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renown of the family. The youth, full of heroic thoughts, was glad of such an opportunity. When the time came, Torismond went to preside over the games, taking with him the Twelve Peers of France, his daughter Alinda, his niece Rosalynd, and all the most famous beauties of the Court. Rosalynd,“ upon whose cheeks there seemed a battle between the graces,” was the centre of attraction, “and made the cavaliers crack their lances with more courage.” The tournament being over, the Norman offered himself as general challenger at wrestling. While he is in the full career of success, Rosader alights from his horse, and presents himself for a trial. He quickly puts an end to the Norman's wrestling; though not till his eyes and thoughts have got badly entangled with the graces of Rosalynd. On the other side, she is equally smitten with his handsome person and heroic bearing, insomuch that, the spectacle being over, she takes from her neck a jewel, and sends it to him by a page, as an assurance of her favour.
This outline, as far as it goes, almost describes, word for word, the course and order of events in the play. And so it is, in a great measure, through the other parts and incidents of the plot; such as the usurper's banishment of his niece, and the escape of his daughter along with her; their arrival in the Forest of Arden, where Rosalynd's father has taken refuge; their encounter with the shepherds, their purchase of the cottage, and their adventures in the pastoral life. So, too, in the flight of Rosader to the same Forest, taking along with him the old servant, who is called Adam Spencer, his carving of love-verses in the bark of trees, his meeting with the disguised Rosalynd, and the wooing and marrying that enrich the forest scenes.
Thus much may suffice to show that the Poet has here borrowed a good deal of excellent matter. With what judgment and art the borrowed matter was used by him can only be understood on a careful study of his workmanship. In no one of his comedies indeed has he drawn more freely from others; nor, I may add, is there any one where
in he has enriched his drawings more liberally from the glory of his own genius. To appreciate his wisdom as shown in what he left unused, one must read the whole of Lodge's novel. In that work we find no traces of Jaques, or Touchstone, or Audrey; nothing, indeed, that could yield the slightest hint towards either of those characters. It scarce need be said that these superaddings are enough of themselves to transform the whole into another nature; pouring through all its veins a free and lively circulation of the most original wit and humour and poetry. And by a judicious indefiniteness as to persons and places, the Poet has greatly idealized the work, throwing it at a romantic distance, and weaving about it all the witchery of poetical perspective; while the whole falls in so smoothly with the laws of the imagination, that the breaches of geographical order are never noticed save by such as cannot understand poetry without a map.
No one at all competent to judge in the matter will suppose that Shakespeare could have been really indebted to Lodge, or to whomsoever else, for any of the characters in As You Like It. He merely borrowed certain names and incidents for the bodying-forth of conceptions purely his own. The resemblance is all in the drapery and circumstances of the representation, not in the individuals. For instance, we can easily imagine Rosalind in an hundred scenes not here represented; for she is a substantive personal being, such as we may detach and consider apart from the particular order wherein she stands : but we can discover in her no likeness to Lodge's Rosalynd, save that of name and situation : take away the similarity here, and there is nothing to indicate any sort of relationship between the heroines of the play and the novel. And it is considerable that, though the Poet here borrows so freely, still there is no sign of any borrowing in the work itself: we can detect no foreign influences, no second-hand touches, nothing to suggest that any part of the thing had ever been thought of before; what he took being so thoroughly
assimilated with what he gave, that the whole seems to have come fresh from Nature and his own mind : so that, had the originals been lost, we should never have suspected there were any.
VShakespeare generally preferred to make up his plots and stories out of such materials as were most familiar to his audience. Of this we have many examples; but the fact is too well known to need dwelling upon. Though surpassingly rich in fertility and force of invention, he was notwithstanding singularly economical and sparing in the use of it. Which aptly shows how free he was from every thing like a sensational spirit or habit of mind.
Nature was every thing to him, novelty nothing, or next to nothing. The true, not the new, was always the soul of his purpose; than which nothing could better approve the moral healthiness of his genius. Hence, in great part, his noble superiority to the intellectual and literary fashions of his time. He understood these perfectly; but he deliberately rejected them, or rather struck quite above or beyond them. We rarely meet with any thing that savours of modishness in his workmanship. Probably the best judgment ever pronounced upon him is Ben Jonson's, “He was not of an age, but for all time.” For even so it is with the permanences of our intellectual and imaginative being that he deals, and not with any transiencies of popular or fashionable excitement or pursuit. And as he cared little for the new, so he was all the stronger in that which does not grow old, and which lives on from age to age in the perennial, , unwithering freshness of Truth and Nature. For the being carried hither and thither by the shifting mental epidemics of the day, what is it, after all, but a tacit confession of weakness or disease ? proving, at the least, that one has not strength of mind enough to “ feel the soul of Nature,” or to live at peace with the solidities of reason. And because the attractions of mere novelty had no force with Shakespeare; because his mind dwelt far above the currents of intellectual fashion and convention; therefore his dramas
stand “exempt from the wrongs of time"; and the study of them is, with but a single exception, just our best discipline in those forms and sources of interest which underlie and outlast all the flitting specialties of mode and custom,
Truths that wake, to perish never ;
Nor Man nor Boy,
As You Like It is exceedingly rich and varied in character. The several persons stand out round and clear in themselves, yet their distinctive traits in a remarkable degree sink quietly into the feelings without reporting themselves in the understanding; for which cause the clumsy methods of criticism are little able to give them expression. Subtile indeed must be the analysis that should reproduce them to the intellect without help from the Dramatic Art.
Properly speaking, the play has no hero; for, though Orlando occupies the foreground, the characters are mainly co-ordinate; the design of the work precluding any subordination among them. Diverted by fortune from all their cherished plans and purposes, they pass before us in just that moral and intellectual dishabille which best reveals their indwelling graces of mind and heart. Schlegel remarks that “the Poet seems to have aimed, throughout, at showing that nothing is wanting, to call forth the poetry that has its dwelling in Nature and the human mind, but to throw off all artificial restraint, and restore both to their native liberty.” This is well said ; but it should be observed withal that the persons have already been “purified by suffering"; and that it was under the discipline of social restraint that they developed the virtues which make them go right without such restraint, as indeed they do, while we are conversing with them. Because they have not hitherto been altogether free to do as they would, therefore
it is that they are good and beautiful in doing as they have a mind to now. Let us beware of attributing to Nature, , as we call it, that goodness which proceeds from habits generated under Gospel culture and the laws of Christian society. After all, the ordinary conditions of social and domestic life give us far more than they take away. It requires a long schooling in the prescriptions of order and rectitude, to fit us for being left to ourselves. In some sense indeed it is a great enlargement of liberty to be rid of all the loves and duties and reverences which the Past may have woven about and
there are who seem to place freedom of mind in having nothing to look up to, nothing to respect outside of themselves. But human virtue does not grow in this way; and the stream must soon run dry if cut off from the spring. And I have no sympathy with those who would thus crush all tender and precious memories out of us, and then give the name of freedom to the void thus created in our souls. The liberty that goes by unknitting the bands of reverence and dissolving the ties that draw and hold men together in the charities of a common life, is not the liberty for me, nor is it the liberty that Shakespeare teaches. I am much rather minded to say, with a lawyer-poet of our time,
“ If we lose
Rear'd for our shivering virtues.” is true, however, that in this play the better transpirations of character are mainly conducted in the eye of Nature, where the passions and vanities that so much disfigure human life find little to stir them into act. In the freedom of their woodland resort, and with the native inspirations of the place to kindle and gladden them, the persons have but to live out the handsome thoughts which they have elsewhere acquired. Man's tyranny has indeed