網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

fault." Her temper, as Shakspere has de- Thus in plain terms :

-Your father hath conlineated it, is the result of her pride and her sented love of domination. She is captious to her That you shall be my wife ;-your dowry father; she tyrannizes over her younger

'greed on; sister; she is jealous of the attractions of that

And will you, nill you, I will marry you." sister's gentleness. This is a temper that Katharine denounces him as perhaps could not be subdued by kindness,

"A madcap ruffian, and a swearing Jack;" except after Petrucio's fashion of “killing a wife with kindness.” At any rate, it could Petrucio heeds it not :not be so subdued, except by a long course

“We have 'greed so well together, of patient discipline, quite incompatible with That upon Sunday is the wedding-day.” the hurried movement of a dramatic action.

Katharine rejoinds,In the scene where Katharine strikes Bianca her temper has been exhibited at the worst.

“I'll see thee hang'd on Sunday first;" It is bad enough; but not quite so bad as but, nevertheless, the betrothment proappears from the following description of a ceeds:-French commentator:-“ Catharine bat sa

“Give me thy hand, Kate : I will unto Venice, seur par fantaisie et pour passer le temps,

To buy apparel 'gainst the wedding-day: malgré les prières et les larmes de Bianca,

Provide the feast, father, and bid the guests; qui ne se défend que par la douceur. Bap

I will be sure my Katharine shall be fine. tista accourt, et met Bianca en sureté dans

Bap. I know not what to say: but give me sa chambre. Catharine sort, enragée de

your hands; n'avoir plus personne à battre."* It is in

God send you joy, Petrucio ! 't is a match. her worst humour that Petrucio woos her;

Gre. Tra. Amen, say we; we will be wit and surely nothing can be more animated

nesses." than the wooing :

“Father and Wife,” says Petrucio. The be“For you are call'd plain Kate,

trothment is complete; and Katharine acAnd bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the knowledges it when Petrucio does not come curst;

to his appointment But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom, Kate of Kate-Hall, my super-dainty Kate, "Now must the world point at poor Katharine, For dainties are all cates; and therefore, Kate, And say–Lo! there is mad Petrucio's wife, Take this of me, Kate of my consolation; If it would please him come and marry her.” Hearing thy mildness praised in every town, Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded

The “ taming” has begun; her pride is (Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs),

touched in a right direction. But Petrucio Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife.”

does come.

What passes in the church is

matter of description, but the description is Mr. Brownt has very judiciously pointed Shakspere all over. When we compare the out the conduct of this scene as an example freedom and facility which our poet has of Shakspere's intimate knowledge of Italian thrown into these scenes with the drawling manners. The conclusion of it is in reality course of the other play which deals with the a betrothment; of which circumstance no

same incidents, we are amazed that any one indication is given in the other play. The should have a difficulty in distinctly tracing imperturbable spirit of Petrucio, and the his “fine Roman hand.” Nor are the scenes daring mixture of reality and jest in his of the under-plot in our opinion less certainly deportment subdued Katharine at the first his. Who but Shakspere could have written interview :

these lines Setting all this chat aside,

Tranio, I saw her coral lips to move,

And with her breath she did perfume the air; * Paul Duport, 'Essais Littéraires,' tom. il. p. 305. Shakspeare's Autobiographical Poems.'

Sacred and sweet was all I saw in her."

me, Kate,"

Compare this exquisite simplicity, this tender | Petrucio's character is assumed. Whatever and unpretending harmony, with the bom- he may say, whatever he may do, we are bastic images, and the formal rhythm, of satisfied that he has a real fund of good the other play; the following passage, for humour at the bottom of all the outbreaks example :

of his inordinate self-will. We know that, Come, fair Emelia, my lovely love, if he succeeds in subduing the violence of Brighter than the burnish'd palace of the sun,

his wife by a much higher extravagance of The eyesight of the glorious firmament, violence, he will be prepared not only to reIn whose bright looks sparkles the radiant turn her affection, but to evoke it, in all the fire

strength and purity of woman's love, out of Wily Prometheus slily stole from Jove."

the pride and obstinacy in which it has been And who but Shakspere could have created buried. His concluding line, Grumio out of the materials which supplied the stupid Sander of The Taming of a

“Why, there 's a wench !-Come on, and kiss Shrew ?' That

“ Ancient, trusty, pleasant, servant Grumio," is an earnest of his happiness. is one of those incomparable characters who

Of the ‘Induction' we scarcely know how drove the old clowns and fools off the stage,

to speak without appearing hyperbolical in and trampled their wooden daggers and cox

our praise. It is to us one of the most precombs for ever under foot. He is one of that

cious gems in Shakspere's casket. The elenumerous train that Shakspere called up, of gance, the truth, the high poetry, the conwhom Shadwell said that “they had more

summate humour, of this fragment are so wit than any of the wits and critics of his remarkable, that, if we apply ourselves to time.” When Grumio comes with Petrucio compare it carefully with the Induction of to wed, he says not a word; but who has not

the other play, and with the best of the drapictured him“ with a linen stock on one leg, in some degree obtain a conception, not only

matic poetry of his contemporaries, we shall and a kersey boot-hose on the other--a very of the qualities in which he equalled and monster in apparel; and not like a Christian footboy, or a gentleman's lackey ?” We excelled the highest things of other men, imagine him, like Sancho or Ralpho, some

and in which he could be measured with what under-sized. His profound remark,

them, but of those wonderful endowments in

which he differed from all other men, and to “considering the weather, a taller man than I would take cold,” is indicative equally

which no standard of comparison can be of his stature and his wit.

In the scene

applied. Schlegel says, “The last half of with Curtis, in the fourth act, he is almost

this prelude, that in which the tinker in his as good as Launce and Touchstone.

new state again drinks himself out of his But we are digressing from Petrucio

, the senses, and is transformed in his sleep into soul of this drama. Hazlitt's character of his former condition, from some accident or him is very just :-“ Petrucio is a madman

other is lost.” We doubt whether it was in his senses; a very honest fellow, who

ever produced ; and whether Shakspere did hardly speaks a word of truth, and succeeds

not exhibit his usual judgment in letting in all his tricks and impostures. He acts

the curtain drop upon honest Christopher, his assumed character to the life, with the

when his wish was accomplished at the close most fantastical extravagance, with com

of the comedy which he had expressed very plete presence of

ind, with untired animal early in its progress : spirits, and without a particle of ill-humour

“'T is a very excellent piece of work, madam from beginning to end." The great skill lady; 'Would 't were done !" which Shakspere has shown in the management of this comedy is established in the Had Shakspere brought him again upon the conviction which he produces all along that scene, in all the richness of his first exhibi. tion, perhaps the impatience of the audience ventured to continue him. Neither this would never have allowed them to sit through fragment, nor that of “ Cambuscan bold,” the lessons of “the taming-school.” We could be made perfect, unless we could have had farces enough founded upon the

“Call up him that left half told legend of Christopher Sly, but no one has

The story.”

[blocks in formation]

ceed;

The Dramas of Shakspere are in no particu- Henry the sixth, in infant bands crown'd king lar more remarkable than in the almost com- Of France and England, did this king sucplete absence of any allusion to their author —any reference to his merely personal

Whose state so many had the managing, thoughts and circumstances—any intimation,

That they lost France, and made his Eng

land bleed : that might naturally enough have been conveyed in Prologue or Epilogue, of the rela

Which oft our stage hath shown; and for tions in which the Poet stood with regard to

their sake, his audience. There are only ten of his

In your fair minds let this acceptance take." plays in which any one of the characters, at “ The story ” which the author “ hath purthe conclusion, comes forward as an actor to sued thus far" is the story which began with deprecate censure or solicit applause. There the deposition of Richard II. The story of are only two out of these ten plays in which the triumphant progress of the house of Lanthe Author, through the actor, directly ad-caster, up to the period when the son of dresses the spectators. In the Epilogue to Bolingbroke had “achieved the world's best “The Second Part of Henry IV.' the Dancer garden,” had been told by the poet in four says, in a light manner, “ Our humble Author | dramas, of which ‘Henry V.' was the concludwill continue the story.” In the concluding ing one. These dramas had been linked toChorus to 'Henry V.,' the Poet, then in the gether with the most scrupulous care, so very zenith of his popularity, addresses him that, although for the purposes of represenself to the audience, of course through the tation there were necessarily distinct pauses actor, more seriously and emphatically :- in the action, they were essentially one great

drama. They were written, it is highly pro“Thus far, with rough and all unable pen,

bable, almost consecutively; for not only Our bending author hath pursued the story; does the external evidence show that they In little room confining mighty men, Mangling by starts the full course of their

were given to the world during the last

three years of the sixteenth century, but their glory. Small time, but in that small most greatly whole dramatic construction, as well as their lived

peculiarities of style, determine them to beThis star of England: fortune made his long to one and the same period of the poet's sword

life, when his genius grasped a subject with By which the world's best garden he achieved, the full consciousness of power, and revelled

And of it left his son imperial lord. in its own luxuriance, whether of wit or fancy, without timidity. But there was

“ With three rusty swords, another great division of the story, which had And help of some few foot and half-foot been previously told. As the glories of the

words, house of Lancaster, consummated in the

Fight over York and Lancaster's long jars, victory of Agincourt, had been traced through

And in the tiring-house bring wounds to

scars." these four great dramas, so the ruin of the house of Lancaster, and all the terrible con- That the play in which the brave Talbot sequences of the struggles between that triumphed “again on the stage” was what house and the other branch of the Planta- we call “The First Part of Henry VI.,' there genets, even up to the final termination of can be no reasonable doubt ; that what we the struggle at the field of Bosworth, had call the Second and Third Parts of 'Henry been developed in four other dramas of an VI.,' and perhaps · Richard III.,' were those earlier date :

in which were fought over “ York and Lan

caster's long jars," is equally clear. Shak“Henry the sixth, in infant bands crown'd king Of France and England, did this king suc

spere, as it appears to us, does not hesitate

to adopt this series of plays as his own. The Whose state so many had the managing,

author of 'Henry V.' asks that the success That they lost France, and made his Eng- of these earlier dramas should commend his land bleed :

later play to a favourable reception Which oft our stage hath shown."

“For their sake, Of this other series of dramas thus described In your fair minds let this acceptance take.” —the second in the order of events, the first For a critical study of the plays of Shakin the order of their composition and per- spere there is an important advantage in formance—“the bending author” in his tracing the growth of his powers through the Chorus to 'Henry V.' makes no equivocal probable order in which his dramas were mention. The events which “lost France'

produced. Following out this principle and made “England bleed” had the “stage” strictly, we should treat of 'Henry VI.' and of Shakspere often "shown,” in dramas Richard III.' before ‘Richard II.,''Henry which had long been familiar to his audience, IV.,' and 'Henry V.? But, on the other hand,

ceed;

and were unquestionably in the highest de we may consider this series of eight plays as

gree popular. As early as 1592 Thomas the development of a great idea of dramatic Nashe thus writes – “How would it have unity, conceived, it may be, by the poet in joyed brave Talbot, the terror of the French, his earliest period, although produced in deto think that after he had lain two hundred tached portions, and not grouped into one years

in his tomb he should triumph again on “story " till ‘Henry V.' completed the series. the stage ; and have his bones new embalmed The circumstances which suggested “the with the tears of ten thousand spectators at story” would naturally arise out of his youthleast (at several times), who, in the trage- ful position. The “story" of the Wars of the dian that represents his person, behold him Roses was presented to him with ancestral fresh bleeding !"* In 1596, when Ben Jon- and local associations. When Shakspere was son produced his 'Every Man in his Hu- about five years of age, a grant of arms was mour,' he accompanied it with a Prologuet, made by the College of Heralds to his father. levelled against what appeared to him the The father was unquestionably engaged in absurdities of the romantic drama, in which business of some sort in Stratford-upon-Avon; is this passage :

he was an agriculturist, in all likelihood ; manent importance. The grant was con- found a thick squat folio volume, then some firined in 1599 ; and the reason for the con- thirty years printed, in which might be read, firmation of arms stated with minute “what misery, what murder, and what exeparticularity in the “exemplification” then crable plagues this famous region bath sufgranted by Sir William Dethick and the fered by the division and dissention of the great Camden :-“ Know ye that in all na- renowned houses of Lancaster and York." tions and kingdoms the record and remem- This, to the generation of Shakspere's boybrance of the valiant facts and virtuous dis- hood, was not a tale buried in the dust of positions of worthy men have been known ages ; it was one whose traditions were and divulged by certain shields of arms and familiar to the humblest of the land, whilst tokens of chivalry ; the grant and testimony the memory of its bitter hatreds still ruffled whereof appertaineth unto us, by virtue of the spirits of the highest. “For what nobleour offices from the queen's most excellent man liveth at this day, or what gentleman of majesty and her highness' most noble and any ancient stock or progeny is clear, whose victorious progenitors ; wherefore, being so- lineage hath not been infested and plagued licited, and by credible report informed that with this unnatural division ?” In that old John Shakspeare, now of Stratford-upon- volume from which we quote, “ the names of Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent., the histories contained” are thus set forth : whose parent and great-grandfather, late an- _“I. “The Unquiet Time of King Henry the tecessor, for his faithful and approved service Fourth. II. “The Victorious Acts of King to the late most prudent prince King Henry Henry the Fifth. III. 'The Troublous SeaVII. of famous memory, was advanced and son of King Henry the Sixth.' IV. “The rewarded with lands and tenements, given to Prosperous Reign of King Edward the him in these parts of Warwickshire, where Fourth.' V. “The Pitiful Life of King Edthey have continued by some descents in ward the Fifth. VI. “The Tragical Doings good reputation and credit," &c., &c. It is of King Richard the Third.' VII. The Ponot difficult to imagine the youthful Shak- litic Governance of King Henry the Seventh.' spere sitting at his mother's feet, to listen to VIII. "The Triumphant Reign of King the tale of his “antecessor's " prowess ; or to Henry the Eighth.' This book was Hall's picture the boy led by his father over the Chronicle.' field of Bosworth—to be shown the great The subject, then, of this division of our morass which lay between both armies—and Studies ’ will be Shakspere’s Dramatic ChroRadmoor Plain, where the battle began- niele“ of the two noble and illustrious famiand Dickon's Nook, where the tyrant ha- lies of Lancaster and York, being long in rangued his army-and the village of Dad- continual dissention for the Crown of this lington, where the graves of the slain still realm,”—the 'Chronicle,' which commences indented the ground. Here was the scene of with the banishment of Bolingbroke by his antecessor's “faithful and approved ser- Richard II., and ends with the overthrow of vice.” In the humble house of Shakspere's the descendant of “the first author of the boyhood there was, in all probability, to be division ” on the field of Bosworth.

but he lived in an age when the pride of an* Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil.' + Gifford has clearly demonstrated that the Prologue

cestry was not lightly regarded, and when a appeared originally with Jonson's first comedy, and was

distinction such as this was of real and pernot appended long afterwards, as the commentators have supposed, for the sake of sneering at Shakspere's later # Jonson, in another place, has translated the " sesquipedramas.

dalia verba," by this phrase.

« 上一頁繼續 »