thing? This would be very pretty and inovercomes the ruling purpose of her soul. teresting and characteristic in Viola or She indeed says,
Ophelia, but not at all consistent with that “I will no more enforce mine office on you;" high determined spirit, that moral energy,
with which Helena is portrayed."* Helena but she immediately after presses her“ fix'd suffers Bertram to be forced upon
her-and intents :"
this is the greatest “labour" of all. “What I can do can do no hurt to try."
After the marriage and the desertion She succeeds :
“Love's labour” is still most untiringly
tasked. Love next assumes the sweet and “Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak.”
* Mrs. Jameson's. Characteristics,' vol. i. p. 212.
smiling aspect of duty. “What's his will
“ The time will bring on summer, else ?”_" what more commands he ?”— When briars shall have leaves as well as
thorns, "In everything I wait upon his will"
And be as sweet as sharp." are all the replies she makes to the harsh She repines at no exertion—she shrinks from commands of her lord, conveyed by a frivo
no fatigue :lous messenger.
In her parting interview with Bertram, in which his coldness and dis
“But this exceeding posting, day and night,
Must wear your spirits low,” like are scarcely attempted to be concealed, the same spirit alone exists.
She has a has no reference to herself. When she finds harder trial still. Her lord avows his final | the King has left Marseilles she has no reabandonment of her, except upon apparently grets :impossible conditions.
She has only one “ All 's well that ends well, yet; complaint,
Though time seem so adverse, and means “This is a dreadful sentence;"
unfit." but her intense love has destroyed in her all Her final triumph at last arrives ; but it is the feeling of self through which she was a happiness that cannot be spoken of. Her enabled to accomplish the triumph of her feelings find vent inown will :
“O my dear mother, do I see you living !" “Poor lord ! is 't I
She can now, indeed, call the Countess That chase thee from thy country, and expose mother. In the early scenes she dared only Those tender limbs of thine to the event
to name her as “mine honourable mistress." Of the none-sparing war?”
By her energy and perseverance she has When she says “I will be gone,” she pro- conquered. Is this, or is it not, Love's Labably had no purpose of seeking Bertram, bour Won ? and of endeavouring to reverse his “ dreadful Malone, as we have already expressed our sentence" by her own management. But belief, has applied the true test to the appli"love's labours" were not yet ended. Her cation of Meres' title of Love's Labour Won: mind was not framed to shrink from diffi- “ No other of our author's plays could have culty; and we soon meet her at Florence. borne that title with so much propriety as The plot after this is such a one as Shak- that before us." The application, be it unspere could only have found in the legendary derstood, is limited to the comedies. history of an unrefined age, preserved from title cannot be applied to 'The Two Gentleoblivion by one who was imbued with the men of Verona,' The Comedy of Errors,' kindred genius of unveiling the brightness * Love's Labour 's Lost,' 'A Midsummer of the poetical, even when it was concealed Night's Dream,' 'The Merchant of Venice,' from ordinary vision by the clouds of a for those are also mentioned in Meres' list prosaic, atmosphere. Mrs. Jameson has truly as existing in 1598. Can it have reference observed, “ All the circumstances and details to "The Merry Wives of Windsor,' than with which Helena is surrounded are shock- which no title can be more definite ;-to ing to our feelings, and wounding to our "The Taming of the Shrew,' equally defined; delicacy; and yet the beauty of the charac- to "Twelfth Night'or ‘Measure for Measure,' ter is made to triumph over all.” The beauty or 'Much Ado about Nothing,' or 'As You of the character is in its intensity. By that Like It,' or 'The Winter's Tale ?'—We think is Helena enabled to pass through all the not;—we are sure that none of our readers slough of her last “labours” without con- who are familiar with the plots of these plays tamination ; her purpose sanctifies her acts. can believe that either of them was so named. From the first scene to the last her life is We, of course, here put the question of one continued struggle. But the hopeful chronology out of view. Mr. Hunter, to quality of her soul never forsakes her :- support his opinion that “The Tempest' was
written in 1596, boldly maintains the fol
“ It goes on,
see, lowing opinion :-“But if not to the ‘All's As my soul prompts it. Spirit, fine spirit, Well,' to what play of Shakspere was this I 'll free thee title once attached? I answer, that of the Within two days for this." existing plays there is only "The Tempest' | Again :to which it can be supposed to belong: and,
“ At the first sight so long as it suits so well with what is a They have changed eyes : Delicate Ariel, main incident of this piece, we shall not be I 'll set thee free for this." driven to the gratuitous and improbable sup- Yet he adds,– position that a play once so called is lost.”
“ They are both in either's powers: But this The “main incident” relied upon by Mr.
swift business Hunter for the support of this theory is the
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning following speech of Ferdinand, in the third
Make the prize light.” act ofThe Tempest:'
Would Shakspere have chosen this incident There be some sports are painful, and their
—not a “main incident,” for we all along labour
know Prospero's real intentions—as that Delight in them sets off; some kinds of base
which would furnish a title to his play?
The pain which Ferdinand endures is very Are nobly undergone; and most poor matters Point to rich ends. This my mean task
transient; and Prospero, when he removes Would be as heavy to me as odious, but
the infliction, says, --The mistress which I serve quickens what 's
"All thy vexations dead,
Were but my trials of thy love, and thou And makes my labours pleasures : Oh, she is Hast strangely stood the test.” Ten times more gentle than her father 's crabbed;
We know that the Love Labours of Ferdinand And he's composed of harshness. I must are not severe trials, and that at their worst
they were refreshed with “sweet thoughts.” Some thousands of these logs, and pile them up, Can they be compared with the Love's Labour Upon a sore injunction: My sweet mistress of Helena? Weeps when she sees me work; and says, such Mr. Hunter rejects the claim of 'All's Wel! baseness
that Ends Well' to be named Love's Labour Had never like executor. I forget:
Won, most decisively, but upon one ground But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my only: “If ever there was a play,” he says, labours."
“which itself bespoke its own title from the “ Here then," says Mr. Hunter,
are the beginning, it is this: Love Labours. In the end they won the
• We must away; lady.” We venture to say that our belief Our waggon is prepared, and time revives us : in the significancy of Shakspere's titles
All's Well that Ends Well : still the fine 's the would be at an end if even a main in
Whate'er the course, the end is the renown.' was to suggest a name, instead of the general course of the thought or action. Again : In this case there are really no Love Labours 'AU's well that Ends Well, yet; at all. The lady is not won by the piling Though time seem so adverse, and means of the logs; the audience know that both unfit.' Ferdinand and Miranda are under the in
And, as if this were not sufficient, in the fluence of Prospero's spells, and the magician
epilogue : has explained to them why he enforces these harsh “labours.” In the first act, when
"The king 's a beggar, now the play is done : Ferdinand and Miranda are thrown together.
AU is well ended, if this suit is won.'” Prospero says,
We venture to think that the use of the
word won in the last line might have sug- | places it, for the most part, in the class of gested to Mr. Hunter the possibility of the his earlier plays. Where, except in the class play having a double title—the one derived of the earlier plays, shall we find one in which from the one great incident of the piece,- the rhyming couplet so constantly occurs ? the other from the application of its dra- But then, again, we occasionally encounter matic action. Mr. Hunter, however, rejects all the music and force of thought of his the claim of 'All's Well that Ends Well' most perfect blank-verse. Tieck is of opinion to the title of Meres, upon the assumption that the play, as we have it, contains an that it could only have had a single title ; engrafting of the poet's later style upon his whilst he seeks to establish the claim of earlier labours.
Rich subjectThe Tempest' to the title of Meres, upon matter, variety of situation, marvellous dethe assumption that it had a double title: velopment, and striking catastrophe allured “I suspect that the play originally had a the young poet, who probably, later in life, double title, 'The Tempest, or Love's Labour would not have chosen a subject so unsuited Won;' just as another of the plays had a to dramatic treatment. Some passages, not double title, “Twelfth Night, or What You merely difficult, but almost impossible to be Will.?” This reasoning is, to say the least understood, remain out of the first attempt; of it, illogical. If the argument is good for and here the poet combats with language "The Tempest,' it is good for 'All’s Well and thought the verse is artificial, the exthat Ends Well.'
pressions forced. Much of what I consider Whether or no 'The Tempest,' looking at later alterations reminds us of the Sonnets, the internal evidence of its date, could have and of · Venus and Adonis.' been included in Meres' list, there can be particularly in the last acts, is so pure and no doubt that 'All's Well that Ends Well' clear,—the scenes with Parolles are so exhas many evidences of having been an early cellently written,—that in all that concerns composition- unquestionably so in parts. the language we must reckon them amongst When Malone changed his theory with re- Shakspere's best efforts. The first act is the gard to the date, and assigned it to 1606, in most obscure; and here are probably the the posthumous edition of his “Chronological most extensive remains of the older work. Order,' he relied principally upon the tone of The last half of the delineation of Parolles a particular passage: “The beautiful speech must belong to Shakspere's later period.” of the sick King in this play has much Malone assigns his second conjectural date the air of that moral and judicious reflec- of this play to 1606 upon other ground than tion that accompanies an advanced period of that of Shakspere’s manner: “Another cirlife, and bears no resemblance to Shakspere's cumstance which induces me to believe that manner in his earlier plays.” The mind of this is a later play than I had formerly Shakspere was so essentially dramatic, that supposed is the satirical mention made of when he puts serious and moral words into the puritans, who were the objects of King the mouth of a sick King, who is growing James's aversion.” Surely the poet might old, we should be no more disposed to believe allude to the famous contention about wearthat the sentiment has reference to the indi- ing the surplice, without being led to it by vidual feelings of the poet than we should the aversions of King James. The contest had believe that all the exuberant gaiety of some been going on for many years, and Hooker, of his comic characters could only have been in his fifth book of • Ecclesiastical Polity,' produced by the reflection of his own spirit published in 1597, refutes the puritanical of youth. “Shakspere's manner in his earlier opinions upon this matter at great length. plays” has, however, much more to assist us Upon the subject of the surplice he disin approximating to a date. The manner tinctly says that the hostility of the puri-by which we mean the metrical arrange- tans was much modified when he wrote. ment and the peculiarities of construction - The controversy had raged with the greatest in · All's Well that Ends Well' certainly | violence at the period when Shakspere, ac