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Of all the loved and loving female characters of Shakspeare — although some may display a lustre more intense — there is not one that cheers the eye with a more mild and modest radiance than the spotless jewel, Imogen. Harsh and difficult as sometimes is the diction of the play, the sweetness of her nature o’erinforms it with delightful associations; we think of her as of the pine-apple in its prickly enclosure; or as of the delicious milk in the husky shell of the cocoabut. In the clear heaven of that unclouded mind, the wearied spirit obtains glimpses of human truth and unsuspecting gentleness that well, indeed, “may make us less forlorn.” No impure thought can dwell in the atmosphere that is perfumed by her breath; her bed-chamber becomes the very temple of Diana ; and we not only feel the poetic beauty, but could almost believe the literal truth of Iachimo's splendid hyperbole:
« The flame o' the taper
Posthumus displays one of those respectable, but imperfect natures, whose innocence (in more senses than one) disposes them to be “ as tenderly led by the nose as asses are.” In yielding to the suggestions of Iachimo, to the disparagement of such a being, and one so well known to him, as Imogen, he appears, for the moment, little less guilty, and a great deal more provoking, than the villain himself. His bitter repentance, however, and general demeanor in the last Act, induce us to forgive him, were it but in humble imitation of his charming Wife : and the same feeling, founded on similar penitence and remorse, may almost be extended to the acute, unprin. cipled laceimo, when we consider that the credulity of the one, combined with the scoundrelism of the other, has been the unconscious cause of so much delightful incident and poetry. The minor characters - Cymbeline and his Queen, the Brothers of Imogen, Belarius, Cloten, Lucius, and the rest — are all instinct with the life-giving power of Shakspeare, although he has not put out his greatest strength in their delineation.
In order properly to enjoy this exquisite, though irregular drama, we must cast aside the “ considering cap” of scientific criticism, and follow the Poet guilelessly, wherever he may choose to “wander at his own sweet will." The dim and remote era in which the action is supposed to pass, will dispose the really " gentle reader" to dispense with much of that probability, which he naturally looks for in productions of more definite pretensions. He must consider the play as a dramatic romance; and when he has mastered its occasional difficulties of versification, he will read it again, and again, and again — as all poetry should be read to be properly appreciated - and find it a “ perpetual source of nectared sweets, where no crude surfeit reigns.” The mountain scenes between the Brothers and their supposed Father; the instinctive affection which immediately displays itself between Imogen and the noble boys; all the delicate and pathetic circumstances attending her supposed death; these, and a hundred other beauties in the language, breathe the very air of Nature in her loveliest aspect. They exhibit all the outof-door sweetness and simplicity of Isaak Walton, mingled with a poetry and passion of a for higher and more recondite description.
“CYMBELINE” was first published in the original folio. Its domestic incidents appear to have been mainly derived from “ Boccaccio's DECAMERON” (ninth story, second day), though probably filtered through various channels before they reached the dramatist. The historic portion is founded on “HOLINSHED'S CHRONICLE;" according to whicr, Cymbeline, or Kymbeline, became king of the Britons in the nineteenth year of the reign of Augustus.
CYMBELINE, King of Britain.
of MORGAN GUIDERIUS, Sons to CYMBELINE, disguised under the ARVIRAGUS, S names of POLYDORE and CADWAL, sup
posed sons to BELARIUS.
QUEEN, Wife to CYMBELINE.
Lords, Ladies, Roman Senators, Tribunes, Apparitions,
a Soothsayer, a Dutch Gentleman, a Spanish Gentleman, Musicians, Officers, Captains, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.
SCENE. Sometimes in BRITAIN; sometimes in ITALY.
SCENE I. — Britain. The garden behind CYM- | In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward, and such stuff within,
Endows a man but he.
2nd Gent. You speak him far. 1st Gent. You do not meet a man but frowns : 1st Gent. I do extend him, sir, within himself; our bloods
Crush him together, rather than unfold
2nd Gent. What's his name and birth? 2nd Gent. But what's the matter? 1st Gent. I cannot delve him to the root : his 1st Gent. His daughter, and the heir of 's king
father dom, whom
Was called Sicilius, who did join his honor He purposed to his wife's sole son (a widow Against the Romans, with Cassibelan; That late he married), hath referred herself But had his titles by Tenantius, whom Unto a poor but worthy gentleman : she's wedded; He served with glory and admired success; Her husband banished; she imprisoned : all So gained the sur-addition, Leonatus : Is outward sorrow; though I think the king And had, besides this gentleman in question, Be touched at very heart.
Two other sons, who, in the wars o' the time, 2nd Gent. None but the king? Died with their swords in hand; for which their 1st Gent. He that hath lost her, too : so is the I father queen,
(Then old and fond of issue) took such sorrow, That most desired the match : but not a courtier, That he quit being; and his gentle lady, Although they wear their faces to the bent Big of this gentleman our theme, deceased Of the king's looks, hath a heart that is not | As he was born. The king he takes the babe Glad at the thing they scowl at.
To his protection ; calls him Posthumus Leonatus ; | 2nd Gente And why so ?
Breeds him, and makes him of his bed-chamber; 1st Gent. He that hath missed the princess is a Puts him to all the learnings that his time thing
Could make him the receiver of, — which he took, Too bad for bad report : and he that hath her As we do air, fast as 't was ministered, (I mean, that married her — alack, good man ! - And in his spring became a harvest : lived in court And therefore banished) is a creature such (Which rare it is to do) most praised, most loved : As, to seek through the regions of the earth A sample to the youngest; to the more mature, For one his like, there would be something failing | A glass that feated them; and to the graver,