Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

and tried in the next assizes, (whether they be | sonified, and the Queen Elizabeth. The oriof gaol delivery or sessions of the peace,) if he ginal is part of an exceedingly 'rare, if not happen to be convicted for a vagabond either unique, collection, in black letter, in the library by inquest of office or the testimony of two of the Society of Antiquaries, reprinted in the honest and credible witnesses upon their oaths, 'Harleian Miscellany,' vol. x., p. 260. he is then immediately adjudged to begrievously In a volume of MS. music in the British whipped, and burned through the gristle of the Museum is a three-part song (a canon), supright ear with a hot iron of the compass of an posed to have been written in the time of inch about, as a manifestation of his wicked life, Henry VIII., beginning as the above, and which and due punishment received for the same. seems to be a version-or, possibly, the source And this judgment is to be executed upon him, of it. The music is in the old notation, each except some honest person worth five pounds part separate, and not "in score,” as erroneously in the queen's books in goods, or twenty shil- stated in the index to the volume. lings in lands, or some rich householder to be allowed by the justices, will be bound in recog.

13 SCENE VII.-"Where is thy lustre now ?” nizance to retain him in his seryice for one Of the scene of tearing out Gloster's eyes, whole year. If he be taken the second time, Coleridge thus speaks :-“I will not disguise and proved to have forsaken his said service, he my conviction that, in this one point, the tragic shall then be whipped again, bored likewise in this play has been urged beyond the outerthrough the other ear, and set to service; from most mark and ne plus ultra of the dramatic." whence if he depart before a year be expired, He subsequently says, “What can I say of this and happen afterwards to be attached again, he scene? There is my reluctance to think Shakis condemned to suffer pains of death as a felon spere wrong, and yet

-," As the scene stands (except before excepted), without benefit of in all modern editions, it is impossible not to clergy or sanctuary, as by the statute doth ap- agree with Coleridge. The editors, by their pear.”

stage directions have led us to think that this 11 SCENE IV.

horrid act was manifested to the sight of the The prince of darkness is a gentleman; audience. They say "Gloster is held down in Modo he's called, and Mahu."

his chair, while Cornwall plucks out one of his In a previous Illustration we have shown that eyes, and sets his foot on it.” Again, “ Tears Modo and Mahu, as the names of fiends, occur out Gloster's other eye, and throws it on the in Harsnet’s ‘Declaration of Popish Impostures' ground.” Nothing of these directions occurs There can be no doubt, we think, that Shakspere in the original editions, and we have therefore derived these names, as well as others which rejected them from the text. But if it can be Edgar uses, from this book, which, from its shown that the act was to be imagined and not nature, must have attracted considerable popu- seen by the spectators, some part of the loathing lar attention. But it is difficult to say where which we feel must be diminished. In an Illusthe Jesuits, whose impostures Harsnet describes, tration of ‘Othello,' Act V., we have shown the found the strange names which they bestow uses of the “secondary stage,” by which conupon their pretended fiends. Latimer, however, trivance “two scenes might be played which mentions Flibbertigibbet in his Sermons.' could be wholly comprehended, although not

everything in the smaller frame was expressly 12 SCENE VI.

and evidently seen.” We have also referred, in Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me.

that Illustration, to Tieck's argument, that the This is the first line of a “songe betweene the horrid action of tearing out Gloster's eyes did Queene's Majestie and Englande,” or a dialogue | not take place on the stage proper, giving a in verse, consisting of twenty-two stanzas of six portion of the note of that eminent Gerlines each, the interlocutors being England per

man critic.

ACT IV. 14 SCENE VI.

Hov fearful “But,' said Garrick, all alarmed for the god of And dizzy 't is, to cast one's eyes 80 low!&c. | his idolatry, we know not the extent and DR. Johnson has the following criticism on variety of his powers. We are to suppose there this celebrated passage :-“This description has

are such passages in his works : Shakspeare been much admired since the time of Addison, must not suffer from the badness of our mewho has remarked, with a poor attempt at mories.' Johnson, diverted by this enthusiastic pleasantry, that—He who can read it without jealousy, went on with great ardour—No, sir; being giddy has a very good head, or a very Congreve has nature' (smiling on the tragic bad one.' The description is certainly not eagerness of Garrick); but, composing himself, mean, but I am far from thinking it wrought to he added, “Sir, this is not comparing Congreve the utmost excellence of poetry. He that looks

on the whole with Shakspeare on the whole, but from a precipice finds himself assailed by one only maintaining that Congreve has one finer great and dreadful image of irresistible destruc- passage than any that can be found in Shaktion. But this overwhelming idea is dissipated speare.

What I mean is, that you can and enfeebled from the instant that the mind show me no passage where there is simply a can restore itself to the observation of par-description of material objects, without any ticulars, and diffuse its attention to distinct intermixture of moral notions, which produces objects. The enumeration of the choughs and such an effect.' Mr. Murphy mentioned Shak. crows, the samphire-man, and the fishers, coun. speare's description of the night before the teracts the great effect of the prospect, as it battle of Agincourt; but it was observed it had peoples the desert of intermediate vacuity, and

men in it. Mr. Davies suggested the speech of stops the mind in the rapidity of its descent Juliet, in which she figures herself awaking in through emptiness and horror.”

the tomb of her ancestors. Some one mentioned In this criticism we detect much of the pecu

the description of Dover cliff. Johnson— No, liar character of Johnson's mind, as well as of sir; it should be all precipice—all vacuum. the poetical taste of the age in which he lived. The crows impede your fall. The diminished Wordsworth, in his preface to the second edition appearance of the boats, and other circumof his poems, has shown clearly upon what false stances, are all very good description, but do foundations that criticism is built which would not impress the mind at once with the horrible prefer high-sounding words, conveying only in idea of immense height. The impression is determinate ideas, and call these the only proper divided; you pass on, by computation, from language of poetry, in opposition to the simple one stage of the tremendous space to another. and distinct language, “ however naturally ar

Had the girl in ‘The Mourning Bride' said she ranged, and according to the strict laws of could not cast her shoe to the top of one of the metre,” which by such criticism is denominated | pillars in the temple, it would not have aided prosaic. Johnson was thoroughly consistent in the idea, but weakened it.'” his dislike of the “observation of particulars,"

Taken as pieces of pure description, there is and the “attention to distinct objects.” In only one way of testing the different value of Boswell's 'Life' we have a more detailed ac the passages in Shakspere and Congreve that count of his poetical creed, with reference to is, by considering what ideas the mind receives this very description of Dover cliff:-“Johnson from the different modes adopted to convey said that the description of the temple, in 'The ideas. But the criticism of Johnson, even if Mourning Bride,' was the finest poetical passage it could have established that the passage of he had ever read : he recollected none in Shak. Congreve, taken apart, was “finer" than that of speare equal to it,

Shakspere, utterly overlooks the dramatic pro

priety of each passage. The “girl," in the (“How reverend is the face of this tall pile, Mourning Bride' is soliloquising-uttering a

Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
To bear aloft its arch'd and pond'rous roof;

piece of versification, harmonious enough, inBy its own weight made stedfast and unmoveable, deed, but without any dramatic purpose. The Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe

mode in which Edgar describes the cliff is for And terror on my aching sight. The tombs And monumental caves of death look cold,

the special information of the blind GlosterAnd shoot a chillness to my trembling heart !') one who could not look from a precipice. The

crows and choughs, the samphire-gatherer, the

15 SCENE VI. fisherman, the bark, the surge that is seen but

Half way down not heard-each of these, incidental to the Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful place, is selected as a standard by which Gloster

trade!!" can measure the altitude of the cliff. Transpose

There can be little doubt that Shakspere was the description into the generalities of Con- locally acquainted with the neighbourhood of greve’s description of the cathedral, and the

Dover. The cliffs in his time, as adjacent dramatic propriety at least is utterly destroyed. The height of the cliff is then only presented portions of the coast are now, were celebrated as an image to Gloster's mind upon the vague his ‘Poly-Olbion,' has these lines :

for the production of samphire. Drayton, in assertion of his conductor. Let the description

"Some, his ill-season'd mouth that wisely understood, begin, for example, something after the fashion

Rob Dover's neighbouring cleeves of sampyre, to excite of Congreve,

His dull and sickly taste, and stir up appetite." “ How fearful is the edge of this high cliff !” The last line shows us the uses of samphire. It and continue with a proper assortment of chalky such demand that it was mentioned by Hey

was and is prepared as a pickle; and it was in crags and gulfs below. Of what worth then

wood, in a song enumerating the cries of would be Edgar's concluding lines

London,
" I'll look no more;

“I ha' rock-samphier, rock-samphier."
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong”?

16 SCENE VI. The mind of Gloster might have thus received

Hadst thou been aught but gossamer.some “idea of immense height," but not an idea that he could appreciate “by computation." There is a beautiful description of the gosThe very defects which Johnson imputes to samer in ‘Romeo and Juliet,'Shakspere's description constitute its dramatic “A lover may bestride the gossamer, merit. We have no hesitation in saying further,

That idles in the wanton summer air, that they constitute its surpassing poetical

And yet not fall, so light is vanity.beauty, apart from its dramatic propriety.

It is needless to inquire whether Shakspere was aware that the filmy threads were the production of spiders. Spenser mentions them as “scorched dew.” Without entering into any detail of the controversy between naturalists as to the causes of the phenomenon, in connection with the spider, we may quote Gilbert White's remarks, attached to his interesting description of a shower of gossamers :

“ The remark that I shall make on these cobweb-like appearances, called gossamer, is, that, strange and superstitious as the notions about them were formerly, nobody in these days doubts but that they are the real production of small spiders, which swarm in the fields in fine weather in autumn, and have a power of shooting out webs from their tails, so as to render themselves buoyant and lighter than air. .... Every day in fine weather, in autumn chiefly, do I see those spiders shooting out their webs and mounting aloft: they will go off from your finger if you will take them into your hand. Last summer one alighted on my book, as I

was reading in the parlour, and, running to the (Samphire.)

top of the page, and shooting out a web, took its departure from thence. But what I most

[graphic]

wondered at was, that it went off with consider to have, while mounting, some locomotive able velocity in a place where no air was stir- power, without the use of wings, and to move ring, and I am sure that I did not assist it with in the air faster than the air itself.”History of my breath. So that these little crawlers seem Selborne.

COSTUME.

The sagacious Mrs. Lenox informs us that pendix to a Cyclopædia. We have no desire to “Shakspere has deviated widely from History regard the symbols by which ideas may be most in the catastrophe of his play;" whereat she is readily communicated, as the exponents of the somewhat indignant, for “had Shakspere fol. things themselves to which they refer. We are lowed the historian he would not have violated willing that a poet, describing events of a the rules of poetical justice.” The antiquarians purely fabulous character, represented by the are as sensitive as the moralists upon this narrators of them as belonging to an age to point. Had Shakspere attended to the chrono- which we cannot attach one precise notion of logy of the days of king Bladud, and preserved costume (we use the word in its large sense), a due regard to the manners of Britain, at the should employ images that belong to a more period when Romulus and Remus built Rome, recent period--and even to his own time. It is “ upon the eleventh of the Calends of May,” he for the same reason that we do not object to see would not have given us what Douce calls “a Lear painted with a diadem on his head, and plentiful crop of blunders.” He would have his knights in armour. We should not much made no allusions, according to Douce's literal quarrel with any theatrical costume of the view of the matter, to Turks, or Bedlam beggars, tragedy, excepting, perhaps, Garrick's laced or Childe Roland, or the theatrical moralities, coat, and Quin's powdered periwig. We would or to Nero. We confess, however, that this in- leave these things to the imaginations of our exactitude of the poet does not shock us quite readers (whatever stage-managers may do with so much as it does the professional detectors of their audiences), lest we should fall into some anachronisms,—those who look upon such allu- such mistake as that celebrated in the 'Art of sions as “ blunders” that may disturb the em Sinking in Poetry ;'pire of accuracy and dulness, and consider

“A painted vest Prince Vortigern had on, poetry as properly a sort of ornamented Ap Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won."

[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »