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Shakespeare praises music so frequently and so enthusiastically that we must regard the trait as characteristic of his deepest nature. Take this play which we are handling now. Not only the Duke, but both the heroines, Viola and Olivia, love music. Viola can sing" in many sorts of music,” and Olivia admits that she would rather hear Viola solicit love than “ music from the spheres.” Romeo almost confounds music with love, as does Duke Orsino:
“How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night,
Like softest music to attending ears!”
“ And let rich music's tongue Unfold the imagin'd happiness that both Receive in either by this dear encounter."
It is a curious and characteristic fact that Shakespeare gives almost the same words to Ferdinand in “ The Tempest” that he gave ten years earlier to the Duke in “ Twelfth Night.” In both passages music goes with passion to allay its madness:
“ This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
and Duke Orsino says:
“That old and antique song we heard last night,
Methought it did relieve my passion much."
This confession is so peculiar; shows, too, so exquisitely fine a sensibility, that its repetition makes me regard it as Shakespeare's. The most splendid lyric on music is given to Lorenzo in “ The Merchant of Venice,” and it may be remarked in passing that
Lorenzo is not a character, but, like Claudio, a mere name and a mouthpiece of Shakespeare's feeling. Shakespeare was almost as well content, it appears, to play the lover as to play the Duke. I cannot help transcribing the magical verses, though they must be familiar to every lover of our English tongue:
“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
The first lines of this poem are conceived in the very spirit of the poems of “ Twelfth Night," and in the last lines Shakespeare puts to use that divine imagination which lifts all his best verse into the higher air of life, and reaches its noblest in Prospero's solemn-sad lyric.
Shakespeare's love of music is so much a part of himself that he condemns those who do not share it; this argument, too, is given to Lorenzo:
“The man that hath no music to himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
That this view was not merely the expression of
a passing mood is shown by the fact that Shakespeare lends no music to his villains; but Timon gives welcome to his friends with music, just as Hamlet welcomes the players with music and Portia calls for music while her suitors make their eventful choice. Titania and Oberon both seek the aid of music to help them in their loves, and the war-worn and timeworn Henry IV. prays for music to bring some rest to his “weary spirit”; in much the same mood Prospero desires music when he breaks his wand and resigns his magical powers.
Here, again, in “ Twelfth Night” in full manhood Shakespeare shows himself to us as Romeo, in love with flowers and music and passion. True, this Orsino is a little less occupied with verbal quips, a little more frankly sensual, too, than Romeo; but then Romeo would have been more frankly sensual had he lived from twenty-five to thirty-five. As an older man, too, Orsino has naturally more of Hamlet-Shakespeare's peculiar traits than Romeo showed; the contempt of wealth and love of solitude are qualities hardly indicated in Romeo, while in Orsino as in the mature Shakespeare they are salient characteristics. To sum up: Hamlet-Macbeth gives us Shakespeare's mind; but in RomeoOrsino he has discovered his heart and poetic temperament to us as ingenuously, though not, perhaps, so completely, as he does in the Sonnets.
HAKESPEARE'S portraits of himself are not
age bring into clearer light the indestructible individuality, and no difference of circumstance or position has any effect upon this distinctive character: whether he is the lover, Romeo; the murderer, Macbeth; the courtier, Hamlet; or the warrior, Posthumus; he is always the same-a gentle yet impulsive nature, sensuous at once and meditative; half poet, half philosopher, preferring nature and his own reveries to action and the life of courts; a man physically fastidious to disgust, as is a delicate woman, with dirt and smells and common things; an idealist daintily sensitive to all courtesies, chivalries, and distinctions. The portrait is not yet complete far from it, indeed; but already it is manifest that Shakespeare's nature was so complex, so tremulously poised between world-wide poles of poetry and philosophy, of what is individual and concrete on the one hand and what is abstract and general on the other, that the task of revealing himself was singularly difficult. It is not easy even to
. describe him as he painted himself: it may be that, wishing to avoid a mere catalogue of disparate qualities, I have brought into too great prominence the gentle passionate side of Shakespeare's nature; though that would be difficult and in any case no bad fault; for this is the side which has hitherto been neglected or rather overlooked by the critics.
My view of Shakespeare can be made clearer by examples. I began by taking Hamlet the philosopher as Shakespeare's most profound and complex study, and went on to prove that Hamlet is the most complete portrait which Shakespeare has given of himself, other portraits being as it were sides of Hamlet or less successful replicas of him; and finally I tried to complete the Hamlet by uniting him with Duke Orsino, Orsino the poet-lover being, so to speak, Shakespeare's easiest and most natural portrait. In Hamlet, if one may dare to say so, Shakespeare has discovered too much of himself: Hamlet is at one and the same time philosopher and poet, critic and courtier, lover and cynic—the extremes that Shakespeare's intellect could coverand he fills every part so easily that he might almost be a bookish Admirable Crichton, a type of perfection rather than an individual man, were it not for his feminine gentleness and forgivingness of nature, and particularly for the brooding melancholy and disbelief which darkened Shakespeare's outlook at the time. But though the melancholy scepticism was an abiding characteristic of Shakespeare, to be found in his Richard II. as in his Prospero, it did not overshadow all his being as it does Hamlet's. There was a summer-time, too, in Shakespeare's life, and in his nature a capacity for sunny gaiety and a. delight in life and love which came to full expression in the golden comedies, “ Much Ado,” “ As You Like It” and “Twelfth Night.” The complement to Hamlet, the sad philosopher-sceptic, is the sensuous happy poet-lover Orsino, and when we take these seeming antitheses and unite them we have a good portrait of Shakespeare. But these two, Hamlet and Orsino, are in reality one; every quality of Orsino is to be found or divined in Hamlet, and