Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sir;

anon:

me

KING. She does abuse our ears ; to prison with BER. If she, my liege, can make me know her.

this clearly, Dia. Good mother, fetch my bail.-Stay, royal I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.

[Exit Widow. HEL. If it appear not plain, and prove untrue, The jeweller, that owes the ring, is sent for, Deadly divorce step between me and you ! And he shall surety me.

But for this lord, O, my dear mother, do I see you living ? Who hath abus'd me, as he knows himself,

LAF. Mine eyes smell onions, I shall weep Though yet he never harm’d me, here I quit him: He knows himself my bed he hath defild; Good Tom Drum, [To PAROLLES.] lend me a And at that time he got his wife with child : handkerchief: so, I thank thee; wait on Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick; home, I'll make sport with thee. Let thy courSo there's my riddle, One that's dead is quick, tesies alone, they are scurvy ones.

[know, And now behold the meaning.

King. Let us from point to point this story
To make the even truth in pleasure flow :-

If thou be’st yet a fresh uncropped flower,
Re-enter Widow, with HELENA.

[To Diana.

Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower; KING.

Is there no exorcist

For I can guess, that by thy honest aid, Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes?

Thou kept'st a wife herself, thyself a maid. Is't real, that I see?

Of that, and all the progress, more and less, HEL. No, my good lord;

Resolvedly, more leisure shall express : 'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,

All yet seems well, and, if it end so meet,
The name and not the thing.

The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.
BER.
Both, both ; 0, pardon !

[Flourish. HEL. O, my good lord, when I was like this maid,

(Advancing.) I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring, The king's a beggar, now the play is done : And, look you, here's your letter ; this it says, All is well ended, if this suit be won, When from my finger you can get this ring,

That you express content ; which we will pay, And are* by me with child, &c.— This is done :

With strife to please you, day exceeding day : Will you be mine, now you are doubly won ? Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts,

Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts. 1*) First folio, is.

Exeunt.

[graphic][ocr errors]

ILLUSTRATIVE COMMENTS.

ACT I.

(4) SCENE III.-One good woman in ten, madam; which is a purifying o' the song.) As Warburton suggested, it is probable the second stanza of the old ballad, which related to the ten remaining sons of Priam, ran :

If one be bad amongst nine good,

There's but one bad in ten." The Countess objects, therefore, that in singing "One good in ten," the Clown corrupts the song; whereupon he rejoins that inasmuch as the text says nothing whatever about good women, his emendation of One good womaa in ten in reality renders it more complimentary.

(1) SCENE I.-To whom I am now in ward.] The heirs of great fortunes, from the feudal ages down to as late as the middle of the seventeenth century, were, both in this country and in parts of France, under the wardship of the sovereign.

(2) SCENE III.-Clown.] “ The practice of retaining fools," Douce observes, “can be traced in very remote times throughout almost all civilized and even among, some barbarous nations. With respect to the antiquity of this custom in our own country, there is reason to suppose that it existed even during the period of our Saxon history; but we are quite certain of the fact in the reign of William the Conqueror. *** The accounts of the household expenses of our sovereigns contain many payments and rewards to fools both foreign and domestic, the motives for which do not appear, but might perhaps have been some witty speech or comic action that had pleased the donors. Some of these payments are annual gifts at Christmas. Dr. Fuller, speaking of the court jester, whom, he says, some count a necessary evil, remarks, in his usual quaint manner, that it is an office which none but he that hath wit can perform, and none but he that wants it will perform.

“The sort of entertainment that fools were expected to afford, may be collected, in great variety, from our old plays, and particularly from those of Shakspeare ; but perhaps no better idea can be formed of their general mole of conduct than from the following passage in a singular tract by Lodge, entitled Wit's Miserie, 1599, 4to:— Immoderate and disordinate joy became incor. porate in the bodie of a jeaster; this fellow in person is comely, in apparell courtly, but in behaviour a very ape, and no man ; his studie is to coine bitter jeasts, or to shew antique motions, or to sing baudie sonnets and ballads : give him little wine in his head, he is continually flearing and making of mouthes : he laughs intemperately at every little occasion, and dances about the *house, leaps over tables, out-skips mens heads, trips up his companions hoeles, burns sack with a candle, and hath all the feats of a lord of misrule in the countrie : feed him in his humor, you shall have his heart, in meere kindness he will hug you in his armes, kisse you on the cheeke, and rapping out an horrible oth, crie Gods soule Tum, I love you, you know my poore heart, come to my chamber for a pipe of tabacco, there lives not a man in this world that I more honor. In these ceremonies you shall know his courting, and it is a speciall mark of him at the table, he sits and makes faces : keep not this fellow company, for in jugling with him, your wardropes shall be wasted, your credits crackt, your crownes consumed, and time (the most precious riches of the world) utterly lost. This is the picture of a real hireling or artificial fool.” The reader desirous of further information on the duties of the domestic jester will find them pleasantly illustrated in a curious and valuable tract, called Armin's “Nest of Ninnies," 1608; of which a reprint has been made, from the only known copy, for the Shakespeare Society.

(3) SCENE III.-A prophet 1, madam.] “ It is a supposition, which has run through all ages and people, that natural fools have soinething in them of divinity; on which account they were esteemed sacred. Travellers tell us in what esteem the Turks now hold them ; nor had they less honou paid them heretofore in France, as appears from the old word benet, for a natural fool."WARBURTON.

(5) SCENE III.-Though honesty be no puritan, &c. &c.) A correspondent in Knight's “ Pictorial Shakspere remarks: “ This passage refers to the sour objection of the puritans to the use of the surplice in divine service, for which they wished to substituto the black Geneva gown. At this time the controversy with the puritans raged violently. Hooker's fifth book of 'Ecclesiastical Polity,' which, in the 29th Chapter, discusses this matter at length, was published in 1597. But the question itself is much older--as old as the Reformation, when it was agitated between the British and continental reformers, During the reign of Mary it troubled Frankfort, and on the accession of Elizabeth it was brought back to England, under the patronage of Archbishop Grindal, whose residence in Germany, during his exile in Mary's reign, had disposed him to Genevan theology. The dispute about ecclesiastical vestments may seem a trifle, but it was at this period made the ground upon which to try the first principles of Church authority: a point in itself unimportant becomes vital when so large a question is made to turn upon it. Hence its prominency in the controversial writings of Shakspere's time; and few

among his audience would be likely to miss an allusion to a subject fiercely debated at Paul's Cross and elsewhere."

(6) SCENE III.

My father left me some prescriptions

Of rare and prov'd effects. ] The text exhibits a very early and curious instance of the use of the word Prescription" as a medical formula, for which it was not generally current until the close of the seventeenth century. Previously to that time, the ordinary expression was “Recipe;" but in 1599 Bishop Hall employs both words in connexion, showing that they were to be regarded as synonymous :

And give a dose for everie disease
In Prescripts long, and endless Recipes,"

Satuts, IV. B. 3. Dryden does the same also, in his Thirteenth Epistle, in which he likewise alludes to the custom of preserving such papers,

" From files a random Recipe they take,

And many deaths of one Prescription 'make.” In this manner the Hon. Robert Boyle appears to have made it his practice to preserve methodically all the recipes which had been written for himself in any sickness; one of his Occasional Reflections being on “his reviewing and tacking together the several bills filed in the apothecary's shop.'

The practice was probably commenced at an early period of the history of medicine, and was continued in family recipe books, especially in country places, throughout the

greater part of the last century, with“Probatum est” attached papers a number of very extraordinary prescriptions, to the formula, where their virtues had been experienced. which Sir Hans Sloane copied neatly out, and preserved in Dr. Cæsar Adelmare, who died in 1569, left among his his collection of manuscripts.

ACT II. (1) SCENE I.

(3) SCENE I.-Let higher Italy

He that of greatest works is finisher,
(Those 'bated, that inherit but the fall

Oft does them by the weakest minister :
Of the last monarchy) see that you come

So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,
Not to woo honour, but to wed it; &c.]

When judges have been babes.]
In 1494, Charles VIII. of France invaded Italy, under
I retence of being the legitimate heir to the kingdom of

The ordinary explanation of these lines refers them Naples, to which he marched almost without opposition,

either to those passages in Scripture which set forth the and, as Sismondi says, ravaged all the country with the

mischiefs incident to a kingdom that is governed by a violence and force of a hurricane.

child, as Ecclesiastes x, 16, and Isaiah iii. 4, 12; or to

St. Matthew xi. 25,-"I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Having subsequently entered into a convention with the Florentines, he proceeded to Sienna, which he attempted

heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from to secure by establishing in it a French garrison. This city

the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto had long been regarded as the most powerful in Tuscany,

babes:” and 1 Corinthians i, 27, “But God hath chosen after Florence, to which it had formerly been subject, as

the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God well as to the crown of Naples ; but at the period in question

hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the the citizens had set up in it an independent government,

things which are mighty.” It seenis probable, however, and had separated themselves from both, and also from

that the particular allusion is to the four children of the their confederacy with the German Emperor. This dis

noble families of Israel who were appointed to be brought

up for the king's service ; Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and ruption had produced the most inveterate hatred between

Azariah,-“ As for these four children, God gave them the Florentines and the Siennois; and in 1495 began that ** braving war," in which “the Florentines and Senoys

knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; therefore were by the ears.” Finding that the powers of the

stood they before the king :” and Nebuchadnezzar set

them “over the affairs of the province of Babylon,” north of Italy were so much disgusted by the insolence of the French, as to enter into a league against them,

Daniel i. 3, 4, 17, 19; iii. 48, 49. because they appeared to consider themselves as masters

The Hebrew word signifies youths, but the usual trans

lation is children. In Coverdale's version, 1535, they are of the whole peninsula, Charles resolved on returning to France. He accordingly re-crossed the Apennines, October

called "young springalds." 22, 1495, leaving half his army at Naples, under his relative, (4) SCENE II.-A morris for May-day.) The Morris, Gilbert De Montpensier, as Viceroy.

or Morisco dance, is generally supposed to bave been deIn this brief outline of the French invasion of Italy, will rived originally from the Moors, and to have come to us be found an explanation both of the policy of the king, through Spain; where, indeed, according to Douce, it still and of a peculiar expression in the passage cited above. continues to delight both natives and strangers, under the In virtue of the convention already mentioned, the name of the Fandango. On its first introduction, it was Florentines were about to ask assistance from him, which probably a sort of military dance, like that of the Matathe Emperor had written to desire they might not have ; chins in France and Italy; but subsequently the May and Charles accordingly refused to furnish any troops, as games, the games of Robin Hood, the Church and other king of France. He was willing, however, to permit those “ Ales," and the Morris dance got inextricably blended young French noblemen who desired to be known as together. See Douce's “Illustrations of Shakspeare,” having served in the wars, to enter themselves as gentlemen- under Antient English Morris Dance. Of the appearance volunteers in a neutral foreign service, with either the and behaviour of the dancers, Stubbes, in his " Anatomie of Florentine or Siennois, the Guelph or the Ghibelline party, Abuses,” 1595, supplies a lively but no doubt exaggerated in conformity with the practice of the period, which picture :-“They bedecke themselves with scarffes, ribbons proved so favourable to many soldiers of fortune. But in and laces, hanged all over with golde ringes, precious his parting address to these noblemen, the king excepts stones, and other jewels : this done, they tie about either those States which had been formed in the barbaric con- legge twentie or fortie belles with rich handkerchiefes in fusion that prevailed upon the dismemberment of the their handes, and sometimes laid acrosse over their Roman empire, States which literally inherited the spoils shoulders and neckes, borrowed for the most part of their only of the “last monarchy," or single government of pretie Mopsies and loving Bessies, for bussing them in the Italy. In this exception it may be thought that Charles darke. Thus all things set in order, then have they their refers especially to the principalities of the north of Italy, hobby-horses, their dragons and other antiques, togither which lad eniered into a coalition against him; but with their baudie pipers, and thundering drummers, to Shakespeare's history in this play, and in others, must not strike up the Devil's Daunce withall: then martch this be examined too rigidly.

heathen company towards the church and church-yarde, (2) SCENE I.And no sword xorn,

their pypers pyping, their drummers thundering, their

stumpes dauncing, their belles jyngling, their handker. But one to dance with.]

cheefes fluttering about their heades like madde men, As it was the fashion in Shakespeare's time for gentlemen their hobbie-horses, and other monsters skirmishing to dance with swords on, and the ordinary weapon was amongst the throng: and in this sorte they goe to the liable to impede their motions, rapiers, light and short, were church, though the minister be at prayer or preaching, made for the purpose :-“I think wee were as much dread dauncing and swinging their handkerchiefes over their or more of our enemies, when our gentlemen went simply heades in the church like devils incarnate, with such a conand our serving-men plainely, without cuts or garrls, fused noise, that no man can heare his own voyce." * * * bearing their heavy swordes and buckelers on their thighes, One of the most curious notices of the morris, as pracinstead of cuts and gardes and light daunsing swordes ; tised in modern times, is given by Waldron, who says and when they rode carrying good speares in theyr hands that, in the summer of 1783, he "saw at Richmond, in in stede of white rods, which they carry now more like Surrey, a company of Morrice-Dancers from Abington, ladies or gentlewomen than men; all which delicacyes accompanied by a Fool in a motley-jacket, &c. who carried maketh our men cleare effeminate and without strength.' in his hand a staff or truncheon, about two feet long, STAFFORU's Briefe Conceipt of English Pollicy, 1581, 4to. having a blown-up bladder fastened to one end of it; with

which he either buffeted the crowd, to keep them at a proper distance from the dancers, or played tricks for the spectators' diversion. The Dancers and the Fool were Berkshire husbandmen, taking an annual circuit, collecting money from whoever would give them any; and (I apprehend) had derived the appendage of the bladder from custom immemorial ; not from old plays, or the commentaries thereon."

of the absurdities practised at the great civic festivals formerly, was for the Lord Mayor's or Sheriff's fool to spring on to the table, and, after uttering some doggerel balderdash, leap bodily into a huge custard ; prepared, it may be supposed, for the purpose :

" He may per.hance, in tail of a sheriff's dinner,

Skip with a rhyme o' the table, from New-nothing,
And take his Almain leap into a custard,
Shall make my lady mayoress and her sisters
Laugh all their hoods over their shoulders."

Ben Jonson.-" The Devil is an Ass," Act I, Sc. 1.

(5) SCENE V.-You have made shift to run into't, boots and spurs and all, like him that leaped into the custard.} One

ACT III. (1) SCENE V.

When pilgrims or crusaders returned from the Holy WID. God save you, pilgrim! Whither are you bound? Land, it was customary for them to carry in their hands, HEL. To Saint Jaques le grand.

or have bound to their staves, branches of the palm which Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you ?]

grows in Syria, as signs of their having completely perBy St. James the Great, Shakespeare no doubt signi

formed the journey: They were then called Palmiferi, or fied the apostle so called, whose celebrated shrine

Palm-bearers; and on the day following their arrival, was at Compostella, in Spain ; and Dr. Johnson rightly

when they went to a church to give thanks to God for observes that Florence was somewhat out of the road their safe return, these palms were offered on the altar. in going thither from Rousillon. There was, how

Thus it will be perceived that all palmers were pilgrims; ever, subsequently, another James, of La Marca of but all pilgrims were not palmers, inasmuch as the Ancona, a Franciscan confessor of the highest eminence "signs” of the performance of other pilgrimages were for sanctity, who died at the convent of the Holy Trinity,

altogether different, and comprised a great variety of near Naples, in A.D. 1476. He was not beatified until the

their own peculiar emblems. seventeenth century, nor canonised until 1726; but it is quite possible that his reputation was very great in

(2) SCENE VI. --John Drum's entertainment.] To give connexion with Italy, even at the period of this play ;

any one John, or Tom, Drum's entertainment, meant to

drive him ri et armis out of your company. It was a very and that Shakespeare adopted the name without considering any other distinction. The same disregard of

old proverbial saying, the origin of which has never been special peculiarities is evinced also in another part of the

satisfactorily explained. Holinshed, in speaking of the above passage, which makes palmers and pilgrims sy

Mayor of Dublin, says, “His porter or anie other officer, nonymous names, as they were generally supposed to be

durst not for both his eares give the simplest man that in England in the seventeenth century, when the original

resorted to his house Tom Drum his entertainment, which distinction was forgotten. There were differences between

is, to hale a man in by the head, and thrust him out by them ; but it may be doubted whether those specified by

both the shoulders.” Somner and Blount rest upon any sufficient authority.

ACT IV. (1) SCENE III.-Hoodman comes ! | An allusion to the French piece of money, first coined in the reign of Henry sport now known as “Blind Man's Buff," formerly called III. It was the fourth part of the gold crown, and worth «Hoodman Blind,” because the player, who was blinded, fifteen sols. It is a fact not generally known, that many had his hood turned round to cover his eyes. Shakespeare foreign coins were current at this time in England ; somo refers to this pastime again, in “Hamlet,” Act III. English coins were likewise circulated on the Continent. Sc. 4:

The French crown and its parts passed by weight only.' " What devil was't

Mr. Halliwell gives an engraving of the quarter ecu, That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman blind ?

copied from the original of the time of Charles IX. “ It

is dated 1573, and was struck at the Paris mint, the large (2) SCENE III.-He has led the drum before the English

letter A beneath the shield being the distinguishing mark tragedians.] The practice of announcing their arrival by

used there. The superior workmanship and the purity of beat of drum is still observed by some itinerant per- metal used for these coins, originated the French proverb, formers, and appears to have been a very old one. In

applied to persons of honour and probity. 'Etre marqué a Kemp's “Nine Daies Wonder," 1600, there is a represent

l'A.'” In old English books it is almost always called cither ation of Kemp, attired as a morris-dancer, preceded by cardecue, or quardecue. “I compounded with them for a a character whom he called Thomas Slye, his taberer ; and

cardakew, which is eighteen pence English."-CORYAT. Dr. Hunter has cited an instance from the annals of Doncaster, where, in 1684, the actors' drum going round the ** The Spanish Royall, piece of foure and eight, town, a part of the military then stationed there took

On me for my antiquity may waite, offence at it, and a serious riot was the consequence.

The Floren, Guelder, and French Cardecu:
To me are upstarts, if records be true,"

TAYLOR's Workes, 103 ) (3) SCENE III.-Quart d'écn.) “ The quart d'écu, or, as it was sometimes written, curdecue," Douce says,

was a

ACT V.

lean a

(1) SCENE I.-Enter a Gentleman.] The original has Enter a Gentle Astringer,” which is said to gentleman falconer ; the term Astringer, derived from osturcus, or austurcus, having been formerly applied to one who kept goshawks. The introduction of such a retainer,

however, appears so utterly uncalled for, and the title gentle Astringer” is so ar, that we may reasonably suspect it to be an error of the press. The folio, 1632. reads, a gentle Astranger;" that of 1685, “a gentleman, a stranger."

[blocks in formation]

All's Well that Ends Well is the old story of a young maiden whose love looked much higher than her station. She obtains her lover in marriage from the hand of the King, as a reward for curing him of a hopeless and lingering disease, by means of a hereditary arcanum of her father, who had been in his lifetime a celebrated physician. The young man despises her virtue and beauty ; concludes the marriage only in appearance, and seeks in the dangers of war, deliverance from a domestic happiness which wounds his pride. By faithful endurance and an innocent fraud, she fulfils the apparently impossible conditions on which the Count had promised to acknowledge her as his wife. Love appears here in humble guise ; the wooing is on the woman's side ; it is striving, unaided by a reciprocal inclination, to overcome the prejudices of birth. But as soon as Helena is united to the Count by a sacred bond, though by him considered an oppressive chain, her error becomes her virtue. She affects us by her patient suffering: the moment in which she appears to most advantage is when she accuses herself as the persecutor of her inflexible husband, and, under the pretext of a pilgrimage to atone for her error, privately leaves the house of her mother-in-law. Johnson expresses a cordial aversion for Count Bertram, and regrets that he should be allowed to come off at last with no other punishment than a temporary shame, nay, even be rewarded with the unmerited possession of a virtuous wife. But has Shakspeare ever attempted to soften the impression made by his unfeeling pride and light-hearted perversity? He has but given him th: good qualities of a soldier. And does not the poet paint the true way of the world, which never makes inuch of man's injustice to woman, if so-called family honour is preserved ? Bertram's sole justification is, that by the exercise of arbitrary power, the King thought proper to constrain him, in a matter vf such delicacy and private right as the choice of a wife. Besides, this story, as well as that of Grissel and many similar ones, is intended to prove that woman's truth and patience will at last triumph over man's abuse of his superior power, while other novels and fabliaux are, on the other hand, true satires on woman's inconsistency and cunning. In this piece old age is painted with rare favour; the plain honesty of the King, the good-natured impetuosity of old Lafeu, the maternal indulgence of the Countess to Helena's passion for her son, seem all, as it were, to vie with each other in endeavours to overcome the arrogance of the young Count. The style of the whole is more sententious than imaginative ; the glowing colours of fancy could not with propriety have been employed on such a subject. In the passages where the humiliating rejection of the poor Helena is most painfully affecting, the cowardly Parolles steps in to the relief of the spectator. The mystification by which his pretended valour and his shameless slanders are unmasked, must be ranked among the most comic scenes that ever were invented : they contain matter enough for an excellent comedy, if Shakspeare were not always rich even to profusion. Falstaff has thrown Parolles into the shade, otherwise, among the poet's comic characters, he would have been still more famous," -SCHLEGEL.

« AnteriorContinuar »