網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

fellow. He is a mixture of the ancient cynick philosopher with the modero buffoon, and turns folly into wit, and wit into folly, just as the fit takes him. His courtship of Audrey not only throws a degree of ridicule on the state of Wedlock itself, but he is equally an enemy to the prejudices of opinion in other respects. The lofty tone of enthusiasm, which the Duke and his companions in exile spread over the stilluess and solitude of a country life, receives a pleasant shock from Touchstone's skeptical determination of the question.

Corin. And how like you this shepherd's life, Mr. Touchstone ?

Clown. Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my humour; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach."

Zimmerman's celebrated work on Solitude discovers. only half the sense of this passage.

There is hardly any of Shakspeare's plays that contains a greater number of passages that have been quoted in books of extracts, or a greater number of phrases that have become in a manner proverbial. If we were to give all the striking passages, we should give half the play. We will only recall a few of the most delightful to the reader's recollection. Such are the meeting between Orlando and Adam, the exquisite appeal of Orlando to the humanity of the Duke and his company to supply him with food for the old man, and their answer, the Duke's description of a country life, and the account

of Jaques moralizing on the wounded deer, his meeting with Touchstone in the forest, his apology for his own melancholy and his satirical vein, and the well known speech on the stages of human life, the old song of “Blow, blow, thou winter's wind,” Rosalind's description of the marks of a lover and of the progress of time with different persons, the picture of the snake wreathed round Oliver's neck while the lioness watches her sleeping prey, and Touchstone's lecture to the shepherd, his defence of cuckolds, and panegyrick on the virtues of “an If."-All of these are familiar to the reader : there is one passage of equal delicacy and beauty which may have escaped bim, and with it we shall close our account of AS YOU LIKE IT. It is Phebe's description of Ganimed at the end of the third act.

“Think pot I love him, tho' I ask for him ;
"Tis but a peevish boy, yet he talks well ;-
But what care I for words ! yet words do well,
When he that speaks them pleases those that hear :
It is a pretty youth ; not very pretty ;
But sure he's proud, and yet his pride becomes him ;
He'll make a proper man; the best thing in him
Is his complexion; and faster than his tongue
Did make offence, his eye did heal it up :
He is not very tall, yet for his years he's tall;
His leg is but so so, and yet 'tis well;
There was a pretly redness in his lip,
A little riper, and more lusty red
Than that mix'd in his cheek ; 'twas just the difference
Betwixt the constant red and mingled damask.
There be some women, Silvius, had they mark'd him
In parcels as I did, would have gone near
To fall in love with him : but for my part
I love him not, nor hate him not; and yet
I have more cause to hate him than to love him;
For what had he to do to chide at me P"

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

(The Taming of the Shrew is almost the only one of Shakspeare's comedies that has a regular plot, and downright moral. It is full of bustle, animation, and rapidity of action. It shews admirably how self-will is only to be got the better of by stronger will, and how one degree of ridiculous perversity is only to be driven out by another still greater.) Petruchio is a madmap in his senses; a very honest fellow, who hardly speaks a word of truth, and succeeds in all his tricks and impostures. He acts his assumed character to the life, with the most fantastical extravagance, with complete presence of mind, with untired animal spirits, and without a particle of ill humour from beginning to end.The situation of poor Katherine, worn out by his incessant persecutions, become at last almost as pitiable as it is ludicrous, and it is difficult to say which to admire most, the unaccountableness of his actions, or the unalterableness of his resolutions.

It is a character which most husbands ought to study, unless perhaps the very audacity of Petruchio's attempt might alarm them more than his success would encourage them. What a sound must the following speech carry to some married ears !

“ Think you a little dia can daupt my ears ?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar!
Have I not heard the sea, puff'd up with wiods,
Rage like an angry boar, cbafed with sweat ?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field ?
And heav'n's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in a pitched battle beard
Loud laruins, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?
And do you tell me of a woman's tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a chesput in a farmer's firep"

Not all Petruchio's rhetorick would persuade more than “some dozen followers” to be of this beretical way of thinking. He unfolds his scheme for the Taming of the Shren, on a principle of contradiction, thus:

“ I'll woo her with some spirit when she comes.
Say that she rail, why then I'll tell her plain
She sings as sweetly as a nightingale ;
Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear
As morving roses newly wash'd with dew;
Say she be njute, and will not speak a word,
Then I'll commend her volubility,
Aud say she uttereth piercing eloquence :
If she do bid me pack, I'll give ber thanks,
As tho' she bid me stay by her a week ;
If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day,
When I shall ask the banns, and when be married ?"

He accordingly gains her consent to the match, by telling her father that he has got it; disappoints

her by not returning at the time he has promis. ed to wed her, and when he returns, creates no small consternation by the oddity of his dress and equipage. This however is nothing to the astonishment excited by his mad-brained behaviour at the marriage. Here is the account of it by an eye wit

ness:

Gremio. Tut, she's a lamb, a dove, a fool to him :
I'll tell you, Sir Lucentio ; when the priest
Should ask if Katherine should be his wife?
Ay, by gogs woons, quoth he; and swore so loud,
That, all amaz'd, the priest let fall the book ;
And as he stooped again to take it up,
This mad-brain'd bridegroom took him such a cuff,
That down fell priest and book, and book and priest.
Now take them up, quoth he, if any list.

Tranio. What said the wench when he rose up again?
Gremio. Trembled and shook ; for why, he stamp'd and

swore,
As if the vicar meant to cozen him.
But after many ceremonies done,
He calls for wine; a health, quoth he; as if
He'd been aboard carousing with his mates
After a storm ; quaft off the muscadel,
And threw the sops all in the sexton's face;
Having no other cause but that his beard
Grew thin and hungerly, and seem'd to ask
His sops as he was drinking. This done, he took
The bride about the neck, and kiss'd her lips
With such a clamorous smack, that at their parting
All the church echoed : and I seeing this,
Came thence for very shame; and after me,
I know, the rout is coming ;
Such a mad marriage never was before."

The most striking and at the same time laughable feature in the character of Petruchio throughout is

« 上一頁繼續 »