Imágenes de páginas

to saie, Luds towne : and after by corruption of speech it was named London.”History of England, Book III. c. 9.

(2) SCENE I.

Mulmutins made our lars,
Who was the first of Britain which did put
His brows within a golden croun, and call'd

Himself a king.] “Mulmucius Dunwallo, or as other saie Dunwallo Mulmucius, the sonne of Cloton, got the upper hand of the other dukes or rulers : and after his fathers deceasse began his reigne over the whole monarchie of Britaine, in the yeere of the world 3529. This Mulmucius Dunwallo is named in the english chronicle Donebant, and prooved a right worthie prince. He builded within the citie of London then called Troinovant, a temple, and called it the temple of peace.

He also made manie good lawes, which were long after used, called Mulmucius lawes, turned out of the British speech into the Latine by Gildas Priscus, and long time after translated out of latine into english by Alfred king of England, and mingled in his statutes. After he had established his land, and set his Britains in good and convenient order, he ordeined him by the advise of his lords a crowne of golde, and caused himselfe with greate solemnitie to be crowned, according to the custom of the pagan lawes then in use : and bicause he was the first that bare a crowne heere in Britaine, after the opinion of some writers, he is named the first king of Britaine, and


(1) SCENE III.-A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys !] Holinshed relates the story whence this incident is taken as having happened in Scotland during the reign of king Kenneth, A. D. 976.

" The Danes, perceiving that there was no hope of life, but in victorie, rushed forth with such violence upon their adversaries, that first the right, and then after the left wing of the Scots, was constreined to retire and thee backe, the middle warde stoutly yet keeping their ground: but the same stood in such danger, being now left naked on the sides, that the victorie must needes have remained with the Danes, had not a renewer of the battell come in time, by the appointment (as is to be thought) of almightie God.

“ For as it chanced, there was in the next field at the same time an husbandman, with two of his sons busie about his worke, named Haie, a man strong and stiffe in making and shape of bodie, but indued with a valiant cou

all the other before rehearsed are named rulers, dukes, or governors."-HOLINSHED.


a garment out of fashion ;
And for I am richer than to hang by the walls,

I must be ripp'd.] To 'hang by the walls,'” Steevens remarks, “does not mean, to be converted into hangings for a room, but to be hung up, as useless, among the neglected contents of a wardrobe. So in ‘Measure for Measure :'

• That have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall.' “When a boy, at an ancient mansion-house in Suffolk, I saw one of these repositories, which (thanks to a succession of old maids!) had been preserved with superstitious reve. rence for almost a century and a half.

“ Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight materials, were not kept in drawers, or given away as soon as lapse of time or change of fashion had impaired their value. On the contrary, they were hung up on wooden pegs in a room appropriated to the sole purpose of receiving them; and though such cast-off things as were composed of rich substances were occasionally ripped for domestic uses (viz. mantles for infants, vests for children, and counterpanes for beds), articles of inferior quality were suffered to hang by the walls, till age and moths had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by servants or poor relations."

rage. This Haie beholding the king with the most part of the nobles, fighting with great valiancie in the middle ward, now destitute of the wings, and in great danger to be oppressed with the great violence of his enimies, caught a plow-beame in his hand, and with the same exhorting his sonnes to doo the like hasted towards the battell. There was neere to the place of the battell a long lane fensed on the sides with ditches and walles made of turfe, through the which the Scots which fled were beaten down by the epimies in heapes.

“Here Haie with his sonnes, supposing they might best staie the fight, placed themselves overthwart the lane, beat them backe whom they met fleeing, and spared neither friend nor fo: but downe they went all such as came within their reach, wherewith diverse bardie personages cried unto their fellowes to returne back unto the battell." -Historie of Scotland, fo. 155.

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“CYMBELINE is one of Shakspeare's most wonderful compositions. He has here combined a novel of Boccacio's with traditionary tales of the ancient Britons reaching back to the times of the first Roman emperors, and he has contrived, by the most gentle transitions, to blend together into one harmonious whole the social manners of the newest times with olden heroic deeds, and even with appearances of the gods. In the character of Imogen no one feature of female excellence is omitted : her chaste tenderness, her softness, and her virgin pride, her boundless resignation, and her magnanimity towards her mistaken husband, by whom she is unjustly persecuted, her adventures in disguise, her apparent death, and her recovery, form altogether a picture equally tender and affecting. The two Princes, Guiderius and Arviragus, both educated in the wilds, form a noble contrast to Miranda and Perdita. Shakspeare is fond of showing the superiority of the natural over the artificial. Over the art which enriches nature, he somewhere says, there is a higher art created by nature herself.* As Miranda's unconscious and unstudied sweetness is more pleasing than those charms which endeavour to captivate us by the brilliant embellishments of a refined cultivation, so in these two youths, to whom the chase has given vigour and hardihood, but who are ignorant of their high destination, and have been brought up apart from human society, we are equally enchanted by a nuire heroism which leads them to anticipate and to dream of deeds of valour, till an occasion is offered which they are irresistibly compelled to embrace. When Imogen comes in disguise to their cave ; when, with all the innocence of childhood, Guiderius and Arviragus form an impassioned friendship for the tender boy, in whom they neither suspect a female nor their own sister; when, on their return from the chase, they find her dead, then 'sing her to the ground,' and cover the grave with flowers :—these scenes might give to the most deadened imagination a new life for poetry. If a tragical event is only apparent, in such case, whether the spectators are already aware of it or ought merely to suspect it, Shakspeare always knows how to mitigate the impression without weakening it: he makes the mourning musical, that it may gain in solemnity what it loses in seriousness. With respect to the other parts, the wise and vigorous Belarius, who, after long living as a hermit, again becomes a hero, is a venerable figure ; the Italian Iachimo's ready dissimulation and quick presence of mind is quite suitable to the bold treachery which he plays ; Cymbeline, the father of Imogeu, and even her husband Posthumus, during the first half of the piece,

The passage in Shakspeare here quoted, taken with the context, will not bear the construction of the critic. The whole runs thus:

" Yet nature is made better by no mean,

But nature makes that mean : so, o'er that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock;
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art
Which does mend nature, charge it rather ; but

The art itself is nature."-Winter's Tale, Act IV. Sc. 3.


Shakspeare does not here mean to institute a comparison between the relative excellency of that which is innate and that which we owe to instruction ; but merely says, that the instruction or art is itself a part of nature. The speech is addressed by Polyxenes to Perdita, to persuade her that the changes effected in the appearance of flowers by the art of the gardener are not to be accounted unnatural; and the expression of making conceive bark of baser kind by bud of nobler race (i.e. engrafiing), would rather lead to the inference, that the mind derived its chief value from the influence of culture.-TRANS.


are somewhat sacrificed, but this could not be otherwise : the false and wicked Queen is merely an instrument of the plot; she and her stupid son Cloten (the only comic part in the piece), whose rude arrogance is portrayed with much humour, are, before the conclusion, got rid of by merited punishment. As for the heroical part of the fable,—the war between the Romans and Britons, which brings on the dénouement, the poet in the extent of his plan had so little room to spare, that he merely endeavours to represent it as a mute procession. But to the last scene, where all the numerous threads of the knot are untied, he has again given its full development, that he might collect together into one focus the scattered impressions of the whole. This example and many others are a sufficient refutation of Johnson's assertion, that Shakspeare usually hurries over the conclusion of his pieces. Rather does he, from a desire to satisfy the feelings, introduce a great deal which, so far as the understanding of the

a dénouement requires, might in a strict sense be justly spared : our modern spectators are much more impatient to see the curtain drop, when there is nothing more to be determined, than those of his day could have been."-SCHLEGEL.


“This play, if not, in the construction of its fable, one of the most perfect of our author's productions, is, in point of poetic beauty, of variety and truth of character, and in the display of sentiment and emotion, one of the most lovely and interesting. Nor can we avoid expressing our astonishment at the sweeping condemnation which Johnson has passed upon it; charging its fiction with folly, its conduct with absurdity, its events with impossibility ; terming its faults too evident for detection and too gross for aggravation.

“Of the enormous injustice of this sentence, nearly every page of Cymbeline will, to a reader of any taste or discrimination, bring the most decisive evidence. That it possesses many of the too common inattentions of Shakspeare, that it exhibits a frequent violation of costume, and a singular confusion of nomenclature, cannot be denied; but these are trifles light as air when contrasted with its merits, which are of the very essence of dramatic worth, rich and full in all that breathes of vigour, animation, and intellect, in all that elevates the fancy, and improves the heart, in all that fills the eye with tears, or agitates the soul with hope and fear.

“In possession of excellences vital as these must be deemed, cold and fastidious is the criticism that, on account of irregularities in mere technical detail, would shut its eyes upon their splendour. Nor are there wanting critics of equal learning with, and superior taste to Johnson, who have considered what he has branded with the unqualified charge of confusion of manners,' as forming, in a certain point of view, one of the most pleasing recommendations of the piece. It may be also remarked, that, if the unities of time and place be as little observed in this play, as in many others of the same poet, unity of character and feeling, the test of genius, and without which the utmost effort of art will ever be unavailing, is uniformly and happily supported.

“ Imogen, the most lovely and perfect of Shakspeare's female characters, the pattern of connubial love and chastity, by the delicacy and propriety of her sentiments, by her sensibility, tenderness, and resignation, by her patient endurance of persecution from the quarter where she had confidently looked for endearment and protection, irresistibly seizes upon our affections; and when compelled to fly from the paternal roof, from

A father cruel, and a step-dame false,
A foolish suitor to a wedded lady,
That hath her husband banished,"

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she is driven to assume, under the name of Fidele, the disguise of a page, we follow her footsteps with the liveliest interest and admiration.

“The scenes which disclose the incidents of her pilgrimage ; her reception at the cave of Belarius; her intercourse with her lost brothers, who are ignorant of their birth and rank, her supposed death, funeral rites and resuscitation, are wrought up with a mixture of pathos and romantic wildness peculiarly characteristic of our author's genius, and which has had but few successful imitators. Among these few, stands pre-eminent the poet Collins, who seems to have trodden this consecrated ground with a congenial mind, and who has sung the sorrows of Fidele in strains worthy of their subject, and which will continue to charm the mind and soothe the heart 'till pity's self be dead.'

“When compared with this fascinating portrait, the other personages of the drama appear but in a secondary light. Yet are they adequately brought out, and skilfully diversified; the treacherous subtlety of Iachimo, the sage experience of Belarius, the native nobleness of heart, and innate heroism of mind, which burst forth in the vigorous sketches of Guiderius and Arviragus, the temerity, credulity, and penitence of Posthumus, the uxorious weakness of Cymbeline, the hypocrisy of his Queen, and the comic arrogance of Cloten, half fool and half knave, produce a striking diversity of action and sentiment.

“ Of this latter character, the constitution has been thought so extraordinary, and involving elements of a kind so incompatible, as to form an exception to the customary integrity and consistency of our author's draughts from nature. But the following passage from the pen of an elegant female writer, will prove, that this curious assemblage of frequently opposite qualities has existed, and no doubt did exist in the days of Shakspeare :—'It is curious that Shakspeare should, in so singular a character as Cloten, have given the exact prototype of a being whom I once knew. The unmeaning frown of the countenance ; the shuffling gait; the burst of voice ; the bustling insignificance ; the fever and ague fits of valour; the froward tetchiness ; the unprincipled malice; and, what is most curious, those occasional gleams of good sense, amidst the floating clouds of folly which generally darkened and confused the man's brain ; and which, in the character of Cloten, we are apt to impute to a violation of unity in character ; but in the sometime Captain C-n, I saw that the portrait of Cloten was not out of nature.'

“Poetical justice has been strictly observed in this drama ; the vicious characters meet the punishment due to their crimes, while virtue, in all its various degrees, is proportionably rewarded. The scene of retribution, which is the closing one of the play, is a masterpiece of skill; the development of the plot, for its fulness, completeness, and ingenuity, surpassing any effort of the kind among our author's contemporaries, and atoning for any partial incongruity which the structure or conduct of the story may have previously displayed.”—DRAKE.



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