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mother. But she is surrounded with a The immediate danger is passed; but there third evil,
is a new danger approaching. The will of “A father cruel, and a step-dame false, her unhappy husband, deceived into madness, A foolish suitor to a wedded lady."
is to be added to the evils which she has Worse, however, even than these, her honour already received from violence and selfishis to be assailed, her character vilified, by a
ness. Posthumus, intending to destroy her, subtle stranger ; who, perhaps more in sport writes, “ Take notice that I am in Cambria, than in malice, has resolved to win a paltry at Milford-Haven ; what your own love will wager by the sacrifice of her happiness and out of this advise you, follow.” She does that of her husband. What has she to follow her own love ;--she has no other oppose to all this complication of violence guide but the strength of her affections ; and cunning? Her perfect purity — her that strength makes her hardy and fearless entire simplicity-her freedom from every
of consequences. It is the one duty, as well thing that is selfish-the strength only of
as the one pleasure, of her existence. How her affections. The scene between Iachimo is that affection requited ? Pisanio places in and Imogen is a contest of innocence with her hand, when they have reached the deepest guile, most profoundly affecting, in spite of solitude of the mountains, that letter by the few coarsenesses that were perhaps un
which he is commanded to take away her avoidable, and which were not considered life. One passing thought of herself-one offensive in Shakspere's day. The supreme faint reproach of her husband, -and she beauty of Imogen's character soars triumph- submits to the fate which is prepared for antly out of the impure mist which is around
her :her; and not the least part of that beauty is
Come, fellow, be thou honest: her ready forgiveness of her assailant, briefly Do thou thy master's bidding: When thou and flutteringly expressed, however, when he see'st him, relies upon the possibility of deceiving her
A little witness my obedience: Look! through her affections :
I draw the sword myself: take it; and hit
The innocent mansion of my love, my heart." "O happy Leonatus! I may say: The credit that thy lady hath of thee
But her truth and innocence have already Deserves thy trust; and thy most perfect subdued the will of the sworn servant of her goodness
husband. He comforts her, but he necesHer assured credit !"
sarily leaves her in the wilderness. The This is the First Act ; and, if we mistake spells of evil wills are still around her :not the object of Shakspere, these opening
"My noble mistress, scenes exhibit one of the most confiding and Here is a box : I had it from the queen." gentle of human beings, assailed on every side by a determination of purpose, whether
Perhaps there is nothing in Shakspere more in the shape of violence, wickedness, or folly, beautifully managed, more touching in its against which, under ordinary circumstances, romance,-more essentially true to nature,innocence may be supposed to be an insuf-than the scene between Imogen and her ficient shield. But the very helplessness of unknown brothers. The gentleness, the grace, Imogen is her protection. In the exquisite the “gr 3f and patience,” of the helpless Second Scene of the Second Act, the perfect Fidele, pa ducing at once the deepest revepurity of Imogen, as interpreted by Shak- rence and affection in the bold and daring spere, has converted what would have been mountaineers, still carry forward the chaa most dangerous situation in the hands of racter of Imogen under the same aspects. another poet-Fletcher, for example-into Belarius has beautifully described the broone of the most refined delicacy :“ 'T is her breathing that
“ They are as gentle Perfumes the chamber thus."
As zephyrs, blowing below the violet,
Not wagging his sweet head: and yet, as another victim of worldly craft and selfish
rough, Their royal blood enchafed, as the rud'st wind,
Gods! if you That by the top doth take the mountain pine, Should have ta'en vengeance on my faults, I And make him stoop to the vale."
Had lived to put on this; so had you saved It was in their gentleness that Imogen found
The noble Imogen to repent; and struck a support for her gentleness ;—it was in their
Me, wretch, more worth your vengeance." roughness that the roughness of Cloten met its punishment. Imogen is still saved from In the prison scene his spirit is again united
with hers : the dangers with which craft and violence
“ O Imogen, have surrounded her. When she swallows
I'll speak to thee in silence. the supposed medicine of the queen, we know beforehand that the evil intentions of her The contest we now feel is over between the step-mother have been counteracted by the selfish and the unselfish, the crafty and the benevolent intentions of the physician
simple, the proud and the meek, the violent
and the gentle. “I do know her spirit,
It is scarcely within our purpose to follow And will not trust one of her malice with
the unravelling of the incidents in the conA drug of such damn'd nature."
cluding scene. Steevens has worthily en“ The bird is dead ;” she was sick, and we deavoured to make amends for the injustice almost fear that tủe words of the dirge are of the criticism which 'Cymbeline' has retrue :
ceived from his associate commentator :
“Let those who talk so confidently about “ Fear no more the frown o' the great,
the skill Thou art pass'd the tyrant's stroke,
of Shakspeare's contemporary,
Jonson, point out the conclusion of any one But she awakes, and she has still to endure of his plays which is wrought with more the last and the worst evil—her husband, in artifice, and yet a less degree of dramatic her apprehension, lies dead before her. She
violence, than this. In the scene before us, has no wrongs to think of—“O my lord, my all the surviving characters are assembled ; lord,” is all, in connexion with Posthumus, and at the expense of whatever incongruity that escapes amidst her tears. The beauty
the former events may have been produced, and innocence which saved her from Iachimo, perhaps little can be discovered on this —which conquered Pisanio,—which won the occasion to offend the most scrupulous adwild hunters,—commend her to the Roman
vocate for regularity: and, I think, as little general—she is at once protected. But she is found wanting to satisfy the spectator by has holy duties still to perform :
a catastrophe which is intricate without "I'll follow, sir. But, first, an 't please the confusion, and not more rich in ornament gods,
than in nature.” I'll hide my master from the flies, as deep The conclusion of 'Cymbeline' has been As these poor pickaxes can dig: and when lauded because it is consistent with poetical With wild wood-leaves and weeds I have justice. Those who adopt this species of strewd his grave,
reasoning look very imperfectly upon the And on it said a century of prayers,
course of real events in the moral world. It Such as I can, twice o'er, I'll weep and sigh;
is permitted, for inscrutable purposes, that And, leaving so his service, follow you,
the innocent should sometimes fall before So please you entertain me."
the wicked, and the noble be subjected to It is the unconquerable affection of Imogen the base. In the same way, it is sometimes which makes us pity Posthumus even while in the course of events that the pure and the we blame him for the rash exercise of his gentle should triumph over deceit and outrevengeful will. But in his deep repentance rage. The perishing of Desdemona is as true
more than pity him. We see only as the safety of Imogen ; and the poetical
truth involves as high a moral in the one
as in the other. That Shakspere's notion of poetical justice was not the hackneyed notion of an intolerant age, reflected even by a Boccaccio, is shown by the difference in the lot of the offender in the Italian tale and the lot of lachimo. The Ambrogiolo of the novelist, who slanders a virtuous lady for the gain of a wager, is fastened to a stake, smeared with honey, and left to be devoured by flies and locusts. The close of our dramatist's story is perfect Shakspere :
“ Post. Speak, Iachimo; I had you down,
Which I so often owe: but, your ring first;
Kneel not to me;
This comedy stands the first in the folio Shakspere himself is Prospero, or rather the collection of 1623, in which edition it was superior genius who commands both Prospero originally printed. In the entry upon the and Ariel. But the time was approaching Stationers' registers of November the Sth, when the potent sorcerer was to break his 1623, claiming for the booksellers Blount staff, and to bury it fathoms in the ocean, and Jaggard such plays of Shakspere
'Deeper than did ever plummet sound.' were not formerly entered to other men,” it also is the first in order. The original text That staff has never been, and never will be, is printed with singular correctness.
recovered." But this feeling, pretty and A very general belief has always prevailed fanciful as it is, is certainly somewhat that "The Tempest’ was the last of Shakspere’s deceptive. It is not borne out by the internal works. We are inclined to think that this evidence of the play itself. Shakspere never belief was rather a matter of feeling than of could have contemplated, in health and judgment. Mr. Campbell has put the feeling intellectual vigour, any abandonment of that very elegantly :-“The Tempest' has a sort occupation which constituted his happiness of sacredness as the last work of a mighty and glory. We have no doubt that he wrote workman. Shakspere, as if conscious that on till the hour of his last illness. His later it would be his last, and as if inspired to plays are unquestionably those in which the typify himself, has made his hero a natural, mighty intellect is more tasked than the a dignified, and benevolent magician, who unbounded fancy. His later plays, as we could conjure up spirits from the vasty deep, believe, present the philosophical and hisand command supernatural agency by the. torical aspect of human affairs rather than most seemingly natural and simple means. the passionate and the imaginative. The And this final play of our poet has magic Roman historical plays are, as it appears to indeed; for, what can be simpler in language us, at the end of his career, as the English than the courtship of Ferdinand and Miranda, historical plays are at the beginning. Noand yet what can be more magical than the thing can be more different than the principle sympathy with which it subdues us? Here I of art upon which the · Henry VI.' and the
Antony and Cleopatra' are constructed. that there are any productions of the human The Roman plays denote, we think, the mind in existence, ancient or modern, which growth of an intellect during five-and-twenty can give us so complete a notion of what years. The Tempest' does not present the Roman life was under its great general characteristics of the latest plays. " It has aspects. This was the effect, not only of the playfulness and beauty of the comedies, his instinctive wisdom, but of that leisure mingled with the higher notes of passionate for profound inquiry and extensive investiga and solemn thought which distinguished the tion which Shakspere possessed in the latter great tragedies. It is essentially, too, written years of his life. We cannot bring ourselves wholly with reference to the stage, at a to believe that "The Tempest' belonged to period when an Ariel could be presented to the latest period. Ulrici has said «« The an imaginative audience without the prosaic Tempest' is the completing companion-piece encumbrance of wings. The later plays, of the “Winter's Tale' and 'A Midsunimersuch as “Troilus and Cressida,' and the three Night's Dream.'” The Midsummer-Night's Roman subjects, are certainly written without Dream' was printed in 1600;-it was probably any very strong regard to dramatic effect. written some five or six years previous. The They are noble acting plays, especially Julius "Winter's Tale' was acted in 1611. From Cæsar' and 'Coriolanus;' but even in these the "Extracts from the Accounts of the the poet appears to have poured himself forth Revels at Court,' edited by Mr. Peter Cunwith a philosophical mastery of the great ningham, we learn that on Hallowmas Night principles by which men are held in the (November 1), 1611, was presented at social state, without being very solicitous as Whitehall, before the King's Majesty, a play to the favourable reception of his opinions called “The Tempest.' Four nights afterby the mixed audiences of the days of wards the “Winter's Tale' was also presented. James I. The “Antony and Cleopatra' is The 'Winter's Tale' appears to us to bear still more remarkable for its surpassing marks of a later composition than “The historical truth-not the mere truth of Tempest.' But we are not disposed to chronological exactness, but that truth which separate them by any very wide interval: is evolved out of the power of making the more especially we cannot agree with Mr. past present and real, through the marvellous Hunter, who has brought great learning to felicity of knowing and representing how an investigation of all the points connected individuals and masses of men must have with The Tempest,' that this play, “instead acted under circumstances which are only of being the latest work of this great master, assimilated to the circumstances of modern is in reality one of the earliest, nearly the , times by the fact that all the great principles first in time, as the first in place, of the and motives of human action are essentially dramas which are wholly his." The diffithe same in every age and in every condition culty of settling the chronology of some of of civilization. The plays that we have Shakspere's plays by internal evidence is mentioned must have been the result of very much increased by the circumstance very. profound thought and very accurate that some of them must be regarded as early investigation. The characters of the Troilus performances that have come down to us and Cressida' are purposely Gothicised. An with the large additions and corrections of episode of “the tale of Troy divine” is maturer years. For example: Pericles' seized upon, to be divested of its romantic was, it is probable, produced as a novelty in attributes, and to be presented with all the 1608, or not long before. There are portions bold colouring of a master regardless of of that play which we think no one could minute proprieties of costume, but producing have written but the mature Shakspere ; the most powerful and harmonious effect mixed up with other portions which indicate, through the universal truth of his delinea- not so much immature powers as the treattions. On the contrary, the Roman plays ment of a story in the spirit of the oldest are perfect in costume. We do not believe | dramas. So it is with Cymbeline;' and, to
a certain extent, with the Winter's Tale.' | make nature afraid in his plays, like those The probability is, that these plays were that beget tales, tempests, and such-like produced in their present form soon after drolleries.” Gifford has contended, arguing the period of Shakspere's quitting the stage against the disposition of the commentators about 1603; and perhaps before the pro- to charge Jonson with malignity, that the duction of “Macbeth,' 'Troilus and Cressida,' expressions servant-monster, and tales, tem'Henry VIII., and the Roman plays. The pests, and such-like drolleries, had reference Tempest' appears to us to belong to the to the popular puppet-shows which were same cycle. The opinion which we here especially called drolleries. express is not inconsistent with a belief that however, still looks to us like a sly, though Mr. Hunter has brought forward several | not ill-natured, allusion to Shakspere's Calicurious facts to render it highly probable ban, and his “ Winter's Tale,' and 'Tempest,' that it was produced in 1596. But the which were then popular acting plays. Mr. aggregate evidence, as we think, outweighs Hunter believes that in this passage Jonson these curious facts.
does pointedly direct his satire against 'The "The Tempest' is not included by name in Tempest;' but he also maintains that Jonson the list of plays ascribed to Shakspere by does, in the same way, satirize The Tempest' Francis Meres in 1599. Mr. Hunter says in 1596, in the Prologue to 'Every Man in that it was included, under the name of his Humour:''Love's Labour Won.' We have endeavoured
" He rather prays you will be pleased to see to show, in the Chapter on 'All's Well that
One such to-day, as other plays should be; Ends Well,' not only that the comedy bearing Where neither chorus wafts you o'er the seas, that name had the highest pretension to the Nor creaking throne comes down the boys to title of ‘Love's Labour Won,' but that “The please: Tempest' had no such pretension. We do Nor nimble squib is seen to make afeard not agree that the comedy called "The The gentlewomen; nor roll'd bullet heard, Tempest,' when it was first printed, bore the To say, it thunders: nor tempestuous drum title, either as a leading or secondary title, Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth when Meres published his list in 1599, of come.” Love's Labour Won.' We believe that it It is scarcely probable, if Jonson had meant was always called “The Tempest;' and that, to allude to "The Tempest,' either in the looking at its striking fable, and its beauty Prologue or the Induction, that he would of characterization and language, it would have been so wanting in materials for his undoubtedly have been mentioned by Meres dislike of the romantic drama in general as if it had existed in 1599.
to select the same play for attack in works The ‘Bartholomew Fair' of Ben Jonson separated by an interval of eighteen years. was produced at the Hope Theatre in 1614; The “creaking throne” is, according to Mr. and it was performed by “the Lady Eliza- Hunter, the throne of Juno as she descends, beth's servants.” It is stated by Malone in the mask; the "nimble squib” is the that “it appears from MSS. of Mr. Vertue lightning, and the “tempestuous drum” the that The Tempest' was acted by John thunder, of the first scene. Mr. Hunter adds Heminge and the rest of the King's company, that the last line of the Prologue before Prince Charles, the Lady Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine Elector, in the
*You that have so graced monsters may like
men," beginning of the year 1613.” This circumstance gives some warrant to the belief of must allude to Caliban. Surely the term the commentators that a passage in the monsters, as opposed to men, must be a general Induction to 'Bartholomew Fair' is a sarcasm designation of what Jonson believed to be upon Shakspere :-“If there be never a unnatural in the romantic drama, as conservant-monster in the fair, who can help it, trasted with the “image of the times” in he says, nor a nest of antiques ? He is loth to comedy. But, if we must have real monsters,