« 上一頁繼續 »
a giant power in its strength and vigour of Did Famine follow; whom thou fought'st maturity, a formidable rival of 'Macbeth, against, ' Lear,' “Hamlet,' and “Othello.'"* The Though daintily brought up, with patience epithet “wonderful” is unquestionably the right one to apply to this drama. It is too Than savages could suffer." vast, too gorgeous, to be approached with- There came an after-time when, at Alexandria, out some prostration of the understanding.
"Our courteous Antony, It pours such a flood of noonday splendour
Whom ne'er the word of 'No' woman heard upon our senses, that we cannot gaze upon it
speak, steadily. We have read it again and again;
Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast, and the impression which it leaves again and
And, for his ordinary, pays his heart.” again is that of wonder. We can comprehend it, reduce its power to some standard, only This is the Antony that Shakspere, in the by the analysis of a part. Mrs. Jameson has play before us, brings upon the scene. adopted this course in one of her most brilliant Rome is to him nothing. He will not hear "Characteristics of Women.' Treading in her its ambassadors :steps timidly, we may venture to attempt a
“ There's not a minute of our lives should companion sketch to her portrait of Cleopatra.
stretch It is in the spirit of the play itself, as the last
Without some pleasure now." of the Roman series, that we shall endeavour to follow it, by confining ourselves as much as
a Roman thought hath struck him.” may be to an individual. We use the word He does hear the messenger. Labienus has in the sense in which Mr. Hare uses it, after
He winces at the thought some good-natured ridicule of the newspaper of his own inertness, but he will know the “individuals:”—a man “is an individual, so
truth:far as he is an integral whole, different and “Speak to me home: mince not the general distinct from other men ; and that which tongue." makes him what he is, that in which he Another messenger comes. Brief is bis differs and is distinguished from other men, is his individuality, and individualizes him.”+
“Fulvia thy wife is dead;" The Antony of this play is of course the Antony of Julius Cæsar; -—not merely the and brief is the question which follows :historical Antony, but the dramatic Antony
“ Where died she?" drawn by the same hand. He is the orator The comment shows the man :that showed dead Cæsar's mantle to the Roman people; he is the soldier that after
“There's a great spirit gone : Thus did I desire
it." his triumph over Brutus said, “ This was
We learn why he did desire it, in the scene a man. We have seen something of his character; we have learnt a little of his vo
with Cleopatra, in which he announces his luptuousness; we have heard of the “masker departure. Often has he heard, from the and the reveller;" we have beheld the un
same lips, the bitter irony of scrupulous politician. But we cannot think “What says the married woman?" meanly of him. He is one great either for He has been bound to Cleopatra not only by good or for evil. Since he fought at Philippi her “infinite variety," but by her caprice he has passed through various fortunes : and her force of ridicule. His moral power Cæsar thus apostrophizes him :
is as weak as his physical courage is strong. “ When thou once
Cleopatra paints the magnificent soldier and
“ The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm
Guesses at Truth."
Or murmuring Where 's my serpent of old His cocks do win the battle still of mine, Nile?'
When it is all to nought; and his quails over For so he calls me."
Beat mine, inhoop'd, at odds." He has fled from Cleopatra, but he sends her Therefore, his messenger :
“ I will to Egypt." “ All the east,
To establish an independent throne 1-to Say thou, shall call her mistress.”
intrench himself against the power of AuIn this temper he meets Cæsar, and he gustus in an Asiatic empire ? No. marries Octavia.
“And though I make this marriage for my The interview between Antony and Cæsar
peace, is most masterly. The constrained courtesy
l' the east my pleasure lies.” on each side the coldness of Cæsar-the frank apologies of Antony—the suggestion The reckless short-sighted voluptuary was of Agrippa, so opportune, and yet apparently never drawn more truly. His entire policy so unpremeditated — the ready assent of is shaped by his passion. The wonderful Antony all this — matter for rhetorical scene in which his marriage with Octavia is flourishes of at least five hundred lines in made known to Cleopatra assures us that in the hands of an ordinary dramatist-may be the extremest intemperance of self-will he read without a start or an elevation of the will have his equal. Cleopatra would have voice. It is solid business throughout. Antony unmarried, Antony, we might think, was a changed "So half my Egypt were submerged, and made man. Enobarbus, who knows him, is of a A cistern for scaled snakes." different opinion. Wonderfully has he de
According to Enobarbus, the unmarrying scribed Cleopatra ; and when Mecænas says,
will scarcely be necessary for her gratifica“Now Antony must leave her utterly," the answer is prophetic :
“ Eno. Octavia is of a holy, cold, and still
conversation. "Never; he will not:
Men, Who would not have his wife so? Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Eno. Not he, that himself is not so; which is Her infinite variety”
Mark Antony." Against this power Enobarbus knows that
The drinking scene between the Triumvirs the “ beauty, wisdom, modesty,” of Octavia and Pompey is one of those creations which will be a fragile bond. And Antony knows render Shakspere so entirely above, and so this himself. He knows this while he pro- utterly unlike, other poets. Every line is a tests,
trait of character. We here see the solemn “ I have not kept my square; but that to come “unmeritable” Lepidus; the cautious Cæsar; Shall all be done by the rule.”
the dashing, clever, genial Antony. His eye And yet he is not wholly a dissembler. dances; his whole visage “ doth cream and Shakspere has most skilfully introduced the mantle;” the corners of his mouth are drawn soothsayer, at the moment when Antony's down, as he hoaxes Lepidus with the most moral weakness appears to have put on some
admirable fooling : show of strength. He found the incident in
“ Lep. What manner o' thing is your crocoPlutarch ; but he has made his own applica
dile? tion of it:
Ant. It is shaped, sir, like itself; and it is as
broad as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it
“Be it art, or hap, is, and moves with its own organs,” &c. He hath spoken true: The very dice obey
“ Lep. 'T is a strange serpent." him; And in our sports my better cunning faints The revelry grows louder and louder, till Under his chance : if we draw lots, he speeds: “the Egyptian bacchanals” close the scene.
Who can doubt that Antony bears "the That stands upon the swell at the full of tide, holding" the loudest of all ?
And neither way inclines." “As loud
This, we think, is not "the Asiatic manner As his strong sides can volley."
of speaking." These are not the lords of the world of the Cold is Antony's parting with Octavia :French tragedy. Grimm, who, upon the "Choose your own company, and command whole, has a leaning to Shakspere, says—"11 what cost est assez ridicule sans doute de faire parler Your heart has mind to." les valets comme les héros ; mais il est beau- Rapid is his meeting with Cleopatra. She coup plus ridicule encore de faire parler aux “hath nodded him to her.” The voluptuary héros le langage du peuple."* To make has put on his Eastern magnificence :them drunk is worse even than the worst of
"l' the market-place, on a tribunal silver'd, the ridiculous. It is impossible to define
Cleopatra and himself in chairs of gold such a sin. We think, with Dogberry, it is
Were publicly enthroned." “ flat burglary as ever was committed.”
He rejects all counsel :-“I'll fight at sea." Upton has a curious theory, which would partly make Shakspere belong to the French school. The hero of this play, according to
“ The greater cantle of the world is lost
With very ignorance." this theory, does not speak“ the language of the people." Upton says—“Mark Antony, Now comes the generosity of his character, as Plutarch informs us, affected the Asiatic of the same growth as his magnificence and manner of speaking, which much resembled recklessness. He exhorts his friends to take his own temper, being ambitious, unequal, his treasure and fly to Cæsar. His self-abaseand very rhodomontade.
ment is most profound :This style our poet has very artfully and “I have offended reputation." learnedly interspersed in Antony's speeches.”+ Unquestionably the language of Antony is But he has not yet learnt wisdom. Cleopatra more elevated than that of Enobarbus, for is present, and thenexample. Antony was of the poetical tem- “Fall not a tear, I say; one of them rates perament-a man of high genius-an orator, All that is won and lost: Give me a kiss; who could move the passions dramatically,
Even this repays me." a lover, that knew no limits to his devotion, He then becomes a braggart; he will chalbecause he loved imaginatively. When lenge Cæsar, “sword against sword.” Prosorrow falls upon him, the poetical parts of found is the comment of Enobarbus :his character are more and more developed ; we forget the sensualist. But, even before
“I see, men's judgments are the touch of grief has somewhat exalted his
A parcel of their fortunes; and things outward
Do draw the inward quality after them, nature, he takes the poetical view of poetical
To suffer all alike." things. What can be more exquisite than his mention of Octavia's weeping at the Cæsar's ambassador comes to Cleopatra. He parting with her brother?
tempts her ;-and it almost looks as if she “The April 's in her eyes : it is love's spring,
yielded to the temptation. He kisses her And these the showers to bring it on."
hand, at the instant Antony enters :
“Moon and stars! And, higher still :
Whip him.” “Her tongue will not obey her heart, nor can Her heart inform her tongue: the swan's down This is partly jealousy; partly the assertion feather,
of small power by one accustomed to un
limited command. Truly Enobarbus says* Correspondance Littéraire, Troisième Partie,' tome i.
“ 'T is better playing with a lion's whelp, Critical Observations,
Than with an old one dying."
Shakspere makes this man the interpreter of tainty of what is left behind, are just like bis own wisdom :
the mouldering schemes of human great
“I see still, ness.” But, be it observed, the poetry is all A diminution in our captain's brain
in keeping with the character of the man. Restores his heart: When valour preys on
Let us once more repeat it: reason,
“ Ant. Eros, thou yet behold'st me. It eats the sword it fights with. I will seek
Ay, noble lord. Some way to leave him."
Ant. Sometime we & cloud that 's Enobarbus does leave him. But he first wit- dragonish :
A vapour, sometime, like a bear, or lion,
A tower'd citadel, a pendant rock, “One of those odd tricks which sorrow shoots
A forked mountain, or blue promontory Out of the mind."
With trees upon 't, that nod unto the world, Antony puts forth the poetry of his nature And mock our eyes with air: thou hast seen in his touching words to his followers, ending these signs; in
They are black vesper's pageants. “Let 's to supper; come,
Ay, my lord. And drown consideration."
Ant. That which is now a horse, even with
a thought When he hears of the treachery of Enobarbus,
The rack dislimbs; and makes it indistinct, he again tasks the generosity of his spirit to
As water is in water. the utmost :
It does, my lord. “Go, Eros, send his treasure after; do it; Ant. My good knave, Eros, now thy capDetain no jot, I charge thee."
tain is He has driven Cæsar “to his camp.” All
Even such a body; here I am Antony;
Yet cannot hold this visible shape, my knave.” Cleopatra's tresspass is forgotten in one burst of enthusiasm :
The images describe the Antony melting
“My nightingale, into nothingness; but the splendour of the We have beat them to their beds. What, girl? imagery is the reflection of Antony's mind, though gray
which, thus enshrined in poetry, can never Do something mingle with our younger brown; become “indistinct,”—will always “hold this Yet ha' we a brain that nourishes our nerves, visible shape.” Dryden has also tried to And can get goal for goal of youth.”.
produce a poetical Antony, precisely under Another day comes, and it brings another the same circumstances. We transcribe a note :
passage :“ AU is lost;
"Ant. This foul Egyptian hath betrayed me.”
Are open to her falsehood : my whole life Cleopatra says truly
Has been a golden dream of Love and Friend“ He is more mad
But, now I wake, I'm like a merchant, roused Than Telamon for his shield."
From soft repose, to see his vessel sinking, The scene which terminates with Antony And all his wealth cast o'er. Ingrateful falling on his sword is in the highest style of woman ! the great dramatist,--and that is to give the Who follow'd me, but as the swallow summer, highest praise. Hazlitt has eloquently said Hatching her young ones in my kindly beams, of its magnificent opening—“This is, without Singing her flatteries to my morning wake; doubt, one of the finest pieces of poetry in
But, now my winter comes, she spreads her Shakspere. The splendour of the imagery,
wings, the semblance of reality, the lofty range of
And seeks the spring of Cæsar."
Au for Love, Act V. picturesque objects hanging over the world, their evanescent nature, the total uncer- We hasten to the end. The magnificence
In the Address to the Reader prefixed to and placed in fearful situations, and somethe first edition, published in 1612, of 'The times with revolting imaginings almost White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona,' of beyond humanity. Those who talk of the John WEBSTER, is the following passage : carelessness of Shakspere may be surprised "Detraction is the sworn friend to ignorance: to find that his praise is that of a “right for mine own part, I have ever truly cherished happy and copious industry.” It is clear my good opinions of other men's worthy what dramatic writers were the objects of labours, especially of that full and heightened | Webster's love. He did not aspire to the style of Master Chapman ; the laboured and “full and heightened style of Master Chapunderstanding works of Master Jonson ; the man,” nor would his genius be shackled by
1 no less worthy composures of the both the examples of “the laboured and underworthily excellent Master Beaumont and standing works of Master Jonson." He Master Fletcher; and lastly (without wrong belonged to the school of the romantic last to be named), the right happy and dramatists. Master Beaumont and Master copious industry of Master Shakespeare, Fletcher are “worthily excellent;” but his Master Dekker, and Master Heywood, wishing aspiration was to imitate “ the right happy what I write may be read by their light; and copious industry of Master Shakespeare, protesting that, in the strength of mine own Master Dekker, and Master Heywood, wishing judgment, I know them so worthy, that what I write may be read by their light.” though I rest silent in my own work, yet to There were critics at that time who regarded most of theirs I dare (without flattery) fix the romantic drama as a diversion for the that of Martial :
multitude only ; and Webster thinks it
necessary to apologize for this deliberate Non norunt hæc monumenta mori.'”
choice" Willingly, and not ignorantly, in Webster was formed upon Shakspere. He this kind have I faulted.” He says—“ If it had no pretensions to the inexhaustible wit, be objected this is po true dramatic poem, I the all-penetrating humour of his master; but shall easily confess it, non potes in nugas he had the power of approaching the terrible | dicere plura meas, ipse ego quam dixi ; energy of his passion, and the profoundness willingly, and not ignorantly, in this kind of his pathos, in characters which he took have I faulted : for should a man present, out of the great muster-roll of humanity, I to such an auditory, the most sententious