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Not wagging his sweet head: and yet, as rough,
Their royal blood enchafed, as the rud'st wind, That by the top doth take the mountain pine, And make him stoop to the vale.”
It was in their gentleness that Imogen found
And will not trust one of her malice with
"The bird is dead;" she was sick, and we almost fear that the words of the dirge are true:
"Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou art pass'd the tyrant's stroke. But she awakes, and she has still to endure the last and the worst evil-her husband, in her' apprehension, lies dead before her. She has no wrongs to think of "O my lord, my lord," is all, in connexion with Posthumus, that escapes amidst her tears. The beauty and innocence which saved her from Iachimo, -which conquered Pisanio,-which won the wild hunters,-commend her to the Roman general-she is at once protected. But she has holy duties still to perform :—
I'll speak to thee in silence. The contest we now feel is over between the selfish and the unselfish, the crafty and the simple, the proud and the meek, the violent and the gentle.
It is scarcely within our purpose to follow the unravelling of the incidents in the concluding scene. Steevens has worthily endeavoured to make amends for the injustice of the criticism which 'Cymbeline' has received from his associate commentator:"Let those who talk so confidently about the skill of Shakspeare's contemporary, Jonson, point out the conclusion of any one of his plays which is wrought with more artifice, and yet a less degree of dramatic violence, than this. In the scene before us, all the surviving characters are assembled; and at the expense of whatever incongruity the former events may have been produced, perhaps little can be discovered on this occasion to offend the most scrupulous advocate for regularity: and, I think, as little is found wanting to satisfy the spectator by a catastrophe which is intricate without
"I'll follow, sir. But, first, an 't please the confusion, and not more rich in ornament
I'll hide my master from the flies, as deep
And on it said a century of prayers,
It is the unconquerable affection of Imogen which makes us pity Posthumus even while we blame him for the rash exercise of his revengeful will. But in his deep repentance we more than pity him. We see only
than in nature."
The conclusion of Cymbeline' has been lauded because it is consistent with poetical justice. Those who adopt this species of reasoning look very imperfectly upon the course of real events in the moral world. It is permitted, for inscrutable purposes, that the innocent should sometimes fall before the wicked, and the noble be subjected to the base. In the same way, it is sometimes in the course of events that the pure and the gentle should triumph over deceit and outrage. The perishing of Desdemona is as true 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 Iachimo. 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, and might
superior genius who commands both Prospero and Ariel. But the time was approaching when the potent sorcerer was to break his staff, and to bury it fathoms in the ocean,
THIS comedy stands the first in the folio | Shakspere himself is Prospero, or rather the collection of 1623, in which edition it was originally printed. In the entry upon the Stationers' registers of November the 8th, 1623, claiming for the booksellers Blount and Jaggard such plays of Shakspere as were not formerly entered to other men," it also is the first in order. The original text is printed with singular correctness.
A very general belief has always prevailed that 'The Tempest' was the last of Shakspere's works. We are inclined to think that this belief was rather a matter of feeling than of judgment. Mr. Campbell has put the feeling very elegantly :-"The Tempest' has a sort of sacredness as the last work of a mighty workman. Shakspere, as if conscious that it would be his last, and as if inspired to typify himself, has made his hero a natural, a dignified, and benevolent magician, who could conjure up spirits from the vasty deep, and command supernatural agency by the most seemingly natural and simple means. And this final play of our poet has magic indeed; for, what can be simpler in language than the courtship of Ferdinand and Miranda, and yet what can be more magical than the sympathy with which it subdues us? Here
'Deeper than did ever plummet sound.' That staff has never been, and never will be, recovered." But this feeling, pretty and fanciful as it is, is certainly somewhat deceptive. It is not borne out by the internal evidence of the play itself. Shakspere never could have contemplated, in health and intellectual vigour, any abandonment of that occupation which constituted his happiness and glory. We have no doubt that he wrote on till the hour of his last illness. His later plays are unquestionably those in which the mighty intellect is more tasked than the unbounded fancy. His later plays, as we believe, present the philosophical and historical aspect of human affairs rather than the passionate and the imaginative. Roman historical plays are, as it appears to us, at the end of his career, as the English historical plays are at the beginning. Nothing can be more different than the principle 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 investigaand 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 Midsummersuch 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.' chronological exactness, but that truth which is evolved out of the power of making the past present and real, through the marvellous felicity of knowing and representing how individuals and masses of men must have acted under circumstances which are only assimilated to the circumstances of modern times by the fact that all the great principles and motives of human action are essentially the same in every age and in every condition of civilization. The plays that we have mentioned must have been the result of very profound thought and very accurate investigation. The characters of the 'Troilus and Cressida' are purposely Gothicised. An episode of "the tale of Troy divine" is seized upon, to be divested of its romantic attributes, and to be presented with all the bold colouring of a master regardless of minute proprieties of costume, but producing the most powerful and harmonious effect through the universal truth of his delineations. On the contrary, the Roman plays are perfect in costume. We do not believe
But we are not disposed to separate them by any very wide interval: more especially we cannot agree with Mr. Hunter, who has brought great learning to an investigation of all the points connected with The Tempest,' that this play, "instead of being the latest work of this great master, is in reality one of the earliest, nearly the first in time, as the first in place, of the dramas which are wholly his." The difficulty of settling the chronology of some of Shakspere's plays by internal evidence is very much increased by the circumstance that some of them must be regarded as early performances that have come down to us with the large additions and corrections of maturer years. For example: 'Pericles' was, it is probable, produced as a novelty in 1608, or not long before. There are portions of that play which we think no one could have written but the mature Shakspere; mixed up with other portions which indicate, not so much immature powers as the treatment of a story in the spirit of the oldest 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. The passage, 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 Tempest;' but he also maintains that Jonson does, in the same way, satirize 'The Tempest' in 1596, in the Prologue to 'Every Man in his Humour :'
'The Tempest' is not included by name in the list of plays ascribed to Shakspere by Francis Meres in 1599. Mr. Hunter says that it was included, under the name of 'Love's Labour Won.' We have endeavoured to show, in the Chapter on 'All's Well that Ends Well,' not only that the comedy bearing that name had the highest pretension to the title of 'Love's Labour Won,' but that 'The Tempest' had no such pretension. We do not agree that the comedy called 'The Tempest,' when it was first printed, bore the title, either as a leading or secondary title, when Meres published his list in 1599, of 'Love's Labour Won.' We believe that it was always called 'The Tempest ;" and that, looking at its striking fable, and its beauty of characterization and language, it would undoubtedly have been mentioned by Meres if it had existed in 1599.
The Bartholomew Fair' of Ben Jonson
was produced at the Hope Theatre in 1614; and it was performed by "the Lady Elizabeth's servants." It is stated by Malone that "it appears from MSS. of Mr. Vertue that "The Tempest' was acted by John Heminge and the rest of the King's company, before Prince Charles, the Lady Elizabeth, and the Prince Palatine Elector, in the beginning of the year 1613." This circumstance gives some warrant to the belief of the commentators that a passage in the Induction to 'Bartholomew Fair' is a sarcasm upon Shakspere:-"If there be never a servant-monster in the fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques? He is loth to
"He rather prays you will be pleased to sce
Nor nimble squib is seen to make afeard
It is scarcely probable, if Jonson had meant
"You that have so graced monsters may like men,"
must allude to Caliban. Surely the term monsters, as opposed to men, must be a general designation of what Jonson believed to be unnatural in the romantic drama, as contrasted with the "image of the times" in comedy. But, if we must have real monsters,
there were plenty to be found in the older plays. Gosson, in 1581, thus writes:"Sometimes you shall see nothing but the adventures of an amorous knight, passing from country to country for the love of his lady, encountering many a terrible monster, made of brown paper, and at his return is so wonderfully changed that he cannot be known but by some posy in his tablet, or by a broken ring, or a handkerchief, or a piece of a cockle-shell." Sir Philip Sidney ridicules the appearance of 66 a hideous monster, with fire and smoke." Much older theatres
than the Globe were furnished with their thunder and lightning. In 1572 John Izarde, according to an entry in the accounts of the revels at court, was paid for a device for "counterfeiting thunder and lightning."* It is as likely that thrones descended in other plays besides 'The Tempest,' as it is certain that in 'The Tempest' Juno descended with a classical fitness of which Jonson has given us many similar examples in his own masks. We can see nothing in these circumstances to connect the date of 'The Tempest' with that of Ben Jonson's 'Every Man in his Humour.'
The third point upon which Mr. Hunter relies for fixing the date of 'The Tempest,' as of 1596, is deduced from the passage in the third act where Gonzalo laughs at the
stories of "men whose heads stood in their breasts." Raleigh told this story, in his account of his voyage to Guiana, in 1595. Shakspere makes Othello, not in a boasting or lying spirit, but with the confiding belief that belonged to his own high nature, tell Desdemona of
"The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders." Would Mr. Hunter contend that this second notice of "men whose heads do grow beneath
their shoulders” fixes the date of Othello, as well as that of 'The Tempest,' in 1596? Such circumstances are, as we believe, of the very slightest value. The argument may be put ingeniously and learnedly, as Mr. Hunter puts it; or it may be rendered ludicrous, as Chalmers renders it. What, for example,
*Collier, Annals of the Stage,' vol. iii. p. 370.
"Me seemeth that what in those nations we see by experience doth not only exceed all the pictures wherewith licentious poesy hath proudly embellished the golden age, and all her quaint inventions to feign a happy condition of man, but also the conception and desire of philosophy. They could not imagine a genuitie so pure and simple as we see it by experience; nor ever believe our society might be maintained with so little art and human combination. It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrates, nor of politic superiority; no use of service, of riches, or of poverty; no contracts, no successions, no dividences; no occupation, but idle; no respect of kindred, but common; no apparel, but natural; no manuring of lands; no use of wine, corn, or metal. The very words that import lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulation, covetousness, envy, detraction, and pardon, were never heard amongst them. How dissonant would he find his imaginary commonwealth from this perfection!" This extract establishes beyond all possible doubt that the lines of Gonzalo,
"I' the commonwealth I would by contraries Execute all things," &c.—
were founded upon Montaigne, and upon Florio's translation. That translation was
not published before 1603. But portions of it had been seen in manuscript, says Mr. Hunter. Sir William Cornwallis mentions in his Essays' that "divers of his pieces I have seen translated," and he describes Cornwallis were not printed till 1600; but Florio as the translator. The 'Essays' of they, also, had been seen in manuscript;