« VorigeDoorgaan »
AS YOU LIKE IT.
SHAKspeare has here converted the forest of Arden into another Arcadia, where they "fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world." It is the most ideal of any of this author's plays. It is a pastoral drama, in which the interest arises more out of the sentiments and characters than out of the actions or situations. It is not what is done, but what is said, that claims our attention. Nursed in solitude, “ under the shade of melan. choly boughs," the imagination grows soft and delicate, and the wit runs riot in idleness, like a spoiled child, that is never sent lo school. Caprice and fancy reign and revel here, and stern necessity is banished to the court. The mild sentiments of humanity are strengthened with thought and leisure; the echo of the cares and noise of the world strikes upon the ear of those " who have felt them knowingly," softened by time and distance. “They hear the tumult, and are still." The very air of the place seems to breathe a spirit of philosophical poetry ; to stir the thoughts, to touch the heart with pity, as the drowsy forest rustles to the sighing gale. Never was there such beauts. ful moralising, equally free from pedantry or petulance.
" And this their life, exempt from publie haunts, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running bruoks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything *
Jaques is the only purely contemplative character in Shak. speare. He thinks and durs, nothing. His while occupatına is to amuse hus mind, and he is totally regardless of his bawdy and his fortunes. He is the prince of philosophical idlens; hus only passion is thought; he sets no value upon anything, but as it serves as food for reflection. He can “suck melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs;" the motley fool, “who morals on the time,” is the greatest prize he meets with in the forest. He resents Orlando's passion for Rosalind as some disparagement of his own passion for abstract truth; and leaves the Duke as soon as he is restored to his sovereignty, to seek his brother out who has quitted it, and turned hermit.
Out of these convertites
Within the sequestered and romantic glades of the forest of Arden, they find leisure to be good and wise, or to play the fool and fall in love. Rosalind's character is made up of sportive gaiety and natural tenderness: her tongue runs the faster to conceal the pressure at her heart. She talks herself out of breath, only to get deeper in love. The coquetry with which she plays with her lover in the double character which she has to support is managed with the nicest address. How full of voluble, laugbing grace is all her conversation with Orlando
-“In heedless mazes running
How full of real fondness and pretended cruelty is her answer to him when he promises to love her “For ever and a
“ Say a day without the ever : no, no, Orlando, men are April when they woo, December when they wed; maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives : I will be more jealous of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his hen; more clamorous than a parrot against rain ; more new-fangled than an ape; more giddy in my desires than a monkey; I will weep for nothing, like Diana in the fountain, and I will do that when you are disposed to be merry; I will laugh like a hyen, and that when you are inclined to sleep.
The silent and retired character of Celia is a necessary relief to the provoking loquacity of Rosalind, nor can anything be better conceived or more beautifully described than the mutual atlection between the two cousins.
-“We still have slept together,
The unrequited love of Silvius for Phebe shows the perver. sity of this passion in the commonest scenes of life, and the rubs and stops which nature throws in its way, where fortune has placed none. Touchstone is not in love, but he will have a mis tress as a subject for the exercise of his groteque humor, and to show his contempt for the passion, by his inlitt rence als 68 the person. He is a rare fellow. He is a mixture of the an. cient cynic philosopher with the modem buffion, and turns f.!!y into wit, and wit into folly, just as the fit takes him. His court. ship of Aubrey not only throws a degree of ridicule on the state of wedlock itself, but he is equally an enemy to the prejudices of opinion in other respects. The lofty tone of enthusiasm which the Duke and his companion in exile spread over the still. ness and solitude of a country life, receives a pleasant shock from Touchstone's skeptical determination of the question.
*Conin. And how like you this sleglier!'s l.fe. Mr. T xhetine!
(lown. Truly, shepherd, in respect of it self, it is a gownt life ; but in the spect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught in respect that it is stars. I like it very well ; but in respeet that it is priv 'te, it is a very vile late In respect it is in the fie inds, al plenseth me weld; but in respect it >> not ta the court, it is the As al is a spare life, da bod yeu ut nts my bunar ; bat a there is no tnate plenty in it, y mucha aggan mo. may statach **
Zimmerman's celebrated work on Slitude disa vyres cuiy ene half the son of this passar.
There is hardly any of Straipeare's plays that vurd.ns greater number of passages that have been quited the
seriks of extracts, or a greater number of phrases that have be in a manner provoriidad. If we were to give all the strikte 3
passages, we should give half the play. We will only recall a few of the most delightful to the reader's recollection. Such are the meeting between Orlando and Adam, the exquisite ap. peal of Orlando to the humanity of the Duke and his company to supply him with food for the old man, and their answer, the Duke's description of a country life, and the account of Jaques moralising on the wounded deer, his meeting with Touchstone in the forest, his apology for his own melancholy and his satiri. cal vein, and the well-known speech on the stages of human life, the old song of “Blow, blow, thou winter's wind," Rosalind's description of the marks of a lover and of the progress of time with different persons, the picture of the snake wreathed pound Oliver's neck while the lioness watches her sleeping prey, and Touchstone's lecture to the shepherd, his defence of cuck. olds, and panegyric on the virtues of “an If."-All of these are familiar to the reader: there is one passage of equal delicacy and beauty which may have escaped him, and with it we shall close our account of As You LIKE IT. It is Phebe's description of Ganimed, at the end of the third act.
“ Think not I love him, tho' I ask for him;
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Tue TAMING OF THE Shrew is almost the only one of Shak. speare's comedies that has a regular plot, and downright moral. It is full of bustle, animation, and rapidity of action. It shows admirably how self-will is only to be got the better of by stronger will, and how one degree of ridiculous perversity is only to be driven out by another still greater. Petruchio 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 er. travagance, with complete presence of mind, with untired ani. mal spirits, and without a particle of ill-humor from brginning to end. The situation of poor Katherine, worn out by his inces. sant persecutions, becomes at last almost as pitiable as it is ludi. crous, and it is difficult to say which to admire most, the unaccountableness of his actions, or the unalterableness of his reso lutions. It is a character which most husbands ought to study, unless perhaps the very audacity of Petruchio's attempt might alarm them more than his success would encourage them. What a sound must the following speech carry to some married cars!
** Think you a little din can daunt my man!