« 上一頁繼續 »
cording to our belief, was most likely to But we are called upon for no such judgment have produced 'All’s Well that Ends Well, when the poet presents to us a character of -perhaps not as it has been handed down contradictory qualities. All that we have to us, but in an imperfect form. That period then to ask is, whether the character is nawas probably not very widely separated from tural, and consistent with the circumstances the period when 'Love's Labour's Lost' was amidst which he moves? We have no desire produced; to which, as we do not hesitate to reconcile our hearts to Bertram; all that to think, with Coleridge, this play was the we demand is, that he should not move our counterpart.
indignation beyond the point in which his Having thus traced the principal drama- qualities shall consist with our sympathy for tic action of · All's Well that Ends Well’ in Helena in her love for him. And in this the endeavour to show that it is identical view the poet, as it appears to us, has drawn with 'Love's Labour Won,' we may con- Bertram's character most skilfully. Withclude this notice with a brief sketch of its out his defects the dramatic action could not characters.
have proceeded; without his merits the draOf Helena we have necessarily spoken at matic sentiment could not have been mainlength. Mrs. Jameson quotes a passage from tained. Shakspere, from the first, makes us Foster's ‘Essays' to explain the general idea understand that the pride of birth in Bertram of her character: “To be tremblingly alive constrained him to regard Helena as greatly to gentle impressions, and yet be able to his inferior. His parting with her is decisive: preserve, when the prosecution of a design “The best wishes that can be forged in your requires it, an immoveable heart amidst even thoughts be servants to you.” This is the the most imperious causes of subduing emo- kindness of one who had known her long, tion, is perhaps not an impossible constitu- and pitied her dependent state. But he tion of mind, but it is the utmost and rarest leaves no doubt as to the sense which he endowment of humanity.” This “constitu- entertains of her condition: “Be comfortable tion of mind” has been created by Shakspere to my mother, your mistress, and make much in his Helena, and who can doubt the truth of her.” When the King proposes Helena and nature of the conception ?
to him as his wife, he assigns but one reason Bertram, like all mixed characters, whe- for his rejection of her—but that is all in ther in the drama or in real life, is a great all:puzzle to those who look without tolerance
“I know her well; on human motives and actions. In a one- She had her breeding at my father's charge: sided view he has no redeeming qualities. A poor physician's daughter my wife !” Johnson says, “I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram ; a man noble without gene
If Bertram had seen Helena with the eyes rosity, and young without truth; who mar- of his mother, as ries Helena as a coward, and leaves her as
“A maid too virtuous a profligate : when she is dead by his unkind- For the contempt of empire,”— ness sneaks home to a second marriage: is accused by a woman whom he has wronged, he would not have rejected her, and the co
or with those of the King and of Lafeudefends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.” If the Bertram of the comedy medy would have been only a common love
tale. Johnson says he marries Helena " were a real personage of flesh and blood, with whom the business of life associated us, and
a coward." This is unjust. Johnson over
looked the irresistible constraint to which of whom the exercise of prudence demanded that we should form an accurate estimate, his will was subjected, and the scorn with we should say
which he spoke out his real purposes even at “ Too bad for a blessing, too good for a curse,
the moment of submission :I wish from my soul thou wert better or “Pardon, my gracious lord ; for I submit worse."
My fancy to your eyes : When I consider
What great creation, and what dole of honour, | tainly not a hypocrite: and, when he returns Flies where you bid it, I find, that she, which to Rousillon, we are bound to believe him late
when he speaks of Helena as Was in my nobler thoughts most base, is now
“She, whom all men praised, and whom myThe praised of the king; who, so ennobled,
self Is, as 't were, born so."
Since I have lost have loved." Nothing can be less like cowardice than this For ourselves, we can see no poetical injustice speech. It is the bitterest irony of a de- that he is "dismissed to happiness;" for, sperate will, bowed for a time, but not sub- unless he has become a “sadder and a wiser dued. Nor does Bertram leave Helena as
man,” he will not be happy. "a profligate.” We, who know the intensity “In this piece,” says Schlegel," age is exof her love, which he could not know, may bibited to singular advantage: the plain think that he was unwise to fly from his own honesty of the King, the good-natured imhappiness; but he believed that he fled from petuosity of old Lafeu, the maternal indulconstraint and misery; from
gence of the Countess to Helena's love of her “The dark house, and the detested wife." son, seem all, as it were, to vie with each
in endeavours to conquer the arrogance of The Bertram of the Florentine wars has some
Count.” The general benevolence thing to recommend him besides his ancestry: of these characters, and their particular kind“he has done worthy service.” But the
ness towards Helena, are the counterpoises young, proud, courageous Bertram is also a
to Bertram's pride of birth, and his disdain libertine. Schlegel asks,“ Did Shakspere of virtue unaccompanied by adventitious disever attempt to mitigate the impression of tinctions. The love of the Countess towards his unfeeling pride and giddy dissipation ? Helena is habit,—that of the King is gratiHe intended merely to give us a military tude: in Lafeu the admiration which he perportrait.” This is quite true. The liber- severingly holds towards her is the result of tines of the later comedy are the only gene- his honest sagacity. He admires what is dirous, spirited, intellectual persons of the rect and unpretending, and he therefore loves drama; the virtuous characters are as dull Helena: be bates what is evasive and boastas they are discreet. Shakspere goes out of ful, and he therefore despises Parolles.
« the mark emphatically the impression which little appendix of the great Falstaff.” SchleBertram's actions produce upon his own associates. In the third scene of the fourth gel says, “Falstaff has thrown Parolles into
the shade." Johnson goes farther, and deact they comment with indignation upon his
clares, “ Parolles has many of the lineaments desertion of Helena, and his practices to
of Falstaff.” In our view this opinion of wards Diana : “As we are ourselves what Johnson exhibits a singular want of disthings are we!” But then all the Shak-crimination in one who relished Falstaff so sperean tolerance is put forth to make us highly. Parolles is literally what he is de understand that Bertram is not isolated in scribed by Helena :his vices, and that even his vices, as those of
“I know him a notorious liar, all other men, are not alone to be regarded
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward." in our estimates of character: “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill For the “fool," take the scene in the second together: our virtues would be proud if our act, in which he pieces out the remarks of faults whipped them not; and our crimes Lafeu upon the King's recovery with the would despair if they were not cherished by most impertinent commonplaces — ending our virtues.” This is philosophy, and, what | “Nay, 't is strange, 't is very strange, that is is more, it is religion-for it is charity. In the brief and the tedious of it.” It was in this spirit the poet undoubtedly intended this dialogue that Lafeu “smoked him;" that we should judge Bertram. He is cer- and he makes no secret, afterwards, of his
opinion: “I did think thee, for two ordina- | Essays. But Parolles certainly knows himries, to be a pretty wise fellow; thou didst self. There is nothing but plain knavery, make tolerable vent of thy travel ; it might mistaking its proper tools, in his lies and his pass : yet the scarfs and the bannerets about treacheries. The meanness of his nature is thee did manifoldly dissuade me from believ- his safeguard : after his detection the coning thee a vessel of too great a burthen. Isolations of his philosophy are most chahave now found thee.” To the insults of racteristic :Lafeu the boaster has nothing to oppose,
“ Yet am I thankful : if my heart were great, neither wit nor courage. His very impu
'T would burst at this : Captain I 'll be no dence is overborne. We thoroughly agree more; with Lafeu, that "there can be no kernel in
But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft this light nut.” All this is but a prepara As captain shall; simply the thing I am tion for the comic scenes in which he is to Shall make me live. Who knows himself a play so conspicuous a part-in which his braggart folly, his falsehood, and his cowardice con Let him fear this; for it will come to pass, spire to make him odious and ridiculous. That every braggart shall be found an ass. Before this exhibition he is denounced to Rust, sword ! cool, blushes ! and, Parolles, Bertram, by his companions in warfare, as
live “a hilding”—“a bubble "__"a most notable Safest in shame! being fool'd by foolery
thrive! coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good
There's place and means for every man alive." quality.” The disclosure which he makes of And he will « live.” Lafeu understands him his own folly before he is-seized, when the
to the last, when he says, “ Though you are lords overhear him, is perfectly true to na
a fool and a knave, you shall eat.” ture, and therefore in the highest degree
And is this crawling, empty, vapouring, true comedy :
cowardly representative of the off-scourings “ Par. Ten o'clock: within these three hours of social life, to be compared for a moment 't will be time enough to go home. What shall with the inimitable Falstaff ?—to be said to I say I have done? It must be a very plausive have “many lineaments in common" with invention that carries it: They begin to smoke him—to be thrown into the shade by himme: and disgraces have of late knocked too to be even "a little appendix” to his greatoften at my door. I find my tongue is too fool
Parolles is drawn by Shakspere as hardy; but my heart hath the fear of Mars be- utterly contemptible, in intellect, in spirit, fore it, and of his creatures, not daring the in morals. He is diverting from the situareports of my tongue.
tions into which his folly betrays him; and 1 Lord. This is the first truth that e'er thine his complete exposure and humiliation conown tongue was guilty of.
[A side. stitute the richness of the comedy. If he Par. What the devil should move me to
had been a particle better, Shakspere would undertake the recovery of this drum; being not
have made his disgrace less; and it is in his ignorant of the impossibility, and knowing I had no such purpose? I must give myself some
charity even to the most degraded that he hurts, and say I got them in exploit: Yet slight has represented him as utterly insensible to
his ones will not carry it: They will say, Came you
own shame, and even hugging it as a off with so little? and great ones I dare not give. good :Wherefore? what's the instance? Tongue, I must
“If my heart were great, put you into a butter-woman's mouth, and buy 'T would burst at this." myself another of Bajazet's mule, if you prattle But Falstaff, witty beyond all other characme into these perils.
1 Lord. Is it possible he should know what he ters of wit-cautious, even to the point of is, and be that he is?
Aside.” being thought cowardly-swaying all men
by his intellectual resources under the greatThe last sentence is worth a folio of 'Moral | est difficulty-boastful and lying only in a
spirit of hilarity, which makes him the first | The character belongs to the school of which to enjoy his own detection and withal, Molière is the head, rather than to the school though grossly selfish, so thoroughly genial of Shakspere. that many love him and few can refuse to And what shall we say of the clown? He laugh with him—is Falstaff to be compared is “the artificial fool ;' and we do not like with Parolles, the notorious liar-great way him, therefore, quite so much as dear Launce fool-solely a coward ? The comparison will and dearer Touchstone. To the Fool in not bear examining with patience, and much 'Lear' he can no more be compared than less with painstaking.
Parolles to Falstaff. But he is, nevertheless, But Parolles in his own way is infinitely great—something that no other artist but comic. “The scene of the drum,” according Shakspere could have produced. Our poet to a French critic, “is worthy of Molière." has used him as a vehicle for some biting This is the highest praise which a French satire. There can be no doubt that he is writer could bestow; and here it is just. “a witty fool," "a shrewd knave, and an * Letourneur, 'Traduction,' tome ix. p. 329.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
"THE TAMING OF THE SHREW' was first altogether as one of Shakspere's performprinted in the folio collection of Shakspere's ances :"I am satisfied,” he says, “ that Plays in 1623. It is not one of those plays more than one hand (perhaps at distant enumerated as Shakspere's by Meres, in dates) was concerned in it, and that Shake1598.
speare had little to do with any of the scenes The matured opinion of Malone as to the in which Katharine and Petruchio are not date of this play is thus given :-“I had engaged.” Farmer had previously expressed supposed the piece now under consideration the same opinion, declaring the Induction to to have been written in the year 1606. On a be in our poet's best manner, and a great more attentive perusal of it, and more expe- part of the play in his worst, or even below rience in our author's style and manner, I am it. To this Steevens replies—“I know not persuaded that it was one of his very early to whom I could impute this comedy, if productions, and near, in point of time, to Shakspeare was not its author. I think his * The Comedy of Errors,' 'Love's Labour's hand is visible in almost every scene, though Lost,' and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.' perhaps not so evidently as in those which In the old comedies, antecedent to the time pass between Katharine and Petruchio." of our author's writing for the stage (if, in- Mr. Collier judges that “the underplot much deed, they deserve that name), a kind of resembles the dramatic style of William doggrel measure is often found, which, as I Haughton, author of an extant comedy, have already observed, Shakspeare adopted called "Englishmen for my Money,' which in some of those pieces which were undoubt was produced prior to 1598.” edly among his early compositions : I mean But there is another play, 'The Taming of his “Errors' and 'Love's Labour's Lost.' a Shrew,' which first appeared in 1594, under This kind of metre, being found also in the the following title :— A pleasant conceited play before us, adds support to the supposi- Historie called the taming of a Shrew. As tion that it was one of his early produc- it was sundry times acted by the Right tions.” Mr. Collier, however, doubts whether honourable the Earle of Pembrooke his ser"The Taming of the Shrew' can be treated | vants. Printed at London by Peter Short,
and are to be sold by Cuthbert Burbie, at | younger sisters do not woo them in assumed his shop at the Royal Exchange, 1594.' The characters; though a merchant is brought comedy opens with an Induction, the cha- to personate the Duke of Cestus. The real racters of which are a Lord, Slie, a Tapster, duke arrives, as Vincentio arrives in our Page, Players, and Huntsmen. The incidents play, to discover the imposture ; and his inare precisely the same as those of the play dignation occupies much of the latter part which we call Shakspere's. There is this of the action, with sufficient tediousness. All difference in the management of the cha- parties are ultimately happy and pleased ; racter of Sly in the anonymous comedy, that, and the comedy ends with the wager, as in during the whole of the performance of “The Shakspere, about the obedience of the several Taming of a Shrew,' he occasionally makes wives, the Shrew pronouncing a homily upon his remarks; and is finally carried back to the virtue and beauty of submission, which the alehouse door in a state of sleep. In sounds much more hypocritical even than Shakspere we lose this most diverting per- that of the Kate of our poet. There cannot sonage before the end of the first act. After be a doubt that the anonymous author and our poet had fairly launched him in the In- Shakspere sometimes used the same images duction, and given a tone to his subsequent and forms of expression-occasionally sevedemeanour during the play, the performer of ral whole lines : the incidents of those scenes the character was perhaps allowed to con in which the process of taming the shrew is tinue the dialogue extemporally. We doubt, carried forward are invariably the same. by the way, whether this would have been The spectators of each play had the same permitted after Shakspere had prescribed plots to delight them. They would equally that the Clowns should “speak no more than enjoy the surprise and self-satisfaction of the what is set down for them.”
drunken man when he became a lord; equally The scene of “The Taming of a Shrew' is relish the rough wooing of the master of laid at Athens ; that of Shakspere's at Padua. “the taming school ;" rejoice at the dignity The Athens of the one and the Padua of the of the more worthy gender when the poor other are resorts of learning; the former woman was denied “ beef and mustard ;" and opening thus :
hold their sides with convulsive laughter
when the tailor was driven off with his gown, “Welcome to Athens, my beloved friend,
and the haberdasher with his cap. This unTo Plato's school, and Aristotle's walks.”
doubted resemblance involves some necessity Alfonso, a merchant of Athens (the Baptista for conjecture, with very little guide from of Shakspere), has three daughters, Kate, evidence. The first and most obvious hypoEmilia, and Phylema. Aurelius, son of the thesis is, that 'The Taming of a Shrew' was duke of Cestus (Sestos), is enamoured of one, an older play than Shakspere's ; and that he Polidor of another, and Ferando (the Petru- borrowed from that comedy. The question cio of Shakspere) of Kate, the Shrew. The then arises, who was its author ? merchant hath sworn, before he will allow The dramatic works of Greene, which have his two younger daughters to be addressed been collected as his, are only six in number ; by suitors, that
and one was written in connexion with "His eldest daughter first shall be espoused.”
Lodge. The ‘Orlando Furioso' is known to
have been his, by having been mentioned by The wooing of Kate by Ferando is exactly in a contemporary writer. This play, in its the same spirit as the wooing by Petrucio ; form of publication, appears to us to bear a so is the marriage ; so the lenten entertain- striking resemblance to 'The Taming of a ment of the bride in Ferando's country- Shrew. The title of the first edition is as house ; so the scene with the Tailor and follows: "The Historie of Orlando Furioso, Haberdasher; so the prostrate obedience of one of the twelve Pieres of France. As it the tamed Shrew. The underplot, however, was plaid before the Queenes Maiestie. Lonis essentially different. The lovers of the don, Printed by John Danter for Cuthbert