« 上一頁繼續 »
Compare this exquisite simplicity, this tender | Petrucio's character is assumed. Whatever
and unpretending harmony, with the bombastic images, and the formal rhythm, of the other play; the following passage, for example :
Come, fair Emelia, my lovely love, Brighter than the burnish'd palace of the sun, The eyesight of the glorious firmament,
In whose bright looks sparkles the radiant fire
Wily Prometheus slily stole from Jove." And who but Shakspere could have created Grumio out of the materials which supplied the stupid Sander of 'The Taming of a Shrew?' That
"Ancient, trusty, pleasant, servant Grumio," is one of those incomparable characters who drove the old clowns and fools off the stage, and trampled their wooden daggers and coxcombs for ever under foot. He is one of that
numerous train that Shakspere called up, of whom Shadwell said that "they had more wit than any of the wits and critics of his time." When Grumio comes with Petrucio to wed, he says not a word; but who has not
pictured him "with a linen stock on one leg, and a kersey boot-hose on the other-a very monster in apparel; and not like a Christian footboy, or a gentleman's lackey?" We imagine him, like Sancho or Ralpho, somewhat under-sized. His profound remark, "considering the weather, a taller man than I would take cold," is indicative equally
of his stature and his wit. In the scene with Curtis, in the fourth act, he is almost as good as Launce and Touchstone.
But we are digressing from Petrucio, the soul of this drama. Hazlitt's character of him is very just :-" Petrucio is a madman 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 great skill which Shakspere has shown in the management of this comedy is established in the conviction which he produces all along that
he may say, whatever he may do, we are satisfied that he has a real fund of good humour at the bottom of all the outbreaks of his inordinate self-will. We know that, if he succeeds in subduing the violence of his wife by a much higher extravagance of violence, he will be prepared not only to return her affection, but to evoke it, in all the strength and purity of woman's love, out of the pride and obstinacy in which it has been buried. His concluding line,
"Why, there's a wench!-Come on, and kiss me, Kate,"
is an earnest of his happiness.
Of the 'Induction' we scarcely know how to speak without appearing hyperbolical in our praise. It is to us one of the most precious gems in Shakspere's casket. The elegance, the truth, the high poetry, the consummate humour, of this fragment are so remarkable, that, if we apply ourselves to compare it carefully with the Induction of the other play, and with the best of the drain some degree obtain a conception, not only matic poetry of his contemporaries, we shall of the qualities in which he equalled and excelled the highest things of other men, and in which he could be measured with them, but of those wonderful endowments in which he differed from all other men, and to which no standard of comparison can be "The last half of applied. Schlegel says, this prelude, that in which the tinker in his new state again drinks himself out of his senses, and is transformed in his sleep into his former condition, from some accident or other is lost." We doubt whether it was ever produced; and whether Shakspere did not exhibit his usual judgment in letting the curtain drop upon honest Christopher, when his wish was accomplished at the close of the comedy which he had expressed very early in its progress :
""T is a very excellent piece of work, madam lady; 'Would 't were done!"
Had Shakspere brought him again upon the scene, in all the richness of his first exhibi
tion, perhaps the impatience of the audience would never have allowed them to sit through the lessons of "the taming-school." We have had farces enough founded upon the legend of Christopher Sly, but no one has
ventured to continue him. Neither this fragment, nor that of "Cambuscan bold," could be made perfect, unless we could "Call up him that left half told The story."
THE Dramas of Shakspere are in no particular more remarkable than in the almost complete absence of any allusion to their author ―any reference to his merely personal thoughts and circumstances-any intimation, that might naturally enough have been conveyed in Prologue or Epilogue, of the relations in which the Poet stood with regard to his audience. There are only ten of his plays in which any one of the characters, at the conclusion, comes forward as an actor to deprecate censure or solicit applause. There are only two out of these ten plays in which the Author, through the actor, directly addresses the spectators. In the Epilogue to 'The Second Part of Henry IV.' the Dancer says, in a light manner, " Our humble Author will continue the story." In the concluding Chorus to Henry V.,' the Poet, then in the very zenith of his popularity, addresses himself to the audience, of course through the actor, more seriously and emphatically :
"Thus far, with rough and all unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursued the story; In little room confining mighty men, Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.
Small time, but in that small most greatly
This star of England: fortune made his
By which the world's best garden he achieved, And of it left his son imperial lord.
Henry the sixth, in infant bands crown'd king Of France and England, did this king succeed;
Whose state so many had the managing,
That they lost France, and made his England bleed:
Which oft our stage hath shown; and for
In your fair minds let this acceptance take." "The story" which the author "hath pursued thus far" is the story which began with the deposition of Richard II. The story of the triumphant progress of the house of Lancaster, up to the period when the son of Bolingbroke had "achieved the world's best garden," had been told by the poet in four dramas, of which 'Henry V.' was the concluding one. These dramas had been linked together with the most scrupulous care, so that, although for the purposes of representation there were necessarily distinct pauses in the action, they were essentially one great drama. They were written, it is highly probable, almost consecutively; for not only does the external evidence show that they were given to the world during the last three years of the sixteenth century, but their whole dramatic construction, as well as their peculiarities of style, determine them to belong to one and the same period of the poet's life, when his genius grasped a subject with the full consciousness of power, and revelled in its own luxuriance, whether of wit or
fancy, without timidity. But there was another great division of the story, which had been previously told. As the glories of the house of Lancaster, consummated in the victory of Agincourt, had been traced through these four great dramas, so the ruin of the house of Lancaster, and all the terrible consequences of the struggles between that house and the other branch of the Plantagenets, even up to the final termination of the struggle at the field of Bosworth, had been developed in four other dramas of an earlier date :
Which oft our stage hath shown."
Of this other series of dramas thus described -the second in the order of events, the first in the order of their composition and performance-"the bending author" in his Chorus to 'Henry V.' makes no equivocal mention. The events which "lost France" and made “England bleed " had the "stage" of Shakspere often "shown," in dramas which had long been familiar to his audience, and were unquestionably in the highest degree popular. As early as 1592 Thomas Nashe thus writes :-" -"How would it have joyed brave Talbot, the terror of the French, to think that after he had lain two hundred years in his tomb he should triumph again on the stage; and have his bones new embalmed with the tears of ten thousand spectators at least (at several times), who, in the tragedian that represents his person, behold him fresh bleeding!"* In 1596, when Ben Jonson produced his 'Every Man in his Humour,' he accompanied it with a Prologuet, levelled against what appeared to him the absurdities of the romantic drama, in which is this passage:
*Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil.'
Gifford has clearly demonstrated that the Prologue appeared originally with Jonson's first comedy, and was not appended long afterwards, as the commentators have supposed, for the sake of sneering at Shakspere's later dramas.
"With three rusty swords,
And help of some few foot and half-foot words +,
Fight over York and Lancaster's long jars, And in the tiring-house bring wounds to scars."
That the play in which the brave Talbot triumphed "again on the stage" was what we call 'The First Part of Henry VI.,' there can be no reasonable doubt; that what we call the Second and Third Parts of 'Henry VI.,' and perhaps Richard III.,' were those in which were fought over "York and Lancaster's long jars," is equally clear. Shakspere, as it appears to us, does not hesitate to adopt this series of plays as his own. The author of 'Henry V.' asks that the success of these earlier dramas should commend his later play to a favourable reception :
"For their sake,
In your fair minds let this acceptance take."
For a critical study of the plays of Shakspere there is an important advantage in tracing the growth of his powers through the probable order in which his dramas were produced. Following out this principle strictly, we should treat of 'Henry VI.' and 'Richard III.' before 'Richard II.,' 'Henry IV.,' and 'Henry V.' But, on the other hand, we may consider this series of eight plays as the development of a great idea of dramatic unity, conceived, it may be, by the poet in his earliest period, although produced in detached portions, and not grouped into one
story" till 'Henry V.' completed the series. The circumstances which suggested "the story" would naturally arise out of his youthful position. The "story" of the Wars of the Roses was presented to him with ancestral and local associations. When Shakspere was about five years of age, a grant of arms was made by the College of Heralds to his father. The father was unquestionably engaged in business of some sort in Stratford-upon-Avon; he was an agriculturist, in all likelihood; but he lived in an age when the pride of ancestry was not lightly regarded, and when a distinction such as this was of real and per
Jonson, in another place, has translated the "sesquipedalia verba," by this phrase.
manent importance. The grant was confirmed in 1599; and the reason for the confirmation of arms is stated with minute particularity in the "exemplification" then granted by Sir William Dethick and the great Camden :-" Know ye that in all nations and kingdoms the record and remembrance of the valiant facts and virtuous dispositions of worthy men have been known and divulged by certain shields of arms and tokens of chivalry; the grant and testimony whereof appertaineth unto us, by virtue of our offices from the queen's most excellent majesty and her highness' most noble and victorious progenitors; wherefore, being solicited, and by credible report informed that John Shakspeare, now of Stratford-uponAvon, in the county of Warwick, gent., whose parent and great-grandfather, late antecessor, for his faithful and approved service to the late most prudent prince King Henry VII. of famous memory, was advanced and rewarded with lands and tenements, given to him in these parts of Warwickshire, where they have continued by some descents in good reputation and credit," &c., &c. It is not difficult to imagine the youthful Shakspere sitting at his mother's feet, to listen to the tale of his "antecessor's" prowess; or to picture the boy led by his father over the field of Bosworth-to be shown the great morass which lay between both armies-and Radmoor Plain, where the battle beganand Dickon's Nook, where the tyrant harangued his army-and the village of Dadlington, where the graves of the slain still indented the ground. Here was the scene of his antecessor's "faithful and approved service." In the humble house of Shakspere's boyhood there was, in all probability, to be
found a thick squat folio volume, then some thirty years printed, in which might be read, "what misery, what murder, and what execrable plagues this famous region hath suffered by the division and dissention of the renowned houses of Lancaster and York." This, to the generation of Shakspere's boyhood, was not a tale buried in the dust of ages; it was one whose traditions were familiar to the humblest of the land, whilst the memory of its bitter hatreds still ruffled the spirits of the highest. "For what nobleman liveth at this day, or what gentleman of any ancient stock or progeny is clear, whose lineage hath not been infested and plagued with this unnatural division ?" In that old volume from which we quote, "the names of the histories contained" are thus set forth : "I. "The Unquiet Time of King Henry the Fourth.' II. 'The Victorious Acts of King Henry the Fifth.' III. The Troublous Season of King Henry the Sixth.' IV. 'The Prosperous Reign of King Edward the Fourth.' V. "The Pitiful Life of King Edward the Fifth.' VI. "The Tragical Doings of King Richard the Third.' VII. The Politic Governance of King Henry the Seventh.' VIII. 'The Triumphant Reign of King Henry the Eighth.' This book was Hall's 'Chronicle.'
The subject, then, of this division of our 'Studies' will be Shakspere's Dramatic Chronicle " of the two noble and illustrious families of Lancaster and York, being long in continual dissention for the Crown of this realm,"-the 'Chronicle,' which commences with the banishment of Bolingbroke by Richard II., and ends with the overthrow of the descendant of "the first author of the division on the field of Bosworth.
KING RICHARD II.
THE Richard II. of Shakspere is the Richard | conspiracy. Bacon hints at a systematic II. of real history. purpose of bringing Richard II. “ upon stage and into print in Queen Elizabeth's time." Elizabeth herself, in a conversation with Lambarde, the historian of Kent, and keeper of the Records in the Tower, going over a pandect of the Rolls which Lambarde had prepared, coming to the reign of Richard II., said, "I am Richard II., know ye not that?" Any allusion to Richard II. at that time was the cause of great jealousy. Haywarde, in 1599, very narrowly escaped a state prosecution for his 'First Part of the Life and Reign of King Henry IV.' This book was the deposition of Richard II. put "into print," to which Bacon alludes. It appears to us that, without further evidence, there can be no doubt that the play acted before the partisans of the Earl of Essex was not the play of Shakspere. The deposition scene, as we know by the title-page, professed to be added to the edition of 1608. The play which Merrick ordered was, in 1601, called an obsolete play. Further, would Shakspere have continued in favour with Elizabeth, had he been the author of a play whose performance gave such deep offence?
But there is a question whether, as the foundation of this drama, Shakspere worked upon any previous play. No copy of any such play exists. The character of Richard is so entire so thoroughly a whole-that we can have little doubt in believing it to be a creation, and not a character adapted to the received dramatic notions of the poet's audience. But still there is every reason to suppose that there was another play of 'Richard II.'—perhaps two others; and that one held possession of the stage long after Shakspere's exquisite production had been acted and published. There is a curious matter connected with the state history of Shakspere's own times that has regard to the performance of some play of 'Richard II.' On the afternoon previous to the insurrection of the Earl of Essex, in February, 1601, Sir Gilly Merrick, one of his partisans, procured to be acted before a great company of those who were engaged in the conspiracy, "the play of deposing Richard II." The official pamphlet of the declarations of the treasons of the Earl of Essex states that, when it was told Merrick, "by one of the players, that the play was old, and they should have loss in playing it, because few would come to it, there was forty shillings extraordinary given to play it; and so, thereupon, played it was." In the printed account of the arraignment of Merrick, it is said that he ordered this play "to satisfy his eyes with a sight of that tragedy which he thought soon after his lord should bring from the stage to the state." There is a passage in Camden's 'Annals' which would appear to place it beyond a doubt that the play so acted was an older play than that of Shakspere. there charged against Essex that he procured, by money, the obsolete tragedy (exoletam tragœdiam) of the abdication of Richard II. to be acted in a public theatre before the
But we have now further evidence that there was an old play of ‹ Richard II.,' which essentially differed from Shakspere's play. Mr. Collier, whose researches have thrown so much light upon the stage in general, and upon Shakspere's life in particular, has published some very curious extracts from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, which describe, from the observations of a playgoer in the time of James I., a play of
Richard II.,' essentially different in its scenes from the play of Shakspere. Dr. Symon Forman, who was a sort of quack and astrologer, and who, being implicated in the conspiracy to murder Sir Thomas Overbury, had escaped public accusation by suddenly dying in 1611, kept "a book of plays and notes thereof, for common policy;" by which