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“ As Yon Like It” is the most perfect specimen of Shakspeare's various powers, that is to be found in all his writings. Some excep. tions to general excellence may be discovered in many of his productions ; but this drama presents one aniform picture of surpassing beauty. Every line teems with humanity. There is the philosophy of love, of mirth, and of melancholy. Of love, in all the delicacy and refinement of that exquisite passion-of mirth, sparkling with the utmost exuberance of wit and fancy-of melancholy, not
“ Mopish, thick-lipp'd, and dull melancholy," but a spirit deeply stricken with the baseness and ingratitude of the world-moralising on the various conditions and pursuits of men, not with cynical asperity, but sorrowful regret, chequered with the canstic and satirical humour that may serve to distinguish a disciple of Democritus. There is little plot to arrest attention, or to create suspense : the spell lies in the sentiments, which are clothed in lan. guage the most choice and appropriate, and in the grace and propriety of the characters.
This play is founded on the novel of_Rosalynde, or Euphues' Golden Legacy, 4to., 1590, written by Thomas Lodge, an elegant and somewhat prolific author of the Elizabethan age. From this origin bas Shakspeare borrowed not only many of the incidents, but some of his principal characters, with the exception of Jaques, Touchstone, and Audrey, which are his own. The scene is chiefly laid in the forest of Arden. We have the primitive simplicity of the pastoral age, with the wisilom of the schools--the quaint sallies of a court fool amidst the glories of paradise.
The character of Jacques bears a certain resemblance to that of Timon. Jacques has fled, not from the society of men, but from their follies and their vices; he still joins in fellowship with his brothers in exile; nor has his love of solitude given him a disrelish for humour in the pointed jests of the clown. Not so with Timon--his turbulent passions are only forced into a different channel: he hates with the same violence that he once revelled--his spirit, 80 far from being subdued by adversity, has become more furious by being opposed and he lives and dies a hideous example of impotent malice and disappointed ambition. Such are the shades that distinguish these two celebrated characters, which, though they bear some analogy in certain features, are, nevertheless, perfectly individualised and distinct.
The ancient clown, or fool (which characters have been strangely confounded with each other), was a domestic buffoon, whose peculiar province was to divert his lord. He had the privilege of saying that which from other lips would have been accounted treason or heresy; satirising the follies of all present, not sparing even his lord, with the utmost keenness of sarcastic wit. Olivia, in Twelfth Night, says, “There is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do nothing but rail.” Yet he often paid dearly for this indulgence, being liable to, and occasionally experiencing, very severe castigation. Lear threatens his fool with the whip. He has been described as a mere ideot, of natural, silly by nature yet cunning and sarcastic or else a witty bireling or counterfeit fool. Of the latter description were Tarleton, Will Summers, and Archee, wags who assumed the motley coat of folly only to langh at fools. Snch is Touchstone, in whom shrewdness and humour contend for the mastery. He is a
material fool, as Jacques aptly describes him. His folly, like Hamlet's madness, has both matter and method in it. His description of the knight who swore by his honour the mustard was Daught-his scenes of courtship with Audrey-his dissertation opon horns, and upon the lie seven times removed, are alternate jest and apotheghm. The character is worked up to the highest pitch of grotesque humour, without any approach to vulgar baffoonery.
The disposition of Rosalind is gentle and confiding--sprightly as youth and innocence can make it-tinged with occasional sadness for the banishment of her father and shaded with that most exquisite of all sensations, the melancholy of true love. Nor is the character of Celia scarcely less interesting, from her heroic friendship in fol. lowing the fortunes of Rosalind ; in soothing and supporting her amidst the perils of their flight; and in whimsically becoming the victim of that very passion which she rallies with such agreeable playfulness in her friend.
Orlando and Adam, the generous lord and the attached servant, exhibit human nature in that elevated point of view in which it is both useful and delightful to contemplate it. The poet who could thus inculcate such divine lessons of humanity, must have surely found the sentiment in bis own bosom!
“ 0, never seen, but in thy bless'd effects,
Or felt, but in the soul that heav'n selects;
To other hearts, must have thee in his own." Sylvius is a love-lorn shepherd, whose amorous expostulations have much of the quaintness of elegance and refinement. He pleads with considerable point and antithesis, and must have learnt his lesson in some other school than the forest of Arden. If Pope has made his swains talk like knights and scholars, he may plead the authority of Sir Philip Sydney and Shakspeare.
Phæbe displays the caprice and fickleness that have been common to her sex, whether in crowded cities, or in the Vales of Arcady. Audrey is a butt, against whom the mad wag, Touchstone, aims his sharpest arrows of satirical wit. She is a rich conception of comic buinour, though the gods have not made her poetical.
Among the many noble passages which this drama contains the speech of the duke
“ Now, my co-mates, and brothers in exile," Jacques' description of the wounded stag, and his far-famed speech on the seven ages of man, are the most prominent. The song, “ Under the greenwood tree,” is a beautiful pastoral. " Blow, blow, thon winter wind," is sublime.
Johnson regrets that Shakspeare, by hurrying this play to a close, lost the opportunity of inculcating some fine inoral sentiments, through the medium of a dialogue between the usurper and the hermit. We regret it, 100-injustice had then received a still sterner rebuke, and the following sentiment of the poet a more ample illustration :
“ Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomons,
Wears yet a precious jewel in its head." In contemplating this romantic and beautiful drama, all opinion necessarily rises into panegyric. Every part is so perfect-the philosophy, the humour, the sentiments, and the imagery--that to rise from it without delight and improvement, wonld betray an obliquity of feeling wbolly inconsistent with just perception and moral rectitude.
We are taught by the noblest examples, that adversity is not in reality a bane to man, but to his pride and ambition. That its uses are sweet and consolatory; and while with rude hand it arrests the career of his unlicensed passions, it restores his mind to that state of beathful serenity, which, when the vain blandishments of life are past and gone, is the remaining friend and companion of virtue. The schools dedicated to morals and philosophy, the holy temples of religion, never echoed with more divine precepts than the solitudes of Arden. Mirth never sounded a merrier note, nor music a more enchanting strain, than those wbich glad the hearts, and sooth the cares, of these banished foresters.
There are certain actors who seem born to represent particular characters. Kemble had only to appear in this play, and we immediately recognised him as the nelancholy lord, who
“ Found tongnes in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing." His performance of Jacques was characteristic and grand. His exquisite tact in the management of his voice, and his perfect enunciation, were never displayed to greater advantage than in his delivery of “ All the world's à stage,” which, without exception, was the finest specimen of recitation we remember to have heard.
We have seen the late Mr. Wroughton play Jacques with discrimination and feeling; but his ungraceful figare and passoinless countenance were sad drawbacks upon his performance. Mr. Young,by treading in the steps of Kemble, is the only true representative of this finely drawn character since the death of that inestimable actor.
Those who remember King, would fain persuade us that Touchstone was never so admirably represented, as by that celebrated comedian. But we are quite satisfied with Bannister and Fawcett, who, in our opinion, reach the highest point of comic humour. Bannister is more rich and playful-Fawcett more quaint and formal-Bannister, with less volubility, gives us time to relish the good things, which, like Sancho's bag of proverbs, succeed each other with such exuberance of fancy-Fawcett's rapid utterance is like the conjuror's wand at Bara taria : the good things ty before it ere we have sufficiently tasted them.
No actor ever realised our conception of Orlando but Mr. Charles Kemble. His countenance and figure, moulded with so much expression and gracefulness, and his lofty and chivalrous bearing, gave an animated picture of a knight of romance, who might win a lady's love at first sight. His expostulation with Oliver, his interruption of the sylvan banquet, and his colloquies with Rosalind, were beautiful acting. He was admirably seconded by Mr. Murray, in Adam, in which character we have never seen his equal.
Mrs. Jordan, and Mrs. Henry Siddons, were the Rosalinds that we remember with the greatest pleasure. The cuckoo-song, as sung by Mrs. Jordan, without the accompaniment of music, was beautiful beyond description. Miss Foote, in conntenance and figore, was every thing that could be desired in Rosalind. But the charm was broken when she began to act. To give due effect to the language of Shakspeare, it is necessary to feel and understand it.
If we never saw King's Touchstone-thank fortune, we have a perfect recollection of Miss Pope, in Audrey! A dramatic bonne bouche, in which, even in memory, we delight to luxuriate. Mrs. Mattocks approached nearest to Miss Pope ; Blanchard, in the simple part of Wil jam, was nature herself.
The DUKE.-Blue and white doublet and pantaloons, buff waistcuat, green velvet round hat and wbite plumes, russet boots, a vandyke and gauntlets.
DUKE FREDERICK, - Purple velvet jacket and trunks, crimson velvet robe, richly embroidered, lined with satin and edged with er. mine, round purple velvet hat, and white plumes, white silk stockings, ru 3set shoes, vandyke and gauntlets.
AMIENS -Blue doublet and pantaloons, round purple hat, and white plume, russet boots, vandyke and gauntlets.
JAQUES.-Blue doublet and pantaloons, trimmed with brown fur, black hat, and blue plume, russet boots, vandyke and gauntlets.
ORLANDO.--Olive-brown doublet and pantaloons, trimmed with light blue, brown cap. Second dress—Blue jacket, buff pantaloons, russet boots, vandyke and gauntlets,
OLIVER.–Blue jacket, trunks, and cloak, ornamented with sil. Fer ; black velvet hat, white plumes, and russet shoes. Second dress–Round black hat, and the other parts of his dress blue entirely.
TOUCHSTONE.-A party-coloured (red, white, and blue) doublet, trunks, and cloak; a curiously formed cap, with an ear (like the ear of an ass) standing up on each side. One red, and one white stock. ing ; one russet, and one black shoe.
LE BEAU.-Light-brown jacket and cloak, trimmed with silver; light-blue pantaloons, white shoes, and satin roses, with hat and plumes.
CORIN and SYLVIUS.-Drab doublet and trunks, russet slıoes, and brown caps.
ROSALIND -White dress, spangled with gold. Second dressgreen tanic, trimmed with fur, blue pantaloons, round hat, russet boots.
CELIA.-White dress, spangled with silver. Second dress blue body, white muslin skirt, trimmed with green flowers.
PHEBE.-White, trimmed with green.
AUDREY.-Tawdry gown with large flowers, crimson stuffed petticoat, with jacket, rutiles, large flat straw hat.
Cast of the Characters in the Comedy of As You Like It, at the
Theatre-Royal, Covent Garden.
Mr. C. Kemble