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continence against her, and as it were divorces her in the very marriage-ceremony, her appeals to her own conscious innocence and honour are made with the most affecting simplicity.
" Claudio. No, Leonato,
Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?
Claudio. Out on thy seeming, I will write against it:
The justification of Hero in the end, and her restoration to the confidence and arms of her lover, is brought about by one of those temporary consignments to the grave of which Shakspeare seems to have been fond. He has perhaps explained the theory of this predilection in the following lines :
“ Friar. She dying, as it must be so maintain'd,
Into his study of imagination;
The principal comick characters in Much ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Benedick and Beatrice, are both essences in their kind. His character as a womanhater is admirably supported, and his conversion to matrimony is no less happily effected by the pretended story of Beatrice's love for him. It is hard to say which of the two scenes is the best, that of the trick which is thus practised on Benedick, or that in which Beatrice is prevailed on to take pity on him by overhearing her cousin and her maid declare (which they do on purpose) that he is dying of love for her. There is something delightfully picturesque in the manner in which Beatrice is described as coming to hear the plot which is contrived against herself
"For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.” In consequence of what she hears (not a word of which is true) she exclaims when these good-natured informants are gone,
“What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true?
Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much ?
No glory lives behind the back of such.
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;
To bind our loves up in an holy band :
For others say thou dost deserve; and I
And Benedick, on his part, is equally sincere in his repentance with equal reason, after he has heard the grey-beard, Leonato, and his friend, "Monsieur
, Love,” discourse of the desperate state of his supposed inamorata.
" This can be no trick; the conference was sadly borne. They have the truth of this from Hero. They seem to pity the lady; it seems her affections have the full bent. Love me! why, it must be requited. I hear how I am censur'd: they say, I will bear myself. proudly, if I perceive the love come from her; they say too, that she will rather die than give any sign of affection. I did never think to marry: I must not seem proud :-happy are they that hear their detractions, and can put them to mending. They say, the lady is fair; 'tis a truth, I can bear them witness : and virtuous ;-'tis so, I cannot reprove it: and wise-but for loving me:- by my troth it is no addition to her wit;-Dor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her.--I may chance to have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have rail'd so long against marriage: but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth, that he cannot endure in his age. Shall quips, and sentences, and these paper bullets of the brain, awe a mau from the career of his humour ? No: the world must be peopled. When I said, I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were marry'd.—Here comes Beatrice : by this day, she's a fair lady: I do spy some marks of love in her."
The beauty of all this arises from the characters of the persons so entrapped. Benedick is a professed and staunch enemy to marriage, and gives very plausible reasons for the faith that is in him. And as to Beatrice, she persecutes him all day with her jests (so that he could hardly think of being troubled with them at night) she not only turns him but all other things into jest, and is proof against every thing serious.
“ Hero. Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes,
Ursula. Sure, I think so;
Hero. Why, you speak truth : I never yet saw man,
These were happy materials for Shakspeare to work on, and he has made a happy use of them. Perhaps that middle point of comedy was more nicely hit in which the ludicrous blends with the tender, and our follies, turning round against themselves in support of our affections, retain nothing but their humanity.
Dogberry and Verges in this play are inimitable specimens of quaint blundering and misprisions of meaning; and are a standing record of that formal gravity of pretension and total want of common understanding, which Shakspeare no doubt copied from real life, and which in the course of two hundred years appear to have ascended from the lowest to the highest offices in the state.
SAAKSPEARE has here converted the forest of
66 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 thap 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 melancholy boughs,” the imagination grows soft and delicate, and the wit runs riot in idleness, like a spoiled child, that is never sent to 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 hy 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