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mands of the modern theatre that the scenery | the fable, in order to produce strange and and costume should belong to some definite laughable situations. The story need not be period. This desire for exactness is, to a probable, it is enough that it is possible. A certain extent, an evil; and it is an evil comedy would scarcely allow even the two which necessarily belongs to what, at first Antipholuses; because, although there have appearance, is a manifest improvement in the been instances of almost indistinguishable modern stage. The exceeding beauty and likeness in two persons, yet these are mere accuracy
scenery and dress in our days is individual accidents, casus ludentis nature, destructive, in some degree, to the poetical and the verum will not excuse the inveritruth of Shakspere's dramas. It takes them simile. But farce dares add the two Droout of the region of the broad and universal, mios, and is justified in so doing by the laws to impair their freedom and narrow their of its end and constitution. In a word, range by a topographical and chronological farces commence in a postulate, which must minuteness. When the word " Thebes”* be granted.” was exhibited upon a painted board to Shak- This postulate granted, it is impossible to spere's audience, their thoughts of that city imagine any dramatic action to be managed were in subjection to the descriptions of the with more skill than that of "The Comedy poet; but, if a pencil as magical as that of of Errors. Hazlitt has pronounced a cenStanfield had shown them a Thebes that the sure upon the play which is in reality a child might believe to be a reality, the words commendation :-“The curiosity excited is to which they listened would have been com- certainly very considerable, though not of paratively uninteresting, in the easier gratifi- the most pleasing kind. We are teased as cation of the senses instead of the intellect. with a riddle, which, notwithstanding, we Poetry must always have something of the try to solve.” To excite the curiosity, by vague and indistinct in its character. The presenting a riddle which we should try to exact has its own province. Let science ex-solve, was precisely what Plautus and Shakplore the wilds of Africa, and map out for us spere intended to do. Our poet has made wh there are mighty rivers and verdant the riddle more complex by the introduction plains, in the places where the old geo- of the two Dromios, and has therefore increased graphers gave us pictures of lions and ele- the excitement of our curiosity. But whephants to designate undiscovered desolation. ther this excitement be pleasing or annoying, But let poetry still have its undefined coun- and whether the riddle amuse or tease us, tries; let Arcadia remain unsurveyed; let us entirely depends upon the degree of attennot be too curious to inquire whether Dromio tion which the reader or spectator of the was an ancient heathen or a Christian, nor farce is disposed to bestow upon it. Hazlitt whether Bottom the weaver lived precisely adds, “In reading the play, from the sameat the time when Theseus did battle with ness of the names of the two Antipholuses the Centaurs.
and the two Dromios, as well as from their Coleridge has furnished the philosophy of being constantly taken for each other by all just criticism upon The Comedy of those who see them, it is difficult, without a Errors' in a note, which we shall copy en- painful effort of attention, to keep the chatire from his ' Literary Remains:'
racters distinct in the mind. And again, on “ The 'myriad-minded man, our, and all the stage, either the complete similarity of men's Shakspere, has in this piece presented their persons and dress must produce the us with a legitimate farce in exactest con- same perplexity whenever they first enter, sonance with the philosophical principles or the identity of appearance which the and character of farce, as distinguished from story supposes will be destroyed. We still, comedy and from entertainments. A proper however, having a clue to the difficulty, can farce is mainly distinguished from comedy tell which is which, merely from the conby the licence allowed, and even required, in tradictions which arise as soon as the dif* See Sydney's · Defence of Poesy.'
ferent parties begin to speak; and we are
indemnified for the perplexity and blunders appears to us that every one an audience into which we are thrown, by seeing others of 'The Comedy of Errors, who keeps his thrown into greater and almost inextricable eyes open, will, after he has become a little ones.” Hazlitt has here, almost undesign- familiar with the persons of the two Antiedly, pointed out the source of the pleasure pholuses and the two Dromios, find out some which, with an effort of attention,”—not a
clue by which he can detect a difference be“painful effort,” we think,—a reader or spec-tween each, even without “the practical contator of "The Comedy of Errors' is sure to tradictions which arise as soon as the difreceive from this drama. We have “a clue ferent parties begin to speak.” Schlegel to the difficulty;"—we know more than the says, “In such pieces we must always preactors in the drama ;-we may be a little suppose, to give an appearance of truth to perplexed, but the deep perplexity of the the senses at least, that the parts by which characters is a constantly increasing triumph the misunderstandings are occasioned are
We have never seen the play; but played with masks: and this the poet, no one who has seen it thus describes the effect: doubt, observed.” Whether masks, properly “Until I saw it on the stage (not mangled so called, were used in Shakspere's tiine in into an opera), I had not imagined the ex
the representation of this play, we have some tent of the mistakes, the drollery of them, doubt. But, unquestionably, each pair of their unabated continuance, till, at the end of persons selected to play the twins must be the fourth act, they reached their climax of the same height,—with such general rewith the assistance of Dr. Pinch, when the semblances of the features as may be made audience in their laughter rolled about like to appear identical by the colour and false
Mr. Brown adds, with great truth, hair of the tiring-room,—and be dressed with “ To the strange contrast of grave astonish- apparently perfect similarity. But let every ment among the actors, with their laughable care be taken to make the deception perfect, situations in the eyes of the spectators, who and yet the observing spectator will detect are let into the secret, is to be ascribed the
a difference between each; some peculiarity irresistible effect.” The spectators, the read of the voice, some “ trick o' the eye,” some ers, have the clue, are let into the secret, by dissimilarity in gait, some minute variation the story of the first scene. Nothing can be in dress. We once knew two adult twin-bromore beautifully managed, or is altogether thers who might have played the Dromios more Shaksperean, than the narrative of without the least aids from the arts of the Ægeon: and that narrative is so clear and so
theatre. They were each stout, their stature impressive, that the reader never forgets it
was the same, each had a sort of shuffle in amidst all the errors and perplexities which his walk, the voice of each was rough and follow. The Duke, who, like the reader or
unmusical, and they each dressed without spectator, has heard the narrative, instantly any manifest peculiarity. One of them had sees the real state of things when the dénoue- long been a resident in the country town ment is approaching :
where we lived within a few doors of him, Why, here begins his morning story right.”
and saw him daily; the other came from a
distant county to stay with our neighbour. The reader or spectator has seen it all along, Great was the perplexity. It was perfectly -certainly by an effort of attention, for impossible to distinguish between them, at without the effort the characters would be first, when they were apart; and we well confounded like the vain shadows of a half- remember walking some distance with the waking dream ;-and, having seen it, it is stranger, mistaking him for his brother, and impossible, we think, that the constant readi- not discovering the mistake (which he huness of the reader or spectator to solve the oured) till we saw his total ignorance of riddle should be other than pleasurable. It the locality. But after seeing this Dromio • Shakespeare's Autobiographical Poems,' &c. By
erraticus a few times the perplexity was at Charles Armitage Brown.
an end. There was a difference which was
palpable, though not exactly to be defined. execute, which he has for years pursued If the features were alike, their expression without success :was somewhat varied; if their figures were “He that commends me to mine own content the same, the one was somewhat more erect Commends me to the thing I cannot get. than the other; if their voices were similar, I to the world am like a drop of water the one had a different mode of accentuation That in the ocean seeks another drop.” from the other; if they each wore a blue coat Sedate, gentle, loving, the Antipholus of with brass buttons, the one was decidedly, Syracuse is one of Shakspere's amiable creamore slovenly than the other in his general tions. He beats his slave according to the appearance. If we had known them at all
custom of slave-beating; but he laughs with intimately, we probably should have ceased him and is kind to him almost at the same to think that the outward points of identity moment. He is an enthusiast, for he falls were even greater than the points of differ- in love with Luciana in the midst of his
We should have, moreover, learned the difference of their characters. It appears most exquisite poetry :
perplexities, and his lips utter some of the to us, then, that as this farce of real life was very soon at an end when we had become a
“Oh, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister flood of tears; little familiar with the peculiarities in the
Sing, syren, for thyself, and I will dote: persons of those twin brothers, so the spec
Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden tator of "The Comedy of Errors' will very
hairs." soon detect the differences of the Dromios and Antipholuses; and that, while his curio- But he is accustomed to habits of self-comsity is kept alive by the effort of attention mand, and he resolves to tear himself away which is necessary for this detection, the even from the syren :riddle will not only not tease him, but its “But, lest myself be guilty to self-wrong, perpetual solution will afford him the utmost I'll stop mine ears against the mermaid's satisfaction.
song." But has not Shakspere himself furnished As his perplexities increase, he ceases to be a clue to the understanding of the Errors, by angry with his slave :his marvellous skill in the delineation of
“ The fellow is distract, and so am I; character ? Pope forcibly remarked that, if
And here we wander in illusions: our poet's dramas were printed without the
Some blessed power deliver us from hence!” names of the persons represented being attached to the individual speeches, we
Unlike the Menachmus Sosicles of Plautus should know who is speaking by his wonder- he refuses to dine with the courtezan. He ful discrimination in assigning to every is firm yet courageous when assaulted by the character appropriate modes of thought and Merchant. When the Errors are clearing expression. It appears to us that this is up, he modestly adverts to his love for unquestionably the case with the characters Luciana ; and we feel that he will be happy. of each of the twin-brothers in “ The Comedy Antipholus of Ephesus is decidedly inferior of Errors.'
to his brother in the quality of his intellect The Dromio of Syracuse is described by his and the tone of his morals. He is scarcely master as
justified in calling his wife “ shrewish.” Her
fault is a too sensitive affection for him. “ A trusty villain, sir; that very oft,
Her feelings are most beautifully described When I am dull with care and melancholy, in that address to her supposed husband :Lightens my humour with his merry jests.”
Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine:
Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine; But the wandering Antipholus herein de- Whose weakness, married to thy stronger scribes himself: he is a prey to
state, melancholy.” He has a holy purpose to Makes me with thy strength to communicate:
If aught possess thee from me, it is dross, gentle, nor truly-loving ;-that he has no Usurping ivy, briar, or idle moss.
habits of self-command ;—that his temperaThe classical image of the elm and the vine ment is sensual ;—and that, although the would have been sufficient to express the riddle of his perplexity is solved, he will feelings of a fond and confiding woman ; the still find causes of unhappiness, and enter
tain exquisite addition of the. “Usurping ivy, briar, or idle moss,”
a huge infectious troop
Of pale distemperatures.” conveys the prevailing uneasiness of a loving and doubting wife. Antipholus of Ephesus The characters of the two Dromios are not has somewhat hard measure dealt to him so distinctly marked in their points of difthroughout the progress of the Errors ;—but ference, at the first aspect. They each have he deserves it. His doors are shut against their “merry jests ;” they each bear a beathim, it is true ;—in his impatience he would ing with wonderful good temper; they each force his way into his house, against the cling faithfully to their master's interests. remonstrances of the good Balthazar :- But there is certainly a marked difference in
the quality of their mirth. The Dromio of “ Your long experience of her wisdom, Ephesus is precise and antithetical, striving Her sober virtue, years, and modesty, Plead on her part some cause to you un
to utter his jests with infinite gravity and known.”
discretion, and approaching a pun with a sly
solemnity that is prodigiously diverting :He departs, but not “in patience;”—he is content to dine from home, but not at “ the
“The capon burns, the pig falls from the spit; Tiger.” His resolve
The clock hath strucken twelve upon the bell;
My mistress made it one upon my cheek: « That chain will I bestow
She is so hot, because the meat is cold.” (Be it for nothing but to spite my wife) Upon mine hostess”
“I have some marks of yours upon my pate, would not have been made by his brother in a similar situation. He has spited his wife ;
Some of my mistress' marks upon my shoulhe has dined with the courtezan. But he is
But not a thousand marks between you both.” not satisfied :
“ Go thou
He is a formal humorist, and, we have no And buy a rope's end; that will I bestow
doubt, spoke with a drawling and monotoAmong my wife and her confederates." nous accent, fit for his part in such a diaWe pity him not when he is arrested, nor
logue as this :when he receives the “rope's end” instead “ Ant. E. Were not my doors lock'd up, and I of his “ ducats.” His furious passion with
shut out? his wife, and the foul names he bestows on
Dro. E. Perdy, your doors were lock’d, and her, are quite in character; and when he
you shut out. has
Ant. E. And did not she herself revile me
there? “ Beaten the maids a-row, and bound the doctor,"
Dro. E. Sans fable, she herself reviled you we cannot have a suspicion that the doctor
there. was practising on the wrong patient. In a
Ant. E. Did not her kitchen-maid rail, taunt, word, we cannot doubt that, although the
and scorn me? Antipholus of Ephesus may be a brave sol
Dro. E. Certes, she did; the kitchen-vestal
scorn'd you." dier, who took a
deep scars to save his prince's life,—and that he really has a right on the contrary, the “merry jests” of Droto consider himself much injured,,he is mio of Syracuse all come from the outpourstrikingly opposed to the Antipholus of ing of his gladsome heart. He is a creature Syracuse ; that he is neither sedate, nor of prodigious animal spirits, running over with fun and queer similitudes. He makes Again, what a prodigality of wit is displayed not the slightest attempt at arranging a in his description of the bailiff! His epijoke, but utters what comes uppermost with thets are inexhaustible. Each of the Dromios irrepressible volubility. He is an untutored is admirable in his way: but we think that wit, and, we have no doubt, gave his tongue he of Syracuse is as superior to the twinsuch active exercise, by hurried pronuncia- slave of Ephesus as our old friend Launce is tion and variable emphasis, as could alone to Speed, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.' make his long descriptions endurable by his These distinctions between the Antipholuses sensitive master. Look at the dialogue in and Dromios have not, as far as we know, the second scene of Act II., where Antipholus, been before pointed out ;-but they certainly after having repressed his jests, is drawn do exist, and appear to us to be defined by into a tilting-match of words with him, in the great master of character with singular which the merry slave has clearly the victory. force as well as delicacy. Of course the Look, again, at his description of the “kitchen- | characters of the twins could not be violently wench,”—coarse, indeed, in parts, but alto- contrasted, for that would have destroyed gether irresistibly droll. The twin-brother the illusion. They must still was quite incapable of such a flood of fun.
“ Go hand in hand, not one before another.”
LOVE'S LABOUR 'S LOST *. This play was one of those published in one may some day be discovered), we have Shakspere's lifetime. The first edition ap- no proof that the few allusions to temporary peared in 1598, under the following title: | circumstances, which are supposed in some “A pleasant conceited Comedie, called Loues degree to fix the date of the play, may not Labors Lost, As it was presented before apply to the augmented copy only. Thus, her Highnes this last Christmas. Newly when Moth refers to “the dancing horse corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere.' who was to teach Armado how to reckon
We have seen, from the title of the first what “deuce-ace amounts to,” the fact that edition of 'Love's Labour's Lost,' that, when Banks's horse first appeared in London in it was presented before Queen Elizabeth, at 1589 does not prove that the original play the Christmas of 1597, it had been “newly might not have been written before 1589. corrected and augmented.” As no edition This date gives it an earlier appearance than of the comedy, before it was corrected and Malone would assign to it, who first settled augmented, is known to exist (though, as it as 1591, and afterwards as 1594. A supin the case of the unique ' Hamlet' of 1603, posed allusion to The Metamorphosis of
Ajax,' by Sir John Harrington, printed in * Love's Labour's Lost. The title of this play stands as
1596, is equally unimportant with reference follows in the folio of 1623: 'Loues Labour's Lost.' The modes in which the genitive case and the contraction of to the original composition of the play. The is after a substantive are printed in the titles of other plays “finished representation of colloquial excelin this edition, and in some of the earlier copies, lead us to believe that the author intended to call his play 'Love's
lence,”* in the beginning of the fifth act, Labour is Lost.' The apostrophe is not given as the mark is supposed to be an imitation of a passage of the genitive case in these instances—The Winters Tale,'
in Sidney's 'Arcadia,' first printed in 1590. - A Midsummer Nights Dream'--(so printed). But, when the verb is forms a part of the title, the apostrophe is in- The passage might have been introduced in troduced, as in All's Well that Ends Well. We do not
the augmented copy; to say nothing of the think ourselves justified, therefore, in printing either
fact that the Arcadia' was known in manu• Love's Labour Lost,' or Love's Labours Lost,'-as some have recommended.