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humanity forbid poetry to enter. The hopes | persuades the painter to lend it to him. It and aims of Iolande are noble; her heart is the portrait of the Duke of Burgunwas liegefully given to heavenly things, and dy's wife, from whom he has long been eswas worthy of a human love also that should tranged. Resolved to procure the assassihave elevated, not degraded her. There is nation of Orleans, who had rescued Iolande something, we think, beneath the generos- from him, Montargis secretly conveys this ity of art (equally great when it dares and portrait into a chamber of the Duke of Orwhen it forbears), in the exhibition of a con- leans's palace, reported to be hung round by test like that to which she is subjected one the portraits of all those ladies who had suc
so unwittingly, waged so cessively surrendered their virtue to a bravely, and yet ending so ignominiously, prince as dissolute as he was captivating; as well as disastrously. Our estimate of her, and having carefully prepared the train, he and therefore of the real nature of her strug- introduces the Duke of Burgundy into the gle, rests upon that which is itself ambigu- apartment, among the boasts of which is ous, if we throw ourselves back into the this witness to his dishonour. This is the sympathies of the time described. Are we to critical scene, upon which the plot of St. regard the miraculous relic simply as an im- Clement's Eve turns; and there are few posture? If so, a second spite of fortune passages in the English drama in which a has placed a noble and innocent being in a vehement outburst of passion is more inposition painfully equivocal. But by the tensified by every art of skilful delay and only elevated characters in the play, the artificial stimulus. To appreciate the full healing agency is to the last moment sup- force of this scene, one must previously be posed to be supernatural. In that case, its acquainted with the ferocious, though by no failure would be the condemnation of one means callous, character of Burgundy. He who, with deficient purity, had dared to pro- is thus described early in the piece – fane it. In many parts of Mr. Taylor's poetry we
“Other clay, find a singularly keen appreciation of the Dug from some miry slough or sulphurous kindred art of painting. The following
bog, description will at once enable the reader to With many a vein of mineral poison mix’d, determine the school to which the picture This knew the crafty Amorabaquin,
Went to the making of Duke Jean-Sans-Peur. described belongs. We are much mistaken When captives by the hundred were hewn down, if it be not the Venetian.
'Twas not rich ransom only spared the Duke.
'Twas that a dying Dervise prophesied “Painter. There is a power in beauty which More Christian blood should by his mean be shed subdues
Than ere by Bajazet with all his hosts. All accidents of Nature to itself.
Therefore it was to France he sent him back Aurora comes in clouds, and yet the cloud With gifts, and what were they? 'twas bowDims not, but decks her beauty. Furthermore
This is the man who, after years of conIs but a fauitless model ; small def-ct
test with his cousin of Orleans, has been Conjoint with excellence, more moves and wins, forced into a temporary reconciliation with Making the heavenly human.
him. I spared no pains.
As daring in his wild fits of half-savLook closer; mark the hyacinthine blue
age frolic as in ambition, he has entered the Of mazy veins irriguous, swelling here,
palace, nay. the inmost and secret chamber, There branching and so softening out of sight. of one whom he knew to have been his sucNor is it ill conceited. You may mark cessful rival in power, but whom he has The timbrel drooping from her hand denotes never suspected of rivalry in love. The The dance foregone ; a fire is in her eye first sight of the“ galaxy of glowing dames" Which tells of triumph, and voluptuous grace
delights him: Of motion is exchanged for rapturous rest." Vol. iii. p. 170.
“ Ha! were it not a frolic that should shake
Grim Saturn's self with laughter, could we This picture has very serious consequen
bring Montargis, pretending zeal for a The husbands hither, each to look round and
The blazon of his dire disgrace.”
" Whose soul Lies in the hollow of her Grace's hand
Then comes a series of pictures, accompaSoft fluttering like a captured butterfly," nied by corresponding descriptions of char
acter, presented in a few masterly touches, | My blight from boyhood.
Verily therein that belongs to such delineations, with the Was foul-play worse befould ; no arts but his, storm that follows:
And theirs who taught him, with their rings
and rods, Burgundy. And then the next!
Powders and potions, would have breach'd the Montargis.
wall' Burgundy. She with the timbrel dangling Of that fair citadel. from her hand.
I'll have his blood ...
A later hour were better;
We want not daylight for a deed like this.
Burgundy. I sleep not till he's dead. Come
Montargis. Sir, at your command.
Burgundy. Look here, Montargis ; [Draw-
ing his sword.
Should a breath be breathed
That whispers of my shame, the end is this.
(Stals the portrait in the heart.” Albeit the carriage of the neck and head
Vol. iii. p. 179-181.
A succession of stirring scenes follows.
return of the king's madness, demands the It is my wife.
death of the maiden who had undertaken Montargis. Oh no, my Lord, no, no,
The Duke of Burgundy, sitting It cannot be her highness.
in council, pledges his word that she shall Burgundy. Cannot cannot
die. To save her, Orleans hastens to the Why, no, it cannot. For my wife is chaste,
council, attended only by his And never did a breath of slander dim
wait within the gate of a house, springs This picture is the picture of my wife.
upon his prey, and slays him. All Paris is Montargis. And my Lord, make answer in commotion, and the crowds scon swarm it is not.
around the council-chamber where the I would as soon believe that Castaly
Duke of Burgundy is sitting with the king's Had issued into Styx. Besides, look here,
uncles, the Dukes of Bouborn and Berri, There is a mole upon the neck of this Which is not on your wife's.
and the Titular King of Sicily. The chamBurgundy. That mole is hers;
berlain, entering, announces the murder. That mole convicts her.
The Provost of Paris, who follows him, deMontargis.
What? a mole? Well, yes, mands permission to search for the assassin Now that I think of it, some sort of smirch, in all places alike, the royal residences, in A blot, a blur, I know not what
spite of their ordinary privilege, not being Burgundy. That mole.
excepted. The other royal dukes consent. Oh see, Montargis, look at her, she smiles,
Burgundy alone refuses, and on being chalBut not on me, but never more on me!
lenged by the rest, suddenly avows bis Oh, would to God that she had died the day That first I saw that smile and trusted her;
guilt, leaves the council, and with his attenThough knowing the whole world of women dants escapes from Paris. In the meanfalse,
time the body of Orleans has been carried
lay. Immediately afterwards a tumult is
ing on like a raging sea, have reached and Oh the Iscariot kiss of those false lips !
beleaguered the convent. The hermit enWith him too — to be false with him — my treats Iolande to fly by the wicket. She
“ It is I where, were to be found ruffians scarcely Muist speak and vindicate the fame of him inferior to those Roman emperors whom Whose lips are silent;
Bossuet calls monsters of the human race and advances to the window, when an ar- was “ scotched, not killed,” by the chivalry
In the feudal system, the barbaric, it is true, row from below strikes her, and she falls. which expressed the Christian character of Once more the hermit speaks —
the time. But the good existed as well as Arise, if horror have not stark'd your limbs, The general hardihood of the time gave
the bad, and each attained a heroic growth. And bear we to the Chapel reverently These poor romains. In her a fire is quench’a a dreadful hardihood to crime also, and That buru'd too bright, with either ardour fod, probably in no small degree occasioned the Divine and human. In the grave with him terrible severity with which crimes were pun. I bury hope ; for France from this time forth ished; for mild punishments would have Is but a battle field, where crime with crime, exercised but a small deterring effect upon Vengeance with vengeance grapples ; till one men whose sport was war, and who seldom
sword · Shall smite the neck whence grow the hun. not an age of respectability, and little
counted upon dying in their beds. dred heads, And one dread 'mace, weighted with force pains were taken to conceal offences, and fraud,
often, it may be, more trouble was taken to Shall stun this nation to a dismal peace.”
conceal virtues. Men did not then value Vol. iii. p. 198.
themselves on consistency. Immense crimes
were often followed by intense repentance; In St. Clement's Eve, as well as Philip van high aspirations were strangely blended Artevelde, Mr. Taylor has dealt with a cor- with fierce animal instincts; refined and rupt period of the middle ages, but in none coarse feelings were tenants of the same of his works has he given us a favourable breast; the whole human character was picture of them. He is drawn to them by large as well as strong, and its passions their manliness and their quaintness, and swung through a wide arc, and touched the these qualities he sketches with a graphic most opposite extremes. The same men touch, but their deeper and more noble were self-sacrificing and cruel, and nature characteristics he seldom delineates. How is was often trampled under foot by those this toase accounted for? In part, perhaps, who yet bore no doubtful allegiance to a on the principle of reaction. The con- supernatural ideal, to whom, in their serious tempt with which the middle ages were so moods, earthly life was a shadow of life long treated, had, before he began to write, eternal, and who regarded all that was not been succeeded by an enthusiasm equally sacred as the licensed field of a rough boy. unreasonable. In neither instance had a play. The strange contrasts between the calm philosophy pronounced its verdict. different elements that made up what are The middle ages had been revived in the called the “middle ages," and the very difform of melodrama, and become the fashion. ferent character of the periods included Second-class poets and romancers had made under that comprehensive term, render an them their spoil; every scene-painter had impartial estimate of them a difficult thing. tried his brush on them; but it was only Mr. Taylor has not, we think, yet presented their inore exaguerated and outward traits us with such an estimate, vividly as he has that had been painted, and admiration had touched many of their special traits ; and been lavished alike on the worthless and on we trust he will yet discharge the remainworth. The justness of Mr. Taylor's genius ing portion of his debt to a period of society seems to have been offended by this palter- so important on historic grounds, and which ing with truth for the sake of effect, and his has furnished him with such rich poetic sense of humanity to have resented the materials. wrongs of serfs whose oppressors have too often been forgiven because they
In estimating Mr. Taylor's position picturesque costume. The defects of those among the English poets, both of recent ages, far from
ing concealed or palliated, and earlier days, and in comparing the will ever be most lamented by those who modern dramatists with those of the time of most appreciate their great compensating Elizabeth, we must bear in mind that the merits. One of their most celebrated vin- | dramatists of the earlier period are themdicators has made this frank confession : selves to be divided into two classes. -“ By the side of the opened heavens, Shakspeare by himself constitutes one of hell always appeared ; and beside those prodigies of sanctity which are so rare else- * Montalembert, The Monks of the West.
these, while the whole of his contemporaries In Ford's work we see little of the Prinand immediate successors constitute the cess, and care little for her; nor is there other. The rest, with all their differences anything in her character to suggest the of species, are still generically one, while marvellous conclusion which thus stands up Shakspeare is a genus in himself. Each like a precipice without a mountain-range of Shakspeare's greater plays is, in the to back it. This want of judgment in our highest sense of the word, a poem as well early dramatists is often a moral even more as a play. It possesses an interior unity than an intellectual deficiency. It proceeds (little as Shakspeare thought of what are from too great a love of the startling, and technically called the unities), a unity pro- too slight a sense of the becoming, the fitceeding from the one great idea that created ting, and the orderly. the whole, the predominant sentiment that Another difference between Shakspeare inspired it, and the exquisite subordination and his contemporaries is the amount of exof the details to the general effect.* This travagance and rant in the latter. Strength unity, piercing at once and comprehensive, was the great quality our early dramatists belongs alone to great creative genius, and valued. When it came to them in the form Shakspeare's contemporaries were without of real passion, they knew how to exhibit it. Ben Jonson, with all his learning and it in perfection, intermixing the most deliclassical predilections, lacked it as much as cate with the most vigorous touches. In Marlow or Webster. Shakspeare worked the absence of real passion they were often s from within ;” the process was one of content with its coarse imitation. Giovangrowth, and the unity latent in the parent ni, in a too celebrated play, makes his apgerm manifested itself in every leaf and pearance at the revel with the heart of Anspray of the developed plant. This is the nabella, whom he has just slain, on the secret of that marvellous judgment which point of his dagger! Yet this outrage equalled his imagination itselt
: Starting against all genuine passion, as well as with a genuine idea, he shrank instinctively against decency, almost immediately follows from whatever obscured it, whether by dis- a scene of the truest pathog. proportion or by incongruity. The other The same exaggerated love, either of dramatists worked “ from without," and strength itself, or of bombast mimicking mechanically. They found their materials strength, prevented Shakspeare's contemin life and books, and with great ability, but poraries from even aiming at his profound without a true inspiration, they combined conception of character. Their own charthem. In multitudes of cases the result is acters were formed on a different principle, a painful discord ; in few is it a complete and one for their coarser purposes more efharmony.
fective. To a great extent they are but The reader who turns to their Plays in a abstractions, vividly described as are the complete edition, after reading the splendid circumstances among which they are placed. fragments detached from them in Lamb's In The Broken Heart, Bassanes is not a Specimens, will often think the finished jealous man so much as jealousy itself emwork more fragmentary than the fragments. bodied, while Shirley's Traitor is not an exAgain and again, the finest scenes in our ample of fearless perfidy, but its impersoearly drama lose half their value from the nation. In the comedies the characters are inappropriateness of their position. Take, often not even representations of qualities; for instance, Ford's best play, The Broken they are but the embodiment of some perHeart: nothing can exceed in suppressed sonal whim or transient folly of society. passion the concluding scene, in which the Thus, in Ben Jonson's Epicene, the chief Princess, receiving secretly and successive character, Morose, might be defined as “ a ly the tidings of the death of her fatber, nervous gentleman's dislike to noise in the of her friend, and of her lover with a Spar- street." "How different is this from Shaktan's fortitude, replies indifferently, keep- speare! Before his mighty mind there ever ing up the court pageant almost to the mo- stood the great idea of humanity; and each ment of her death. Shakspeare would have of his characters is worked out of that one cast the whole play so as to have foreshad- manifold type. In shaping it, as much is owed the dreadtul catastrophe; and in ap-withdrawn from the universal as is necessaproaching it we should have felt as men do ry to mould the particular, but the univerwhen their boat is swept towards the rapids. sal remains. This is the cause of the infi
nite light and shadow of Shakspeare's charThe reader who refers to Coleridge's Lectures on acters; in them the passions are influences the English Drame, and to those by Schlegel, will working in conjunction with all else that find the most philosophic comparative estimate of Sbakspeare and his contemporaries.
belongs to the moral being, pot tempests blowing on them from without. Characters or a second and foul plot is joined to a thus delineated are so softened and rounded sound one, like a dead body bound to a livoff by imperceptible gradations, that they ing one. Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess can only be effective in the hand of a geni- is rich in poetry from which Milion borus who combines with the force of nature rowed in his Comus: yet it is disgraced by her variety, grace, and subtlety. Those only whole scenes of ribaldry; and in the Maid's can appreciate the strength shown by Tragedy the grief of the forsaken Aspatia Shakspeare, who appreciate also the pro- is similarly dishonoured. Massinger offends, fundity, the completeness, the many-sided- less than most of the other dramatists, yet in ness, and the refinement, which he never his Fatal Dowry vice almost rejects the plea condescended to sacrifice in order to gain of temptation; and even his Virgin Martyr is the appearance of strength.
deformed by the excrescence of scenes The most important point of diversity which were reverently omitted in a recent remains to be noticed – the moral sense. and separate edition of that play. The true greatness of Shakspeare is by Such offences have commonly, when not nothing so proved as by his superiority to condoned by the false charity of indifferhis contemporaries in this respect. Shak- ence, been regarded only from the moral speare does not bring out his moral in didac- point of view. The boundless injury intic vein; but the great moral that always Hicted by them on literature has hardly belongs to Nature herself belongs to him been adverted to. The Greeks were so who best knew how to exhibit her. In him well aware of the relations bettveen virtue there are no moral confusions, no substitu- and the liberal arts, that even when the tion of rhetorical sentiment for just feeling, morals of Paganism were at the lowest, a no palliation of vice, no simulations of vir- high moral standard was maintained in setue. The dramatic form of composition by rious literature. The indirect losses susnecessity gives a great prominence to the tained by our early dramatists, in consepassions, and must also keep in the back-quence of their defects in this matter, were ground that region of the supernatural and even worse than the direct ones. They the infinite in the immediate presence of found in coarseness and license so easy a which the passions are cowed. But from means of amusing the audience, that they that remote and awful background no were rarely forced to elicit their own deepdoubtful flashes are sent to bear witness er powers. Strength to excite, and ribaldthat this life, with all its tumults, is circled ry to amuse, sufficed, and they too often by a vaster one. There are occasionally spared themselves the trouble of addressing moral blemishes in Shakspeare's plots, and the finer affections, the reason, or the moral there is not seldom a license of language to sense
of their audience. Their works be seriously regretted; but this last is far consequently, in spite of some splendid less than in the other writers of his time, exceptions, lacked those passages of nor do we know how much of it is owing to quiet beauty, of pathos, of philosophy, of the interpolations of those players whom he imaginative grace, and of ‘moral power, commands to deliver “no more than is set which are our principal inducements to redown for them.”
turn to a book when the interest of story is It is far otherwise with almost all Shak- exbausted. The same fault blunted the best speare's contemporaries. When, some half- faculties of the early dramatists, and allowed century ago, our earlier dramatic writers many others to lie fallow. The moral sense emerged once more from obscurity, the pub- thus obscured, man was known to them in lic thought that all their offences ought to his animal relations chiefly. To them the be condoned to make up for the neglect un- passions were but appetites intellectualized der which they had long lain. But the in- and directed to exclusive objects. They terests of literature itself require that in knew little of the connection of the passions such cases justice should be done. The with the affections and the moral sense ; in sins of our dramatists in the reign of Eliz- other words, all in them that is ennobling, abeth and James the First were not excep- and all that subjects itself to law they igtional, nor were they but superficial blem- nored. Hence those causeless changes from ishes. The plays of Charles the Second's evil to good, or from passion to passion, time were so far worse, that they possessed which evince so superficial a knowledge of no compensating merits ; but their positive human nature. Hence that lack of gradaoffences could hardly prove more fatal both tion, and those movements, fierce and lawto the interests of poetry and of society. less as the movements of beasts. They In multitudes of our early plays the whole knew man socially, but did not also know him plot turns upon vice in its grossest forms, in his personality, and therefore their