Images de page

He should, or he should not;-for he made me mad,

To see him shine so brisk, and smell so sweet,

And talk so like a waiting gentlewoman,

Of guns, and drums, and wounds (God save the mark!),
And telling me, the sovereign'st thing on earth
Wus parmaceti, for an inward bruise;
And that it was great pity, so it was,
That villainous saltpetre should be digg'd
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy'd
So cowardly; and, but for these vile guns,
He would himself have been a soldier.
This bald unjointed chat of his, my lord,
I answer'd indirectly, as I said;
And, I beseech you, let not his report
Come current for an accusation,

Betwixt my love and your high majesty.

"The Coxcomb."-One fancies an ancient BRUMMELL described in this picture, and is led to give Hotspur's contemptuous mimicry a corresponding tone of voice, and doubtless with propriety. For coxcombry, like greater qualities, is the same in all ages,—a compound affectation of exquisiteness, indifference, and hollow superiority. Hotspur's nobleman, Rochester's Jack Hewitt, Etheredge's Flutter, Vanbrugh's Lord Foppington, Pope's Sir Plume, &c., &c., down to Brummell himself, all, we may rest assured, spoke in the same instinctive tone of voice, fleeting modes apart.

2 “Took it in snuff"-A pun; meaning, in the phraseology of the time, in dudgeon. But the pettiest of figures of speech acquires here a singular force of propriety, from its conveyance of contempt.


In this pleasant specimen of the way in which a complainant may be led into self-committals by the apparent good faith of leading questions, I have stopped short of the lecture which the Abbess proceeds to give the wife. The remark with which she

commences it, includes the whole spirit of it in one epigrammatic sentence. The passage is in the Comedy of Errors; a play, I think, which would be more admired, if readers were to give its perplexities a little closer attention.

Enter the ABBESS.

Abb. Be quiet, people. Wherefore throng you hither?
Adriana. To fetch my poor distracted husband hence.
Let us come in, that we may bind him fast,

And bear him home for his recovery.

Angelo. I knew he was not in his perfect wits.
Merchant. I am sorry now that I did draw on him.
Abb. How long hath this possession held the man?
Adr. This week he hath been heavy, sour, sad,
And much, much different from the man he was;
But, till this afternoon, his passion

Ne'er brake into extremity of rage.

Abb. Hath he not lost much wealth by wreck at sea?
Buried some dear friend? Hath not else his eye

Stray'd his affection in unlawful love?

A sin prevailing much in youthful men,
Who give their eyes the liberty of gazing.
Which of these sorrows is he subject to ?

Adr. To none of these, except it be the last;
Namely, some love, that drew him oft from home.
Abb. You should for that have reprehended him.
Adr. Why, so I did.

[blocks in formation]

Abb. Ay, but not enough.

Adr. It was the copy of our conference:

In bed, he slept not for my urging it;

At board, he fed not for my urging it;
Alone, it was the subject of my theme;
In company, I often glanc'd at it;
Still did I tell him it was vile and bad.

Abb. And therefore came it that the man was mad.


All the scenes, actual or implied, in which the Shrew under.

goes her course of taming, are brought together in these extracts; so that, as in the instance of the Fairy Drama, selected from the Midsummer Night's Dream, in the volume entitled Imagination and Fancy, they present a little play of themselves.

The Taming of the Shrew, for its extravagance, ought rather to be called a farce than a comedy; but it is none the worse for that. A farce, in five acts, full of genius, may stand above a thousand comedies. The spirit of comedy is in it, with something more. Several of Molière's comedies are farces; and so are those of Aristophanes. People whose will and folly are generally in such equal portions as those of shrews, may be frightened and kept down by wills equal to their own, accompa nied with greater understandings; but they are not to be tamea in the course of two or three weeks, even supposing them to be tameable at all, or by anything short of the severest rebukes of fortune. Shakspeare knew this, and has poetized his farce and put it in verse, the better to carry off the high and jovial fancy of Petruchio; who, it must be allowed, was the man to succeed in his project, if ever man could. He is a fine, hearty compound of bodily and mental vigor, adorned by wit, spirits, and good nature. He does not marry Katharine merely for her dowry. He likes also her pretty face; and, in the gaiety of his animal spirits, he seems to have persuaded himself, that one pretty woman is as good as another, provided she be put into a comfortable state of subjection by a good husband.

Let the reader, however, note the concluding line of the play. I think Shakspeare meant to intimate by it, that even the gallant Petruchio would find his victory not so complete as he fancied.

SCENE, in front of the house of the Bride's father, BAPTISTA

TIO, and Attendants.

Baptista. Signior Lucentio [to TRANIO], this is the 'pointed day
That Katharine and Petruchio should be married,

And yet we near not of our son-in-law:

What will be said? What mockery will it be,
To want the bridegroom, when the priest attends
To speak the ceremonial rites of marriage?

What says Lucentio to this shame of ours?

Katharine. No shame but mine: I must, forsooth, be forc'd To give my hand, oppos'd against my heart,

Unto a mad-brain'd rudesby, full of spleen;

Who woo'd in haste, and means to wed at leisure.

I told you, I, he was a frantic fool,

Hiding his bitter jests in blunt behavior:
And, to be noted for a merry man,

He'll woo a thousand, 'point the day of marriage,
Make friends, invite, yes, and proclaim the banns;
Yet never means to wed where he hath woo'd.
Now must the world point at poor Katharine,
And say," Lo, there is mad Petruchio's wife,
If it would please him come and marry her.”

Tranio. Patience, good Katharine, and Baptista too;
Upon my life, Petruchio means but well,
Whatever fortune stays him from his word.

Though he be blunt, I know him passing wise,
Though he be merry, yet withal he's honest.

Kath. 'Would Katharine had never seen him though!

[Exit, weeping, followed by BIANCA and others

Bap. Go, girl; I cannot blame thee now to weep;

For such an injury would vex a saint,

Much more a shrew of thy impatient humor.


Bion. Master, master! News, old news, and such news as you never heard of.

Bap. Is it new and old too? how may that be?

Bion. Why, is it not news to hear of Petruchio's coming?

Bap. Is he come?

Bion Why, no, sir.

Bap What then?

Bion He is coming.

Bap. When will he be here?

Bion. When he stands where I am, and sees you there.

Tra. But say, what :-To thine old news.

Bion. Why, Petrucnio is coming, in a new hat and an old jerkin; a pair of old breeches, thrice turned; a pair of boots that have been candle-cases, one buckled and another laced; an old rusty sword ta'en out of the town armory, with a broken hilt, and chapeless;* with two broken points;† his

Chapeless, without a catch to hold it.

↑ Points, tags.

horse hipped' with an old mothy saddle, the stirrups of no kindred; besides, possessed with the glanders, and like to mose in the chine; troubled with the lampass,* infected with the fashions,t full of wind-galls, sped with spavins, raied with the yellows, past cure of the fives, stark spoiled with the staggers, begnawn with the bots; swayed in the back, and shoulder-shotten; ne'er-legged before; and with a half-checked bit, and a headstall of sheep's leather; which, being restrained to keep him from stumbling, hath been often burst, and now repaired with knots: one girth six times pierced, and a woman's crupper of velure, which hath two letters for her name, fairly set down in studs, and here and there pieced with packthread.'

Bap. Who comes with him?

Bion. O, sir, his lackey, for all the world capariscred like the horse, with a linen stock on one leg, and a kersey boot-hose on the other, gartered with a red and blue list; and old hat and The Humor of Forty Fancies‡ pricked in't for a feather: a monster, a very monster in apparel; and not like a Christian foot-boy, or a gentleman's lackey.

Tra. 'Tis some odd humor pricks him to this fashion !— Yet oftentimes he goes but mean apparell'd.


Pet. Come, where be these gallants? who is at home?
Bap. You are welcome, sir.


Where is my lovely bae?

How does my father? Gentles, methinks we' forwar
And wherefore gaze this good.g company,

As if they saw some wondrous monument,

Some comet, or unusual prodigy?

Bap. Why, sir, you know this is your wedding-day :

First were we sad, fearing you would not come ;

Now sadder, that you come so unprovided.
Fye! doff this habit, shame to your estate,
An eye-sore to our solemn festival.

Tra. And tell us, what occasion of import

Hath all so long detain'd you from your wife,

And sent you hither so unlike yourself?

Pet. Tedious it were to tell, and harsh to hear;

Sufficeth, I am come to keep my word,

Though in some part enforced to disgress,§
Which, at more leisure, I will so excuse


Lampass, a lump in the mouth.

The fashions, the farcy, a species of leprosy.

The Humor of Forty Fancies, supposed to be a collection. of songs
Disgress, deviate from the ordinary course.

« PrécédentContinuer »