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and so,

what she says when the King winds up his transport of insane fury by ordering her off to prison :

“Good my lords,
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are ; the want of which vain dew
Perchance shall dry your pities ; but I have
That honourable grief lodg’d here which burns
Worse than tears drown. 'Beseech you all, my lords,
With thoughts so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me ;
The King's will be perform'd ! — 'Beseech your Highness,
My women may be with me; for, you see,
My plight requires it. — Do not weep, good fools ;
There is no cause : when you shall know your mistress
Has deserv'd prison, then abound in tears,
As I come out. ... Adieu, my lord :
I never wish'd to see you sorry ; now

I trust, I shall.” And her character is answerably reflected in the minds of the King's chief counsellors, whose very swords seem stirring with life in the scabbards, and yearning to leap forth and vindicate the honour of their glorious Queen, but that awe of the crown restrains them.

Her last speech at the trial is, I am apt to think, the solidest piece of eloquence in the language. It is like a piece of the finest statuary marble, chiselled into perfect form ; so compact of grain, that you cannot crush it into smaller space; while its effect is as wholesome and bracing as the atmosphere of an iced mountain when tempered by the Summer sun. The King threatens her with death, and she replies, –

“Sir, spare your threats :
The bug which you would fright me with I seek.
To me can life be no commodity :
The crown and comfort of my life, your favour,
I do give lost ; for I do feel it gone,
But know not how it went : my second joy,
And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
I'm barr'd, like one infectious : my third comfort,
Starr'd most unluckily, is from my breast,

The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Hald out to murder : myself on every post
Proclaim'd a strumpet ; with immodest hatred,
The child-bed privilege denied, which ʼlongs
To women of all fashion : lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i' the open air, before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
That I should fear to die. Therefore, proceed.
But yet hear this; mistake me not : My life,
I prize it not a straw ; but for mine honour,
Which I would free, if I shall be condemn'd
Upon surmises, all proofs sleeping else
But what your jealousies awake, I tell you

'Tis rigour, and not law.” Noble simplicity of the olden time, when the best and purest of women, with the bravest men in presence, thought no shame to hear themselves speaking such plain honest words as these!

The Queen's long concealing of herself has been censured by some as repugnant to nature. Possibly they may think it somewhat strained and theatrical, but it is not so: the woman is but true to herself, in this matter, and to the solid and self-poised repose in which her being dwells. So that the thing does not seem repugnant to nature as individualized by her reason and will; nor is her character herein more above or out of nature than the proper ideal of art abundantly warrants. For to her keen sensibility of honour the King's treatment is literally an infinite wrong; nor does its cruelty more wound her affection, than its meanness alienates her respect; and one so strong to bear injury might well be equally strong to remember it. Therewithal she knows full well that, in so delicate an instrument as married life, if one string be out of tune the whole is ajar, and will yield no music: for her, therefore, all things must be right, else none are so. And she is both too clear of mind and too upright of heart to put herself where she cannot be precisely what the laws of propriety and decorum require her to seem. Accordingly, when she does forgive, the forgiveness

is simply perfect; the breach that has been so long a-healing is at length completely healed; for to be whole and entire in whatever she does, is both an impulse of nature and a law of conscience with her. When the King was wooing her, she held him off three months, which he thought unreasonably long; but the reason why she did so is rightly explained when, for his inexpressible sin against her, she has locked herself from his sight sixteen years, leaving him to mourn and repent. Moreover, with her severe chastity of principle, the reconciliation to her husband must begin there where the separation grew. Thus it was for Perdita to restore the parental unity which her being represents, but of which she had occasioned the breaking.

Such is Hermione, in her“ proud submission," her“ dignified obedience," with her Roman firmness and integrity of soul, heroic in strength, heroic in gentleness, the queenliest of women, the womanliest of queens. She is perhaps the Poet's best illustration of the great principle, which I fear is not so commonly felt as it should be, that the highest beauty always has an element or shade of the terrible in it, so that it awes you while it attracts.

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“ If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister,
And never to my red-look'd anger

be
The trumpet any more.”
“Good Queen, my lord, good Queen ; I say, good Queen,

And would by combat make her good, so were I
A man, the worst about you."

6. For ever

Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak'st up the Princess by that forced baseness

Which he has put upon ’t.” Such are some of the words that boil over from the stout heart of Paulina, — the noblest and most amiable termagant we shall anywhere find, - when, with the new-born babe in charge, she confronts the furious King. He threat ens to have her burnt, and she replies instantly, —

20*

*

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“I care not:
It is an heretic that makes the fire,

Not she which burns in 't." If her faults were a thousand times greater than they are, I could pardon them all for this one little speech; which proves that Shakespeare was, I will not say a Protestant, but a true Christian, intellectually at least, and far deeper in the spirit of his religion than a large majority of the Church's official organs were in his day, or, let me add, have been any day since. And this was written, be it observed, at a time when the embers of the old ecclesiastical fires were not yet wholly extinct, and when many a priestly bigot was deploring the lay ascendency which kept them from being rekindled.

Paulina makes a superb counterpart to Hermione, heightening the effect of her character by the most emphatic contrast, and at the same time reflecting it by her intense and outspoken sympathy. Without any of the Queen's dignified calmness and reserve, she is alive to all her inward beauty and greatness: with a head to understand and a heart to reverence such a woman, she unites a temper to fight, a generosity to die for her. But no language but her own can fitly measure the ardour with which she loves and admires and even adores her “dearest, sweetest mistress,” whose power has indeed gone all through her, so that every part of her nature cannot choose but speak it, when the occasion kindles her. Loud, voluble, violent, and viraginous, with a tongue sharper than a sword, and an eloquence that fairly blisters where it hits, she has, therewithal, too much honour and magnanimity and kind feeling either to use them without good cause, or to forbear using them at all hazards when she has such cause. Mrs. Jameson classes her, and justly, no doubt, among those

- and she assures us there are many such who seem regardless of the feelings of those for whom they would sacrifice their life. “I thought she had some great matter there in hand;

for she hath privately, twice or thrice a day, ever since the

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death of Hermione, visited that removed house." Such is the speech of one gentleman to another, as the royal party and all the Court are going to Paulina's house to see the mysterious workmanship of Julio Romano. Nothing could better suggest the history of that quiet, placid intercourse, with its long record of patient, self-rewarding service; a fellowship in which little needed to be said, for each knew what was in the other's mind by a better language than words. It is such an idea of friendship as it does the heart good to rest upon. Just think of those two great manly souls, enshrined in womanly tenderness, thus communing together in secret for sixteen long years! And what a powerful charm of love and loyalty must have been cast upon Paulina's impulsive tongue, that she should keep so reticent of her dear cause through all that time! To play the woman after that fashion would not hurt

any

of us.

During the first three Acts the interest of this play is mainly tragic; the scene is densely crowded with incidents; the action hurried, abrupt, almost spasmodic; the style quick and sharp, flashing off point after point in brief, sinewy strokes; and all is rapidity and despatch: what with the insane fury of the King, the noble agony of the Queen, the enthusiasm of the Court in her behalf, and the King's violence towards both them and her, the mind is kept on the jump: all which, if continued to the end, would generate rather a tumult and hubbub in the thoughts, than that inward music which the title of the play promises; not to say, that such a prolonged hurry of movement would at length become monotonous and wearisome. Far otherwise the latter half of the play. Here the anticipations proper to a long, leisurely winter evening are fully met; the general effect is soothing and composing; the tones, dipped in sweetness, fall gently on the ear, disposing the mind to be still and listen and contemplate ; thus making the play, as Coleridge describes it, “exquisitely respondent to the title.” It would seem, indeed, that in these scenes the Poet had spe

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