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domestick life, afford a truer explanation of the matter? His women are certainly very unlike stage heroines; the reverse of tragedy queens.
We have almost as great an affection for Imogen as she had for Posthumus; and she deserves it better. Of all Shakspeare's women she is perhaps the most tender and the most artless. Her incredulity in the opening scene with Iachimo, as to her husband's inf. delity, is much the same as Desdemona's backwardness to believe Othello's jealousy. Her answer to the most distressing part of the picture is only, “My lord, I fear has forgot Britain." Her readiness to pardon Iachimo's false imputations and his designs against herself, is a good lesson to prudes; and may shew that where there is a real attachment to virtue, it has no need to bolster itself up with an outrageous or affected antipathy to vice. The scene in which Pisanio gives Imogen his master's letter, accusing her of incontinency on the treacherous suggestions of Iachimo, is as touching as it is possible for any thing to be :-
" Pisanio. What cheer, Madam?
Imogen. False to his bed! What is it to be false ?
Pisanio. Alas, good lady !
Imogen. I false ? thy conscience witness, Iachimo,
And for I am richer than to hang by th' walls,
Pisanio. Good Madam, hear me
Imogen Talk thy tongue weary, speak :
When Pisanio, who had been charged to kill his mistress, puts her in a way to live, she says,
" Why, good fellow,
Yet when he advises her to disguise herself in boy's clothes, and
suggests a course pretty and full in view," by wbich she
may happily be near the residence of Posthumus," she exclaims,
" Oh, for such means,
And when Pisanio, enlarging on the consequences, tells her she must change
_" Fear and piceness,
she interrupts him hastily :
“ Nay, be brief ;
In her journey thus disguised to Milford-Haven, she loses her guide and her way; and unbosoming her complaints, says beautifully,
“ My dear Lord,
She afterwards finds, as she thinks, the dead body of Posthumus, and engages herself as a footboy to serve a Roman officer, when she has done all due obsequies to him whom she calls her former master
“ And when
Now this is the very religion of love. She all along relies little on her personal charms, which she fears may have been eclipsed by some painted Jay of Italy ; she relies on her merit, and her merit is in the depth of her love, her trụth and constancy. Our admiration of her beauty is excited with as little consciousness as possible on her part. There are two delicious descriptions given of her, one when she is asleep, and one when she is supposed dead. Arvi. ragus thus addresses ber
"With fairest flowers,
I'll sweeten thy sad grave; thou shalt not lack
The yellow Iachimo gives another thus, when he steals into her bedchamber
There is a moral sense in the proud beauty of this last image, a rich surfeit of the fancy,--as that well known passage beginning, "Me of my lawful pleasure she restrained, and prayed me oft forbearance," sets a keener edge upon it by the inimitable picture of modesty and self-denial.
The character of Cloten, the conceited, booby lord, and rejected lover of Imogen, though not very agreeable in itself, and at present obsolete, is drawn with great humour and knowledge of character. The description which Imogen gives of his unwelcome addresses to her " Whose lovesuit bath been to me as fearful as a siege”-is enough to cure the most ridiculous lover of his folly. It is remarkable that though Cloten makes so poor a figure in love, he is
described as assuming an air of consequence as the Queen's son in a council of state, and with all the absurdity of his person and manners, is not without shrewdness in his observations. So true is it that folly is as often owing to a want of proper sentiments as to a want of understanding! The exclamation of the ancient critick, Oh Menander and Nature, which of you copied from the other! would not be misapplied to Shakspeare.
The other characters in this play are represented with great truth and accuracy, and as it happens in most of the author's works, there is not only the utmost keeping in each separate character; but in the casting of the different parts and their relation to one another, there is an affinity and harmony, like what we may observe in the gradations of colour in a picture. The striking and powerful contrasts in which Shakspeare abounds could not escape observation ; but the use he makes of the principle of analogy to reconcile the greatest diversities of character and to maintain a continuity of feeling throughout, has not been
, sufficiently attended to. In CYMBELINE, for instance, the principal interest arises out of the unalterable fidelity of Imogen to her husiand under the most trying circumstances. Now the other parts of the pictare are filled up with subordinate examples of the same feeling, variously modified by different situations, and applied to the purposes of virtue or vice. The plot is aided by the amorous importunities of Cloten, by the tragical determination of lachimo to conceal the defeat of his project by a daring imosture : the faithful attachment of Pisanio to his mistress