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and defects, and has copied the series of its | Criticism in Tragedy,' thus speaks of Shakincidents with his customary fidelity; an spere's performance :— exactness seldom to be found in any other dramatic writer."*

Although the main incidents in the adventures of the Greek lover and his faithless mistress are followed with little deviation, yet, independent of the wonderful difference in the characterization, the whole story under the treatment of Shakspere becomes thoroughly original. In no play does he appear to us to have a more complete mastery over his materials, or to mould them into more plastic shapes by the force of his most surpassing imagination. The great Homeric poem, the rude romance of the destruction of Troy, the beautiful elaboration of that romance by Chaucer, are all subjected to his wondrous alchemy; and new forms and combinations are called forth so lifelike, that all the representations which have preceded them look cold and rigid statues, not warm and breathing men and women. Coleridge's theory of the principle upon which this was effected is, we have no doubt, essentially

true :

"I am half inclined to believe that Shakespear's main object (or shall I rather say his ruling impulse?) was to translate the poetic heroes of Paganism into the not less rude, but more intellectually vigorous, and more featurely, warriors of Christian chivalry, and to substantiate the distinct and graceful profiles or outlines of the Homeric epic into the flesh and blood of the romantic drama,-in short, to give a grand history-piece in the robust style of Albert Durer."+

To Dryden's alteration of "Troilus and Cressida' was prefixed a prologue," spoken by Mr. Betterton, representing the Ghost of Shakspere." The Ghost appears to have entirely forgotten what he was on earth, and to present a marvellous resemblance, in his mind at least, to Mr. John Dryden. He says,

"In this my rough-drawn play you shall behold Some master-strokes."

Dryden, in his elaborate 'Preface to Troilus and Cressida, containing the grounds of

*Life of Chaucer,' vol. i. (4to) p. 315.
Literary Remains,' vol ii. p. 183.

"For the play itself, the author seems to have begun it with some fire; the characters of Pandarus and Thersites are promising enough; but, as if he grew weary of his task, after an entrance or two he lets them fall; and the latter part of the tragedy is nothing but a confusion of drums and trumpets, excursions and alarms. The chief persons who give name to the tragedy are left alive: Cressida is false, and is not punished. Yet, after all, because the play was Shakspeare's, and that there appeared in some places of it the admirable genius of the author, I undertook to remove that heap of rubbish under which many excellent thoughts lay wholly buried." The mode in which Dryden got rid of the rubbish, and built up his own edifice, is very characteristic of the age and of the man :—

"I new modelled the plot; threw out many unnecessary persons; improved those characters which were begun and left unfinished, —as Hector, Troilus, Pandarus, and Thersites; and added that of Andromache. After this I made, with no small trouble, an order and connection of all the scenes, removing them from the places where they were inartificially set."

The result of all this is, that the Ghost of Shakspere, in the concluding lines of the Prologue, thus enlightens the audience as to the dominant idea of the Troilus and Cressida :

"My faithful scene from true records shall tell How Trojan valour did the Greek excel; Your great forefathers shall their fame regain, And Homer's angry ghost repine in vain." Coleridge says, "there is no one of Shakspere's plays harder to characterize." He has overlooked the circumstance that, when the "rubbish" was removed, it became a true record, a faithful chronicle, of the heroic actions of the Trojans, our "great forefathers." With every admiration for 'glorious John" in his own proper line, we must endeavour to understand what Shakspere's 'Troilus and Cressida' is, by comparing it with what it is not in the alteration before us.

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we can scarcely say that he has made the representation too prominent. When he drew Cressida, we think he had the feeling strong on his mind which gave birth to the 129th Sonnet. A French writer, in a notice of this play, says, "Les deux amants se voient, s'entendent, et sont heureux." Shakspere has described such happiness :—

The notion of Dryden was to convert the | is the high morality of the characterization, 'Troilus and Cressida' into a regular tragedy. He complains, we have seen, that "the chief persons who give name to the tragedy are left alive: Cressida is false and is not punished." The excitement of pity and terror, we are told, is the only ground of tragedy. Tragedy, too, must have "a moral that directs the whole action of the play to one centre." To this standard, then, is Shakspere's Troilus and Cressida' to be reduced. The chief persons who give name to the tragedy are not to be left alive. Cressida is not to be false; but she is to die: and so terror and pity are to be produced. And now comes the moral :

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Then, since from home-bred factions ruin springs,

Let subjects learn obedience to their kings." The management by which Dryden has accomplished this metamorphosis is one of the most remarkable examples of perverted ingenuity. He had a licentious age to please. He could not spare a line, or a word, of what may be considered the objectionable scenes between Pandarus, Troilus, and Cressida. They formed no part of the "rubbish" he desired to remove. He has heightened them wherever possible; and what in Shakspere was a sly allusion becomes with him a positive grossness. Now let us consider for a moment what Shakspere intended by these scenes. Cressida is the exception to Shakspere's general idea of the female character. She is beautiful, witty, accomplished, but she is impure. In her, love is not a sentiment, or a passion,-it is an impulse. Temperament is stronger than will. Her love has nothing ideal, spiritual, in its composition. It is not constant, because it is not discriminate. Setting apart her inconstancy, how altogether different is Cressida from Juliet, or Viola, or Helena, or Perdita! There is nothing in her which could be called love; no depth, no concentration of feeling,-nothing that can bear the name of devotion. Shakspere would not permit a mistake to be made on the subject; and he has therefore given to Ulysses to describe her, as he conceived her. Considering what his intentions were, and what really

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A bliss in proof,—and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream:
All this the world well knows; yet none
knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell."

It was this morality that Shakspere meant to teach when he painted this one exception to the general purity of his female characters. He did not, like the dramatists of the age of the Restoration, make purity the exception: his estimate of women was formed upon a truer standard. But when Dryden undertook to remodel Shakspere, female morality, like every other morality, was merely conventional: virtue was an affair of expediency, and not of principle. With an entire submission, then, to the genius of his age, does Dryden retain and heighten the scenes between Troilus and Cressida until she quits the Trojan camp. But in all this, as we are to see in the sequel, Cressida is a perfectly correct and amiable personage. We are told, indeed, of her frank reception of the welcome of the Grecian chiefs; but there is no Ulysses to pronounce a judgment upon her character. She admits, indeed, the suit of Diomedes, and she gives him pledges of her affection; but this is all a make-believe, for, like a dutiful child, she is following the advice of her father :—

"You must dissemble love to Diomede still:
False Diomede, bred in Ulysses' school,
Can never be deceived

But by strong arts and blandishments of love.
Put 'em in practice all; seem lost and won,

And draw him on, and give him line again." Upon this very solid foundation, then, are built up the terror and pity of Dryden's tragedy and so Troilus, who has witnessed Cressida's endearments to Diomede, refuses

to believe that she is faithful; and then Cressida kills herself; and Troilus kills Diomede; and Achilles kills Troilus; and all the Trojans are killed and the Greeks who remain upon the field are very happy; and Ulysses tells us,

"Now peaceful Order has resumed the reins,

Old Time looks young, and Nature seems renew'd."

Here is a tragedy for you, which "is an imitation of one entire, great, and probable action, not told, but represented; which, by moving us to fear and pity, is conducive to the purging of those two passions in our minds." So Dryden quotes Aristotle; and so, not understanding Aristotle, he takes upon himself to mend Shakspere, ("incomparable," as he calls him,) according to the notions of "my friend Mr. Rymer," and of "Bossu, the best of modern critics."

The feeling which the study of Shakspere's 'Troilus and Cressida' slowly but certainly calls forth is that of almost prostration before the marvellous intellect which has produced it. But this is the result of study, as we have said. The play cannot be understood upon a superficial reading: it is full of the most subtle art. We may set aside particular passages, and admire their surpassing eloquence, their profound wisdom; but it is long before the play, as a whole, obtains its proper mastery over the understanding. It is very difficult to define what is the great charm and wonder of its entirety. To us it appears as if the poet, without the slightest particle of presumption, had proposed to himself to look down upon the Homeric heroes from an Olympus of his own. He opens the 'Iliad,' and there he reads of "Achilles' baneful wrath." A little onward he is told of the "high threatening" of "the great cloud-gatherer." The gods of Homer are made up of human passions. But he appears throned upon an eminence, from which he can not only command a perfect view of the game which men play, but, seeing all, become a partisan of none, perfectly cognizant of all motives, but himself motiveless. And yet the whole representation is true, and it is therefore

genial. He does not stand above men by lowering men. Social life is not made worse than it is, that he who describes it may appear above its ordinary standard. It is not a travestie of Homer or of Nature. The heroic is not lowered by association with the ridiculous. Shakspere's heroes of the 'Iliad' show us very little of the vulgar side of human life, not much even of the familiar; but the result is, that they cease to be heroic. How this is attained is the wonder. It is something to have got rid of the machinery of the gods,—something to have a Thersites eternally despising and despised. But this is not all. The whole tendency of the play,

its incidents, its characterization,—is to lower what the Germans call herodom. Ulrici maintains that "the far-sighted Shakspere most certainly did not mistake as to the beneficial effect which a nearer intimacy with the high culture of antiquity had produced, and would produce, upon the Christian European mind. But he saw the danger of an indiscriminate admiration of this classical antiquity; for he who thus accepted it must necessarily fall to the very lowest station in religion and morality:-as, indeed, if we closely observe the character of the eighteenth century, we see has happened. Out of this prophetic spirit, which penetrated with equal clearness through the darkness of coming centuries and the clouds of a far-distant past, Shakspere wrote this deeply significant satire upon the Homeric herodom. He had no desire to debase the elevated, to deteriorate or make little the great, and still less to attack the poetical worth of Homer, or of heroic poetry in general. But he wished to warn thoroughly against the over-valuation and idolatry of them, to which man so willingly abandons himself. He endeavoured, at the same time, to bring strikingly to view the universal truth, that everything that is merely human, even when it is glorified with the nimbus of a poetic ideality and a mythical past, yet, seen in the bird's-eye perspective of a pure moral ideality, appears very small." this may seem as super-refinement, in which the critic pretends to see farther than the poet ever saw. But to such an objection


there is a very plain answer. A certain result is produced :—is the result correctly described? If it be so, is that result an effect of principle or an effect of chance? As a proof that it was the effect of principle, we may say that Dryden did not see the principle; and that, not seeing it, he entirely changed the character of the play as a work of art. For example, there is no scene in the drama so entirely in accordance with the principle as that in which Ulysses stirs up the slothful and dogged Achilles into a rivalry with Ajax. It is altogether so Shaksperean in its profundity,-it presents such a key to the whole Shaksperean conduct of this wonderful drama,-that we cannot be content merely to refer to it.

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Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection;
As when his virtues shining upon others
Heat them, and they retort that heat again
To the first giver.

A chil.
This is not strange, Ulysses.
The beauty that is born here in the face
The bearer knows not, but commends itself
To others' eyes: nor doth the eye itself
(That most pure spirit of sense) behold itself,
Not going from itself; but eye to eye op-

Salutes each other with each other's form.
For speculation turns not to itself,

Till it hath travell'd, and is married there Where it may see itself: this is not strange at all.

Ulyss. I do not strain at the position, It is familiar; but at the author's drift: Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves, That no man is the lord of anything (Though in and of him there is much consisting),

Till he communicate his parts to others:
Nor doth he of himself know them for aught
Till he behold them form'd in the applause
Where they are extended; which, like an arch,

The voice again; or like a gate of steel,

Fronting the sun, receives and renders back His figure and his heat. I was much rapt in this,

And apprehended here immediately
The unknown Ajax.

Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse; That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are,

Most abject in regard, and dear in use!
What things again most dear in the esteem,
And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-


An act that very chance doth throw upon him, Ajax renown'd. O heavens, what some men do, While some men leave to do!

How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall,

Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!
How one man eats into another's pride,
While pride is feasting in his wantonness!
To see these Grecian lords!-why, even al-

They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder,
As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast,
And great Troy shrinking.

Achil. I do believe it; for they pass'd by me As misers do by beggars; neither gave to me Good word, nor look: What, are my deeds forgot?

Ulyss. Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,

Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,

A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past; which are

As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: Perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: To have done, is to

Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant


For honour travels in a strait so narrow, Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;

For emulation hath a thousand sons,
That one by one pursue: If you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by,
And leave you hindmost;-

Or, like a gallant horse fallen in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O'errun and trampled on: Then what they do
in present,

Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop | which was in its place in 'Julius Cæsar;'


For time is like a fashionable host,

and gives us, altogether, a set of mongrel characters, compounded of the common-place

That slightly shakes his parting guest by the heroic and Shakspere's reduction of the false hand;

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Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,

High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,

That all, with one consent, praise new-born gawds,

Though they are made and moulded of things past;

And give to dust, that is a little gilt,
More laud than gilt o'er-dusted.

The present eye praises the present object:
Then marvel not, thou great and complete


That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye,
Than what not stirs. The cry went once on

And still it might; and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of

Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves,

And drave great Mars to faction.

Now, of this scene Dryden has not a word. This was a part of the "rubbish" which he discarded. But in the place of it he gives us an entirely new scene between Hector and Troilus-" almost half the act." He says, "the occasion of raising it was hinted to me by Mr. Betterton; the contrivance and working of it was my own." The scene, he admits, was an imitation of the famous scene in Julius Cæsar' between Brutus and Cassius. And so Dryden transposes the principle of one play into another; destroys the grave irony of Troilus and Cressida' by the introduction of the heroic seriousness

heroic to truth and reason. And yet, with all his labour, Dryden could not make the thing consistent. He is compelled to take Shakspere's representation of Ajax, for example. One parallel passage will be sufficient to show how Dryden and Shakspere managed these things :


"Thank Heav'n, my lord, you 're of a gentle nature,

Praise him that got you, her that brought you forth;

But he who taught you first the use of arms, Let Mars divide eternity in two,

And give him half. I will not praise your wisdom,

Nestor shall do 't; but pardon, father Nestor, Were you as green as Ajax, and your brain Temper'd like his, you never should excel him, But be as Ajax is."


"Ulyss. Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure;

Praise him that got thee, she that gave thee suck:

Famed be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature
Thrice-famed, beyond all erudition:
But he that disciplined thy arms to fight,
Let Mars divide eternity in twain,
And give him half: and, for thy vigour,
Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield
To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom,
Which, like a bourn, a pale, a shore, confines
Thy spacious and dilated parts: Here's Nes-

Instructed by the antiquary times,

He must, he is, he cannot but be wise;-
But pardon, father Nestor, were your days
As green as Ajax, and your brain so temper'd,
You should not have the eminence of him,
But be as Ajax."

One of the most extraordinary subtleties of Shakspere's 'Troilus and Cressida' arises out of the circumstance that the real heroic tragedy is found side by side with the ironical heroic. Cassandra, short as the

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