Shakespeare: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art, Edward Dowden

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CHAPTER I.   SHAKSPERE AND THE ELIZABETHAN AGE.   In these chapters an attempt will be made to present a view or aspect of a great poet, and the first word must explain precisely what such a view or aspect is worth, what it professes to be, and what it disclaims. Dr. New- man, in his ” Grammar of Assent,” has distinguished two modes of apprehending propositions. There is what he calls the real apprehension of a proposition, and there is the notional apprehension. In real apprehension there is the perception of some actual, concrete, individual ob- ject, either with the eye or some bodily sense, or with the mind’s eye — memory or imagination. But our minds are not so constructed as to be able to receive and retain only an exact image of each of the objects that come before us one by one, in and for itself. On the contrary, we compare and contrast. We see at once ” that man is like man, yet unlike ; and unlike a horse, a tree, a mountain, or a monument. And in consequence we are ever grouping and discriminating, measuring and sounding, framing cross classes and cross divisions, and thereby rising from particulars to generals ; that is, from images to notions. . . . ‘ Man ‘ is no longer what he really is, an individual presented to us by our senses, but as we read him in the Ught of those comparisons and contrasts   1       2 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   which we have made him suggest to us. He is attenuated into an aspect, or relegated to his place in a classification. Thus his appellation is made to suggest, not the real being which he is in this or that specimen of himself, but a definition.” Thus individual propositions about the concrete, in the mind of a thinker whose intellect works in the way of notional apprehension, ” almost cease to be, and are diluted or starved into abstract notions. The events of history and the characters who figure in it lose their individuality.”   Now, it is not such an aspect, such a view of Shakspere, which it is here attempted to present. To come into close and living relation with the individuality of a poet must be the chief end of our study — to receive from his nature the peculiar impulse and impression which he, best of all, can give. We must not attenuate Shakspere to an aspect, or reduce him to a definition, or deprive him of individuality, or make of him a mere notion. Yet, also, no experiment will here be made to bring Shak- spere before the reader as he spoke and walked, as he jested in his tavern or meditated in his solitude. It is a real apprehension of Shakspere’s character and genius which is desired, but not such an apprehension as mere observation of the externals of the man, of his life or of his poetry, would be likely to produce. I wish rather to attain to some central principles of life in him which animate and control the rest, for such there are existent in every man whose life is life in any true sense of the word, and not a mere affair of chance, of impulse, of moods, and of accidents.   In such a study as this we endeavor to pass through the creation of the artist to the mind of the creator ; but it by no means prevents our returning to view the work of art simply as such, apart from the artist, and as such to receive delight from it. Nay, in the end it augments       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 3   our delight by enabling us to discover a mass of fact which would otherwise be overlooked. To enjoy the beauty of a landscape, it is not necessary to understand the nature and arrangement of the rocks which underlie | or rise up from the soil. While studying the stratifica- ‘ tion of those rocks, we absolutely lose sight of the beauty of the landscape. Nevertheless, a larger mass of pleasure j is in the end possessed by one who adds to his instinctive, / spontaneous feeling of delight a knowledge of the geology = of the country. In like manner, while the study of anat-/ omy is quite distinct from the pleasure which the sights of a beautiful human body gives, yet, in the end, thd sculptor who adds to his instinctive, spontaneous delight in the beauty of moulded form and moving limb at knowledge of human anatomy receives a mass of pleas- ure greater than that of one who is unacquainted with \       the facts of structure and function. There is an obvious cause of this. The geologist and the anatomist see more^ and see a new class of phenomena, which produce new delights. The lines of force in a landscape, to which an ordinary observer is entirely insensible, come out to the instructed eye, and give it thrills of strong emotion, like those which we receive from the athletes or the gods of Michael Angelo. The lines of force are drawn in the granite and the sandstone differently, and hence an end- less variety of delights corresponding to the infinite va- riety of the disposition of its rock-forces by nature. We do not only understand better what is before us, we enjoy it more. We are not attenuating it to an aspect, or inob- servant of its individuality ; we are, on the contrary, pen- etrating to the centre of that individuality. It is gen- erally not until the dominant lines of force are clearly perceived that we can group in just proportions the minor details which investigation presents to our notice. One who stands in the Sistine Chapel at Eome and       4 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   looks up to its ceiling must in due time become aware of his own spirit as if it were some overburdened cary- atid sustaining the weight of the thought of Michael Angelo. The first effort — and it is no trivial effort — must be to raise one’s self to the height of the great argu- ment. Merely to conceive prophet or sibyl, primitive man or the awful demiurge, as placed before one’s eyes is an exercise which demands concentration of self and abandonment of the world — an exercise which strains and exhausts the imagination. To ascend from this to a comprehension of the total product — to feel the stu- pendous life which animates not alone each single figure, rapt or brooding, but which circles through them all, which plays from each to the other, and forms the one vital soul that lies behind this manifold creation — to achieve this is something rarer and more difficult. But there is yet a higher ascension possible. These vast creations, and much besides these — St. Peter’s at Rome, the David at Florence, the Slaves of the Louvre, the Last Judgment, the Moses, the Tombs of the Medici, the Poems for Vittoria Colonna — all these are less than Michael Angelo. These were the projections of a single mind. There is something higher and more wonderful than St. Peter’s or the Last Judgment — namely, the mind which flung these creations into the world. And yet, it is when we make the effort which demands our most concentrated and most sustained energy — it is when we strive to come into presence of the living mind of the creator — that the sense of struggle and effort is relieved. We are no longer surrounded by a mere world of thoughts and imaginations which, in an almost selfish way, we labor to appropriate and possess. We are in company with a man ; and a sense of real human sympa- thy and fellowship rises within us. Virtue goes out of him. We are conscious of his strength communicating       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 5   itself to us. We may not overmaster him, and pluck out the heart of his mystery ; yet it is good to remain in his companionship. There is something in this invigorating struggle with a nature greater than one’s own which un- avoidably puts on in one’s imagination the shape of the Hebrew story of Peniel. We wrestle with an unknown man until the breaking of the day. We say, ” Tell me, I pray thee, thy name,” and he will not tell it. But though we cannot compel him to reveal his secret, wq wrestle with him still. We say, ” I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” And the blessing is obtained.   If to lay hold of Michael Angelo and to strive with him be the most strenuous feat achievable by the critical imagination in the world of plastic art, to deal with Shakspere requires more endurance, a firmer nerve, and a finer cunning. The great ideal artist — a Milton, a Michael Angelo, a Dante — betrays himself in spite of the haughtiest reserve. But Shakspere, if an idealist, was also above all else a realist in art, and lurks almost im- pregnably behind his work. ” The secrets of nature have not more gift in taciturnity.” * And yet some few of the secrets of nature can be wrested from her. But Shakspere possessed that most baffling of self-defences — humor. Just when we have laid hold of him he eludes us, and we hear only distant ironical laughter. What is to be done? How shall a dramatist — a dramatist pos- sessed of humor — be cheated of his privacy % How shall his reserve be overmastered ? How shall we interrogate him ? Is there any magic word which will compel him to put off disguise, and declare himself in his true shape?   If* we could watch his writings closely, and observe their growth, the laws of that growth would be referable to the nature of the man and to the nature of his en-   * Troilus and Cressida^ act iv., ac. 2,       6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   virontnent. And we might even be able to refer to one and the other of these two factors producing a common resultant that which is specially due to each. Fortunate- ly the succession of Shakspere’s writings (although it is probable that neither external nor internal evidence will ever suffice to make the chronology certain and precise) is sufficiently ascertained to enable us to study the main features of the growth of Shakspere as an artist and as a man. We do not now place A Midsummer – NigM s Dream and The Tempest side by side as Shakspere’s plays of fairy-land. We know that a long interval of time lies between the two, and that if they resemble one another in superficial or accidental circumstances, they must differ to the whole extent of the difference between the^ youthful Shakspere and the mature, experienced, fully developed man. Much is due to the industry of Malone ; much to the ingenuity and industry of recent Shakspere scholars who, in the changes which took place in the poet’s manner of writing verse, have found an index, trustworthy in the main, to the true chronology of the plays.^   * Mr. Spedding, in his article “Who Wrote Henry YIII. ?” {Gentleman’s Magazine, August, 1850), first applied quantitative criticism of verse pecu- liarities to the study of Shalispere’s writings. Mr. Charles Bathurst, in ” Remarks on the Differences of Shakspere’s Versification in Different Periods of his Life” (London, 186Y), called attention to the change “from broken to interrupted verse” which took place as Shakspere advanced in his dramatic career ; and observed, also, the increase in the use of double- endings in his later plays. Professor Craik, in his ” English of Shakspere,” and Professor J. K. Ingram, in a lecture upon Shakspere published in “Afternoon Lectures” (Bell and Daldy, 1863), again called attention to these peculiarities of versification as affording evidence for the ascertain- ment of the chronology of the plays. Finally, about the same time in Eng- land and in Germany, two investigators — Rev. F. G. Fleay and Professor Hertzberg — began to apply ” quantitative criticism ” of the characteristics of verse to the determination of the dates of plays. The test on which Hertzberg chiefly relies is the feminine (double) ending ; he gives the per- centage of such endings in seventeen plays, and believes that the percentage       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 7   It will be well first to stand away from Shakspere, and to view him as one element in a world larger than him- self. In order that an organism — plant or animal — should exist at all, there must be a certain correspond- ence between the organism and its environment. If it be found to thrive and flourish, we infer that such corre- spondence is considerable. Now, we know something of \ the Elizabethan period, and we know that Shakspere was j a man who prospered in that period. In that special! environment Shakspere throve: he put forth his blos-( soms and bore fruit. And in the smaller matter of ma- terial success he flourished also. In an Elizabethan atmos- phere he reached his full stature, and became not only ; great and wise, but famous, rich, and happy. Can we ; discover any significance in these facts ? We are told , that Shakspere ” was not of an age, but for all time.” That assertion misleadsus; and, indeed, in the same poem to the memory of his friend from which these words are taken, Ben Jonson apostrophizes his great rival as ” Soul of the Age.” Shakspere was for all time by virtue of certain powers and perceptions ; but he also belonged especially to an age — his own age, the age of Spenser,| Kaleigh, Jonson, Bacon, Burleigh, Hooker — a Protestant age, a monarchical age, an age eminently positive and practical. A man does not attain to the universal by abandoning the particular, nor to the everlasting by an   indicates their chronological order. See the preface to Cymheline in the German Shakespeare Society’s edition of Tieck and SchlegePs translation. Mr. Fleay’s results, independently ascertained, were published subsequently to Hertzberg’s. See Trans. New Sh. Soc, and MacmillarCs Magazine^ Sept., 1874. In 1873 Mr. Furnivall, in founding the New Shakspere Society — before he was aware that Mr. Fleay’s work was in progress — insisted on the importance of metrical tests for determining the chronology, and gave the proportion of stopped to unstopped lines in three early and three late plays. The latest contribution to the subject is Professor Ingram’s valuable paper read before the New Sh. Soc, o» the ” Weak-ending ” Test.       8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   endeavor to overleap the limitations of time and place. The abiding reality exists not somewhere apart in the air, but under certain temporary and local forms of thought, feeling, and endeavor. We come most deeply into communion with the permanent facts and forces of human nature and human life by accepting, first of all, this fact — that a definite point of observation and sympa- thy, not a vague nowhere, has been assigned to each of us.   What is the ethical significance of that literary move- ment to which Shakspere belonged, and of which he was a part — the Elizabethan drama ? The question seems at first improper. There is perhaps no body of literature j^hich has less of an express tendency for the intellect than the drama of the age of Elizabeth. It is the out- come of a rich and manifold life ; it is full of a sense of   ^ len joyment, and overflowing with energy ; but it is for the most part absolutely devoid of a conscious purpose. The chief playwright of the movement declared that the end of playing, ” both at the first and now, was and is to   ^hold, as ^twere, the mirror up to nature.” A mirror has BO tendency. The questions we ask abont it are, “Does this mirror reflect clearly and faithfully ?” and ” In what direction is it turned ?” Capacity for perceiving, for en- joying, and for reproducing facts, and facts of as great variety as possible — this was the qualification of a dram- atist in the days of Elizabeth. The facts were those of   \ human passion and human activity. He needed not, as each of our poets at the present time needs, to have a doctrine or a revelation or an interpretation. The mere   \ fact was enough without any theory about the fact ; and this fact men saw more in its totality, more in the round, because they approached it in the spirit of frank enjoy- ment. It was not for them attenuated into an aspect or relegated to a class. ,       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. g   In the Kenascence and Reformation period life had grown a real thing — this life on earth for threescore years and ten. The terror and sadness of the Middle Ages, the abandonment of earthly joy, the wistfulness and pathos of spiritual desire, and, on the other hand, the scepticism, irony, and sensuality under the ban were things which, as dominant forms of human life, had passed away. The highest mediaeval spirits were those which had felt with most intensity that we are strangers and pilgrims here on earth, that we have no abiding place among human loves and human sorrows, that life is of little worth except with reference to infinite, invisi- ble antecedents and issues in other w^orlds. With all his tender ajffinities to the brotherhood of elemental powers and of animals. Saint Francis felt allied to these as breth- ren only because they had ceased to be rivals for his heart with the supreme lover, Jesus. The deepest religious voice of the Middle Ages couples in a single breath the words de imitatione Christi and de contemptu omnium vanitatum mundi. It is the ascetic quester, Galahad, with vision undimmed by any mist of earthly passion, who beholds the mystical Grail. Angelico paints Para- dise, and, because the earth can afford no equal beauty, then Paradise again ; below the glory of seraphim and cherubim appear the homely faces of priest and monk, transported into the pellucid and changeless atmosphere of Heaven — for these men had abandoned earth, and may therefore inherit perpetual blessedness. Dante, filled with keen political passion as he was, finds his subjects of highest imaginative interest not in the life of Florence and Pisa and Verona, but in circles of Hell, and the mount of Purgatory, and the rose of beatified spirits. Human love ceases to be adequate for the needs of his adult heart; the woman who was dearest to him ceases to be woman, and is sublimed into the supernatural wisdom of       lo Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   theology. While the world was thus given over to Satan^ those who were lacking in the spiritual passion, and who could not abandon this world, closed a bargain with the Evil One. Together with the world and the flesh, they accepted the devil, as in the l_egend Faustus does, and as many a one did in fact. Our imagination can hardl)” find a place for Shakspere in any part of the Middle Ages. Either they would transform him, or he would confound and disorganize them. With his ever-present .sense of truth, his realization of fact, and especially of   s^ that great fact, a moral order of the universe, we cannot think of Shakspere among the men of pleasure, scepti- cism, and irony ; he could not stay his energy or his humor w4th the shallow lubricities of Boccaccio. Neither can we picture to ourselves an ascetic Shakspere, suppressing his desire of knowledge, transforming his hearty sense of natural enjoyment into curiosities of mystic joy, exhaling his strength in sighs after an ” Urbs beata lerusalem,” or in tender lamentation over the vanity of human love and human grief.   But in the Renascence and Reformation period, instead of substituting supernatural powers and persons and events for the natural facts of the world, men recurred to those facts, and found in them inspiration and suste- nance for heart and intellect and conscience. Of Paradise men knew somewhat less than Angelico had known, or vDante; but they saw that this earth is good. Physical   ^ /nature was not damnable ; the outlying regions of the ( earth were not all tenanted by vampires and devils. Sir ‘ John Mandeville brought back stories of obscure valleys communicating with Hell and haunced by homicidal de- mons ; Raleigh brought back the tobacco-plant and the potato. In the college of his New Atlantis, Bacon erects a statue to the inventor of sugar. Dreams of unexplored regions excited the imagination of Spaniard and English*   \       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 1 1   man in the later Renascence; but it was of El Dorado they dreamed, with its gold-roofed city and auriferous sands. Hardy men went forth to establish plantations and possess the earth. And as these were eager to ac- quire power over the physical world by extending in the Indies and America the dominion of civilized man, others were no less eagerly engaged in endeavoring to extend, by means of scientific discovery, the dominion of man over all forces and provinces of nature. The student of science was not now a magician — a dealer in the black art, in miracles of the diabolic kind ; he pleaded in the courts, he held a seat in Parliament, he became Lord Chancellor a of England. It was ascertained that heaven was not con- 1 structed of a series of spheres moving over and around \ the earth, but that the earth was truly in heaven. This \ is typical of the moral discovery of the time. Men found / that the earth is in heaven, that God is not above nature, \ touching it only through rare preternatural points of con- 1 tact — rather that he is not far from every one of us ; that j/ human life is sacred, and time a fragment of eternity.^   Catholicism had endeavored to sanctify things secular by virtue proceeding towards them from special ecclesi- astical persons and places and acts. The modern spirit, of which Protestantism is a part, revealed in the total life of men a deeper and truer sanctity than can be con- ferred by touches of any wand of ecclesiastical magic. The burden of the curse was lightened. Knowledge was ^ good, and men set about increasing the store of knowl-(   * See the excellent opening chapters of ” Shakespeare als Protestant, Politiker, Psycholog und Dichter,” by Dr. Eduard Vehse. ** Shakespeare, der ungelehrte, unstudirte Dichter, ist der erste, in welchem sich der moderne Geist, der von der Welt weiss, der die gesammte Wirklichkeit zu begreifen sucht, energisch zusammenfasst. Dieser moderne Geist ist der gerade Gegensatz des mittelalterlichen Geistes ; er erfasst die Welt und nament- lich die innere Welt als ein Stiick des Himraels, und das Leben als einen Theil der Ewigkeit ” (vol. i., p. 62).       1 2 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   edge by interrogation of nature, and by research into the life of mankind as preserved in ancient literatures. Visi- ble pomp was a thing which the eye might frankly enjoy ; men tried to make life splendid. Raleigh rode by the Queen in silver armor; the Jesuit Drexelius estimated the value of the shoes worn by this minion of the English Cleopatra at six thousand six hundred gold pieces. The essays ” Of Building” and ” Of Gardens/’ by Bacon, show how this superb mundane ritualism had a charm for his imagination. Beauty was now confessed to be good ; not the beauty of Paradise which Augelico painted, but that of Lionardo’s Monna Lisa, and Raffaele’s Fornarina, and of the daughters of Palma Yecchio. The earth, and those excellent creatures, man and woman, walking upon it, formed a spectacle worth a painters soul. One’s country was for the present not the heavenly Jerusalem, but a certain defined portion of this habitable globe ; and patriotism became a virtue, and queen-worship a piece of / religion. Conscience was a faithful witness; an actual sense of sin and an actual need of righteousness were in- dividual concerns belonging to the inmost self of each human being, and not to be dealt with by ecclesiastical mechanism, by sale of indulgence, or dispensation of a pope. Woman was neither a satanic bait to catch the soul of man, nor was she the supernatural object of medi- aeval chivalric devotion ; she was no miracle, yet not less nor other than that endlessly interesting thing — woman. J Love, friendship, marriage, the ties of parent and child, I jealousy, ambition, hatred, revenge, loyalty, devotion, \ mercy — these were not insignificant affairs because be- \ longing to a world which passes away ; human life being I of importance, these, the blessings and curses of human 1 life, were important also. Heaven may be very real ; we have a good hope that it is so ; meanwhile here is our earth — a substantial, indubitable fact.       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 1 3   The self-conscious ethics of the Elizabethan period find an imaginative utterance in Spenser’s ” Faerie Queene.’^ Spenser’s view of human life is grave and earnest ; it is t that of a knightly encounter with principalities and pow- \ ers of evil. Yet Spenser is neither mediaeval nor essen- tially Puritan ; the design of the ” Faerie Queene ” is in harmony with the general Elizabethan movement. The problem which the poet sets himself to consider is not that of our great English prose allegory — ” The Pilgrim’s Progress ” — how the soul of man may escape from earth to heaven. Kor is the quest of a mystical Grail a central point in this epic of Arthur. The general end of Spen- ser’s poem is ” to fashion a gentleman or noble person in ^ virtuous and gentle discipline.” A grand self-culture is that about which Spenser is concerned ; not, as with Banyan, the escape of the soul to heaven ; not the attain- ment of supernatural grace through a point of mystical contact, like the vision which was granted to the virgin knight of the mediaeval allegory. Self-culture, the forma- tion of a complete character for the uses of earth, and afterwards, if need be, for the uses of heaven — this was subject sufiicient for the twenty-four books designed to form the epic of the age of Elizabeth. And the means of that self -culture are of the active kind — namely, war- fare — warfare not for its own sake, but for the generous accomplishment of unselfish ends. Godliness, self-mas- \ tery, chastity, fraternity, justice, courtesy, constancy — \ each of these is an element in the ideal of human charac- ter conceived by the poet ; not an ascetic, not a mediaeval ideal. If we are to give a name to that ideal, we must call it Magnificence, Great-doing. Penitential discipline and heavenly contemplation are recognized by Spenser as needful to the perfecting of the Godward side of man’s nature, and as preparing him for strenuous encounter with evil J yet it is characteristic that even Heavenly Con-       14 ‘ Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   templation in Spenser’s allegory cannot forget the im portance of those wonderful things of earth — London and the Queen.   Nor is each of Spenser’s knights (although upon his own strength and skill, assisted by divine grace, depends the issue of his strife) a solitary knight-errant. The poet is not without a sense of the corporate life of humanity. As the virtues are linked one to another by a golden chain, so is each noble nature bound to his fellows. Arthur is the succorer of all; all are the servants of Gloriana. Spenser would seem to have longed for some new order of lofty, corporate life, a later Round Table^ suitable to the Elizabethan age. If it were a dream, more fitted for Faery Land than for England of the six- teenth century, we may perhaps pardon Spenser for be- lief in incalculable possibilities of virtue; for he had known Sidney, and the character of Sidney seems for- ever to have lived with him, inspiring him with inex- tinguishable faith in man. With national life Spenser owned a sympathy which we do not expect to find in the mediaeval romances of Arthur, written before England had acquired an independent national character, nor in Bunyan’s allegory, which does not concern itself with af- fairs of earthly polity, and which came into existence at a period of national depression, a time when the political enemies of England were her religious allies. But in the days of Elizabeth the nation had sprung up to a con- sciousness of new strength and vitality, and its political and religious antagonists, Spain and the Papacy, were identical. Faery Land with Spenser is indeed no dream- world ; it lies in no distant latitude. His epic abounds with contemporary political and religious feeling. The combat with Orgoglio, the stripping of Duessa, the death of Kirkrapine, could have been written only by an Englishman and a Protestant possessed) by no half-       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 1 5   hearted hatred towards Spain and the Papal power. Spenser’s views on Irish politics, which interested him so nearly, are to be discovered in the ‘^ Legend of Arthe- gall ” with hardly less clearness than in his prose dialogue upon the ” Present State of Ireland.”   Further, in his material life, Spenser appears to have had a sufficient hold upon positive fact. During the same year in which, for the second time, he became a lover — the year during which he wooed his Elizabeth, and , recorded his despairs and raptures in the Italian love- philosophy of the Amoretti — the piping and pastoral Colin Clout exhibited suit for three ploughlands, parcels ‘ of Shanballymore, and was alleged to have ” converted a great deal of corn ” elsewhere ” to his proper use.” Neither love nor poetry made him insensible to the sub- stantial though minor fact of ploughlands of Shanbally- more. With measureless dominion in Faery Land, he yet did not disdain a slice of the forfeited estate of the Earl of Desmond. Some powerful hostility hindered his court – preferment ; and the grievance finds a place in Spenser’s verse. His own material life he endeavored, not altogether successfully, to render solid and prosper- ous. The intention of his great poetical achievement is one which, while in a high sense religious, is at the same time eminently positive. A complete development ofl noble human character for active uses, not a cloistered \ virtue, is that which Spenser looked upon as most needed for God and man. Such a design is in harmony with the spirit of England in the days of Elizabeth. To be great and to do great things seemed better than to enter the Celestial City and forget the City of Destruction ; bet- ter than to receive in ecstasy the vision of a divine mys- tery, or to be fed with miraculous food. In Spenser these ethics of the Elizabethan age arrived at a self-con’ Bcious existence.       \       1 6 Shakspere—His Mind aiid Art   Let us, remaining at the same point of view, glance now at Bacon and the scientific movement. Bacon and Shakspere stand far apart. In moral character and in gifts of intellect and soul we should find little resem- blance between them. While Bacon’s sense of the pres- ence of physical law in the universe was for his time ex- traordinarily developed, he seems practically to have act- ed upon the theory that the moral laws oi the world are not inexorable, but rather by tactics and dexterity may be cleverly evaded. Their supremacy was acknowledged by Shakspere in the minutest as well as in the greatest concerns of human life. Bacon’s superb intellect was neither disturbed nor impelled by the promptings of his heart. Of perfect friendship or of perfect love he may, without reluctance, be pronounced incapable. Shakspere yielded his whole being to boundless and measureless devotion. Bacon’s ethical writings sparkle with a frosty brilliance of fancy, playing over the worldly maxims which constituted his wisdom for the conduct of life.   I Shakspere reaches to the ultimate truths of human life and character through a supreme and indivisible energy   ‘ of love, imagination, and thought. Yet Bacon and Shak- spere belonged to one great movement of humanity. The whole endeavor of Bacon in science is to attain the fact, and to ascend from particular facts to general. He turned away with utter dissatisfaction from the speculat- ing in vacuo of the Middle Ages. His intellect demand- ed positive knowledge ; he could not feed upon the wind. From the tradition of philosophy and from authority he reverted to nature. Between faith and reason Bacon set a great and impassable gulf. Theology is something too high for human intellect to discuss. Bacon is profoundly deferential to theology, because, as one cannot help sus- pecting, he was profoundly indifferent about it. The schoolmen for the service of faith had sumi9X)ned human       Shakspe7’e and the Elizabethan Age. 1 7   reason to their aid, and Reason, the ally, had in time proved a dangerous antagonist. Bacon, in the interest of science, dismissed faith to the unexceptionable province of supernatural truths. To him a dogma of theology was equally credible v^hether it possessed an appearance of reasonableness or appeared absurd. The total force of intellect he reserved for subjugating to the understand- ing the world of positive fact.   As the matter with which Bacon’s philosophy concerns itself is positive, so its end is pre-eminently practical. The knowledge he chiefly valued was that which prom- ised to extend the dominion of man over nature, and thus to enrich man’s life. His conception of human welfare was large and magnificent ; yet it was wanting in some spiritual elements which had not been lost sight of in earlier and darker times. To human welfare, thus con- ceived in a way somewhat materialistic, science is to min- ister. And the instruments of science by which it attains this end are the purely natural instruments of observa- tion, experiment, and inference. Devotion to the fact, a return from the supernatural to the strictly natural and human, with a practical, mundane object — these are the characteristics of the Elizabethan movement in science.*   Let us now turn to the religious movement in Eng- land. That movement cannot be said to have had, like the Reformation movement in Germany, a central point of vitality and sustenance in the agony of an individual conscience. Nor was it guided, like the movement in France, by a supreme organizing power — theological and political — capable of large, if somewhat too logically rigid,   * Mr. Spedding’s estimate of Bacon differs much from that given above, and Mr. Spedding has the best right of any living person to speak of Bacon. One must, however, remain faithful to one’s own impression of facts, even when that impression is founded on partial (yet not wholly insufficient) knowledge. 2       1 8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ideal conceptions. The dogma of Anglicanism is not, like Calvinistic dogma, the expression and development of an idea ; it becomes intelligible onl}^ through recollection of a series of historical events — the balance of parties, com- promises with this side and with that, the exigencies of times and seasons. But if England had neither a Luther nor a Calvin, she had Cranmer and Hooker. The relig- ious revolution of France in the sixteenth century, like the political revolution of 1789, though it sent a strong wave of moral feeling through Europe, failed to sustain itself. Its uncompromising ideality kept it too much out of relation with the vital, concrete, and ever-altering facts of human society. The English Reformation, on the oth- er hand, if less presentable in logical formulae to the in- tellect, was, like English political freedom as compared with French liberty, equality, and fraternity, much more of a practical success.   Cosmopolitan the English Reformation was not ; it was a growth of the soil, and cannot be transplanted : this is its note of inferiority, and equally its characteristic excel- lence. By combined firmness and easiness of temper, by concessions and compromises, by unweariable good sense, a Reformed Church was brought into existence — a manu- facture rather than a creation — in which the average man might find average piety, average rationality, and an aver- age amount of soothing appeal to the senses ; while rarer spirits could frame out of the moderation of the Angli- can ritual and Anglican devotional temper a refined type of piety, free from extravagance, delicate and pure — of- fending, like the cathedrals of England, neither by rigid- ity, on the one hand, nor by flamboyant fervors, on the other, the type of piety realized in a distinguished degree by George Herbert, by Ken, by Keble. In his ” Ecclesias- tical Sonnets,” Wordsworth speaks of the ritual and litur- gy of the Church of England as affording material and       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 1 9   scope for “the intensities of hope and fear” and for ” passionate exercise of lofty thoughts.” In the preface to ” The Christian Year,” the moderation, the soothing influence, of the devotional services of the Church are no- ticed. Wordsworth, even when the flood of spiritual light and strength which encompassed his youth and early manhood had ebbed, remained Wordsworth still ; and from beyond the little neatly ordered enclosure of Angli- canism voices still came to him of mountain winds and of “mighty waters rolling evermore.” Keble, who was born and bred in the Anglican paddock, understood its limitations better, and wrote the true poetry of his com- munion — a poetry free from all risk of being over-poeti- cal. Dante is the poet of Catholicism ; Milton is the poet of Puritanism ; the poet of Anglicanism is Keble.   Much in the ecclesiastical history of our country was due to Cranmer. Had that unworthy right hand of his been less sensitive or less pliable, the Church of England might have been a more heroic witness for truth (some- times a noble failure serves the world as faithfully as does a distinguished success), but it could hardly have become a national institution with roots which ramify through every layer of society. And Hooker — in what lies the special greatness of Hooker ? Is not his special quality a majestic common-sense ? ^ “If we are to fix on any fun- damental position,” writes the Dean of St. Paul’s, ” as the key of Hooker’s method of arguing, I should look for it in his doctrine, so pertinaciously urged and always im- plied, of the concurrence and co-operation, each in its due place, of all possible means of knowledge for man’s direction.” Puritanism appealed against reason to the letter of Scripture, and sacrificed fact to theory. The Renascence philosophers appealed from authority to hu-   * I am not sure whether Mr. Matthew Arnold has not applied this exprea* sion ‘* majestic common-sense ” to Hooker.       r’       20 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   man reason alone. Hooker, while assigning the ultimate, judicial position to reason, will not deny its place to either Scripture, or to the Church, or to tradition. He is an em- bodiment of the ecclesiastical wisdom of England. While providing the Church, as the Dean of St. Paul’s has said, with a broad, intelligible theory. Hooker saves this theory from rigidity and merely ideal constructiveness by root- ing it in his rich feeling for the concrete fact. Charac- teristically English the work of Hooker will always re- main by its lying close to reality, by its practical tenden- cy, by its moderation, by its large good-sense. More mas- sive Hooker’s spirituality becomes, because it includes a noble realization of positive fact.   Kow, the same soil that produced Bacon and Hooker produced Shakspere; the same environment fostered the growth of all three. Can we discover anything possessed in common by the scientific movement, the ecclesiastical movement, and the drama of the period? That which V appears to be common to all is a rich feeling for positive^ S concrete fact. The facts with which the drama concerns s, itself are those of human character in its living play. ! ‘ ‘, And assuredly, whatever be its imperfection, its crude- ness, its extravagance, no other body of literature has amassed in equal fulness and equal variety a store of con- crete facts concerning human character and human life ; assuredly not the drama of JEschylus and Sophocles, not the drama of Calderon and Lope de Vega, not the drama of Corneille and Eacine. These give us views of human life, and select portions of it for artistic handling. The Elizabethan drama gives us the stuff of life itself — the coarse with the fine, the mean with the heroic, the hu- morous and grotesque with the tragic and the terrible. The personages of the drama — if we except those of Mar- lowe, ” are not symbols of any absolute or ideal type. … The human being is not defined by its most promi-       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 2 1   nent faculty, nor life by its most potent manifestation. The beings themselves, life itself, are brought before us on the scene, and that with a reality, truth, and perfection the highest ever attained by man.” ^   Poetry, in this Elizabethan period, is put upon a purely human basis. ITo fate broods over the actions of men | and the history of families ; the only fatality is the fatal- I ity of character, f Luck, an outstanding element help- ing to determine the lives of mortals, and not reducible to known law, luck good and bad, Shakspere readily ad- mits ; but luck is strictly a thing in the course of nature. The divinity which shapes our ends works efficiently, but secretly. Men’s lives in the drama of Shakspere are not disorganized and denaturalized by irruptions of the mi- raculous. The one standing miracle is the world itself. That power and virtue which can achieve wonders, which can do higher things than all feats of grotesque magic re- corded in the Legend, is simply a^ noble or beautiful soul\ of man or woman. If we recognize in a moral order of 1 the world a divine presence, then the divine presence is never absent from the Shaksperian world. For such sa- cred thaumaturgy as that of Calderon’s “” Autos ” we shall in vain seek in the drama of England. :{:   ♦Joseph Mazzini, “Critical and Literary Writings,” vol. ii., pp. 133, 134. On what follows Mazzini writes : “In Shakspere, and this is a real progress (as compared with JEschylus), Hberty does exist. The act of a single day, or it may be of an hour, has thrown an entire life under the dominion of necessity ; but in that day or hour the man was free, and arbiter of his own future” (p. 135).   f ” Shakespeare stellte zuerst seine Stiicke auf ganz rein menschlichen Boden. . . . Wie eines Menschen Gemiith ist, so ist auch sein Schicksal. . . . Alles, was ausserlich geschieht, ist bei Shakespeare durch ein Inneres bedingt.” — E. Yehse, Shakespeare als Protestant^ etc., vol. i., pp. 5*7, 58.   :j: It is remarkable that the peculiar merit of Calderon recognized by Shel- ley in his “Defence of Poetry” — a merit which Shelley cannot attribute to the Elizabethan dramatists — should be his endeavor to connect art with re- ligion.       22 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ^ A vigorous, mundane vitality — this constitutes the (basis of the Elizabethan drama. Yigor reveals, on the one hand, the tragedy of life. Love and hatred, joy and sorrow, life and death being very real to a vigorous nat- ure, tragedy becomes possible. To one who exists lan- guidly from day to day, neither can the cross and passion of any human heart be intelligible, nor the solemn inten- sities of joy, the glorious resurrection and ascension of a life and soul. The heart must be all alive and sensitive before the imagination can conceive, with swift assurance, and no hesitation or error, extremes of rapture and of pain. The stupendous mass of Lear’s agony, and the spasms of anguish which make Othello writhe in body as in mind, fell within the compass of the same imagination that included at the other extremity the trembling ex- pectation of Troilus before the entrance of Cressida*^ — into which the dramatist enters so profoundly, while at the same time he holds himself ironically aloof — the fulness of satisfied need when Posthumus embraces Im- ogen —   ” Hang there like fruit, my soul, Till the tree die!”   and the rapture (almost transcending the bounds of con^       * Troilus, — ” I am giddy ; expectation whirls me round. The imaginary relish is so sweet That it enchants my sense ; what will it be, When that the watery palate tastes indeed Love’s thrice repured nectar ? Death, I fear me, Swooning destruction, or some joy too fine, Too subtle-potent, tuned too sharp in sweetness, For the capacity of my ruder powers : I fear it much : and I do fear, besides. That I shall lose distinction in my joys ; As doth a battle, when they charge on heaps The enemy flying” (act iii., sc. 2). ^       Shakspere and the Elizabetha^i Age. 23   sciousness) of Pericles upon the recovery of his long-lost Marina :   ” Helicanus, strike me, honor’d sir ; Give me a gash, put me to present pain ; Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me O’erbear the shores of my mortality. And drown me with their sweetness.”   On the other hand, this same vigor enables men to perceive and enjoy the comedy of life; for vigor enjoys folly: when it laughs, like Shakspere’s Yalentine, “it laughs like a cock.” One who is thoroughly in earnest is not afraid to laugh ; he knows that he may safel}^ have his laugh out, and that it will not disturb the solid rela- tions of things. It is only when we are half in earnest that we cherish our seriousness, and tremble lest the dig- nity of our griefs or joys should be impaired. And, ac- cordingly, when great tragedies can be written, joyous comedies can be written also. But when life grows base or trivial, when great tragedy ceases (as in the period of the Restoration ), when false heroics and showy senti- mentality take the place of tragic passion, then the laugh- ter of men becomes brutal and joyless — the crackling of thorns under a pot.   This vigorous vitality which underlies the Elizabethan drama is essentially mundane. To it all that is upon this earth is real ; and it does not concern itself greatly about the reality of other things. Of heaven or hell it has no power to sing. It finds such and such facts here and now, and does not invent or discover supernatu- ral causes to explain the facts. It pursues man to the moment of death, but it pursues him no further. If it confesses ” the burden of the mystery” of human life, it does not attempt to lighten that burden by any “Thus saith the Lord” which cannot be verified or attested by actual experience. If it contains a divine element, the       24 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   divine is to be looked for in the human, not apart from the human. It knows eternity only through time, which is a part of eternity.*^   * The following passage adds to what has been written above, and illus- trates it : ” The feeling which we commonly call pathos seems, when one analyzes it, to arise out of a perception of grand incongruities — filling a place in one class of our ideas corresponding to that in another in which the sense of the ludicrous is placed by Locke. And this pathos was attain- ed by mediaeval asceticism through its habit of dwarfing into insignificance the earthly life and its belongings, and setting the meanness and wretched- ness which it attributed to it in contrast to the far-off vision of glory and greatness. . . . Another sort of pathos — the pagan — . . . results from a full realizing of the joy and the beauty of the earth, and the nobleness of men’s lives on it, and from seeing a grand inexplicableness in the incongru- ity between the brightness of these and the darkness which lies at either end of them ; the infinite contradiction between actual greatness and the apparent nothingness of its whence and whither ; the mystery of strong and beautiful impulses finding no adequate outcome now, nor promise’ of ever finding it hereafter ; human passion kindling into Hght and glow, only to burn itself out into ashes ; the struggle kept up by the will of successive generations against Fate, ever beginning and ever ending in defeat, to re- commence as vainly as before ; the never-answered Why ? uttered unceas- ingly in myriad tones from out all human life. The poetry of the Greeks gained from the contemplation of these things a pathos which, however gladly a Christian poet may forego such gain for his art, was in its sadness inexpressibly beautiful. The ‘ Iliad ‘ had a deep undercurrent of it even in the midst of all its healthy childlike objectivity, and it was ever present amongst the great tragedian’s introspective analyzings of humanity. High art of later times has, for the most part, retained this pagan beauty. Though there is no reason to think that there was any paganism in Shak- spere’s creed, yet we cannot help feeling that, whether the cause is to be sought in his individual genius or in Renaissance influences, the spirit of his art is in many respects pagan. In his great tragedies he traces the workings of noble or lovely human characters on to the point — and no fur- ther — where they disappear into the darkness of death, and ends with a look hack^ never on towards anything beyond. His sternly truthful realism will not, of course, allow him to attempt a shallow poetical justice, and mete out to each of his men and women the portion of earthly good which might seem their due ; and his artistic instincts — positive rather than speculative — prefer the majesty and infinite sadness of unexplainedness to any attempt to look on towards a future solution of hard riddles in human fates.” — E. p. West (in the first of two articles on “Browning as a Preacher^” Thi       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 25   Without an ethical tendency, then, the Elizabethan drama yet produces an ethical effect. A faithful pres- entation of the facts of the world does not leave us in- different to good and evil, but rather rouses within us, more than all maxims and all preaching can, an inextin- guishable loyalty to good. It is any falsifying of those facts, whether the falsification be that of the sensualist or of the purist, whether it be a lie told to seduce us to vice or to bribe us to virtue — it is this which may possibly lead us aside from directness, simplicity, and uprightness of action. Is the Elizabethan drama religious? No, if re- ligion be something which stands over and above human life, luring it away from earth : no, if the highest acts of religion be an access to the divine presence through spe- cial ecclesiastical rites and places and persons. Yes, if the facts of the world be themselves sacred — parts of a divine order of things, and interpenetrated by that Su- preme Keality, apprehended yet unknowable, of which the worlds of matter and of mind are a manifestation.   To many, at the present time, the sanity and the strength of Shakspere would assuredly be an influence that might well be called religious. The Elizabethan i drama is thoroughly free from lassitude and from that | lethargy of heart which most of us have felt at one time \ or another. Those whose lot falls in a period of doubt and spiritual alteration, between the ebb and the flow, in the welter and wash of the waves, are — because they lack the joyous energy of a faith — peculiarly subject to this mood of barren lethargy. And it is not alone in the mystic, spiritual life of the soul that we may suffer from   Bark Blue Magazine^ Oct. and Nov., IS’Zl ). »This passage may be borne in mind to illustrate the view taken of the great tragedies of Shak. spere in a subsequent chapter of this volume. See also, on the agnosticism of Shakspere, Mr. Ruskin’s lecture ” The Mystery of Life and its Arts,” in ** Afternoon Lectures” (Dublin: M’Gee, 1869), pp. 110, 111.       26 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   coldness or aridity. There are seasons when a sterile world-weariness is induced by the superficial barrenness of life. The persons we know seem to shrivel up and become wizened and grotesque. The places we have loved transform themselves into ugly little prisons. The ideals for which we lived appear absurd patterns, insig- nificant arabesques, devoid of idea and of beauty. Our own heart is a most impertinent ajid unprofitable hand- ful of dust. It is well if some supreme joy or sorrow which has overtaken us save us from possible recurrence of this mood of weary cynicism. But humbler means at times have served. The tear shed over a tale of Mar- niontel by one who recorded his malady and his recov- ery has occasioned certain smiles on critical lips.^ A true physician of the soul discerns that such a tear is not despicable, but significant as the beads of perspiration which tell that the crisis of a fever is favorably passed. To this mood of barren world-weariness the Elizabethan drama comes with no direct teaching, but with the vision of life. Even though death end all, these things at least are — beauty and force, purity, sin, and love, and anguish and joy. These things are, and therefore life cannot be a little idle whirl of dust. We are shown the strong man taken in the toils, the sinner sinking farther and farther away from light and reality and the substantial life of things into the dubious and the dusk, the pure heart all vital and confident and joyous ; we are shown the glad, vicarious sacrifice of soul for soul, the malign activity of evil, the vindication of right by the true jus- ticiary ; we are shown the good common things of the world, and the good things that are rare ; the love of parents and children, the comradeship of young men, the exquisite vivacity, courage, and high-spirited intellect of       * J. S. MilPs Autobiography, pp. 14a, 141.       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 2*J   noble girlhood, the devotion of man and woman to man and woman. The vision of life rises before us, and we know that the vision represents a reality. These things, then, being actual, how poor and shallow a trick of the heart is cynicism !   j Two views of the character of Shakspere have been / p^QY^di for our acceptance ; we are expected to make a y f choice between the two. According to one of these / views, Shakspere stands before us a cheerful, self-pos- sessed, and prudent man, who conducted his life with sound worldly judgment; and he wrote plays, about which he did not greatly care ; acquired property, about which he cared much ; retired to Stratford, and, attaining the end of his ambition, became a wealthy and respecta- ble burgess of his native town, bore the arms of a gentle- man, married his two daughters with prudence, and died with the happy consciousness of having gained a credit- able and substantial position in the world. The other view of Shakspere’s character has been recently present- ed by M. Taine with his unflagging brilliancy and energy. According to this second conception, ShaksperQ was a man of almost superhuman passions, extreme in joy and pain, impetuous in his transports, disorderly in his . conduct, heedless of conscience, but sensitive to every touch oif pleasure — a man of inordinate, extravagant genius.   It is impossible to accept either of these representa- tions of Shakspere as a complete statement of the fact. Certain it is, however, that a portion of truth is con- tained in the first of these two Shakspere theories. There can be no doubt that Shakspere considered it worth his while to be prudent, industrious, and economical. He would appear to have had a very sufl3cient sense of life, and in particular of his own life, as real, and of this earth as a possession. He had seen his father sinking deeper and deeper into pecuniary embarrassment, and       28 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   dropping away from the good position which he had held amongst his fellow-townsmen. Shakspere had mar- ried at eighteen years of age ; he was at the age of twen- ty-one the father of a son and of two daughters. A reck- less, improvident life became more than ever undesirable. He took the means which gave him the best chance of attaining worldly prosperity; he made himself useful in\ every possible way to his dramatic company. While others — Greene and Peele and Marlowe — had squander- ed their strength in the turbulent life of London, Shak- spere husbanded his strength. The theatrical life did not bring satisfaction to him ; he felt that his moral be- ing suffered loss while he spent himself upon the miscel- laneous activities forced upon him by his position and profession ; he was made for a higher, purer life of more continuous progress towards all that is excellent, and he felt painfully that his nature was being subdued to what it worked in, as the dyer’s hand receives its stain.^ Nev- ertheless, he did not, in the fashion of idealists, hastily abandon the life which seemed to entail a certain spirit- ual loss ; he recognized the reality of external, objective duties and claims — duties to his father, to his family, to his own future self ; he accepted the logic of facts ; he compelled the lower and provisional life of player and playwright to become the servant of his higher life, as far as circumstances permitted ; and he carefully and steadily applied himself to effecting his deliverance from that provisional life at the earliest suitable period ; but not before that period had arrived. And afterwards, when Shakspere had become a prosperous country gen- tleman, he did not endeavor to cut himself loose from his past life which had served him, and the associates who had been his friends and helpers ; the Stratford gen-   ♦ Sonnets^ cxi.       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 29   tleman who might write himself Armigero ” in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation ” was not so enamoured of this distinction as to be ashamed of the days when he lived by public means ; he remembers in his will among the rural esquires and gentry, “My Fellowes, John Hemynges, Kichard Burbage, and Henry Cundell.”   Thus, all through his life, we observe in Shakspere a sufficient recognition of external fact, external claims, and obligations. Hence worldly prosperity could not be a matter which would ever seem unimportant to Shak- spere. In 1604, when he was a wealthy me^n, William Shakspere brought an action against Philip Rogers, in the court of Stratford, for £1 15^. 106?., being the price of malt sold and delivered to him at different times. The incident is characteristic. Shakspere evidently could es- timate the precise value for this temporal life (though possibly not for eternity) of £1 15^. 10<^. ; and, in addi- tion to this, he bore down with unfaltering insistence on the positive fact that the right place out of all the uni- verse for the said £1 155. \^d. to occupy lay in the pocket of William Shakspere.   Practical, positive, and alive to material interests, Shak- spere unquestionably was. But there is another side to his character. About the same time that he brought his action against Philip Rogers for the price of malt, the poet was engaged upon his Othello and his Lear. Is it conceivable that Shakspere thought more of his pounds than of his plays? Strongly as he felt the fact about the little sum of money which he sought to recover, is it not beyond possibility of doubt that his whole nature was immeasurably more kindled, aroused, and swayed by the vision of Lear upon the heath, of Othello taken in the snake-like folds of lago’s cunning, and by the inscrutable mysteries respecting human life which these suggested ? It is highly important to fix our atten*       30 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   tion on what is positive, practical, and finite in Shakspere’s art as well as in Shakspere’s life. But if the poet was of   ^ his own age, he was also ” for all time.” He does not merely endeavor to compass and comprehend the know- able: he broods with a passionate intensity over that which cannot be known. And, again, he not only studies self-control : he could depict, and we cannot doubt that he knew by personal experience, absolute abandonment and self-surrender. The infinite of meditation, the infi- nite of passion, both these lay within the range of Shak- spere’s experience and Shakspere’s art. He does not, in- deed, come forward with explanations of the mysteries of existence; perhaps because he felt more than other   \j men their mysteriousness. Many of us seem to think it the all-essential thing to be provided with answers to the diflScult questions which the world propounds, no matter how little the answers be to these great questions. Shak- spere seems to have considered it more important to put the questions greatly, to feel the supreme problems.   Thus Shakspere, like nature and like the vision of hu- man life itself, if he does not furnish us with a doctrine, has the power to free, arouse, dilate. Again and again we fall back into our little creed or our little theory. Shakspere delivers us; under his influence we come anew into the presence of stupendous mysteries, and, in- stead of our little piece of comfort and support and con- tentment, we receive the gift of solemn awe and bow the head in reverential silence. These questions are not stated by Shakspere as intellectual problems. He states them pregnantly, for the emotions and for the imagina- tion. And it is by virtue of his very knowledge that he comes face to face with the mystery of the unknown. Because he had sent down his plummet farther into the depths than other men, he knew better than others how fathomless for human thought those depths remain. ” Tin       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 31   genie,” Yictor Hugo has said, ” est nn promontoire dans I’infini.” This promontory which we name Shakspere, stretching out long and sharp, has before it measureless ^J sea and the mass of threatening cloud ; behind it the hab- itable globe, illuminated, and alive with moving figures of man and woman.   Our conclusion, therefore, is that Shakspere lived and moved in two worlds — one limited, practical, positive ; the other a world opening into two infinites, an infinite of thought and an infinite of passion. He did not sup- press either life to the advantage of the other ; but he adjusted them, and by stern and persistent resolution held them in the necessary adjustment. In the year 1602 Shakspere bought for the sum of three hundred and twenty pounds one hundred and seven acres of arable land in the parish of Old Stratford. It was in the same year (if the chronology of Delius be accepted as correct) that Shakspere, in the person of his Hamlet, musing on a skull, was tracing out the relations of a buyer of land to the soil in a somewhat singular fashion. ” This fellow might be in ‘s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recover- ies ; is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his re- coveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt ?” The cour- tier Osric, who has ” much land and fertile,” is described by the Prince (who could be contented in a nut-shell, but that he has bad dreams) as ” spacious in the possession of dirt.” Yet this dirt Shakspere used to serve his needs.   How shall a man live sanely in presence of the small daily facts of life (which are also not small, but great), and in presence of the vast mystery of death ? How shall he proportion his interests betw^een the bright illu- minated spot of the known and the dim environing un- known w^hich possesses such strong attraction for the soul? How shall he restrain and attach his desires to the       32 Shakspere — His Mmd and Art.   little objects which claim each its definite share of the heart, while the heart longs to abandon itself to some one thing with measureless devotion % Shakspere’s attainment of sanity and self-control was not that of a day or of a year, it was the attainment of his life. Now he was tempted by his speculative intellect and imagination to lose all clear perception of his limited and finite life ; and again he was tempted to resign the conduct of his being by the promptings of a passionate heart. He is inexora- ble in his plays to all rebels against the fact ; because he was conscious of the strongest temptation to become him- self a rebel. He cannot forgive an idealist, because in spite of his practical and positive nature he was (let the Sonnets witness) an idealist himself. His series of dra- matic writings is one long study of self-control.   And Shakspere, we have good reason to believe, did at last attain to the serene self-possession which he had sought with such persistent efifort. He feared that he might become (in spite of Mercutio’s jests) a Eomeo ; he feared that he might falter from his strong self-mainte- nance into a Hamlet ; he suffered grievous wrong, and he resolved that he would not be a Timon. He ended by becoming Duke Prospero. Admired Miranda — truly ” a thread of his own life ” — he made over to the young gal- lant Ferdinand (and yet was there not a touch of sadness in resigning to a somewhat shallow-souled Fletcher the art he loved?). He broke his magic staff; he drowned his book deeper than ever plummet sounded ; he went back, serenely looking down upon all of human life, yet refusing his share in none of it, to his dukedom at Strat- ford, resolved to do duke’s work, such as it is, well ; yet Prospero must forever have remained somewhat apart and distinguished from other dukes and Warwickshire magnificoes, by virtue of the enchanted island and the marvellous years of mageship. ^       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 33   It has been asked whether Shakspere was a Protestant or a Catholic, and he has been proved to belong to each communion to the satisfaction of contending theological zealots. Shakspere’s poetry, resting upon a purely hu- man basis, is not a rendering into art of the dogmas of either Catholicism or Protestantism. Shakspere himself, a great artistic nature, framed for manifold joy and pain, may, like other artists, have had no faculty for the attain- ment of certitude upon extra-mundane and superhuman matters ; of concrete moral facts he had the clearest per- ception, but we do not find that he was interested, at least as an artist, in truths or alleged truths which tran- scend the limits of human experience. That the world’ suggests inquiries which cannot be answered ; that mys- teries confront and baffle us ; that around our knowledge lies ignorance, around our light darkness — this to Shak- spere seemed a fact containing within it a profound sig-, nificance, which might almost be named religious. But,} studiously as Shakspere abstains from embodying theo-i logical dogma in his art, and tolerant as his spirit is, it is certain that the spirit of Protestantism — of Protestantism considered as portion of a great movement of humanity — animates and breathes through his writings. Unless he had stood in antagonism to his time, it could not be otherwise. Shakspere’s creed is not a series of abstract statements of truth, but a body of concrete impulses, ten- dencies, and habits. The spirit of his faith is not to be ascertained by bringing together little sentences from the utterances of this one of his dramatis jpersonce and of that. By such a method he might be proved (as Birch tried to prove Shakspere) an atheist.^ The faith by   * ” Inquiry into the Philosophy and ReUgion of Shakespeare,” 1848.   This is also too much the method (leading, however, to a very different   result) of riathe in the laborious chapter ” Die Anschauungen Shakspeare^s   jiber sein Selbst, etc.,” which opens the first volume of “Shakspeare in   3       34 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   which Shakspere lived is rather to be discovered by noting the total issue and resultant of his art towards the fostering and sustenance of a certain type of human character. It may be asserted, without hesitation, that the Protestant type of character, and the Protestant poli- ty in state and nation, is that which has received impulse and vigor from the mind of the greatest of English poets. Energy, devotion to the fact, self-government, tolerance, a disbelief in minute apparatus for the improvement of human character, an indifference to externals in compari- son with that which is of the invisible life, and a resolu- tion to judge all things from a purely human standpoint — these grow upon us as habits of thought and feeling, as long as Shakspere remains an influence with us in the building-up of character. Such habits of thought and feeling are those which belong more especially to the Protestant ideal of manhood.”^   Is Shakspere a religious poet ? An answer has been given to this question by Mr. Walter Bagehot, which con- tains the essential truth : ” If this world is not all evil, he who has understood and painted it best must probably have some good. If the underlying and almighty essence of this world be good, then it is likely that the writer who most deeply approached to that essence will be him-       seiner Wirklichkeit.” On this subject, see Vehse’s book already referred to; the last of Kreyssig’s lectures in his smaller work, ” Shakespeare- Fragen;” and Rumelin, ” Shakespeare-Studien,” pp. 207-215 (second edition). * See on this subject the able reply to Rio by Michael Bernays, in ” Jahr- buch der deutschen Shakespeare – Gesellschaft,” vol. i., pp. 220-299. A minute but perhaps significant piece of evidence has been noticed recently by H. von Friesen. In Romeo and Juliet (act iv., sc. 1) we read, ” Or shall I come to you at evening mass ?” No Catholic, observes H. von Friesen, co\ild have spoken of *’ evening mass ‘* ( *’ Altengland und William Shak- spere” [18H], pp. 286, 287). Staunton had previously noticed the difficulty But see tbsj paper on this passage by the late Mr. R. Simpson, in Trans, New Sh. & c, 1876-76.       Shakspere and the Elizabethan Age. 35   self good. There is a religion of week-days as well as of Sundays, a religion of ‘ cakes and ale ‘ as well as of pews and altar-cloths. This England lay before Shakspere as it lies before us all, with its green fields, and its long hedgerows, and its many trees, and its great towns, and its endless hamlets, and its motley society, and its long history, and its bold exploits, and its gathering power ; and he saw that they were good. To him perhaps more than to any one else has it been given to see that they were a great unity, a great religious object ; that if you could only descend to the inner life, to the deep things, to the secret principles of its noble vigor, to the essence of character, … we might, so far as we are capable of so doing, understand the nature which God has made. Let us, then, think of him, not as a teacher of dry dogmas or a sayer of hard sayings, but as   ‘ A priest to us aU Of the wonder and bloom of the world,’   a teacher of the hearts of men and women.” ^   It is impossible, however, that the sixteenth or the seventeenth century should set a limit to the nineteenth. The voyaging spirit of man cannot remain within the enclosure of any one age or any single mind. We need to supplement the noble positivism of Shakspere with an element not easy to describe or define, but none the less actual, which the present century has demanded as essen- tial to its spiritual life and well-being, and which its spir- itual teachers — Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Newman, Maurice, Carlyle, Browning, Whitman (a strange and ap- parently motley assemblage) — have supplied and are still supplying. The scientific movement of the present cen- tury is not more unquestionably a fact than this is a fact,   * ” Estimates of some Englishmen and Scotchmen,” by Walter Bagehot, p. 270.       ^6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   In the meantime, to enter with strong and undisturbed comprehension into Shakspere, let us endeavor to hold ourselves strenuously at the Shaksperian standpoint, and view the universe from thence. We shall afterwards go our way, as seems best, bearing with us Shakspere’s gift. And Shakspere has no better gift to bestow than the strength and courage to pursue our own path, through pain or through joy, with vigor and resolution.   V       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 37       CHAPTEK II.   THE GKOWTH OF SHAKSPERe’s MIND AND ART.   In the preceding chapter, a brief and partial study was attempted of Shakspere the man and Shakspere the artist, considered as one element in the great intellectual and spiritual movement of the Elizabethan period. The or- ganism — a dramatic poet — we endeavored to view in connection with its environment. Now we proceed to observe, in some few of its stages of progress, the growth of that organism. Shakspere in 1590, Shakspere in 1600, and Shakspere in 1610 was one and the same living en- tity ; but the adolescent Shakspere differed from the adult, and again from Shakspere in the supremacy of his ripened manhood, as much as the slender stem, graceful and pliant, spreading its first leaves to the sunshine of May, differs from the moving expanse of greenery visible a century later, which is hard to comprehend and probe with the eye in its infinite details, multitudinous and yet one ; receiving through its sensitive surfaces the gifts of light and dew, of noonday and of night ; grasping the earth with inextricable living knots ; not unpossessed of haunts of shadow and secrecy ; instinct with ample mys- terious murmurs — the tree which has a history, and bears, in wrinkled bark and wrenched bough, memorials of time and change, of hardship and drought and storm. The poet Gray, in a well-known passage, invented a piece of beautiful mythology, according to which the infant Shak- spere is represented as receiving gifts from the great Dis- pensatress :       38 Shakspere—His Mind and Art.   •* Far from the sun and summer gale, In thy green lap was Nature’s darling laid, What time, where lucid Avon strayM, To him the mighty Mother did unveil Her awful face ; the dauntless Child StretchM forth his little arms and smiled ; This pencil take, she said, whose colors clear Richly paint the vernal year ; Thine too these golden keys, immortal Boy ! This can unlock the gates of Joy, Of Horror that, and thrilling Fears, Or ope the sacred fount of sympathetic Tears.”   But the mighty Mother, more studious of the welfare of her charge, in fact gave her gifts only as they could be used. Those keys she did not intrust to Shakspere until, by manifold experience, by consolidating of intel- lect, imagination, and passions, and by the growth of self-control, he had become fitted to confront the dread- ful, actual presences of human anguish and of human   joy.   Everything takes up its place more rightly in a spa- cious world, accurately observed, than in the narrow world of the mere idealist. In bare acquisition of ob- served fact, Shakspere marvellously increased from year to year. He grew in wisdom and in knowledge (such an admission does not wrong the divinity of genius), not less, but more, than other men. Quite a little library exists illustrating the minute acquaintance of Shakspere with this branch of information and with that : ” The Legal Acquirements of Shakspere,” ” Shakspere’s Knowledge and Use of the Bible,” ” Shakspere’s Delineations of In- sanity,” ” The Kural Life of Shakspere,” ” Shakspere’s Garden,” ” The Ornithology of Shakspere,” ” The In- sects Mentioned by Shakspere,” and such like. Conject- ural inquiry, which attempts to determine \^hether Shak- spere was an attorney’s clerk, or whether he was a soldier ; whether Shakspere was ever in Italy, or whether he was       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 39   in Germany, or whether he was in Scotland — inquiry such as this may lead to no very certain result with respect to the particular matter in question. But one thing which such special critical studies as these establish is the enor- mous receptivity of the poet. This vast and varied mass of information he assimilated and made his own. And such store of information came to Shakspere only, by the way, as an addition to the more important possession of knowledge about human character and human life which forms the proper body of fact needful for dramatic art. In proportion as an animal is of great size, the masses of nutriment which he procures are large. ” The arctic whale gulps in whole shoals of acalephae and mollusks.”   But it w^as not alone or chiefly through mass of acquisi- tion that Shakspere became great. He w^as not merely a centre for the drifting capital of knowledge. Each faculty expanded and became more energetic, while, at the same time, the structural arrangement of the man’s whole nat- ure became more complex and involved. His powder of thought increased steadily as years went by, both in sure grasp of the know^n and in brooding intensity of gaze upon the unknown. His emotions, instead of losing their energy and subtlety as youth deepened into man- hood, instead of becoming dulled and crusted over by contact with the world, became (as is the case w^ith all the greatest men and women), by contact with the world, swifter and of more ample volume. As Shakspere pene- trated further and further into the actual facts of our life, he found in those facts more to rouse and kindle and sus- tain the heart ; he discovered more awful and mysterious darkness, and also more intense and lovelier light. And it is clearly ascertainable from his plays and poems that Shakspere’s will grew, with advancing age, beyond meas- ure calmer and more strong. Each formidable tempta- tion he succeeded, before he was done with it, in subdu-       40 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   ing, at least so far as to preclude a fatal result. In the end he obtained serene and indefeasible possession of himself. He still remained, indeed, baffled before the mystery of life and death ; but he had gained vigor to cope with fate ; he could ” accept all things not under- stood.” And during these years, while each faculty was augmenting its proper life, the vital play of one faculty into and through the other became more swift, subtle, and penetrating. In Shakspere’s earlier writings, we can observe him setting his wit to work or his fancy to work; now he is clever and intellectual, and again he is tender and enthusiastic. But in his later style, imagination and thought, wisdom and mirth and charity, experience and surmise, play into and through one another, until fre- quently the significance of a passage becomes obscured by its manifold vitality. The murmur of an embryo thought or feeling already obscurely mingles with the murmurs of the parent life in which it is enveloped.^   Now, what does extraordinary growth imply ? f It implies capacity for obtaining the materials of growth ; in this case materials for the growth of intellect, of im- agination, of the will, of the emotions. It means, there- fore, capacity of seeing many facts, of meditating, of feel- ing deeply, and of controlling such feeling. It implies the avoidance of injuries which interfere with growth, escape from enemies which bring life to a sudden end, and therefore strength and skill and prudence in dealing with the world. It implies a power in the organism of fitting its movements to meet numerous external coex-       * See the valuable criticism of Shakspere’s style as contrasted with Fletcher’s in ” A Letter on Shakspere’s Authorship of The Two Noble Kins- men” (1833), by Mr. Spalding, pp. 13-18. The criticism applies with special propriety to Shakspere’s later style.   t In my answer to this question, I borrow several expressions from Her- bert Spencer’s ” Biology.”       Growth of Shakspere s Mind and Art 41   istences and sequences. In a word, we are brought back once again to Shakspere’s resolute fidelity to the fact. By virtue of this his life became a success, as far as suc- cess is permitted to such a creature as man in such a world as the present.   It seems much that the needy youth who left his na- tive town probably under pressure of poverty should, at the age of thirty-three, have become possessor of New Place at Stratford, and from year to year have added to his worldly dignity and wealth. Such material advance- ment argues a power of understanding, and adapting one’s self to, the facts of the material world. But that was not the chief success in the life of Shakspere. When Words- worth thought of ” mighty poets in their misery dead ” — when, in sudden mood of dejection, he murmured to him- self,   ** We poets in our youth begin in gladness ; But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness ” —   he thought of Chatterton and of Burns, not of Shakspere. The early contemporaries of Shakspere, Marlow^e and Greene — one of them a man of splendid genius — failed as Chatterton failed. It must have appeared to Shakspere (who well enough understood honest frolic) a poor affair, a flimsy kind of idealism — this reckless knocking of a man’s head against the solid laws of the universe. The protest against fact, against our subjection to law, made by such men as Marlowe and Greene, was a vulgar and superficial protest. Shakspere could get no delight from the insanity of sowing wild oats. His insanity was of a far graver and more terrible kind. It assumed two forms — the Romeo form and the Hamlet form — abandonment to passion, abandonment to brooding thought — two dis- eases of youth, each fatal in its own way ; two forms of the one supreme crime in Shakspere’s eyes, want of fidel- ity to the fact. The noble practical energy of Shakspere       42 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   was tempted to self-betrajal, on the one hand, by the supremacy of blind desire ; on the other hand, by the sapping-in of thought upon the will and active powers. The struggle between self – will and reason, between “blood” and “judgment,” appears in all his writings to be ever in the background — a theme ready at any mo- ment, if permitted, to become prominent. And Shak- spere’s profoundest and most sympathetic psychological study, Hamlet^ represents in detail the other chief temptation to which he was, it would seem, subjected. In all the later plays his eye is intently fixed upon the deep insoluble questions suggested by human character and destiny, fixed with a brooding wistf ulness which yet, we perceive, he became, as years went on, more and more able to control.   Shakspere’s central self pronounced in favor of sanity — in favor of seeing things as they are, and shaping life accordingly. He bought up houses and lands in Strat- ford, and so made a protest, superficial, indeed, yet real, against the Romeo and the Hamlet within him. But the idealist within him made Shakspere at all times far other than a mere country magnate or wealthy burgher. It remained, after all, nearly the deepest part of him :   ” Hamlet. Is not parchment made of sheep-skins ? Horatio. Ay, my lord, and of calf -skins too. Hamlet. They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that.”   And Prospero declares the end of the whole matter:   ** We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.”   Shakspere’s devotion to material interests was the least part of the protest made against his ten^ptation to ex- travagance of soul. There are more important facts than those of the material life. Shakspere cast his plummet into the sea of human sorrow and wrong and loss. He       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 43   studied evil. He would let none of that dark side of life escape from him. He denied none of the bitterness, the sins, the calamity, of the world. He looked steadily at Cordelia strangled in the arms of Lear ; and he sum- moned up a strenuous fortitude, a stoical submission to make endurable such a spectacle. But, at the same time, he retained his loyalty to good ; over against Edmund and the monstrous sisters he saw the invincible loyalty of a Kent, the practical genius of an Edgar in the service of good, and the redeeming ardor of a Cordelia. Rescuing his soul from all bitterness, he arrived finally at a temper strong and self-possessed as that of stoicism, yet free from the stoical attitude of defiance ; a temper liberal, gra- cious, charitable, a tender yet strenuous calm.   The YeniLS and Adonis is styled by its author, in the dedication to the Earl of Southampton, ” the first heir of my invention.” Gervinus believes that the poem may have been written before the poet left Stratford. Al- though possibly separated by a considerable interval from its companion poem, The Rape of Lucrece (1594), the two may be regarded as essentially one in kind.^ The special- ty of these poems as portions of Shakspere’s art has per- haps not been sufiiciently observed, f Each is an artistic study ; and they form, as has been just observed, com-       * Mr. Furnivall notes in the Venu8 and Adonis the following pictures from Shakspere’s youthful life at Stratford: the horse (1. 260-318); the hare-hunt (763-768); the overflowing Avon (72); the two silver doves (366); the milch doe and fawn in some brake in Charlecote Park (875, 876); the red mom (453) ; the hush of the wind before it rains (458) ; the many clouds consulting for foul weather (972); the night-owl (531); the lark (853). The Lucrece^ he adds, ” must have been written some time after the Venits^ as its proportion of unstopped lines is 1 in 10.81 (171 such lines to the poem’s 1855), against the Venus’s 1 in 25.40 (47 run-on lines in 1194).” — Preface by F. J. Furnivall to ” Shakespeare Commentaries” by Ger- vinus (ed. 1874).   f Coleridge touches upon the fact, and it is noted by Lloyd.       44 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   panion studies — one of female lust and boyish coldness, the other of male lust and womanly chastity. Coleridge noticed “the utter aloofness of the poet’s own feelings from those of which he is at once the painter and the analyist ;” but it can hardly be admitted that this aloof- ness of the poet’s own feelings proceeds from a dramatic abandonment of self. The subjects of these two poems did not call and choose their poet ; they did not possess him and compel him to render them into art. Rather the poet expressly made choice of the subjects, and de- liberately set himself down before each to accomplish an exhaustive study of it.   If the Venus and Adonis sonnets in The Passionate Pilgrim be by Shakspere, it would seem that he had been trying various poetical exercises on this theme. And for a young writer of the Renascence, the subject of Shakspere’s earliest poem was a splendid one — as voluptuous and unspiritual as that of a classical picture by Titian. It included two figures containing inexhaust- ible pasture for the fleshly eye, and delicacies and dainties for the sensuous imagination of the Renascence — the en- amoured Queen of Beauty, and the beautiful, disdainful boy. It afforded occasion for endless exercises and varia- tions on the themes Beauty, Lust, and Death. In hold- ing the subject before his imagination, Shakspere is per- fectly cool and collected. He has made choice of the subject, and he is interested in doing his duty b}^ it in the most thorough way a young poet can ; but he remains un- impassioned — intent wholly upon getting down the right colors and lines upon his canvas. Observe his determi- nation to put in accurately the details of eadh object ; to omit nothing. Poor Wat, the hare, is described in a dozen stanzas. Another series of stanzas describes the stallion — all his points are enumerated :       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 45   ** Round-hoof d, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, Broad breast, full eye, small head and nostril wide, High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong, Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide.”   This passage of poetry has been admired ; but is it poetry or a paragraph from an advertisement of a horse- sale ? It is part of Shakspere’s study of an animal, and he does his work thoroughly. In like manner, he does not shrink from faithfully putting down each one of the amorous provocations and urgencies of Venus. The com- plete series of manoeuvres must be detailed.   In LuGvece the action is delayed and delayed, that every minute particular may be described, every minor incident recorded. In the newness of her suffering and shame, Lucrece finds time for an elaborate tirade appro- priate to the theme ” Night,” another to that of ” Time,” another to that of “Opportunity.” Each topic is ex- hausted. Then, studiously, a new incident is introduced, and its significance for the emotions is drained to the last drop in a new tirade. We nowhere else discover Shak- spere so evidently engaged upon his work. Afterwards he puts a stress upon his verses to compel them to con- tain the hidden wealth of his thought and imagination. Here he displays at large such wealth as he possesses ; he will have none of it half seen. The descriptions and dec- lamations are undramatic, but they show us the materials laid out in de4:ail from which dramatic poetry originates. Having drawn so carefully from models, the time comes when he can trust himself to draw from memory, and he possesses marvellous freedom of hand, because his pre- vious studies have been so laborious. It was the same hand that drew the stallion in Venus and Adonis which afterwards drew with infallible touchy as though the/ were alive, the dogs of Theseus :       46 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ” My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind So flew’d, so sanded, and their heads are hung With ears that sweep away the morning dew ; Crook-kneed, and dew-lappM like Thessalian bulls ; Slow in pursuit ; but match’ d in mouth like bells, Each under each. A cry more tunable Was never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn, In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly.” *   When these poems were written, Shakspere was cautious* ly feeling his way. Large, slow- growing natures, gifted with a sense of concrete fact and with humor, ordinarily possess no great self-confidence in youth. An idealist, like Milton, may resolve in early manhood that he will achieve a great epic poem, and in old age may turn into fact the ideas of his youth. An idealist, like Marlowe, may begin his career with a splendid youthful audacity,   * The comparison of these two passages is from Hazlitt, whose unfavor- able criticism of Shakspere’s poems expresses well one side of the truth. ” The two poems of Venm and Adonis and of Tarquin and Lucrece appear to us like a couple of ice-houses. They are about as hard, as glittering, and as cold. The author seems all the time to be thinking of his verses, and not of his subject — not of what his characters would feel, but of what he shall say ; and, as it must happen in all such cases, he always puts into their mouths those things which they would be the last to think of, and which it shows the greatest ingenuity in him to find out. The whole is labored, up- hill work. The poet is perpetually singling out the difficulties of the art to make an exhibition of his strength and skill in wrestling with them. He is making perpetual trials of them as if his mastery over them were doubted. … A beautiful thought is sure to be lost in an endless commentary upon it. . . . There is, besides, a strange attempt to substitute the language of painting for that of poetry, to make us see their feelings in the faces of the persons.” — Characters of Shakspere’ s Plays (ed. 1818), pp. 348, 349. Cole- ridge’s much more favorable criticism will be found in ” Biographia Litera- ria ” (ed. 1847), vol. ii., ch. ii. The peculiarity of the Doems last noticed in the extract from Hazlitt is ingeniously accounted for by Coleridge. *’ The great instinct which impelled the poet to the drama was secretly working in him, prompting him … to provide a substitute for that visual language, that constant intervention and running comment by tone, look, and gesture, which in his dramatic works he was entitled to expect from the playeri ” (pp.l8,l»).       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 47   a stupendous ” Tamburlaine.” A man of the kind to which Shakspere belonged, although very resolute, and determined, if possible, to succeed, requires the evidence of objective facts to give him self-confidence. His spe- cial virtue lies in a peculiarly pregnant and rich relation with the actual world, and such relation commonly estab- lishes itself by a gradual process. Accordingly, instead of flinging abroad into the world while still a stripling some unprecedented creation, as Marlowe did, or as Vic- tor Hugo did, and securing thereby the position of a leader of an insurgent school, Shakspere began, if not timidly, at least cautiously and tentatively. He under- takes work of any and every description, and tries and tests himself upon all.^ He is therefore a valued person in his theatrical company, ready to turn his hand to any- thing helpful — a Jack-of -all-trades, a “Johannes-facto- tum ; ” he is obliging and free from self-assertion ; he is waiting his time; he is not yet sure of himself; he finds it the sensible thing not to profess singularity. “Divers of worship” report his “uprightness of dealing;” he is “excellent in the quality he professes;”^ his demeanor is civil ; he is recognized even already as having a ” face- tious grace in writing.” f Let us not suppose, because Shakspere declines to assault the real world and the world of imagination, and take them by violence, that he is therefore a person of slight force of character. He is determined to master both these worlds, if possible. He approaches them with a facile and engaging air ; by-and-       * On the special use of the word ” quality ” for the stage-player’s profes- sion, see a note by Hermann Kurz in his article ” Shakespeare der Schau- spieler,” Shakespeare-Jahrbach^ vol. vi., pp. 31V, 318.   f Chettle’s *’ Kind Heart’s Dream,” 1592. But see Mr. Howard Staunton’s letter in The Athenceum^ Feb. 7, 1874 ; Mr. Simpson’s article ” Shakspere Al- lusion Books,” The Academy, AY)ri\ 11, 1874; and Dr. Ingleby’s preface to ” Shakspere Allusion Books,” published for the New Shakspere Society       48 Shakspere—His Mind and Art.   by his grasp upon facts will tighten. From Marlowe and from Milton half of the world escapes. Shakpere will lay hold of it in its totality, and, once that he has laid hold of it, will never let it go.   This is the period of Shakspere’s tentative dramatic efforts. Among these, notwithstanding strong external evidence — the testimony of Meres, and the fact that Heminge and Condell included the play in the first folio — it is diflScult to admit Titus A7idroniGus. That tragedy belongs to the pre-Shaksperian school of bloody dramas. If any portions of it be from Shakspere’s hand, it has at least this interest — it shows that there was a pe- riod of Shakspere’s authorship when the poet had not yet discovered himself, a period when he yielded to the popu- lar influences of the d^y and hour ; this much interest, and no more. That Shakspere himself entered with passion or energy into the literary movement which the ” Spanish Tragedy ” of Kyd may be taken to represent, his other early writings forbid us to believe. The supposed Sturm und Drang period of Shakspere’s artistic career exists only in the imagination of his German critics. The early years of Shakspere’s authorship were years of bright and tender play of fancy and of feeling. If an epoch of storm and stress at any time arrived, it was when Shakspere’s genius had reached its full maturity, and Lear was the product of that epoch. But theii^ if the storm and stress were prolonged arid urgent, Shakspere possessed sufficient- power of endurance, and had obtained sufficient grasp of the strong sure roots of life, to save him from being borne away into the chaos or in anj^ direction across the border^ of the ordered realm of art. Upon the whole, Titus An- dronicus may be disregarded. Even if it were a work of Shakspere, we should still call it un-Shaks]3erian. ” Shakspere’s tragedy,” Gerald Massey has truly said, ” is the tragedy of Terror ; this is the tragedy of Horror. . • .       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 49   It reeks blood, it smells of blood ; we almost feel that we have handled blood — it is so gross. The mental stain is not whitened by Shakspere’s sweet springs of pity ; the horror is not hallowed by that appalling sublimity with which he invested his chosen ministers of death. It is tragedy only in the coarsest material relationships.”.^   Of Pericles^ the portion written by Shakspere — the lovely little romance which Mr. Fleay has separated from the coarse work of Kowley and Wilkins, and named Ma- rina — belongs to the period of Shakspere’s maturity, after 1600. Rowley’s work “is always detached, and splits off from his coadjutors’ with a clean cleavage. In Fletcher’s Maid of the Mill the work of the two men might be published as two separate plays.”t Similarly in the play A Cure for a Cuckold, the work of Rowley splits off from that of Webster, leaving the little drama which Mr. Gosse claims the honor of having delivered out^ of the compound manufacture of the two authors, and which he has gracefully entitled Lovers Graduate^X   Setting aside Titus Andronicus and Marina^ four dramatic experiments by Shakspere remain, each in a different manner from the rest. First, a portion at least of the Second and Third Parts of King Henry VL — Eng- lish historical drama.§ The Two Gentlemen of Verona^       * ” Shakespeare’s Sonnets and his Private Friends,” p. 581. Kreyssig, who accepts Titus Aridronicus as an early work of Shakspere, gives an elaborate study of the play. For matters of external evidence, etc., consult the article by H. Kurz in Shakespeare-Jahrhuch^ vol. v. ; and on characteristics of metre, the preface by Hertzberg in Schlegel and Tieck’s translation, edited by members of the German Shakespeare Society. See also Mr. Albert Cohn’s “Shakespeare in Germany,” p. cxii.   t Trans. New Sh. Soc, part i., “On the Play of Pericles,” by the Rev. F. G- Fleay.   X Fraser’s Magazine, May, 1874, ” John Webster,” by Edmund W. Gosse.   § In Mr. R. Grant White’s Essay upon the authorship of Henry F/, he argues that the early Contention and the True Tragedie contain portions -iy 4       50 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   a comedy of graceful mirtli and sprightly and tender feeling, with the interest of love predominant; Lov^^ Labor ^s Lost^ a comedy of dialogue, a piece of airy satire, with an underlying serious intention; the Comedy of Er- rors^ a comedy of incident, of almost farcical adventure — the sole attempt of Shakspere at imitation of the comic drama of ancient Rome. In this play Shakspere gayly confronts improbabilities, and requires the spectator to accept them. He adds to the twins Antipholus the twins Dromio. If we are in for improbability, let us at least be repaid for it by fun, and have that in abundance. Let the incredible become a twofold incredibility, and it is none the worse.^ We may conclude that, while Shak- spere was ready to try his hand upon a farcical subject, a single experiment satisfied him that this was not his province, for to such subjects he never returned.   During the years in which the poet was experimenting in history, comedy, and farce, that about which he was most of all secretly concerned was a tragedy — a tragedy of a kind altogether different from Tihis Andronicus and the group of bloody plays to which it belongs. Such a graceful piece of comedy as The Two Gentlemen of Ve- Tona did not profoundly engage his imagination. If the   Shakspere, afterwards transferred to his Henry F/., Parts II. and III. ; and that the remainmg portions are by Marlowe, Greene, and Peele. But see note, p. 86.   * The source of this comedy is usually said to be a translation of the Menoechmi of Plautus, by W. Warner. Hertzberg, in his preface to the play in the German Shakespeare Society’s edition of Schlegel and Tieck’s trans- lation, carefully distinguishes the characters and incidents which Shakspere did not owe to the Menoechrni, In the article “Zwei neuentdeckte Shake- spearequellen ” (Die Literatur^ Jan. 16, 1874), the writer, Dr. Paul Wis- licenus, points out another source in the Amphitruo. His supposition that the incident of the storm in the Comedy of Errors is derived from the storm in Pericles must be set aside as untenable. Shakspere’s acquaintance with th**, Amphitruo may have been made, in the first instance, through the rude English imitation of Plautus’s comedy, Jack Juggler.       i       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 5 1   fifth act came from Shakspere’s pen as it now stands, we must believe that he handed over his play to the actors while a portion of it still remained only a hasty sketch, the denouement being left for future working out.”^ But the designed tragedy seems to have been the great affair of his literary career at this period. It is the opinion of Dyce, of Grant White, and of others that Shakspere be- gan to work upon Romeo and Juliet not later than about 1591 ; that is, according to the commonly received chro- nology, almost at the moment when he began to write for the stage ; and that, having occupied him for a series of years, the tragedy assumed its present form about 1595-97. If this be the case, and if, as there is reason to believe, Shakspere was also during many years inter- ested in the subject of Hamlet^ we discover a fact which is characteristic of the poet — that he accepted the knowl- edge that his powers were undeveloped and acted upon it, waiting with his two chosen subjects — the story of the   * Hertzberg is of opinion that either the play was rehandled and cut down by some Elizabethan playwright, or our text was imperfectly made up from copies of the parts of the several actors. If either of these hypotheses be correct, we are not in possession of Shakspere’s complete play. The words addressed by Valentine to Proteus ( act v., sc. 4 ), ” All that is mine in Sylvia I give thee,” cannot be an interpolation, for they are needed to ac- count for Julia’s fainting. Were they spoken by Valentine to test the loy- alty of his professedly repentant friend ? And is there a gap here, originally occupied by speeches of Proteus and Sylvia ? See Hertzberg’s preface in the German Shakespeare Society’s edition of Schlegel and Tieck’s transla- tion. Hertzberg (relying partly on metrical evidence) assigns a later place to The Two Gmtlernen of Vei-ona in the succession of Shakspere’s plays than that usually assigned by critics. I remain unconvinced by the argu- ments for lateness of date. See on this subject a lecture by Mr. Hales re- ported in The Academy^ Jan. 31, 18’74, and Mr. Furnivall’s criticism of the paper by the Rev. F. G. Fleay in Trans. New Sh. So., 1874. Having made out the group of Shakspere’s early comedies, it does not greatly matter, for the purposes of the present study, in what order the plays followed one an- other within the group ; but I incline towards placing A Midsummer Nighfi Dream last.       52 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   star-crossed lovers, and the story of the man summoned to action whose will was sapped — until he believed him- self competent to do justice to his conceptions. What a contrast is presented by this waiting of genius, this pa- tience ” until the golden couplets are disclosed,” to the feverish eagerness of Marlowe to appease his ambition and unburden himself of the pressure of his imagination !   As characteristic of these early plays, we may notice,* (i.) frequency of rhyme in various arrangements: {a) rhymed couplets; (J) rhymed quatrains; {c) the sextain, consisting of an alternately rhyming quatrain, followed by a couplet (the arrangement of the last six lines of Shakspere’s Sonnets), (ii.) Occurrence of rhymed dog- gerel verse in two forms : {a) very short lines, and ib) very long lines, (iii.) Comparative infrequency of the feminine (or double) ending ; (iv.) comparative infre- t[uency of the weak ending ; (v.) comparative infrequen- cy of the unstopped line ; (vi.) regular internal structure of the line ; extra syllables seldom packed into the verse ; (vii.) frequency of classical allusions ; (viii.) frequency of puns and conceits; (ix.) wit and imagery drawn out in detail to the point of exhaustion; (x.) clowns who are, by comparison with the later comic characters, outstand- ing persons in the play told off specially for clownage ; (xi.) the presence of termagant or shrewish women ; (xii.) soliloquies addressed rather to the audience (to explain the business of the piece or the motives of the actors) than to the speaker’s self ; (xiii.) symmetry in the group- ing of persons.   To illustrate the last of these characteristics — and each of the above-mentioned characteristics might readily be illustrated at length — we may observe the arrangement   * See on this sAbject a lecture by Mr. Hales, reported in The Academy^ Jan. 17, 1874.       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 5 3   of dramatis personce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Proteus, the fickle, is set over against Valentine, the faithful f” Sylvia, the bright and intellectual, is set over against Julia, the ardent and tender ; Launce, the humor- ist, is set over against Speed, the wit. So in Lovers La- her ^s Lost^ the King and his three fellow-students balance the Princess and her three ladies. The arrangement is too geometrical ; the groups are obviously artificial, not organic and vital. This indicates a certain want of con- fidence on the part of the poet; he fears the weight of too much liberty. He cannot yet feel that his structure is secure without a system of mechanism to support the structure. He endeavors to attain unity of effect less by the inspiration of a common life than by the disposition of parts. He finds he can bring forward his forces in turn, one after another, more readily when they are num- bered and marshalled in definite order. In the opening scene of his earliest tragedy, two Capulet men-servants are first introduced, next two Montague men-servants; then Benvolio on the Montague side, then Tybalt on the Capulet side ; then on each side citizens ; then old Capulet and Lady Capulet, then Montague and Lady Montague ; finally, as keystone to bind all together, the Prince. In the plays which belong to Shakspere’s period of master- ship he can dispense with such artifice. In these later plays unity is present through the virtue of one living force which animates the whole. The unity is not mere- ly structural, but vital. And therefore the poet has no apprehension that the minor centres of development in his creation will suddenly become insubordinate. As- sured that the organism is living, he fearlessly lets it de-       * When Mr. Hales said, “Even Proteus’s name is a si^n of early work — the riper Shakspere ^oes not like significant names,” he forgot Ferdita, Ma- rina, Miranda.       54 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   velop itself in its proper mode, unicentral (as Macbeth)^ or multicentral (as King Lear). In the early plays struct- ure determines function ; in the later plays organization is preceded by lif e.”^   The growth of Shakspere’s freedom as an artist was really identical with his passing under the influence of a higher law. This statement, which applies to the struct- ure of his plays, applies in like manner to the altering character of his versification. For, in truth, such an ap- parently mechanical thing as the stopping of a passage of verse is not mechanical, but in its essence spiritual. At first, when we resolve to live a life somewhat higher than the common life of vulgar accident, we do well to put ourselves under a system of rules and precepts; through strict observance of these we shall secure, in a certain degree, the ideality our life has need of. But in       * Hebler, in his ingenious and delightfully brief analyses of fourteen com- edies of Shakspere, endeavors to point out a curiously symmetrical arrange- ment in the structure and action of several, as well late as early. I give a few examples, abbreviating Hebler yet further. 2’wo Gentlemen, a loyal friend and lover set over against a disloyal. Merry Wives, an old sinner flouted and disappointed, and a young pair of lovers whose roguery is suc- cessful. Measure for Measure, Angelo condemns Claudio to death for con- summating his marriage without Church rites ; by stratagem he is himself placed in an identical position of guilt. Comedy of Errors, the twins Dro- mio and their story repeat the twins Antipholus and theirs. Much Ado, two lovers (Beatrice and Benedick) are brought together by an honest fraud ; two lovers (Claudio and Hero) are separated by a criminal fraud. Midsummer- Nighfs Dream, the love of Theseus and Hippolyta — its course running smooth ; and the troubled course of love of the human mortals, of Oberon and Titania, and (as comic contrast) of Pyramus and Thisbe. All ‘s Well, a young nobleman misled by a false friend to whom he cleaves, and fron* whom he is separated at length ; and led aright by a true wife whom he de- serts, and to whom he is united at length (the friend, I add, is all words without deeds — ParoUes. The wife is deeds without words). See the inter- esting passage from Vischer, with reference to the double action of Shak- spere’s comedies, quoted by Hebler, “Aufsatze iiber Shakespeare,” pp. 19^ 199.   /       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 55   due time we fling away our manuals, our codes of spirit- ual drill, our little rules and restrictions. A deeper or- der takes authority over our being, and resumes in itself the narrower order; the rhythm of our life acquires a larger harmony, a movement free and yet sure as that of nature. In like manner, a thought at first endeavors to secure ideality for its life by adherence to a system of narrow rule. This is the explanation of the early man- ner of all great writers of verse, all great painters and musicians, as compared with their later manner. Their style becomes free and daring, because the great facts of the world have now taken hold of them, and because their subjection to highest law is at length complete. They and their work are as free as the winds, or as the growing grass, or as the waves, or the drift of clouds, or the motion of the stars. As free, that is to say, in com- plete, noble, and glad subjection.   Lovers Labor ^s Lost^ if we do not assign that place to The Two Gentlemen of Verona^ is the first independent, wholly original work of Shakspere. Mr. Charles Knight named it ” The Comedy of Affectations,” and that title aptly interprets one intention of the play. It is a satiri- cal extravaganza embodying Shakspere’s criticism upon contemporary fashions and foibles in speech, in manners, and in literature. This probably, more than any other of the plays of Shakspere. suffers through lapse of time. Fantastical speech, pedantic learning, extravagant love- hyperbole, frigid fervors in poetry — against each of these, with the brightness and vivacity of youth, confident in the success of its cause, Shakspere directs the light artil- lery of his wit. Being young and clever, he is absolutely devoid of respect for nonsense, whether it be dainty, af- fected nonsense, or grave, unconscious nonsense.   But, over and above this, there is a serious intention in the play. It is a protest against youthful schemes of       56 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Bnaping life according to notions rather than according to reality, a protest against idealizing away the facts ot life. The play is chiefly interesting as containing Shak- spere’s confession of faith with respect to the true princi- ples of self -culture. The King of Navarre and his young lords had resolved, for a definite period of time, to circum- scribe their beings and their lives with a little code of rules. They had designed to enclose a little favored park in which ideas should rule to the exclusion of the blind and rude forces of nature. They were pleased to re- arrange human character and human life, so that it might accord with their idealistic scheme of self -development. The court was to be a little Academe ; no woman was to be looked at for the space of three years ; food and sleep were to be placed under precise regulation. And the re- sult is — what ? That human nature refuses to be dealt with in this fashion of arbitrary selection and rejection. The youthful idealists had supposed that they would form a little group of select and refined ascetics of knowledge and culture ; it was quickly proved that they were men. The play is Shakspere’s declaration in favor of the fact as it is. Here, he says, we are with such and such appetites and passions. Let us, in any scheme of self -development, get that fact acknowledged at all events ; otherwise we shall quickly enough betray ourselves as arrant fools, fit to be flouted by women, and needing to learn from them a portion of their directness, practicality, and good-sense.   And yet the Princess and Rosaline and Maria have not the entire advantage on their side. It is well to be practical ; but to be practical, and also^to have a capacity for ideas, is better. Berowne, the exponent of Shakspere’s own thought, who entered into the youthful, idealistic project of his friends, with a satisfactory assurance that the time would come when the entire dream-structure       Growth of Shakspere s Mind and Art. 57   would tumble ridiculously about the ears of them all— Berowne is yet a larger nature than the Princess or Rosa* line. His good -sense is the good -sense of a thinker and of a man of action. When he is most flouted and bemocked, we yet acknowledge him victorious and the master; and Rosaline will confess the fact by-and-   by.   In the midst of merriment and nonsense comes a sud- den and grievous incursion of fact full of pain. The father of the Princess is dead. All the world is not mirth — ” this side is Hiems, Winter ; this Yer, the Spring.” The lovers must part — ” Jack hath not his Jill ;” and to engrave the lesson deeply, which each heart needs, the King and two of his companions are dismissed for a twelvemonth to learn the diflEerence between reality and unreality ; while Berowne, who has known the mirth of the world, must also make acquaintance with its sor- row, must visit the speechless sick and try to win ” the pained impotent to smile.”   Let us get hold of the realities of human nature and human life, Shakspere would say, and let us found upon these realities, and not upon the mist or the air, our schemes of individual and social advancement. ISTot that Shakspere is hostile to culture ; but he knows that a per- fect education must include the culture, through actual experience, of the senses and of the aflEections. Long after this play was written, Shakspere imagined Perdita, his shepherdess-princess, possessed of all the grace and refinement of perfect breeding, with all the innocence and native liberty of rustic girlhood. Perdita refuses to admit into her garden the parti-colored flowers that had been ‘ artiflcially produced, ” streaked gillyvors, which some call nature’s bastards.” But into Polixenes’ mouth Shakspere puts an unanswerable defence of culture, so that to make good her decision there remains to Perdita       58 Shakspere — His Mind and ArL   only an exquisite instinct of unreasoning sincerity, or a graceful wilfulness which refuses to be convinced :   “Po?. Wherefore, gentle maiden,   Do you neglect them ?   Per. For I have heard it said.   There is an art which, in their piedness, shares With great creating nature.   Pol. Say, there be ;   Yet nature is made better by no mean, But nature makes that mean ; so over 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, change it rather, but The art itself is nature.   Fer. So it is.   Pol, Then make your garden rich in gillyvors, And do not call them bastards.   Per. ini not put   The dibble in earth to set one slip of them.”   Shakspere’s view of human culture and human life ad- mitted no essential opposition between Perdita’s instinct of sincerity and the maturer wisdom of Polixenes.   In the second act of the Comedy of Errors (sc. 2) oc- curs the following dialogue :   ^^Luciana. Dromio, go bid the servants spread for dinner.   Dro. S. 0, for my beads ! I cross me for a sinner. This is the fairy-land : spite of spites ! We talk with goblins, owls, and sprites: If we obey them not, this will ensue — They’ll suck our breath or pinch us black and blue.   Luc. Why prat’st thou to thyself and answer’st not ? Dromio, thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot I   Dro. S. I am transformed, master, am I not ?   Ant. S. I think thou art, in mind, and so am I.   Dro. 8. Nay, master, both in mind and in my shape.   — —’   * Professor Craik conjectured “even that art.”       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 59   Aut 8. Thou hast thine own form.   Dro. S. No, I am an ape.   Luc. If thou art changed to aught, ’tis to an ass.”   When Shakspere wrote thus of fairy-land, of the pranks of Robin Goodf ellow, and of the transformation of a man to an ass, can it be doubted that he liad in his thoughts A Midsummer-JVighfs Dream ? The play was perhaps so named because it is a dream-play, the fantastic advent- ures of a night, and because it was first represented in midsummer — the midsummer, perhaps, of 1594. The imagined season of the action of the play is the begin- ning of May, for, according to the magnificent piece of mediaeval-classical mythology embodied here, and in the Knightes Tale of Chaucer, and again in the Two Noble Kinsmen of Shakspere and Fletcher, this was the month of Theseus’s marriage with his Amazonian bride.^ In like manner, the play of Twelfth Night received its name probably because it was first enacted at that season of festivity ; and as if to declare more emphatically that it shall be nameless, Shakspere adds a second title. Twelfth Nighty or What You Will ; that is (for we need seek no deeper significance), Twelfth Nighty or anything you like to call it. A Midsummer- Night^ 8 Dream was written on the occasion of the marriage of some noble couple — pos- sibly for the marriage of the poet’s patron Southampton with Elizabeth Yernon, as Mr. Gerald Massey supposes ; possibly at an earlier date, to do honor to the marriage of the Earl of Essex with Lady Sidney.f   * Titania says to Oberon (act ii., sc. 1) :   ” And never since the middle summer’s spring Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,” etc. Perhaps a night in early May might be considered a night in the spring of midsummer.   t Mr. Massey is obliged to entertain the supposition that the play was written some time before the marriage actually took place (1598), ” at a       6o Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   The central figure of the play is that of Theseus. There is no figure in the early drama of Shakspere so magnificent. His are the large hands that have helped to shape the world. His utterance is the rich – toned speech of one who is master of events — who has never known a shrill or eager feeling. His nuptial day is at hand ; and while the other lovers are agitated, bewildered, incensed, Theseus, who does not think of himself as a lover, but rather as a beneficent conqueror, remains in calm possession of his joy. Theseus, a grand ideal figure, is to be studied as Shakspere’s conception of the heroic man of action in his hour of enjoyment and of leisure. With a splendid capacity for enjoyment, gracious to all, ennobled by the glory, implied rather than explicit, of great foregone achievement, he stands as centre of the poem, giving their true proportions to the fairy tribe, upon the one hand, and, upon the other, to the “human mortals.” The heroic men of action — Theseus, Henry v.. Hector — are supremely admired by Shakspere. Yet it is observable that as the total Shakspere is superior to Romeo, the man given over to passion, and to Hamlet^       period when it may have been thought the Queen’s consent could be ob- tained. … I have ventured the date of 1595 ‘^ (” Shakespeare’s Sonnets and his Private Friends,” p. 481). Professor Karl Elze’s theory, maintained in a highly ingenious paper in Shakespeare-Jahrhic\ vol. iii., that the play was written for the marriage of the young Earl of Essex, would throw back the date to 1590 — a good deal too early, I believe. Professor Elze has, however, much to say in favor of this opinion. See also the excellent article by Hermann Kurz in Shakespeare-Jahrbuch^jvol. iv. Illustrations of the Fairy Mythology of A Midsummer-Nighf s Dream will be found in the volume by HalUwell bearing that name, issued by the Shakespeare Society (1845), and also in ” Shakspere-Forschungen,” ii., ” Nachklange germanischer Mythe,” by Benno Tschischwitz (1868). Mr. Halpin’s exceedingly ingenious study of Oberon’s Vision interprets that celebrated passage as having reference to Leicester’s intrigue with Lettice, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys, and wife of Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex.       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 6i   the man given over to thought, so the Hamlet and the Komeo within him give Shakspere an infinite advantage over even the most heroic men of action. He admires these men of action supremely, but he admires them from an outside point of view. ” These fellows of infinite tongue,” says Henry, wooing the French princess, ” that can rhyme themselves into ladies’ favors, they do always reason themselves out again. What ! a speaker is but a prater, a rhyme is but a ballad.” It is into Theseus’s mouth that Shakspere puts the words which class to- gether ” the lunatic, the lover, and the poet ” as of im- agination all compact. That is the touch which shows how Shakspere stood off from Theseus, did not identify himself with this grand ideal (which he admired so truly), and admitted to himself a secret superiority of his own soul over that of this noble master of the world.   Comments by Shakspere upon his own art are not so numerous that we can afford to overlook them. It must here be noted that Shakspere makes the ” palpable gross” interlude of the Athenian mechanicals serve as an indi- rect apology for his own necessarily imperfect attempt to represent fairy-land and the majestic world of heroic life. Maginn writes, ” When Hippolyta speaks scornfully of the tragedy in which Bottom holds so conspicuous a part, Theseus answers that the best of this kind [scenic per- formances] are but shadows, and the worst no worse, if imagination amend them. She answers [for Hippolyta has none of Theseus’s indulgence towards ineflficiency, but rather a woman’s intolerance of the absurd] that it must be your imagination then, not theirs. He retorts with a joke on the vanity of actors, and the conversation is immediately changed. The meaning of the Duke is that, however we may laugh at the silliness of Bottom and his companions in their ridiculous play, the author labors under no more than the common calamity of       62 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   dramatists. They are all but dealers in shadowy repre- sentations of life ; and if the worst among them can set the mind of the spectator at work, he is equal to the best.” “^ Maginn has missed the more important significance of the passage. Its dramatic appropriateness is the essential point to observe. To Theseus, the great man of action, the worst and the best of these shadowy representations are all one. He graciously lends himself to be amused, and will not give unmannerly rebuff to the painstaking craftsmen who have so laboriously done their best to please him. But Shakspere’s mind by no means goes along with the utterance of Theseus in this instance any more than when he places in a single group the lover, the lunatic, and the poet. With one principle enounced by the Duke, however, Shakspere evidently does agree — namely, that it is the business of the dramatist to set the spectator’s imagination to work ; that the dramatist must rather appeal to the mind’s eye than to the eye of sense ; and that the co-operation of the spectator with the poet is necessarv. For the method of Bottom and his com- pany is precisely the reverse, as Gervinus has observed, of Shakspere’s own method. They are determined to leave nothing to be supplied by the imagination. Wall must be plastered ; Moonshine must carry lantern and bush. And when Hippolyta, again becoming impatient of absurdity, exclaims, ” I am aweary of this moon ! would he would change !” Shakspere further insists on his piece of dramatic criticism by urging, through the Duke’s mouth, the absolute necessity of the man in the moon being within his lantern. Shakspere as much as says, ” If you do not approve my dramatic method of pre- senting fairy-land and the heroic world, here is a speci- men of the rival method. You think my fairy-world might be amended. Well, amend it with your own inv       m it       Shakspeare Papers,” p. 119.       Growth of Shaksper^s Mind and Art. 63   agination. I can do no more unless I adopt the artistic ideas of these Athenian handicraftsmen.” ^   It is a delightful example of Shakspere’s impartiality that he can represent Theseus with so much genuine en- thusiasm. Mr. Matthew Arnold has named our aristo- crats, with their hardy, efficient manners, their addiction to field sports, and their hatred of ideas, ” the Barbari- ans.” Theseus is a splendid and gracious aristocrat, per- haps not without a touch of the Barbarian in him. He would have found Hamlet a wholly unintelligible person, who, in possession of his own thoughts, could be content- ed in a nutshell. When Shakspere wrote The Two Gen- ilemen of Verona^ in which, with little dramatic propriety, the Duke of Milan celebrates ” the force of heaven-bred poesy,” we may reasonably suppose that the poet might not have been quite just to one who was indiflferent to art. But now his self-mastery has increased, and there- fore with unfeigned satisfaction he presents Theseus, the master of the world, who, having beauty and heroic strength in actual possession, does not need to summon them to occupy his imagination — the great chieftain to whom art is a very small concern of life, fit for a leisure hour between battle and battle. Theseus, who has noth- ing antique or Grecian about him, is an idealized study from the life. Perhaps he is idealized Essex, perhaps idealized Southampton. Perhaps some night a dramatic company was ordered to perform in presence of a great Elizabethan noble — we know not whom — who needed to entertain his guests, and there, in a moment of fine imag- inative vision, the poet discovered Theseus.   * On Shakspere’s studies of chivalric mediaeval poetry, see some interest- ing pages in Mr. Spalding’s ” Letter on Shakspere’s Authorship of the Two Noble Kinsmen,” pp. CV-‘ZS ; the article ” Chaucer and Shakspere ” in the Quarterly Review^ Jan., 1873 ; and Hertzberg’s learned discussion of the sources of the Troilus story in Shakespeare-JahrbiLchy vol vi.       64 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   A Midsummer-NigM 8 Dream is, as its name implies, a phantasmagory ; a mask of shadows full of marvel, sur- prises, splendor, and grotesqueness. But during the same years in which Shakspere was writing his comedies, and while he was engaged upon his first great tragedy, he con- tinued also steadily at work upon his series of English historical plays. The culture afforded to Shakspere by the writing of these plays was highly important at that precise period of his career. The substantial matter upon which he was engaged served to extend and consolidate that relation which was establishing itself slowly but surely between the imagination of the dramatist and the actual world. The tough clay of historical fact did not take artistic shape too readily, and his hands were strength- ened by the labor of moulding it into form. In treating historical subjects, moreover, unrealities of every kind must be sternly set aside ; no graceful poetical phrasing, no delicate conceits, no quips and cranks of wit, Shak- spere perceived, would compensate here for want of fidel- ity to the essential truth of things. Then, again, if in writing Romeo arid Juliet Shakspere ran a certain risk of abandoning his genius over much to lyrical intensity, the culture afforded by the historical dramas acted as a safeguard. If in his early comedies Shakspere relied upon symmetry of arrangement for securing unity of de- sign, here such symmetry was obviously unattainable, and he must look for a deeper ground of unity.   But the most important influence exercised by his dra- matic studies in English history upon the mind of Shak- spere was that they engaged his imagination in an inquiry into the sources of power and of weakness, of success and of failure, in a man’s dealing with the positive, social world. They kept constantly before Shakspere’s mind the problem ” How is a man to obtain a mastery of the actual world, and in what ways may he fail of such mas*       Growth of Shaksperis Mind and Art. 65   tery?” This was a subject in which Shakspere had a personal interest, for he was himself resolved, as far as in him lay, not to fail in this material life of ours, but rather, if possible, to be, for his own needs, a master of events. The portraits of English kings from King John to King Henry V. are a series of studies of weakness and of strength for the attaining of kingly ends. To fail is the supreme sin. Worse almost than criminality is weak- ness, except that crime, besides being crime, is itself a cer- tain kind of weakness. Henry VI. is a timid saint ; it were better that he had been a man. Does his timid saintliness serve him in the place of energy of thought and will, or secure him from a miserable overthrow ? It is important to observe the fundamental difference which exists between the series of English historical plays and the great series of tragedies, beginning with Hamlet^ end- ing with Timon of Athens^ in which Shakspere embodied his ripest experience of life. In the historical plays the question which inevitably comes forward again and again is this, ” By what means shall a man attain the noblest practical success in the objective world V In the great tragedies the problem is a spiritual one. It is still the problem of failure and success. But in these tragedies success means not any practical achievement in the world, but the perfected life of the soul ; and failure means the ruin of the life of a soul through passion or weakness, through calamity or crime.   The historical plays lead up to Henry F., in the chro- nological succession of Shakspere’s plays the last of the series. The tragedies lead up to The Tempest^ which closes Shakspere’s entire career as dramatist. Gervinus has spoken of King Henry Y. as if he were Shakspere’s ideal of highest manhood, and other critics have assented to this opinion. It is an opinion which, stated in an un- qualified way, must be set aside as not warranted by the 5       06 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   facts of Shakspere’s dramas. But it is clear and unques- tionable that King Henry V. is Shakspere’s ideal of the practical heroic character. He is the king who will not fail. He will not fail as the saintly Henry YI. failed, nor as Richard II. failed, a hectic, self-indulgent nature, a mockery king of pageantry and sentiment and rheto- ric ; nor will he only partially succeed by prudential de- vices, and stratagems and crimes, like his father, ” great Bolingbroke.” The success of Henry V. will be sound throughout, and it will be complete. With his glorious practical virtues, his courage, his integrity, his unfalter- ing justice, his hearty English warmth, his modesty, his love of plainness rather than of pageantry, his joyous temper, his business-like English piety, Henry is indeed the ideal of the king who must attain a success complete, and thoroughly real and sound.   But is this practical, positive, efficient character, with his soldier-like piety and his jolly fashion of wooing, is this the highest ideal of our supreme poet ? Is this the highest ideal of Shakspere, who lived and moved and had his being not alone in the world of limitation, of tangible, positive fact, but also in a world of the soul, a world open- ing into two endless vistas — the vista of meditation and the vista of passion ? Assuredly it is not so. We turn to the great tragedies, and what do we there discover ? In these Shakspere is engaged in a series of studies not con- cerning success in the mastery of events and things, but concerning the higher succe^ and the more awful failure which appear in the exaltation or the ruin of a soul. This with Shakspere is the true theme of tragedy. Hav- ing exhibited various calamity overtaking the being and essential life of man — calamity commonly arising from flaws of character which disclose themselves and become formidable in the test of circumstances ; having shown in Macbeth, iu Antony, iu Othello, in Coriolanus the ruin of       Growth of Shakspere’s Mind and Art. 67   character in greater or less degree, Shakspere represented absolute, overwhelming, irretrievable ruin in Timon of Athens^ a play written probably not long before the Tern* pest. And, after exhibiting the absolute ruin of a life and of a soul, Shakspere closed the wonderful series of his dramatic writings by exhibiting the noblest elevation of character, the most admirable attainment of heart, of intellect, of will, which our present life admits, in the per- son of Prospero. What more was left for Shakspere to say ? Is it so very strange that he accepted as a good possession the calm energy of his Stratford life, having at last wholly liberated his mind ?   Shakspere, when he had completed his English histor- ical plays, needed rest for his imagination ; and in such a mood, craving refreshment and recreation, he wrote his play of As You Like It. To understand the spirit of this play, we must bear in mind that it was written immedi- ately after Shakspere’s great series of histories, ending with Henry V. (1599), and before he began the great se- ries of tragedies. Shakspere turned with a sense of re- lief, and a long easeful sigh, from the oppressive subjects of history, so grave, so real, so massive, and found rest and freedom and pleasure in escape from courts and camps to the Forest of Arden :   ” Who doth ambition shun, And loves to live i’ the sun,   Come hither, come hither, come hither.”   In somewhat the same spirit, needing relief for an over- strained imagination, he wrote his other pastoral drama, The Winter’^s Tale., immediately, or almost immediately, after Timon of Athens. In such a case he chose a grace- ful story, in great part made ready to his hand, from among the prose writings of his early contemporaries, Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene. Like the banished Duke, Shakspere himself found the forest life of Arden       68 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   more sweet than that of painted pomp ; a life ” exempt from public haunt,” in a quiet retreat, where for turbu- lent citizens, the deer, ” poor dappled fools/’ are the only native burghers.   The play has been represented by one of its recent editors as an early attempt made by the poet to control the dark spirit of melancholj^ in himself ” by thinking it away.” The characters of the banished Duke, of Orlan- do, of Rosalind, are described as three gradations of cheer- fulness in adversity, with Jaques placed over them in de- signed contrast.^ But no real adversity has come to any one of them. Shakspere, when he put into the Duke’s mouth the words ” Sweet are the uses of adversity,” knew something of deeper affliction than a life in the golden leisure of Arden. Of real melancholy there is none in the play ; for the melancholy of Jaques is not grave and earnest, but sentimental, a self-indulgent hu- mor, a petted foible of character, melancholy prepense and cultivated ; ” it is a melancholy of mine own, com- pounded of many simples, extracted from many objects ; and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humor- ous sadness.” The Duke declares that Jaques has been “a libertine, as sensual as the brutish sting itself;” but the Duke is unable to understand such a character as that of Jaques.f Jaques has been no more than a curious experimenter in libertinism, for the sake of adding an ex- perience of madness and folly to the store of various su- perficial experiences which constitute his unpractical fool- ery of wisdom. The haunts of sin have been visited as       * A& You Like It, edited by the Rev. C. E. Moberly (1872), pp. 7-9.   f The Duke accordingly repels Jaques. ””Jaques. I have been all this day to avoid him ; he is too disputable for my company ; I think of as many matters as he, but I give heaven thanks, and make no boast of them,”       Growth of Shakspere’s Mind and Art. 69   a part of his travel. By-and-by he will go to the usurping Duke, who has put on a religious life, because   ” Out of these convertites There is much matter to be heard and learnM.”   Jaques died, we know not how or when or where ; but he came to life again a century later, and appeared in the world as an English clergyman. We need stand in no doubt as to his character, for we all know him under his later name of Lawrence Sterne. Mr. Yorick made a mistake about his family tree ; he came not out of the play of Hamlet^ but out of As You Like It. In Arden he wept and moralized over the wounded deer ; and at Namport his tears and sentiment gushed forth for the dead donkey. Jaques knows no bonds that unite him to any living thing. He lives upon novel, curious, and delicate sensations. He seeks the delicious imprevu so loved and studiously sought for by that perfected French egoist, Henri Beyle. ” A fool ! a fool ! I met a fool i’ the forest !” — and in the delight of coming upon this ex- quisite surprise, Jaques laughs like chanticleer,   ” Sans intermission An hour by his dial.”   His whole life is unsubstantial and unreal, a curiosity of dainty mockery. To him ” all the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” to him sentiment stands in place of passion ; an aesthetic, ama- teurish experience of various modes of life stands in place of practical wisdom, and words in place of deeds.   ” He fatigues me,” wrote our earnest and sensitive Thackeray of the Jaques of English literature, ” with his perpetual disquiet and his uneasy appeals to my risi- ble or sentimental faculties. He is always looking in my face, watching his effect, uncertain whether I think him an impostor or not; posture -making, coaxing, and imploring me. ‘ See what sensibility I have — own now       70 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   that I’m very clever — do cry now, you can’t resist this.”^ Tes ; for Jaques was at his best in the Forest of Arden, and was a little spoiled by preaching weekly sermons, and by writing so long a caprice as his ” Tristram Shan- dy.” Shakspere has given us just enough of Jaques, and not too much ; and, in his undogmatic, artistic, ten- der, playful, and yet earnest manner, upon Jaques Shak- spere has pronounced judgment. Falstaff supposed that, by infinite play of wit, and inexhaustible resource of a genius creative of splendid mendacity, he could corus- cate away the facts of life, and always remain master of the situation by giving it a clever turn in the idea, or by playing over it with an arabesque of arch waggery.   ” I know thee not, old man ; fall to thy prayers ; How ill white hairs become a fool and jester !”   That was the terrible incursion of fact. Such words as these, coming from the lips of a man who had an uner- ring perception and an unfaltering grasp of the fact, were more than words — they were a deed, which Falstaff the unsubduable, with all his wit, could not coruscate away. ” By my troth, he’ll yield the crow a pudding one of these days ; the king has kill’d his heart.” Jaques, in his own way, supposes that he can dispense with realities. The world, not as it is, but as it mirrors itself in his own mind, which gives to each object a humorous distortion — this is what alone interests Jaques. Shakspere would say to us, ” This egoistic, contemplative, unreal manner of treating life is only a delicate kind of foolery. Real knowledge of life can never be acquired by the curious seeker for experiences.” But this Shakspere says in his non-hortatory, undogmatic way.   Upon the whole. As You Like It is the sweetest and happiest of all Shakspere’s comedies. No one suffers; no one lives an eager intense life ; there is no tragic in- terest in it as there is in The Merchant of Venice^ as       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art 71   there is in Much Ado about Nothing. It is mirthful, but the mirth is sprightly, graceful, exquisite ; there is none of the rollicking fun of a Sir Toby here ; the songs are not ” coziers’ catches ” shouted in the night – time, “without any mitigation or remorse of voice,” but the solos and duets of pages in the wild-wood, or the noisier chorus of foresters. The wit of Touchstone is not mere clownage, nor has it any indirect serious significances ; it is a dainty kind of absurdity worthy to hold comparison with the melancholy of Jaques. And Orlando, in the beauty and strength of early manhood, and Eosalind —   “A gallant curtle-axe upon her thigh, A boar-spear in her hand,”   and the bright, tender, loyal womanhood within — are fig- ures which quicken and restore our spirits, as music does which is neither noisy nor superficial, and yet which knows little of the deep passion and sorrow of the world. Shakspere, when he wrote this idyllic play, was him- self in his Forest of Arden. He had ended one great ambition — the historical plays — and not yet commenced his tragedies. It was a resting-place. He sends his im- agination into the woods to find repose. Instead of the courts and camps of England and the embattled plains of France, here was this woodland scene, where the palm- tree, the lioness, and the serpent ^re to be found ; pos- sessed of a flora and fauna that flourish in spite of phys- ical geographers. There is an open-air feeling throughout the play. The dialogue, as has been observed, catches freedom and freshness from the atmosphere. ” Never is the scene within-doors, except when something discord- ant is introduced to heighten, as it were, the harmony.” ^ After the trumpet-tones of Henry V. comes the sweet pastoral strain, so bright, so tender. Must it not be all   * C. A. Brown, ” Shakespeare’s Autobiographical Poems,” p. 283.       72 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   in keeping? Shakspere was not trying to control Lis melancholy. When he needed to do that, Shakspere con- fronted his melancholy very passionately, and looked it full in the face. Here he needed refreshment, a sunlight tempered by forest-boughs, a breeze upon his forehead, a stream murmuring in his ears.*^   Of the group of comedies which belong to this period, the two latest in date are probably Measure for Measure and All ^s Well that Ends Well, When the former of these plays was written, Shakspere was evidently bidding fare- well to mirth. Its significance is grave and earnest ; the humorous scenes would be altogether repulsive were it not that they are needed to present, without disguise or extenuation, the world of moral license and corruption out of and above which rise the virginal strength and se- verity and beauty of Isabella. At the entrance to the dark and dangerous tragic world into which Shakspere was now about to pass stand the figures of Isabella and of Helena — one the embodiment of conscience, the other the embodiment of will. Isabella is the only one of Shak- spere’s women whose heart and eyes are fixed upon an impersonal ideal, to whom something abstract is more, in the ardor and energy of her youth, than any human per- sonality. Out of this Vienna, in which   ” Corruption boils and bubbles Till it overrun the stew,”   * Hebler writes of A& You lAJce It : ” Es ist eine Waldcur f iir Hofleute, die zum Gliick mit heutigen Bad- oder Luftcuren das gemein hat, dass viele Gesunde dabei sind. So vor Allen Orlando und Rosalinde, fiir welche beide die Cur keine andere Bedeutung hat, als ihre Liebe auf die lieblichste Weise zur Erscheinung und Reife zu bringen, wahrend das voriibergehend Bedenk- liche ihrer Lage den Alles, selbst die Liebe noch, verschonenden Gotter- funken des Humors hervorlockt. Daneben der Contrast der blossen lieben Natur in dem Schaf erparchen, und die heitere Parodie des idyllischen Hof- lebens in der Heirath des Narren mit einem Landmadchen, wahrend der Bla- sirte (Jaques) auch der frischesten Natur seine eigene Farbe ankrankelt.” — ” Aufsatze iiber Shakespeare,” p. 195.       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 73   emerges this pure zeal, this rectitude of will, this virgin sanctity. Isabella’s saintliness is not of the passive, tim- orous, or merely meditative kind. It is an active pursuit of holiness through exercise and discipline. She knows nothing of a Manichsean hatred of the body; the life runs strongly and gladly in her veins ; simply her soul is set upon things belonging to the soul, and uses the body for its own purposes. And that the life of the soul may be invigorated, she would bring every unruly thought into captivity, ” having in a readiness to revenge all dis- obedience.”   ” hab. And have you nuns no farther privileges ? Tran. Are these not large enough ? Imh. Yes, truly. I speak not as desiring more ; But rather wishing a more strict restraint Upon the sisterhood.’*   This severity of Isabella proceeds from no real turning- away, on her part, from the joys and hopes of woman- hood ; her brother, her schoolfellow Julia, the memory of her father, are precious to her. Her severity is only a portion of the vital energy of her heart. Living actively, she must live purely ; and to her the cloister is looked upon as the place where her energy can spend itself in stern efforts towards ideal objects. Bodily suffering is bodily suffering to Isabella, whose ” cheek-roses ” pro- claim her physical health and vigor; but bodily suffer- ing is swallowed up in the joy of quickened spiritual existence :   ” Were I under the terms of death, The impression of keen whips I’d wear as rubies, And strip myself to death, as to a bed That longing have been sick for ere I’d yield My body up to shame.”   And as she had strength to accept pain and death for herself rather than dishonor, so she can resolutely accept pain and death for those who are dearest to her. When       74 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Claudio falters back dismayed from the immediate pros- pect of the grave, Isabella utters her piteous ” Alas, alas !” to perceive the tenderness and timorousness of his spirit ; but when he faintly invites her to yield herself to shame for his sake, she severs herself with indignation, not from her brother, not from Claudio, but from this disgrace of manhood in her brother’s form — this treason against fidelity of the heart :   ” 0, you beast !   0, faithless coward ! 0, dishonest wretch !   Wilt thou be made a man out of my vice ?   Take my defiance ! Die; perish!”   Isabella does not return to the sisterhood of Saint Clare. Putting aside from her the dress of religion, and the strict conventual rule, she accepts her place as Duch- ess of Vienna. In this there is no dropping-away, through love of pleasure or through supineness, from her ideal ; it is entirely meet and right. She has learned that in the world may be found a discipline more strict, more awful, than the discipline of the convent ; she has learned that the world has need of her. Her life is still a conse- crated life ; the vital energy of her heart can exert and augment itself through glad and faithful wifehood, and through noble station, more fully than in seclusion. To preside over this polluted and feculent Vienna is the office and charge of Isabella, ” a thing ensky’d and saint- ed:”   ” Spirits are not finely touched But to fine issues ; nor Nature never lends The smallest scruple of her excellence, But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines Herself the glory of a creditor — Both thanks and use.” *   • * Measure for Measure^ act i., sc. 1.       Growth of Shakspere^s Mind and Art. 75   In All ^s Well that Ends Well, a subject of extreme diffi- culty, when regarded on the ethical side, was treated by Shakspere with a full consciousness of its difficulty * A woman who seeks her husband, and gains him against his will; who afterwards by a fraud — a fraud however pious —defeats his intention of estranging her, and becomes the mother of his child ; such a personage it would seem a sufficiently difficult task to render attractive or admi- rable. Yet Helena has been named by Coleridge ” the loveliest of Shakspere’s characters.” Possibly Coleridge recognized in Helena the single quality which, if brought to bear upon himself by one to whom he yielded love and worship, would have given definiteness and energy   * Years wide apart have been assigned for the date of All ‘5 Well that Ends Well. Mr. Fleay believes that it was written at two different periods, and that the play contains early and later work, which he endeavors to separate. His date for the completed play is 1602. H. von Friesen is also of opinion that this is one of Shakspere’s earliest plays, and was afterwards rehandled. See Shakespea7’e-Jahrhuc\ vol. ii., pp. 48-54. So also Gervinus. (H. von Friesen observes resemblances of style to the Duke’s speeches in Measure for Measure ; and Professor Karl Elze points out various parallels to pas- sages in Hamlet. Shakespeare-Jahrhioch^ vol. vii., pp. 235, 236.) Delius, whose opinion on such a matter must be regarded as weighty, pronounces the style and the verse throughout to be different in their characteristic peculiarities from those of Shakspere’s early plays. Professor Hertzberg assigns the date 1603 ; and he expressly denies that an early and later style are observ- able in the play. ” Man muss eingestehen, dass die metrischen wie stili- stischen Eigenthiimlichkeiten sich gleichmassig auf das ganze Gedicht er- strecken und es durchaus als aus einem Guss gearbeitet erscheinen lass en. Wenn also diese Characterziige einer spateren Periode, als einer zweiten * Textesrecension ‘ entsprungen sein sollten, so miisste man annehmen, dass der Dichter mit Absicht von Anfang bis zu Ende seinen klaren Ausdruck angedunkelt, den einfachen Satzbau verwickelt und die regelmassigen und glatten Verse anomal und holprig gemacht habe. Dies kann Niemand an- nehmen.” Hertzberg rejects the opinion that All ‘« Well is the play (in an earlier form) mentioned by Meres as ””Love’s Labor ‘« TT%i.” Hertzberg con- tends that Love’s Labor ‘s Won was the Taming of the Shreto, Kreyssig con- nects All ‘s Well (the subdual of husband by wife) with the Shrew (the subdual of wife by husband).       76 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   to his somewhat vague and incoherent life. For sake of this one thing Shakspere was interested in the story, and so admirable did it seem to him that he could not choose but endeavor to make beautiful and noble the entire char- acter and action of Helena. This one thing is the en- ergy, the leap-up, the direct advance of the will of Hel- ena, her prompt, unerroneous tendency towards the right and efficient deed. She does not display herself through her words ; she does not, except on rarest occasions, allow her feelings to expand and deploy themselves ; her entire force of character is concentrated in w^hat she does. And therefore we see her quite as much indirectly, through the effect which she has produced upon other persons of the drama, as through self -confession or immediate pres- entation of her character.   A motto for the play may be found in the words ut- tered with pious astonishment by the clown, when his mistress bids him to begone, ” That man should be at woman’s command, and yet no hurt done.” Helena is the providence of the play ; and there is ” no hurt done,” but rather healing — healing of the body of the French king, healing of the spirit of the man she loves.*^ For Bertram, when the story begins, though endowed with beauty and bravery and the advantages (and disadvan- tages) of rank, is in character, in heart, in will, a crude, ungracious boy. Helena loves him, and sets him, in her love, above herself, the poor physician’s daughter, out of her sphere : ^   ” ‘Twere all one That I should love a bright, particular star And think to wed it, he is so above me.”   She loves him thus, but (if love can be conceived as   * ” Nicht nur am Konige, sondern auch an Bertram voUbringt sie eine gliickliche Heilung.” — Professor Karl Elze, Shakespeare- Jahrhuch^ vol. vii., p. 222.       Growth of Shakspere’s Mind and Art. 77   distinct from liking) she does not wholly like hira. She admits to herself that in worship of Bertram there is a certain fatuousness —   ” Now he’s gone, and my idolatrous fancy Must sanctify his reliques.”   She sees from the first that the friend of his choice, the French captain, is ” a notorious liar,” ” solely a coward,” ” a great way fool ;” she trembles for what Bertram may learn at the court.   ” God send him well ! The court’s a learning place ; and he is one — Parol What one i’ faith? Eel That I wish well.”   Yet she sees in Bertram a potential nobleness waiting to be evoked. And her will leaps forward to help him. Now she loves him — loves him with devotion which comes from a consciousness that she can confer much ; and she will form him so that one day she shall like him also.   ”Hel ‘Tispity.   Parol What’s pity ?   Hel That wishing well had not a body in’t, Which might be felt ; that we, the poorer born, Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes, Might with effects of them follow our friends, And show what we alone must think.”   But the ” wishing well ” of such a woman as Helena has indeed a sensible and apprehensible body in it. With a sacred boldness she assumes a command over Bertram’s fate and her own. She cannot believe in the piety of resignation or passiveness, in the religious duty of letting things drift ; rather, she finds in the love which prompts her a true mandate from above, and a veritable providen- tial power :   ” Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie Which we ascribe to heaven : the fated sky       78 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull. What power is it that mounts my love so high ?”   Helena goes forth, encouraged by her mistress, the mother of the man she seeks to win ; goes forth to gain her husband, to allay her own need of service to him, to impose herself on Bertram as the blessing that he requires. All this Helena does openly, with perfect courage. She does not conceal her love from the Countess; she does not for a moment dream of stealing after Bertram in man’s attire. It is the most impulsively or the most deli- cately and exquisitely feminine of Shakspere’s women whom he delights to disguise in the “garnish of a boy” — Julia, with her hair knit up ” in twenty odd-conceited true-love knots;” Rosalind, the gallant curtle-axe upon her thigh ; Viola, the sweet-voiced, in vt^hom ” all is sem- blative a woman’s part ;” Jessica, for w^hose transforma- tion Cupid himself would blush ; Portia, the wise young judge, so poignantly feminine in her gifts of intellect and heart ; Imogen, who steps into the cavern’s mouth with the advanced sword in a slender and trembling hand. In Helena there is so much solidity and strength of character that we feel she would be enfeebled by any male disguise which might complicate the impression produced by her plain womanhood. There could be no   (charm in presenting as a pretender to male courage one who was actually courageous as a man.   But throughout, while Hele^na is abundantly coura- geous, Shakspere intends that she shall at no moment appear unwomanly. In offering herself to Bertram, she first discloses her real feeling by words addressed to one of the young lords, from among whom it is granted her to choose a husband :   *’ Be not afraid that I your hand should take ; I’ll never do you wrong for your o^vn sake.”       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 79   Only with Bertram she would venture on the bold ex- periment of wronging him for his own sake. The experi- ment, indeed, does not at first seem to succeed. Helena is wedded to Bertram ; she has laid her will without re- serve in her husband’s hands ; she had desired to sur- render all to him, for his good, and she has surrendered all. But Bertram does not find this providential super- intendence of his affairs of the heart altogether to his taste; and in company with Parolles he files from his wife’s presence to the Italian war. Upon reading the concise and cruel letter in which Bertram has declared the finality of his separation from her, Helena does not faint, nor does she break forth into bitter lamentation. ” This is a dreadful sentence,” ” ‘Tis bitter.” Thus, prun- ing her words, Helena controls ” the thoughts which swell and throng” over her, until they condense themselves into one strong purpose. She will leave her mother, leave her home; and when she is gone and forgotten, Bertram will return from hardship and danger. But she would fain see him ; and if anything can still be done, she will do that thing.   The mode by which Helena succeeds in accomplishing the conditions upon which Bertram has promised to ac- knowledge her as his wife seems indeed hardly to pos- sess any moral force, any validity for the heart or the con- science. It can only be said, in explanation, that to Hel- ena an infinite virtue and significance resides in a deed. Out of a word or out of a feeling she does not hope for measureless good to come ; but out of a deed, what may not come ? That Bertram should actually have received her as his wife, actually, though unwittingly ; that he should indeed be father of the child she bears him — these are facts, accomplished things, which must work out some real advantage. And now Bertram has learned his need of self -distrust, perhaps has learned true modesty. His       8o Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   friend (who was all vain words apart from deeds) has been unmasked and pitilessly exposed. May not Ber- tram now be capable of estimating the worth of things and of persons more justly ? Helena, in taking the place of Diana, in beguiling her husband into at least material virtue, is still ” doing him wrong, for his own sake.” The man is “at woman’s command,” and there is “no hurt done.”   Even at the last, Bertram’s attainment is but small; he is still no more than a potential piece of worthy man- hood. We cannot suppose that Shakspere has represent- ed him thus without a purpose. Does not the poet wish us to feel that although much remains to be wrought in Bertram, his welfare is now assured? The courageous title of the play. All ^s Well that Ends Well, is like an ut- terance of the heart of Helena, who has strength and en- durance to attain the end, and who will measure things, not by the pains and trials of the way, not by the du- bious and difficult means, but by that end, by the accom- plished issue. We need not, therefore, concern ourselves any longer about Bertram ; he is safe in the hands of Helena ; she will fashion him as he should be fashioned. Bertram is at length delivered from the snares and de- lusions which beset his years of haughty ignorance and dulness of the heart ; he is doubly won by Helena ; there- fore he cannot wander far, therefore he cannot finally be lost.^ \   The changes of type which took place in the promi- nent female characters of Shakspere’s plays as the poet       * On this play consult Professor Karl Elze’s article in ShaJcespeare-Jahr- buchj vol. vii., and preface by Hertzberg in the German Shakespeare Society’s edition of Schlegel and Tieck’s translation of Shakspere, vol. xi. Hertzberg maintains that love of Lafeu’s daughter is a motive of Bertram’s rejection of Helena. But see Elze’s reply in the above-mentioned article, p. 226.       I       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 8 1       passed from youth to manhood, and from early manhood to riper maturity, would form an interesting subject for detailed study. The emotional women of the early plays, if not turbulent and aggressive, are still deficient in del- icacy of heart, in refinement of instinct, impulse, and habit. The intellectual women, who stand by the side of these, are bright and clever, but over-confident, for- ward, or defiant. In the early historical plays appear terrible female forms — women whose ambitions have been foiled, whose hearts have been torn and crushed, who are filled with fierce sorrow, passionate indignation, a thirst for revenge. Such are the Duchess of Gloster, Margaret of Anjou, Queen Elinor, Constance. As com- edy succeeds comedy, the female characters become more complex, more subtle, more exquisite. Eosaline’s flout- ing of Berowne becomes Rosalind’s arch mockery of Orlando, or the sportive contests of Beatrice wdth Ben- edick. In Portia, of The Merchant of Venice^ intellect and emotions play into one another with exquisite swift- ness, brightness, and vital warmth.   Just at the close of the period which gave birth to Shakspere’s most joyous comedies, and at the entrance to the tragic period, appear types of female character which are distinguished by some single element of pe- culiar strength — Helena, Isabella, Portia of Julius Ccesar (type of perfect womanly heroism, yet environed by the weakness of her sex) ; and over against these are studies of feminine incapacity or ignobleness — Ophelia, Ger- trude, Cressida. It is as if Shakspere at this time need- ed some one strong, outstanding excellence to grasp and steady himself by, and had lost his delight in the even harmony of character which suits us, and brings us joy when we make no single, urgent, and peculiar demand for help. Next follow the tragic figures — Desdemona, the invincible loyalty of wifehood ; Cordelia, the invin- 6       82 Shakspere — His Mind and Art,   cible filial loyalty — sacrificial lives, which are ofiered up, and which sanctify the earth ; lives which fall in the strife with evil, and which, falling, achieve their victo- ries of love. And as these make the world beautiful and sacred, even while they leave it strange and sorrowful, so over against them appear the destroyers of life — Lady Macbeth and the monsters Goneril, Regan.   Finally, in Shakspere’s latest plays appear, upon the one hand, the figures of the great sufferers — calm, self- possessed, much-enduring ; free from self-partiality, un- just resentment, and the passion of revenge — Queen Katharine, Hermione ; and, on the other hand, are ex- quisite girlish figures, children who have known no sor- row, over whom is shed a magical beauty, an ideal light, while above them Shakspere is seen, as it were, bowing tenderly — Miranda, Perdita. How great a distance has been traversed ! Instead of the terrible Margaret of Anjou, we have here Queen Katharine. Shakspere in his early period would have found cold, and without suitability for the purposes of art, Katharine’s patience, reserve, and equilibrium of soul. Instead of Rosaline, here is Perdita. A death-bed, glorious with a vision of angels, and the exquisite dawn of a young girl’s life — these are the two last things on which the imagination of the poet cared to dwell affectionately and long.   Here, for the present, we may pause. We have glanced at the growth of Shakspere’s mind and art as far onward as the opening of the period of the great tragedies. What Shakspere gained of insight and of strength during that period a subsequent chapter will attempt to tell.^       * I am unwilling to offer any criticism of the play of Troilus and Cressi* da until I see my way more clearly through certain difficulties respecting its date and its ethical significance. Mr. Fleay believes that three stories can be distinguished — (1) Troilus and Cressida; (2) Hector; (3) Ajax, Ulysses^       p       Growth of Shaksperes Mind and Art. 83   and the Greek Camp ; and that these stories were written at different pe- nods. (See Trans. New Sh. Soc.) Mr„ Furnivall says, “That there are two parts, an early and a late, I do not doubt.” Hertzberg assigns the date 1603. See his valuable preface in the German Shakespeare Society’s edi- tion of Tieck and Schlegel’s translation of Shakspere, vol. xi., and on the sources of the play his article in Shakespeare-Jahrbuch^ vol. vi. ; also, in vol. iii., the article by Karl Eitner. Hertzberg believes that .the play remained unprinted and unacted until 1609. Ulrici’s article on Troilus and Cressida in Shakespeare- Jahrbuch^\o\. ix., makes it clear that the play belongs rather to comedy than tragedy. This article may be consulted (as well as Hertz- berg’s preface) on the questions raised by the concluding lines of the diffi- cult epilogue by Pandarus.   So far was written in 1875 ; but since then I have come to understand in some degree, I believe, the significance of this difficult play. (See ante^ pref- ace to the third edition.)       84 Shakspere — His Mind and ArL       CHAPTEE III.   THE FIEST AND SECOND TRAGEDY: ROMEO AND JULIET^   HAMLET.       During the first ten years of Shakspere’s dramatic ca reer he wrote quickly, producing (if we suppose that he commenced authorship in I59O5 at the age of twenty- six), on an average, about two plays in each year. These eighteen or twenty plays written between 1590 and 1600 include some eight or nine comedies, and the whole of the great series of English historical dramas, which, when Henry V. was written, Shakspere probably looked upon as complete. To this field he did not return, except in one instance, when it would seem that a portion of a play on the subject of Henry VIII. was written, and, while still incomplete, was handed over, on some special occa- sion, to the dramatist Fletcher to expand from three acts into five. In the first decade of Shakspere’s authorship (if we set aside Titus Andronicus as the work of an un- known writer), a single tragedy appears — Romeo and Juliet. This play is believed to have engaged Shak- spere’s attention during a nuniber of years. Dissatisfied, probably, with the first form which it assumed, Shak- spere worked upon the play again, rewriting and enlarg- ing it.^ But it is not unlikely that even then he con-       * The opinion of Mr. Richard Grant White deserves to be stated. It is ” that the Romeo and Julht which has come down to us (for there may have been an antecedent play upon the same story) was first written [in 1591]       Romeo and Juliet 85   sidered his powers to be insufficiently matured for the great dealing, as artist, with human life and passion which tragedy demands ; for, having written Romeo and Juliet^ Shakspere returned to the histories, in which, doubtless, he was aware that he was receiving the best possible culture for future tragedy; and he wrote the little group of comedies in which Shaksperian mirth obtains its highest and most complete expression. Then, after an interval of about five years, a second tragedy, Hamlet^ was produced. Over Hamlet^ as over Romeo and Juliet^ it is supposed that Shakspere labored long and carefully. Like Romeo and Juliet^ the play exists in two forms, and there is reason to believe that in the earlier form in each instance we possess an imperfect report of Shakspere’s first treatment of his theme.^   It may be thought paradoxical to infer from the ab- sence of tragedy in the earlier years of Shakspere’s dra- matic career, that he looked upon the writing of tragedy as his chief vocation as author ; yet the inference is not unconfirmed by facts in Shakspere’s subsequent career. Almost from the first it would appear that he had before him the design of Romeo and Juliet When, after five or six years, it was actually accomplished, there still ap-   by two or more playwrights, of whom Shakspere was one ; that subsequent- ly [in 1596] Shakspere rewrote this old play, of which he was part author, making his principal changes in the passages which were contributed by his co-laborers.” Mr. White believes the first quarto of Romeo and Juliet to be an imperfect and garbled copy, obtained by the aid of a reporter, of Shakspere’s new work, the defects of which were supplied partly by some verse-mongers of the day, and partly from the old play in the composition of which Shakspere was one of two or more co-laborers.   * The editors of the Cambridge Shakspere beUeve that there was an old play on the subject of Hamlet, ” some portions of which are still preserved in the quarto of 1603.” For various bits of evidence (some good, some bad) to prove that the text of this quarto was obtained orally, and not direct- ly f’^om a manuscript, see Tschischwitz’s ” Shakspere-Forschungen — I. Ham- lev PP- 10-14,       86 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   peared in the play unmistakable marks of immature judg- ment. Shakspere accordingly, who in his histories had abundance of work planned out for him, wisely abstained for some time further from writing tragedy. Bat as soon as Hamlet was completed, and it became a demonstrated fact to the poet that he had attained his full maturity, and was master of his craft, then he no longer hesitated or delayed ; and year by year, from 1602 to 1612, he add- ed to the great roll of his tragedies, accomplishing in those years, by sustained energy of heart and imagina- tion, as marvellous a feat of authorship as the world has seen.   When Shakspere began to write for the stage, as was noticed in the preceding chapter, he was by no means misled by self-confidence. He began cautiously and ten- tatively, feeling his way. And there was one cause which might reasonably make him timid in the direc- tion of tragedy. Shakspere, at the age of twenty-six, was not afraid to compete with contemporary writers in comedy and history. He co-operated, it may be, in the writing of historical plays, The First Part of the Conten- tion and The Trice Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorhe^ at an early age ; and afterwards by revision and addition made these plays still more his own.’^ But the depart- ment of tragedy was dominated by a writer of superb genius, Christopher Marlowe. Shakspere, whose powers ripened slowly, may, at the time when he wrote The Com- edy of Errors and Lovers Labor ^s Lost^ have well hesitated to dispute with Marlowe his special province. Imitators       ♦ The latest study of 2 and 3 Henry VI. and the relation of these to The Contention and True Tragedie is the admirably careful essay by Miss Jane Lee, Trans. New Sh. Soc., 1875-76. The opinion arrived at by Miss Lee is that in 2 and 3 Henry VI. Shakspere and Marlowe are revisers of work bj Marlowe, Greene, and perhaps Peele.       Romeo and jfulieL 87   and disciples had crowded around the master. All the vices of his style had been exaggerated. Shakspere saw one thing clearly, that if the time ever came when he would write tragedy, the tragedy must be of a kind alto- gether different from that created upon Marlowe’s meth- od — the method of idealizing passions on a gigantic scale. To add to the pieces of the school of Marlowe a rhapsody of blood commingled with nonsense was impossible for Shakspere, who was never altogether wanting in a sane judgment and a lively sense of the absurd.   Thus it came about that Shakspere, at nearly forty years of age, was the author of but two or three trage- dies. Of these, Romeo and Juliet may be looked upon as the work of the artist’s adolescence ; and Hamlet as the evidence that he had become adult, and, in this su- preme department, master of his craft. To add to the interest of these plays as subjects of Shaksperian study, each, as was observed above, exists in two very different forms ; and from these something may be learned as to the poet’s method of rehandling his own work. In the case of Romeo and Juliet^ we possess the English original, a poem by Arthur Brooke, upon which Shak- spere founded his drama, and which in many particulars he minutely followed. It is therefore possible, in the case of this play, to investigate with peculiar advantage Shakspere’s method of treating his original.   The first two tragedies having been so carefully and deliberately thought out, having been looked upon by their author as of chief importance among his writings, we might anticipate that the second could hardly have been written without conscious reference to the first. In his early tentative plays, Shakspere made trial of va- rious styles ; he broke out now on this side, now on that, in directions which were wide apart; now he was en- gaged upon a history, now upon a comedy of incident,       88 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   almost a farce ; now a comedy of dialogue, and again a comedy of tender and graceful sentiment. He evidently had resolved that he would not repeat himself, that he would not allow his invention to come under control of any one of its own creatures. Too often a distinguished literary success is the prelude to literary failure. The artist, in fainter colors and with a more uncertain outline, repeats his admired figures and situations. Shakspere instinctively and by resolve put himself into relation with facts of the most diverse kinds, and preferred a comparatively slow attainment of a comprehension of life to a narrow intensity of individuality. The broad history of the nation interested him, but also the passion of love and death in two young hearts : he could laugh brightly, and mock the affectations and fashionable follies of his day ; but he must also stand before the tomb of the Capulets possessed by a sense of mystery, and that strenuous pain in which something else than mere sor- row is predominant.   Now, when writing Hamlet^ his second tragedy, Shak- spere, we must needs believe, determined that he would break away from the influence of his first tragedy, Romeo and Juliet Borneo am^_cA/^Z^6^ . is steeped in passion; Hamlet is steeped^in meditation. Contrast the h.ero of the one play, the man of the South, with the chief figure of the other, the Teuton, the man of the I^orth. Con- trast Hamlet’s friend and comforter, Horatio, possessed of grave strength, self-government, and balance of char- acter, with Romeo’s f rienc^, Mercutio, all brilliance, intel- lect, wit, and effervescent animal spirits. Contrast the gay festival in Capulet’s house with the brutal drinking of the Danish king and courtiers. Contrast the moonlit night in the garden, while the nightingale’s song is pant- ing forth from the pomegranate tree, with the silence, the nipping and eager air of the platform of Elsinore,       Romeo and Juliet 89   the beetling fieight to seaward, and the form of terror which stalked before the sentinels. Contrast the perfect love of Juliet and her Eomeo with the piteous foiled de- sire for love in Hamlet and Ophelia. Contrast the pas^ sionate seizure upon death, as her immediate and high- est need, of the Italian wife with the misadventure of the crazed Ophelia, so pitiful, so accidental, so unheroic, ending in ‘^ muddy death.” Yet, with all their points of contrast, there is one central point of aflfinity between the plays. Like Mr. Browning’s ” Paracelsus ” and his ” Sor- dello,” the poems are companion poems, while they are set over one against the other ; they are contrasted, but com- plementary.^ Hamlet resembles Eomeo in his inability to maintain the will in a fruitful relation with facts and with the real world, l^either is a ruler of events. Luck is forever against Eomeo; the stars are inauspicious to him, and to such men the stars will always be inauspi- cious, as to a Henry Y. they will always prove auxiliary. With Hamlet to resolve is to stand at gaze before an ac- tion, and to become incapable of achieving it. The nec- essary coupling between the purpose and the deed has been fatally dissolved. There is this central point in common between Hamlet and Eomeo — the will in each is sapped, but in each it is sapped by a totally different disease of soul.f   The external atmosphere of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet^ its Italian color and warmth, have been so finely felt by M. Philar&te Chasles that his words deserve to be a portion of every criticism of that play :   * See the writer’s lecture on the poetry of Mr. Tennyson and Mr. Brown- ing, “Afternoon Lectures,” vol. v., p. 178.   f “Romeo is Hamlet in love. There is the same rich exuberance of passion and sentiment in the one that there is of thought and sentiment in the other. Both are absent and self -involved ; both live out of themselves in a world of imagination.” — Hazlitt, Characters of Shakspeare^s Plays^ p. 147 (ed. 1818).       90 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   “Who does not recall those lovely summer nights in which the forces of nature seem eager for development, and constrained to remain in drowsy languor — a mingLng of intense heat, superabundant energy, impetuous power, and silent freshness ?   “The nightingale sings in the depths of the woods. The flower-cups are half closed. A pale lustre is shed over the foliage of the forests and upon the brow of the hills. The deep repose conceals, we are aware, a procre- ant force ; the melancholy reserve of nature is the mask of a passionate emotion. Under the paleness and the coolness of the night, you divine restrained ardors, and flowers which brood in silence, impatient to shine forth.   ” Such is the peculiar atmosphere with which Shak- spere has enveloped one of his most wonderful creations — Romeo and Juliet.   “Not only the substance, but the forms of the language come from the South. Italy was the inventor of the tale : she drew it from her national memorials, her old family feuds, her annals filled with amorous and bloody intrigues. In its lyric accent, its blindness of passion, its blossoming and abundant vitality, in the brilliant imagery, in the bold composition, no one can fail to recognize Italy. Komeo utters himself like a sonnet of Petrarch, with the same refined choice and the same antitheses ; there is the same grace and the same pleasure in versifying passion in al- legorical stanzas. Juliet, too, is wholly the woman of Italy ; with small gift of forethought, and absolutely in- genuous in her abandon^ she is at once vehement and pure.” ^   The season is midsummer. It wants a fortnight and       to^       odd days of Lammas-tide (August 1st). Wilhelm Schle- * “jfetudes sur W. Shakspeare, Marie Stuart, et PAretin/’pp. 141, 142.       I       Romeo and Juliet. 91       gel, and after him HazHtt, have spoken as if the atmos- phere of the play were that of a southern spring.”^ Such a criticism indicates a want of sensibility to the tone and coloring of the piece. The mid-July heat broods over the five tragic days of the story. The mad blood is stir- ring in men’s veins during these hot summer days.f There is a thunderous feeling in the moral element. The summer was needed also, that the nights and morn- ings might quickly meet. The nights are those luminous nights from which the dayh’ght seems never wholly to de- part — nights through which the warmth of day still hangs over the trees and flowers.   It is worth while to pause and note Shakspere’s method of treating external nature as the milieic or enveloping medium of human passion ; while sometimes, in addition, between external nature and human passion Shakspere re- veals acute points of special contact. We recall in King Lear the long and terrible day which begins at moonset before the dawn, when Kent is put in the stocks, and which ends with the storm upon the heath. The agony is intensified by the stretch of time, strained with passion and events, until the time tingles and is intense ; it cul- minates in the night of furious wind and spouting rain, of lightning and of thunder, when the roots of nature seem shaken in the same upheaval of things which makes a daughter cruel. We remember how Duncan breathed a delicate air when he entered under the martlet-haunted portals of Macbeth, as though nature insinuated into Duncan’s senses a treacherous presentiment of peace and security ; and there followed upon this the night when the earth was feverous and the air was filled with lament-   * So also Flathe, ” Shakspeare,” etc., part ii., p. 188.   f ”” Benvolio, For now these hot days is the mad blood stirring.” See the extract from Dr. Theodor Strater, in H. H. Furness’s variorum edition of Romeo and Juliet, pp. 461, 462.       92 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ings and strange screams of death. We remember that other night of tempest* and prodigy which preceded the fall of Julius Caesar, when Cassius, catching exhilaration and energy from the mutiny in the heaven, walked about the streets unbraced, ” submitting him unto the perilous night.” Then in contrast with these we think of the lyric love of Lorenzo and Jessica under the star-sown sky, ev- ery orb of which sings in its motion like an angel ” still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims f we think of the Forest of Arden, with its tempered light and shade, its streams where the deer comes to drink, and green haunts in which adversity grows sweet ; we think of the moun- tain country of Wales, and the salutations to the heaven of the royal youths whom Cymbeline had lost. The air which surrounds the island of Prospero is one of enchant- ment fit to breathe upon marvel and beauty :   ” The isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”   In the play of Pericles^ we are forever in presence of the waters, furious or serene ; and their voices of tumult or of calm are forever mingling with the human voices — with the sorrow of the bereaved father, and the magical singing of the sea-pure and sea-sensitive Marina. Once again, in Timon^ we are in presence of the sea : but it is not the stormy waters of Pericles that we gaze at ; it is not the yellow sands of Prospero’s island, where the sea- nymphs dance and courtesy and take hands ; in Timon it is neither the strength nor the beauty of the waves we are made to feel :   ” Timon hath made his everlasting mansion Upon the beached verge of the salt flood ; Who once a day with his embossed froth The turbulent surge shall cover.”   We see the cold white lip of the wave curling over, and curling over again, with bitter monotony upon the sand ;       Romeo and Juliet. 93   and it is there, touched by the salt and pitiless edge of the sea, that the corpse of the desperate man must lie abandoned.   Romeo is not the determiner of events in the play. He does not stand prominently forward, a single figure in the first scene, as does Marlowe’s Barrabas, and Shat spere’s Richard III., soliloquizing about his own person and his plans. The first scene of the play prepares a place for Romeo ; it presents the moral environment of the hero ; it exhibits the feud of the houses which deter« mines the lovers’ fate, although they, for a brief space, forget these grim realities in the rapture of their joy. The strife of the houses Capulet and Montague appears in this first scene in its trivial, ludicrous aspect ; threat- ening, however, in a moment to become earnest and for- midable. The serving-men Gregory and Samson biting thumbs at the serving-men Abraham and Balthasar, this is the obverse of the tragic show. Turn to the other side, and what do we see ? The dead bodies of young and beautiful human creatures — of Tybalt and Paris, of Juliet and Romeo — the bloody harvest of the strife. This first scene, half ludicrous but wholly grave, was written not without a reference to the final scene. The bandying of vulgar wit between the servants must not hide from us a certain grim irony which underlies the opening of the play. Here the two old rivals meet ; they will meet again. And the Prince appears in the last scene as in the first. Then old Capulet and Montague will be pacified ; then they will consent to let their desolated lives decline to the grave in quietness. Meanwhile serving-men with a sense of personal dignity must bite their thumbs, and other incidents may happen.   Few critics of the play have omitted to call attention to the fact that Shakspere represents Romeo as already in love before he gives his heart to Juliet — in love with       94 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   the pale-cheeked, dark-eyed, disdainful Rosaline. ” If wa are right,” Coleridge wrote, “… in pronouncing this one of Shakspeare’s early dramas, it affords a strong in- stance of the fineness of his insight into the nature of the passions that Romeo is introduced already love-be- wildered.” The circumstance is not of Shakspere’s in- vention. He has retained it from Brooke’s poem ; but that he thought fit to retain the circumstance, fearlessly declaring that Romeo’s supreme love is not his first love, is noteworthy. The contrast in the mind of the earlier poet between Rosaline, who   ” From her youth was fostered evermore With vertues foode, and taught in schole, of wisdomes skilfull lore,’*   and Juliet, who yields to her passion, and by it is de< stroyed, was a contrast which Shakspere rejected as a piece of formal and barren morality. Of what character is the love of Romeo for Rosaline % Romeo’s is not au active, practical nature like Henry V. ; neither is he great by intellect, a thinker, in any high sense of the word. But if he lives and moves and has his being nei- ther heroically in the objective world of action, like Hen- ry v., nor in the world of the mind, like Hamlet, all the more he lives, moves, and has his being in the world of mere emotion. To him emotion which enriches and ex- alts itself with the imagination, emotion apart from thought and apart from action, is an end in itself. Therefore it delights him to hover over his own senti- ment, to brood upon it, to feed upon it richly. Romeo must needs steep his whole nature in feeling, and, if Juliet does not appear, he must love Rosaline.   Nevertheless, the love of Rosaline cannot be to Romeo as is the love of Juliet. It is a law in moral dynamics, too little recognized, that the breadth and height and permanence of a feeling depend, in a certain degree at least, upon the actual force of its external cause. No       Romeo and Juliet. 95   ardor of self -protection, no abandonment prepense, no self-sustained energy, can create and shape a passion of equal volume, and possessing a like certainty and direct- ness of advance, with a passion shaped, determined, and forever reinvigorated by positive, objective fact. Shak- spere had become assured that the facts of the world are worthy to command our highest ardor, our most resolute action, our most solemn awe ; and that the more we pen- etrate into fact, the more will our nature be quickened,   enriched, and exalted. The play of Romeo and Juliet   exhibits to us the deliverance of a m^n from dream into reality. In Romeo’s love of Rosaline we find represent- ed the dream-life as yet undisturbed, the abandonment to emotion for emotion’s sake. Romeo nurses his love ; he sheds tears ; he cultivates solitude ; he utters his groans in the hearing of the comfortable friar; he stimulates his fancy with the sought-out phrases, the curious antitheses, of the amorous dialect of the period i”^   ” Why, then, brawling love ! loving hate ! anything, of nothing first create ! heavy lightness ! serious vanity ! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms ! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health !”   He broods upon the luxury of his sorrow. And then Romeo meets Juliet. Juliet is an actual force beyond and above himself, a veritable fact of the world. Never- theless, there remains a certain clinging self -conscious- ness, an absence of perfect simplicity and directness, even in Romeo’s very real love of Juliet. This is placed by Shakspere in designed contrast with the singleness of Ju- liet’s nature, her direct unerroneous passion, which goes   * Mrs. Jameson has noticed that in All ‘5 Well that Ends Well Helena mockingly reproduces this style of amorous antitheses (act i., sc. 1, 11. ISO- ISO). Helena, who lives so effectively in the world of fact, is contemptuous towards all unreality and affectation.       96 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   straight to its object, and never broods upon itself. It is Romeo who says in the garden scene,   ” How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night, Like softest music to attending ears !”   He has overheard the voice of Juliet, and he cannot an- swer her call until he has drained the sweetness of the sound. He is one of those men to whom the emotional atmosphere which is given out by the real object, and which surrounds it like a luminous mist, is more impor- tant than the reality itself. As he turns slowly away, loath to leave, Romeo exclaims,   ” Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books ; But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.”   But Juliet’s first thought is of the danger to which Ro- meo is exposed in her father’s grounds. It is Juliet who will not allow the utterance of any oath, because the whole reality of that night’s event, terrible in its joy, has flashed upon her ; and she, who lives in no golden haze of luxu- rious feeling, is aroused and alarmed by the sudden shock of too much happiness. It is Juliet who uses direct and simple words :   ” Farewell compliment ! Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say ‘Ay,* And I will take thy word.”   She has declared that her bounty is measureless, that her love is infinite, when a sudden prosaic interruption oc- curs : the nurse calls within, Juliet leaves the window, and Romeo is left alone. Is this new joy a dream ?   ” blessed, blessed night ! I am afeard, Being in night, all this is but a dream, Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.”   But Juliet hastily reappears with words upon her lips which make it evident that it is no dream of joy in which she lives :       Romeo and jMliet. 97   ** Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed. If that thy bent of love be honorable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow, By one that I’ll procure to come to thee, Where, and what time thou wilt perform the rite, And all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay, And follow thee, my lord, throughout the world.”   The wholeness and crystalline purity of Juliet’s pas^ sion is flawed by no double self. She is all and entire in each act of her soul. While Romeo, on the contrary, is as yet but half delivered from self-consciousness.   If Shakspere ventured upon any generalization about women, it was perhaps this — that the natures of women are usually made up of fewer elements than those of men, but that those elements are ordinarily in juster poise, more fully organized, more coherent and compact ; and that, consequently, prompt and efficient action is more a woman’s gift than a man’s. ‘^ Man delights not me, nor woman neither,” confessed Hamlet ; and the courtiers declare they smiled to think if he delighted not in man what Lenten entertainment the players would receive from him. The players — for the drama is founded on mere delight in human personality. Man delighted Shak- spere, and woman also ; but the chief problems of life seemed to lurk for Shakspere in the souls and in the lives of men, and therefore he was more profoundly interested in the natures of men than in those of women. His great tragedies are not Cordelia, Desdemona, Ophelia, Yolum- nia ; but Lear, Othello, Hamlet, Coriolanus. Shakspere’s men have a history, moral growth or moral decay ; his women act and are acted upon, but seldom grow and are transformed. We get from Shakspere no histories of a woman’s soul like^ the history of Romola or of Maggie TuUiver or of Dorothea Brooke ; none — unless, perhaps, that of Cleopatra — at all so carefully studied and curi- pusly detailed as may be found in the novels of Goethe. ■7       98 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   Shakspere creates his women by a single strong or ex- quisite inspiration, but he studies his men. His witty women are not a complex of all various qualities, like Falstaff ; his wicked women are simply wicked, like Gon- eril and Regan, not an inscrutable mystery of iniquity like lago ; his women of intellect are bright, are effective with ideas which they use as the means of action or of enjoyment, but among them there is not a female Ham- let.^   Yet the women of Shakspere have almost always the advantage of his men. Although their natures are made up of fewer elements, yet, because those elements are quite vital and coherent, his women are in the highest degree direct in feeling and efficient in action. All the half-organized power of men is not a match for their di- rectness and efficiency. Portia, in the Merchant of Yen- ice^ can bring all her wits at a moment’s notice into play ; every faculty is instinct with a single and indivisible en- ergy ; set over against the great masculine force of Shy- lock, she proves more than a match for him. In Helena {All ^s Well that Ends Well) there is perfect rectitude of intellect and will, and a solid unity of character which enables her to shape events as she has decided it is well   * See on this subject Mrs. Jameson’s ” Characteristics of Women,” In- troduction ; also a remarkable passage in Mr. Ruskin’s *’ Sesame and Lilies,” pp. 126-131. Riimelin maintains that in consequence of his position as player, Shakspere was excluded from the acquaintance of women of fine culture and character, and therefore drew upon his fancy for his female por- traits. At the same time, Shakspere shared with Goethe, Petrarch, Raphael, Dante, Rousseau, Jean Paul (a strange assemblage !), a mystical veneration for the feminine element of humanity as the higher and more divine. For a comparison of Shakspere with Goethe in this respect, see Riimelin, ” Shake- speare-Studien,” pp. 282 – 292. It is clever and superficial, like much of the ” realistic criticism ” of Riimelin. Leo’s ” Shakespeare’s Frauen-Ideale ” is a somewhat misleading title. In the few pages on Shakspere’s women (pp. 35-44) there is contained little that is new or valuable.       Romeo and Juliet 99   they should be shaped, and secures her from all distrac- tion and all illusion. She imposes herself as a blessing upon the high-born youth, who, for his part, had been suflSciently blind and dull; at length he perceives that while he stumbled and seemed to go astray, Helena was the providence which forced him to stumble into securi- ty and strength and the abiding-place of love. Yolum- nia, by the unfaltering insistence of her single moral motive, subdues Coriolanus. Macbeth is brave and cow- ardly, sceptical and superstitious, loyal and treacherous, ambitious and capable of service, at once restrained and stimulated by his imagination. Lady Macbeth is terribly efficient: at one time a will strung tense, at another a conscience strung tense ; possessed of only that active kind of imagination which masters practical difficulties. She has violently wrenched her nature, and the wrench is fatal. But Macbeth can live on, sinking further and further from reality and strength and joy^ dropping away into the shadow, undergoing gradual extinction, decay, and disintegration of his moral being; never a sudden and absolute ruin.   Juliet at once takes the lead. It is she who proposes and urges on the sudden marriage. She is impatient for complete self-surrender, eager that the deed should be- come perfect and irreversible. “When, after the death of Tybalt, Komeo learns from the lips of the friar that he has been condemned to banishment he is utterly un- manned. He abandons himself to helpless and hopeless despair. He turns the tender emotion upon himself, and extracts all the misery which is contained in that one word “banished.” He throws himself upon the ground, and grovels pitifully in the abjectness of his dismay. His will is unable to deal with his own emotions so as to sub- due or control them. Upon the next day, after her cast- ing-away of her own kindred, after her parting with her       ■^%       lOO Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   husband, Juliet comes to the same cell of Friar Laurence, her face pale, and traces of tears upon it which she can- not hide. Paris, the lover whom her father and motheiP have designed for Juliet, is there. She meets him with gay words, gallantly concealing the heart which is eager and trembling, and upheld from desperation only by a high-strung fortitude. Then when the door is shut her heart relieves itself, and she urges the friar, with pas- sionate energy, to devise forthwith a remedy for the evil that has befallen.   In her home, Juliet is now without adviser or sustainer. A girl of fourteen years, she stands the centre of a circle of power which is tyrannous, and pledged to crush her resistance; old Capulet (the Capulets are a fiery, self- willed race, unlike the milder Montagues) has vehement- ly urged upon her the marriage with Count Paris. She turns her pale face upon her father, and addresses him appealingly :^   ” Good father, I beseech you on my knees Hear me with patience but to speak a word.”   She turns to her mother — the proud Italian matron, still young, who had not married for love, whose hatred is cold and deadly, and whose relation with the child,   who is dear to her, is pathetically imperfect :f ^..   >-   * Shakspere, as Mr. Clarke notices, contrives to bring before us the pale- ness of Juliet’s face in this great crisis of her life, dramatically, by means of old Capulet’s vituperative terms :   ” Out, you green-sickness carrion ! out, you baggage ! You tallow face I” f Shakspere reduces Juliet’s age from the sixteen years of Brooke’s poem to fourteen. He loved the years of budding womanhood : Miranda is fifteen years of age, Marina fourteen. Lady Capulet says to Juliet,   ” By my count I was your mother much upon these years That you are now a maid ” (act !., sc. 3). Therefore she is perhaps under thirty years of age. But it is thirty years       Romeo and Juliet i o i   ” Is there no pity sitting in the clouds, That sees into the bottom of my grief ? sweet my mother, cast me not away ! Delay this marriage for a month, a week.”   Last, she looks for support to her nurse, turning in that dreadful moment with the instinct of childhood to the woman on whose breast she had lain, and uttering words of desperate and simple earnestness :   ” God ! nurse I how shall this be prevented ?   • • o • • • •   Some comfort, nurse.”   The same unfaltering severity with which a surgeon operates is shown by Shakspere in his fidelity here to the nurse’s character. The gross and wanton heart, while   tthe sun of prosperity is full, blossoms into broad vulgar- ity ; and the raillery of Mercutio deals with it suflScient- ly. Now in the hour of trial her grossness rises to the dignity of a crime. ” The Count is a lovely gentleman ; Romeo ‘s a dishclout to him. The second match excels § the first ; or, if it does not, Juliet’s first is dead, or as good as dead, being away from her.” ‘^ This moment,”   iMrs. Jameson has finely said, ” reveals Juliet to herself. She does not break into upbraidings ; it is no moment for anger ; it is incredulous amazement, succeeded by the ex- tremity of scorn and abhorrence, which takes possession of her mind. She assumes at once and asserts all her own superiority, and rises to majesty in the strength of her despair.” Here Juliet enters into her solitude.*^   since old Capulet last went masking (act i., sc. 5). Observe Lady Capulet’s manner of speech with her husband in act iv., sc. 4, and note her announce- ment (intended to gratify JuUet) that she will despatch a messenger to Man- tua to poison Romeo (act iii., sc. 5).   * ” The nurse has a certain vulgarized air of raiik and refinement, as if, priding herself on the confidence of her superiors, she had caught and ast similated their manners to her own vulgar nature. In this mixture of re* finement and vulgarity both elements are made the worse for being togethcK       I02 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   The friar has given Juliet a phial containing a strange, iinfried mixture, and ^he is alone in her chamber. Juli- et’s soliloquy ends with one of those triumphant touches by which Shakspere glorified that which he appropriated from his originals. In Brooke’s poem, Juliet swallows the sleeping-potion hastily, lest her courage should fail. ” Shakspeare,” Coleridge wrote, ” provides for the finest decencies. It would have been too bold a thing for a girl of fifteen — but she swallows the draught in a fit of fright.” This deprives Juliet of all that is most charaa- teristic in the act. In the night and the solitude, with a desperate deed to do, her imagination is intensely and morbidly excited. All the hideous secrets of the tomb appear before her. Suddenly, in her disordered vision, the figure of the murdered Tybalt rises, and is manifestly in pursuit of some one. Of whom ? Not of Juliet, but of her lover, who had slain him. A moment before, Ju* liet had shrunk with horror from the thought of confront- ing Tybalt in the vault of the Capulets. But now Bo- rneo is in danger. All fear deserts her. To stand by Komeo’s side is her one necessity. With a confused sense that this draught will somehow place her close to the murderous Tybalt, and close to Bomeo whom she would save, calling aloud to Tybalt to delay one moment — ” Stay, Tybalt, stay !” — she drains the phial, not ” in a fit of fright,” but with the words ” Bomeo ! I come ; this do I drink to thee.” v.   The brooding nature of Bomeo, which cherishes emo- tion, and lives in it, is made salient by contrast with Mer- cutio, who is all wit and intellect and vivacity, an uncon-   . . . She abounds, however, in serviceable qualities.” — Hudson, Shake* spere\ Life, Art^ and Characters^ vol. ii., pp. 214, 215. Mrs. Jameson ob- Berves justly that the sweetness and dignity of Juliet’s character could hard* ly have been preserved inviolate if Shakspere had placed her in connection with any commonplace dramatic waiting-woman.       Romeo and Juliet 103   trollable play of gleaming and glancing life. Upon the morning after the betrothal with Juliet, a meeting hap- pens between Romeo and Mercutio. Previously, while lover of Rosaline, Romeo had cultivated a lover-like mel- ancholy. But now, partly because his blood runs gladly, partly because the union of soul with Juliet has made the whole world more real and substantial, and things have grown too solid and lasting to be disturbed by a laugh, Romeo can contend in jest with Mercutio himself, and stretch his wit of cheveril ” from an inch narrow to an ell broad.” Mercutio and the nurse are Shakspere’s crea- tions in this play. For the character of the former he had but a slight hint in the poem of Arthur Brooke. There we read of Mercutio as a courtier who was bold among the bashful maidens as a lion among lambs, and we are told that he had an ” ice-cold hand.” Putting to- gether these two suggestions, discovering a significance in them, and animating them with the breath of his own life, Shakspere created the brilliant figure which lights up the first half of Romeo and Juliet^ and disappears when the colors become all too grave and sombre.   Romeo has accepted the great bond of love. Mercu- tio, with his ice-cold hand, the lion among maidens, chooses, above all things, a defiant liberty — a liberty of speech gayly at war with the proprieties, an airy freedom of fancy, a careless and masterful courage in dealing with life as though it were a matter of slight importanc^-J[e_ will Tint attac^.h himself tojBitfinr of the houses. He is in- vited by Capulet to the banquet,T3ut he goes to the ban- quet in company with Romeo and the Montagues. He can do generous and disinterested things, but he will not submit to the trammels of being recognized as generous. He dies maintaining his freedom, and defying death with a jest. To be made worm’s meat of so stupidly, by a vil- lain that fights by the book of arithmetic, and through       I04 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Komeo’s awkwardness, is enough to make a man impa. tient. ” A plague o’ both your houses !” The death of Mercutio is like the removal of a shifting breadth of sun- light, which sparkles on the sea ; now the clouds close in upon one another, and the stress of the gale begins.*^   The moment that Romeo receives the false tidings of Juliet’s death is the moment of his assuming full man- hood. Now, for the first time, he is completely delivered from the life of dream, completely adult, and able to act with an initiative in his own will, and with manly deter- mination. Accordingly, he now speaks with masculine directness and energy :   ” Is it even so ? Then I defy you, stars !”   Yes ; he is now master of events ; the stars cannot alter his course,   ” Thou know’st my lodgings : get me ink and paper, And hire post-horses ; I will hence to-night.   Bal, I do beseech you, sir, have patience. Your looks are pale and wild, and do import Some misadventure.   Rom. Tush ! thou art deceived.   Leave me, and do the thing I bid thee do. Hast thou no letters to me from the friar ?   Bal. No, my good lord.   Rom. No matter ; get thee gone,   And hire those horses ; I’ll be with thee straight.”   “Nothing,” as Maginn has observed, “can be more quiet than his final determination,   * Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee to-night.’   “It is plain Juliet. . » . There is nothing about ^Cu- pid’s arrow’ or ‘Dian’s wit;’ no honeyed word escapes   * The German professor sometimes does not quite keep pace with Shak« spere, and is heard stumbling heavily behind him. Gervinus thus describes Mercutio : *’ A man without culture, coarse and rude, ugly, a scornful ridi« culer of all sensibility and love.”       Romeo and Juliet 105   his lips, nor, again, does any accent of despair. His mind is so made up, the whole course of the short remainder of his life so unalterably fixed, that it is perfectly useless to think more about it.” ^ These words, because they are the simplest, are among the most memorable that Eomeo utters. Is this, indeed, the same Eomeo who sighed and wept and spoke sonnet-wise, and penned him- self in his chamber, shutting the daylight out for love of Rosaline? Now passion, imagination, and will are fused together, and Eomeo, who was weak, has at length be- come strong.   In two noteworthy particulars Shakspere has varied from his original. He has compressed the action from some months into four or five days.f Thus precipitancy   * ” Shakespeare Papers,” p. 99.   f The following passage, quoted by H. H. Furness (variorum Romeo and Juliet^ pp. 226, 227) from Mr. Clarke, may be serviceable as giving some of the notes of time which occur in this play : ” In scene 1, the Prince desires Capulet to go with him at once, and Montague to come to him * this afternoon.’ In scene 2, Capulet speaks of Montague being * bound’ as well as himself, which indicates that the Prince’s charge has just been given to both of them, and shortly after speaks of the festival at his house * this night.’ At this fes- tival Romeo sees Juliet, when she speaks of sending to him ‘ to-morrow,’ and on that ^morrow’ the lovers are united by Friar Laurence. Act iii, op^ns with the scene where Tybalt kills Mercutio, and during which scene Romeo’s words, * Tybalt, that an hour hath been my kinsman,’ show that the then time is the afternoon of the same day. The friar, at the close of scene 3 of that act, bids Romeo ‘ good night ;’ and in the next scene Paris, in reply to Capulet’s inquiry, ‘ What day is this V replies, * Monday^ my lord.’ This, by the way, denotes that the * old accustomed feast ‘ of the Capulets, according to a usual practice in Catholic countries, was celebrated on a Sunday even- ing. In scene 5 of act iii. comes the parting of the lovers at the dawn of Tuesday, and when, at the close of the scene, Juliet says she shall repair to Friar Laurence’s cell. Act iv, commences with her appearance there, thus carrying on the action during the same day, Tuesday. But the effect of long time is introduced by the mention of ‘ evening mass,” and by the friar’s de- tailed directions and reference to ‘ to-morrow’s night ;’ so that when t^e mind has been prepared by the change of scene, by Capulet’s anxious preparations for the w^edding, and by Juliet’s return to filial submission, there seems no       lo6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   is added to the course of events and passions. Shalispere has also made the catastrophe more calamitous than it is in Brooke’s poem. It was his invention to bring Paris across Romeo in the church-yard. Paris comes to strew his flowers, uttering in a rhymed sextain (such as might have fallen from Romeo’s lips in the first act) his pretty lamentation. Romeo goes resolutely forward to deatho He is no longer ” young Romeo,” but adult, and Paris is the boy. He speaks with the gentleness and with the authority of one who knows what life and death are, of one who has gained the superior position of those who are about to die over those who still may live :   ” Good, gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man. Fly hence and leave me ; think upon these gone ; Let them affright thee. I beseech thee, youth, Put not another sin upon my head By urging me to fury.”   He would save Paris, if that might be. But Paris still crosses Romeo, and he must needs be dealt with :   ” Wilt thou provoke me ? then have at thee, boy !”   Romeo has now a definite object ; he has a deed to do, and he will not brook obstacles.^   violence done to the imagination by Lady Capulet’s remarking, * ‘Tis now near night.’ . . . Juliet retires to her own room with the intention of select- ing wedding attire for the next morning, which her father has said shall be that of the marriage, anticipating it by a whole day — Wednesday instead of Thursday.” The sleeping-potion is expected by the friar to operate during two – and – forty hours (act iv., sc. 1). JuUet drinks it upon Tuesday night, or rather in the night hours of Wednesday morning — delaying as long as she dare. On the night of Thursday she awakens in the tomb and dies. Maginn believed that there must be some mistake in the reading ” two-and- forty hours ;” but there is no need to suppose this. The play, as Maginn observes, is dated by Shakspere throughout with a most exact attention to hours.   * In the first quarto, Benvolio dies. Montague (act v., sc. 8) announces the death of his wife \ the quarto adds the line, *’ And young Benvolio is de« ceased too.”       Romeo and yuliet. 107   Friar Laurence remains to furnish, the Prince with an explanation of the events. It is impossible to agree with those critics, among others Gervinus, who represent the friar as a kind of chorus expressing Shakspere’s own eth— ical ideas, and his opinions respecting the characters and action. It is not Shakspere’s practice to expound the moralities of his artistic creations ; nor does he ever, by means of a chorus, stand above and outside the men and women of his plays, who are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. The nearest approach, perhaps, to a chorus is to be found in the person of Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra. Hamlet commissions Horatio to report him and his cause aright to the unsatisfied ; and Horatio, plac- ing the bodies of the dead upon a stage, is about, in ju- dicial manner, to declare the causes of things ; but Shak- spere declines to put on record for us the explanations made by Horatio. No ! Friar Laurence also is moving in the cloud, and misled by error as w^ell as the rest. Shakspere has never made the moderate, self-possessed, sedate person a final or absolute judge of the impulsive and the passionate. The one sees a side of truth which is unseen by the other ; but to neither is the whole truth visible. The friar had supposed that by virtue of his prudence, his moderation, his sage counsels, his amiable sophistries, he could guide these two young, passionate lives, and do away the old tradition of enmity between the houses. There in the tomb of the Capulets is the re- turn brought in by his investment of kindly scheming. Shakspere did not believe that the highest wisdom of human life was acquirable by mild, monastic meditation, and by gathering of simples in the coolness of the dawn. Friar Laurence too, old man, had his lesson to learn.   In accordance with his view that the friar represents the chorus in this tragedy, Gervinus discovers as the leading idea of the piece a lesson of moderation : the       lo8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   poet makes his confession that ” excess in any enjoyment^ however pure in itself, transforms its sweet into bitter- ness ; that devotion to any single feeling, however noble, bespeaks its ascendency ; that this ascendency moves the man and woman out of their natural spheres.” “^ It is somewhat hard upon Shakspere to suppose that he secret- ed in each of his dramas a central idea for a German crit° ic to discover. But if there be a central idea in Romeo and Juliet^ can this be it? What! did Shakspere, then, mean that Romeo and Juliet loved too well? That all would have been better if they had surrendered their lives each to the other less rapturously, less absolutely ? At what precise point ought a discreet regard for another human soul to check itself and say, ” Thus far tow^ards complete union will I advance, but here it is prudent to stop V Or are not Eomeo’s words at least as true as the friar’s?   *’ Come what sorrow can, It cannot countervail the exchange of joy- That one short minute gives me in her sight Do thou but close our hands with holy words, Then love-devouring Death do what he dare, It is enough I may but call her mine.”   Doubtless, also, Cordelia misunderstood the true nature of the filial relation ; upon perceiving a possibility of de- feat, she ought to have retreated to the safe coast of France. Portiaj upon hearing that the enemies of Brutus were making head, weakly ” fell distract ” and swallowed fire, not having learned that a well-balanced heart bestows upon a husband only a regulated moderation of love ; Shakspere, by the example of Portia, would teach us that a penalty is paid for excess of wifely loyalty ! JSTo ; this method of judging characters and actions by gross awards   * ” Shakespeare Conmicntaries,” by Gervinus, translated by F. E. Bunnett 1863. Vol. i., p. 293.       Romeo and Juliet. 109   of pleasure and pain as measured by the senses does not interpret the ethics or the art of Shakspere or of any great poet. Shakspere was aware that every strong emo- tion which exalts and quickens the inner life of man at the same time exposes the outer life of accident and cir- cumstance to increased risk. But the theme of tragedy, as conceived by the poet, is not material prosperity or failure : it is spiritual ; fulfilment or failure of a destiny higher than that which is related to the art of getting on in life. To die, under certain conditions, may be a higher rapture than to live. P Shakspere did not intend that the feeling evoked by the last scene of this tragedy of jRomeo and Juliet should be one of hopeless sorrow or despair in presence of fail- ure, ruin, and miserable collapse.”^ Juliet and Komeo, to whom Verona has been a harsh stepmother, have accom-   * Kreyssig writes with reference to this tragedy : *’ Nicht zufallig ist die ideale, leidenschaftUche JugendUebe in Sage und Gedicht aller Volker die Schwester des Leides. Sie hat ihren Lohn in sich selbst. Das Leben hat ihr Nichts weiter zu bieten ” (” Shakespeare-Fragen,” p. 120). In the Shake- speare-Jahrbuchj vol. ix., p. 328, will be found a notice of a study of Romeo and Juliet (Leipsic, 1874) by the celebrated author of the ”Philosophic des Unbewussten,” E. von Hartmann. He pronounces that the love between Juliet and Romeo is not the deep, spiritual, German ideal of love, but a sensuous play of passionate fancy. (Did not this latest leader of German thought previously teach that love at its best and truest is an illusion im- posed upon the individual by the Unconscious Somewhat which displays itself through nature and man — an illusion which serves the important pur- pose of securing the continuance of the species ?) To such criticism the true answer was given long since by Franz Horn : ” Shakspeare knows nothing, and chooses to know nothing, of that false division of love into spiritual and sensual ; or, rather, he knows of it only when he purposely takes notice of it — that is, when he wishes to depict affectation striving after a misconceived Platonism ; or, on the other hand, when he portrays a coarse, brutish, merely earthly passion ” (translated in Furness’s Romeo and Juliet^ p. 446). Contrast Juliet with Cressida; or Goethe’s Mignon with his Philina. See ShaJcespeare-Jahrhuc\yo\.V\\.^^.l^\ and Mrs. Jameson’s “Character- istics of Women,” especially the passage in which she comments upon Jii* [ liet’s soliloquy, ” Gallop apace.”       I lO Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   plished their lives. They loved perfectly. Eomeo had attained to manhood. Juliet had suddenly blossomed into heroic womanhood. Through her, and through an- guish and joy, her lover had emerged from the life of dream into the waking life of truth. Juliet had saved his soul ; she had rescued him from abandonment to spurious feeling, from abandonment to morbid self -con- sciousness, and the enervating luxury of emotion for emotion’s sake. What more was needed ? And as sec- ondary to all this, the enmity of the houses is appeased. Montague will raise in pure gold the statue of true and faithful Juliet; Capulet will place Romeo by her side. Their lives are accomplished ; they go to take up their place in the large history of the world, which contains many such things. Shakspere in this last scene carries forward our imagination from the horror of the tomb to the better life of man, when such love as that of Juliet and Romeo will be publicly honored and remembered by a memorial all gold.”^   * Among the critics of this play, one of the most intelligently appreciative is George Fletcher, in his ”Studies of Shakespeare” (1847). Fletcher’s in- terpretation of Juliet’s soliloquy before she drinks the sleeping-potion differs from that given above ; and I will not assert that Fletcher may not be right (pp. 349-355). It may be worth while to add a note on the chief critical crux of the play, “Runnawayes Eyes” (act iil, sc..2, 1. 6). The notes on this passage in Mr. Furness’s edition of the play fill nearly thirty closely printed pages. ” Die Zeit ist unendlich lang,” said Goethe. I add my stone to this cairn, under which the meaning lies buried. In The Merchant of Venice (act ii., sc. 6) there is an echo of the sense and of the language of this passage which confirms the reading Runnawayes. Gratiano and Salarino have spoken of the eagerness of lovers outrunning time. This set Shak- spere thinking of the passage in Romeo and Juliet, Jessica, in her boy’a disguise, says,   ” Love is blind, and lovers cannot see   The pretty follies that themselves commit.   • •••••   Lorenzo. But come at once;   For the close nigkt doth play the runaway,^’*       Hamlet, in   II.   / When Hamle t was written. S hakspere ha.d pa ssed through his years of appren ticeship and become a mas^ ter-dramatist In g pint ot styTp t|i^ P^^J Rfflnds mirlw^ between his early and h is late st works^ The studious superintendence of the poet over the development of his thought and imaginings, very apparent in Shakspere^s early writings, now conceals itself ; but the action of im- agination and thought has not yet become embarrassing in its swiftness and multiplicity of direction.^ Rapid dialogue in verse, admirable for its combination of veri- similitude with artistic metrical effects, occurs in the scene in which Hamlet questions his friends respecting the appearance of the ghost (act i., sc. 2) ; the soliloquies of Hamlet are excellent examples of the slow, dwelling verse which Shakspere appropriates to the utterance of thought in solitude ; and nowhere did Shakspere write a nobler piece of prose than the speech in which Hamlet describes to Eosencrantz and Guildenstern his melan-       Compare the first ten lines of Juliet’s soliloquy, and observe the echo of sense and speech.   * The characteristics of Shakspere’s latest style are described by Mr. Sped- ding in the following masterly piece of criticism : ” The opening of [^Henry VIIIJ] , . . seemed to have the full stamp of Shakspere in his latest man- lier ; the same close – packed expression ; the same life and reality and freshness ; the same rapid and abrupt turnings of thought, so quick that language can hardly follow fast enough ; the same impatient activity of in- tellect and fancy, which, having once disclosed an idea, cannot wait to work it orderly out; the same daring confidence in the resources of language which plunges headlong into a sentence without knowing how it is to come forth ; the same careless metre which disdains to produce its harmonious effects by the ordinary devices, yet is evidently subject to a master of har- mony; the same entire freedom from book-language and commonplace” (on the several shares of Shakspere and Fletcher in the play of Henry VIII.^ by James Spedding ; reprinted in Trans. New Sh. Soc. from The GentUmarCs Magazine for August, 1850).       112 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   choly. But such particulars as jhese do n ot constitut e the chief evidence whi ch proves that tlip. popl. \ \i\i\ r>o-py attained maturit y. The mystery, the baffling, vital ob- scurity of the play, and, in particular, of the character of its chief person, make it evident that Shakspere had left far behind him that early stage of development when an artist obtrudes his intentions, or, distrusting his own abil- ity to keep sight of one uniform design, deliberately and with effort holds that design persistently before him. ]^hen S^lia^p^pprfi pny^p]f^|p.H RgmUU he must have trustr ed himself and trnste^ his ^ udience ^ he trusts himself to enter into relation with his subject, highly compl ex as that subject was, in a pure, emotional man^j\ JtLamlet might so easily have been manufactured into an enigma or a puzzle ; and then the puzzle, if sufficient pains were bestowed, could be completely taken to pieces and ex- plained. But Shakspere created it a mystery, and there- fore it is forever suggestive ; forever suggestive, and never wholly explicable.   t It must not be supposed, then, that any idea^ any magic phrase, will solve the difficulties presented by the play, or suddenly illuminate everything in it which is obscure. The obscurity itself is a vital part of the work of art which deals not with a problem, but with a life; and in that life, the history of a soul which moved through shadowy borderlands between the night and day, there is much (as in many a life that is real) to elude and baffle inquiry. It is a remarkable circumstance that while the length of the play in the second quarto con- siderably exceeds its length in the earlier form of 1603, and thus materials for the interpretation of Shakspere’s purpose in the play are offered in greater abundance, the obscurity does not diminish, but, on the contrary, deepens; and if some questions appear to be solved, other questions in greater number spring into existence.       i       Hamlet 113   We may at once set aside as misdirected a certain class of Hamlet interpretations — those which would transform this tragedy of an individual life into a dramatic study of some general social phenomenon, or of some period in the history of civilization. A writer who has applied an admirable genius for criticism, comprehensive and pene- trative, to the study of this play^ describes it as Shak- spere’s artistic presentation of a phenomenon recurrent in the world with the regularity of a law of nature, the phenomenon of revolutions. Hamlet cannot escape from the world which surrounds him. In the wreck of a so- ciety which is rotten to the core, he goes down ; with the accession of Fortinbras, a new and sounder era opens. We must not allow any theory, however ingenious, to divert our attention from fixing itself on this fact, that Hamlet is the central point of the play of Hamlet, It is not the general cataclysm in which a decayed order of things is swept away to give place to new rough mate- rial ; it is not the downfall of the Danish monarchy and of a corrupt society, together w^ith the accession of a new dynasty and of a hardier civilization, that chiefly interest- ed Shakspere. The vital heart of the tragedy of Hamlet cannot be an idea ; neither can it be a fragment of polit- ical philosophy. Out of Shakspere’s profound sympathy with an individual soul and a personal life, the wonderful creation came into being.   It is true, however, as the critic referred to maintains,’ that the weakness of Hamlet is not to be wholly set down to his own account. The world is against him. There is no such thing as naked manhood. Shakspere, who felt so truly the significance of external nature as the environ- ing medium of human passion, understood also that no       * H. A. Werner, ” Ueber das Dunkel in der Hamlet-Tragodie,” Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare- Gesellschaftj vol. v., pp. 37-81. 8       114 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   man is independent of the social and moral conditions under which he lives and acts. Goethe, in the celebrated criticism upon this play contained in his ” Wilhelm Meis- ter/’ has only offered a half-interpretation of its difficul- ties ; and subsequent criticism, under the influence of Goethe, has exhibited a tendency too exclusively subjec- tive. ” To me,” wrote Goethe, ” it is clear that Shakspere meant … to represent the effects of a great action laid upon a soul unfit for the performance of it. In this view the whole piece seems to be composed. There is an oak- tree planted in a costly jar, which should have borne pleasant flowers in its bosom : the roots expand, the jar is shivered.”   This is one half of the truth ; but only one half. In several of the tragedies of Shakspere, the tragic disturb- ance of character and life is caused by the subjection of the chief person of the drama to some dominant passion, essentially antipathetic to his nature, though proceeding from some inherent weakness or imperfection — a passion from which the victim cannot deliver himself, and which finally works out his destruction. Thus Othello, whose nature is instinctively trustful and confiding, with a noble childlike trust — a man   ” Of a free and open nature, That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,”   a man ” not easily jealous ” — Othello is inoculated with the poison of jealousy and suspicion, and the poison mad- dens and destroys him. Macbeth, made for subordination, \ is the victim of a terrible and unnatural ambition. Lear, ignorant of true love, yet with a supreme need of loving and of being loved, is compelled to hatred, and drives from his presence the one being who could have satisfied the hunger of his heart. Timon, who would fain indulge a universal lax benevolence, is transformed to a revolter from humanity : ” I am Misanthropos, and hate mankind.”       Hamlet. 115   We may reasonably conjecture that the Hamlet of the old play — a play at least as old as that group of bloody tragedies inspired by the earlier works of Marlowe — was actually what Shakspere’s Hamlet, with a bitter pleasure in misrepresenting his own nature, describes himself as being, ” very proud, revengeful, ambitious.” This re- vengeful Hamlet of the old play exhibited, we may sup* pose, a close kinship to the Hamlet of the French novelist Belleforest, and of the English ” Historic ” — the Hamlet who in the banquet-hall burns to death his uncle’s cour- tiers, whom he had previously stupefied with strong drink. But Shakspere, in accordance with his dramatic method, and his interest as artist in complex rather than simple phenomena of human passion and experience, when re- creating the character of the Danish Prince, fashions him as a man to whom persistent action, and in an especial degree the duty of deliberate revenge, is peculiarly anti- pathetic. Under the pitiless burden imposed upon him, Hamlet trembles, totters, falls. Thus far Goethe is right.   But the tragic nodus in Shakspere’s first tragedy — Romeo and Juliet — was not wholly of a subjective char- acter. The two lovers are in harmony with one another, and with the purest and highest impulses of their own hearts. The discord comes from the outer world : they are a pair of “star-crossed lovers.” Their love is envel- oped in the hatred of the houses. Their life had grown upon a larger life, a tradition and inheritance of hostility and crime ; against this they rebelled, and the larger life subdued them. The world fought against Eomeo and Juliet, and they fell in the unequal strife. Now, Goethe failed to observe, or did not observe sufficiently, that this is also the case with Hamlet :   ” The time is out of joint : cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right T*       1 1 6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   Hamlet is called upon to assert moral order in a world of moral confusion and obscurity. He has not an open plain or a hillside on which to fight his battle, but a place dangerous and misleading, with dim and winding ways. He is made for honesty, and he is compelled to use the weapons of his adversaries, compelled to practise a shift- ing and subtle stratagem; thus he comes to waste him- self in ingenuity and crafty device. All the strength which he possesses would have become organized and available had his world been one of honesty, of happi- ness, of human love. But a world of deceit, of espionage, of selfishness, surrounds him. His idealism, at thirty years of ago, almost takes the form of pessimism ; his life and his heart become sterile ; he loses the energy which sound and joyous feeling supplies; and in the wide-spreading waste of corruption which lies around him, he is tempted to understand and detest things rather than accomplish some limited practical service. In the unweeded garden of the world, why should he task his life to uproot a sin- gle weed ?   If Goethe’s study of the play, admirable as it was, mis- led criticism in one way by directing attention too exclu- sively upon the inner nature of Hamlet, the studies by Schlegel and by Coleridge tended to mislead criticism in another by attaching an exaggerated importance to one element of Hamlet’s character. ” The whole,” wrote Schlegel, ” is intended to show that a calculating consid- eration, which exhausts all the relations and possible con- sequences of a deed, must cripple the power of acting.” It is true that Hamlet’s power of acting was crippled by his habit of ” thinking too precisely on the event ;” and it is true, as Coleridge said, that in Hamlet we see “a great, an almost enormous intellectual activity, and a pro- portionate aversion to real action consequent upon it.” But Hamlet is not merely or chiefly intellectual ; the       Hamlet. 117   emotional side of his character is quite as important as the intellectual ; his malady is as deep-seated in his sen- sibilities and in his heart as it is in the brain. If all his feelings translate themselves into thoughts, it is no less true that all his thoughts are impregnated with feeling. To represent Hamlet as a man of preponderating power of reflection, and to disregard his craving, sensitive heart, is to make the whole play incoherent and unintelligible.^ It is Hamlet’s intellect, however, together with his deep and abiding sense of the moral qualities of things, which distinguishes him, upon the glance of a moment, from the hero of Shakspere’s first tragedy, Eomeo. If Romeo fail to retain a sense of fact and of the real world because the fact, as it were, melts away and disappears in a solvent of delicious emotion, Hamlet equally loses a sense of fact because with him each object and event   i’ transforms and expands itself into an idea. When the play opens he has reached the age of thirty years — the age, it has been said, when the ideality of youth ought to become one with and inform the practical tendencies of manhood — and he has received culture of every kind except the culture of active life. During the reign of the strong-willed elder Hamlet, there was no call to ac- tion for his meditative son. He has slipped on into years of full manhood still a haunter of the university, a student of philosophies, an amateur in art, a ponderer on the things of life and death, who has never formed a resolution or executed a deed.   This long course of thinking, apart from action, has destroyed Hamlet’s very capacity for belief, since in be lief there exists a certain element contributed by the will. Hamlet cannot adjust the infinite part of him to       * See W. Oehlmann’s article ” Die Gemiithsseite des Hamlet-Characters,” in Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakespeare -Gesellschafi^ vol. iii., p. 208.       1 1 8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   the finite ; the one invades the other and infects it ; or^ rather, the finite dislimns and dissolves, and leaves him only in presence of the idea. He cannot make real to himself the actual world, even while he supposes himself a materialist ; he cannot steadily keep alive within him- self a sense of the importance of any positive, limited thing — a deed, for example. Things in their actual,. phe- nomenal aspect fiit before him as transitory, accidental, and unreal. And the absolute truth of things is so hard to attain, and only, if at all, is to be attained in the mind. Accordingly, Hamlet can lay hold of nothing with calm, resolved energy ; he cannot even retain a thought in in- defeasible possession. Thus all through the play he wa- vers between materialism and spiritualism, between be- lief in immortality and disbelief, between reliance upon providence and a bowing under fate.”^ In presence of the ghost, a sense of his own spiritual existence and the immortal life of the soul grows strong within him. In presence of spirit he is himself a spirit :   ” I do not set my life at a pin’s fee ; And for my soul, what can it do to that, Being a thing immortal as itself ?”   When left to his private thoughts, he wavers uncer- tainly to and fro ; death is a sleep — a sleep, it may be, troubled with dreams. In the graveyard, in the pres- ence of human dust, the base affinities of our bodily nat- ure prove irresistibly attractive to the curiosity of Ham- let’s imagination ; and he cannot choose but pursue the history of human dust through all its series of hideous   * In ” Shakspere-Forschungen — I. Hamlet,” by Benno Tschischwitz (Halle, 1868), the author endeavors to prove that Shakspere was acquainted with the philosophy of Bruno, and embodied portions of it in the play of Hamlet Giordano Bruno lived in London from the year 1583 to 1586, where he seems to have received the patronage of Sir P. Sidney, Lord Buckhurst, and the Earl of Leicester. He became professor at Wittenberg.       Hamlet. 119   metamorphoses. Thus, as Eomeo’s emotions while he lived in abandonment to the life of feeling for feeling’s sake are not genuine emotions, so Hamlet’s thoughts while he is given over to the life of brooding medita- tion are hardly even so much as real thoughts, but are rather phantom ideas which dissolve, reform, and dis- solve again, changing forever with every wind of cir- cumstance. He is incapable of certitude.   When Hamlet first stands before us, his father has been two months dead ; his mother has been for a month the wife of Claudius. He is solitary in the midst of the court. A mass of sorrow and of wounded feeling, of shame and of disgust, has been thrown back upon him ; and this secretion of feeling which obtains no vent is busy in producing a wide-spreading, morbid humor. The misery of self-suppression leaves him in a state of weak and intense irritability. Every word uttered pricks him, and he is longing to be alone. A little bitterness es- capes in his brief acrid answers to the King ; and when his mother, in her insensibility to true feeling, chances upon the word ” seems,” his irritation breaks forth, and, after his fashion (that of one who relieves himself by speech rather than by deeds), he unpacks his heart in words. The Queen, who is soft and sensual, a lover of ease, withal a little sentimental, and therefore incapable of genuine passion, does not resent the outbreak of her strange son ; and Hamlet, somewhat ashamed of his dem- onstration, which has the look of a display of superior feeling, endures in silence his uncle’s tedious moralizing on the duties of mourners. Then with grave courtesy he yields to his mother’s request that he should renounce his intention of returning to Wittenberg —   ” I shall in all my best obey you, madam.”   What matters it whether he go or stay ! Life is all so flat, stale, and unprofitable that the difference between       1 20 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   Wittenberg and Elsinore cannot be worth contending for.”^ But when at length he is alone, Hamlet feels himself enfranchised — free to shed abroad his sorrow, to gaze intensely and mournfully upon his own aridity of spirit, and to compensate in the idea for the expendi- ture of kindness in act made on his mother’s behalf. A frail mother, an incestuous mother, a mother endowed with less discourse of reason than the beasts ! He has satisfied the Queen with an act ; and action, this way or that, is profoundly insignificant to Hamlet. But in his mind she shall get no advantage of him. He will see her as she is ; and if he is gracious to her in his deeds, he will, in his thoughts, be stern and inexorable.   In this scene we make acquaintance with two impor- tant persons in Hamlet’s world. ” Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” exclaimed Marcellus. Rather all is rotten — the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. On the throne, the heart of the living organism of a state, reigns the appearance of a king ; but under this kingly appearance is hidden a wretched, corrupt, and cowardly soul ; a poisoner of the true king and of true kingship ; incestuous, gross, and wanton ; a fierce drink- er ; a palterer with his conscience ; and, as Hamlet, vehe- mently urging the fact, describes him, ” a vice of kings,” ” a villain and a cut-purse,” ” a paddock, a bat, a gib.” Such is kingship in Denmark.   And the Queen, Hamlet’s mother, one of the two wom- en from whom Hamlet must infer what womanhood is — what is she ? For thirty years she had given the appear- ance, the simulacrum^ of true love to her husband, one on whom   * Observe the contrast between Hamlet and Laertes. The latter wrings, by laborsome petition, leave from his father to return to Paris. Laertes had come from Paris to the coronation ; Horatio from Wittenberg to the late king’s funeral.       Hamlet 121   ” Every god did seem to set his seal To give the world assurance of a man ;”   one who, even in the place of penance, still retains his solicitude for her. And this show of thirty years’ love had proved to be without reality or root in her being : it had been no more than a sinking-down upon the acci- dental things of life, its comforts and pleasures. Her hus- band had passed out of her existence like any other cas- ual object. During all those years of blameless wifehood, she had never once conceived the possibility of a love which is founded upon the essential, not the accidental, elements of life ; she had never once known what is the bond of life to life, and of soul to soul. The timid, self- indulgent, sensuous, sentimental Queen is as remote from true woman’s virtue as Claudius is from the virtues of royal manhood.   The third scene of the first act introduces another group of personages, distinguished figures of the Danish court. Laertes is the cultured young gentleman of the period.^ He is accomplished, chivalric, gallant ; but the accomplishments are superficial, the chivalry theatrical, the gallantry of a showy kind. He is master of events up to a certain point, because he sees their coarse, gaudy, superficial significance. It is his part to do fine things and make fine speeches ; to enter the king’s presence gallantly demanding atonement for his father’s murder ; to leap into his sister’s grave and utter a theatrical rant of sorrow. Hamlet sees in his own cause an image of       * Gervinus has described Hamlet as a man of a civilized period stand- ing in the centre of an heroic age of rough manners and physical daring (‘* Shakespeare Commentaries,” vol. ii., p. 161). No piece of criticism could fall more wide of the mark. The age of Claudius, Polonius, Laertes, Osric, and of the students of philosophy at Wittenberg, is an age complex and refined, and in all things the reverse of heroic. See Kreyssig, ** Yorlesun- gd]3^ iiber Shakespeare,” vol. ii., p. %%% (ed. 1862).       12 2 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   that of Laertes. Each has lost a father by foul means, and Laertes delays not to. seek revenge. But Shakspere does not make the contrast between Hamlet and Laer- tes favorable to the latter. No overweight of thought, no susceptibility of conscience, retards the action of the young gallant. He readily falls in with the King’s scheme of assassination, and adds his private contribu- tion of villainy — the venom on his rapier’s point. La- ertes has been no student of philosophic Wittenberg.^ The French capital, ” so dear to the average, sensual man,” is Laertes’ school of education. What lessons he learned there we may conjecture from the conversation of Polonius with his servant Reynaldo.   Laertes’ little sister, Ophelia, is loved by the Lord Hamlet. What is Ophelia ? Can she contribute to the deliverance of Hamlet from his sad life of brooding thought, from his weakness and his melancholy % Juliet had delivered Romeo from his dream of self-conscious egoistic feeling into the reality of anguish and of joy. What can Ophelia do ? Nothing. She is a tender little fragile soul, who might have grown to her slight perfec- tion in some neat garden-plat of life. Hamlet falls into the too frequent error of supposing that a man gains rest and composure through the presence of a nature weak, gentle, and clinging ; and that the very incapacity of such a nature to share the troubles of heart and brain which beset one must be a source of refreshment and repose. And so it is for moments when the pathos of slender joy, unaware of the great interests and sorrows of the world, touches us. But a strong nature was what Hamlet really needed. All the comfort he ever got in life came from one who was ” more an antique Roman   ♦ Shakspere remembered Luther, thinks Gervinus. He had Giordano Bruno in his mind, says Tschischwitz. The university was famous : Gioi> dano Bruno names it the Athens of Germany.       Hamlet. 123   than a Dane/’ his friend Horatio. If he had found one who to Horatio’s fortitude, his passive strength, had added ardor and enthusiasm, Hamlet’s melancholy must have vanished away ; he would have been lifted up into the light and strength of the good facts of the world, and then he could not have faltered upon his way.   As things were, Hamlet quickly learned, and the knowl- edge embittered him, that Ophelia could neither receive great gifts of soul, nor in return render equivalent gifts. There is an exchange of little tokens between the lovers, but of the large exchange of soul there is none; and Hamlet, in his bitter mood, can truthfully exclaim, ” I never gave you aught.” Hamlet was conscious of no constraining power to prevent him, when he thought of his mother’s frailty, from extending his words to her whole sex — ” Frailty, thy name is woman.” Had a noble nature stood in Ophelia’s place, to utter such words would have been treason against his inmost consciousness. Let the reader contrast Juliet’s commanding energy of feel- ing, of imagination, of will, with Ophelia’s timidity and self-distrust, the incapable sweetness and gentleness of her heart, her docility to all lawful guardians and gov- ernors. Juliet throws off father, mother, and nurse, and stands in solitary strength of love ; she always uses the directest word, always counsels the bravest action. In his later plays, Shakspere can still be seen to rejoice and expand in presence of the courage of true love. Desde- mona —   ” A maiden never bold ; Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion BlushM at herself”—   standing by Othello’s side can confront her indignant father, with the Duke and magnijficoes. Imogen, for Posthumus’s sake, can shoot against the King her sbaits       1 24 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   of indignant scorn, so keen and exquisite, yet heavily timbered enough to wing forward through the wind of Cymbeline’s anger. But Ophelia is decorous and timid, with no initiative in her own heart; unimaginative; choosing her phrases with a sense of maidenly propri- ety:   ” He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders Of his affection to me.”   And Polonius inquires, ” Do you believe his tenders, as you call them ?” ” I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” It may be that her brother and father are right; that the ” holy vows ” of Hamlet on which she, poor little soul, had relied are but ” springes to catch woodcocks.” In her madness, the impression made upon her by the words of Polonius and Laertes, which she had until then con- cealed, finds utterance : ” She says she hears there’s tricks i’ the world.” Juliet resolved her doubts, not by con- sulting old Capulet or her nurse, but by pressing forward to perfect knowledge of the heart of Romeo, and by oc- cupying that heart with a purity of passion only less than her own. Ophelia, when her father directs her to dis- trust the man she loves, to deny him her presence, to re- pel his letters, has only her meek little submission to utter, ” I shall obey, my lord.”   The comic element in this scene is present, but is not obtruded. Shakspere, “der feine Shakspere, der Schalk,”^ smiles visibly, but restrains himself from downright laughter. Laertes has read his moral lecture to Ophelia, and she in turn ventures upon a gentle little piece of sisterly advice. Laertes suddenly discovers that he ought to be aboard his ship : ” I stay too long.” Ophe- lia “is giving the conversation a needless and inconven-   * F. Th.Vischer, in JaAriz^A der deuUclien Shakespeare- GeaeUscha/t^Yoi il, p. 149.       I       I       Hamlet. 125   <   lent turn ; . . . for sisters to lecture brothers is an inver- sion of the natural order of things.”^ But at this mo- ment the venerable Chamberlain appears. Laertes, who was supposed to have gone, is caught. There is only one mode of escape from the imminent scolding — to kneel and ask a second blessing. What matter that it has all been said once before ? Start the old man on his hobby of uttering wisdom, and off he will go :   “A double blessing is a double grace ; Occasion smiles upon a second leave.”   The advice of Polonius is a cento of quotations from Lyly’s ” Euphues.” f Its significance must be looked for less in the matter than in the sententious manner. Polo- nius has been wise with the little wisdom of worldly pru- dence. He has been a master of indirect means of get- ting at the truth, ” windlaces and assays of bias.” In the shallow lore of life he has been learned. Of true wisdom he has never had a gleam. And what Shakspere wishes to signify in this speech is that wisdom of Polonius’s kind consists of a set of maxims ; all such wisdom might be set down for the head-lines of copybooks. That is to say, his wisdom is not the outflow of a rich or deep nat- ure, but the little accumulated hoard of a long and su- perficial experience. This is what the sententious man- ner signifies. And very rightly Shakspere has put into Polonius’s mouth the noble lines,   * C. E. Moberly, Rugby edition of Hamlet^ p. 21.   t Mr. W. L. Rushton, in his ” Shakespeare’s Euphuism,” pp. 44-47 (Lon- don, 1871), places side by side the precepts of Polonius and of Euphues. ^”PoL Give thy thoughts no tongue. Euph. Be not lavish of thy tongue. Pol, Do not dull thy palm, etc. Euph. Every one that shaketh thee by the hand is not joined to thee in heart. Pol. Beware of entrance to a quarrel, etc. Euph. Be not quarrellous for every light occasion. Pol. Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice. Euph. It shall be there better to hear what they say than to speak what thou thinkest.” Both Polonius and Eu’ phues speak of the advice given as ” these few precepts.”       126 ‘ Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ” To thine own self be true, And it must foUov/ as the night the day Thou canst not then be false to any man.”   5res ; Polonius has got one great truth among his copy^^ book maxims, but it comes in as a little bit of hard, un- vital wisdom like the rest: ”Dress well^ donH lend or horrow money ; to thine own self he trueP “^ \ But to appreciate and enjoy fully the Chamberlain’s morality, we must observe him in the first scene of the second act. Reynaldo is despatched as a spy upon the conduct of the son on whom the paternal blessing had been so tenderly bestowed. Polonius does not expect morality of an ideal kind from the boy. As is natural, Laertes in Paris will sow his wild oats. If he come back the accomplished cavalier, skilful in manage of his horse, a master of fencing, able to finger a lute, Polonius will treasure up in his heart, not discontented, the knowledge of his son’s ” wild slips and sallies.” f   Meanwhile, Hamlet, in the midst of his sterile world- weariness, has received a shock, but not the shock of joy. His father’s spirit is abroad. With Horatio and Mar- cellus, Hamlet on the platform at night is awaiting the appearance of the ghost. The sounds of Claudius’s revelry reach their ears. Hamlet is started upon a series of re- flections suggested by the Danish drinking customs ; his surroundings disappear ; he has ceased to remember the   * Compare and contrast with the advice of Polonius the parting words of th«> Countess to Bertram i^All \ Well that Ends Well^ act i., sc. 1). Observe how the speech of the Countess opens and ends with motherly passion of fear and pride, in which lies enclosed her little eifort at moral precept.   f The last words of Polonius to Reynaldo are, ” And let him [Laertes] ply his music.” On these words Vischer observes, “Die paar Wortchen erst enhalten den ganzen Schliissel ; der Sohn darf spielen, trinken, raufen, flu- chen, zanken, in saubre Hauser, * videlicet Bordelle,’ gehen, wenn er nur Musik treibt; achte Cavalierserziehung !” (“Die realistische Shakespeare – Kritik und Hamlet,” von F. Th. Vischer, in Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare-Get Hllscha/t, vol. ii., p. 149.)       Hamlet 127   purpose with which he has come hither ; he is lost in his own thoughts. The ghost is present before Hamlet is aware. It is Horatio who interrupts his meditation, and rouses him to behold the apparition. No sooner has Hamlet heard the word “Murder” upon his father’s lips than he is addressed to ” sweep to his revenge “—in the idea —   ” With wings as swift As meditation or the thoughts of love.”   He will change his entire mental stock and store ; he will forget his arts and his philosophies; he will retain no thought save of his murdered father. And when the ghost departs, he draws — ” not his sword, but his note- book.” ^ There, at least, he can get it down in black and white that the smiling Claudius is a villain — can put that fact beyond the reach of doubt or vicissitude ; for sub- jective impressions, Hamlet is too well aware, do not re- tain the certitude which during one vivid moment seemed to characterize them. He will henceforth remember noth- thing but the ghost ; and, to assure himself of that^ he sets down his father’s parting words, ” Adieu, adieu ! remem- ber me.” That is to say, ” he puts a knot upon his hand- kerchief.” t He is conscious that he is not made for the world of action ; that the fact is always in process of glid- ing away from him and being replaced by an idea. And he is resolved to guard against this in the present instance. It is now, in a sudden inspiration of excited feeling, that Hamlet conceives the possibility of his assuming an antic disposition. What is Hamlet’s purpose in this? He finds that he is involuntarily conducting himself in a wild and unintelligible fashion. He has escaped “from       * W. Oehlmann, Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare- Gesellschaft^ vol. liL, p. 211. t fiebler, ” Aufsatze iiber Shakespeare” (Bern, 1865), p. 138.       128 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   his” own feelings of the overwhelming and supernatural by a wild transition to the ludicrous — a sort of cunning bravado, bordering on the flights of delirium.” His mind struggles “to resume its accustomed course, and effect a dominion over the awful shapes and sounds that have usurped its sovereignty.””^ He assumes madness as a means of concealing his actual disturbance of mind. His over-excitability may betray him ; but if it be a received opinion that his mind is unhinged, such an access of over-excitement will pass unobserved and unstudied. At this moment Hamlet’s immediate need is to calm him- self, to escape into solitude, there to recover self-mastery, and come to a clear understanding of the altered state of things. In the light of the court, he is persecuted by the eyes of the curious and the suspicious ; he is ” too much i’ the sun.” To be in presence of all, and yet to be hidden ; to be intelligible to himself, and a perplexity to others; to be within reach of every one, and to be himself inaccessible — that would be an enviable position ! Madness possesses exquisite immunities and privileges. From the safe vantage of unintelligibility, he can delight himself by uttering his whole mind, and sending forth his words among the words of others, with their mean- ing disguised, as he himself must be, clothed in an antic garb of parable, dark sayings which speak the truth in a mystery.   * The first quotation is from S. T. Coleridge ; the second from an essay by Hartley Coleridge, ” On the Character of Hamlet,” ” Essays and Margi- nalia,” vol. i.,pp. 151-171. An earlier writer than S. T. Coleridge had well said, ” Hamlet was fully sensible how strange those involuntary improprie- ties must appear to others. He was conscious he could not suppress them ; he knew he was surrounded with spies ; and he was justly apprehensive lest his suspicions or purposes should be discovered. But how are these conse- quences to be prevented ? By counterfeiting an insanity which in part exists.” — Richardsok’s -£Js5a?/« on Shakespeare’s Dramatic Characters (1786J^ p. 163.       Hamlet. 129   1 Hamlet does not assume madness to conceal any plan of revenge. He possesses no such plan. And as far as his active powers are concerned, the assumed madness is a misfortune. Instead of assisting him to achieve any- thing, it is one of the causes which tend to retard his action. For now, instead of forcing himself upon the world, and compelling it to accept a mandate of his I will, he can enjoy the delight of a mere observer and critic — an observer and critic both of himself and of oth- ers. He can understand and mock ; whereas he ought to set himself sternly to his piece of work. He utters himself henceforth at large, because he is unintelligible. He does not aim at producing any effect with his speech, except in the instance of his appeal to Gertrude’s con- science. His words are not deeds. They are uttered self -indulgently to please the intellectual or artistic part of him, or to gratify his passing mood of melancholy, of irritation, or of scorn. He bewilders Polonius with mockery, which effects nothing, but which bitterly de- lights Hamlet by its subtlety and cleverness. He speaks with singular openness to his courtier friends, because they, filled with thoughts of worldly advancement and ambition, read all his meanings upside down, and the heart of his mystery is absolutely inaccessible to their shallow wits. When he describes to them his melancholy, he is in truth speaking in solitude to himself. Nothing is easier than to throw them off the scent. ” A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.” The exquisite cleverness of his mimetics and his mockery is some compensation to Hamlet for his inaction. This intellectual versatility, this agility, flatters his consciousness ; and it is only on occasions that he is compelled to observe into what a swoon or syncope his will has fallen.   Yet it has been truly said that only one who feels Hamlet’s strength should venture to speak of Hamlet’s 9       130 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   weakness. That in spite of diflSculties without, and in- ward diflSculties, he still clings to his terrible duty — let* ting it go, indeed, for a time, but returning to it again, and in the end accomplishing it — implies strength, fie is not incapable of vigorous action, if only he be allowed no chance of thinking the fact away into an idea. He is the first to board the pirate ; he stabs Polonius through the arras ; he suddenly alters the sealed commission, and sends his schoolfellows to the English headsman ; he finally executes justice upon the king. But all his ac- tion is sudden and fragmentary. It is not continuous and coherent. His violent excitability exhausts him. After the night of encounter with the ghost, a fit of ab- ject despondency, we may be certain, ensued, which had begun to set in when the words were uttered —   ” The time is out of joint ; 0, cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right !”   After he has slain Polonius, he w^eeps ; after his strug- gle with Laertes in Ophelia’s grave a mood of depressioQ ensues :   ” Thus awhile the fit will work on him; Anon as patient as the female dove When that her golden couplets are disclosed, His silence will sit drooping.”   His feelings are not under control. They quickly fa- tigue themselves, like a dog who now hurries before his master, and now drops behind, but will not advance steadily.^   At the moment when Polonius has dismissed Key- naldo, Ophelia comes running to her father, ” Alas, my lord, I have been so affrighted !” Such is the piteously inadequate response of Ophelia to Hamlet’s mute confes- sion of his sorrow. His letters have been repelled ; her   * The illustration is Hebler’s.       Hamlet. 131   presence has been denied to him. Hamlet resolves that he will see her, and hear her speak. He goes, profoundly- agitated, in the disordered attire which is now nothing unusual with him, and which constitutes part of Hamlet’s “transformation.” He is not in the mood to consider very attentively particulars of the toilet. He discovers Ophelia sewing in her closet. He stands, unable to speak, holding her hand, gazing in her face, trying to discover if there be in her any virtue or strength, any- thing which can give a shadow of hope that the widening gulf between them is not quite impassable. He endeav- ors to make a new study of her soul through her eyes. And in her eyes he reads — fright. The most piteous part of the incident is that Ophelia is wholly blameless. She is shocked, bewildered, alarmed, anxious to run away and get under the protection of her father. No wonder Hamlet cannot utter a word ! No wonder that his gest- ure expresses absolute confirmation of his unhappy fears, utter despair of finding virtue in her ! A sigh rises from the depths of his spirit. He feels that all is over. He knows how strange and remote his voice would sound. And as Hamlet can feel nothing without generalizing, he recognizes in this failure of heart to answer heart a type of one great sorrow of the world.   Polonius receives from the docile Ophelia the letters of Hamlet. She does not shrink from betraying the secrets of his weakness and his melancholy confided to her. The oddest of the letters, that which seemed most incoherent, is carried off to be read aloud to the King — Ophelia con- senting. What is the purport of this letter? Was it meant as a kind of test ? Did Hamlet wish to ascertain whetlier Ophelia would be puzzled by the superficial odd- ity of it, or would penetrate to the grief and the love which lay beneath it ? ” He that hath ears to hear, let him hear ” — upon this principle Hamlet constantly acts. He       132 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   is content that the feeble-hearted and dull-witted should find him a puzzle and an offence.   The Prince comes by reading. Polonius accosts him, assuming that Hamlet is downright mad. Hamlet’s irony here consists in his adoption and exaggeration of the ideas of Polonius. ” You have immured your daughter ; you have repelled my letters, and denied me sight of her ; O wise old man ! for woman’s virtue is the frailest of things, and there is no male creature who is not a corrupter of virtue. If the most glorious and vivifying thing in the universe, the sun, will breed maggots out of carrion, truly Prince Hamlet may be suspected ! Beware of your daughter! Friend, look to’t.” And then, in more direct fashion, Hamlet breaks forth into a satire on old men with their weak hams and most plentiful lack of wit. Polonius retires bewildered, and two new persecu- tors appear.   In Goethe’s novel, ” Wilhelm Meister,” the hero, when adapting the play of Hamlet to the German stage, alters it in certain particulars. Serlo, the manager of the thea- tre, suggests that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern should be ” compressed into one.” ” Heaven keep me from all such curtailments !” exclaims Wilhelm ; ” they destroy at once the sense and the effect. What these two persons are and do, it is impossible to represent by one. In such small matters we discover Shakspere’s greatness. These soft approaches, this smirking and bowing, this assenting, wheedling, flattering, this whisking agility, this wagging of the tail, this allness and emptiness, this legal knavery, this ineptitude and insipidity, how can they be expressed by a single man ? There ought to be at least a dozen of these people if they could be had ; for it is only in soci- ety that they are anything; they are society itself, and Shakspere showed no little wisdom and discernment in bringing in a pair of them.” What Goethe admirably       Hamlet 133   expresses, Shakspere, ” der Schalk,” has perhaps hinted in the address of the King and Queen to the pair of court- iers:   ** King. Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern. Queen. Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.”   That is, “six to one, and half a dozen to the other.” With no tie of friendship or capacity for true human comradeship, the companions hunt in a couple ; and they go, with the same indistinguishable smirking and bowing, to their fate in England. There is grim irony in this end- ing of the courtiers’ history. ” They were lovely and pleasant in their lives,” after the taste of Claudius’s court, “and in their death they were not divided.”   In the first scene of the third act Ophelia is stationed as a decoy to expose to her father and the King the dis- ease of the man she loves. It will assist, she is assured, to bring about Hamlet’s restoration ; and Ophelia is doc- ile, and does not question her instructors. A book of devotions is placed in her hand.^ Hamlet comes by, brooding upon suicide, upon the manifold ills of the world, and his own weakness. He sees Ophelia, so love- ly, so childlike, so innocent, praying. She is for a mo- ment something better and more beautiful than woman, something ” afar from the sphere of his sorrow ;” and he involuntarily exclaims,   * Polonius (giving the book) says,   ” Read on this book ; That show of such an exercise may color Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this — ‘Tis too much proved — that with devotion’s visage, And pious action, we do sugar o’er The devil himself.”   Hamlet, seeing her at prayer, exclaims,   ” Nymph, in thy orisons^ Be all my sins remember’d,”       1 34 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ” Nymph, in thy orisons, Be all my sins remember’d.”   But OpTielia plays her part with a manner that betrays her. Observe the four rhymed lines, ending with the lit tie set sentence (which looks as if prepared beforehand),   ” For to the noble mind Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.”   And then, upon the spot, the Prince’s presents are pro- duced. How could Hamlet, endowed with swift penetra- tion as he is, fail to detect the fraud? He had unmasked Eosencrantz and Guildenstern, and thereby his suspicions had been quickened. And, as for a moment he had been touched and exalted by the presence of Ophelia’s inno- cence and piety, he is now proportionately indignant.   One of the deepest characteristics of Hamlet’s nature is a longing for sincerity, for truth in mind and manners; an aversion from all that is false, affected, or exaggerat- ed.*^ Ophelia is joined with the rest of them ; she is an impostor, a spy ; incapable of truth, of honor, of love. Have they desired to observe an outbreak of his insanity ? He will give it to them with a vengeance. With an al- most savage zeal, which is underneath nothing but bitter pain, he pounces upon Ophelia’s deceit. ” Ha, ha ! are you honest?” His cruelty is that of an idealist, who cannot precisely measure the effect of his words upon his hearer, but who requires to liberate his mind. And again Ham- let plays bitterly at approving of the principles and con- duct of Polonius in the matter of his relations with Ophelia : ” You have been secluded from that dangerous corrupter of youth, Prince Hamlet ; you love to devote yourself to prayer and solitude. Most wise and right ! I am all that your father has represented me, and worse   * False, as the bearing of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ; affected, as the xnftnner of Osric ; exaggerated, as Laertes’ theatrical rant in Ophelia’s grava       Hamlet 135   — very proud, revengeful, ambitious [all that Hamlet was no{\. And yet there is in the world such a thing as caL umny; it may happen to touch yourself some day. You who are so fair and frail, so pious in appearance, so false in deed, do you look on us men as dangerous to virtue ? /have heard a little of women’s doings too; keep your precious virtue, if you can, and let us male monsters be. Get thee to a nunnery !” And to complete the startling effect of this outbreak of insanity, solicited by his perse- cutors, he sends a shaft after the Chamberlain, and a shaft after the King :   ” Ham. Where’s your father ? Oph. [coming out with her docile little Zie]. At home, my lord. >   Ham, Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool no- where but in’s own house.”   This for Polonius ; and for the King, with menacing em- phasis the words are uttered, “I say we will have no more marriages : those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go !”   Hamlet bursts out of the lobby with a triumphant and yet bitter sense of having turned the tables upon his tor- mentors. He has thrown into sudden confusion the ranks of the enemy. Ophelia remains to weep. In the pauses of Hamlet’s cruel invective, she had uttered her piteous little appeals to heaven : ” Heavenly powers, re- store him !” ” O, help him, you sweet heavens !” When he abruptly departs, the poor girl’s sorrow overflows. In her lament, Hamlet’s noble reason, which is overthrown, somehow gets mixed up with the elegance of his cos- tume, which has suffered equal ruin. He who was the “glass of fashion,” noticed by every one, “^he observed of all observers,” is a hopeless lunatic. She has no bitter thought about her lover. She is ” of ladies most deject       1 36 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   and wretched ;” all her emotion is helpless tenderness and sorrow. Her grief is as deep as her soul is deep.   Hamlet now binds himself more closely than ever to Horatio. This friend and fellow-scholar is the one ster- ling thing in the rotten state of Denmark. There is a touching devotion shown by Hamlet to Horatio in the meeting which follows the scene in the lobby with Ophe- lia — a devotion which is the overflow of gratitude for the comfort and refuge he finds with his friend after the re- cent proof of the incapacity and want of integrity in the woman he had loved. Horatio’s equanimity, his evenness of temper, is like solid land to Hamlet after the tossings and tumult of his own heart. The Prince apologizes with beautiful delicacy for seeming to flatter Horatio. It is not flattery; what can he expect from a man so poor ? It is genuine delight in the sanity, the strength, the constancy, of Horatio’s character. Yet all the while Shakspere compels us to feel that it is Hamlet with his manifold weakness and ill-commingled blood and judg- ment who is the rarer nature of the two ; and that Hora- tio is made to be his helpmate, recognizing in service his highest duty.   There is no Friar Laurence in this play. To him the Catholic children of Verona carried their troubles, and received from their father comfort and counsel. Hamlet is hardly the man to seek for wisdom or for succor from a priest. Let them resolve his doubts about the soul, about immortality, about God first. But Shakspere has taken care to show us, in the effete society of Denmark, where everything needs renewing, what religion is. To Ophelia’s funeral the Church reluctantly sends her rep- resentative. All that the occasion suggests of harsh, for- mal, and essentially inhuman dogmatics is uttered by the priest. The distracted girl has by untimely accident met her death; and therefore, instead of charitable prayers,       Hamlet. 137   ” Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.’*   These are the sacred words of truth, of peace, of consola^ tion, which religion has to whisper to wounded hearts !   ” We should profane the service of the dead, To sing a requiem and such rest to her As to peace-parted souls.”   This is the religion which helps to make Claudius a pal- terer with his conscience, and Hamlet an aimless wander- er after truth. Better consort in Denmark with players than with priests !”^   When the play is about to be enacted, Hamlet declines a seat near his mother, because he wishes to occupy a position from which he can scrutinize the King’s counte- nance. He is now fully roused, every nerve high-strung. Just at present Ophelia is nothing to him. If he say anything to her, it will be for the sake of staying his own heart in its tremulous intensity, and getting through the eager moments of suspense. It will be something issu- ing from the bitter upper surface of his soul — a bitter jest most likely. Hamlet derives an acrid pleasure from perplexing and embarrassing Polonius and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Now it pleases him to embarrass Ophelia with half -ambiguous obscenities. These are the electrical sparks which scintillate and snap while the current is streaming to its receptacle. With Ophelia, who cherished the proprieties as though they constitut- ed the moral law, Hamlet finds himself tempted to be intolerably improper. Ophelia understands his words, and ventures to deliver a gentle reprimand. ” You are naught, you are naught ; I’ll mark the play.” But Ham- let continues his persecution. All this comes from the       * H. A. Werner, Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare- Gesellschaft^ vol. v^ p. 66.       1 38 Shakspere—His Mind and Art.   Buperficial part of Hamlet ; as one toys with some trifle while a doom is impending. His passion is concentrat- ed in watching the countenance of the King.*^   This is the night of Hamlet’s triumph. The King’s guilt is unkennelled ; Hamlet disposes of one after an- other of his tormentors; he has superabundant energy; he takes each in turn, and is equal to all. And yet Ham- let is forever walking over the ice ; his power of self-con- trol is never quite to be trusted. The success of his de- vice for ascertaining the guilt of Claudius is followed by the same mood of wild excitement which followed the encounter with his father’s spirit ; again he seems in- coherently, extravagantly gay ; again his words are ” wild and whirling words.” f And as on that occasion Ham- let had felt the need of calming himself, and, in his somewhat fantastic way, had expressed that need, ” For my own poor part, look you, I’ll go pray,” so now he calls for music, ” Come, some nmsic ; come the record- ers!” But he is haunted by the irrepressible Rosen- crantz and Guildenstern. With them Hamlet is now se- verely and imperiously courteous, now enigmatical, now ironical. At last, when he advances to interpret his par- able of the recorders, he becomes terribly direct and frank. The courtiers are silenced ; they have not the spirit even to mutter a lie. And having disposed of them, Hamlet takes in hand Polonius. He is assuming the offensive with his foes. He steps forward to assist the old Cham- berlain to expose his folly ; he lends him a hand to ren- der himself contemptible. Next Hamlet hastens to his       * On the speech of ” some dozen or sixteen lines ” which Hamlet inserts in the play, see the discussion by Professor Seeley, Mr. Malleson, and others, Trans. New Sh. Soc, 1874.   \ On the line ” A very, very — pajock,’* see the article on Shakftpere iq Edinburgh Review, Oct., 1872, pp. 361, 362.       Hamlet. i39   mother’s closet. “^ He lias words that must be spoken. He has a great essay to make towards the deliverance of a human soul from the bondage of corruption. The slaughter of Polonius appears to him a trivial incident, by the way ; it does not affect him until he has spent his powers in the effort to uplift his mother’s weak soul, and breathe into it strength and courage and constancy. Then, in the exhaustion which succeeds his effort, his tears flow fast.   In the dawn of the following morning, Hamlet is de- spatcljed to England. From this time forward he acts, if not with continuity and with a plan, at least with ener- gy. He has fallen in love with action ; but the action is sudden, convulsive, and interrupted. He is abandoning himself more than previously to his chances of achieving things, and thinks less of forming any consistent scheme. The death of Polonius was accidental, and Hamlet recog- nized, or tried to recognize, in it (since in his own will the deed had no origin) the pleasure of heaven :   ” I do repent : but heaven hath pleased it so, To punish me with this, and this with me, That I must be their scourge and minister.”   When about to depart for England, Hamlet accepts the necessity with as resolute a spirit as may be, believing, or trying to believe, that he and his concerns are in the hand of God.       * Of the speech in presence of the praying Claudius, Richardson had said what S. T. Coleridge in other words repeated, ” I venture to affirm that these are not Hamlet’s real sentiments.” Notice that the ghost appears precise- ly at the point where Hamlet’s words respecting Claudius are most vituper- ative. Hamlet is immediately sensible that he is weakening his heart with words, and has neglected deeds. The air, which has been so heated, seems to grow icy, and the temperature of Hamlet’s passion suddenly falls — to risn agaia by-and-by.       140 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ”Ham. For England!   King, Ay, Hamlet.   Ham, Good.   King, So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes. Ham. I see a cherub that sees themy   That is, My times are in God’s hand. Again, when he reflects that, acting upon a sudden impulse, in which there was nothing voluntary (for the deed was accomplished be- fore he had conceived what it was), he had sent his two schoolfellows to death, Hamlet’s thoughts go on to dis- cover the divine purpose in the event :   ** Let us know Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well. When our deep plots do pall ; and that should teach us There’s a divinity that shapes our ends. Rough-hew them how we will.   Horatio. That is most certain.”   Once more, when Horatio bids the Prince yield to the secret misgiving which troubled his heart before he went to the trial of skill with Laertes, Hamlet puts aside his friend’s advice with the words “We defy augury ; there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come ; if it be not to come, it will be now ; if it be not now, yet it will come ; the readiness is all.”   Does Shakspere accept the interpretation of events which Hamlet is led to adopt ? No ; the providence in which Shakspere believed is a moral order which in- cludes man’s highest exercise of foresight, energy, and resolution. The disposition of Hamlet to reduce to a minimum the share which man’s conscious will and fore- sight have in the disposing of events, and to enlarge the sphere of the action of powers outside the will, has a dramatic, not a theological, significance. Helena, who clearly sees what she resolves to do, and accomplishes neither less nor more than she has resolved, professes a different creed :       a       Hamlet. 141   •• Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to heaven ; the fated sky Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.” ♦   Horatio, a believer in the ” divinity that shapes our ends,” by his promised explanation of the events, deliv- ers us from the transcendental optimism of Hamlet, and restores the purely human way of viewing things:   *’ Give order that these bodies High on a stage be placed to the view ; And let me speak to the yet unknowing world How these things came about : so shall you hear Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters, Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause, And in this upshot purposes mistook, FalPn on the inventors’ heads : all this can I Truly deUver.”   The arrival of Fortinbras contributes also to the res- toration ot a practical and positive feeling. With none of the rare qualities of the Danish prince, he excels him in plain grasp of ordinary fact. Shakspere knows that the success of these men^ who are limited, definite, posi- tive, will do no dishonor to the failure of the rarer nat- ures, to whom the problem of living is more embarrass- ing, and for whom the tests of the world are stricter and more delicate. Shakspere ^’ beats triumphant marches ” not for successful persons alone, but also ” for conquered and slain persons.”   Does Hamlet finally attain deliverance from his dis- ease of will? Shakspere has left the answer to that question doubtful. Probably if anything could supply the link which was wanting between the purpose and the deed, it was the achievement of some supreme ac-   * All ‘s Well that Ends Well, act i., sc. 1,       142 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   tion. The last moments of Hamlet’s life are well spent, and, for energy and foresight, are the noblest moments of his existence. He snatches the poisoned bowl from Horatio, and saves his friend; he gives his djdng voice for Fortinbras, and saves his country. The rest is si- lence :   ” Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, death, Is strict in his arrest), 0, 1 could tell you.”   But he has not told. Let us not too readily assume that we “know the stops” of Hamlet, that we can “pluck out the heart of his mystery.”   One thing, however, we do know — that the man who wrote the play of Hamlet had obtained a thorough com- prehension of Hamlet’s malady. And, assured, as we a r.e by abundant evidence, that Shakspere transfo rmed with fene]^etic will his Knowledge into i ^o^>^ ^^^’^^ b’^ ^QTl^- ^dmit that when Hamlet was writt en Shakspere had gained a further staye in kis culture ot seH–<;^nntrnT^ and that heL Tiad become not only adult as an author^ but had entergiJL upon the full maturity of his manhood. ^   * To refer even to the best portion of the immense Hamlet literature would require considerable space. I believe my study of the play is indebted chiefly to the article by H. A. Werner, in Jahrhuch der deutschen Shake- speare -Gesellschaft^ vol. v., and to an essay by my friend J. Todhunter, M.D., read before the Dublin University Shakspere Society. The doctors of the insane have been studious of the state of Hamlet’s mind — Doctors Ray, Kel- logg, Conolly, Maudsley, Bucknill. They are unanimous in wishing to put Hamlet under judicious medical treatment ; but they find it harder than Polonius did to hit upon a definition of madness :   *’ For to define true madness, What is’t but to be nothing else but mad ?”   The critics are nearly equally divided in their estimates of Ophelia. Flathe is extravagantly hostile to the Polonius family. Mr. Ruskin (” Sesame and Lilies “) may be mentioned among English writers as forming no favorable estimate of Ophelia ; and against Mrs. Jameson’s authority we may set the authority of a lady writer in Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare- Gesell-       Hamlet 143   schaft^ vol. ii., pp. 16-36. Vischer chivalrously defends Ophelia, and He- bler coincides. The study of Hamlet by Benno Tschischwitz is learned and ingenious. H. von Friesen’s “Briefe iiber Shakespeare’s Hamlet” contains much more than its name implies, and is, indeed, a study of the entire de- velopment of Shakspere. Sir Edward Strachey’s ” Shakspeare’s Hamlet,” 1848, interprets the play throughout in a different sense from the interpre- tation attempted in this chapter. See especially what is called ” Hamlet’s Final Discovery,” pp. 91-93.   Werder’s “Vorlesungen iiber Shakespeare’s Hamlet,” 1875, presents with remarkable force the view that Hamlet’s was not a weak nature. Mr. Frank Marshall’s “A Study of Hamlet,” if less brilliant, is, I think, more sound. Last must be mentioned Mr. Furness’s magnificent varioruna edition of the play, in two volumes, 18 77.       144 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.       CHAPTEK lY.   THE ENGLISH HISTOEICAL PLAYS.   The historical plays of Shakspere may be approached from many sides. It would be interesting to endeavor to ascertain from them what was Shakspere’s political creed.”^ It would be interesting to compare his method as artist when handling historical matter with that of some other great dramatist — with that of Schiller when writing ” Wallenstein,” or Goethe when writing ” Eg- mont,” or Yictor Hugo when writing ” Cromwell.” Shakspere’s opinions, however, and Shakspere’s meth- od as artist, are less than Shakspere himself. It is the man we are still seeking to discover — behind his works, behind his opinions, behind his artistic process, tShak- spere’s life, we must believe, ran on below his art, and was to himself of deeper import than his work as artist. Not, perhaps, his material life, though to this also he con- trived to make his art contribute, but the life of his in- most being. To him art was not, as it has been to some poets and painters and musicians, a temple-worship ; a devotion of self, a surrender which is at once blissful and pathetic to some presence greater and nobler than   * See on this subject ” Shakspere-Forschungen,” by Benno Tschisch- witz, in. — “Shakspere’s Staat und Konigthum.” The writer dwells on the moral and religious character of the relation between king and people as conceived by Shakspere. He says well, ” Fiir Shakspere namlich ist das Konigthum durchaus nicht di@ gekrmite Spitze einer Pyy^amide^ sondern der lebendige Mittelpunkt eines organischen Ganzen, nach welchem zu das Ge- sammtleben des Organismus pulsirt,” p. 84. See the subsequent chapter in this volume upon “The Roman Plays,” pp. 276-336.       The English Historical Plays. 145   one’s self. Of such pathos we discover none in Shak- spere’s life. He possessed his art, and was not possessed by it. With him poetry was not, as it was with Keats, or as it was with Shelley, a passion from which deliver- ance was impossible. Shakspere delivered himself from his life as artist with quiet determination, and found it well to enjoy his store of worldly success, and learn to possess his soul among the fields and streams of Strat- ford, before there came an end of all. The main ques- tion, therefore, which it is desirable to put in the case of the historical plays now to be considered is this — What was Shakspere gaining for himself of wisdom or of strength w^hile these were the organs through which his faculties of thought and imagination nourished them- selves, inhaling and exhaling their breath of life ? That ^hakspere should have accomplished so great an achieve- ment toward s the interpreting of histor^ is much ; that he should have grasped in thought the national life of England during a century and upwards, in her periods of disaster and collapse, of civil embroilment, and of he- roic union and exaltation — this is much. But that, by his study of history, Shakspere should have built up his own moral nature, ancTEave fortified himself for the con- duct of life, was, we may surmise, to Shakspere the chief outcome of his toil.   And certainly not the least remarkable thing about these historical plays is that while each is an eflPort so earnest to realize objective fact, at the same time they disclose so much of the writer’s personality. Even Shak^ spere cannot transcend himself. Facts must group and organize thei*] selves before they become available for the service of art ; and for each artist they group them- selves around his strongest feelings and most cherished convictions respecting human life. If, by favorable chance, hands at work among confused slips of ancient 10       1 46 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   parchment were to lay hold of tlie inventory of Shat spere’s goods and chattels — if it were ascertained what household stuff the poet had gathered around him at Stratford — the information would be eagerl}^ welcomed as throwing light upon the obscure story of his worldly career. But here in these historical plays, and in all his plays, are documents written over everywhere with facts about Shakspere. The facts are there — must be there. What is required to ascertain them can be nothing but eyes to which those facts will disclose themselves.   If the outline of Shakspere’s character sketched in these pages be at all a genuine likeness, we shall not think of him merely or chiefly as the gay, genial, quick- witted haunter of the Mermaid, careering in light defi- ance around the bulk of Ben Jonson’s mind ; we shall not remember him as the Shakspere about whose deer- stealing expeditions in the country, and less innocent ad-» ventures in town, stories of dubious authority have come down to us. We shall rather think of him as a man pos- sessing immense potential strength, but aware of certain weaknesses of his own nature ; resolved, therefore, to be stern with himself and to master those weaknesses; re- solved to realize all that potential strength which lay within him. That his sensitiveness to pleasure and to pain was of extraordinary range and delicacy we are cer- tain ; we are certain, also, that he determined he would not leave himself to be the plaything, the thrall, or the victim of that sensitiveness. We are accustomed to speak of the tenderness, the infinite tolerance, of the genius of Shakspere. The impartial student must surely be no less impressed by the unyielding justice of Shakspere, his stern fidelity to fact, and by the large demands he makes upon human character. By much of our passionate in- tolerance founded upon prejudice and personal or class feeling, Shakspere remained wholly untouched. When       The English Historical Plays. 147   we come to Shakspere and miss our own little bitterness and violences, and find him so large and human, we nat- urally describe him as tolerant. Shakspere’s tolerance, however, is nothing else but justice ; and even his humor, the humor of a man framed for abundant joy and sor- row, has in it something of severity, because he employs it to recover himself from the narrowing intensity of his enthusiasms, and to restore him to the level of every-day fact. In the characters of the weak or the wicked whom he condemns, Shakspere denies no beautiful or tender trait ; but he condemns them without reprieve.   The characters in the historical plays are conceived chiefly with reference to action. The world represented in these plays is not so much the world of feeling or of thought as the limited world of the practicable. In the great tragedies we are concerned more with what man is than with what he does. At the close of each tragedy we are left with a ^ense of measureless failure, or with the stern joy of absolute and concluded attainment. There is something infinite in thought and emotion. We do not think so far, and then stop; beyond the known our thoughts must travel until they are confront- ed by the unknowable. We do not love, we do not suflEer, so much and no more; our love is without limitation, and our anguish and our joy cannot be weighed in the balances of earth. But our deeds are definite ; and each man, when tested by deeds, can be brought to a positive standard. The question in this case is not, What has been the life of your soul, what have you thought and suffered and enjoyed ? The question is, What have you done ? And accordingly, in the historical plays, we are conscious of a certain limitation, a certain measuring of men by positive achievements and results :   ” Action is transitory — a step, a blow, The motion of a muscle — this way or that —       1 48 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   *Tis done ; and in the after-vacancy We wonder at ourselves like men betray’d : Suffering is permanent, obscure, and dark, And has the nature of infinity.”   The histories, like the tragedies, are for the reader a school of discipline ; but the issues with which they deal are not the infinite issues of life and death ; the impression each leaves at the close is not an impression of measureless pathos, or of pain dissolved in perfect joy. They deal with the finite issues of failure or success in the achiev- ing of practical ends ; and the feeling which they leave with us is that of a wholesome, mundane pity and terror, or a sane and strong mundane satisfaction.   But, if the historical plays cannot compete with the tragedies in depth of spiritual significance, they compen- sate in some measure for this, as Gervinus has observed, by their breadth and comprehensiveness. The life of man, good or evil, is not seen in its infinite significance for the individual, but its consequences are shown in a definite series of events, as a sanative virtue in society, or as a spreading infection. The mystery of evil is not here an awful shadow, before which we stand appalled, striving to accept the darkness which is not understood for the light’s sake, which authenticates and justifies it- self. Evil in the historical plays is wrong-doing, which is followed by inevitable retribution. Sir Walter Ra- leigh, in the preface to the ” History of the World,” has traced in a remarkable passage, written possibly to vindi- cate his own orthodoxy, the justice of God in the lives of English kings. ” Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap ;” ‘^ The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation ” — these are the texts of Raleigh’s theology of history. Go- ing over the same period of history, Shakspere, with an unfaltering hand, exposes the consequences of weakness,       The English Historical Plays. 149   of error, and of crime. Our greatest living novelist has insisted with dreadful emphasis upon the irreparable, ir- reversible issue, still developing itself, of every base or evil deed. Shakspere denies fact as little as George Eliot. But he shows us also how the sources of good are incalculable; he shows us how the consequences of ill deeds may, at a later time, be caught up by a flood of blessing, and may really be borne away forever into ob- livion. It is, indeed, demonstrably true that the power which survives an evil act can be subdued or transformed only at the expense of so much of the virtuous force of the world. Still it is well to be assured that evil, even at the expense of good, can be subdued ; such an assur- ance buoys us above despair. In the stern justice of George Eliot there is a certain idealism which proceeds from a desire for scientific rigor, definiteness, and certi- tude. Shakspere, possessing himself of the concrete facts of the world with a larger grasp, shows us the mingled web of good and evil, as it actually is ; and to draw the threads asunder, and observe each one apart from the rest, is hardly less difiicult to accomplish in Shakspere’s world of imagination than in that of the veritable life of man. Setting aside Henry YIII,^ a play written probably for some special occasion, or upon some special occasion handed over to the dramatist Fletcher to complete ; set- ting aside also the somewhat slight sketch of Edward IV. which appears in King Henry VI.^ Part iii., and in the opening scenes of Hing Richard IIL^ six full-length portraits of kings of England have been left by Shak- spere. These six fall into two groups of three each — one group consisting of studies of kingly weakness, the other group of studies of kingly strength. In the one group stand King John, King Richard II., and King Henry VI. ; in the other King Henry IV., King Henry v., and King Richard III. John is the royal criminal,       1 50 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   weak in his criminality ; Henry VI. is the royal saint, weak in his saintliness. The feebleness of Richard II. cannot be characterized in a word ; he is a graceful, sen- timental monarch. Kichard III., in the other group, is a royal criminal, strong in his crime. Henry IV., the usurp- ing Bolingbroke, is strong by a fine craft in dealing with events, by resolution and policy, by equal caution and daring. The strength of Henry V. is that of plain heroic magnitude, thoroughly sound and substantial, founded upon the eternal verities. Here, then, we may recognize the one dominant subject of the histories — viz., how a man may fail, and how a man may succeed, in attaining a prac- tical mastery of the world. These plays are, as Schlegel has named them, a “mirror for kings;” and the charac- ters of these plays all lead up to Henry V., the man framed for the most noble and joyous mastery of things.   I.   In King John the hour of utmost ebb in the national life of England is investigated by the imagination of the poet. The king reigns neither by warrant of a just title, :ior, like Bolingbroke, by warrant of the right of the strongest. He knows that his house is founded upon the sand; he knows that he has no justice of God and no virtue of man on which to rely. Therefore he as- sumes an air of authority and regal grandeur. But within all is rottenness and shame. Unlike the bold usurper Richard, John endeavors to turn away his eyes from facts of which he is yet aware ; he dare not gaze into his own wretched and cowardly soul. When threat- ened by France with war, and now alone with his mother, John exclaims, making an effort to fortify his heart :   ” Our strong possession and our right for us.”   But Elinor, with a woman’s com^age and directness, for- bids the unavailing self-deceit :       i       The English Historical Plays’. 151   ” Your strong possession much more than your right, Or else it must go wrong with you and me.””   King Eichard, when he would naake away with the young princes, sumnaons Tyrrel to his presence, and inquires, with cynical indifference to human sentiment,   “Dar’st thou resolve to kill a friend of mine ?”   and when Tyrrel accepts the commission, Richard, in a moment of undisguised exultation, breaks forth with ” Thou sing’st sweet music !” John would inspire Hu- bert with his murderous purpose rather like some vague influence than like a personal will, obscurely as some pale mist works which creeps across the fields, and leaves blight behind it in the sunshine. He trembles lest he should have said too much ; he trembles lest he should not have said enough ; at last the nearer fear prevails, and the words ” death,” ” a grave,” form themselves upon his lips. Having touched a spring which will produce assassination, he furtively withdraws himself from the mechanism of crime. It suits the King-‘s interest after- wards that Arthur should be living, and John adds to his crime the baseness of a miserable attempt by chican- ery and timorous sophisms to transfer the responsibility of murder from himself to his instrument and accomplice. He would fain darken the eyes of his conscience and of his understanding.   The show of kingly strength and dignity in which John is clothed in the earlier scenes of the play must therefore be recognized (although Shakspere does not obtrude the fact) as no more than a poor pretence of true regal strength and honor. The fact, only hinted in these earlier scenes, becomes afterwards all the more impressive, when the time comes to show this dastard king, who had been so great in the barter of territory, in the sale of cities, in the sacrifice of love and marriage-truth to poli- cy, now changing from pale to red in the presence of       152 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   his own nobles, now vainly trying to tread back the path of crime, now incapable of enduring the physical suffering of the hour of death. Sensible that he is a king with no inward strength of justice or of virtue, John endeavors to buttress up his power with external supports ; against the advice of his nobles he celebrates a second coronation, only forthwith to remove the crown from his head and place it in the hands of an Italian priest. Pandulph, ” of fair Millaine cardinal,” who possesses the astuteness and skill to direct the various conflicting forces of the time to his own advantage — Pandulph is the de facto master of England, and, as he pleases, makes peace or announces war.   The country, as in periods of doubt and danger, was ‘^ possessed with rumors, full of idle dreams.” Peter of Pomfret had announced that before Ascension-day at noon the King should deliver up his crown. John sub- mits to the degradation demanded of him, and has the incredible baseness to be pleased that he has done so of his own free-will :   ” Is this Ascension-day ? did not the prophet Say that before Ascension-day at noon My crown I should give off ? Even so I have. I did suppose it should be on constraint ; But, Heaven be thank’d ! it is but voluntary.”   After this, we are not surprised that when the Bastard endeavors to rouse him to manliness and resolution —   ” Away and glister like the god of war When he intendeth to become the field ” —   John is not ashamed to announce the “happy peace” which he has made with the papal legate, on whom he relies for protection against the invaders of England. Faulconbridge still urges the duty of an effort at self-de- fence for the sake of honor and of safety; and the King^ incapable of accepting his own responsibilities and priv       The English Historical Plays. 153   ileges, hands over the care of England to his illegitimate nephew : ” Have thou the ordering of this present time.” There is little in the play of King John which strength- ens or gladdens the heart. In the tug of selfish power hither and thither, amidst the struggle of kingly greeds and priestly pride, amidst the sales of cities, the loveless marriage of princes, the rumors and confusion of the people, a pathetic beauty illumines the boyish figure of Arthur, so gracious, so passive, untouched by the adult rapacities and crimes of the others :   ” Good, my mother, peace ! I would that I were low laid in my grave ; I am not worth this coil that’s made for me.”   The voice of maternal passion, a woman’s voice, impo- tent and shrill, among the unheeding male forces, goes up also from the play. There is the pity of stern armed men for the ruin of a child’s life. These, and the bois- terous but genuine and hearty patriotism of Faulcon- bridge, are the only presences of human virtue or beauty which are to be perceived in the degenerate world de- picted by Shakspere. And the end, like what preceded it, is miserable. The King lies poisoned, overmastered by mere physical agony — agony which leaves little room for any pangs of conscience, were the palsied moral nature of the criminal capable of such nobler suffering :   ” I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen Upon a parchment, and against this fire Do I shrink up.”   n.   Whether any portions of the first part of Henry VI. be from the hand of Shakspere, and, if there be, what those portions are, need not be here investigated. The play belongs, in the main, to the pre-Shaksperian school. Shakspere finds his own genius for the dramatic render-       1 54 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ing of history for the first time distinctly in the second and third parts of Henry VI. The writer of the first part does not stand above the characters which he cre- ates ; he is violently prejudiced against some, and he feels a lyrical delight in singing the praises of others. But in the treatment of the characters of the King, of Gloster, of York, of Richard, in the later parts of the trilogy the Shaksperian impartiality and irony are clearly discern- ible. Shakspere does not hate King Henry ; he is as fa- vorably disposed to him as is possible ; but he says, with the same clear and definite expression in which the his- torical fact uttered itself,, that this saint of a feeble type upon the throne of England was a curse to the land and to the time only less than a royal criminal as weak as Henry would have been.   The heroic days of the fifth Henry, when the play opens, belong to the past ; but their memory survives in the hearts and in the vigorous muscles of the great lords and earls who surround the King. He only, who most should have treasured and augmented his inheritance of glory and of power, is insensible to the large responsibil- ities and privileges of his place. He is cold in great af- fairs ; his supreme concern is to remain blameless. Free from all greeds and ambitions, he yet is possessed by egoism, the egoism of timid saintliness. His virtue is negative, because there is no vigorous basis of manhood within him out of which heroic saintliness might develop itself. For fear of what is wrong, he shrinks from what is right. This is not the virtue ascribed to the nearest followers of ” the Faithful and True ” who in his right- eousness doth judge and make war. Henry is passive in the presence of evil, and weeps. He would keep his gar- ments clean ; but the garments of God’s soldier-saints, who do not fear the soils of struggle, gleam with a high- er, intenser purity. ” His eyes were as a fiame of fire,       The English Historical Plays. 155   and on his head were many crowns ; . . . and the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” These soldiers in heaven have their representatives in earth, and Henry was not one of these. Zeal must come before charity, and then when charity comes it will appear as a self-de- nial.”^ But Henry knows nothing of zeal; and he is amiable, not charitable.   There is something of irony in the scene with which the second part of Henry VI. opens. Suffolk, the Lance- lot of this tragedy, has brought from France the Princess Margaret, and the joy of the blameless King, upon receiv- ing, at the cost of two hard-won provinces, this terrible wife, who will ” dandle him like a baby,” has in it some- thing pitiable, something pathetic, and something ludi- crous. The relations of the King to Margaret through- out the play are delicately and profoundly conceived. He clings to her as to something stronger than himself ; he dreads her as a boy might dread some formidable master :   ” Exeter. Here comes the Queen, whose looks betray her anger : I’ll steal away.   Henry, And so will I.”   Yet through his own freedom from passion he derives a sense of superiority to his wife ; and after she has dashed him all over with the spray of her violent anger and her scorn, Henry may be seen mildly wiping away the drops, insufferably placable, offering excuses for the vitupera- tion and the insults which he has received :   ” Poor Queen, how love to me and to her son Hath made her break out into terms of rage !”   Among his ” wolfish earls ” Henry is in constant ter- * J. H. Newman, ” Verses on Various Oacasions,” p. 60.       156 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ror, not of being himself torn to pieces, but of their fly- ing at one another’s throats. Violent scenes, disturbing the cloistral peace which it would please him to see reign throughout the universe, are hateful and terrible to Hen- ry. He rides out hawking with his Queen and Suffolk, the Cardinal and Gloster ; some of the riders hardly able for an hour to conceal their emulation and their hate. Henry takes a languid interest in the sport, but all occa- sions supply food for his contemplative piety ; he suffers from a certain incontinence of devout feeling, and now the falcons set him moralizing :   *’ But what a point, my lord, your falcon made, And what a pitch she flew above the rest ! To see how God in all his creatures works !”   A moment after and the peers, with Margaret among them, are bandying furious words. Henry’s anguish is extreme, but he hopes that something may be done by a few moral reflections suitable to the occasion :       ” I pr’ythee, peace, Good Queen, and whet not on these furious peers, For blessed are the peacemakers on earth.   Cardinal, Let me be blessed for the peace I make Against this proud Protector with my sword.”             i       \       The angry colloquy is presently silenced by the cry, ” A miracle ! a miracle !” and the impostor Simcox and his wife appear. Henry, with his fatuous proclivity tow- ards the edifying, rejoices in this manifestation of God’s 1 grace in the restoration to sight of a man born blind :   ” Great is his comfort in this earthly vale. Although by his sight his sin be multiplied.*^   (That is to say, ” If we had the good-fortune to be de- prived of all our senses and appetites, we should have a fair chance of being quite spotless ; yet let us thank God for his mysterious goodness to this man!”) And once, more, when the Protector, by a slight exercise of shrewd’       The English Historical Plays. 157   ness and common-sense, has unmasked the rogue and has had him whipped, extreme is the anguish of the King :   ” K. Henry. God ! seest thou this, and bearest so long ? Queen, It made me laugh to see the villain run.”   But the feeble saint, who is cast down upon the occur- rence of a piece of vulgar knavery, can himself abandon to butchers the noblest life in England. His conscience assures him that Gloster is innocent ; he hopes the Duke will be able to clear himself; but Gloster’s judges are Suffolk, ” with his cloudy brow,” sharp Buckingham,   ” And dogged York, that reaches at the moon.”   Henry is not equal to confronting such terrible faces as these ; and so, trusting to God, who will do all things well, he slinks out of the Parliament shedding tears, and leaves Gloster to his fate .   ” My lords, what to your wisdom seemeth best, Do, or undo, as if ourself were here.”   When Henry hears that his uncle is dead, he swoons ; he suspects that the noble old man has been foully dealt with ; but judgment belongs to God ; possibly his sus- picion may be a false one ; how terrible if he should sully his purity of heart with a false suspicion ! may God forgive him if he do so ! And tlius humoring his tim- orous, irritable conscience, Henry is incapable of action, and allows things to take their course.   This morbid scrupulosity of conscience which charac- terizes Henry while he neglects the high duties of his position sets him speculating uneasily about the validity of his title to the throne — a title which has descended through the great victor of Agincourt from Henry’s grandfather. He turns from York to Warwick, from Warwick to ITorthumberland, uncertain what he ought to think. Clifford boldly cuts the knot; and Henry’s courage revives :       1 58 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   *’ King Henry, be thy title right or wrong, Lord Clifford vows to fight in thy defence.”   But the King, in the presence of armed force, cannot maintain his resolution, and ends by a compromise, which, upon condition of the forfeiture of his son’s rights, will secure peace in his days. We sympathize with the indignant Margaret. Yet in Henry’s conduct there has been no active selfishness ; he has only accept- ed peace at the price required.   Between York, on the one hand, and York’s instru- ment. Jack Cade, on the other, the unhappy King is hard set. Not that it is of himself he chiefly thinks ; he suf- fers on account of the rebels as much as on his own ac- count. He will parley with Cade ; still better, he will send ” some holy bishop ” to entreat with the rebels. York, meanwhile, is approaching, and demands that the King’s adviser, Somerset, be removed. Henry, with plac- id acquiescence, sees Somei^set prepared to sacrifice him- self, and despatches Buckingham to confer in gentle lan- guage with his antagonist. At least, the virtue to refrain from disguising, as John disguised, under high-sounding words, the abjectness of his state, belongs to Henry :   ” I pray thee, Buckingham, go and meet him, And ask him what’s the reason of these arms. Tell him I’ll send Duke Edmund to the Tower; And, Somerset, we will commit thee hither Until his army be dismissed from hina.   Som, My lord, I’ll yield myself to prison willingly, Or unto death, to do my country good.   K. Hen. In any case be not too rough in terms, For he is fierce, and cannot brook hard language.   Buck, I will, my lord ; and doubt not so to deal As all things shall redound unto your good.   K. Hen. Come, wife, let’s in and learn to govern better, For yet may England curse my wretched reign.”   ki length the wretched reign approaches its end       The English Historical Plays. 159   Henry has longed to be a subject, and he is such for some short time before his death. From the battle in which Richard, bloodhound -wise, is pursuing Clifford, Henry withdraws, and, seating himself upon a mole-hill, meditates on the happy life of shepherd – swains, and prays that to whom God wills the victory may fall. He mildly begs the fugitives to take him along with them :   ” Nay, take me with thee, good sweet Exeter ; Not that I fear to stay, but love to go Whither the queen intends.”   When the keepers make him their prisoner, Henry is sincerely concerned about the purity of conscience of his captors. He inquires, with unfeigned and disinterested anxiety, whether they have taken an oath of allegiance to him. At all events, he will not now command them to release him, and so they cannot offend. His own fate does not concern him ; he wears his crown Content ; and he is sure that the new king will execute neither more nor less than God wills.   In prison Henry, at last, is really happy ; now he is responsible for nothing ; he enjoys, for the first time, tranquil solitude ; he is a bird who sings in his cage. His latter days he will spend, to the rebuke of sin and the praise of his Creator, in devotion. Henry’s e.. .a im- ity is not of the highest kind ; he is incapable of com- motion. His peace is not that which underlies whole- some agitation, a peace which passes understanding. “Quietness is a grace — not in itself, only when it is grafted on the stem of faith, zeal, self-abasement, and diligence.” “^ If Henry had known the nobleness of true kingship, his content in prison might be admirable ; as it is, the beauty of that content does not strike us as of a rich or vivid kind. But the end is come, and that is a       * John H. Newman, ” Parochial and Plain Sermons,” vol. v., p. 7i,       1 60 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   gain. Henry has yielded to the House of York, and the evil time is growing shorter. The words of the great Duke of York are confirmed by our sense of fact and right :   ” King did I call thee ? nay, thou art not king.   • • • • • r   Give place ; by heaven, thou shalt rule no more O’er him whom heaven created for thy ruler !” *   HI.   Certain qualities which make it unique among the dramas of Shakspere characterize the play of King Rich- ard III, Its manner of conceiving and presenting char- acter has a certain resemblance, not elsewhere to be found in Shakspere’s writings, to the ideal manner of Marlowe. As in the plays of Marlowe, there is here one dominant figure distinguished by a few strongly marked and inor- dinately developed qualities. There is in the character- ization no mystery, but much of a demonic intensity. Certain passages are entirely in the lyrical-dramatic style — an emotion which is one and the same, occupying, at the same moment, two or three of the personages, and obtaining utterance through them almost simultaneously, or in immediate succession ; as a musical motive is in- terpreted by an orchestra, or taken up singly by suc- cessive instruments :   * Without entering into the controversy as to the authorship of the Fird Part of the Contention and The True Tragedie (the old plays corresponding to the second and third parts of King Henry VL)^ it may be instructive to mention how authorities are divided. In favor of Shakspere’s authorship of these plays — Johnson, Steevens, Knight, Schlegel, Tieck, Ulrici, Delius, Oechelhauser, H. von Friesen. In favor of Greene’s or Marlowe’s authorship — Malone, Collier, Dyce, Courtenay, Gervinus, Kreyssig, and the French critics. Clark and Wright, Halliwell, Lloyd, and others believe that a portion of Shak- spere’s work may be found in these old plays. See the note from which I partly obtain this list of authorities in Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakespeare- Oeselkchaft^ vol. iii., p. 42. See also, in vol. i., the article by Ulrici, ” Christo- pher Marlowe und Shakespeare’s Verhaltniss zu ihm.” See the previous notes, p. 49 and p. 86, for the opinions of Mr. Grant White and Miss J. Lee.       The English Historical ‘Plays. 1 6 1   ” Q. Eliz. Was never widow had so dear a loss ! Children. Were never orphans had so dear a loss ! Duchess. Was never mother had so dear a loss ! Alas ! I am the mother of these griefs.”   Mere verisimilitude in the play of King Richard IIL becomes, at times, subordinate to effects of symphonic orchestration or of statuesque composition. There is a Blake-like terror and beauty in the scene in which the three women — queens and a duchess — seat themselves upon the ground in their desolation and despair and cry aloud in utter anguish of spirit. First by the mother of two kings, then by Edward’s widow, last by the terrible Medusa -like Queen Margaret, the same attitude is as- sumed and the same grief is poured forth. Misery has made them indifferent to all ceremony of queenship, and, for a time, to their private differences ; they are seated, a rigid yet tumultuously passionate group, in the majesty of mere womanhood and supreme calamity. Eeaders ac- quainted with Blake’s illustrations to the Book of Job will remember what effects, sublime and appalling, the artist produces by animating a group of figures with one common passion, which spontaneously produces in each individual the same extravagant movement of head and limbs.   The demonic intensity which distinguishes the play proceeds from the character of Richard as from its source and centre. As with the chief personages of Marlowe’s plays, so Richard in this play rather occupies the imag- ination by audacity and force than insinuates himself through some subtle solvent, some magic and mystery of art. His character does not grow upon us ; from the first it is complete. We are not curious to discover what Richard is, as we are curious to come into presence of the soul of Hamlet. We are in no doubt about Richard ; but it yields us a strong sensation to observe him in va* 11       1 6 2 Shakspere — His Mind and A rt.   rious circumstances and situations ; we are roused and animated by the presence of almost superhuman energy and power, even though that power and that energy be malign.   Coleridge has said of Eichard that pride of intellect is his characteristic. This is true ; but his dominant char- acteristic is not intellectual, it is rather a demonic en- ergy of will. The same cause which produces tempest and shipwreck produces Richard ; he is a fierce elemen- tal power raging through the world ; but this elemental power is concentrated in a human will. The need of action is with Richard an appetite to which all the other appetites are subordinate. He requires space in the world to bustle in ; his will must wreak itself on men and things. All that is done in the play proceeds from Richard ; there is, as has been observed by Mr. Hudson, no interaction. ” The drama is not so much a composi- tion of co-operative characters, mutually developing and developed, as the prolonged yet hurried outcome of a single character, to which the other persons serve but as exponents and conductors; as if he were a volume of electricity disclosing himself by means of others, and quenching their active powers in the very process of doing so.”^   Richard, with his distorted and withered body, his arm shrunk like ” a blasted sapling,” is yet a sublime figure by virtue of his energy of will and tremendous power of intellect. All obstacles give way before him — the cour- age of men and the bitter animosity of women. And Richard has a passionate scorn of men, because they are weaker and more obtuse than he, the deformed outcast of nature. He practises hypocrisy not merely for the sake of success, but because his hypocrisy is a cynical   * H. N. Hudson, ” Shakespeare, his Life, Art, and Characters,” vol. ii., p. 16d       The English Historical Plays. 163   jest or a gross insult to humanity. The Mayor of Lon« don has a bourgeois veneration for piety and established forms of religion. Richard advances to meet him read- ing a book of prayers, and supported on each side by a bishop. The grim joke, the contemptuous insult to the citizen faith in Church and King, flatters his malignant sense of power. To cheat a gull, a coarse hypocrisy suf- fices.’^   Towards his tool Buckingham, when occasion suits, Richard can be frankly contemptuous. Buckingham is unable to keep pace with Richard in his headlong ca- reer ; he falls behind and is scant of breath :   ” The deep-revolving, witty Buckingham No more shall be the neighbor to my counsel ; Hath he so long held out with me untired, And stops he now for breath V   The Duke, ” his other self, his counsel’s consistory, his oracle, his prophet,” comes before the King claiming the fulfilment of a promise that he should receive the Earl- dom of Hereford. Richard becomes suddenly deaf, and, contemptuously disregarding the interpellations of Buck- ingham, continues his talk on indifferent matters. At length he turns to ” his other self :”   ” Buck. My lord !   K, Rich. Ay, what’s o’clock ?   Buck. I am thus bold to put your grace in mind Of what you promised me.   K Rich. Well, but what’s o’clock ?   Buck. Upon the stroke of ten.   K. Rich. Well, let it strike.   Buck. Why let it strike ?   K. Rich. Because that like a Jack thou keep’st the stroke Betwixt thy begging and my meditation. I am not in the giving vein to-day.”   * The plan originates with Buckingham, but Richard plays his part with manifest delight. Shakspere had no historical authority for the presence of the Bishops. See Skottowe’s ” Life of Shakspeare,” vol. i., pp. 196, 196.       1 64 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Richard’s cynicism and insolence have in them a kind of grim mirth — such a honhomie as might be met with among the humorists of Pandemonium. His brutality is a manner of joking with a purpose. When his mother, with Queen Elizabeth, comes by ” copious in exclaims,” ready to ” smother her damned son in the breath of bit- ter words,” the mirthful Richard calls for a flourish of trumpets to drown these shrill female voices :   ” A flourish, trumpets ! strike alarum, drums ! Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women Rail on the Lord’s anointed. Strike, I say !’*   On an occasion when hypocrisy is more serviceable than brutality, Richard kneels to implore his mother’s blessing, but has a characteristic word of contemptuous impiety to utter aside :   ” Duchess. God bless thee and put meekness in thy breast, Love, charity, obedience, and true duty.   Richard. Amen ! and make me die a good old man ! That is the butt-end of a mother’s blessing ; I marvel that her grace did leave it out.”   He plays his part before his future wife, the Lady Anne, laying open his breast to the sword’s point with a malicious confidence. He knows the measure of wom- an’s frailty, and relies on the spiritual force of his audac- ity and dissimulation to subdue the weak hand which tries to lift the sword. With no friends to back his suit, with nothing but ” the plain devil, and dissembling looks,” he wins his bride. The hideous irony of such a courtship, the mockery it implies of human love, is enough to make a man ” your only jigmaker,” and sends Richard’s blood dancing along his veins.   While Richard is plotting for the crown. Lord Hastings threatens to prove an obstacle in the way. What is to hf” done ? Buckingham is dubious and tentative :   ” Now, my lord, what shall we do, if we perceive Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots ?”       The English Historical Plays. 165   With sharp detonation, quickly begun and quickly over, Richard’s answer is discharged, ‘^ Chop off his head, man !” There can be no beginning, middle, or end to a deed so simple and so summary. Presently, Hastings, making sundry small assignations for future days and weeks, goes, a murdered man, to the conference at the Tower. Richard, whose startling figure emerges from the back- ground throughout the play with small regard for veri- similitude, and always at the most effective moment, is suddenly on the spot, just as Hastings is about to give his voice in the conference as though he were the repre- sentative of the absent Duke. Richard is prepared, when the opportune instant has arrived, to spring a mine under Hastings’s feet. But meanwhile a matter of equal im- portance concerns him — my Lord of Ely’s strawberries; the flavor of Holborn strawberries is exquisite, and the fruit must be sent for. Richard’s desire to appear dis- engaged from sinister thought is less important to note than Richard’s need of indulging a cynical contempt of human life. The explosion takes place ; Hastings is seized ; and the delicacies are reserved until the head of Richard’s enemy is off. There is a wantonness of diablerie in this incident :   ” Talk’st thou to me of if 8 ? Thou art a traitor— Off with his head ! Now, by Saint Paul, I swear I will not dine until I see the same !”*   The fiery energy of Richard is at its simplest, unmin- gled with irony or dissimulation in great days of military movement and of battle. Then the force within him expends itself in a paroxysm which has all the intensity of ungovernable spasmodic action, and which is yet or- ganized and controlled by his intellect. Then he is en-   * This scene, including the incident of the dish of strawberries, is from Sir T. More’s history. See Courtenay’s ” Commentaries on Shakspeare,” vol ii., pp. 84-8’7.       1 66 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   gaged at his truest devotions, and numbers his Ave-Ma- rias not with beads, but with ringing strokes upon the helmets of his foes.^ He is inspired with **the spleen of fiery dragons ;” ” a thousand hearts are great within his bosom.” On the eve of the battle of Bosworth Field, Richard, with uncontrollable eagerness, urges his inquiry into the minutiae of preparation which may insure suc- cess. He lacks his usual alacrity of spirit, yet a dozen subalterns would hardly suflS.ce to receive the orders which he rapidly enunciates. He is upon the wing of ” fiery expedition :”   ” I will not sup to-night. Give me some ink and paper. What, is my beaver easier than it was ? And all my armor laid within my tent ?   Catesby. It is, my liege, and all things are in readiness.   K, Rich. Good Norfolk, hie thee to thy charge ; Use careful watch, choose trusty sentinels.   Norfolk. I go, my lord.   K. Rich. Stir with the lark to-morrow, gentle Norfolk.   Norfolk. I warrant you, my lord.   K. Rich. Catesby !   Catesby. My lord ?   K. Rich. Send out a pursuivant at arms To Stanley’s regiment ; bid him bring his power Before sunrising, lest his son George fall Into the bUnd cave of eternal night.   Fill me a bowl of wine. Give me a watch. [Exit Catesby, Saddle White Surrey for the field to-morrow. Look that my staves be sound, and not too heavy. Ratcliff I”   And, learning from RatcliflE that Northumberland and Surrey are alert, giving his last direction that his attend- ant should return at midnight to help him to arm, King Richard retires into his tent.   In all his military movements, as in the whole of Rich- ard’s career, there is something else than self-seeking. It is true that Richard, like Edmund, like lago, is solitary;   * 3 Henr)i VI.^ act ii., so. 1,       The English Historical Plays. 1 6 7   he has no friend, no brother ; ” I am myself alone ;” and all that Eichard achieves tends to his own supremacy. Nevertheless, the central characteristic of Richard is not self-seeking or ambition. It is the necessity of releasing and letting loose upon the world the force within him (mere force in which there is nothing moral), the neces- sity of deploying before himself and others the terrible resources of his will. One human tie Shakspere attrib- utes to Eichard : contemptuous to his mother, indiffer- ent to the life or death of Clarence and Edward except as their life or death may serve his own attempt upon the crown, cynically loveless towards his feeble and un- happy wife, Eichard admires with an enthusiastic admi- ration his great father :   ” Methinks ’tis prize enough to be his son.” And the memory of his father supplies him with a family pride, which, however, does not imply attachment or loyalty to any member of his house.   ” But I was born so high ; Our aery buildeth in the cedar’s top, And dalUes with the wind and scorns the sun.”   History supplied Shakspere with the figure of his Eichard. He has been accused of darkening the colors and exaggerating the deformity of the character of the historical Eichard found in More and Holinshed. The fact is precisely the contrary. The mythic Eichard of the historians (and there must have been some appalling fact to originate such a myth) is made somewhat less grim and bloody by the dramatist.^ Essentially, how-   * See the detailed study of this play by W. Oechelhauser, in Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakespeare- Gesellschaft, vol. iii., pp. 37-39, and pp. 47, 53. Hol- inshed’ s treatment of the character of Richard is hardly in harmony with itself. From the death of Edward IV. onwards the Richard of Holinshed resembles Shakspere’s Richard, but possesses fainter traces of humanity. •* Wenn hiernach also thatsachlich zwei Holinshed’ sche Versionen des Cha-       1 68 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ever, Shakspere’s Richard is of the diabolical (something more dreadful than the criminal) class. He is not weak, because he is single-hearted in his devotion to evil. Richard does not serve tv^o masters. He is not, like John, a dastardly criminal ; he is not, like Macbeth, joy- less and faithless because he has deserted loyalty and honor. He has a fierce joy, and he is an intense believer — in the creed of hell. And therefore he is strong. He inverts the moral order of things, and tries to live in this inverted system. He does not succeed ; he dashes him- self to pieces against the laws of the world which he has outraged. Yet, while John is wholly despicable, we can- not refrain from yielding a certain tz^ibute of admiration to the bolder malefactor, who ventures on the daring ex- periment of choosing evil for his good.   Such an experiment, Shakspere declares emphatically, as experience and history declare, must in the end fail. The ghosts of the usurper’s victims rise between the camps, and are to Richard the Erinnyes, to Richmond inspirers of hope and victorious courage. At length Richard trembles on the brink of annihilation^ trembles over the loveless gulf :   ” I shall despair ; there is no creature loves me ; And if I die, no soul shall pity me.”   But the stir of battle restores him to resolute thoughts — ^’ Come, bustle, bustle ; caparison my horse ” — and he dies in a fierce paroxysm of action. Richmond conquers, and he conquers expressly as the champion and representative of the moral order of the world, which Richard had en- deavored to set aside :   rakters und der Handlungen Richard’s vorliegen, so hat Shakespeare aller- dings die auf More basirte, also die schwarzere, gewahlt; iiber diese ist er aber nicht, wie so vielfach behauptet wird, hinausgegangen, sondern er hat sie sogar gemildert, hat die Faden, welche das Ungeheuer noch mit der Menschheit verkniipfen, verstarkt, statt sie ganz zu losen.”       The English Historical Plays. 169   ” Thou, whose captain I account myself, Look on my forces with a gracious eye ; Put in their hands thy bruising irons of wrath, That they may crush down with a heavy fall The usurping helmets of our adversaries ! Make us thy ministers of chastisement. That we may praise thee in thy victory.”   The female figures of this play — Queen Elizabeth, Queen Margaret, the Duchess of York, the Lady Anne — and with these the women of Shakspere’s other historical plays, would form an interesting subject for a separate study. The women of the histories do not attain the best happiness of women. In the rough struggle of in- terests, of parties, of nations, they are defrauded of their joy, and of its objects. Like Constance, like Elizabeth, like Margaret, like the Queen of the second Richard, like Katharine of Aragon, they mourn — some the loss of children, some of husbands, some of brothers, and all of love. Or else, like Harry Percy’s wife (who also lives to lament her husband’s death, and to tremble for her fa- ther’s fate),”^ they are the wives of men of action to whom they are dear, but ” in sort or limitation,” dwelling but in the suburbs of their husbands’ good pleasure,   ” To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed, And talk with you sometimes. ‘^   The wooing of the French Katharine by King Henry V. is business-like, and soundly affectionate, but by no means of the kind which is most satisfying to the heart of a sensitive or ardent woman. That Shakspere him- self loved in another fashion than that of Hotspur or Henry might be inferred, if no other sufficient evidence were forthcoming, from the admirable mockery of the love given by men of letters and men of imagination —   poets in chief — which he puts into Henry’s mouth:   — I —   • See the pathetic scene, 2 Hmry IV,, act ii., sc. 3.       1 70 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ” And while thou livest, dear Kate, take a fellow of plain and uncoined constancy; for he perforce must do thee right, because he hath not the gift to woo in other places ; for these fellows of infinite tongue, that can rhyme themselves into ladies’ favors, they do always rea- son themselves out again.” Was this a skit by Shak- spere against himself, or against an interpretation of him- self for which he perceived there was a good deal to be said, from a point of view other than his own ? While the poet was buying up land near Stratford, he could de- scribe his courtier Osric as ” very spacious in the posses- sion of dirt.” Is this a piece of irony similar in kind?   The figure of Queen Margaret is painfully persistent upon the mind’s eye, and tyrannizes, almost as much as the figure of King Richard himself, over the imagina- tion. “Although banished upon pain of death, she re- turns to England to assist at the intestine conflicts of the House of York. Shakspere personifies in her the an- cient Nemesis; he gives her more than human propor- tions, and represents her as a sort of supernatural appa- rition. She penetrates freely into the palace of Edward IV., she there breathes forth her hatred in presence of the family of York and its courtier attendants. No one dreams of arresting her, although she is an exiled woman, and she goes forth, meeting no obstacle, as she had en- tered. The same magic ring, which on the first occasion opened the doors of the royal mansion, opens them for her once again, when Edward IV. is dead, and his sons have been assassinated in the Tower by the order of Richard. She came, the first time, to curse her enemies ; she comes now to gather the fruits of her malediction. Like an avenging Fury or the classical Fate, she has an- nounced to each his doom.” “^   * A. Mezi^res, ” Shakspeare, ses (Euvres et ses Critiques,” p. 139.       The English Historical Plays. 171   The play must not be dismissed without one word spoken of King Edward IV. He did not interest the imagination of Shakspere. Edward is the self-indulgent, luxurious king. The one thing which Shakspere cared to say about him was that his pleasant delusion of peace- making shortly before his death was a poor and insuflB- cient compensation for a life spent in ease and luxury rather than in laying the hard and strong bases of a sub- stantial peace. A few soft words and placing of hands in hands will not repair the ravage of fierce years, and the decay of sound human bonds during soft, effeminate years. Just as the peace-making is perfect, Richard is present on the scene :   ” There wanteth now our brother Gloster here To make the blessed period of our peace.”   And Gloster stands before the dying king to announce that Clarence lies murdered in the Tower. This is Shakspere’s comment upon, and condemnation of, the self-indulgent King.”^   IV.   The play of King Richard II. possesses none of the titanic stormy force w^hich breathes through King Rich- ard IIL^ but in delicate cunning in the rendering of character it excels the more popular play. The two principal figures in King Richard 11^ that of the king who fell, and that of the king who rose — the usurping Bolingbroke — grow before us insensibly through a series of fine and characteristic strokes. They do not, like the       * Otto Ludwig notices the ideal treatment of time in King Richard IIL But does it differ from the treatment of time in other historical plays ol Shakspere? “Wie in keinem anderen seiner Stlicke die Begebenheiten gewaltsamer zusammengeriickt sind, so ist auch in keinem anderen die Zeit so ideal behandelt als hier. Hier giebt es kein Gestern, kein Morgen, keine Uhr, und keinen Kalender.” — Shakespeay^e-Studien^ pp. 450, 451.       172 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   figures in King Richard III,^ forcibly possess themselves of our imagination, but engage it before it is aware, and by degrees advance stronger claims upon us, and make good those claims. It will be worth while to try to as- certain what Shakspere looked upon as most significant in the characters of these two royal persons — the weak king who could not rule, and the strong king who pressed him from his place.   There is a condition of the intellect which we describe by the word ” boyishness.” The mind in the boyish stage of growth ” has no discriminating convictions and no grasp of consequences.” It has not as yet got hold of realities ; it is ” merely dazzled by phenomena, instead of perceiving things as they are.” The talk of a person who remains in this sense boyish is often clever, but it is unreal ; now he will say brilliant things upon this side of a question, and now upon the opposite side. He has no consistency of view. He is wanting as yet in serious- ness of intellect, in the adult mind.”^ Now, if we extend this characteristic of boyishness from the intellect to the entire character, we may understand much of what Shak- spere meant to represent in the person of Eichard II. Not alone his intellect, but his feelings, live in the world of phenomena, and altogether fail to lay hold of things as they are ; they have no consistency and no continuity. His will is entirely unformed ; it possesses no authority and no executive power; he is at the mercy of every chance impulse and transitory mood. He has a kind of artistic relation to life, without being an artist. An ar- tist in life seizes upon the stuff of circumstance, and, with strenuous will and strong creative power, shapes some new and noble form of human existence.   Kichard, to whom all things are unreal, has a fine feel-   * John Henry Newman, ” Idea of a University,” preface.       The English Historical Plays. 173   ing for ” situations.’^ Without true kingly strength or dignity, he has a fine feeling for the royal situation. Without any making real to himself what God or what death is, he can put himself, if need be, in the appropri- ate attitude towards God and towards death. Instead of comprehending things as they are, and achieving heroic deeds, he satiates his heart with the grace, the tenderness, the beauty, or the pathos of situations. Life is to Rich- ard a show, a succession of images ; and to put himseK into accord with the sesthetic requirements of his position is Richard’s first necessity. He is equal to playing any part gracefully which he is called upon by circumstances to enact. But when he has exhausted the sesthetic satis- faction to be derived from the situations of his life, he is left with nothing further to do. He is an amateur in living; not an artist.^   Nothing had disturbed the graceful dream of Richard’s adolescence. The son of the Black Prince, beautiful in face and form, though now past his youth, a king since boyhood, he has known no antagonism of men or cir- cumstance which might arouse the will. He has an in- describable charm of person and presence ; Hotspur re- members him as ” Richard, that sweet, lovely rose.” But a king who rules a discontented people and turbulent nobles needs to be something more than a* beautiful blos- soming flower. Richard has abandoned his nature to self-indulgence, and therefore the world becomes to him more unreal than ever. He has been surrounded by flat-       * ” Die guten Eigenschaften seiner Natur werden ihm unniitz, ja gef ahr- lich ; er gewahrt das erschiitternde Schauspiel eines beispiellosen, geistigen und gemiithlichen nicht weniger als ausserlichen Bankerutts in Folge des einen Umstandes — dass die Natur ihn mit einem Dilettantencharacter auf eine Stelle berufen, die mehr als jede andere einen Kiinstler fordert.” — Kbeyssig, Vorlesungm iiber Shakespeare (ed. 1874), vol. L, p, 189. See wha4 follows on Richard’s ” Dilettantismus.”       1 74 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   terers, who helped to make his atmosphere a luminous mist, through which the facts of life appeared with all their ragged outlines smoothed away. In the first scene of the play he enact-s the part of a king with a fine show of dignity ; his bearing is splendid and irreproachable. Mowbray is obstinate, and will not throw down the gage of Bolingbroke ; Richard exclaims,   ” Rage must be withstood. Give me his gage: lions make leopards tame.”   But Mowbray retains the gage. ” We were not born to Bue, but to command,” declares Richard, with royal majes- ty; yet he admits that to command exceeds his power. What of that? Has not Richard borne himself splendid- ly, and uttered himself in a royal metaphor — ” Lions make leopards tame T   At this very moment Bolingbroke, with eye set upon his purpose afar off, has resolutely taken the first step towards attaining it. The challenge of Mowbray conceals a deeper purpose. So little does Bolingbroke really feel of hostility to his antagonist that one of his first acts, as soon as he is in a position to act with authority, is to de- clare Mowbray’s repeal.^ But to stand forward as cham- pion of the wrongs of England, to make himself the emi- nent justiciary by right of nature, this is the initial step towards future kingship ; and Bolingbroke perceives clearly that the fact of Gloster’s death may serve as ful- crum for the lever which is to shake the throne of Eng- land. Nor is the King quite insensible of the tendency of his cousin’s action. Already he begins to quail before his bold antagonist :   ” How high a pitch his resolution soars !”   * Kreyssig suggests that this piece of magnanimity was really a piece of fine hypocrisy ; Bolingbroke was perhaps aware of Norfolk’s death at the time that he gave order for his repeaL       The English Historical Plays. 175   Richard tries gracefully to conceal his discomposure, and to deceive Bolingbroke ; but he is not, like Richard the hunchback, a daring and effluent hypocrite. He betrays his weakness and his distrust, administering to the two men decreed to exile an oath which pledges them never to reconcile themselves in their banishment, and never to plot against the King.   Bolingbroke accepts his exile, parts from the English crowd with an air of gracious, condescending familiarity which flatters (whereas Richard’s undignified familiarity only displeases),”^ and bids farewell to his country as a son bids farewell to the mother with whom his natural loyalty remains, and whom, in due time, he will see again. John of Gaunt is lying on his death-bed. The last of the great race of the time of Edward IIL, no English spirit will breathe such patriotism as his until the days of Agincourt. With the prophetic inspiration of a dying man, he dares to warn his grand-nephew, and to rebuke him for his treason against the ancient honor of England. Richard, who, with his characteristic sensibility of a super- ficial kind, turns pale as he listens, recovers himself by a transition from overawed alarm to boyish insolence. The white-haired warrior, now a prophet, who lies dying be- fore him, is ,, , ,   ” A lunatic, lean-witted fool,   Presuming on an ague’s privilege,”   who dares, with a frozen admonition, to make pale the   * ” The skipping king, he ambled up and down With shallow jesters and rash bavin wits, Soon kindled and soon burnt ; carded his state, Mingled his royalty with capering fools,   Grew a companion to the common streets.” Thus Henry IV. describes his predecessor as a lesson to Prince Henry, whose familiarity with his future subjects is neither in his father’s manner nor in that of Richard II.       1 76 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   royal cheek of Richard. The facts are very disagreeable, and why should a king admit into his consciousness an ugly or disagreeable fact ?   By -and -by, being informed that John of Gaunt is dead, Richard has the most graceful and appropriate word ready for so solemn an occasion :   ” The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he ; His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.”   In which pilgrimage the first step is to seize upon   ” The plate, coin, revenues, and movables. Whereof our uncle Gaunt did stand possessed.”   Even York, the temporizing York, who would fain be all things to all men if by any means he might save him- self, is amazed, and ventures to remonstrate against the criminal folly of this act. But Richard, like all self-in- dulgent natures, has only a half-belief in any possible future. He chooses to make the present time easy, and let the future provide for itself ; he has been living upon chances too long; he has too long been mortgaging the health of to-morrow for the pleasure of to-day :   ” Think what you will, we seize into our hands His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.”   But now the tempest begins to sing. Bolingbroke (before he can possibly have heard of his father’s death and the seizure by Richard of his own rights and royal- ties) has equipped an expedition, and is about to land upon the English coast. The King makes a hasty return from his “military promenade” in Ireland.^^ The first words of each, as he touches his native soil, are character- istic, and were doubtless placed by Shakspere in designed contrast. ”How far is it^ my lord^ to Berkeley nowV^   The banished man has no tender phrases to be^ow upon   – – -^   * Fr. Kreyssig, ” Vorlesungen iiber Shakespeare,” vol. i., p. 19L       The English Historical Plays 177   English earth, now that he sets foot upon it once more. All his faculties are firm-set, and bent upon achievement. But Kichard, who has been absent for a few days in Ire- land, enters with all possible zeal into the sentiment of his situation : ,,^ . .   ” I weep for joy To stand upon my kingdom once again. Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand, Though rebels wound thee with their horses’ hoofs ; As a long-parted mother with her child Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting, So weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth, And do thee favors with my royal hands.”   Which sentimental favors form a graceful incident in the play of Richard’s life, but can hardly compensate the want of true and manly patriotism. This same earth which Richard caressed with extravagant sensibility was the England which John of Gaunt, with strong enthusiasm, had apostrophized :   *’ This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings, Fear’d by their breed, and famous for their birth, Renowned for their deeds.”   It was the England which Richard had alienated from himself and leased out ” like to a tenement or pelting farm.” What of that, however ? Did not Richard ad- dress his England with phrases full of tender sensibility, and render her mockery favors with his royal hands ?   Bolingbroke has already gained the support of the Welsh. Richard has upon his side powers higher than natural flesh and blood. Shall he not rise like the sun in the eastern sky, and with the majesty of his royal ap- parition scare away the treasons of the night? Is he not the anointed deputy of God ?   ” Not all the water in the rough rude sea Can wash the balm from an anointed king : The breath of worldly men cannot depose The deputy elected by the Lord.” 12       1 78 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   Yes ; he will rely on God ; it is devout ; it is not labori* ous. For every armed man who fights for Bolingbroke,   ” God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay A glorious angel.”   And at this moment Salisbury enters to announce the revolt of Wales. Richard has been slack in action, and arrived a day too late. Remorseless comment upon the rhetorical piety of the King ! A company of angels fight upon his side ; true, but the sturdy Welshmen stand for Bolingbroke ! He is the deputy elected by the Lord ; but the Lord’s deputy has arrived a day too late !   And now Richard alternates between abject despond- ency (relieved by accepting all the aesthetic satisfaction derivable from the situation of vanquished king) and an airy, unreal confidence. There is in Richard, as Coleridge has finely observed, ” a constant overflow of emotions from a total incapability of controlling them, and thence a waste of that energy, which should have been reserved for actions, in the passion and effort of mere resolves and menaces. The consequence is moral exhaustion and rapid alternations of unmanly despair and ungrounded hope, every feeling being abandoned for its direct opposite upon the pressure of external accident.” * A certain un- reality infects every motion of Richard ; his feelings are but the shadows of true feeling. Now he will be great and a king ; now what matters it to lose a kingdom ? If Bolingbroke and he alike serve God, Bolingbroke can be no more than his fellow-servant. Now he plays the wan- ton with his pride, and now with his misery :   ” Of comfort no man speak : Let^s talk of graves, of worms and epitaphs ;   For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground   And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”   —   * ” Lectures upon Shakespeare ” (ed. 1849), vol. i,, p. 178,       The English Historical Plays. 1 79   At one moment he pictures God mustering armies of pestilence in his clouds to strike the usurper and his de- scendants ; in the next he yields to Bolingbroke’s de- mands, and welcomes his “right noble cousin.” He is proud, and he is pious; he is courageous and cowardly; and pride and piety, cowardice and courage, are all the passions of a dream.   r Yet Shakspere has thrown over the figure of Eichard la certain atmosphere of charm. If only the world were (not a real world, to which serious hearts are due, we could find in Richard some wavering, vague attraction. There is a certain wistf ulness about him ; without any genuine kingly power, he has a feeling for what kingly power must be ; without any veritable religion, he has a pale shadow of religiosity. And few of us have ourselves wholly escaped from unreality. “It takes a long time really to feel and understand things as they are; we learn to do so only gradually.” * Into what glimmering limbo will such a soul as that of Richard pass wjien the breath leaves the body ? The pains of hell and the joys of heav- en belong to tnose who have serious hearts. Richard has been a graceful phantom. Is there some tenuous, unsub- stantial world of spirits reserved for the sentimentalist, the dreamer, and the dilettante? Richard is, as it were, fading out of existence. Bolingbroke seems not only to have robbed him of his authority, but to have encroached upon his very personality, and to have usurped his under- standing and his will. Richard is discovering that he is no more than a shadow; but the discovery itself has something unreal and shadowy about it. Is not some such fact as this symbolized by the incident of the mir- ror? Before he quite ceases to be king, Richard, with his       * John H. Newman, ” Parochial and Plain Sermons ” (” Unreal Words “), vol. v., p. 43.       i8o Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   taste for ” pseudo-poetic pathos,” * would once more look upon the image of his face, and see what wrinkles have been traced upon it by sorrow. And Bolingbroke, sup- pressing his inward feeling of disdain, directs that the mirror be brought. Richard gazes against it, and finds that sorrow has wrought no change upon the beautiful lips and forehead. And then, exclaiming,   ” A brittle glory shineth in this face, As brittle as the glory is the face,”   he dashes the glass against the ground.   ” For there it is crackM in a hundred shivers. Mark, silent king, the moral of this sport, How soon my sorrow hath destroy’ d my face.   Boling. The shadow of your sorrow hath destroyed The shadow of your face.   K. Rich, Say that again.   The shadow of my sorrow ! ha ! let’s see.”   Does Richard, as Professor Flathe (contemptuously dismissing the criticisms of Gervinus and of Kreyssig) maintains, rise morally from his humiliation as a king’^ Is he heartily sorry for his misdoings ? While drinking the wine and eating the bread of sorrow, does he truly and earnestly repent, and intend to lead a new life? The habit of his nature is not so quickly unlearned. Richard in prison remains the same person as Richard on the throne. Calamity is no more real to him now than pros- perity had been in brighter days. The soliloquy of Richard in Pomfret Castle (act v., sc. 5) might almost be transferred, as far as tone and manner are concerned, to one other personage in Shakspere’s plays — to Jaques. The curious intellect of Jaques gives him his distinc- tion. He plays his parts for the sake of understanding the world in his way of superficial fooPs-wisdom. Rich-   * Kreyssig.       The English Historical Plays. 1 8 1   ard plays his parts to possess himself of the aesthetic sat- isfaction of an amateur in life, with a fine feeling for sit- uations. But each lives in the world of shadow, in the world of mockery wisdom or the world of mockery pas- sion, Mr. Hudson is right when he says, ” Richard is so steeped in voluptuous habits that he must needs be a vo- luptuary even in his sorrow, and make a luxury of woe itself ; pleasure has so thoroughly mastered his spirit that he cannot think of bearing pain as a duty or an honor, but merely as a license for the pleasure of maudlin self- compassion; so he hangs over his griefs, hugs them, nurses them, buries himself in them, as if the sweet ago- ny thereof were to him a glad refuge from the stings of self-reproach, or a dear release from the exercise of manly thought.”^   Yet to the last a little of real love is reserved by one heart or two for the shadowy, attractive Richard: the love of a wife who is filled with a piteous sense of her husband’s mental and moral effacement, seeing her ” fair rose wither,” and the love of a groom whose loyalty to his master is associated with loyalty to his master’s horse, roan Barbary. This incident of roan Barbary is an in- vention of the poet. Did Shakspere intend only a little bit of helpless pathos ? Or is there a touch of hidden irony here ? A poor spark of affection remains for Rich- ard, but it has been kindled half by Richard, and half by Richard’s horse. The fancy of the fallen king disports itself for the last time, and hangs its latest wreath around this incident. Then suddenly comes the darkness. Sud- denly the hectic passion of Richard flares ; he snatches an axe from a servant, and deals about him deadly blows. In another moment he is extinct ; the graceful, futile ex- istence has ceased.   * ” Shakespeare : his Life, Art, and Character,” vol. ii., p. 55.       1 82 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.       Y.   BoHngbroke utters few words in the play of Richard II. ; yet we feel that from the first the chief force cen< tres in him. He possesses every element of power ex- cept those which are spontaneous and unconscious. He is dauntless, but his courage is under the control of his judgment ; it never becomes a glorious martial rage like that of the Greek Achilles, or like that of the English Henry, Bolingbroke’s son. He is ambitious, but his am- bition is not an inordinate desire to wreak his will upon the world, and expend a fiery energy like that of Richard III. ; it is an ambition which aims at definite ends, and can be held in reserve until these seem attainable. He is studious to obtain the good graces of nobles and of peo- ple, and he succeeds because, wedded to his end, he does not become impatient of the means; but he is wholly lacking in genius of the heart ; and, therefore, he obtains the love of no man. He is indeed formidable ; his ene- mies describe England as   “A bleeding land, Gasping for life under great Bolingbroke ;”   and he is aware of his strength ; but there is in his nature no fund of incalculable strength of which he cannot be aware. All his faculties are well organized, and help one another; he is embarrassed by no throng of conflicting desires or sympathies. He is resolved to win the throne, and has no personal hostility to the King to divide or waste his energies; only a little of contempt. In the deposition scene he gives as little pain as may be to Richard ; he controls and checks Northumberland, who irritates and excites the King by requiring him to read the articles of his accusation. Because Bolingbroke is strong, he is not cruel. “^ He decides when to augment   * Mezi^res, ” Shakspeare, ses (Euvres et ses Critiques,” p. 205. Kreyssig^ ” Vorlesungen iiber Shakespeare/’ vol. i., p. 194 (ed. 1874).       The English Historical Plays. 183   his power by clemency, and when by severity. Aumerle he can pardon, who will live to fight and fall gallantly for Henry’s son at Agincourt. He can dismiss to a dig- nified retreat the bishop, who, loyal to the hereditary principle, had pleaded against Henry’s title to the throne. But Bushy, Green, and such like caterpillars of the Com- monwealth, Henry has sworn to weed and pluck away. And when he pardons Aumerle he sternly decrees to death his own brother-in-law.   The honor of England he cherished not with passionate devotion, but with a strong considerate care, as though it were his own honor. There is nothing infinite in the character of Henry, but his is a strong finite character. When he has attained the object of his ambition, he is still aspiring, but he does not aspire towards anything higher and further than that which he had set before him ; his ambition is now to hold firmly that which he has ener- getically grasped. He tries to control England as he con- trolled roan Barbary :   ” Great Bolingbroke, Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seem’d to know, With slow but stately pace kept on his course.”   “Even in his policy,” Mr. Hudson has truly said, ” there was much of the breadth and largeness which dis- tinguished the statesman from the politician.” He can conceive beforehand with practical imaginative faculty the exigencies of a case and provide for them. Of Rich- ard’s hectic fancy (which must not be mistaken for imag- ination) Henry has none. Nor does he ever unpack his heart with words. Aiming at things, his words are right and efficient without aiming. In the scene of Richard’s deposition, while the King is setting his fancy to work in making arabesques out of all the details of the situation, Bolingbroke does not become impatient. The wound       184 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   which he injlicts on Eichard must, of course, suppurate. ” I thought you had been willing to resign.” ” Are you contented to resign the crown?” With these brief and decisive sentences Henry calmly urges his point. In a later scene, where Aumerle has flung himself before the King and confessed his treason, while York, who speedily transferred all his loyalty from the deposed prince to his successor, pleads eagerly against his son, and the Duchess on her knees implores his pardon, Henry allows the pas- sionate flood to foam about his feet. He has resolved upon his part, and knows that in a little while he can al- lay this tempest. ” Rise up, good aunt,” ” Good aunt, rise up,” ” Good aunt, stand up ” — these words, uttered in each pause of the passionate appeal, are all that Plenry has at first to say ; and then the traitor is forgiven, and a loyal subject gained forever. ” I pardon him as God will pardon me ;” ” With all my heart I pardon him.”   Yet the success of Bolingbroke — although he succeeded to the full measure of his powers, and lost no point of ad- vantage by laxness or self-indulgence — was not a com- plete achievement. When, a little before his death, his heart was at last set right with his son’s heart, he could confess —   ” God knows, my son, By what by-paths and indirect crook’d ways I met this crown, and I myself know well How troublesome it sat upon my head. To thee it shall descend with better quiet, Better opinion, better confirmation.” *   By caution and by boldness he had won the crown, and   * 2 Henry IV. (act iv., sc. 5). Of the King in this scene, Mr. Hudson says well, ” Though we have indeed his subtle policy, working out like a ruling passion strong in death, still its workings are suffused with gushes of right feeling, enough to show that he was not all politician; that beneath his close-knit prudence there was a soul of moral sense, a kernel of religion.”—’ Shakespeare: his Life^ Arty and Characters^ vol. ii., p. 71.       The English Historical Plays. 185   held it resolutely. But his followers fell away ; the tur- bulent nobles of the North were in revolt, and there was a profound suspicion of the policy of the King. One son had reproduced the character of his father without the larger and finer features of that character. The other he could not understand, failing to discern, almost up to the last, the steadfast hidden loyalty and love of that son. It is hard for the free, spontaneous heart to disclose itself to the deliberate and cautious heart, which yet yearns pa- thetically for a child’s affection. There is something pit- eously undiscerning in the wish of the father of a Henry Y. that he might have been the father of a Hotspur.   Then, too, his life never knew repose and refreshment. The incessant care and labor of his mind went on day af- ter day, night after night. He has no exultant faith in God, no strong reliance upon principles. Every future contingency must be anticipated and provided for by pol- icy. Henry can never rid himself of cares ; can never for an hour let things be, and join in the wholesome laughter and frolic of the world. And, accordingly, in spite of his energy and strenuous resolution, seasons of exhaustion and depression necessarily come. Sleep for- sakes him ; he summons his councillors at midnight ; he broods over the rank diseases that grow near the heart of his kingdom. He longs inexpressibly to read the secrets of futurity. He can hardly sustain himself from sinking into discouragement and languor :   ” God ! that one might read the book of fate, And see the revolution of the times Make mountains level, and the continent, Weary of solid firmness, melt itself Into the sea ! and, other times, to see The beachy girdle of the ocean Too wide for Neptune’s hips : how chances mooky And changes fill the cup of alteration With divers liquors I 0, if this were seen,       1 86 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   The happiest youth, viewing his progress through,   What perils past, what crosses to ensue,   Would shut the book, and sit him down and die.”   But the thought that such things as these are necessities of human life restores Henry to himself. ” I am sworn brother, sweet, to grim Necessity,” exclaimed King Rich- ard II. to his Queen, “and he and I will keep a league till death.’^ Henry does not personify Necessity, and greet it with this romantic display of fraternity ; but he admits the inevitable fact, and the fact is something to lay hold of firmly, a support and resting-place — something which reanimates him for exertion.   “Are these things then necessities? Then let us meet them like necessities ; And that same word even now cries out on us: They say the Bishop and Northumberland Are fifty thousand strong.”   His faculties are firm-set and reorganized, and go to   work once more.   Vl.   Shakspere has judged Henry IV., and pronounced that his life was not a failure ; still, it was at best a partial success. Shakspere saw, and he proceeded to show to oth- ers, that all which Bolingbroke had attained, and almost incalculably greater possession of good things, could be attained more joyously by nobler means. The unmis- takable enthusiasm of the poet about his Henry Y. has induced critics to believe that in him we find Shakspere’s ideal of manhood. He must certainly be regarded as Shakspere’s ideal of manhood in the sphere of practical achievement — the hero and central figure, therefore, of the historical plays.   The fact has been noticed that with respect to Henry’s youthful follies, Shakspere deviated from all authorities known to have been accessible to him. “An extraordt       The English Historical Plays. 187   nary conversion was generally thought to have fallen upon the Prince on coming to the crown — insomuch that the old chroniclers could only account for the change by Bome miracle of grace or touch of supernatural benedic- tion.”^ Shakspere, it would seem, engaged now upon historical matter, and not the fantastic substance of a com- edy, found something incredible in the sudden transfor- mation of a reckless libertine (the Henry described by Caxton, by Fabyan, and others) into a character of ma- jestic force and large practical wisdom. Eather than reproduce this incredible popular tradition concerning Henry, Shakspere preferred to attempt the difficult task of exhibiting the Prince as a sharer in the wild frolic of youth, while at the same time he was holding himself prepared for the splendid entrance upon his manhood, and stood really aloof in his inmost being from the un- worthy life of his associates.   The change which effected itself in the Prince, as represented by Shakspere, was no miraculous conver- sion, but merely tho transition from boyhood to adult years, and from unchartered freedom to the solemn re- sponsibilities of a great ruler. We must not suppose that Henry formed a deliberate plan for concealing the strength and splendor of his character, in order, after- wards, to flash forth upon men’s sight, and overwhelm and dazzle them. When he soliloquizes (1 Henry IV,^ act i., sc. 2), having bidden farewell to Poins and Falstaff,   ” I know you all, and will awhile uphold The unyoked humor of your idleness : Yet herein will I imitate the sun, Who doth permit the base contagious clouds To smother up his beauty from the world,       ♦ Hudson, ** Shakespeare : his Life, Art, and Characters,” vol. ii., p. 78L See also C. Knight’s ” Studies of Shakspere,” bk. iv., eh. ii., p. 164.       1 88 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   That, when he please again to be himself, Being wanted, he may be more wondered at, By breaking through the foul and ugly mists Of vapors, that did seem to strangle him.”   — when Henry soliloquizes thus, we are not to suppose that he was quite as wise and diplomatical as he pleased to represent himself, for the time being, to his own heart and conscience.^ The Prince entered heartily, and with- out reserve, into the fun and frolic of his Eastcheap life ; the vigor and the folly of it were delightful ; to be clapped on the back, and shouted for as ” Hal,” was far better than the doffing of caps and crooking of knees, and del- icate, unreal phraseology of the court. But Henry, at the same time, kept himself from subjugation to what was really base. He could truthfully stand before his father (1 Henry IV.. act iii., sc. 2) and maintain that his nature was substantially sound and untainted, capable of redeeming itself from all past, superficial dishonor.   Has Shakspere erred? Or is it not possible to take energetic part in a provisional life which is known to be provisional, while, at the same time, a man holds his truest self in reserve for the life that is best and high- est and most real ? May not the very consciousness, in- deed, that such a life is provisional enable one to give one’s self away to it, satisfying its demands with scru- pulous care, or with full and free enjoyment, as a man could not if it were a life which had any chance of en- gaging his whole personality, and that finally ? Is it pos- sible to adjust two states of being, one temporary and provisional, the other absolute and final, and to pass free- ly out of one into the other? Precisely because the one is perfect and indestructible, it does not fear the counter-       * Kreyssig, ” Vorlesungen iiber Shakespear’e ” (ed. ISH), vol. L, p. 212. R. Genee, “Shakespeare, sein Leben und seine Werke,*’ p. 202.       The English Historical Plays. 1 89   life. May there not have been passages in Shakspere’s own experience which authorized him in his attempt to exhibit the successful adjustment of two apparently in- coherent lives ? ^   The central element in the character of Henry is his noble realization of fact. To Richard II., life was a graceful and shadowy ceremony, containing beautiful and pathetic situations. Henry IV. saw in the world a substantial reality, and he resolved to obtain mastery over it by courage and by craft. But while Bolingbroke, with his caution and his policy, his address and his am- bition, penetrated only a little way among the facts of life, his son, with a true genius for the discovery of the noblest facts, and of all facts, came into relation with the central and vital forces of the universe, so that, instead of constructing a strong but careful life for himself, life breathed through him, and blossomed into a glorious en- thusiasm of existence. And, therefore, from all that was unreal, and from all exaggerated egoism, Henry was ab- solutely delivered. A man who firmly holds, or, rather, is held by, the beneficent forces of the world, whose feet are upon a rock, and whose goings are established, may with confidence abandon much of the prudence and many of the artificial proprieties of the world. For ev- ery unreality Henry exhibits a sovereign disregard — for unreal manners, unreal glory, unreal heroism, unreal piety, unreal warfare, unreal love. The plain fact is so precious it needs no ornament.   * Rumelin, who argues that Shakspere wrote to please the jeunesse doree of the period, suggests that the character of the Prince was drawn from that of the Earl of Southampton ! The originals of many of Shakspere’s historical personages, Riiraelin supposes, sat upon the side-seats of the stage, and are, alas ! irrecoverably lost. (With such conjectures must ” real- ist” criticism buttress up its case!) ” Shakespeare-Studien ” (ed. 1874), p. 121       1 90 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   From the coldness, the caution, the convention, of his father’s court (an atmosphere which suited well the tem- perament of John of Lancaster), Henry escapes to the teeming vitality of the London streets, and the tavern where FalstafiE is monarch. There, among hostlers, and carriers, and drawers, and merchants, and pilgrims, and loud robustious women, he at least has freedom and frolic. ” If it be a sin to covet honor,” Henry declares, “I am the most offending soul alive.” But the honor that Henry covets is not that which Hotspur is ambi- tious after :   ” By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap To pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon.” *   The honor that Henry covets is the achievement of great deeds, not the words of men which vibrate around such deeds. Falstaff, the despiser of honor, labors across the field, bearing the body of the fallen Hotspur, the impas- sioned pursuer of glory, and, in his fashion of splendid imposture or stupendous joke, the fat Knight claims credit for the achievement of the day’s victory. Hen- ry is not concerned, on this occasion, to put the old sin- ner to shame. To have added to the deeds of the world a glorious deed is itself the only honor that Henry seeks. Nor is his heroic greatness inconsistent with the admis- sion of very humble incidents of humanity :   ” Prince, Doth it not show vilely in me to desire small beer ? Poins, Why, a prince should not be so loosely studied as to remember so weak a composition.   Prince, BeUke, then, my appetite was not princely got ; for, by my troth,       * 1 Henry /F., act i., sc. 3. Kreyssig contrasts Hotspur’s passion for honor with Falstaff’s indifference to it. “Can honor set to a leg or an arm ? no : or take away the grief of a wound ? no.” Henry, in this matter, is equally remote from Falstaff and from Hotspur (” Vorlesungen uber Shakespeare,” vol. i., pp. 244, 245).       The English Historical Plays. 191   1 do now remember the poor creature, small beer. But indeed these hum- ble considerations make me out of love with my greatness.”*   Henry, with his lank frame and vigorous muscle (the opposite of the Danish Prince, who is ” fat, and scant of breath “), is actually wearied to excess, and thirsty — and he is by no means afraid to confess the fact ; his appe- tite, at least, has not been pampered. “Before God, Kate,” such is Henry’s fashion of wooing, “I cannot look greenly, nor gasp out my eloquence, nor I have no cunning in protestation ; only downright oaths, which I never use till urged, nor never break for urging. … I speak to thee plain soldier ; if thou canst love me for this, take me ; if not, to say to thee that I shall die, is true ; but for thy love, by the Lord, no ; yet I love thee, too.”   And, as in his love there is a certain substantial home- liness and heartiness, so is there also in his piety. He is not harassed like his son, the saintly Henry, with refine- ments of scrupulosity, the disease of an irritable con- science, which is delivered from its irritability by no ac- tive pursuit of noble ends. Henry has done what is right ; he has tried to repair his father’s faults ; he has built ” two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests still sing for Richard’s soul.” He has done his part by God and man ; will not God, in like manner, stand by him and perform what belongs to God? Henry’s free- dom from egoism, his modesty, his integrity, his joyous humor, his practical piety, his habit of judging things by natural, and not artificial, standards — all these are va- rious developments of the central element of his charac- ter, his noble realization of fact.       * Jack Cade, in his aspiration after greatness, announces, ” I will make it a felony to drink small beer . . . when I am king, as king I will be.” Henry^s desire would seem, then, to be inexpressibly humiliating.       1 92 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   But his realization of fact produces something more than this integrity, this homely honesty of nature. It breathes through him an enthusiasm which would be in- tense if it were not so massive. Through his union with the vital strength of the world, he becomes one of the world’s most glorious and beneficent forces. From the plain and mirth-creating comrade of his fellow-soldiers, he rises into the genius of impassioned battle. From the modest and quiet adviser with his counsellors and prel- ates, he is transformed, when the occasion requires it, into the terrible administrator of justice. When Henry takes from his father’s pillow the crown, and places it upon his own head, the deed is done with no fluttering rapture of attainment. He has entered gravely upon his man- hood. He has made very real to himself the long, care- ful, and joyless life of the father who had won for him this “golden care.” His heart is full of tenderness for this sad father, to whom he had been able to bring so little happiness. But now he takes his due, the crown, and the world’s whole force shall not wrest it from him :   ” Thy due from me Is tears and heavy sorrows of the blood, Which nature, love, and filial tenderness Shall, dear father, pay thee plenteously : My due from thee is this imperial crown, Which, as immediate from thy place and blood, Derives itself to me. Lo, here it sits. Which God shall guard ; and put the world^s whole strength Into one giant arm, it shall not force This lineal honor from me.”   Here is no sesthetic feeling for the “situation,” only the profoundest and noblest entrance into the fact.   The same noble and disinterested loyalty to the truth of things renders it easy, natural, and indeed inevitable that Henry should confirm in his oflSce the Chief-justice who had formerly executed the law against himself; and       The English Historical Plays. 193   equally inevitable that he should disengage himself abso- lutely from Falstaff and the associates of his provisional life of careless frolic. To such a life an end must come ; and, as no terms of half-acquaintance are possible with the fat knight, exorbitant in good-fellowship as he is, and inexhaustible in resources, Henry must become to FalstaflE an absolute stranger :   ” I know thee not, old man : fall to thy prayers : How ill white hairs become a fool and jester !”   Henry has been stern to his former self, and turned him away forever; therefore he can be stern to Falstaff. There is no faltering. But at an enforced distance of ten miles from his person (for the fascination of Falstaff can hardly weave a bridge across that interval) Falstaff shall be sufficiently provided for :   ” For competence of life I will allow you That lack of means enforce you not to evil : And as we hear you do reform yourselves, We will, according to your strengths and qualities, Give you advancement.” *   Shortly before the English army sets sail for France, the treason of Cambridge, Scroop, and Grey is disclosed to the King. He does not betray his acquaintance with their designs. Surrounded by traitors, he boldly enters his council-chamber at Southampton (the wind is sitting fair, and but one deed remains to do before they go abroad). On the preceding day a man was arrested who had railed against the person of the King. Henry gives orders that he be set at liberty :       * It is noteworthy that although we meet Sir John so often in 2 Henry IV., we find the Prince only on a single occasion in his company; and it would be beyond human nature to deny himself the delight and edification of such a spectacle as the fat knight cuddling and kissing Doll Tearsheet ?. Henry rrmst go. 13       1 94 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   * ” We consider   It was excess of wine that set him on; And on his more advice we pardon him.”   But Scroop and Grey and Cambridge interpose. It would be true mercy, they insist, to punish such an of- fender. And then, when they have unawares brought themselves within the range of justice, Henry unfolds their guilt. The wrath of Henry has in it some of that awf ulness and terror suggested by the Apocalyptic refer- ence to ‘^the wrath of the Lamb.” It is the more terrible because it transcends all egoistic feeling. What fills the King with indignation is not so much that his life should have been conspired against by men on whom his boun- ty has been bestowed without measure, as that they should have revolted against the loyalty of man, weakened the bonds of fellowship, and lowered the high tradition of humanity :   ” 0, how hast thou with jealousy infected The sweetness of affiance ! Show men dutiful? Why, so didst thou : seem they grave and learned ? Why, so didst thou : come they of noble family ? Why, so didst thou : seem they religious ? Why, so didst thou : or are they spare in diet, Free from gross passion, or of mirth or anger, Constant in spirit, not swerving with the blood, Garnish’d and deckM in modest complement, Not working with the eye without the ear. And but in purged judgment trusting neither? Such and so finely bolted didst thou seem ; And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot To mark the full-fraught man and best indued With some suspicion. I will weep for thee ; For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like Another fall of man.”   No wonder that the terrible moral insistence of these words can subdue consciences made of penetrable stuff; no wonder that such an awful discovery of high realities pf life should call forth the loyalty that lurked within a       The English Historical Plays. 195   traitor’s heart. But, though tears escape Henrj, he can- not relent :   ” Touching our person seek we no revenge ; But we our kingdom’s safety must so tender, Whose ruin you have sought, that to her laws We do deliver you. Get you therefore hence, Poor miserable wretches, to your death, The taste whereof God of his mercy give You patience to endure, and true repentance Of all your dear offences I”.   And, having vindicated the justice of God and purged his country of treason, Henry sets his face to France with the light of splendid achievement in his eyes.   On the night before the great battle, Henry moves among his soldiers, and passes disguised from sentinel to sentinel. He is not, like his father, exhausted and out- worn by the careful construction of a life. If an hour of depression comes upon him, he yet is strong, because he can look through his depression to a strength and vir- tue outside of and beyond himself. Joy may ebb with him, or rise, as it will ; the current of his inmost being is fed by a source that springs from the hard rock of life, and is no tidal flow. He accepts his weakness and his weariness as part of the surrender of ease and strength and self which he makes on behalf of England. With a touch of his old love of frolic, he enters on the quarrel with Williams, and exchanges gages with the soldier. When morning dawns, he looks freshly, and “overbears attaint” with cheerful semblance and sweet majesty:   ” A largess universal like the sun His liberal eye doth give to every one, Thawing cold fear.”   With a prayer to God he sets to rights the heavenward side of his nature, and there leaves it. In the battle Henry does not, in the manner of his politic father, send into the field a number of counterfeit kings to attract       1 96 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   away from himself the centre of the war. There is no stratagem at Agincourt. It is “plain shock and even play of battle.” If Henry for a moment ceases to be the skilful wielder of resolute strength, it is only when he rises into the genius of the rage of battle :   *’ I was not angry since I came to France Until this instant. Take a trumpet, herald ; Kide thou unto the horsemen on yon hill : If they will fight with us, bid them come down, Or void the field ; they do offend our sight : If they do neither, we will come to them. And make them skirr away as swift as stones Enforced from the old Assyrian slings ; Besides, we’ll cut the throats of those we have, And not a man of them that we shall take Shall taste our mercy.”   It is in harmony with the spirit of the play and with the character of Henry that it should close with no os- tentatious heroics, but with the half-jocular, whole-ear- nest wooing of the French princess by the English king. “With a touch of irony, to which one of the critics of the^ play has called attention,”^ we are furnished with a hint as to the events which must follow Henry’s glorious reign. ” Shall not thou and I,” exclaims the King, in his unconventional manner of winning a bride — ” Shall not thou and I, between Saint Denis and Saint George, com- pound a boy, half French, half English, that shall go to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard T This boy, destined to go to Constantinople and confront the Turk, was the helpless Henry YI.   The historical plays are documents written all over with facts about Shakspere. Some of these facts are now discernible. We have learned something about Shakspere’s convictions as to how the noblest practical   * H. N. Hudson.       The English Historical Plays. 197   success in life may be achieved. We know what Shak- spere would have tried to become himself if there had not been a side of his character which acknowledged closer aflSnity with Hamlet than with Henry. We can in some measure infer how Shakspere would endeavor to control, and in what directions he would endeavor to reinforce, his own nature while in pursuit of a practical mastery over events and things.       1 98 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.       CHAPTER V.   OTHELLO ; MACBETH ; LEAR.   If Shakspere had died at the age of forty, it might have been said, ” The world has lost much, but the world’s chief poet could hardly have created anything more won- derful than HaniletP But after Hamlet came King Lear. Hamlet was, in fact, only the point of departure in Shakspere’s immense and final sweep of mind — that in which he endeavored to include and comprehend life for the first time adequately. ^Through Hamlet — per- haps, also, through events in the poet’s personal history, which tested his will as Hamlet’s will was tested — Shak- spere had been reached and touched by the shadow of some of the deep mysteries of human existence. Some- how, a relation between his soul and the dark and ter- rible forces of the world was established, and to escape from a thorough investigation and sounding of the depths of life was no longer possible. Shakspere had by this time mastered the world from a practical point of view. He was a prosperous and wealthy man. He had com- pleted his English historical plays, which are concerned with this practical mastery of the world. But all the more because he had resolved his material difficulties was his mind open to the profounder spiritual problems of life. Having completed Henry F!, for a short period he yielded his imagination and his heart to the brightest and most exuberant enjoyment. Around the year 1600 are grouped some of the most mirthful comedies that Shakspere ever wrote. Then, a little later, as soon as       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 199   Hamlet is completed, all changes. From 1604 to 1610 a show of tragic figures, like the kings who passed before Macbeth, filled the vision of Shakspere, until at last the desperate image of Timon rose before him ; when, as though unable to endure or to conceive a more lament- able ruin of man, he turned for relief to the pastoral loves of Prince Florizel and Perdita ; and, as soon as the tone of his mind was restored, gave expression to its ultimate mood of grave serenity in The Temjpest^ and so ended.   During these years the imaginative fervor of Shak- spere was at its highest, and sustained itself without abatement. There was no feverish excitement in his energy, and there was no pause. In some of his earlier years of authorship (if the generally received chronology be accepted), two or even three plays were produced within a twelvemonth, of which this or that was after- wards acknowledged by its author to be a hasty piece of work, yet of sufficient substance and merit to deserve re- handling. During a certain brief season, it may have been that Shakspere altogether ceased to write for the stage. But now, in unbroken series, year by year, one great tragedy succeeds another. Having created Othello^ surely the eye of a poet’s mind would demand quietude, passive acceptance of some calm beauty, a period of res- toration. But Othello is pursued by Lear^ Lear by Mac- heth^ Macbeth by Antony and Cleojpatra^ Antony and Cleopatra by Coriolanus. It is evident that the artist was now completely roused. The impetus of his ad- vance continued, and carried him without effort on from subject to subject. He could not put aside his stupen- dous task; neither would he accomplish any part of it imperfectly. In these years the utmost imaginative sus- ceptibility is united with the utmost self-control. Every portion of his being is at length engaged in the magnifi-       2(X> Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   cent effort. At first, in the career of most artists, a por tion of their nature holds aloof from art, and is ready for application to other service. They have a poetical side, and a side which is prosaic. Gradually, as they advance towards maturity, faculty after faculty is brought into fruitful relation with the art-instinct, until at length the entire nature of the artist is fused in one, and his work becomes the expression of a complete personality. This period had now arrived for Shakspere. In the great trag- edies, passion and thought, humor and pathos, severity and tenderness, knowledge and guess, are all accepted as workers together with the imagination. / 4{ ^ra^ed y, as conceived by Shakspere, is concerned with / the ruin or the restoration of the soul, and of the life of \ men. In other words, its subject is the struggle of good Wd evil in the world. This strikes down upon the roots /of things. The comedies of Shakspere had, in compar- Sison, played upon the surface of life. The histories, though very earnest, had not dealt with the deeper mys- / teries of being. Henry F”., the ideal figure of the histori- / cal plays, has a real and firm grasp of the actual worldlf ] He has his religion, and he has his passion of love ; but / both are positive, practical, and limited. No more can his religion than his love ever embarrass Henry in his joyous mastery over men and things. His soldier-like \ piety and large, incurious trust in God suffice to resolve all questions with regard to that dark outlying region which surrounds the knowable and the practicable. With a devout optimism, Henry perceives there is ” some soul of goodness in things evil,” and he proceeds to confirm this principle by the very substantial and business-like instance that their bad neighbors, the French, had made his soldiers early stirrers. But such devout optimism was absolutely without avail for the spiritual needs of the man who had conceived Hamlet. ” To say to thee that       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 201   I shall die,” declares King Henry to Katharine, ” is true; but for thy love, by the Lord, no.” Yet Shakspere had discovered that to die for love may be the highest need of a life under certain extreme conditions. Juliet had died for love ; Eomeo had died for love ; and, in so doing, they had fulfilled and accomplished their lives. There- fore, this love of Henry is tested by Shakspere, and de- clared to be a passion with limitation, serviceable for useful ends of marriage, and for the producing of chil- dren ; but not that devotion of soul to soul which does not recognize the limitations of space or of time. ” There is some soul of goodness in things evil,” declares King Henry. And as comment upon such devout optimism, Shakspere produces Goneril and Eegan, lago, and the Witches in Macbeth, JSTow, in the tragedies, Shakspere has flung himself abroad upon the dim sea which moans around our little solid sphere of the known. Such easy and pious answers to the riddles of the w^orld as consti- tuted the working faith of a Henry V. belong to a smaller and safer world of thought, feeling, and action ; not to this. There are certain problems which Shakspere at once pronounces insoluble. I He does not, like Milton, propose to give any account of the origin of evil. He does not, like Dante, pursue the soul of man through circles of un- ending torture, or spheres made radiant by the eternal presence of God. Satan in Shakspere’s poems does not come voyaging on gigantic vans across Chaos to find the earth. No great deliverer of mankind descends from the heavens. Here, upon the earth, evil is — such was Shak- spere’s declaration in the most emphatic accent. lago actually exists. | There is also in the earth a sacred pas- sion of deliverance, a pure redeeming ardor. Cordelia exists. This Shakspere can tell for certain. But how lago can be, and why Cordelia lies strangled across the breast of Lear — are these questions which you go on to       202 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ask ? Something has been already said of the severity of Shakspere. It is a portion of his severity to decline all answers to such questions as these. Is ignorance painful? Well, then, it is painful. Little solutions of your large difficulties can readily be obtained from priest ov jphilosophe. ^Shakspere prefers to let you remain in the solemn presence of a mystery./ He does not invite you into his little church or his little library brilliantly illuminated by philosophical or theological rushlights. You remain in the darkness. But you remain in the vital air. And the great night is overhead.   Critics of the last century were much exercised in mind about Shakspere’s violations of the rule of poetical jus- tice. Dr. Johnson, with his sturdy British morality, could not endure to read the last scenes oi King Lear ^ and de- clared in favor of Nahum Tate’s improvement on Shak- spere’s play, according to which Edgar makes love to Cordelia, and she retires in the end ” with victory and felicity.” To die is so exceedingly uncomfortable; to live and be a happy wife is so eminently satisfactory. Shakspere’s morality is somewhat more stern than that of the great moralist. Shakspere introduces into the world no little ethical code. Such a little ethical code would flutter away in tatters across the tempest and the night of Lear’s agony. But Shakspere discovers the supreme fact — that the moral world stands in sovereign independence of the world of the senses.^ Cordelia lies   * Kreyssig describes Shakspere’s ethics as essentially identical with the ethics of Kant : *’ Von alien Tragodien Shakespeare’s, ja von alien uns be- kannten Tragodien alter und neuer Zeit, scheint Lear uns am vollstandigsten die Bezeichnung * erhaben,’ im Schiller’schen Sinne, zu verdienen, insofern sie mit ganz besonderem Nachdruck die unbedingte souverane Unabhangigkeit der sittlichen Welt von der der Sinne zur Anschauung bringt : die Tragodie des kategorischen Imperativ’s von dem grossten germanischen Dichter ge- schaut und geschaffen, zwei Jahrhunderte ehe der grosste germanische Den- ker sein Gesetz wissenschaftlich begriindete.” — Shakespeare-Frageny p. 128,       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 203   upon the breast of Lear. ” Upon such sacrifices the gods themselves throw incense.” Cordelia, forgetting her fa- ther, might have returned to France, and have lived pros- perously. But then Cordelia, the pure zeal of redeem- ing ardor, would, indeed, have ceased to be. Now she has fulfilled the end of her being. It is not so hard to die. Cordelia had accepted her lot with fortitude :   ” We are not the first Who with best meaning have incurrM the worst.”   And for us the earth is made more beautiful by her life and by her death. That which satisfies our heart, that which brings us strength and consolation, is not that by happy concurrence of circumstances Cordelia should suc- ceed in her enterprise, but merely that Cordelia existed. Lesser happiness can be dispensed with if we are granted the joy of the presence of beautiful, heroic souls. Cor- delia has strengthened the bonds of humanity ; she has enriched the tradition of human goodness. It is better for each of us to breathe because she has been a womailk. Thus although there was no possibility for Shakspere to become a facile optimist, bearing jauntily a banner with the device Whatever is^ is hest^ and singing to some tune, secular or sacred, the perfections of this the best of all possible worlds, he is equally far removed from de- spair. The absolute despair as represented by Shakspere — that of Timon — is despair of human virtue. And to such despair of human virtue Shakspere never yielded himself. At the entrance to his long series of tragic writ- ings stands the figure of Isabel, in Lucio’s eyes “a thing ensky’d and sainted” in that Vienna where   ” Corruption boils and bubbles Till it overrun the stew.”   At the close stand Prospero and Hermione. The illB of life had sunk deep into Hamlet’s soul :       204 Shakspere — His Mind and A rL   ” The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes.”   But presently by his side stood human virtue : Horatio, “a man that Fortune buffets and rewards” — these very ills which Hamlet enumerated — ^’had ta’en with equal thanks.” lago is a devouring gulf of evil, ” more fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea.” But over against his malig- nity and cold impureness rises Desdemona, who cannot extend her imagination so far as to credit any breach of wifely faith or modesty in any woman. Goneril and Re- gan dismiss the old man into the tempest and the night ; but Cordelia restores him with the warmth of her bosom. This period during which Shakspere was engaged upon his great tragedies was not, as it has been sometimes rep- resented, a period of depression and of gloom in Shak- spere’s spiritual progress. True, he was now sounding ^e depths of evil as he had never sounded them before. Kut his faith in goodness had never been so strong and sure. Hitherto it had not been thoroughly tested. In the overstrained loyalty of Valentine to his unworthy friend there is something fantastic and unreal. The graver friendship of Horatio for Hamlet is deeper and more genuine. There is gallantry in Portia’s rescue of her husband’s friend from death; but the devotion of Cordelia nourishes itself from springs of strength which lie farther down among the roots of things. Now, with every fresh discovery of crime, Shakspere made discovery of virtue which cannot suffer defeat. The knowledge of evil and of good grow together. While Shakspere moved gayly upon the surface of life, it was the play of intellect that stirred within him the liveliest sense of pleasure. The bright speech and unsubduable mirth, not disjoined from common-sense and goodness of heart of a Rosalind       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 20;^   or a Beatrice, fi’ ed him with a sense of quickened exist- ence. IS’ow that he had come to comprehend more of the sorrow and more of the evil of the earth — treachery, ingratitude, cruelty, lust — Shakspere found perhaps less to delight him in mere brightness of intellect ; he cer- tainly gave his heart away with more fervor of loyalty to human goodness, to fortitude, purity of heart, self-surren- der, self-mastery— to every noble expression of character. Such mellowing and enriching of Shakspere’s nature could not have proceeded during a period in which his moral being was in confusion, and heaven and earth seemed to lie chaotically around him. Were his delight in man and woman, his faith and joy in human goodness, stained with suUenness and ignoble resentment, could he have discovered Horatio and Kent, Cordelia and Desde- mona? No. If the sense of wrong sank deep into his soul, if life became harder and more grave, yet he sur- mounted all sense of personal wrong ; and while life grew more severe, it grew more beautiful.   I.   The tragedy of Othello is the tragedy of a free and lordly creature taken in the toils, and writhing to death. In one of his sonnets Shakspere has spoken of   ” Some fierce thing replete with too much rage Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart.**   Such a fierce thing, made weak by his very strength, is Othello. There is a barbaresque grandeur and simplicity about the movements of his soul. He sees things with a large and generous eye, not prying into the curious or the occult. He is a liberal accepter of life, and with a careless magnificence wears about him the ornament of strange experience — memories of   ” Antres vast, and desarts idle, Bough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heayeV*       2o6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   memories of ” disastrous chances, of moving accidents by flood and field.” There is something of grand innocence in his loyalty to Venice, by which Mr. Browning was not unaffected when he conceived his Moorish commander, Luria. Othello, a stranger, with tawny skin and fierce traditions in his blood, is fascinated by the grave senate, the nobly ordered life (possessing a certain rich coloring of its own), and the astute intelligence of the City of the Sea. At his last moment, through the blinding sand- storm of his own passion, this feeling of disinterested loyalty recurs to Othello, and brings him a moment’s joy and pride. His history has been, indeed, a calamitous mistake ; like the base Indian, he has thrown away ” a pearl richer than all his tribe.” But there is one fact with which the remembrance of him may go down to men, one fact which will rescue from complete deformity and absurd unreason the story of Othello :   ** Set you down this ; ^ And say, besides, that in Aleppo once,   Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk Beat a Venetian and traduced the State, I took by the throat the circumcised dog, And smote him, thus.”   With this loyalty to Venice, there is also an instinctive turning towards the barbaric glory which he has surren- dered. He is the child of royal ancestry : ” I fetch my life and being from men of royal siege.” All the more joyous on this account it is to devote himself to the ser- vice of the State. And thus Othello has reached man- hood, and passed on to middle life.   Then in the house of Brabantio this simple and mag- nificent nature found his fate. Desdemona, moving to and fro at her house-affairs, or listening with grave won- der, and eager restrained sympathy, to the story of his adventurous life, became to him, at first in an unconscious       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 207   way, the type of beauty, gentleness, repose, and tender womanhood. And Desdemona, in her turn, brought up amidst the refinements and ceremonies of Venetian life, watching each day the same gondolas glide by, hearing her father’s talk of some little new law of the Duke, found in the Moor strangeness and splendor of strong manhood, heroic simplicity, the charm of one who had suffered in solitude, and on whose history compassion might be lavished. Thus, while Brutus and Portia were indissolubly bound together by their likeness, Desdemona and Othello were mutually attracted by the wonder and grace of unlikeness. In the love of each there was a ro- mantic element ; and romance is not the highest form of the service which imagination renders to love. For ro- mance disguises certain facts, or sees them, as it were, through a luminous mist ; but the highest service which the imagination can render to the heart is the discovery of every fact, the hard and bare as well as the beautiful ; and, to effect this, like a clear north wind it blows all mists away. There was a certain side of Othello’s nature which it were well that Desdemona had seen, though she trembled.   But if Desdemona loves not with the most instructed heart, she yet loves purely and with tender devotion. And because her love was so entirely that of the heart and of the imagination, Desdemona felt the tawny face and the mature years and half-barbaric origin of Othello only as dim under-chords enriching the harmonies of her love. The whole current of her being, ordinarily so easy and tranquil, hurried forward with what to herself seemed ” downright violence,” to unite itself with the inmost be< ing of the Moor :   ” That I did love the Moor to live with him, My downright violence and storm of fortunes May trumpet to the world ; my heart ‘s subdued       2o8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Even to the very quality of my lord ; I saw Othello’s visage in his mind, And to his honors and his valiant parts Did I my soul and fortunes conaecrate.”   *E[azlitt has observed truly, ” The extravagance of her resolutions, the pertinacity of her affections, may be said to arise out of the gentleness of her nature. They imply an unreserved reliance on the purity of her own inten- tions, and entire surrender of her fears to her love, a knit- ting of herself, heart and soul, to the fate of another.” “^ And it is this being, who is to Othello ” a wonder and a beauty and a terror,”   ” A gentle tone Amid rude voices, a beloved light, A solitude, a refuge, a delight ” —   it is this being whom he must hereafter cast away and trample underfoot:   ” thou weed Who art so lovely fair, and smelPst so sweet That the sense aches at thee, would thou had’st ne’er been born !”   Portia was to Brutus the ideal of all he would fain be- come himself ; the attraction was that of identical quali- ties : ” O ye gods, render me worthy of this noble wife !” and Portia could come to Brutus and urge upon him her right of sharing in all that concerned him. Between Portia and Brutus, therefore, no errors of the heart were possible. But to Desdemona her husband was her lord, a being to be worshipped and served, and in his gentler mood to be played with, and graciously be contradicted and caressed. And Othello, for his part, has a care to stand between his gentle wife and the rough vexations which beset himself. When, roused at night by the brawl, she appears in the streets, the Moor is doubly indignant with the offenders, because they have troubled her repose,   * ” Characters of Shakespear’s Plays,” by W. HazHtt, p. 52, second edition.       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 209   and with afi ctionate force he turns her back from inquir- ing into what had caused him disturbance :   ” Look, if my gentle love be not raised up ! I’ll make thee an example. JDes. What’s the matter ?   Oih. All’s well now, sweeting; come away to bed.”   The nature of Othello is free and open ; he looks on men with a gaze too large and royal to suspect them of malignity and fraud ; he is a man ” not easily jealous :”   ” My noble Moor Is true of mind, and made of no such baseness As jealous creatures are.”   He has, however, a sense of his own ineflBciency in deal- ing with the complex and subtle conditions of life in his adopted country. “Where all is plain and broad, he relies upon his own judgment and energy. He is a master of simple, commanding action. When, upon the night of Desdemona’s departure from her father’s house, Braban- tio and the officers with torches and weapons meet him, and a tumult seems inevitable, Othello subdues it with the untroubled, large validity of his will :   ” Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them.”   But for curious inquiry into complex facts he has no fac- ulty ; he loses his bearings ; ” being wrought upon,” he is ‘^ perplexed in the extreme.” Then, too, his hot Mauri- tanian blood mounts quickly to the point of boiling. If he be infected, the poison hurries through his veins, and he rages in his agony.   Here, upon the one side, is material for a future catas- trophe. And, on the other, there is Desdemona’s timid- ity. When she could stand by Othello’s side, Desdemona was able to confront her father, and, in presence of the Duke and magnificoes, declare that she would not return to the home she had abandoned. But during Othello’s courtship Desdemona had shrunk from any speech upon 14       2 1 o Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   this matter witli Brabantio, and by innocent reserves and little dissemblings had kept him in ignorance of this great event in her history.^ The Moor had moved her imagination by his strange nobility, his exotic grandeur. But how if afterwards her imagination be excited by some strange terror about her husband ? What will her refined feminine accomplishments avail her then — her delicacy with her needle, the admirable music with which she ” will sing the savageness out of a bear.”   ” I fear you, for you are fatal then, When your eyes roll so.”   The handkerchief which she has lost becomes terrible to her, when Othello, with Oriental rapture into the marvel- lous, describes its virtue :   ” There’s magic in the web of it : A sibyl that had number’d in the world The sun to course two hundred compasses, In her prophetic fury sewM the work ; The worms were hallow’d that did breed the silk. And it was dyed in mummy which the skilful Conserved of maidens’ hearts.”   For Desdemona, with her smooth, intelligible girl’s life in Venice, having at largest its little pathetic romance of her maid Barbara, with her song of ” Willow,” here flowed in romance too stupendous, too torrid and alien, to be other than dreadful. Shall we wonder that in her dis- turbance of mind she trembles to declare to her husband that this talisman could not be found? Underneath the momentary, superficial falsehood remains the constancy and fidelity of her heart ; through alarm and shock and   * A circumstance which lago afterwards turns to account against the peace of Othello’s mind :   ” She did deceive her father marrying you ; And when she seem’d to shake and fear your looks, She loved them most.   Oih, And so she did.”       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 211   surprise, a^-id awful alteration of the world, her heart never swerves from loyalty to her husband. If she had de- ceived Brabantio, as in his anger he declares, and if in this matter of the handkerchief she had faltered from the truth, Desdemona atones for these un veracities ; not by acquisition of a confident candor — such courageous deal- ing with difficulties was impossible for Desdemona — but by one more falsehood, the sacred lie which is murmured by her lips as they grow forever silent :   ” Emilia. 0, who hath done this deed ?   Bes. Nobody ; I myself : farewell ; Commend me to my kind lord ; 0, farewell.” *   If the same unknowable force which manifests itself through man manifests itself likewise through the ani- mal world, we might suppose that there were some spe- cial affinities between the soul of Othello and the lion of his ancestral desert. Assuredly the same malignant pow- er that lurks in the eye and that fills with venom the fang of the serpent would seem to have brought into ex-   * In 1830, in period of full revolution in matters of dramatic art at Paris, the Othello translated and prefaced by Alfred de Vigny was acted at the Thetoe Franyais. The Due de Broglie on this occasion published in the Revue Fran^aise a remarkable article (reprinted by M. Guizot in his ” Shak- speare et son Temps,” pp. 264-343) on the “State of Dramatic Art in France.” Of these last words of Desdemona, as delivered by Mile. Mars, the Due de Broglie writes : ” Nous devons le declarer ; Teffet de ce mot a ete nul — et franchement nous nous etions toujours doute qu’il en devait arriver ainsi. . . . Depuis le jour de son mariage Desdemona s’est consideree comme la propriete d’Othello, comme quelque chose dont Othello est le maitre d’user et d’abuser, comme une esclave qu’il pent battre ou tuer s’il lui en prend fantaisie; comment viendrait-elle ^ penser tout- a -coup qu’Othello coure aucun risque a propos d’elle, ni qu’il soit necessaire de le mettre ^ I’abri d’une poursuite criminelle ?” The criticism is more curious than just ; but the recorded fact is interesting. See, on the feeling towards Shakspere in France at the time of this representation of Othello^ ” Histoire de I’lnfluence de Shakspeare sur le Theatre Fran9ais (Septieme Phase),” par Albert Lacroix (Bruxelles, 1856).       212 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   istence lago. “It is the strengtli of the base element that is so dreadful in the serpent ; it is the very omnipo- tence of the earth. … It scarcely breathes with its one lung (the other shrivelled and abortive) ; it is passive to the sun and shade, and is cold or hot like a stone ; yet ‘ it can outclimb the monkey, outswim the fish, outleap the zebra, outwrestle the athlete, and crush the tiger.’ It is a divine hieroglyph of the demoniac power of the earth — of the entire earthly nature.”^ Such is the serpent lago.   In the last scene of the play Othello calls on Cassio (for he cannot himself approach the horror) to interrogate lago respecting the motives of his malignant crime :   ” Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body ?”   And lago forecloses all such inquiry with the words — they are the last words that he utters —   ” Demand me nothing : what you know you know : From this time forth I never will speak word.”   Shakspere would have us believe that as there is a pas- sion of goodness with no motive but goodness itself, so there is also a dreadful capacity in the soul for devotion to evil independently of motives, or out of all proportion to such motives as may exist.f lago is the absolute in-   * Ruskin, ” The Queen of the Air,” pp. 83, 84. The words quoted by Mr. Ruskin are those of Mr. Richard Owen.   f For a discussion of the motives of lago, see Hebler, ” Aufsatze iiber Shakespeare ” (Bern, 1865), pp. 42-60. The Due de Broglie, in the article quoted already, endeavors to show that the character of lago is incoherent. ” Qu’est-ce qulago ? Est-ce le malin esprit ou du moins son representant sur la terre ? Othello a-t-il raison quand il le regarde aux pieds pour voir s’il ne les aurait pas fourchus ? , . . Alors pourquoi donner 4 lago des mo- tifs humains et interesses ? Pourquoi nous montrer en lui une basse cupi- dite, le ressentiment d’une injure faite ^ son honneur ; I’envie d’un poste plus 61eve que le sien ? . . . Ces passions de bas aloi detruisent tout le fantas- tique du role ; le demon c’a ni humeur ni honneur ; il n’a ni rancune, ni       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 213   fidel ; for Le is devoid of all faith in beauty and in vir* tue. Timon disbelieves, but he becomes desperate and abandons life. lago finds it right and natural to live in a world in which all men are knaves or fools, and all women are that which Desdemona is unable to name.   Together with everything beautiful, everything noble, there inevitably exists a gross element of the earth. It is upon this gross element alone that lago battens, and he can discover it everywhere by denying and dismissing all that transforms, purifies, and ennobles it. Othello, with his heroic simplicity and royalty of soul,   ” Will as tenderly be led by the nose As asses are.’*   Cassio, who is full of chivalric enthusiasm for his great leader and the beautiful bride whom he has won, is to lago ” a knave very voluble ; no further conscionable than in putting on the mere form of civil and humane feeling, for the better compassing of his salt and most hidden loose affection.” Desdemona, exclaims Roderigo, is “full of most blessed condition.” lago. ” Blessed fig’s – end ! the wine she drinks is made of grapes : if she had been blessed she would never have loved the Moor. Blessed pudding ! Didst thou not see her paddle with the palm of his hand ! Didst not mark that ?” The Moor has in-   colere, ni convoitise ; c’est un personnage desinteresse ; il fait le mal parce que le mal est le mal, et qu’il est, lui, le malin. lago est-il au contraire, comme il s’en fait gloire, le parfait egoiste, I’homme qui salt au supreme degre s’aimer lui-meme, I’etre qui sait subordonner hierarchiquement ses desirs selon leur degre d’importance, et disposer ensuite ses actions de mani^re h tendre invariablement h sa plus haute satisfaction, coute que coute h autrui, sans scrupule, sans remords, et aussi sans se laisser detourner par des velleites d’un ordre inf erieur ? Alors pourquoi poursuit-il en meme temps trois ou quatre buts distincts, et d’une importance pour lui tres ine- gale? . . . Pourquoi surtout prodigue-t-il, dans chaque occasion, cent fois plus de mechancete que le besoin de la circonstance ne le comporte ?’* Re- printed in Guizot’s *’ Shakspeare et son Temps,” pp. 322, 323.       2 1 4 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   flamed her imagination with ” bragging and telling her fantastical lies.” Love ” is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will.” Virtue is ” a fig ! ’tis in our- selves that we are thus or thus.” ” O, I have lost my reputation !” Cassio cries, ” I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, lago, my reputation.” lago. ” As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some bodily wound.” All this is the earthiness of the serpent; the dull eye which quickens only to fascinate and to strike ; the muddy skin, discolored with foul blotches ; and the dust, which is the serpent’s meat. This cold malignant power, passionless and intellectually sensual — the soul itself having become more animal than the body can ever be — is incarnated in the person of a man still young. lago has reached the age of twenty-eight. And he would pass for a merry knave. While enticing Cassio to his ruin, he entertains the company with clattering song :   ” And let me the canakin clink, clink ; And let me the canakin clink.”   It is the grin of a death’s-head, the mirth of a ghoul.*   These are the chief forces, and the play of these forces constitutes the tragedy. Since Coleridge made the re- mark, all critics of Othello are constrained to repeat after him that the passion of the Moor is not altogether jeal- ousy—it is rather the agony of being compelled to hate that which he supremely loved :   * The passionless character of lago, Coleridge says, ” is all will in intel- lect ;” and he notices well ” the motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity,” in lago’s soliloquy (act i., sc. 3). Mr. Hudson’s study of the character of lago is careful and discriminating. “lago’s creed,” writes Mr. Hudson, “is that the yielding to any inspirations from without argues an ignoble want of mental force. . . . Intellectuality is lago’s proper character ; that is, intellect has in him cast off all allegiance to the moral reason, and become a law unto itself, so that the mere fact of his being able to do a thing is sufficient cause for doing it ”       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 215   ” jilxcellent wretch ! Perdition catch my soul, But I do love thee ! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.”   Othello does not feel himself placed in rivalry with Cassio for the affection of his wife. lago has contrived that the Moor shall overhear him conversing with Cassio about Bianca. Cassio, at thought of the extravagant pur- suit of him by the Yenetian courtesan, laughs aloud. It is then that Othello breaks out with the enraged cry, “How shall I murder him, lago ?” But Othello supposed that Cassio had been speaking of Desdemona, and that his laugh was a profane mockery of her fall. It was Cassio’s supposed ignoble thought respecting Desdemona, even more than jealousy, which made him seem to Othel- lo to merit mortal vengeance. Ordinarily Othello thinks little about Cassio. His agony is concentrated in the thought that the fairest thing on earth should be foul, that the fountain from which the current of his life had seemed to run so pure and free should be   ” A cistern for foul toads To knot and gender in!”   It is with an agonized sense of justice that he destroys the creature who is dearest to him in the world, knowing certainly that with hers his own true life must cease. Nay, it is not with the cessation of Desdemona’s breath that the life of Othello ends ; he is imable to survive the loss of faith in her perfect purity. All that had been glorious becomes remote and impossible for him if Des- demona be false. We hear the great childlike sob of Othello’s soul :   ” 0, now, forever Farewell the tranquil mind ! farewell content ! Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars That make ambition virtue !”   From the first suggestion of suspicion by his ensnarer,       2 1 6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Othello is impatient for assurance, and finds suspense in* tolerable. Why? Not surely because he is eager to convict his wife of infidelity ; but rather because he will not allow his passionate desire to believe her pure to abuse him, and retain him in a fool’s paradise, while a great agony may possibly remain before him.   Of the tragic story, what is the final issue ? The cen- tral point of its spiritual import lies in the contrast be- tween the two men, lago and his victim. Tg£o^ w ith kp.p,n intellectua l faculties and manifold culture in Ital ianTJce,— !iTOsJaiiii.tbri^^^e&j afte^ his fa shio n in a world from which_ all ^V^W^ ^nd fl.11 hftflnty arft nhsp.n t. Othello, w itL-hlg b arbaric injap(?pnp.ft and rpg^] rna ^nificence of soul , must c ease t O-livpi the , moment he ceases to retain faith iu -the purity an d g^oodness which were to him the high est and •mngFr pql thiugs iipQu p^rtJ? – Or, if he live, life must be- come to him a cruel agony. Shakspere compels us to ac- knowledge that self-slaughter is a rapturous energy — that such prolonged agony is joy in comparison with the earthly life-in-death of such a soul as that of lago. The noble nature is taken in the toils because it is noble, lago suspects his wife of every baseness, but the suspicion has no other effect than to intensify his malignity. lago could not be captured and constrained to heroic suffering and rage. The shame of every being who bears the name of woman is credible to lago, and yet he can grate from his throat the jarring music :   ” And let me the canakin clink, clink ; And let me the canakin clink.”   There is, therefpre, Shakspere would have us understand, something more inimical to humanity than suffering — namely, an incapacity for noble pain. To die as Othello dies is indeed grievous. But to live as lago lives, de- vouring the dust and stinging — this is more appalling.       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 217   Such is til spiritual motive that controls the tragedy. And the validity of this truth is demonstrable to every sound conscience. No supernatural authority needs to be summoned to bear witness to this reality of human life. IsTo pallid flame of hell, no splendor of dawning heaven, needs show itself beyond the verge of earth to illumine this truth. It is a portion of the ascertained fact of human nature, and of this our mortal existence. “We look upon ” the tragic loading of the bed,” and we see lago in presence of the ruin he has wrought. We are not compelled to seek for any resolution of these ap- parent discords in any alleged life to come. That may also be ; we shall accept it, if it be. But looking sternly and strictly at what is now actual and present to our sight, we yet rise above despair. Desdemona’s adhesion to her husband and to love survived the ultimate trial. Othello dies ” upon a kiss.” He perceives his own calamitous error, and he recognizes Desdemona pure and loyal as she was. Goodness is justified of her child. It is evil which suffers defeat. It is lago whose whole ex- istence has been most blind, purposeless, and miserable — a struggle against the virtuous powers of the world, by which at last he stands convicted and condemned.   n.   There is a line in the play of Macbeth^ uttered as the evening shadows begin to gather on the day of Banquo’s murder, which we may repeat to ourselves as a motto of the entire tragedy, ” Good things of day begin to droop ‘^’ and drowse.” It is the tragedy of the twilight and the setting-in of thick darkness upon a human soul. We assist at the spectacle of a terrible sunset in folded clouds of blood. To the last, however, one thin hand’s-breadth of melancholy light remains — the sadness of the day with- out its strength. Macbeth is the prey of a profound       2 1 8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   world- weariness. And while a huge ennui pursues crime, the criminal is not yet in utter blackness of night. When the play opens, the sun is already dropping below the verge. And as at sunset strange winds arise and gather the clouds to westward with mysterious pause and stir. so the play of Macbeth opens with movement of mysteri- ous, spiritual powers, which are auxiliary of that awful shadow which first creeps and then strides across the moral horizon.   It need hardly be once more repeated that the Witches of Macbeth are not the broom-stick witches of vulgar tra- dition.^ If they are grotesque, they are also sublime.   * The theory of Messrs. Clark and Wright (Clarendon Press edition of Macheth\ that the play is an alteration by Middleton of a tragedy of Shak- spere, is accepted by Mr. Fleay, and carried farther into detail (Trans. New Sh. Soc, 1874). Mr. Fleay is of opinion that the witches around the caldron (act iv., sc. 1) are creations of Shakspere; but he beUeves that they are en- tirely distinct from the three “weird sisters,” the Nornae of act i., sc. 3. He writes : ” In Holinshed we find that * Macbeth and Banquo were met by iij women in straunge and ferly apparell resembling creatures of an elder world ‘y that they vanished ; that at first by Macbeth and Banquo * they were reputed but some vayne fantasticall illusion,’ but afterwards the common opinion was that they were * eyther the weird sisters — that is, ye Goddesses of destinie — or else some Nimphes or Feiries endewed with knowledge of prophesie by their Nicromanticall science ‘ (act ii., sc. 2). But in the part corresponding to IV. i., Macbeth is warned to take heed of Macduff by * cer- tain wysardes ;’ but he does not kill him, because * a certain witch whom he had in great trust’ had given him the two other equivocal predictions. Now, it is to me incredible that Shakspere, who in the parts of the play not rejected by the Cambridge editors never uses the word, or alludes to witches in any way, should have degraded * ye Goddesses of destinie ‘ to three old women, who are called by Paddock and Grimalkin, . . . sail in sieves, kill Bwine, serve Hecate, and deal in all the common charms, illusions, and in- cantations of vulgar witches. The three, who * look not like the inhabitants o’ th’ earth, and yet are on’t ;’ they who * can look into the seeds of time and say which grain will grow ;’ they who ‘ seem corporal,’ but ^ melt into the air ‘ like * bubbles of the earth ;’ * the wey ward sisters,’ who ‘■ make them- selves air,’ and have *more than mortal knowledge,’ are not beings of this Btamp.” Mr. Fleay’s difficulty is that in III. iv. 133, and IV. i. 136, Macbeth calls the witches of IV. i. ” the weird sisters,” and he acknowledges that h«       Othello: Macbeth; Lear. 219   The weird sisters of our dramatist may take their place beside the terrible old women of Michael Aogelo, who spin the destinies of man. Shakspere is no more afraid than Michael Angelo of being vulgar. It is the feeble, sentimental-ideal artist who is nervous about the dignity of his conceptions, and who, in aiming at the great, attains only the grandiose ; he thins away all that is positive and material, in the hope of discovering some novelty of shad- owy horror. But the great ideal artists — Michael Angelo, Dante, Blake, Beethoven — see things far more dreadful than the vague horrors of the romanticist ; they are per- fectly fearless in their use of the^aterial, the definite, the gross, the so – called vulgar. ) And thus Shakspere fearlessly showed us his weird sisters, ” the Goddesses of destinie,” brewing infernal charms in their wicked cal- dron. We cannot quite dispense in this life with ritual- ism, and the ritualism of evil is foul and ugly ; the hell- broth which the Witche s are cooking bubbles up with no refined, spiritual poison ; the quintessence of mischief is being brewed out of foul things which can be enumerat- ed; thick and slab the gruel must be made. Yet these weird sisters remain terrible and sublime. They tingle in every fibre with evil energy, as the tempest does with the electric current ; their malignity is inexhaustible ; they are wells of sin springing up into everlasting death ; they have their raptures and ecstasies in crime ; they snatch with delight at the relics of impiety and foul dis- ease ; they are the awful inspirers of murder, insanity, suicide.   The weird sisters, says Gervinus, ” are simply the em- bodiment of inward temptation.” They are surely much more than this. If we must regard the entire universe       cannot at present solve this difficulty. It is hardly, perhaps, a sound method of criticism to invent an hypothesis which creates an insoluble difficulty.       220 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   as a manifestation of an unknown somewhat whieli lies behind it, we are compelled to admit that there is an apocalypse of power auxiliary to vice, as really as there is a manifestation of virtuous energy. All venerable mythologies admit this fact. The Mephistopheles of Goethe remains as the testimony of our scientific nine- teenth century upon the matter. The history of the race, and the social medium in which we live and breathe, have created forces of good and evil which are independent of the will of each individual man and woman. The sins of past centuries taint the atmosphere of to-day. We move through the world subject to accumulated forces of evil and of good outside ourselves. We are caught up at times upon a stream of viftuous force, a beneficent current which bears us onward towards an abiding-place of joy, of purity, and of sacrifice ; or a counter-current drifts us towards darkness and cold and death. And therefore no great realist in art has hesitated to admit the existence of what theologians name divine grace, and of what theologians name Satanic temptation. (^ There is, in truth, no such thing as ” naked manhood.” The at- tempt to divorce ourselves from the large impersonal life of the world, and to erect ourselves into independent wills, is the dream of the idealist.) And between the evil within and the evil without subsists a terrible sympathy and reciprocity. There is in the atmosphere a zymotic poison of sin ; and the constitution which is morally en- feebled supplies appropriate nutriment for the germs of disease ; while the hardy moral nature repels the same germs. Macbeth is infected ; Banquo passes free.* Let us, then, not inquire after the names of these fatal sisters.       * ” Banquo. Merciful powers   Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature Gives way to in repose !”       f       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 221   Nameless they are, and sexless. It is enough to know that such powers auxiliary to vice do exist outside our- selves, and that Shakspere was scientifically accurate % his statement of the fact.   But it is also by no means difficult to believe that in the mere matter of superstition, in all that relates to pre- sentiments, dreams, omens, ghost belief, and such like, Shakspere would have failed to satisfy the requirements of enlightened persons of to-day, who receive their re- ports of the universe through the scientific article in the newest magazine :   ” There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”   ” They say miracles are past ” (Laf eu is speaking in All ‘5 Well that Ends Well) ; ” and we have our philosophical per- sons, to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Hence is it that we make trifles of terrors ; ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.” * How- ever we may account for it, the fact is unquestionable that some of the richest creative natures of the world have all their lives been believers, if not with their intel- lect, at least with their instinctive feelings and their im- agination, in much of the old-wives’ lore of the nursery. Scott does not as a sceptic make use in his novels of ghostly and supernatural machinery merely for the sake of producing certain artistic effects. He retained at least a half -faith in the Gothic mythology of the North. Goethe for a time devoted himself to the pursuit of al- chemy. In ” The Spanish Gypsy ” of George Eliot, from the necklace of Zarca dim mastering powers, blind yet strong, pass into his daughter’s will ; and in that poem the science of modern psychology accepts certain of the   * Act ii., sc. 8.       2 22 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   facts of old superstitions — accepts them and explains them. We slighter and smaller natures can deprive our- selves altogether of the sense for such phenomena ; we can elevate ourselves into a rare atmosphere of intellect- uality and incredulity. The wider and richer natures of creative artists have received too large an inheritance from the race, and have too fully absorbed all the influ- ences of their environment for this to be possible in their case.( While dim recollections and forefeelings haunt their blood, they cannot enclose themselves in a little pinfold of demonstrable knowledge and call it the universe.’^   ” The true reason for the first appearance of^^the Witches,” Coleridge has said, ” is to strike the key-note of the character of the whole drama.” They appear in a desert place, with thunder and lightning ; it is the barren and blasted place where evil has obtained the mastery of things. Observe that the last words of the Witches, in the opening scene of the play, are the first words which Macbeth himself utters,   ” Fair is foul, and foul is f ai^ If   Hover through the fog and filthy air.” *   Macbeth. ” So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” Shakspere intimates by this that although Macbeth has not yet set eyes upon these hags, the connection is already established between his soul and them. Their spells have already wrought upon his blood. When the three sisters meet Macbeth and Banquo upon the heath, it is Banquo to whom they are first visible in the gray, northern air. To Banquo they are objective — they are outside himself, and he can observe and describe their strange aspect, their wild attire, and their mysterious gesture. Macbeth is rapt in silence, and then with eager longing demands, a ” Speak if you can : what are you ?” ; When they have \   * Words uttered by all three witches, after each has singly spoken thrice.       ^       ^       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 223   given him the three hails — as Glamis, as Cawdor, and as King ; the hail of the past, of the present, of the future — • Macbeth starts. ” It is a full revelation of his criminal aptitudes/’ Mr. Hudson has well said, ” that so startles and surprises him into a rapture of meditation.” And, besides this, (Macbeth is startled to find that there is a terrible correspondence established between the baser in- stincts of his own heart and certain awful external agen- cies of evil.)   (Shakspere does not believe in any sudden transforma- tion of a noble and loyal soul into that of a traitor and murderer./ At the outset Macbeth possesses no real fidel- ity to things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely. He is simply not yet in alliance with the powers of evil. He has aptitudes for goodness and aptitudes for crime. ( Shakspere felt profoundly that this careless attitude of suspense or indifference between virtue and vice cannot continue long^ The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Those who lack energy of goodness, and drop into a languid neutrality between the antagonist spiritual forces of the world, must serve the devil as slaves if they will not decide to serve God as freemen.   But beside the vague yet mastering inspiration of crime received from the Witches, there is, the more defi- nite inspiration received from his wife. Qd^acbeth is ex- citably imaginative, and his imagination alternately stim- ulates and enfeebles him. The facts in their clear-cut outline disappear in the dim atmosphere of surmise, de- sire, fear, hope, which the spirit of Macbeth effuses around the fact. But his wife sees things in the clearest and most definite outline. ) Her delicate frame is filled with high-strung nervous energy.”^ With her to perceive is       e” According to my notion,” Mrs. Siddons wrote, ” [Lady Macbeth’s beau, is of that character which I believe is generally allowed to be most cap-       224 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   forthwith to decide, to decide is to act.) Having resolved upon her end, a practical logic convinces her that the means are implied and determined. iMacbeth resolves, and falters back from action ;v now he is restrained by his imagination, now by his fears, now by his lingering vel- leities towards a loyal and honorable existence. He is unable to keep in check or put under restraint any one of the various incoherent powers of his nature, which impede and embarrass each the action of the other, dLady Macbeth gains, for the time, sufficient strength by throw- ing herself passionately into a single purpose, and by res- olutely repressing all that is inconsistent with that pur- pose. Into the service of evil she carries some of the intensity and energy of asceticism — she cuts off from her- self her better nature, she yields to no weak paltering with conscience. “I have given suck,” she exclaims, “and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.” She is unable to stab Duncan because he resembles her father in his sleep ; she is appalled by the copious blood in which the old man lies, and the horror of the sight clings to her memory; the smell of the blood is hateful to her, and almost insupportable; she had not been without apprehension that her feminine nature might fail to carry her through the terrible ordeal, through which she yet resolved that it should be compelled to pass. She must not waste an atom of her strength of will, which has to serve for two murderers — for her husband as well as for herself. She puts into requisition, with the aid of   tivating to the other sex — fair, feminine, nay, perhaps even fragile.” Dr. Bucknill (before he was aware that Mrs. Siddons held a similar opinion) wrote, ” Lady Macbeth was a lady beautiful and delicate, whose one vivid passion proves that her organization was instinct with nerve force, unop- pressed by weight of flesh. Probably she was small ; for it is the smaller Bort of woman whose emotional fire is the most fierce, and she herself bears imconscious testimony to the fact that her hand was little ” (” Mad Folk%S Shakespeare,” p. 45). She is Macbeth’s ” dearest chuck.”       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 225   wine and of stimulant words, the reserve of nervous force which lay unused. JSTo witches have given her ” Hail ;” no airy dagger marshals her the way that she is going ; nor is she afterwards haunted by the terrible vision of Banquo’s gory head. As long as her will remains her ^ own, she can throw herself upon external facts, and main- tain herself in relation with the definite, actual surround- ings ;^it is in her sleep, when the will is incapable of action, that she is persecuted by the pastNwhich perpetu- ally renews itself, not in ghostly shapes, but by the im- agined recurrence of real and terrible incidents.   The fears of Lady Macbeth upon the night of Dun- can’s murder are the definite ones, that the murderers may be detected ; that some omission in the prearranged plan may occur; that she or her husband may be sum- moned to appear before the traces of their crime have been removed. More awful considerations would press in upon her and overwhelm her sanity, but that she forc- ibly repels them for the time :   ” These deeds must not be thought After these ways ; so, it will make us mad.”   To her the sight of Duncan dead is a^ terrible as to Mac- beth ; but she takes the dagger from her husband, and, with a forced jest, hideous in the self-violence which it implies, she steps forth into the dark corridor :   ” If he do bleed, 1*11 gild the faces of the grooms withal ; For it must seem their guilt.”   ” A play of fancy here is like a gleam of ghastly sun- shine striking across a stormy landscape.” ^ The knock- ing at the gate clashes upon her overstrained nerves and thrills her ; but she has determination and energy to di- rect the actions of Macbeth and rouse him from the mood   * Madbet\ Clarendon Press edition, p, 108.^ 16       2 26 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   of abject depression which succeeded his crime. A white flame of resohition glows through her delicate organiza- tion, like light through an alabaster lamp :   ” Infirm of purpose ! Give me the daggers : the sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures : ’tis the eye of childhood That fears a painted devil.”   If the hold which she possesses over her own faculties should relax for a moment, all would be lost. For dread- ful deeds anticipated and resolved upon she has strength ; butUhe surprise of a novel horror on which she has not counted deprives her suddenly of consciousness.’^ When Macbeth announces his butchery of Duncan’s grooms, the lady swoons — not in feigning, but in fact — and is borne away insensible. / Macbeth wastes himself in vague, imaginative remorse :   ” Will not great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand ? No, this my hand will rather The multitudinous seas incarnadine, Making the green one red.”   Thus his imagination serves to dissipate the impression of his conscience. . What is the worth of this vague, im- aginative remorse? (Macbeth retained enough of good- ness to make him a haggard, miserable criminal ; never enough to restrain him from a crime. ) His hand soon became subdued to what it worked in — the blood in which it paddled and plashed. And yet the loose inco- herent faculties, ever becoming more and more disorgan- ized and disintegrated, somehow held together till the end. ” My hands are of your color,” exclaims Lady Macbeth ; ” but I shame to wear a heart so white. A little water clears us of this deed.” Yet it is she, who has uttered no large words about ” the multitudinous seas,” who will rise in slumbery agitation, and, with her accustomed action, eagerly essay to remove from her       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 227   little hand its ineffaceable stain, and, with her delicate sense, sicken at the smell of blood upon it, which ” all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten ;” and, last, will loosen the terrible constriction of her heart with a sigh that longs to be perpetual. VJt is the queen, and not her husband, who is slain by conscience. ^ / Yet the soul of Macbeth never quite disappears into the blackness of darkness. He is a cloud without water, carried about of winds ; a tree whose fruit withers, but not, even to the last, quite plucked up by the roots. For the dull ferocity of Macbeth is joyless. All his life has gone irretrievably astray, and he is aware of this. His suspicion becomes uncontrollable ; his reign is a reign of terror; and as he drops deeper and deeper into the sol- itude and the gloom, his. sense of error and misfortune, futile and unproductive as that sense is, increases. He moves under a dreary cloud, and all things look gray and cold. He has lived long enough, yet he clings to life ; that which should accompany old age, “as honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,” he may not look to have. Finally, his sensibility has grown so dull that even the intelligence of his wife’s death — the death of her who had been bound to him by such close communion in crime — hardly touches him, and seems little more than one additional incident in the weary, meaningless tale of   ” She should have died hereafter ; There would have been a time for such a word. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time ; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle ! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more ; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”       228 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   This world-weariness, which has not the energy of Ti* men’s despair, is yet less remote from the joy and glory of true living than is the worm -like vivacity of lago. Macbeth remembers that he once knew there was such a thing as human goodness.. He stands a haggard shadow against the hand’s-breadth of pale sky which yields us suf- ficient light to see him. But lago rises compact with fiend-like energy, seen brightly in the godless glare of hell. [The end of Macbeth is savage and almost brutal — a death without honor or loveliness. He fights now not like ” Bellona’s bridegroom lapp’d in proof,” but with a wild and animal clinging to life :   ” They have tied me to a stake ; I cannot fly, But, bear-like, I must fight the course.”   His followers desert him ; he feels himself taken in a trap. The powers of evil in which he had trusted turn against him and betray him. His courage becomes a des- perate rage. We are in pain until the horrible necessity is accomplished.   Shakspere pursues Macbeth no farther. He does not follow him with yearning conjecture, as Mr. Browning follows the murderer of his poem, ” The King and the Book,”   ” Into that sad, obscure, sequestered state. Where God unmakes but to remake the soul He else made first in vain.”   Our feet remain on solid Scottish earth. But a new   and better era of history dawns. Macbeth and Siward’s   son lie dead ; but the world goes on. The tragic deeds   take up their place in the large life of a country. We   suffer no dejection ; ” the time is free.” Sane and strong,   we expect the day when Malcolm will be crowned at   Scone.   in.   The tragedy of Kmg Lear was estimated by Shelley,             -Cy’vv^C-‘-‘^’       ^y ^ ‘*^ Othelb; Macbeth; Lear, 229   in his ” Defence of Poetry,” as an equivalent in modern literature for the trilogy in the literature of Greece with which the (Edipus Tyrannus^ or that with which the Agamemnon stands connected. King Lear is^ indeed^ the grea test single achievement in poetry of the Teu- tonic, or ISTorthern, genius. By its largeness of concep- tion and the variety of its details, by its revelation of a harmony existing between the forces of nature and the passions of man, by its grotesqueness and its sublimity, it owns kinship with the great cathedrals of Gothic ar- chitecture. To conceive, to compass, to comprehend, at once in its stupendous unity and in its almost endless variety, a building like the cathedral of Kheims, or that of Cologne, is a feat which might seem to defy the most athletic imagination. But the impression which Shak- spere’s tragedy produces, while equally large — almost monstrous — and equally intricate, lacks the material fix- ity and determinateness of that produced by these great works in stone. Everything in the tragedy is in motion, and the motion is that of a tempest. A grotesque head, which was peering out upon us from a point near at hand, suddenly changes its place and its expression, and now is seen driven or fading away into the distance with lips and eyes that, instead of grotesque, appear sad and pathetic’ All that we see around us is tempestuously whirling and heaving, yet we are aware that a law pre- sides over this vicissitude and apparent incoherence. We are confident that there is a logic of the tempest. While each thing appears to be torn from its proper place, and to have lost its natural supports and stays, instincts, pas- sions, reason, all wrenched and contorted, yet each thing in this seeming chaos takes up its place with infallible assurance and precision.   /In King Lear^ more than in any other of his plays, Snakspere stands in presence of the mysteries of humau       230 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   life. A more impatient intellect would have proposed explanations of these. A less robust spirit would have permitted the dominant tone of the play to become an eager or pathetic wistfulness respecting the significance of these hard riddles in the destiny of man. Shakspere checks such wistful curiosity, though it exists discern- ibly ; he will present life as it is. If life proposes inex- plicable riddles, Shakspere’s art must propose them also. But, while Shakspere will present life as it is, and sug- gest no inadequate explanations of its difficult problems, he will gaze at life not only from within^ but, if possible, also from an extra-mundane, extra-human point of view, and, gazing thence at life, will try to discern what aspect this fleeting and wonderful phenomenon presents to the eyes of gods. /Hence a grand irony in the tragedy of Lear; hence au^rn it that is great is also small; all that is tragically sublime is also grotesque. Hence it sees man walking in a vain shadow ; groping in the mist ; committing extravagant mistakes ; wandering from light into darkness ; stumbling back again from darkness into light ; spending his strength in barren and impotent rages ; man in his weakness, his unreason, his affliction, his anguish, his poverty and meanness, his everlasting greatness and majesty^ Hence, too, the characters, while they remain individual men and women, are ideal, rep- resentative, typical ; Goneril and Regan, the destructive force, the ravening egoism in humanity which is at war with all goodness; Kent, a clear, unmingled fidelity; Cordelia, unmingled tenderness and strength, a pure re- deeming ardor. As we read the play we are haunted by a presence of something beyond the story of a suffering old man ; we become dimly aware that the play has some rast impersonal significance, like the Prometheus Bound of ^schylus, and like Goethe’s Faust We seem to gaze upon ” huge, cloudy symbols of some high romance.”       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 23 1   What was irony when human life was viewed from the outside, extra-mundane point of view becomes, when life is viewed from within, Stoicism. For to Stoicism the mere phenomenon of human existence is a vast piece of unreason and grotesqueness, and from this unreason and grotesqueness Stoicism makes its escape by becoming in- different to the phenomenon, and by devotion to the mor- al idea, the law of the soul, which is forever one with it- self and with the highest reason. The ethics of the play of King Lear are Stoical ethics. Shakspere’s fidelity to the fact will allow him to deny no pain or calamity that befalls man. “There was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently.” ‘^ He knows that it is impossible to   ” Fetter strong madness in a silken thread, Charm ache with air, and agony with words.”   He admits the suffering, the weakness, of humanity ; but he declares that in the inner law there is a constraining power stronger than a silken thread; in the fidelity^ of pure hearts, in the rapture of love and sacrifice, there is a charm which is neither air nor words, but, indeed, po- tent enough to subdue pain and make calamity accepta- ble. Cordelia, who utters no word in excess of her actual feeling, can declare, as she is led to prison, her calm and decided acceptance of her lot :   ” We are not the first Who, with best meaning, have incurred the worst ; For thee, oppressed king, I am cast down ; Myself could else out-frown false fortune’s frown.” t   But though ethical principles radiate through the play   “^ Much Ado About Nothing^ act v., sc. 1.   f Compare also, as expressing the mood in which calamity must be con« fronted, the words of Edgar :   ” Men must endure Their going hence, even as their coming hither; Ripeness is all.”       232 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   of Lear^ its chief function is not, even indirectly, to teach or inculcate moral truth, but rather, by the direct presen- tation of a vision of human life and of the envelopiug forces of nature, to ” free, arouse, dilate.” We may be unable to set down in words any set of truths which we have been taught by the drama. But can we set down in words the precise moral significance of a fugue of Handel or a symphony of Beethoven? We are kindled and aroused by them ; our whole nature is quickened ; it passes from the habitual, hard, encrusted, and cold condi- tion into “the fluid and attaching state” — the state in which we do not seek truth and beauty, but attract and are sought by them ; the state in which ” good thoughts stand before us like free children of God, and cry ‘ We are come.’ ” ^ The play or the piece of music is not a code of precepts or a body of doctrine ;f it is “a focus where a number of vital forces unite in their purest en- ergy.”   ^n the play of King Lear we come into contact with the imagination, the heart, the soul of Shakspere, at a moment when they attained their most powerful and in- tense vitality^ ” He was here,” Hazlitt wrote, “‘ fairly caught in the web of his own imagination.” And being thus aroused about deeper things, Shakspere did not in this play feel that mere historical verisimilitude was of chief importance. He found the incidents recorded in history and ballad and drama; he accepted them as he found them. Our imagination must grant Shakspere certain postulates, those which the story that had taken root in the hearts of the people already specified. The   * Goethe^s ” Conversations with Eckermann,” Feb. 24, 1824.   f Flathe, who ordinarily finds all preceding critics wrong and himself pro- foundly right, discovers in King Lear Shakspere’s ” warning letter against naturalism and pseudo-rationalism ;” the play is translated into a didactia discourse on infidelity.       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 233   old ” Chronicle History of King Leir ” had assigned in- genious motives for the apparently improbable conduct ascribed to the King. He resolves that upon Cordelia’s protesting that she loves him he will say, ” Then, daugh- ter, grant me one request — accept the husband I have chosen for you,” and thus he will take her at a vantage. It would have been easy for Shakspere to have secured this kind of verisimilitude ; it would have been easy for him to have referred the conduct of Lear to ingeniously invented motives ; he could, if he had chosen, by psycho- logical fence have turned aside the weapons of those as- sailants who lay to his charge improbability and unnatu- ralness. But then the key-note of the play would have been struck in another mode. Shakspere did not at all care to justify himself by special pleading and psychology ical fence. The sculptor of the Laocoon has not engraved below his group the lines of Virgil which describe the progress of the serpent towards his victims ; he was in- terested in the supreme moment of the father’s agony, and in the piteous effort and unavailing appeal of the children. Shakspere, in accordance with his dramatic method, drove forward across the intervening accidents towards the passion of Lear in all its stages, his wild re- volt against humanity, his conflict with the powers of night and tempest, his restoration through the sacred balm of a daughter’s love.   ITevertheless, though its chief purpose be to get the forces of the drama into position before their play upon one another begins, the first scene cannot be incoherent. In the opening sentence Shakspere gives us clearly to un- derstand that the partition of the kingdom between Al- bany and Cornwall is already accomplished. In the con- cluding sentences we are reminded of Lear’s ” inconstant starts,” of “the unruly waywardness that infirm and choleric years bring with them.” It is evidently intend*       2 34 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   ed that we should understand the demand made upon his daughters for a profession of their love to havd been a sudden freak of self -indulged waywardness, in which there was something of jest, something of unreason, some- thing of the infirmity which requires demonstrations of the heart.^ Having made the demand, however, it must not be refused. Lear’s will must be opposeless. It is the centre and prime force of his little universe. To be thrown out of this passionate wilfulness, to be made a passive thing, to be stripped first of affection, then of power, then of home or shelter, last, of reason itself, and, finally, to learn the preciousness of true love only at the moment when it must be forever renounced — such is the awful and purifying ordeal through which Lear is com- pelled to pass.   Shakspere ” takes ingratitude,” Victor Hugo has said, “and he gives this monster two heads, Goneril . . . and Regan.” The two terrible creatures are, however, dis-   * Coleridge writes, ” The first four or five lines of the play let us know that the trial is but a trick ; and that the grossness of the old King’s rage is in part the natural result of a silly trick suddenly and most unexpectedly baffled and disappointed.” Dr. Bucknill maintains that the partition of the kingdom is ” the first act of Lear’s developing insanity.” ShaJcespeare-Jahr- huchy vol. ii., contains a short and interesting article by Ulrici on ” Ludwig Devrient as King Lear.” That great actor, if Ulrici might trust his own im- pression, would seem to have understood the first scene of the play in the sense in which Ulrici himself explains it — viz., that Lear’s demand for a dec- laration of his daughter’s love was sudden and sportive, made partly to pass the time until the arrival of Burgundy and France. Having assigned their portions to Goneril and Regan, there could not be a serious meaning in Lear’s   words to Cordelia :   ” What can you say to draw A third more opulent than your sisters ?”   The words were said with a smile, yet, at the same time, with a secret and flinging desire for the demonstration of love demanded. All the more is Lear surprised and offended by Cordelia’s earnest and almost judicial reply. But Cordelia is at once suppressing and in this way manifesting her indigna* tion against her sisters’ heartless flattery.       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 235   tinguishable. Goneril is the calm wielder of a pitiless force, the resolute initiator of cruelty. Regan is a small- er, shriller, fiercer, more eager piece of malice. The tyr- anny of the elder sister is a cold, persistent pressure, as little affected by tenderness or scruple as the action of some crushing hammer; Regan’s ferocity is more un- measured, and less abnormal or monstrous. Regan would avoid her father, and, while she confronts him alone, quails a little as she hears the old man’s curse pronounced against her sister :   ” the blest gods ! so will you wish on me When the rash mood is on.”   But Goneril knows that a helpless old man is only a help- less old man, that words are merely words. When, after Lear’s terrible malediction, he rides away with his train, Goneril, who would bring things to an issue, pursues her father, determined to see matters out to the end.^ To complete the horror they produce in us, these monsters are amorous. Their love is even more hideous than their hate. The wars of   ” Dragons of the prime That tare each other in their slime ”   formed a spectacle less prodigious than their mutual blandishments and caresses.   ” Regan, I know your lady does not love her husband ; I am sure of that : and at her late being here She gave strange oeillades and most speaking looks To noble Edmund.”   To the last Goneril is true to her character. Regan is despatched out of life by her sister ; Goneril thrusts her own life aside, and boldly enters the great darkness of the grave.   Of the secondary plot of this tragedy — the story of   * It is Goneril who first suggests the plucking-out of Gloucester’s eyes. The points of contrast between the sisters are well brought out by Gervinua       236 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Gloucester and his sons — Schlegel has explained one chief signijB.cance : ” Were Lear alone to suffer from his daughters, the impression would be limited to the pow- erful compassion felt by us for his private misfortune. But two such unheard-of examples taking place at the same time have the appearance of a great commotion in the moral world ; the picture becomes gigantic, and fills us with such alarm as we should entertain at the idea that the heavenly bodies might one day fall from their appointed orbits.” ^ The treachery of Edmund, and the torture to which Gloucester is subjected, are out of the course of familiar experience ; but they are commonplace and prosaic in comparison with the inhumanity of the sisters and the agony of Lear. When we have climbed the steep ascent of Gloucester’s mount of passion, we see still above us another via dolorosa leading to that   ” Wall of eagle-baffling mountain, Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured,’*   to which Lear is chained. Thus the one story of horror serves as a means of approach to the other, and helps us to conceive its magnitude. The two, as Schlegel observes, produce the impression of a great commotion in the moral world. The thunder which breaks over our head does not suddenly cease to resound, but is reduplicated, multi- plied, and magnified, and rolls away with long reverbera- tion.   Shakspere also desires to augment the moral mystery, the grand inexplicableness of the play. We can assign causes to explain the evil in Edmund’s heart. His birth is shameful, and the brand burns into his heart and brain. He has been thrown abroad in the world, and is con- strained by none of the bonds of nature or memory, of *i I i I i ■■ II i<   ♦ “Lectures on Dramatic Art,” translated by J. Black, p. 412.       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 237   habit or association.* A hard, sceptical intellect, unin- spired and unfed by the instincts of the heart, can easily enough reason away the consciousness of obligations the most sacred. Edmund’s thought is “active as a virulent acid, eating its rapid way through all the tissues of human sentiment.”t His mind is destitute of dread of the Di- vine Nemesis. Like lago, like Eichard III., he finds the regulating force of the universe in the ego — in the in- dividual will. But that terror of the unseen which Ed- mund scorned as so much superstition is ” the initial rec- ognition of a moral law restraining desire, and checks the hard bold scrutiny of imperfect thought into obligations which can never be proved to have any sanctity in the absence of feeling.” “We can, therefore, in some degree account for Edmund’s bold egoism and inhumanity. What obligations should a child feel to the man who, for a moment’s selfish pleasure, had degraded and stained his entire life? In like manner, Gloucester’s sufferings do not appear to us inexplicably mysterious.   ” The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Make instruments to plague us ; The dark and vicious place where thee he got Cost him his eyes.”   But, having gone to the end of our tether, and ex- plained all that is explicable, we are met by enigmas which will not be explained. We were, perhaps, some- what too ready to   ” Take upon us the mystery of things As if we were God’s spies.” %   Now we are baffled, and bow the head in silence. Is it,   * Gloucester (act i., sc. 1) says of Edmund, ” He hath been out nine years, and away he shall again.”   t This and the quotation next following will be remembered by readers of ^* Romola ;” they occur in that memorable chapter entitled ” Tito’s Dilemma.’*   \ Words of Lear (act v., sc. 3),       2 38 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   indeed, the stars that govern our condition ? Upon what theory shall we account for the sisterhood of a Goneril and a Cordelia % And why is it that Gloucester, whose suffering is the retribution for past misdeeds, should be restored to spiritual calm and light, and should pass away in a rapture of mingled gladness and grief,   ” His flawM heart, Alack ! too weak the conflict to support, ‘Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief, Burst smilingly ;   while Lear, a man more sinned against than sinning, should be robbed of the comfort of Cordelia’s love, should be stretched to the last moment upon “the rack of this tough world,” and should expire in the climax of a paroxysm of unproductive anguish ?   Shakspere does not attempt to answer these questions. The impression which the facts themselves produce, their influence to ” free, arouse, dilate,” seems to Shakspere more precious than any proposed explanation of the facts which cannot be verified. The heart is purified not by dogma, but by pity and terror. But there are other ques- tions which the play suggests. If it be the stars that govern our conditions ; if that be, indeed, a possibility which Gloucester, in his first shock and confusion of mind, declares,   ” As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods ; They kill us for their sport ;”   if, measured by material standards, the innocent and the guilty perish by a like fate — what then ? Shall we yield ourselves to the lust for pleasure ? shall we organize our lives upon the principles of a studious and pitiless ego- ism?   To these questions the answer of Shakspere is clear and emphatic. Shall we stand upon GoneriPs side or upon that of Cordelia ? Shall we join Edgar or join the       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 239   traitor? Shakspere opposes the presence and the influ- ence of evil not by any transcendental denial of evil, but by the presence of human virtue, fidelity, and self -sacrifi- cial love. In no play is there a clearer, an intenser man- ifestation of loyal manhood, of strong and tender woman- hood. The devotion of Kent to his master is a passion- ate, unsubduable devotion, which might choose for its watchword thcisaying of Goethe, “I love you; what is that to you?” Edgar’s nobility of nature is not dis- guised by the beggar’s rags ; he is the skilful resister of evil, the champion of right to the utterance. And if Goneril and Eegan alone would leave the world unintel- ligible and desperate, there is   ” One daughter, Who redeems nature from the general curse Which twain have brought her to.”   We feel throughout the play that evil is abnormal; a curse which brings down destruction upon itself ; that it is without any long career ; that evil-doer is at variance with evil-doer. But good is normal ; for it the career is long ; and ” all honest and good men are disposed to be- friend honest and good men, as such.” ^   ” Cordelia. thou good Kent, how shall I live, and work, To match thy goodness ! My life will be too short, And every measure fail me.   Kent, To be acknowledged, madam, is overpaid. All my reports go with the modest truth ; Nor more, nor clipped, but so.”   liTevertheless, when everything has been said that can be said to make the world intelligible, when we have striven our utmost to realize all the possible good that exists in the world, a need of fortitude remains.   It is worthy of note that each of the principal person- ages of the play is brought into presence of those mys-   * Butler, ” Analogy,” part i., ch. iii.       240 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   terious powers which dominate life and preside over hu- man destiny ; and each, according to his character, is made to offer an interpretation of the great riddle. Of these interpretations, none is adequate to account for all the facts. Shakspere (differing in this from the old play) placed the story in heathen times, partly, we may sur- mise, that he might be able to put the question boldly, ” What are the gods ?” Edmund, as we have seen, dis- covers no power or authority higher than the will of the individual and a hard trenchant intellect. In the open- ing of the play he utters his ironical appeal :   ” I grow ; I prosper — Now gods stand up for bastards.” *   It is not until he is mortally wounded, with his brother standing over him, that the recognition of a moral law forces itself painfully upon his consciousness, and he makes his bitter confession of faith :   ” The wheel is come full circle, I am here.”   His self-indulgent father is, after the manner of the self- indulgent, prone to superstition ; and Gloucester’s super- stition affords some countenance to Edmund’s scepticism. ” This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeit of our own be- havior — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars, as if we were villains by necessity ; fools by heavenly compulsion ; knaves, thieves, and treach- ers by spherical predominance ; drunkards, liars, and adul- terers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in by a divine thrusting-on.”   Edgar, on the contrary, the champion of right, ever ac- tive in opposing evil and advancing the good cause, dis-   * Compare Edmund’s words (uttered with inward scorn) spoken of Edgar :   ” I told him the revenging gods ‘Gainst parricides did all their thunders bend.”       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 241   covers that the gods are upon the side of right, are un- ceasingly at work in the vindication of truth and the execution of justice. His faith lives through trial and disaster, a flame which will not be quenched. And he buoys up, by virtue of his own energy of soul, the spirit of his father, which, unprepared for calamity, is stagger- ing blindly, stunned from its power to think, and ready to sink into darkness and a welter of chaotic disbelief. Gloucester, in his first confusion of spirit, exclaims bit- terly against the divine government :   ” As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods ; They kill us for their sport.”   But before the end has come he “shakes patiently his great affliction off ; ” he will not quarrel with the ” great opposeless wills ” of the gods ; nay, more than this, be can identify his own will with theirs, he can accept life contentedly at their hands, or death. The words of Ed- gar find a response in his own inmost heart :   ” Thou happy father, Think that the clearest gods, who make them honors Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.”   And as Edgar, the justiciary, finds in the gods his fellow- workers in the execution of justice, so Cordelia, in whose heart love is a clear and perpetual illumination, can turn for assistance and co-operancy in her deeds of love to the strong and gentle rulers of the world :   ” you kind gods. Cure this great breach in his abused nature.”   Kent possesses no vision, like that which gladdens Ed- gar, of a divine providence. His loyalty to right has something in it of a desperate instinct, which persists, in spite of the appearances presented by the world. Shak- spere would have us know that there is not any devotion to truth, to justice, to charity, more intense and real than that of the man who is faithful to them out of the sheer 16       242 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   spirit of loyalty, unstimulated and unsupported by any faith which can be called theological. Kent, who has seen the vicissitude of things, knows of no higher pow- er presiding over the events of the world than fortune. Therefore, all the more, Kent clings to the passionate in- stinct of right-doing, and to the hardy temper, the forti- tude which makes evil, when it happens to come, endura- ble. It is Kent who utters his thought in the words —   ” Nothing almost sees miracles But misery.”   And the miracle he sees, in his distress, is the approach- ing succor from France, and the loyalty of Cordelia’s spirit. It is Kent, again, who, characteristically making the best of an unlucky chance, exclaims, as he settles him- self to sleep in the stocks,   ” Fortune, good night ; smile once more, turn thy wheel.”   And again :   “It is the stars, The stars above us, govern our conditions.”   And again (of Lear) :   ” If Fortune brag of two she loved and hated, One of them we behold.”   Accordingly, there is at once an exquisite tenderness in Kent’s nature, and also a certain roughness and hard- ness, needful to protect, from the shocks of life, the ten- derness of one who finds no refuge in communion with the higher powers, or in a creed of religious optimism.   But Lear himself — the central figure of the tragedy — what of him? What of suffering humanity that wan- ders from the darkness into light, and from the light into the darkness? Lear is grandly passive — played upon by all the manifold sources of nature and of so- ciety. And though he is in part delivered from his im- perious self-will, and learns, at last, what true love is, and that it exists in the world, Lear passes away from our       Othello; Macbeth; Lear. 243   sight, not in any mood of resignation or faith or illumi- nated peace, but in a piteous agony of yearning for that love which he had found only to lose forever. Does Shakspere mean to contrast the pleasure in a demonstra- tion of spurious affection in the first scene with the agonized cry for real love in the last scene, and does he wish us to understand that the true gain from the bitter discipline of Lear’s old age was precisely this — his ac- quiring a supreme need of what is best, though a need which finds, as far as we can learn, no satisfaction ?   We guess at the spiritual significance of the great tragic facts of the world, but, after our guessing, their mysteriousness remains.   Our estimate^ qf this drama as a whole, Mr. Hudson ha s said, depends very much on the view we take of the Fool ; and Mr. Hudson has himself understood Lear’s ” poor boy ” with such delicate sympathy that to arrive at pre- cisely the right point of view we need not go beyond his words : ” I know not how I can better describe the Fool than as the soul of pathos in a sort of comic masquerade ; one in whom fun and frolic are sublimed and idealized into tragic beauty. . . . His ‘ laboring to outjest Lear’s heart-struck injuries’ tells us that his wits are set a-danc- ing by grief ; that his jests bubble up from the depths of a heart struggling with pity and sorrow, as foam en- wreathes the face of deeply troubled waters. . . . There is all along a shrinking, velvet-footed delicacy of step in the Fool’s antics, as if awed by the holiness of the ground ; and he seems bringing diversion to the thoughts, that he may the better steal a sense of woe into the heart. And I am not clear whether the in- spired antics that sparkle from the surface of his mind are in more impressive contrast with the dark, tragic scenes into which they are thrown, like rockets into a midnight tempest, or with the undercurrent of deep tragic       244 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   thoughtfulness out of which they falteringly issue and play.” ^   Of the tragedy of King Lear a critic wishes to say as little as may be ; for, in the case of this play, words are more than ordinarily inadequate to express or describe its true impression^ A tempest or a dawn will not be ana- lyzed in words ; we must feel the shattering fury of the gale, we must watch the calm light broadening.f And the sensation experienced by the reader of King Lear re- sembles that produced by some grand natural phenome- non. The effect cannot be received at second-hand; it cannot be described ; it can hardly be suggested. %   * ” Shakespeare’s Life, Art, and Characters,” vol. ii., pp. 351, 352. What follows, too long to quote, is also excellent.   t In Victor Hugo’s volume of dithyrambic prophesying entitled “Will- iam Shakespeare,” a passage upon King Lear (ed. 1869, pp. 205-209) is par- ticularly noteworthy His point of view — that the tragedy is ” Cordelia,” not ” King Lear,” that the old King is only an occasion for his daughter — is abso- lutely wrong ; but the criticism, notwithstanding, catches largeness and pas- sion from the play. ” Et quelle figure que le pere ! quelle cariatide ! C’est I’homme courbe. H ne fait que changer de fardeaux, toujours plus lourds. Plus le vieillard f aiblit, plus le poids augmente. D vit sous la surcharge. n porte d’abord I’empire, puis I’ingratitude, puis I’isolement, puis le deses- poir, puis la faim et la soif, puis la folic, puis toute la nature. Les nuees viennent sur sa t^te, les forets Taccablent d’ombre, I’ouragan s’abat sur sa nuque, I’orage plombe son manteau, la pluie pese sur ses epaules, il marche plie et hagard, comme s’il avait les deux genoux de la nuit sur son dos. Eperdu et immense, il jette aux bourrasques et aux greles ce cri epique : Pourquoi me haissez-vous, tempetes ? pourquoi me persecutez-vous ? voiis n^etes pas mes filles. Et alors, c’est fini ; la lueur s’eteint, la raison se d6- courage, et s’en va, Lear est en enf ance. Ah ! il est enfant, ce vieillard. Eh bien ! il lui faut une m^re. Sa fille parait. Son unique fille, Cordelia. Car les deux autres, Regane et Goneril ne sont plus ses filles que de la quantite necessaire pour avoir droit au nom de parricides.” For the description of “I’adorable allaitement,” “the maternity of the daughter over the father,” see what follows, p. 208.   % In addition to the medical studies of Lear’s case by Doctors Bucknill and Kellogg, we may mention the “Konig Lear” of Dr. Carl Stark (Stutt- gart, 1871), favorably noticed in Shahespeare-Jahrhuchy vol. vi. ; and again bj Meissner, in his study of the play, Shakespeare-Jahrhuch^ vol. vii., pp. 110-11&       The Roman Plays. 245       CHAPTEK VI.   THE ROMAN PLAYS. I.   The two books which contributed the largest material towards the building-up of Shakspere’s art-structure were the chronicles of Holinshed, a quarry worked by the poet previous to I6OO5 and North’s translation of Plutarch’s ” Lives,” a quarry worked after 1600. To this latter source we owe Julius Coesar^ Coriolanus^ Antmiy and Cleojpatra^ and, in part, Timon of Athens. Shakspere treated the material which lay before him in Holinshed and in Plu- tarch with reverent care. It was not a happy falsifying of the facts of history to which he, as dramatist, aspired, but an imaginative rendering of the very facts them- selves. Plutarch he follows even more studiously and closely than he followed Holinshed. Yet it is to be noted that, while Shakspere is profoundly faithful to Roman life and character, it is an ideal truth, truth spir- itual rather than truth material, which he seeks to dis- cover. His method, as critics have pointed out, is wide- ly different from that of his contemporary, Ben Jonson. Mr. Knight, treating this subject, has said, ” Jonson has left us two Poman plays produced essentially upon a different principle. In his Sejanus there is scarcely a speech or an incident that is not derived from the an- cient authorities; and Jonson’s own edition of the play is crowded with references as minute as would have been required from any modern annalist. . . . His characters … are made to speak according to the very words of       246 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Tacitus and Suetonius ; but they are not living men.” ^ Shakspere was aware that his personages must be men before they were Romans. He felt that the truth of poetry must be vital and self -evidencing ; that if it has got hold of the fact, no reference to authority will make the validity of the fact more valid. He knew that the buttressing-up of art with erudition will not give stabil- ity to that which must stand by no aid of material props and stays, but, if at all, by virtue of the one living soul of which it is the body.   The German romanticist critic Franz Horn has said that the hero of Shakspere’s King John ” stands not in the list of personages, and could not stand with them. . . . The hero is England.” Mr. Knight adds that the hero of Shakspere’s great classical trilogy is Rome. Impor- tant, however, as the political significance doubtless is, there is something more important. Whether at any time Shakspere was concerned as deeply about corporate life — ecclesiastical, political, or even national — as he was about the life and destiny of the individual man may well be questioned. But at this time the play of social forces certainly did not engage his imagination with ex- clusive or supreme interest. The struggle of patrician and plebeian is not the subject of Coriolanus^ and the tragedy resolves itself by no solution of that political problem. Primarily, the tragedy is that of an individual soul. It is important to note the dates of these plays. Julius CcBsar^ which Malone assigned to the year 1607, is now, with good reason, carried back as early as 1601 ; and thus it lies side by side, in point of time, with Ham- let\ After an interval of seven years or upwards, the       * Charles Knight, “Studies of Shakspere” (1851), p. 405. f Mr. Halliwell pointed out the following lines in Weever’s ” Mirror of Martyrs” (1601);       The Roman Plays. 247   second of the Roman plays, Antony cmd Cleopatra^ was written.”^ The events of Roman history connect Antony and Cleopatra immediately with Julius Gcesar ; yet Shak- spere allowed a number of years to pass, during which he was actively engaged as author, before he seems to have thought of his second Roman play. What is the significance of this fafet? Does it not mean that the historical connection was now a connection too external and too material to carry Shakspere on from subject to subject, as it had sufficed to do while he was engaged upon his series of English historical plays? The pro- foundest concerns of the individual soul were now press- ing upon the imagination of the poet. Dramas now written upon subjects taken from history became not •chronicles, but tragedies. The moral interest was su- preme. The spiritual material dealt with by Shakspere’s   ” The many-headed multitude were drawn By Brutus’ speech, that Caesar was ambitious ; When eloquent Mark Antony had shown His virtues, who but Brutus then was vicious V*   The theory of Mr. Fleay (Trans. New Sh. Soc, 1874), that our present Juliw Ccesar is a play of Shakspere’s altered by Ben Jonson about 1607, is unsup- ported by any sufficient evidence, internal or external. Delius dates Julius CcBsar ” before December, 1604.’*   * There is an entry in the Stationers’ Registers, by Edward Blount, May 20, 1608, of “a booke called Antony and Cleopatra.” This is generally supposed to have been Shakspere’s play (so Malone, Chalmers, Drake, Col- lier, Delius, Gervinus, Hudson, Fleay, and others). Knight and Verplanck assign a later date. Mr. Halliwell, on comparing the early editions of North’s Plutarch — 1579, 1595, 1603, 1612 — noticed many small differ- ences between them, ” and in one case, in Coriolanus, hit on a word ‘ vnfor- tunate,’ altered by the 1612 edition from the former one’s * vnf ortunately,’ which * vnf ortunate ‘ was the word used by Shakspere in his tragedy of Coriolarms, This was, th^v^iove^ prima-facie evidence that Shakspere used the 1612 edition of North for his Coriolanus^ if not for his other Roman plays ” (Trans. New Sh. Soc). Mr. Paton claims for a copy of North’s Plu- tarch now in the Greenock library the honor of having been Shakspere’s own copy. In it appear the initials W. S, It is a copy of the 1612 edition.       248 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   imagination in the play of Julius CcBsar lay wide apart from that which forms the centre of the Antony cmd Cleopatra. Therefore the poet was not carried directly forward from one to the other.   But having in Macbeth (about 1606) studied the ruin of a nature which gave fair promise in men’s eyes of greatness and nobility, Shakspere, it may be, proceeded directly to a similar study in the case of Antony. In the nature of Antony, as in the nature of Macbeth, there is a moral fault or flaw, which circumstances discover, and which in the end works his destruction. In each play the pathos is of the same kind — it lies in the grad- ual severing of a man, through the lust of power or ^;hrough the lust of pleasure, from his better self. By the side of Antony, as by Macbeth’s side, there stood a terrible force, in the form of a woman, whose function it was to realize and ripen the unorganized and undevel- oped evil of his soul. Antony’s sin was an inordinate passion for enjoyment at the expense of Roman virtue and manly energy ; a prodigality of heart, a superb ego- ism of pleasure. After a brief interval, Shakspere went on to apply his imagination to the investigating of an- other form of egoism — not the egoism of self-diffusion, but of self – concentration. As Antony betrays himself and his cause through his sin of indulgence and laxity, so Coriolanus does violence to his own soul and to his country through his sin of haughtiness, rigidity, and in- ordinate pride. Thus an ethical tendency connects these two plays, which are also connected in point of time; while Antony and Cleopatra^ although historically a con- tinuation of Julius Goesar^ stands separated from it, both in the chronological order of Shakspere’s plays and in the logical order assigned by successive developments of the conscience, the intellect^ and the imagination of the dramatist.       The Roman Plays. 249   The theme of the English historical plays is the sue- cess and the failure of men to achieve noble practical ends. Shakspere observed that there are two classes of men in the world — those who use the right means for effecting their ends, who, if they want fruit, plant fruit- trees ; and, secondly, those who will not accept the fact, who try to get fruit by various ingenious methods, only not by planting fruit-trees. Success in the visible mate- rial world, the world of noble positive action, is the meas- ure of greatness in the English historical plays ; and the ideal, heroic character of those plays is that of the king who so gloriously succeeded — Henry V. But in the tragedies, the men who fail are not necessarily less worthy of admiration than the men who succeed. Octavius, who deals skilfully with life and is misled by no enthusiasms, whose cool heart does not disturb his eflScient hand, who sees the fact with clear-cut edges, and achieves the nec- essary deed with logical precision, which is pitiless, but not cruel — Octavius is successful. Yet we should rather fail with Brutus. Prosperity or adversity in the mate- rial world is here a secondary affair. By this time Shak- spere himself, by use of means which he would not re- ject, however distasteful they were, had succeeded : he had practically mastered life from the material point of view. But the breaking -down or the building-up of character seemed to him, now more than ever before, of supreme importance.   In Julius Ccesar Shakspere makes a complete imagi- native study of the case of a man predestined to failure, who nevertheless retains to the end the moral integrity which he prized as his highest possession, and who, wath each new error, advances a fresh claim upon our admira- tion and our love. To maintain the will in a fruitful relation with facts — that was what Romeo could not do, because he brooded over things as they reflected and re-       1       250 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   peated themselves in his own emotions ; what Hamlet could not do, because he would not, or could not, come into direct contact with events, but studied them as they endlessly repeated and reflected themselves in his own thinking. Henry V. had been a ruler of men, because, possessing a certain plain genius for getting into direct relation with concrete fact, and possessing, also, entire moral soundness, his will, his conscience, his intellect, and his enthusiasms had all been at one and had all tended to action. Shakspere’s admiration of the great men of action is immense, because he himself was pri- marily not a man of action. He is stern to all idealists, because he was aware that he might too easily yield him- self to the tendencies of an idealist. When Shakspere feels himself shooting up too rapidly, he ” stops’- himself, as gardeners do a plant, that he may throw out shoots be- low and increase in strength and massiveness. If his feelings begin to idealize, he stops them, in order that by coming into more fruitful relation with fact he may add force and amplitude to his feelings. If his ideas tend to become abstract and notional, he plunges them into con- crete matter, in order that they may enrich and vitalize themselves. Against his idealizing tendency Shakspere constantly plays oflf his humor, resolved that he will not let himself escape from the real world, and from the whole of it. But with his sternness to idealists there is mingled a passionate tenderness. He shows us, remorse- lessly, their failure ; but while they fail we love them.   Shakspere “stops” himself because he has entire con- fidence in the vigor of both his intellect and his heart, and also in the good powers of this present world. He does not suppose that his thoughts will be less strong and fruitful because he plunges his ideas back into con- crete fact. He does not suppose that he will cease to love because he chooses to see things as they are, and       The Roman Plays. 251   eacli thing on every side, rather than refine things away into the abstractions of the heart which are desired by the purist or the sentimentalist. He does not fear that \ his will may grasp things with less energy or less tenac- ity, because he knows his purpose and can refrain. And accordingly, while we may note many particulars which distinguish Shakspere’s later writings from those of his earlier years, the great distinction of all is this, that his power of thought, while losing none of its litheness and celerity, became, as time went on, more massive and stern- ly capable of endurance ; so that he dared to confront the most awful problems of life, and could at will either sto- ically detain his mind from contemplation of the unknown or could brood upon it with long and wistful intensity ; and, at the same time, his feelings, increasing in ardor and swiftness, grew in massiveness and complexity, until from such lyric melody of passion as reaches us from Romeo (md Juliet we make transition to the orchestral symphony of emotion which envelops us when we approach King Lear.   Brutus is the political Girondin. He is placed in con- trast with his brother-in-law Cassius, the political Jaco- bin. Brutus is an idealist ; he lives among books ; he nourishes himself with philosophies ; he is secluded from the impression of facts. Moral ideas and principles are more to him than concrete realities; he is studious of self-perfection, jealous of the purity of his own character, unwilling that so clear a character should receive even the apparent stain of misconception or misrepresentation. He is, therefore, as such men are, too much given to ex- planation of his conduct. Had he lived, he would have written an Apology for his life, educing evidence, with a calm superiority, to prove that each act of his life pro- ceeded from an honorable motive. Cassius, on the con- trary, is by no means studious of moral perfection. He       252 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   is frankly envious, and hates Caesar. Yet he is not igno« ble. Brutus loves him, and the love of Brutus is a patent which establishes a man’s nobility :   ” The last of all the Romans, fare thee well ! It is impossible that ever Rome Should breed thy fellow.” *   And Cassius has one who will die for him. Titinius crowns the dead brow of the conspirator :   ” Brutus, come apace, And see how I regarded Caius Cassius. — By your leave, gods — this is a Roman’s part: Come, Cassius’ sword, and find Titinius’ heart.”   Cassius has a swift and clear perception of the fact. He is not, like Brutus, a theorist, but ” a great observer,” who ” looks quite through the deeds of men.” Brutus lives in the abstraction, in the idea ; Cassius lives in the concrete, in the fact.   The conspiracy has been conceived and hatched by Cassius. The one thing wanting to the conspirators, as he perceives, is moral elevation, and that prestige which would be lent to the enterprise by a disinterested and lofty soul like that of Brutus. The time is the feast of Lupercal, and Antony is to run in the games. Caesar passes by, and as he passes a soothsayer calls in shrill tones from the press of people, ‘^ Beware the Ides of March.” Caesar summons him forward, gazes in his face, and dismisses him with authoritative gesture, “He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.” It is evidently in- tended that Caesar shall have a foible for supposing that he can read ofi character from the faces of men :   ” Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.”   * These lines are taken almost word for word from North’s Plutarch. Besides having read Plutarch, it seems probable that Shakspere was ac- quainted with the translation of Appian, 15V8, from which he probably ob« tained the hints for his great speeches of Brutus and of Antony.       The Roman Plays. 253   Csesar need not condescend to the ordinary ways of ob- taining acquaintance with facts. He asks no question of the soothsayer. He takes the royal road to knowledge- intuition. This self-indulgence of his own foibles is, as it were, symbolized by his physical infirmity, which he admits in lordly fashion — ” Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf.” Caesar is entitled to own such a foible as deafness ; it may pass well with Caesar. If men would have him hear them, let them come to his right ear. Meanwhile, things may be whispered which it were well for him if he strained an ear — right or left — to catch. In Shakspere’s rendering of the character of Caesar, which has considerably bewildered his critics, one thought of the poet would seem to be this — that unless a man con- tinually keeps himself in relation with facts, and with his present person and character, he may become to himself legendary and mythical. The real man Caesar disappears for himself under the greatness of the Caesar myth. He forgets himself as he actually is, and knows only the vast legendary power named Caesar. He is a numen to him- self, speaking of Caesar in the third person, as if of some power above and behind his consciousness. And at this very moment — so ironical is the time-spirit — Cassius is cruelly insisting to Brutus upon all those infirmities which prove this god no more than a pitiful mortal.   Julius Caesar appears in only three scenes of the play. In the first scene of the third act he dies. Where he does appear, the poet seems anxious to insist upon the weakness rather than the strength of Caesar. He swoons when the crown is offered to him, and upon his recovery enacts a piece of stagy heroism ; he suffers from the falling-sick- ness; he is deaf ; his body does not retain its early vigor. He is subject to the vain hopes and vain alarms of super- stition. His manner of speech is pompous and arrogant ; he accepts flattery as a right ; he vacillates, while profess-       254 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ing unalterable constancy ; he has lost in part his gift of perceiving facts, and of dealing eflSciently with men and with events. Why is this ? And why is the play, not- withstanding, “Julius Caesar?” Why did Shakspere de- cide to represent in such a light the chief man of the Ro- man world ? Passages in other plays prove that Shak- spere had not really misconceived ” the mightiest Julius,” ” broad-fronted Caesar,” the conqueror over whom ‘^ death makes no conquest.” ^ ” The poet,” writes Gervinus, ” if he intended to make the attempt of the republicans his main theme, could not have ventured to create too great an interest in Caesar ; it was necessary to keep him in the background, and to present that view of him which gave a reason for the conspiracy. According even to Plutarch, . . . Caesar’s character altered much for the worse shortly before his death, and Shakspere has represented him ac- cording to this suggestion.” \ Mr. Hudson offers a some- what similar explanation : ” I have sometimes thought that the policy of the drama may have been to represent Caesar not as he was indeed, but as he must have appeared to the conspirators ; to make us see him as they saw him, in order that they, too, might have fair and equal judg- ment at our hands. For Caesar was literally too great to be seen by them, save as children often see bugbears by moonlight, when their inexperienced eyes are mocked with air.” And Mr. Hudson believes that he can detect a “refined and subtle irony” diffusing itself through the texture of the play ; that Brutus, a shallow idealist, should outshine the greatest practical genius the world ever saw, can have no other than an ironical significance. Neither Gervinus nor Mr. Hudson has solved the dif- ficulty. Julius Caesar is indeed protagonist of the trag-   * Hamlet, act i., sc. 1 ; Antony and Cleopatra, act L, so. 5 ; King Richard III., act iii., sc. 1.   t Gervinus, ** Shakespeare Commentaries” (1863), vol. ii., p. 360.       The Roman Plays. 255   edy ; but it is not the Caesar whose bodily presence is weak, whose mind is declining in strength and sure-footed energy, the Caesar who stands exposed to all the accidents of fortune. This bodily presence of Caesar is but of sec- ondary importance, and may be supplied when it actually passes away, by Octavius as its substitute. It is the spirit of Caesar which is the dominant power of the tragedy ; against this — the spirit of Caesar — Brutus fought; but Brutus, who forever errs in practical politics, succeeded only in striking down Caesar’s body ; he who had been weak now rises as pure spirit, strong and terrible, and avenges himself upon the conspirators. The contrast be- tween the weakness of Caesar’s bodily presence in the first half of the play, and the might of his spiritual pres- ence in the latter half of the play, is emphasized, and per- haps over-emphasized, by Shakspere. It was the error of Brutus that he failed to perceive wherein lay the true Caesarean power, and acted with short-sighted eagerness and violence. Mark Antony, over the dead body of his lord, announces what is to follow :   ” Over thy wounds now do I prophesy —   • •••«•   A curse shall light upon the limbs of men ; Domestic fury and fierce civil strife Shall cumber all the parts of Italy ;   • • . • •   And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, With Ate by his side come hot from hell, Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice Cry * Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.”   The ghost of Caesar (designated by Plutarch only the ^^ evil spirit ” of Brutus), which appears on the night be- fore the battle of Philippi, serves as a kind of visible symbol of the vast posthumous power of the dictator. Cassius dies with the words —       256 Shakspere — His Mind and Art. ‘   ” Caesar, thou art revenged, Even with the sword that killed thee.”   Brutus, when he looks upon the dead face of his brother, exclaims,   *’ Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet ! Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords In our own proper entrails.”   Finally, the little effort of the aristocrat republicans sinks to the ground, foiled and crushed by the force which they had hoped to abolish with one violent blow. Brutus dies:   ” Caesar, now be still : I killed not thee with half so good a will.”   Brutus dies ; and Octavius lives to reap the fruit whose seed had been sown by his great predecessor. “With strict propriety, therefore, the play bears the name of Julius CcesarJ^   Brutus has seen Antony going to the course where he is to run with others. The feast of Lupercal, in honor of the god Pan, is being celebrated, and Antony is present as chief of one of the companies of priests. The Stoic Brutus looks upon all this as an offence. He despises Antony, because Antony is “gamesome,” and he loves the dignified gravity of his own character :   ” Cos, Will you go see the order of the course?   Bru, Not I.   Cos. I pray you, do.   Bru, I am not gamesome ; I do lack some part Of that quick spirit that is in Antony. Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires ; ril leave you.”   * I am in great part indebted for this explanation of the difficulty to the article ” Die dramatische Einheit im Julius Csesar,” by Dr. Albert Lindner, in the Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare -Gesellschaft, vol. ii., pp. 90-95. Dr. Lindner fails, however, to bring out the relation of Shakspere’s concep* tion of Cassar in this play to the character and act of Brutua.       The Roman Plays. 257   Antony is a man of genius without moral fibre ; a nat- ure of a rich, sensitive, pleasure-loving kind ; the prey of good impulses and of bad ; looking on life as a game, in which he has a distinguished part to play, and playing that part with magnificent grace and skill. He is capa- ble of personal devotion (though not of devotion to an idea), and has, indeed, a gift for subordination — subordi- nation to a Julius Caesar, to a Cleopatra. And as he has enthusiasm about great personalities, so he has a con- tempt for ineflSciency and ineptitude. Lepidus is to him ” a slight, unmeritable man, meet to be sent on errands,” one that is to be talked of not as a person, but as a prop- erty. Antony possesses no constancy of self-esteem ; he can drop quickly out of favor with himself ; and being without reverence for his own type of character, and be- ing endowed with a fine versatility of perception and feeling, he can admire qualities the most remote from his own. It is Antony who utters the iloge over the body of Brutus at Philippi. Antony is not without an aesthetic sense and imagination, though of a somewhat nnspiritual kind: he does not judge men by a severe moral code, but he feels in an aesthetic way the grace, the splendor, the piteous interest of the actors in the ex- citing drama of life, or their impertinence, ineptitude, and comicality ; and he feels that the play is poorer by the loss of so noble a figure as that of a Brutus. But Bru- tus, over whom his ideals dominate, and who is blind to facts which are not in harmony with his theory of the universe, is quite unable to perceive the power for good or for evil that is lodged in Antony, and there is in the great figure of Antony nothing which can engage or in- terest his imagination; for Brutus’s view of life is not imaginative or pictorial or dramatic, but wholly ethical. The fact that Antony abandons himself to pleasure, is •^gamesome/’ reduces him in the eyes of Brutus to a very 17       258 Shakspere — His Mind and A rt.   ordinary person — one who is silly or stupid enough not to recognize the first principle of human conduct, the need of self-mastery ; one against whom the laws of the world must fight, and who is therefore of no importance. And Brutus was right with respect to the ultimate issues for Antony. Sooner or later Antony must fall to ruin. But before the moral defect in Antony’s nature destroyed his fortune, much was to happen. Before Actium might come Philippi.   The procession passes on ; Caesar and Antony are out of sight; Brutus and Cassius are left alone. Cassius complains of want of warmth and gentleness in the bear- ing of Brutus towards him of late. The manner of self- restraint habitual to Brutus is noticeable, his grave cour- tesy and desire for a sincere explanation and vindication of himself. Cassius now endeavors to gain over Brutus to the conspiracy, avoiding any suggestion of an interest- ed motive, but holding up, as it were, a mirror in which Brutus may see himself reflected, and thence infer what lofty achievement is expected by Rome from one so no- ble. As his own credentials Cassius puts forward his freedom from those vices which Brutus most contemns, as if there were no dangers from the man whose life is not lax, ostentatious, and self-indulgent:   ” And be not jealous on me, gentle Brutus. Were I a common laugher, or did use To stale with ordinary oaths my love To every new protester ; if you know That I do fawn on men and hug them hard And after scandal them, or if you know That I profess myself in banqueting To all the rout, then hold me dangerous.”   It is noteworthy that while Cassius thus plays with Brutus and secures him, almost using him as his tool, he is fully conscious of the superiority of Brutus. The very weaknesses of Brutus come’ from the nobility of his nat-       The Roman Plays. 259   nre. He cannot credit or conceive the base facts of life. He has no instrument by which to gauge the littleness of little souls.   The last scene of the first act brings us to the tem- pestuous night of prodigies which preceded the death of Julius Caesar. Casca appears with the superficial garb of cynicism dropped. Does Shakspere in this play mean to signify to us unobtrusively that the philosophical creed which a man professes grows out of his character and circumstances as far as it is really a portion of his own being ; and that as far as it is received by the intellect in the calm of life from teachers and schools, such a philo- sophical creed does not adhere very closely to the soul of a man, and may, upon the pressure of events or of pas- sions, be cast aside % The Epicurean Cassius is shaken out of his philosophical scepticism by the portents which appeared upon the march to Philippi :   ” You know that I held Epicurus strong, And his opinion ; now I change my mind, And partly credit things that do presage.”   The Stoic Brutus, who, by the rules of his philosophy, blamed Cato for a self-inflicted death, runs upon his own sword and dies. The dramatic self-consistency of the characters created by certain writers is to be noticed. We must notice in the case of Shakspere, as a piece of higher art, the dramatic inconsistency of his characters. In the preceding scene, describing in his cynical mood the ceremony at which an offer of the crown was made to Caesar, Casca utters himself in prose; here Shakspere puts verse into his mouth. ” Did Cicero say anything?” Cassius inquired in the preceding conversation, and Casca answered, with curt scorn, ” Ay, he spoke Greek.” But now, so moved out of himself is Casca by the portents of the night that he enlarges himself and grows effusive to       26o Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   this very Cicero, the recollection of whom he had dis- missed with such impatient contempt.   Cicero passes along the streets perceiving no more than a storm from which it is prudent that an old man should be housed. His spirit is insulated by a thin, non- conducting web of scepticism and intellectuality from the electric atmosphere of the time. This electric atmo- sphere plays through every nerve of Cassius. His energy of brain and limb is stimulated and intensified until it needs to relieve itself in movement. It is to him a night of high-strung delight. Besides, Cassius has much work to do, and the tempest suits his purposes :   ” For my part, I have walked about the streets, Submitting me unto the perilous night ; And thus, unbraced, Casca, as you see, Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone : And when the cross blue lightning seem’d to open The breast of heaven, I did present myself Even in the aim and very flash of it.”   Brutus is in his orchard alone. He has stolen away from Portia. He is seeking to master himself in solitude, and bring under the subjection of a clear idea and a definite •resolve the tumultuary powers of his nature, which have been roused and thrown into disorder by the suggestions of Cassius. In the soliloquy of Brutus, after he has been left alone, will be found an excellent example of the pe- culiar brooding or dwelling style which Shakspere ap- propriated at this period to the soliloquies of men. The soliloquies of his women are conceived in a different manner. Of this speech Coleridge has said, ” I do not at present see into Shakspere’s motive, his rationale^ or in what point of view he meant Brutus’s character to ap- pear.” Shakspere’s motive is not far to seek. He wishes to show upon what grounds the political idealist acts. Brutus resolves that Csesar shall die by his hand as the       The Roman Plays. 261   conclusion of a series of hypotheses. There is, as it were, a sorites of abstract principles about ambition and power, and reason and affection ; finally, a profound suspicion of Caesar is engendered, and his death is decreed. It is idealists who create a political terror ; they are free from all desire for blood-shedding; but to them the lives of men and women are accidents; the lives of ideas are the true realities ; and, armed with an abstract principle and a suspicion, they perform deeds which are at once beautiful and hideous :   ” ‘Tis a common proof That lowliness is young Ambition’s ladder, Whereto the climber-upward turns his face ; But when he once attains the utmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend : so Caesar may ; Then, lest he may,^ prevent 1″   The written instigations which Cassius has caused to be thrown in at Brutus’s window add the final confirma- tion to his resolve ; and at this moment the conspirators enter. While Brutus and Cassius converse apart, and the others are turned in the direction of the east, the first gray lines of morning begin doubtfully to fret the clouds. l!^”ature, with her ministries of twilight and day-dawn, suffers no interruption of her calm, beneficent operancy, and, after tempest, another morning is broadening for all Eome. Casca points his sword towards the Capitol, and at the same moment the snn arises. ” Is there not,” asks Mr. Craik, ” some allusion, which the look and tone of the speaker might express more clearly than his words, to the great act about to be performed in the Capitol, and the change, as of a new day, that was expected to follow it?” Observe how strongly Shakspere marks the passage of time up to the moment of Caesar’s death ;       262 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   night, dawn, eight o’clock, nine o’clock, that our sus- pense may be heightened, and our interest kept upon the strain.   It is characteristic of Brutus that he will allow no oath to be taken by the conspirators. He who has been all his life cultivating reliance on the will, apart from exter- nal props, cannot now fall back for support upon the objective bond of a vow or pledge. Their enterprise looks more clear and beautiful in the light of its own courage and justice than when associated with a vulgar formula of words :   ” Do not stain The even virtue of our enterprise, Nor the insuppressive mettle of our spirits, To think that or our cause or our performance Did need an oath.”   Cassius now proposes to bring Cicero into the plot; Casca, Cinna, and Metellus Cimber warmly concur. Brutus objects (and it is to be noticed that Shakspere did not obtain from Plutarch this fine trait) :   ” 0, name him not ; let us not break with him ; For he will never follow anything That other men begirC^   And, by mere force of his moral authority, Brutus carries his point. So, again, with the next matter under discus- sion. Cassius, estimating the importance of Antony, just- ly urges that Antony should perish with Caesar. But Brutus again objects. The political Girondin is not war- ring against men, but against ideas :   ” Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius. We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar ; And in the spirit of men there is no blood.”   Besides, apart from Caesar, Antony can do nothing. Is he not given “to sports, to wildness, and much com- pany,” and, therefore, an insignificant person ? A short-       The Roman Plays. 263   sighted idealism ! Yet it was better that Brutus should die with foiled purpose at Philippi than that he should sully the brightness of his virtue by the stain of what seemed to him needless blood-shedding. Like the Gi- rondin that he is, Brutus trusts to moral forces and ideas, which operate in the real world in a large incalculable way, unlike that allowed for in any of our idealistic schemes of the world. While committing an act of vio- lence against constituted authority, Brutus fails to per- ceive the necessary consequences of that act. Cassius, who with Caesar would have stabbed Antony, might have served his cause better than did Brutus. The gift with which Brutus enriched the world was the gift of himself, a soul of incorruptible virtue.   As the conspirators depart, Brutus, who is not fashion- ed for conspiracy, bids them look fresh and merrily,   ” And bear it as our Roman actors do, With untired spirits and formal constancy.”   How ill Brutus can conceal his inward trouble appears from what immediately follows. Portia enters. The strange behavior and distraught aspect of Brutus have roused her tenderest wifely anxieties. No relation of man and woman in the plays of Shakspere is altogeth- er so noble as that of Portia and Brutus. The love of Brutus could not be given except with admiration equal to his love. He could not separate a public life of ac- tion from his life of the home, or sink down upon mild domestic comfort, some ” gracious silence” like theVir- gilia of Coriolanus. His love must be strenuous, like every other part of his character, and must constantly infuse vigor and ardor into his life. Portia, while per- fectly a woman, must be to him more than a woman; she must be an ideal of august and adorable heroism. Portia, Cato’s daughter, Brutus’s wife, is a Stoic, like her       264 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   husband. To test her constancy, she had inflicted upon herself a wound in the thigh — the will dealing hardly with the body, the idea daring to transform itself with eagerness and keen conviction into the act. We read of no embrace, no touch of hands or lips, between Brutus and Portia ; but we know that their souls have met, that they are inseparably one, and absolutely equal. Juliet, heroic nature though hers be, is but a passionate girl by the side of this perfect woman. And the nobility of Portia makes the love of Brutus for her almost a re- lifirion :   ° ” ye gods,   Render me worthy of this noble wife !”   He had thought not to burden her with the secret of the conspiracy; the sense of something concealed has made his manner towards her constrained. Now, as an equal, she demands her right, she pleads for her happiness of sharing all that concerns her husband. She will not be put off with kind evasions ; she presses forward to know the formidable truth ; and pleads upon her knees before the husband whom she venerates even as he venerates her:   ” Upon my knees I charm you, by my once commended beauty, By all your vows of love, and that great vow Which did incorporate and make us one. That you unfold to me, your self, your half, Why you are heavy.”   And Brutus grants her the share in his enterprise to which she is entitled.   With this scene may be compared and contrasted the scene in the first part of King Henry /F.^act ii., sc. 3), in which Lady Percy, alarmed by the evidences of excite- ment which her husband cannot conceal, but of which he will not render an account, persecutes him with loving importunity to disclose his secret. Lady Percy loves       The Roman Plays. 265   Hotspur as a loyal wife ; but she has no serious confi- dence in her own influence with her gallant madcap Harry ; and, while playfully insisting on her demands, she expects a refusal.   ” Come, come, you paraquito, answer me Directly unto this question that I ask ; In faith I’ll break thy little finger, Harry, An if thou wilt not tell me all things true.”   Hotspur, through his seeming recklessness, has in reair ity a genuine manly tenderness for his wife ; he is troub- led by her importunities, and anxious to escape from them ; but he is not going to be so weak as to betray his secret to a woman :   ” Whither I must, I must ; and, to conclude, This evening must I leave you, gentle Kate. I know you wise, but yet no farther wise Than Harry Percy’s wife ; constant you are. But yet a woman ; and for secrecy No lady closer ; for I will believe Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know ; And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate.   Lady. How ! so far ?   Hot. Not an inch further.”   And then comes the explanation of his apparent rough*   ^^^^’ “But hark you, Kate;   Whither I go, thither shall you go too ; To-day will I set forth, to-morrow you. Will this content you, Kate ?   Lady. It must of force.”   The relation of husband and wife as conceived in the his- torical plays differs throughout from that relation as con- ceived in the tragedies.   In the fourth scene we again meet Portia. Brutus has gone forth to bring Caesar to the Capitol. Portia is standing without the door of her house, straining her ear to catch any sound the wind may bear from that direc- tion. ” Think you,” asked Portia, in the preceding scene^       266 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ^’I am no stronger than my sex?” Now she disccrera her womanhood :   ” constancy, be strong upon my side, Set a huge mountain ‘tween my heart and tongue ! I have a man’s mind, but a woman’s might.”   She is one strung nerve of suspense and anxiety. She is uncontrollably eager (for this stoical woman is of an or- ganization as far as possible removed from the phlegmat- ic) ; yet when the soothsayer speaks, adding to her anxi- ety as to the event the apprehension that the plot has been discovered, she for the time controls herself, and appears calm. When he is gone, she can endure no lonsrer \   ^ * “I must go in. Ay me, how weak a thing   The heart of woman is !”   Such a woman as Portia pays a terrible tax for her self- mastery. The chief payment of eflEusive tears and hyster- ical cries she cannot render as her tribute to the tyran- nous powers. When tears escape her, each one is distilled from an intense agony. And because she yields less than others, she may snap the more suddenly. ” It is the strongest hearts,” said Landor, “that are the soonest broken.” Had Portia been less her husband’s equal, less absolutely one with him in his aims and endeavors, she might have lived. Her death, like her life, excludes all common grief and joy ; the pain is a pain which makes us stronger ; the joy is stricter than duty, and of higher power to constrain to all that is excellent. Shakspere, with fine judgment, has allowed us to see Portia seldom in the play ; otherwise an interest alien from that which he intended might have grown predominant.”^   * Mr. Hudson (“Shakespeare: his Life, Art, and Characters.” vol. IL, p. 239) notices a touching incident from Plutarch respecting Portia which Shakspere did not use. At the parting of Portia from Brutus in the sea* Bide city of Elea, she tried to dissemble her sorrow, ” But a certain paint*       The Roman Plays. 267   TTpon the death of Caesar, Cassins parts the crowd and delivers an oration. This speech of Cassius Shakspere has not recorded for us. We may be certain th^t it was fiery, triumphant, and effective ; we may be certain that he did not, like Brutus, make studious effort to exclude all appeal to passion. It is characteristic of the idealist that he should treat the Roman crowd — that sensitive, va- riable, irrational mass — as if it must not be indulged in any manner of persuasion except a calm appeal to reason, and the presentation of an ideal of Justice. He begins with a vindication of his own conduct, an apology for Brutus. His manner is deliberate and constrained until he passes from self-defence to a direct appeal to his coun- trymen’s patriotism and love of freedom ; and it is no- ticeable that at this point his speech, which began as prose, if not actually verse, hovers on the brink of verse. But Brutus, who is utterly unable to calculate the com- position of concrete forces, commits a yet graver error. When Antony, after the assassination, comes into the presence of the leaders of the conspiracy, Brutus address- es him also with a speech of explanation, an apologia. Cassius, who at their private conclave had urged Mark Antony’s death, now comes forward with a brief and ef- fective appeal to Antony’s interests :   ” Your voice shall be as strong as any man’s In the disposing of new dignities.”   Antony begs to be allowed to speak at Caesar’s funeral. In the joy of having achieved an eminent deed which, though it look savage, was indeed merciful, and for which   ing bewrayed her in the end. The device was taken out of the Greek stories how Andromache accomoanied her husband, Hector, when he went out of Troy to the wars, and how Hector delivered her his little son, and how her eyes were never off him. Portia, seeing this picture, and likening herself to be in the same case, fell a-weeping ; and coming thither oftentimes in a day to »ee it, she wept still.’*       268 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   he can render ample ” reasons ” — Brutus is well pleased to act generously to a partisan of Caesar, and gives con- sent. Cassius is still urgent to have the future rela- tion of Antony to the conspirators determined and made clear :   ” Will you be prick’d in number of our friends ; Or shall we on, and not depend on you ?”   Upon hearing Brutus give consent to Antony’s request, Cassius interposes :   ” Brutus, a word with you. You know not what you do ; do not consent That Antony speak in his funeral.”   But Brutus replies that he will himself go first into the pulpit, “And show the reason of our Caesar’s death.” Show the reason ! After which, doubtless, appeal to the passions of a Koman crowd must be ineflEectual. But in reality the speech of Brutus is unable to rouse any en- thusiasm among his hearers for Liberty or an ideal of Justice. The people require a Caesar ; and if their former lord be dead, then they will have Brutus himself for their new lord.   ” 1 Cit Bring him in triumph home unto his house.   2 at Give him a statue with his ancestors.   3 Cit Let him be Caesar.”   This is not the mood in which the citizens can offer re- sistance to the appeals of Antony. The political idealist adds another to his series of fatal miscalculations.”^       * Mr. Hudson notices that ” Plutarch has a short passage which served as a hint, not indeed of the matter, but for the style, of that speech [of Brutus]. * They do note,’ says he, * that in some of his epistles he counterfeited that brief compendious manner of the Lacedaemonians. As, when the war was begun, he wrote to the Pergamenians in this sort : *^ I understand you have given Dolabella money : if you have done it willingly, you confess you have offended me; if against your wills, show it by giving me willingly.” This was Brutus’s manner of letters, which were honored for their briefness ‘ ” (” Shakespeare : his Life, Art, and Characters,” vol. ii., pp. 234, 235). This       The Roman Plays. 269   The second scene of the fourth act was already cele- brated in Shakspere’s own day. Leonard Digges records its popularity. It was imitated by Beaumont and Fletch- er in The Maid’s Tragedy^ and afterwards by Dry den in All for Love. ” I know no part of Shakspeare,” Coleridge wrote, ” that more impresses on me the belief of his genius being superhuman than this scene between Brutus and Cassius.” Brutus has alienated his friend by uncompromising adherence to his own ideal standard of purity ; he has condemned Lucius Bella for taking bribes, although Cassius had written in his behalf. Brutjis loves virtue and despises gold ; bat in the logic of facts there is an irony cruel or pathetic. Brutus maintains a lofty position of immaculate honor above Cassius ; but ideals, and an heroic contempt for gold, will not fill the military cofi^er or pay the legions, and the poetry of noble senti- ment suddenly drops down to the prosaic complaint that Cassius had denied the demands made by Brutus for cer- tain sums of money.”^ Nor is Brutus, though he worship an ideal of J ustice, quite just in matters of concrete prac- tical detail.   ” Cos. I denied you not.   Bru. You did.   Cos. I did not ; he was but a fool   That brought my answer back. Brutus hath rived my heart ; A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities, But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.”   peculiarity of style is not confined to Brutus’s address to the people. It ap« pears, for example, in his final and deliberate reply to Cassius, act i., sc. 2;   ” That you do love me, I am nothing jealous ; What you would work me to, I have some aim ;   What you have said I will consider ; what you have to say I will with patience hear.”   ♦ Kreyssig, ” Vorlesungen iiber Shakespeare ” Ced. 18’74), vol. i., p. 424*       2 70 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Each is naturally and inevitably aggrieved with tha other ; one from the practical, the other from the ideal, standpoint. Shakspere, in his infinite pity for human error and frailty, makes us love Brutus and Cassius the better through the little wrongs which bring the great wealth of their love and true fraternity to light. Brutus calls for a bowl of wine in which to pledge their recon- ciliation. Then when their hearts are tenderest comes the confession of the sorrow which Brutus could not ut- ter as long as a shadow lay between his soul and his friend’s :   ” Cos. I did not think you could have been so angry.   Bru. Cassius, I am sick of many griefs.   Cos. Of your philosophy you make no use, If you give place to accidental evils.   Bru. No man bears sorrow better. Portia is dead.”   But Brutus is sustained by the spirit of Portia. To live in her spirit of Stoicism becomes now the highest act of religion to her memory.   ” Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine ; In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius.”   The armed men talking so gravely, before the great day which is to decide the fate of the world, of the “insup- portable and touching loss” make us know what this woman was. Profound emotion, Shakspere was aware, can express itself quietly and with reserve. The noisy demonstration of grief over the supposed dead Juliet is the extravagant abandonment to sorrow, partly real and partly formal, of hearts which were little sensitive, and which had little concerned themselves about the joy or misery of Juliet living. Laertes’ rant in the grave of Ophelia is reproved by the. more violent hyperbole of Hamlet. Brutus will henceforth be silent and possess his soul :   ” CVws. Portia, thou art gone. Bru, No more, I pray you.”       The Roman Plays. 271   The remainder of the life of Brutus is a sad, sustained devotion to his cause.   And now once more he helps to ruin that cause. Cas- sius, with good reason, urges that the army should not advance upon Philippi ; Brutus is in favor of advancing. Cassius, as always, is in the right ; Brutus, as always, car- ries his point. Night has crept upon their talk, and with a profound reconciliation, with a sense of full and meas- ureless fraternity, they part. The Roman leader, now that the great battle has drawn near, does not occupy himself, like Henry V. before the morning of Agincourt, in moving from sentinel to sentinel with words of cheer. He is in his tent, and the boy Lucius touches his instru- ment, drowsily fingering the strings.^ Brutus, with his beautiful freedom from the petty self-interests of daily life, is gentle and considerate towards every one. The servants have lain down. Lucius drops away into the irresistible sleep of boyhood. Brutus, who, at the call of duty and honor, could plunge his dagger into Caesar, cannot wake a sleeping boy. Shakspere had somehow learned   ” The devotion to something afar From the sphere of our sorrow.”   Brutus gently disengages the instrument from the hand of Lucius, and continues his book where he had left it off last night. There is nothing more tender in the plays of Shakspere than this scene. The tenderness of a man who is stern is the only tenderness which is wholly deli- cate and refined. In the battle at Philippi it is Brutus who, by his in-   * Brutus loves music ; but of Cassius, Caesar notes, ” he hears no music.” Compare Merchant of Venice^ act v., sc. 1 :   ” The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”       272 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   considerate rashness and miscalculation of facts, insures defeat. This is his last error. He is willing that Strato should hold the sword while he falls upon it :   ” Thou art a fellow of a good respect, Thy life hath had some smatch of honor in it ; Hold then my sword.”   Brutus must die by no ignoble hand. To the last mo- ment he reveres himself. And the concluding words of the play convey to us an assurance, which we require, that his body shall suffer no wrong.   The life of Brutus, as the lives of such men must be, was a good life, in spite of its disastrous fortunes. He had found no man who was not true to him. And he had known Portia. The idealist was predestined to fail- ure in the positive world. But for him the true failure would have been disloyalty to his ideals. Of such fail- ure he suffered none. Octavius and Mark Antony re- mained victors at Philippi. Yet the purest wreath of victory rests on the forehead of the defeated conspirator.   II.   The transition from the Julius Ccesar of Shakspere to his Antony and Cleopatra produces in us the change of pulse and temper experienced in passing from a gallery of antique sculpture to a room splendid with the colors of Titian and Paul Yeronese. In the characters of the Julius Ccesar there is a severity of outline ; they impose themselves with strict authority upon the imagination ; subordinated to the great spirit of Caesar, the conspira- tors appear as figures of life-size, but they impress us as no larger than life. The demand which they make is exact ; such and such tribute must be rendered by the soul to each. The characters of the Antony and Cleo- patra insinuate themselves through the senses, trouble the blood, ensnare the imagination, invade our whole       The Roman Plays. 273   being, like color or like music. The figures dilate to proportions greater than human, and are seen through a golden haze of sensuous splendor. Julius Ccesar and Antony and Cleopatra are related as works of art rather by points of contrast than by points of resemblance. In the one an ideal of duty is dominant ; the other is a div- inization of pleasure followed by the remorseless Nem- esis of eternal law. Brutus, the Stoic, constant, loyal to his ideas, studious of moral perfection, bent upon gain- ing self-mastery, unsullied and untarnished to the end, stands over against Antony, swayed hither and thither by appetites, interests, imagination, careless of his own moral being, incapable of self-control, soiled with the stains of passion and decay. And of Cleopatra what shall be said ? Is she a creature of the same breed as Cato’s daughter, Portia ? Does the one word woman in- clude natures so diverse? Or is Cleopatra — Antony’s “serpent of old Nile” — no mortal woman, but Lilith, who ensnared Adam before the making of Eve ? Shak- spere has made the one as truly woman as the other — Portia, the ideal of moral loveliness, heroic and femi- nine ; Cleopatra, the ideal of sensual attractiveness, femi- nine also :   ” A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe ; Before, a joy proposed ; behind, a dream.” *   We do not once see the lips of Brutus laid on Portia’s lips as seal of perfect union, but we know that their beings and their lives had embraced in flawless confi- dence and perfect mutual service. Antony, embracing Cleopatra, exclaims,   ” The nobleness of life Is to do thus ; when such a mutual pair And such a twain can do’t, in which I bind, On pain of punishment, the world to weet   We stand up peerless.”   » ‘ ■ ■   * Shakspere’s Sonnets, cxxix. 18       2 74 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   Yet this ” mutual pair,” made each to fill the body and soul of the other with voluptuous delight, are made also each for the other’s torment. Antony is haunted by suspi- cion that Cleopatra will betray him ; he believes it possible that she could degrade herself to familiarity with Csesar’s menials. And Cleopatra is aware that she must weave her snares with endless variety, or Antony will escape.   The spirit of the play, though superficially it appear voluptuous, is essentially severe. That is to say, Shak- spere is faithful to the fact. The fascination exercised by Cleopatra over Antony, and hardly less by Antony over Cleopatra, is not so much that of the senses as of the sensuous imagination. A third of the world is theirs. They have left youth behind with its slight melodious raptures and despairs. Theirs is the deeper intoxication of middle age, when death has become a reality ; when the world is limited and positive ; when life is urged to yield up quickly its utmost treasures of delight. What may they not achieve of joy who have power and beauty, and pomp and pleasure, all their own ? How shall they fill every minute of their time with the quintessence of enjoyment and of glory ?   ” Let Rome in Tiber melt ! and the wide arch Of the ranged empire fall ? here is my space.”   Only one thing they had not allowed for — that over and above power and beauty, and pleasure and pomp, there is a certain inevitable fact — a law — which cannot be evaded. Pleasure sits enthroned as queen ; there is a revel, and the lords of the earth, crowned with roses, dance before her to the sound of lascivious flutes. But presently the scene changes ; the hall of revel is trans- formed to an arena ; the dancers are armed gladiators ; and as they advance to combat they pay the last homage to their queen with the words Morituri te salutant.       The Roman Plays. 275   The pathos of Antony and Cleojpai/ra resembles the pathos of Macbeth. But Shakspere, like Dante, allows the soul of the perjurer and murderer to drop into a lower, blacker, and more lonely circle of Hell than the soul of the man who has sinned through voluptuous self- indulgence. Yet none the less Antony is daily dropping away farther from all that is sound, strong, and enduring. His judgment wanes with his fortune. He challenges to a combat with swords his clear-sighted and unimpassioned rival, into whose hands the empire of the world is about to fall. He abandons himself to a senseless exasperation :   ” I will be treble-sinewM, hearted, breathed, And fight maliciously ; for when mine hours Were nice and lucky, men did ransom lives Of me with jests ; but now I’ll set my teeth, And send to darkness all that stop me.”   He sees his fate closing in upon him ; he will sell his life dearly ; and, meantime, like a man condemned to ex- ecution upon the morrow, he will have one more night of pleasure:   <* Come, Let’s have one other gaudy night : call to me All my sad captains ; fill our bowls once more ; Let’s mock the midnight bell. Cho, It is my birthday.”   But Antony’s struggle after boisterous mirth proves a piteous mockery. The banquet is a valediction ; the great leader’s followers are transformed to women ; Enobarbus turns away “onion -eyed.” Antony makes one rude ef- fort to lift himself up above the damps and depression which have fallen on his spirit ; one effort to fling aside the consciousness of the failure of his life, which yet clings to him :   ” Ho, ho, ho ! Now the witch take me, if I meant it thus ! Grace grow where those drops fall ! My hearty friends, You take me in too dolorous a sense ;       2 76 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   For I spake to you for your comfort ; did desire you To burn this night with torches : know, my hearts, I hope well of to-morrow ; and will lead you Where rather I’ll expect victorious life Than death and honor. Let’s to supper, come, And drown consideration.’*   Hercules, the generous wielder of strength, whom An- tony loved, is departing from him; music heard at mid- night by the sentinels warn them of the withdrawal of the favor of the divinity. Experience, manhood, honor, more and more violate themselves in Antony. Cleopa- tra’s ship turns the rudder and flies from the sea-fight. Antony, regardless of fortune and of shame,   ” Claps on the sea-wing and, like a doting mallard, Leaving the fight in height, flies after her.’*   He is, indeed, the ruin of Cleopatra’s n>agic ; yet he is a lordly and eminent ruin ; and before all sinks in black- ness and ashes there is a last leaping-up of the flame of his fortune, by which we see the figure of Antony, still ma- jestic, pathetically illuminated by a glory that passes away. He is made glad with one hour’s victory. Though de- serted by Enobarbus, Scarus has been faithful, and is at his side, red from honorable wounds :   ” Give me thy hand ; \^BateT Cleopatra^ attended.’] To this great fairy I’ll commend thy acts,   Make her thanks bless thee. — [To Cleo.’] thou day o’ the world, Chain mine arm’d neck ; leap thou, attire and all, Through proof of harness to my heart, and there Ride on the pants triumphing !   Cleo. Lord of lords !   infinite virtue, comest thou smiling from The world’s great snare uncaught ?   Ant. My nightingale.   We have beat them to their beds. What, girl ! though gray Po something mingle with our younger brown. Yet ha’ we a brain that nourishes our nerves, And can get goal for goal of youth.”       The Roman Plays. 2’j’j   Measure things only by the sensuous imagination, and everything in the world of Oriental voluptuousness, in which Antony lies bewitched, is great. The passion and the pleasure of the Egyptian queen and of her para- mour toil after the infinite. The Herculean strength of Antony, the grandeur and prodigal power of his nature, inflate and buoy up the imagination of Cleopatra :   ” The demi- Atlas of this earth, the arm And burgonet of men.”   While he is absent, Cleopatra would, if it were possible, annihilate time —   ” Charmian. Why, madam ?   Cleo. That I might sleep out this great gap of time. My Antony is away.”   When Antony dies, the only eminent thing in the earth is gone, and a universal flatness, an equality of insignifi- cances, remains :   ” Young boys and girls Are level now with men ; the odds is gone, And there is nothing left remarkable Beneath the visiting moon.”   We do not mistake this feeling of Cleopatra towards Antony for love; but he has been for her (who had known Caesar and Pompey) the supreme sensation. She is neither faithful to him nor faithless ; in her complex nature, beneath each fold or layer of sincerity lies one of insincerity, and we cannot tell which is the last and in- nermost. Her imagination is stimulated and nourished by Antony’s presence. And he, in his turn, finds in the beauty and witchcraft of the Egyptian something no less incommensurable and incomprehensible. Yet no one felt more profoundly than Shakspere — as his Sonnets abundantly testify — that the glory of strength and of beauty is subject to limit and to time. What he would seem to say to us in this play, not in the manner of a       278 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   doctrinaire or a moralist, but wholly as an artist, is that this sensuous infinite is but a dream, a deceit, a snare. The miserable change comes upon Antony. The re- morseless practice of Cleopatra upon his heart has done him to death. And among things which the barren world offers to the Queen she now finds death — a pain- less death— 7the least hateful. Shakspere, in his high im- partiality to fact, denies none of the glory of the lust of the eye and the pride of life. He compels us to ac- knowledge these to the utmost. But he adds that there is another demonstrable fact of the world which tests the visible pomp of the earth, and the splendor of sensuous passion, and finds them wanting. The glory of the royal festival is not dulled by Shakspere or diminished ; but, also, he shows us, in letters of flame, the handwriting upon the wall.   This Shakspere effects, however, not merely or chiefly by means of a catastrophe. He does not deal in precepts or moral reflections, or practical applications. He is an artist, but an artist who grasps truth largely. The eth- ical truth lives and breathes in every part of his work as artist, no less than the truth to things sensible and pre- sentable to the imagination. At every moment in this play we assist at a catastrophe — the decline of a lordly nature. At every moment we are necessarily aware of the gross, the mean, the disorderly womanhood in Cleo- patra, no less than of the witchery and wonder which ex- cite and charm and subdue. We see her a dissembler, a termagant, a coward ; and yet ” vilest things become her.” The presence of a spirit of I’ife in Cleopatra, quick, shifting, multitudinous, incalculable, fascinates the eye, and would, if it could, lull the moral sense to sleep, as the sea does with its endless snake-like motions in the Bun and shade. She is a wonder of the world, which we would travel far to look upon. Enobarbus, while conr       The Roman Plays. 279   temptuously ironical, and looking through her manifest practice upon Mark Antony with perfect clearness of vis- ion, admits also that she repays the cost of inspection.   *•*• Ard. She is cunning past man’s thought.   Emo. Alack, sir, no ; her passions are made of nothing but the j&nest part of pure love ; we cannot call her winds and waters, sighs and tears ; they are greater storms and tempests than almanacs can report ; this cannot be cunning in her — if it be, she makes a shower of rain as well as Jove.   Ant. Would I had never seen her !   Enjo. 0, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece of work ; which not to have been blest withal would have discredited your travel.”   ” Great crimes, springing from high passions, grafted on high qualities, are the legitimate source of tragic poetry. But to make the extreme of littleness produce an effect like grandeur — to make the excess of frailty produce an effect like power — to heap up together all that is most unsubstantial, frivolous, vain, contemptible, and variable, till the worthlessness be lost in the magnitude, and a sense of the sublime spring from the very elements of littleness — to do this belonged only to Shakspere, that worker of miracles. Cleopatra is a brilliant antithesis, a compound of contradictions, of all that we most hate, with what we most admire.’^ “^   If we would know how an artist devoted to high moral ideals would treat such a character as that of the fleshly enchantress, we have but to turn to the Samson Ago- nistes. Milton exposes Dalila only to drive her explosive- ly from the stage. Shakspere would have studied her with equal delight and detestation. Yet the severity of Shakspere, in his own dramatic fashion, is as absolute as that of Milton. Antony is dead. The supreme sensation of Cleopatra’s life is ended, and she seems, in the first   * Mrs. Jameson, “Characteristics of Women,** vol. ii., p. 122, ed. 1858. The study of Cleopatra’s character is among the best of this writer’s crit- icisms of Shakspere.       2 8o Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   passionate burst of chagrin, to have no longer interest in anything but death. By-and-by she is in the presence of Caesar, and hands over to him a document, the ” brief of money, plate, and jewels ” of which she is possessed. She calls on her treasurer, Seleucus, to vouch for its accuracy :   ” Speak the truth, Seleucus.   Bel. Madam, I had rather seal my lips than to my peril Speak that which is not.   Cleo, What have I kept back ?   Bel. Enough to purchase what you have made known.   Cces. Nay, blush not, Cleopatra ; I approve Your wisdom in the deed.”   In her despair, while declaring that she will die ” in the high Roman fashion,” Cleopatra yet clings to her plate and jewels. And the cold approval of Caesar, who never gains the power which passion supplies, nor loses the power which passion withdraws and dissipates — the ap- proval of Caesar is confirmed by the judgment of the spectator. It is right and natural that Cleopatra should love her jewels, and practise a fraud upon her conqueror.   ISTor is her death quite in that ” high Roman fashion ” which she had announced. She dreads physical pain, and is fearful of the ravage which death might commit upon her beauty;^ under her physician’s direction, she has ” pursued conclusions infinite of easy ways to die.” And now to die painlessly is better than to grace the triumph of Octavius. In her death there is something dazzling and splendid, something sensuous, something theatrical, something magnificently coquettish, and nothing stern.   * *’ Shall they hoist me up,   And show me to the shouting varletry Of censuring Rome ? Rather a ditch in Egypt Be gentle grave unto me ! rather on Nilus’ mud Lay me stark naked, and let the water-flies Blow me into abhorring.”       The Roman Plays. 281   Yet Shakspere does not play the rude moralist ; he needs no chorus of Israelite captives to utter invective against this Dalila. Let her possess all her grandeur and her charm. Shakspere can show us more excellent things which will make us proof against the fascination of theseo   ” Cleo. Give me my robe, put on my crown ; I have Immortal longings in me : now no more The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip ; — Yare, yare, good Iras ; quick. — Methinks I hear Antony call : I see him rouse himself To praise my noble act ; I hear him mock The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men To excuse their after-wrath. Husband, I come : Now to that name my courage prove my title ! I am fire and air ; my other elements I give to baser life. — So ; have you done ? Come, then, and take the last warmth of my lips. Farewell, kind Charmian. — Iras, long farewell.   \Kme8 them, Iras falls and dies. Have I the aspic in my lips ? Dost fall ? If thou and nature can so gently part, The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch, Which hurts and is desired. Dost thou lie still ? If thus thou vanishest, thou tell’st the world It is not worth leave-taking.   Char. Dissolve, thick cloud and rain, that I may say The gods themselves do weep !   Cleo, This proves me base :   If she first meet the curled Antony, He’ll make demand of her, and spend that kiss Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou mortal wretch % [ To an asp^ which she applies to her breast, With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate Of life at once untie : poor venomous fool, Be angry and despatch. 0, couldst thou speak, That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass Unpolicied !   Char, eastern star !   Cleo. Peace, peace !   Dost thou not see my baby at my breast That sucks the nurse tisleep ?   Char* 0, break ! 0, break !       282 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Cleo. As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle — O Antony ! — Nay, I will take thee too :   {^Applying another asp to her arm. What should I stay [Dies,   Char. In this vile world ? So, fare thee well. Now boast thee. Death ! in thy possession lies A lass unparallel’d. Downy windows, close ; And golden Phoebus never be beheld Of eyes again so royal.”   III.   The subject of Coriolanus is the rain of a noble life through the sin of pride. If duty be the dominant ideal with Brutus, and pleasure of a magnificent kind be the ideal of Antony and Cleopatra, that which gives tone and color to Coriolanus is an ideal of self-centred power. The greatness of Brutus is altogether that of the moral conscience; his external figure does not dilate upon the world through a golden haze like that of Antony, nor bulk massively and tower like that of Coriolanus. Bru- tus venerates his ideals, and venerates himself ; but this veneration of self is in a certain sense disinterested. A haughty and passionate personal feeling, a superb egoism, are with Coriolanus the sources of weakness and of strength. Brutus is tender and considerate to all — to his household servants, to the boy Lucius, to the poor peasantry from whom he will not wring their petty hard- earned gains. The Theseus of A Midsummer-NigMs Dream^ the great lord and conqueror, now in his mood of leisure and enjoyment, is graciously indulgent to the rough-handed and thick-witted mechanicals of Athens. In Henry V. Shakspere had drawn the figure of a man right royal, who yet keeps his sympathies in living con- tact with the humblest of his subjects, and who, by his real rising above self, his noble disinterestedness, is saved from arrogance and haughty self-will. On the ground of common manhood he can meet John Bates and Michael       The Roman Plays. 283   Williams ; and the great King, strong, because lie pos- sesses in himself so large a fund of this plain, sound man- hood, finds comfort and support in his sense of equality with his subjects and fellow – soldiers. ” For though I speak it to you,” says Henry, while playing the private soldier on the night before the battle, ” I think the King is but a man as I am ; the violet smells to him as it doth to me ; the element shows to him as it doth to me ; all his senses have but human conditions ; his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man ; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing.” Only the greatness of a high responsibility distinguishes the King, and gives him weightier cares and nobler toil. Such is the spirit, neither aristocratic nor, in the modern doctri- naire sense, democratic, of Shakspere’s Henry V.   “The whole dramatic moral of Coriolanus^’^ Hazlitt wrote, ” is that those who have little shall have less, and that those who have much shall take all that others have left. The people are poor, therefore they ought to be starved. They are slaves, therefore they ought to be beaten. They work hard, therefore they ought to be treated like beasts of burden. They are ignorant, there- fore they ought not to be allowed to feel that they want food or clothing or rest; that they are enslaved, op- pressed, and miserable.”* This is simply impossible; this is extravagantly untrue, a piece of the passionate in- justice which breaks forth every now and again in Haz- litt’s writings. The dramatic moral of Coriolanus lies far nearer to the very opposite of Hazlitt’s statement. Had the hero of the play possessed some of the human sympathies of Henry V., the tragic issue would have be- come impossible.   * ” Characters of Shakspear’s Plays,” p. ’74 (ed. 1818).       284 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ” Shakspere,” a great modern poet has said, ” is incar* nated, uncompromising feudalism in literature.” * Shak- spere is surely something more human and permanent than feudalism ; but it is true that he is not in a modern sense democratic. That he recognized the manly worth and vigor of the common English character is evident. It cannot be denied, however, that when the people are seen in masses in Shakspere’s plays, they are nearly al- ways shown as factious, fickle, and irrational. To explain this fact, we need not suppose that Shakspere wrote to flatter the prejudice of the jeu7iesse doree of the Eliza- bethan theatre.f How could Shakspere represent the people otherwise ? In the Tudor period the people had not yet emerged. The people, like Milton’s half -created animals, is still pawing to get free its hinder parts from the mire. The mediaeval attempts to resist oppression, the risings of peasants or of citizens, inaugurated com- monly by the murder of a lord or of a bishop, were for the most part desperate attempts, rash and dangerous, sus- tained by no sense of adequate moral or material power. It is only after such an immense achievement as that of 1789, such a proof of power as the French Kevolution af- forded, that moral dignity, the spirit of self-control and self-denial, the heroic devotion of masses of men to ideas, and not merely interests, could begin to manifest them- selves. Shakspere studied and represented in his art the world which lay before him. If he prophesied the fut- ure, it was not in the ordinary manner of prophets, but only by completely embodying the present, in which the future was contained.   It has been asked, if Shakspere had been born a gener- ation later, what side would he have taken in that great       * Walt Whitman, ‘* Democratic Vistas,” p. 81. t See Rumelkii ” Shakespeare-Studien/’ p. 222.       The Roman Plays. 285   conflict in which Milton struggled so nobly on the side of liberty. A critic of admirable insight, already referred to — H. A. Werner — discovers in the author of Hamlet and of Lear a thinker in the foremost ranks of modern and patriotic spirits, a forerunner of the struggle in which England was to engage first among the nations of Eu* rope. The drama of Hamlet is “a Prometheus-sigh for freedom and deliverance, for honor and influence, for se- curity and peace.” It portrays the collision between an effete society buttressing itself up against the past, and ” an idea, ever young, to which all the future belongs.” But Shakspere’s statement of the fact concerning the rev- olutionary epochs of the world is uttered, the critic adds, not as a piece of political instruction, but as a question to fate ; it is, as it were, ” the first half of a Book of Job,” a solemn balancing of good and evil in the world, wherein neither appears preponderant ; and the longer the poet thought, the more definitely the political phenomenon, and its influence upon the life and character of individ- ual man, assumed the shape of an insoluble riddle.”^ It is impossible to accept this interpretation of Shakspere’s political tendencies otherwise than as an ingenious read- ing-in of modern ideas between the lines of Shakspere’s art.   But neither can we admit with the champion of so- called ” realist ” criticism, Eiimelin, that Shakspere per- ceived the existence already in Elizabeth’s time of the Royalist and Roundhead parties, and that, being person- ally associated with the young Elizabethan nobility, and, as actor, playwright, and stage-manager, opposed to the Puritan hourgeoisie^ ” Shakspere was an extreme Royalist, and an adherent of the purest water to the court party and       * “Ueber das Dunkel in der Hamlet – Tragodie,” von H. A. Werngri Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare- GeseUschaft^ vol. v., pp. 3 7-81.       286 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   the nobles.” * ISTo ; had Shakspere lived when Milton lived, he would probably have passed through his life and gone to the grave in silence. He would certainly never have consumed himself in writing passionate pam- phlets of huge dimensions, as Milton did, on behalf either of this party or of that. We cannot suppose that he would have been satisfied with the cavalier ideal of man- hood, with its gallantry of showy devotion to Church and King — to the church of Laud and the royalty of Charles. We cannot imagine Shakspere among the court singers who grated ” lean and flashy songs ” on scrannel pipes. But neither could he have accepted as complete the Pu- ritan ideal. Sir Toby Belch is not an embodiment of the highest wisdom ; but Malvolio has no answer when the irrepressible knight addresses him : ” Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale T Ginger is hot in the mouth, Feste, the clown, justly declares ; and that fact must enter into every ad- equate idea of human life. Had Shakspere lived when Milton lived, he would have seen and mourned over the breach in humanity, the violence done to human happi- ness and human culture by two opposite ideals which tore the truth in sunder. It would have been impossible for him. to attain his own complete development either as an artist or as a man. He would have looked on, and ut- tered now and again the cry of pain and indignation, ” A plague on both your houses !”   What were Shakspere’s political views? It is matter of congratulation that Shakspere approached history, not through political theories or philosophies, but through a wide and deep sympathy with human action and human suffering. That a poet of the nineteenth century should disregard political theories, and philosophies of history,   ^ I i ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ < iM   * Riimelin, *’ Shakespeare^tudien,” p. 217.       The Roman Plays. 287   would prove that he was lacking in that very sympathy with humanity which made Shakspere what he wa^ But the seventeenth century was one in which, in the world of politics, nation struggled with nation, and man with man, rather than idea with idea. Shakspere has no po- litical doctrine to apply to the civil contest of the houses of Lancaster and York by which to resolve the claims of the contending parties. If we discover any principle in which he had faith, it is that of the right of the kingliest nature to be king. The divine right of Richard II., gal- lantly urged by the Bishop of Carlisle, is hardly as sacred in Shakspere’s eyes as the divine right of the son of the usurping Bolingbroke. It is Henry VI. whose over-irri- table conscience suggests to him doubts respecting the title of his house. Happily we are not afflicted by Shak- spere with doctrinaire utterances, with sentiments liberal or reactionary uttered by the heroes of monarchy or of republicanism. A time will perhaps come, more favora- ble to true art than the present, when ideas are less out- standing factors in history than they have been in this century ; when thought will be obscurely present in in- stinctive action and in human emotion, and will vitalize and inspire these joyously rather than tyranically domi- nate them. And then men’s sympathy with the Eliza- bethan drama will be more prompt and sure than in our day it can be.   Party spirits are baffled by the great human poet. They can, with entire ease and self-satisfaction, read their sev- eral creeds, political and religious, into the poetry of Shak- spere ; hvXjmd them there they cannot. Only if we look for what is truly human and of permanent interest to man, we shall not be disappointed. ” Many reproaches have been uttered against Shakspere. But the hypocrite whom his poetry does not unmask and cover with confu- sion, the tyrant who does not suffer in himself the pangs       288 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   of conscience and earn the general hatred, the coward who ]f> not made a laughing-stock, the dressed-up imposi- tion who, discovered in his nakedness, does not experi- ence the poet’s annihilating scorn, is in vain to be sought for among the historical figures of these dramas.” “^   That the people should appear at all in the histories of Shakspere is worthy of note. In French tragedy the peo- ple plays no part ; and naturally, for ” French history does not speak of the people before the nineteenth century.” f Shakspere’s representation of the people is by no means harsh or ungenial. He does not discover in them heroic virtues ; he does not think that a crowd of citizens is invariably very wise, patient, or temperate ; and he has a certain aversion, quite under control, however, to the sweaty caps and grimy hands and stinking breath of gar- lic-eaters and men of occupation.^ Nevertheless, Shak-       * F. Kreyssig, ” Shakespeare-Fragen,” pp. 97, 98. The discussion of this subject by Kreyssig is excellent. “Shakespeare hatte sich bei seinen Zuschauern so wenig Dank verdient als bei den Behorden, wenn er etwa in der Schilderung des Konig Johann fiir die Barone und die Communen ge- gen den Konig Partei genommen hatte, statt fiir England gegen Frankreich und gegen den Papst. Ja, er hatte ganz aus der ihn umgebenden geistigen Atmosphare heraustreten miissen, um nach politischer GesinnungstUchtig- keit und Geschichtsphilosophie im Sinne seiner heutigen Kritiker und Nach- ahmer zu trachten. Man wird seine Historien vergeblich nach liberalen Sentenzen durchsuchen. Wenn er dann aber, von seinem Standpunkte, dabei im Rechte war, sind es seine Gegner von dem ihrigen nicht ebenso sehr, indem sie sich lieber an den Gedanken- und Gesinnungshelden unserer modernen historischen Dramen erbauen als an den Schlagezu’s und Halte- fest’s, den unbarmherzigen Tyrannen, den hochfahrenden Rittern, den in- triguanten Priestern und leidenschaftlichen Weibern der Shakespeare’schen Historien ?” — Shakespeare-Fragen^ p. 92. I am indebted to other passages in the same lecture for some suggestions.   f A. Mezi^res, “Shakespeare, ses CEuvres et ses Critiques,” p. 154. M. Mezi^res studies the historical dramas of Shakspere in a highly interesting manner, throwing the characters into groups — the women, the children, the people, the lords, the prelates, the kings.   X Kreyssig, ” Shakespeare-Fragen,” p. 96.       The Roman Plays. 289   spere recognizes that the heart of the people is sound ; their feelings are generally right, but their view of facts is perverted by interests, by passions, by stupidity. In the play of Coriolanus the citizens are not insensible to the virtues of the great Consul ; they appreciate the hu- morous kindliness of the patrician Menenius. But they are as wax in the hands of their demagogues. Is Shak- spere’s representation so wholly unjust to the seven- teenth century, or even to the nineteenth ? He had no political doctrinaire philosophy, no humanitarian ideal- ism, to put between himself and the facts concerning the character of the people. His age did not supply him with humanitarian idealism; but man delighted Shak- spere, and woman also. Thersites was not beyond the range of his sympathy. And to Shakspere the people did not appear as Thersites ; at worst it appeared as Cal- iban.   Further, if Shakspere exposes the vices of a mob, he shrinks as little from exposing the vices of a court. The wisdom of the populace is not inferior to the wisdom of a Polonius. The manners of handicraftsmen are as truly gentle as the manners of Osric. Of ceremony Shakspere was no lover ; but he was deeply in love with all that is sound, substantial, honest. Prince Henry flies from the inanimate, bloodless, and insincere world of his father’s court to the society of drawers and carriers in Eastcheap. In the play of Coriolanus^ the intolerant haughtiness and injustice of the patrician is brutal and stupid, not less, but rather more, than the plebeian inconstancy and tur- bulence.   In Shakspere’s late play, The Tempest^ written when he was about to retire for good to his Stratford home, he indulges in a sly laugh at the principles of communism. He who had earned the New Place, and become a landed jgentleman by years of irksome toil, did not see that ho 19       290 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   was bound to share his tenements and lands with his lesa industrious neighbors. On the contrary, he meant to hold them himself by every legal title, and, at his decease, to hand them down to his daughter and her sons and sons’ sons. Into the mouth of the honest old counsellor Gon- zalo, the dramatist puts the pleasant theory of commu- nism and of human perfectibility, and Gonzalo is amus- ingly landed in the inconsequence of resolving to be him- self sovereign of his kingless commonwealth.^ In Shak- spere’s earliest play, or one of the earliest, Henry VI., and in a passage certainly not written by Marlowe, nor in the manner of Greene, Jack Cade announces his intended reformation of the state of England. ” Be brave, then ; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven half-penny loaves sold for a penny ; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops ; and I will make it felony to drink small beer ; all the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass : and when I am king, as king I will be — ” And the people shout, ” God save your majesty !” George Bevis and John Holland discuss affairs of state :   ” Bevis. I tell thee, Jack Cade the clothier means to dress the common- wealth, and turn it, and get a new nap upon it.   HoU. So he had need, for ’tis threadbare. Well, I say it was never merry world in England since gentlemen came up.   Bevis. miserable age ! virtue is not regarded in handicraftsmen.   HoU. The nobility think scorn to go in leather aprons.   Bevis. Nay, more, the King’s council are no good workmen.   HoU. True ; and yet it is said. Labor in thy vocation ; which is as much as to say, let the magistrates be laboring men ; and therefore should we be magistrates.   Bevis. Thou hast hit it ; for there’s no better sign of a brave mind than a hard hand.”       * Shakspere borrows his imaginary commonwealth from Montaigne. On Shakspere’s obligations to Montaigne^ s^e M. Philar^te Chasles : ” Etudetl gur Shakespeare,” pp. 162-187,       The Roman Plays-. 291   ” An audience,” writes Mr. Walter Bagehot, ” which hona fide entered into the merit of this scene would never be- lieve in everybody’s suflPrage. They would know that there is such a thing as nonsense ; and when a man has once attained to that deep conception, you may be sure of him ever after. . . . The author of Coriolanus never believed in a mob, and did something towards prevent- ing anybody else from doing so. But this political idea was not exactly the strongest in Shakspere’s mind. . . . He had two others stronger, or as strong. First, the feel- ing of loyalty to the ancient polity of this country, not because it was good, but because it existed. . . . The second peculiar tenet which we ascribe to his political creed is a disbelief in the middle classes. We fear he had no opinion of traders. . . . You will generally find that when a ‘ citizen ‘ is mentioned, he does or says something absurd.^ Shakspere had a clear perception that it is pos- sible to bribe a class as well as an individual. . • . He everywhere speaks in praise of a tempered and ordered and qualified polity, in which the pecuniary classes have a certain influence, but no more; and shows in every page a keen sensibility to the large views and high-souled energies, the gentle refinements and disinterested desires, in which those classes are likely to be especially defi- cient. He is particularly the poet of personal nobility, though throughout his writings there is a sense of free- dom ; just as Milton is the poet of freedom, though with an underlying reference to personal nobility; indeed, we might well expect our two poets to combine the appre- ciation of a rude and generous liberty with that of a del- icate and refined nobleness, since it is the union of these   * Not always. See, for example, King Richard III.^ act ii., so. 3, where a “divine instinct,” informing men’s minds of coming danger, moves in the breasts of the citizens.       292 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   two elements that characterizes our society and their ex perience.” “^   Although the play of Coriolanus almost inevitably suggests a digression into the consideration of the poli- tics of Shakspere, it must once again be asserted that the central and vivifying element in the play is not a politi- cal problem, but an individual character and life. The tragic struggle of the play is not that of patricians with plebeians, but of Coriolanus with his own self. It is not the Roman people who bring about his destruction ; it is the patrician haughtiness and passionate self-will of Cor- iolanus himself. Were the contest of political parties the chief interest of Shakspere’s drama, the figures of the tribunes must have been drawn upon a larger scale. They would have been endowed with something more than ” f oxship.” As representatives of a great principle, or of a power constantly tending in one direction, they might have appeared worthy rivals of the leaders of the patrician party ; and the fall of Coriolanus would be sig- nalized by some conquest and advance of the tide of popular power.f Shakspere’s drama is the drama of in- dividuality, including under this name all those bonds of duty and of affection which attach man to his fellow- man, but not impersonal principles and ideas.:}: The pas-   * Walter Bagehot, ” Estimates of Some Englishmen and Scotchmen,” pp. 25’7-260. See on the subject generally of the literature of aristocratic and of democratic epochs the writer’s article “The Poetry of Democracy — Walt Whitman,” Westminster Review^ July, 1871.   f I owe this observation to Professor H. Th. Rotscher, ” Shakespeare in seinen hochsten Charactergebilden,” etc. (Dresden, 1864), p. 20.   % “His [Shakspere’s] drama is the drama of individuality. . . . Shak- spere shows neither the consciousness of a law nor of humanity ; the fut- ure is mute in his dramas, and enthusiasm for great principles unknown. His genius comprehends and sums up the past and the present ; it does not initiate the future. He interpreted an epoch ; he announced none.” — Jo* BEPH Mazzini, Life and Writings^ vol. ii., pp. 133, 134. See Riimelin, ” Shake* gpeare-Studien/’ pp. 169, 170.       The Roman Plays. 293   Bion of patriotism, high-toned and enthusiastic, stands with Shakspere instead of general political principles and ideas; and the life of the individual is widened and elevated by the national life, to which the individual sur^ renders himself with gladness and with pride.   The pride of Coriolanus is, however, not that which comes from self -surrender to and union with some pow- er or person or principle higher than one’s self. It is twofold — a passionate self-esteem which is essentially egoistic, and, secondly, a passionate prejudice of class. His nature is the reverse of cold or selfish ; his sympa- thies are deep, warm, and generous ; but a line, hard and fast, has been drawn for him by the aristocratic tradition, and it is only within that line that he permits his sympa- thies to play. To the surprise of the tribunes, he can accept, well pleased, a subordinate command under Comin- ius. He yields with kindly condescension to accept the devotion and fidelity of Menenius, and cherishes towards the old man a filial regard — the feeling of a son who has the consciousness that he is greater than his father. He must dismiss Menenius disappointed from the Yolscian camp ; but he contrives an innocent fraud by means of which the old senator will fancy that he has effected more for the peace of Rome than another could. For Virgilia, the gentle woman in whom his heart finds rest, Coriolanus has a manly tenderness and constant freshness of adhesion :   *’ 0, a kiss Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge ! Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss I carried from thee, dear ; and my true lip Hath virgin’d it e’er since !”   In his boy he has a father’s joy, and yields to an ambitious hope, and a yearning forward to his son’s possible future of heroic action, in which there is something of touching paternal weakness :       X       294 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ” The god of soldiers, With the consent of supreme Jove, inform Thy thoughts with nobleness ; that thou may’st prove To shame unvulnerable, and stick i* the wars Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw, And saving those that eye thee !”   His wife’s friend Valeria is the ” moon of Kome/’   ” Chaste as the icicle That’s curdled by the frost from purest snow And hangs on Dian*s temple.” *   In his mother, Volumnia, the awful Roman matron, he rejoices with a noble enthusiasm and pride ; and while she is present always feels himself, by comparison with this great mother, inferior and unimportant.   But Cominius, Menenius, and Virgilia, Valeria and Volumnia, and his boy belong to the privileged class; they are patrician. Beyond this patrician class neither his sympathies nor his imagination find it possible to range. The plebeians are ” a common cry of curs ” whose breath Coriolanus hates. He cannot, like Boling- broke, flatter their weakness while he despises them in- wardly. He is not even indifferent towards them; he rather rejoices in their malice and displeasure ; if the nobility would let him use his sword, he would make a quarry “with thousands of these quarter’d slaves” as high as he could pick his lance. Sicinius the Tribune is ” the Triton of the minnows.” When Coriolanus departs from Rome, as though all the virtue of the city were resident in himself, he reverses the apparent fact and proaounces a sentence of banishment against those whom he leaves   * Observe the extraordinary vital beauty and illuminating quality of Shak«i spere’s metaphors and similes. A commonplace poet would have written ” as chaste as snow ;” but Shakspere’s imagination discovers degrees of chastity in ice and snow, and chooses the chastest of all frozen things. On this subject, see an excellent study by Rev. H. N. Hudson, “Shakespeare: bis Life. Art^ and Characters,^’ vol i., pp. 217-237.       The Roman Plays. 295   behind — “/ ha/nish youP Brutus is warranted by the fact when he says,   ” You speak o’ the people As if you were a god to punish, not A man of their infirmity.”   And yet the weakness, the inconstancy, and the inca- pacity of apprehending facts which are the vices of the people, reflect and repeat themselves in the great patri- cian ; his aristocratic vices counterbalance their plebeian. He is rigid and obstinate ; but under the influence of an angry egoism he can renounce his principles, his party, and his native city. He will not bear away to his private use the paltry booty of the Yolsces ; but to obtain the consulship he is urged by his proud mother and his patri- cian friends to stand bareheaded before the mob, to ex- pose his wounds, to sue for their votes, to give his heart the lie, to bend the knee like a beggar asking an alms. The judgment and blood of Coriolanus are ill commin- gled ; he desires the end, but can only half submit to the means which are necessary to attain that end ; he has not sufficient self-control to enable him to dispose of those chances of which he is lord. And so he mars his fortune. The pride of Coriolanus, as Mr. Hudson has observed, is ” rendered altogether inflammable and uncontrollable by passion; insomuch that if a spark of provocation is struck into the latter, the former instantly flames up beyond measure, and sweeps away all the regards of prudence, of decorum, and even of common-sense.” ^ Now, such pas- sion as this Shakspere knew to be weakness, and not strength ; and by this uncontrollable violence of temper Coriolanus draws down upon himself his banishment from Rome and his subsequent fate.   At the moment when he passes forth through the gates   ♦ “Shakespeare: his Life» Art, and Characters^’* vol. ii.»p.4(r3.       296 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   of the city, and only then, his passion, instead of break ing violently forth, subdues his nature in a more evil fashion, and becomes dark and deadly. He feels that ne has been deserted by ” the dastard nobles,” and given over as a prey to the mob. He, who had been so warm, so generous, so loyal towards his class, now feels himself betrayed ; and the deadly need of revenge, together with the sense that he is in solitude and must depend upon his own strength and prudence, makes him calm. He en- deavors to pacify his mother and to check the old man’s tears ; he utters no violent speech. Only one obscure and formidable word escapes his lips :   ” I go alone Like to a lonely dragon that his fen Makes fear’d and talked of more than seen.”   And in this spirit he strides forward towards Corioli.   No passage in the play is quick with such bright, spon- taneous, almost lyrical feeling as the address of his de- feated rival to Coriolanus, when he finds the great leader an unbidden guest within his house at Antium. Enthu- siasm about great personalities finds nobler expression perhaps in the writings of Shakspere than in those of any other poet of any country. The reader will recall that wonderful outbreak of admiration and homage from the aged ISTestor when he gazes for the first time upoa Hector’s unhelmeted head :   ” I have, thou gallant Trojan, seen thee oft, Laboring for destiny, make cruel way Through ranks of Greekish youth, and I have seen the^ As hot as Perseus spur thy Phrygian steed. Despising many forfeits and subduements, When thou hast hung thy advanced sword i’ the air, Not letting it decline on the declined, That I have said to some my standers-by, *Xo, Jupiter is yonder^ dealing life P And I have seen thee pause and take thy breath, When that a ring of Greeks have hemmM thee in, Like an Olympian wrestling.”       The Roman Plays. 297   And the old man continues in the like strain until almost breath must fail him. The instantaneous and involun- tary homage paid by Aufidius to Coriolanus is the same in kind — the overwhelming joy of standing face to face with veritable human greatness and nobility.   But Coriolanus has found in Antium no second home. Honored and deferred to, tended on, and treated as al- most sacred, he is still the ” lonely dragon that his fen makes f ear’d.” Cut ofi from his kindred and his friends, wronged by his own passionate sense of personality, his violent egoism, he resolves to stand   ” As if a man were author of himself, And knew no other kin.”   But the loves and loyalties to which he has done vio- lence react against him. The struggle, prodigious and pathetic, begins between all that is massive, stern, inflex- ible, and all that is tender and winning in his nature ; and the strength is subdued by the weakness. It is as if an oak were rent and uprooted not by the stroke of light- ning, but by some miracle of gentle yet irresistible music. And while Coriolanus yields under the influence of an instinct not to be controlled, he possesses the distinct con- sciousness that such yielding is mortal to himself. He has come to hate and to conquer, but he must needs per- ish and love :   ” My wife comes foremost ; then the honorM mould Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection ! All bond and privilege of nature, break ! Let it be virtuous to be obstinate ! What is that curtesy worth ? Or those doves’ eyes, Which can make gods forsworn ? I melt, and am not Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows ; As if Olympus to a molehill should In supplication nod ; and my young boy Hath an aspect of intercession, which Great nature cries * Deny not’ ”       298 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   The convulsive efforts to maintain his hardness and rigidity are in vain ; Coriolanus yields ; his obstinacy and pride are broken ; he is compelled to learn that a man cannot stand as if he were author of himself. And so the fortunes of Coriolanus fall, but the man rises with that fall.   Delivered from patrician pride and his long habit of egoism, Coriolanus cannot be. The purely human influ- ences have reached him through the only approaches by which he was accessible — through his own family. To the plebeian class he must still remain the intolerant patrician. Nevertheless, he has undergone a profound experience ; he has acknowledged purely human influ- ences in the only way in which it was possible for him to do so. No single experience, Shakspere was aware, can deliver the soul from the long habit of passionate egoism. And, accordingly, at the last it is this which be- trays him into the hands of the conspirators. His con- duct before Eome is about to be judicially inquired into at Antium. But the word ” boy,” ejaculated against him by Aufidius, ” touches Coriolanus into an ecstasy of pas- sionate rage :”   ” Boy ! slave !   Pardon me, lords, His the first time that ever   I was forced to scold.   • •••••   Boy ! false hound !   If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there   That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I   Flutter^ your Volscians in Corioli ;   Alone, I did it. Boy I”   And in a moment the swords of the conspirators have pierced him. A Volscian lord, reverent for fallen great- ness, protects the body :   ” Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet ; Put up your swords.”       The Roman Plays. 299   So suddenly has he passed from towering passion to the helplessness of death, the victim of his own violent egoism and uncontrollable self-will. We remain with the sense that a great gap in the world has been made ; that a sea-mark ” standing every flaw ” has for all time disappeared. We see the lives of smaller men still going on ; we repress all violence of lamentation, and bear about with us a memory in which pride and pity are blended.       300 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.       CHAPTER VII.   THE HUMOR OF SHAKSPERE.   A STUDY of Shakspere which fails to take account ol \Shakspere’s humor must remain essentially incomplete. ^y^The character and spiritual history of a man who is en- dowed with a capacity for humorous appreciation of the world must differ throughout and in every particular from those of the man whose moral nature has never rippled over with genial laughter. At whatever final issue Shak- spere arrived, after long spiritual travail, as to the attain- ment of his life, that precise issue rather than another was arrived at in part by virtue of the fact of Shakspere’s humor. In the composition of forces which determined the orbit traversed by the mind of the poet, this must be allowed for as a force among others, in importance not the least, and efficient at all times, even when little ap- parent. A man whose visage ^’ holds one stern intent ” from day to day, and whose joy becomes at times almost a supernatural rapture, may descend through circles of hell to the narrowest and the lowest ; he may mount from sphere to sphere of Paradise until he stands within the light of the Divine Majesty ; but he will hardly succeed in presenting us with an adequate image of life as it is on this earth of ours in its oceanic amplitude and variety. ”A few men of genius there have been who, with vision penetrative as lightning, have gazed, as it were, through life, at some eternal significances of which life is the symbol. Intent upon its sacred meaning, they have had no eye to note the forms of the grotesque hieroglyph of       The Humor of Shakspere. 301   human existence. Such men are not framed for laugh- ter. To this little group the creator of Falstaflf, of Bot- tom, and of Touchstone does not belong.   Shakspere, who saw life more widely and wisely than any other of the seers, could laugh. That is a comforta- ble fact to bear in mind — a fact which serves to rescue us from the domination of intense and narrow natures, who claim authority by virtue of their grasp of one half of the realities of our existence and their denial of the rest. Shakspere could laugh. But we must go on to ask, “What did he laugh at? and what was the manner of his laughter?” Ther e are as many modes of laughter as there ^^^^ j^gfttfi ^^ ^^^ <^i^r nmon soul of jiumanity to r^* fleet the humorous appearances of the world. Hogarth, in one of hi s piec^ei^ of coai ‘ i^e )^yC i^^liblk uigiarin g, has presented a group of occupants of the pit of a theatre sketched during the performance of some broad comedy or farce. What proceeds upon the stage is invisible and undiscoverable save as we catch its reflection on the faces of the spectators, in the same way that we infer a sunset from the evening flame upon windows that front the west. Each laughing face in Hogarth’s print exhibits a different mode or a different stage of the risible paroxysm. There is the habitual enjoyer of the broad comic abandoned to his mirth, which is open and unashamed — mirth which he is evidently a match for, and able to sustain. By his side is a companion female portrait, a woman with head thrown back to ease the violence of the guffaw ; all her loose re- dundant flesh is tickled into an orgasm of merriment ; she is fairly overcome. On the other side sits the spec- tator who has passed the climax of his laughter ; he wipes the tears from his eyes, and is on the way to regain an insecure and temporary composure. Below appears a girl of eighteen or twenty, whose vacancy of intellect is captured and occupied by the innocuous folly still iu       302 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   progress ; she gazes on expectantly, assured that a new blossom of the wonder of absurdity is about to display it- self. Her father, a man who does not often surrender himself to an indecent convulsion, leans his face upon his hand, and with the other steadies himself by grasping one of the iron spikes that enclose the orchestra. In the right corner sits the humorist, whose eyes, around which the wrinkles gather, are half closed, while he already goes over the jest a second time in his imagination. At the opposite side an elderly woman is seen, past the period when animal violences are possible, laughing because she knows there is something to laugh at, though she is too dull-witted to know precisely what. One spectator, as we guess from his introverted air, is laughing to think what somebody else would think of this. Finally, the thin-lipped, perk-nosed person of refinement looks aside, and by his critical indiflEerence condemns the broad, inju- dicious mirth of the company.   All these laughers of Hogarth are very commonplace, and some are very vulgar persons ; one trivial, ludicrous spectacle is the occasion of their mirth. When from such laughter as this we turn to the laughter of men of gen- ius, who gaze at the total play of the world’s life, and when we listen to this, as with the ages it goes on gather- ing and swelling, our sense of hearing is enveloped and almost annihilated by the chorus of mock and jest, of an- tic and buffoonery, of tender mirth and indignant satire, of monstrous burlesque and sly absurdity, of desperate misanthropic derision and genial, affectionate caressing of human imperfection and human folly. We hear from behind the mask the enormous laughter of Aristophanes, ascending peal above peal, until it passes into jubilant ecstasy, or from the uproar springs some exquisite lyric strain. We hear laughter of passionate indignation from Juvenal, the indignation of ” the ancient and free soul of       The Humor of Shakspere. 303   the dead republics.” * ^nd there is Eabelais, with hia huge buffoonery, and the earnest eyes intent on freedom which look out at us in the midst of the zany’s tumblings and indecencies. And Cervantes, with his refined Oastil- ian air, and deep melancholy mirth at odds with the en- thusiasm which is dearest to his soul. And Moliere, with his laughter of unerring good-sense, undeluded by fashion or vanity, or folly or hypocrisy, and brightly mocking these into modesty. And Milton, with his fierce objur- gatory laughter, Elijah-like insult against the enemies of freedom and of England. And Voltaire, with his quick intellectual scorn and eager malice of the brain. And there is the urbane and amiable play of Addison’s inven- tion, not capable of large achievement, but stirring the corners of the mouth with a humane smile — gracious gayety for the breakfast tables of England. And Field- ing’s careless mastery of the whole broad, common field of mirth. And Sterne’s exquisite curiosity of oddness,^^ his subtle extravagances and humors prepense. And there is the tragic laughter of Swift, which announces the extinction of reason, and loss beyond recovery of human faith and charity and hope. jHow, in this chorus of laughters, joyous and terrible^ is the laughter of Shak- spere distinguishable ?   In the £rst place, the humor of Shakspere, like his 4^;– total genius, is mar^y-sidjedr He does not pledge himself as^ramatist to any one view of human life. If we open a novel by Charles Dickens, we feel assured beforehand that we are condemned to an exuberance of philan- thropy ; we know how the writer will insist that we must all be good friends, all be men and brothers intoxi- cated with the delight of one another’s presence ; we ex-   * ” Juvenal, c’est la vieille ^me libre des republiques mortes ; il a en lui une Rome dans I’airain de laquelle sont fondues Ath^nes et Sparte,” — Vio TOR Hugo, William Shakespeare, p. 46 (ed. 1869).       304 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   pect him to hold out the right hand of fellowship to man, woman, and child ; we are prepared for the bacehanalia of benevolence. The lesson we have to learn from this teacher is that, with the exception of a few inevitable and incredible monsters of cruelty, every man naturally en- gendered of the offspring of Adam is of his own nature inclined to every amiable virtue. Shakspere abounds in kindly mirth ; he receives an exquisite pleasure from the \ alert wit and bright good sense of a Rosalind ; he can dandle a fool as tenderly as any nurse qualified to take a baby from the birth can deal with her charge. But Shakspere is not pledged to deep-dyed, ultra amiability. With Jaques he can rail at the world, while remaining curiously aloof from all deep concern about its interests, this way or that. With Timon he can turn upon the world with a rage no less than that of Swift, and discover in man and woman a creature as abominable as the Ya^ hoo. InjoitlLer words, the humor of Shakspere, like his tptal genius, is dramatic.   Then, again, although Shakspere laughs incomparably, mere laughter wearies him. The only play of Shak- sper<3’s, out of nearly forty, which is farcical. The Comedy of Errors^ was written in the poet’s earliest period of au- thorship, and was formed upon the suggestion of a pre- ceding piece. It has been observed with truth by Ger- vinus that the farcical incidents of this play have been connected by Shakspere with a tragic background which is probably his own invention. With beauty or with pa- thos or with thought, Shakspere can mingle his mirth, and then he is happy, and knows how to deal with play of wit or humorous characterization; but an entirely comic subject somewhat disconcerts the poet. On this ground, if no other were forthcoming, it might be sus- pected that The Taming of the Shrew was not altogether th^ work of Shakspere’s hand. The secondary intrigues       I The Humor of Shakspere. 305   and minoi* incidents were of little interest to the poet. But in thtJ buoyant force of Petruchio’s character, in his subduing tempest of high spirits, and in the person of the foiled re vol tress against the law of sex, who carries into her wifely loyalty the same energy which she had shown in her virgin sauvagerie^ there w^ere elements of human character in which the imagination of the poet took de- light.^ i   Unless it be its own excess, however, Shakspere’s laughter seems to fear nothing. It does not, when it has once arrived at its full development, fear enthusi- asm or passjion or tragic intensity ; nor do these fear it. The traditions of the English drama had favored the jux- taposition of the serious and comic ; but it was reserved for Shakspere to make each a part of the other ; to inter- penetrate tragedy with comedy, and comedy with tragic earnestness. In Marlowe’s Doctor FaustiiSy as we now possess it, the scenes of extravagant burlesque are merely a divertissement after the terror and awful solemnity of the tragic scenes. One cannot but desire to believe that such passages of rude burlesque were the invention of some clumsy playwright, and not the laborious degrada- tion of his own art by Marlowe, who possessed no gift of   * ” Farmer, nearly a hundred years ago, said that Shakspere wrote only the Petruchio scenes in The Taming of the Shrew. Mr. Collier hesitatingly adopted this view. Mr. Grant W Lite developed it, and I (and Mr. Fleay af- terwards) turned it into figures, making the following parts Shakspere’s, though in many places they are worked up by him from the old Taming of a Shrew: Induction; act il, sc. 1, 1. 168-326 (? touching 115-16’7); III. ii. 1. 125, 151-240; IV. i. (and ii. Dyce); IV. iii., v. (iv., vi., Dyce); V. ii. 1. 1- 180 ; in short, the parts of Katharine and Petruchio, and almost all Grumio, with the characters on the stage with them, and possible occasional touches elsewhere (Trans. New Sh. Soc, 1874, pp. 103-110). The rest is by the alterer and adapter of the old A Shrew^ probably Marlowe, as there are deliberate copies or plagiarisms of him in ten passages (G. White).” — F. J. Furniyall, Preface to Gervinus’s Shakespeare Commentaries^ 1874. I cannot accept thO opinion that Marlowe was the adapter of The Taming of a Shrew, 20       3o6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   humor. In Doctor Faustus the juxtaposition of the ele* vated and the burlesque scenes produces an e:ffect as in- congruous as if a group of Dutch boors carousing in a tavern of Teniers were transferred into some g;reat sacred or classical composition by Lionardo da Vinci or RaSa- elle. The serious and the comic portions of the play move upon different planes of feeling, and the one cannot as- sist or co-operate wath the other. In Shakspere’s earliest tragedy his method is already in existence. He is not afraid that the passion and the anguish of the lives of Komeo and Juliet will suffer abatement because Mercutio coruscates and scintillates, or because the nurse puffs and perspires, tells long-winded stories, and tipples her aqua- vitce. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona,, while Julia, standing by disguised, hears her faithless lover devoting himself to Silvia, the Host falls sound asleep. This is quite as it should be. The world is not all made for pas- sionate young gentlemen and ladies. The stout body of mine host has its rights and dues also : ” By my halidom, I was fast asleep.” Shakspere’s humor here is a portion of his fidelity to the fact, his content in seeing things as they are, his justice, his impartiality. The clown laughs at the lover, and not without a fair show of clown-like common-sense. Shakspere is disposed to let no side of a fact escape him. IflTTiSrv^a trivial, ludicrous aspect, by _all means let us have that put upon record. The valet- de-chambre range of emotion is as undeniable a piece of reality as is the heroic ; and the world, somehow, is wide enough for both valet and hero. It is desirable to ascer- tain what lights the one may throw upon the other.   This apparent holding himself aloof from, and above, his own creations, his perfect impartiality towards each person, and sometimes towards the entire action of his drama, is what Schlegel has spoken jof ^ ^Shakspere’s irony. This irony, Schlegel has said, is ” the grave of en’       The HiLmor of Shakspere. 307   thusiasm. We arrive at it only after we have had the misfortune to see human nature through and through, and when no choice remains but to adopt the melancholy truth that ‘ no virtue or greatness is altogether pure or genuine,’ or the dangerous error that ‘ the highest perfec- tion is attainable.’ ” ” Here,” the critic continues, ” we therefore may perceive in the poet himself, notwithstand- ing his power to excite the most fervent emotions, a cer- tain cool indifference, but still the indifference of a supe- rior mind, which has run through the whole sphere of human existence and survived feeling.” ^   In this criticism by Schlegel there is an appearance of truth, but no more than an appearance. Shakspere’s im- partiality towards the persons and motives of his plays is not real aloofness. It rather proceeds from his profound interest in his subject, his determination to do justice to every side of it. ” In troth,” exclaims Prince Henry, “I do now remember the poor creature small beer, but, in- deed, these humble considerations make me out of love with my greatness,” Does Shakspere feel less enthusiasm for the glorious manhood of Henry because Henry re- members the poor creature small beer ? No ; Shakspere is prepared to admit that Henry is every whit human, and therefore it is that the splendor of his manhood strengthens us, and fills us, as it were, with a personal pride and joy :   ” I saw young Harry with his beaver on, His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm’d, Rise from the ground like featherM Mercury, And vaulted with such ease into his seat, As if an angel droppM down from the clouds, To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus And witch the world with noble horsemanship.**       * ” Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature,” by A. W. Schlegel (ed, 1846)^ p. 869.       3o8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   It is because Shakspere so entirely acknowledges the heroic in Henry that he has no timidity in risking his reputation as hero by confession of the common incidents of humanity, heroic as well as non-heroic. That a most Christian king should each morning receive his peruke inserted upon a cane through an aperture of his bed-cur- tains is entirely correct ; for the valet cannot retain faith in a perukeless grand monarch. But Shakspere dares to inspect his hero as ” unaccommodated man.” ” Unaccom- modated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art,” exclaims Lear to the shivering Ed- gar ; and yet he is, at the same time, ” How noble in rea- son ! how infinite in faculty ! in form and moving how express and admirable ! in action how like an angel ! in apprehension how like a god ! the beauty of the world ! the paragon of animals !”   Shakspere recognized both our human imperfection and our human greatness ; he denied the one as little as the other; hence his enthusiasm is not suppressed by, but at one with, his tenderness, his pity, his pathos. Des- demona falters from the truth before the terrible eye of her husband; but she utters her dying and redeeming falsehood.. Imogen’s quick resentment wrongs for a mo- ment the honor of Posthumus ; but Imogen’s arms around Posthumus’s neck do more than make amends. A woman is dearer to Shakspere than an angel ; a man is better thah a god. . At the Diet of Worms, in 1521, his Imperial Maj- esty, who did not know High-German, required Martin Luther to repeat his long defence in the Latin tongue. The sweat flowed on Luther’s forehead ; his lungs were exhausted, his throat was parched. The Duke of Bruns- wick, who sat by his side, despatched a servant for three flagons of the best Eimbeck beer. ‘^ I shall never forget that noble action,” writes Heine, with a genuine burst of delight in the homely heroism of our dear master Martin       The Humor of Shahspere. 309   Luther, “which does so much honor to the House of Brunswick.” * The host falls fast asleep while Julia’s heart is only just sound and strong enough to keep from breaking. Does the propinquity of the snoring host make the anguish of Julia less real ? Mast we suppose that love was an illusion which Shakspere had transcend- ed because Friar Laurence moralizes on the violent ends of violent delights % In Antony and Cleopatra a clown bears the basket in which is hidden ” the pretty worm of Nilus that kills and pains not.” .Is Shakspere indifferent to the gravity of dying because a grotesque rustic becomes the messenger of death to the great Egyptian queen? Is dying not altogether a reality? Assuredly, though a clown has brought the basket, the worm ” will do his kind ” upon Iras and Charmian and Cleopatra. Death is real. Anguish and love are real, though Peter call for some ” merry dump ” to comfort him, and though mine host yield to the luxurious obsession of a snooze. ‘ — JTragedy with Shakspere becomes more tragic because it lies s^rrounded by the common realities. oi life. He- roics which are so elevated as to disdain all that is actual and ordinary, like those of the Restoration drama and that of a subsequent period, tend rapidly to become pseudo-heroics, and affect us, in the end, as actually com- ic — a ridiculous, undesigned parody of genuine nobility of feeling and conduct. Hector becomes Drawcansir. The statuesque group of which Whiskerandos is the cen- tre — uncles and nieces — stand in menacing attitude at a deadlock, each with a dagger at the breast. Shakspere^ a German poet has said, inoculates his tragedy with a ,. comi€^-vi-rns,”and thu s iy is ‘pre from the great dis- ” *   ease of absi]^diiy.t ABst raFt^Trom ‘ Eo eo an d Juliet   ^ ■ ^ .. ‘ — . — ____ — . , . — _____ — _^   * Heine, ” Sammtliche Werke,” vol. v. (” Ueber Deutschland “), p. 76. f ” Das Komische ist der natiirliche Feind des Gravitatischen ; es verhalt eich zum Tragischen wie die sogenannte geforderte Farbe zu der andern       3 1 o Shakspere — His Mind and Art   the scenes in. which the serving -men bite thumbs, the scenes in which Mercutio jests, those in which the nurse lets loose her wanton tongue, those in which old Capulet fusses and frets, and leave only the passages of joy and of sorrow between the lovers — how insubstantial the joy and the sorrow appear ! In order that the angels in the dream of Jacob might descend to this abiding-place of ours, and might ascend again, there was needed ”a ladder set up on the earth, the top of which reached to heaven.’^ The ardors and virtues and spiritual presences of the hu- man soul are most energetically operant when they find footing on this ladder, which has its base upon the com- mon ground.   Can we discover any single expression which will re- sume the various humorous appearances of life as they presented themselves to Shakspere ? It would be hazard- ous to adopt any such expression and make of it a theory of Shaksperian humor, with which facts must be com- pelled to square. Yet, by contrasting the tragic with the comic developments of human character in the drama of Shakspere, it is possible to discover at least one main feat- ure of the comic as it was conceived by the poet,^ Ev-   (Gothe) ; wenn man nicht Roth mit Griin abwechseln lasst, so wird zuletzt das Roth selber Griin. So wird das Tragische komisch, das Komische lang- weilig. In der Beimischung von Humor liegt eine Art Inoculation der ko- mischen Kuhpocken, damit nicht die Menschenpocken, d. i., der Umschlag in’s Lacherliche eintrete. Dann vollendet sich durch die Hinzuthat des Ko- mischen zum Tragischen erst die Weltganzheit, die Ganzheit des Lebens. So haben Shakespeare’s Figuren ihr charakteristisches Pathos nicht immer wie ein Kleid am Leibe, sie haben noch andere leichtere Charakterziige, die in mittleren Zustanden jene so lange ersetzen, bis sie wieder eintreten, und besonders in diesem Wechsel liegt eine wunderbare Wirklichkeit ihres Le- bens und des ganzen Stiickes. Die vertrauhchste Sprache gewohnlicher Zustande und der kiihnste Schwung des Pathos in den ausserordentlichsten Situationen ; dazwischen eine Unendlichkeit von Mitteltinten.’* — Otto Lud- WIG, Shakespeare* Studien^ pp. ‘7, 8.   * See Gervinus on the different branches of the drama, ** Shakespeare Commentaries” (ed. 1863), vol. ii., pp. 59Y-612.       The Humor of Shakspere.   ery embodiment of thought, of passion, or of will which passes considerably beyond the normal standard is tragic, or contains within it potential elements of tragedy. A^^ embodiments of thought, passion, and volition which fall considerably below the normal standard are comic, or con- tain possible comic elements. Eomeo is a tragic person- age, because in him the passion of love has grown su- premely great, and under its influence his external, ma- terial life, the life of limitation, is wrecked and ruined. Hamlet is a tragic personage, because in him thought has developed itself in a way and degree which is without suitability or proportion to this finite life. Richard III. is tragic, because his will is unsatisfied by ever-renewed victory, and still needs to wreak itself absolutely upon the world. But Slender is comic, whose love of sweet Anne Page is so faint a velleity that he is compelled to borrow all the suggestions of his passion from his uncle :   ” Shot, Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.   Sim, Ay, that I do ; as well as I love any woman in Gloucestershire.   Shot, He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.   8len, Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail, under the degree of a squire.   Shot. He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.   Anne, Good Master Shallow, let him woo for himself.”   Slender, too evidently, is not a Romeo ; and when he is put in the embarrassing position of being allowed to woo for himself, the dialogue proceeds :   *’^Anne. Now, Master Slender —   Slen, Now, good Mistress Anne —   Anne, What is your will?   Slen. [Brightening up under the inspiration of a happy thought^ My will! ‘ods heartlings, that’s a pretty jest indeed ! I ne’er made my will yet, I thank heaven ; I am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise.   Anne. I mean, Master Slender, what would you with me ?   Slen. Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you ; your father and my uncle have made motions ; if it be my luck, so ; if not, happy man be his dole ! They can tell you how things go better than I can ; you may ask your father.”       3 1 2 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Slender’s meek resignation to a successful issue of hi& wooing, ” If it be my luck, so,” brought doubtless an arch smile, quickly smoothed away, to the lips and an amused twinkle to the eyes of sweet Anne Page. The painful obligation of making love, which he makes with all his heart, and with his largest oaths (” ‘ods heartlings !”) is submitted to by Slender with the same good grace with which Falstaff’s ragged conscripts accept the necessity of fighting. Slender, under the conduct of love, advances to conquest with a like gallantry to that exhibited by Mouldy, Shadow, and Feeble, when marshalled for war under the banner of patriotism and honor. Sir Andrew Aguecheek is a common personage, whose being, as it trembles upon the border of non-existence, is kept from quite vanishing away by the faint reflections it catches of Sir Toby’s boisterous vitality. Through his soft veil of silliness and imbecility (Providence tempering the wind to the shorn lamb) glimmers for a moment the faint suspicion that .he is an ass ; but any want of brill- iancy on Sir Andrew’s part is to be set down to acciden- tal, and not inherent, causes: “Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has; but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit.” And Dogberry is comic with his laborious ineflBciency, delivering to the Watch most painful instructions how to do nothing:   ^^Bog. You shall comprehend all vagrom men ; you are to bid any man stand in the Prince’s name.   Second Watch. How if a’ will not stand ?   Bog. Why, then, take no note of him, but let him go, and presently call the rest of the watch, and thank God you are rid of a knave.”   .Alike in the tragic and in the comic there is an incon- gruity to be found. The tragic incongruity arises from the disproportion between the world and the soul of man ; life is too small to satisfy the soul; the desires of man       The Humor of Shakspere. 313   are infinite, and all possible attainment exists under strictest limitation. The comic incongruity is the re- verse of this. It arises from the disproportion between ijertain souls of men and even this very ordinary world of ours. When a man’s wits are so unjointed and so ill- trained that, if put into motion, they forthwith get at cross purposes with themselves, while the happy imbecile remains supremely unconscious of his incapacity, we are in presence of an example of the comic incongruity. Ham- let brooding wistfully upon the unknown, until the mind’s eye is baifled by the darkness — that is an example of grand incongruity, essentially tragic. Eomeo would love infinitely, and be loved ; and there lies his body motion- less and senseless in the tomb of the Capulets. Cordelia spends all her wealth of piety to redeem her father from inhumanity and solitude ; and Lear hangs over her body comfortless and desperate. We can endure these sights because we know that there is no absolute failure for the love and devotion which necessarily scorn all such conse- quences as these, and which do not owe allegiance to ac- cident or time or place. Nevertheless, there remains a terrible tragic incongruity. Hamlet’s baffled movement, his beating to and fro in a vast and obscure world which he cannot comprehend, has in it something pathetic and something sublime. Polonius, with his mastery of court manners and secrets and policy, with his assumed om- niscience and real ineptitude, excites a smile which car- ries with it something of contempt. His knowledge of the world falls so ludicrously short of what true knowl- edge is. If personal nullity be dressed up in formal dig- nity and the pretension of office, it becomes more con- spicuous. If, where incapacity be all but absolute, there yet are discovered degrees of incapacity greater and less, we dilate in presence of the infinitely little, and expect inexhaustibly varied and ever-diminishing quantums of       3 1 4 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   sense on this side of idiocy.”^ Dogberry, the city officer, is not a very competent person, but he is in a position to apologize for the feebler intellect of Verges, whom he patronizes, as a condescending superior person should. ” Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter ; an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt as, God help, I would desire they were ; but in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.”   Persons who are curious about possessing the most delicate sentiments might maintain that incapacity of heart, or will, or understanding is the appropriate object of sympathy and pity rather than of mirth. There is, in- deed, an incapacity which is pathetic — that which being conscious of itself, yearns for a higher comprehension of things, for a more understanding heart, as a dog dumbly yearns for more full intelligence of his master’s wishes and thoughts. But the kindly laugh of Shakspere at self-complacent fqUj^ and ineptitude is a much more sin- cere and wholesome manifestation of feeling than the refinements of sympathy dearto the heart of the pathos- tnongen It is deeply lanientable, no doubt, that some “of our neighbors are not qualified to stand as models for an Apollo Belvedere or a Venus of Melos. Still, to weep because middle-aged gentlemen display at times an un- graceful rotundity of person, or because every nose is not straight, would hardly improve the condition of the world. These facts are recognized and allowed for most wholesomely by an honest laugh like that of Cruikshank or of Leech. It is well to smile at these grotesque de- partures from the ideal, and reserve our tears for higher uses. The genial laughter of Shakspere at human ab- surdity is free from even that amiable cynicism, which       * See Hazlitt on Shallow and Silence, ” English Comic Writers,” lecture ii., pp. 41, 42 (ed. 1869).       The Humor of Shakspere. 315   ^ives to the humor of Jane Austen a certain piquant flavor. It is like the play of summer lightning, which hurts no living creature, but surprises, illuminates, and charms.   To keep us constantly sensible of the grotesque which surrounds us is, indeed, to render us a service of no slight importance ; for we are too ready to accept imperfection, and rapidly to forget it when once accepted. With most of us, so habituated has the eye become to the visible grotesque in human face and form, costume and gesture, that we are unable at first to recognize the profound fidelity of such matter-of-fact pictures as those of Ho- garth, or the ideal truth which exists as living centre of the inexhaustible, fantastic inventions of Cruikshank. We need to have our sense of seeing renewed and ren- dered fresh and childlike before we can perceive in every street through which we walk the types of our Cruik- shank and our Hogarth. And around the life of each of us there is forever gathering an accretion of the grotesque in habit and character to which we quickly become in- sensible. To deliver the ideal man from this requires constant freshness of perception and vigilance of will. Shakspere does not seem to feel that Dogberry and Verges are creatures of another breed from himself. He stands, it is true, at the opposite pole of humanity ; nevertheless, a potential Dogberry element existed even in Shakspere. ” Common people,” as Mr. Bagehot has happily said, ” could be cut out of Shakspere ;” just as the robust and prosaic statesman of Westmoreland could have been cut out of the great spiritual thinker and poet of the Lake district. Therefore, apart from the interest of sympathy, we have a personal interest in understanding the com- mon features of the most ordinary lives. Our own life is akin to them, and may readily lapse into a resemblance curiously exact. But as long as we can ismile at them       3 1 6 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   we are safe ; our sense of humor is servant of our pas* fiion for perfection. We have no need to grow impatient or indignant with these grotesque portions of humanity ; that would unnecessarily disturb the balance of our lives and the purity of our perceptions : we only need to un- derstand them and to smile.   ^ ‘ The humor of Shakspere, however, is much more than a laughter-producing power. It is a presence and pervad- ing influence throughout his most earnest creations. This it is which preserves Shakspere from all eager and shrill intensity ; this it is which makes his emotions volumi- nous and massive. And of this humor there are two principal stages or degrees. First — given a person or an event, a passion or a thought, Shakspere examines it on every side, compares it with all other objects with which it may naturally be connected or may happen to be asso- ciated ; puts it in its environment, sees the fine and the coarse, the poetic and the prosaic, and thus acquires a rich and pregnant feeling for it. So abundant and va- ried is the body of fact which he is possessed of that one portion, as it were, balances the other, and he is saved from all the violence and extravagance that originate in the partial views of the idealist. Ophelia’s death is pa- thetic ; but the pathos of Shakspere is not the pretty pa- thos of Beaumont and Fletcher ; a soft, a sweet and ten- der sorrow ; a gentle investiture of melancholy. Shak- spere sees the fact from the Queen’s point of view, and from Hamlet’s; from the priest’s and from the grave- digger’s points of view. That is to say, he sees the fact in the round ; and the pathos of Ophelia’s death is in the drama as real as it would be if the occurrence became actual. This is the manner in which the humor of Shak- -spere works in the first stage or degree.   But, secondly, when all realities of this world and of time have been represented as far as they can be in their       The Humor of Shakspere. 317   totality, Shakspere measures these by absolute standards* He lays the measuring-reed of the infinite by the side of what is finite, ajid he perceives how little, how imperfect, the finite is. ^^nd he smiles at human greatness, while yet he pays loyal homage to what is greatj he smiles at human love and human joy, while yet tEey are deeply real to him (more real to him than they could possibly be to an eager intense Shelley); it is Prosperous smile upon seeing the new happiness of the youthful lovers :   ” So glad of this as they I cannot be, Who are surprised with all ; but my rejoicing At nothing can be more.”   And he smiles at human sorrow, while he enters into the deep anguish of the soul ; he knows that for it, too, there is an end and a quietus. The greatest poetic seers are not angry or eager or hortatory or objugatory or shrill. Homer and Shakspere are ” too great for contest ; . . . men to whose unoffended, uncondemning sight the whole of human nature reveals itself in a pathetic weakness with which they will not strive, or in mournful and tran- sitory strength which they dare not praise.” ^ Shakspere sees with purged eyes ; and he loves and pities men. But while this view of things from an extra-mundane point of vision is to be taken account of in any study of Shak- spere’s mind and art, it must be insisted upon that the facts are at the same time thoroughly apprehended, stud- ied, and felt from the various points which are strictly finite and mundane.   But it is not alone Shakepere’s humor, and the laugh- ter of Shakspere, which are significant. There is some- thing also to be discovered from the history of his laugh- ter. Every man must be aware that in his own case his   * “Afternoon Lectures,” 1869 (“The Mystery of Life and its Arts”),b^ John Raskin, p. 109.       (       )       3 1 8 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   laughter has had a history, and that if the history were faithfully made out, a good deal would necessarily be as* certained respecting the development of his whole moral nature. Now, we have documents which contain the his- tory of Shakspere’s laughter during a period of upwards of twenty years. Surely from these something about the growth of his intellect and character must be ascertain- able.   In Shakspere’s life as artist we may distinguish four pe- riods. First of these is the tentative period, the years of experiments. The dramatist has not as yet got a sure and firm grasp upon life. He is somewhat deficient in the material of deep thought and of deep emotion. Both of these originate through a vital connection between the soul and the graver realities of life, and such a connec- tion is as yet only establishing itself for Shakspere. A man who is not as yet under the controlling influence of any of the graver realities of human life, and who at the same time possesses extraordinary mental gifts, will take pleasure in the mere play of his wits, apart from the spe- cial occasion or object which sets his wits to work. If he have high spirits, he will enjoy fun pure and simple, comical surprises, and grotesque incidents. If he have a turn for satire, the objects of his gay, satirical attack will be superficial oddities, follies, and affectations of the world. It is during this period of clever ” youngman- ishness” (Mr. Furnivall’s descriptive word) that Shak- spore’s laughter first becomes audible to us. The Two Gentlemen of Verona^ Lovers Labor ^s Zost, and The Come- dy of Errors sufiiciently represent this stage in the history of the growth of Shakspere’s mind. In Lovers Labor ‘5 Lost^ as was attempted to be shown in a former chapter, there is a serious underlying intention. It concerns it- self, as the work of a young man naturally may, with the subject of self-culture, and it gayly maintains the thesis       The Humor of Shakspere. 319   that in our schemes of self-improvement the first requisite is this — that we take account of all the facts of human nature, including its appetites, instincts, and passions, and that any attempt to idealize these away will surely end in failure and egregious folly. Such is the under- lying serious intention of the play. But, by the way, the poet takes an opportunity to have his laugh and skit at the fashionable affectations of the time.   Nearly at this same period, Spenser, in ” The Tears of the Muses,” was lamenting the condition of the English comic drama. The stage had been made the means of cruel personal and party satire ; ” seasoned wit ” and “goodly pleasure” had disappeared from comedy; in place of these, ” scoffing scurrility” and “scornful folly” had possessed the stage,   ” Rolling in rhymes of shameless ribaldry^ Without regard of due decorum kept.”   Whether Spenser’s words in this passage, ” Our pleas- ant Willy, ah ! is dead of late,” refer to some temporary silence of Shakspere, or have no such reference, it is at least worthy of note that Shakspere abstained altogether from this abusing of the stage to unworthy purposes, and found the objects of his mirth in fashions and follies of the time, not in the misfortunes or weaknesses of in- dividuals.^ Shakspere was probably not without enemies. He was successful, and that secured for him the hatred of men who failed. Greene, upon his death-bed, assailed him with bitter and insolent words, and wrote as if his feeling would naturally be shared by Peele, by Lodge or Nash, and by Marlowe. Yet we do not anywhere find the name of Shakspere, as we find the names of Jonson   * The identity of Holofernes with Floric of dictionary-making celebrity must be supported by better evidence before we regard it as other than aa ingenious conjecture.       320 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   and Dekker, and other contemporary dramatists, occupy- ing a place in the record of the quarrels of authors. The light and airy satire of Love’s Labor ‘5 Lost^ with its grave, underlying intention, is thus characteristic of the youth- ful Shakspere, both in a positive way, and also negative- ly, because it contains no particle of the scurrility and ribaldry of which Spenser made complaint. The pleas- ure which Shakspere derives from the quick encounter of wits, from the bandying of a jest to and fro in the air until at last it falls, in elaborate play upon words — this was in part a pleasure of the period, and in part it is sig- nificant of the fact that Shakspere, in his years of clever ” youngmanishness,” enjoyed the mere exercise of a nim- ble brain. ” Now, by the salt wave of the Mediterranean, a sweet touch ; a quick venew of wit ; snip snap, quick and home ; it rejoiceth my intellect.”   In this tentative period the comic and the serious, ten- der or sentimental, elements of the drama exist side by side, and serve as a kind of criticism each upon the oth- er ; the lover serves to convict the clown of insensibility to the higher facts of life, and the clown convicts the lover of the blindness or extravagance of passion. But though the comic and the tender or serious elements ex- ist side by side, and reflect certain lights one upon the other, they do not as yet interpenetrate. One set of personages is reserved for the grave or tender business of the drama ; and a different set of personages is told off for the comic business. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona^ the comedy is intrusted to a pair of clowns, Speed and Launce: Speed is the professed wit; after serving his turn, he finally disappears from the fully de- veloped drama of Shakspere. Launce, on the other hand, is a humorist, who, not without a sufficiency of clownish sense, blunders into mirthful matter of a more vital, more pregnant kind than the nimble tongue of Speed       The Humor of Shakspere. 321   can command. Lannce, attended by his dog Crab, heads the procession of Shakspere’s humorous characters ; there march behind him a loug train, including manifold va- rieties of the mirth -provoking tribe — from the naive, comic Touchstone, with his mingled instinct of sense and nonsense, to Hotspur and Mercutio, in whom overflow- ing energy or an exquisite zest in living produces a hu- morous extravagance ; and, again, from these to Falstaflf, in whom humor has acquired clear consciousness of itself and become free ; and, yet again, from Falstaff to the pa- thetic, tragically earnest figure of the Fool in Lear,^   In A Midsummer-NighV s Dream^ Shakspere’s humor has enriched itself by coalescing with the fancy. The comic is here no longer purely comic; it is a mingled web, shot through with the beautiful. Bottom and Tita- nia meet ; and this meeting of Bottom and Titania may be taken, by any lover of symbolism that pleases, as an undesigned symbol of the fact that the poet’s faculties, which at first had stood apart, and were accustomed to go to work each faculty by itself, were now approaching one another. At a subsequent period, when the shocks of life had roused to highest energy every nerve, every fibre of the genius of Shakspere, the actions of all facul- ties were fused together in one. Bottom is incompara- bly a finer efflorescence of the absurd than any preceding character of Shakspere’s invention. How lean and im- poverished his fellows, the Athenian craftsmen, confess themselves in presence of the many-sided genius of Nick Bottom ! Rarely is a great artist appreciated in the de- gree that Bottom is — “He hath simply the best wit of any handicraft man in Athens ; yea, and the best person,       * See the hierarchy of comic characters as made out by Dr. Eduard Yehse, in ” Shakespeare als Protestant, Politiker, Psycholog und Dichter,” vol, ii^ pp. 5, 6. 21       k       322 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   too ; and he is a very paramour for a sweet voice.” With what a magnificent multiplicity of gifts he is endowed ! How vast has the bounty of nature been to him ! The self-doubtful Snug hesitates to undertake the moderate duties assigned to the lion. Bottom, though his chief humor is for a tyrant, knows not how to suppress his almost equal gift for playing a lady. How, without a pang, can he deprive the world, through devotion to ” the Ercles vein,” of the monstrous little voice in which he can utter “Thisne, Thisne! — Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear! thy Thisby dear and lady dear V And as to the part as- signed to the too bashful Snug — that Bottom can under- take in either of two styles, or in both, so that the Duke must say, ” Let him roar again, let him roar again,” or the ladies may be soothed by the “aggravated voice” in which he will ” roar you as gently as any sucking dove.” But from these dreams of universal ambition he is re- called by Quince to his most appropriate impersonation : ” You can play no part but Pyramus ; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper man as one shall see in a sum- mer’s day, a most lovely, gentlemanlike man ; therefore you must needs play Pyramus.”   During the second period of the development of Shak- spere’s genius he was gaining a sure grasp of the positive facts of life. This is the period of the histories. At first, impressed, perhaps, by a sense of the dignity of the historical drama, Shakspere held his humor aloof. In Richard II. there is no humorous scene. Had Shak- spere written the play a few years later, we may be certain that the gardener and servants (act iii., sc. 4) would not have uttered stately speeches in verse, but would have spoken homely prose, and that humor would have mingled with the pathos of this scene. The same remark may be made with reference to the subsequent Bcene, in which his groom visits the dethroned King la       The Humor of Shakspere. 323   the Tower. But as yet the pathetic, although with Shak- Bpere approximating to the humorous, looked at it some- what askance and suspiciously. In Richard III. there is a certain grim humor — humor of the (liaEoIic kind — • which is part of the demonic personality of Richard, and “has for its central element a fierce contempt of human- ity. Richard kneels before Anne, and she offers at his breast with the sword; but the sword falls; Anne is overpowered by the malign strength of Richard’s voli- tion, and presently his ring is on her finger. The sense of power, which stands with Richard in the place of joy and beauty and virtue, is flattered by his achievement ; his triumph over Anne is an insult to womanhood. That Richard should be supreme, the order of things must be inverted, the moral facts of the world must be reversed, and a new empire of the diabolic and the grotesque must be accepted as the normal condition of things. It is as if we stood beneath some monument before which men were bowing, and when we looked up we beheld the mocking figure of the Fiend upon the pedestal.   Except grim irony of this description, Richard IILj like Richard IL^ contains no comic element. In the Jack Cade scenes of Henry VL the satire effective, if at times rude, which Shakspere directs against the weaker side of popular political movements, appears in its frank- est and least subtle form. But it is in the play of King John that the humorous eler^Bft^^rst– breaks forth enelr- getically, and in reckless defiance of the dignity of his- tory^. Something genuine, hearty, spontaneous, was es- pecially needed in this play* A spurious appearance of majesty, with inward rottenness, the selfish policy of kings, the craft of priests, the barter of hearts and of lives — all these are exposed and explained by the one honest thing in the play, the character of Faulconbridge : the bounding courage in his veins, his loyalty to tha       [/       324 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   memory of the father who had given him a dishonorable birth ; his dauntless, patriotic enthusiasm in presence of his country’s disaster; and, not inconsistent with this, his humorous assumption of a baseness and selfishness of which he was incapable.”^   J31h^ _twiX4iart8-j:)f jfiTm^^^ a further   advance of the comic element in connection with the historical drama. Already the humor of Shakspere has marvellously deepened and enriched itself since the pe- riod of Lovers Labor ^s Lost and The Comedy of Errors. Sir John Falstaff is a conception hardly less complex, hardly less wonderful, than that of Hamlet. He is for- ever creating a fresh series of impressions, which seems •at first inconsistent with the preceding series, and which yet, after a while, somehow conciliates itself in an obscure and vital way with all that had gone before. ” He is a man at once young and old, enterprising and fat, a dupe and a wit, harmless and wicked, weak in principle and res- olute by constitution, cowardly in appearance and brave in reality, a knave without malice, a liar without deceit, and a knight, a gentleman, and a soldier without either dignity, decency, or honor. This is a character which^ though it may be decompounded, could not, I believe, have been formed, nor the ingredients of it duly min- gled, upon any receipt whatever. It required the hand of Shakspeare himself to give to every particular part a relish of the whole, and of the whole to every particu- lar part — alike the same incongruous, identical Falstaff, whether to the grave Chief-justice he vainly talks of his   youth and offers to caper for a thousand, or cries to Mrs.   ■ .. ■ ■ I ■ II II. Ill III I I . ^   * Notice how the Bastard’s utterance, in sonnet-form (act ii., sc. 2), be«   gmning   ” Drawn in the flattering table of her eye,”   serves to expose the true character of the Dauphin’s elaborately comply mentary wooing of Blanch and her dowry.       The Humor of Shakspere. 325   Doll, ‘ I am old ! I am old !’ although she is seated on his lap, and he is courting her for busses.” “^   Sir John, although, as he truly declares, ^^ not only witty in himself, but the cause that wit is in other men,” is by no means a purely comic character. Were he no more than this, the stern words of Henry to his old companion would be unendurable. The central principle of Fal- staff’s method of living is thaFtHiTTacts artid kws of the world may be evaded or set at defiance, if only the re- sources of inexhaustible wit be called upon to supply, by- brilliant ingenuity, whatever deficiencies may be found in character and conduct.-f Therefore, Shakspere con- demned Falstaff inexorably. Falstaff, the invulnerable, endeavors, as was said in a preceding chapter, to corus- cate away the realities of life. But the fact presses in upon Falstaff at the last relentlessly. Shakspere’s ear- nestness here is at one with his mirth ; there is a certain sternness underlying his laughter* ‘ Mere detection of his stupendous un veracities leaves Sir John just where he was before; the success of his lie is of less impor- tance to him than is the glory of its invention. ” There is no such thing as totally demolishing Falstaff; he has   * An ” Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff,” by Maurice Morgann, Esq., pp. 150, 151 (ed. 1825). No piece of eighteenth-century crit- icism of Shakspere is more intelligently and warmly appreciative than is this dehghtful essay.   t ^’ Falstaff’s innerste Natur geht vielmehr auf die Auflosung alles Emstes des Lebens, aller Leidenschaft, aller Affecte, welche den Menschen unter ihre Herrschaf t bringen, ihn beschranken, und ihm die voile Freiheit des Gemiiths rauben. Der Ernst des Lebens fordert eine Yertiefung in den Inhalt des Lebens; der Ernst concentrirt den Menschen auf einen bestimmten und daher nothwendig beschrankten Inhalt und Zweck, der sein Wohl und Wehe ausmacht. . . . Falstaff ist daher der natiirliche Feind aller idealen Interes- sen und Leidenschaften, denn sie rauben zugleich dem Gemiith die Behag- lichkeit und beeintrachtigen natiirlich eben, well sie den Menschen concen- triren, die unbeschrankte Freiheit der Seele.” — Dr. H. Tb. Rotscher, Shaken ipeare in seinen hbchsten CharaktergeUlden^ p. ’70.       326 Shakspere — His Mind and A rt   so much of the invulnerable in his frame that no ridicule can destroy him ; he is safe even in defeat, and seems to rise, like another Antseus, with recruited vigor from every fall.”* It is not ridicule, but some stern invasion of fact not to be escaped from which can subdue Falstaff. Per- haps Nym and Pistol got at the truth of the matter when they discoursed of Sir John’s unexpected collapse :   ** Nym. The king hath run bad humors on the knight ; that’s the even of it.   Pistol. Nym, thou hast spoke the right ; His heart is fracted and corroborate.”   In the relation, by Mrs. Quickly, of the death of Falstaff, pathos and humor have run together and become one. ” A’ made a finer end and went away an it had been any christom child ; a’ parted even just between twelve and one, even at the turning o’ the tide : for after I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with flowers and smile upon his fingers’ ends, I knew there was but one way ; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a’ babbled of green fields.” f Here the smile and the tear rise at the same instant. Nevertheless, the union of pathos with humor as yet extends only to an incident ; no entire pa- thetic-humorous character has been created like that of Lear’s Fool.   Pathetically, however, the fat knight disappears, and disappears forever. The Falstaff of The Merry Wives of Windsor is another person than the Sir John who is ” in Arthur’s bosom, if ever man went to Arthur’s bos- om.” The epilogue to the second part of Henry lY. (whether it was written by Shakspere or not remains doubtful) had promised that ” our humble author will continue the story with Sir John in it.” But our hum-   * Maurice Morgann, ” Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Fal- staff,’^ p. 180.   f Dr. Newman incidentally (by way of illustration) discusses the claim ef Theobald’s emendation to stand in the text (“Grammar of Assent,* pp. 264-2’70).       The Humor of Shakspere. 327   ble author decided (with a finer judgment than Cervan- tes in the case of his hero) that the public was not to be indulged in laughter for laughter’s sake at the expense of his play. The tone of the entire play of Henry V. would have been altered if Falstaff had been allowed to appear in it. During the monarchy of a Henry IV, no glorious enthusiasm animated England. It was distracted by civil contention. Mouldy, Shallow, and Feeble were among the champions of the royal cause. Patriotism and the national pride of England could not, under the careful policy of a Bolingbroke, burst forth as one as- cending and universal flame, ^t such a time our imagi- nation can loiter among the humors and frolics of a tav- ern. When the nation was divided into various parties, when no interest was absorbing and supreme. Sir John might well appear upon his throne at Eastcheap, mon- arch by virtue of his wit, and form with his company of followers a state within the state. But with the corona- tion of Henry Y. opens a new period, when a higher in- terest animates history, when the national life was uni- fied, and the glorious struggle with France began. At such a time private and secondary interests must cease ; the magnificent swing, the impulse and advance of the life of England, occupy our whole imagination. It goes hard with us to part from Falstaff, but, like the King, part from him we must ; we cannot be encumbered with that tun of flesh ; Agincourt is not the battle-field for splendid mendacity. Falstaff, whose principle of life is an attempt to coruscate away the facts of life, and who was so potent during the Prince’s minority, would now necessarily appear trivial. There is no place for Falstaff any longer on earth ; he must needs find refuge “in Ar- thur’s bosom.” ^   * This is well brought out by Rotscher, ” Shakespeare in seinen hochsten Charaktergebilden,” p. 77,       328 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   At the close of this second period in the development of Shakspere’s mind and art the brightest and loveliest comedies were written. In these years were created Ros- alind and Yiola, Jaques and Malvolio, Beatrice and Ben- edick. The essential characteristic of the close of the sec- ond period is this : Shakspere had quite left behind him his spirit of clever ” youngmanishness ;” he had come into possession of himself and of his own powers, and he had entered into vital union with the real life of the world ; but as yet (concerned, as he was, a good deal about mate- rial success) he had not started upon any profound in< quiry concerning the deeper and more terrible problems of existence. He had not begun to prosecute his pro- longed investigation of evil. It was precisely the period at which Shakspere’s mirth was freest for disport. He had put aside the massive material supplied by history. He had not as yet fallen profoundly under the influence of those obscure and passionate interests of life which lie about the roots of tragedy. If ever there was a time when Shakspere’s laughter would be clear and musical and free, it was this time. Comedy, which had been in- volved with the grave matter of history, now disengages itself , -and appears as something widely different from the tentative comedy of Shakspere’s earliest period. If we compare Touchstone with Speed, Rosalind with Rosaline, the scenes of mistaken identity in Twelfth Night with those of The Comedy of Errors^ we shall have a measure of the distance traversed.   From among the plays so bright, so tender, so gracious of these years, one play — The Merry Wives of Windsor — stands apart with a unique character. It is essentially prosaic, and is indeed the only play of Shakspere written almost wholly in prose. There is no reason why we should refuse to accept the tradition put upon record by Dennis and by Rowe that The Merry Wives was written       The Humor of Shakspere. 329   by Shakspere upon compulsion, by order of Elizabeth, who, in her lust for gross mirth, required the poet to/ expose his Falstaff to ridicule by exhibiting him, the most delightful of egoists, in love. Shakspere yielded to the necessity. His Merchant of Venice might pass well enough with the miscellaneous gathering of upper, mid- dle, and lower classes which crowded to a public theatre. I^ow he had to cater specially for gentle-folk and for a queen. And knowing how to please every class of spec- tators, he knew how to hit off the taste of ” the barbarian.’^ The Merry Wives of Windsor is a play written expressly for the barbarian aristocrats with their hatred of ideas, their insensibility to beauty, their hard efficient manners, and their demand for impropriety. The good :^olk of London liked to see a prince or a duke, and they liked to see him made gracious and generous. These royal and noble persons at Windsor wished to see the interior life of country gentlemen of the middle class, and to see the women of the middle class with their excellent hourgeois morals, and rough, jocose ways. The comedy of hearing a French physician and a Welsh parson speak broken English was appreciated by these spectators, who uttered their mother-tongue with exemplary accent. Shakspere did not make a grievance of his task. He threw himself into it with spirit, and despatched his work quickly — in fourteen days, if we accept the tradition. But Falstaff he was not prepared to recall from heaven or from hell. He dressed up a fat rogue, brought forward for the occa- sion from the back premises of the poet’s imagination, in Falstaff’s clothes ; he allowed persons and places and times to jumble themselves up as they pleased ; he made it impossible for the most laborious nineteenth-century critic to patch on The Merry Wroea to Henry IV. But the Queen and her court laugriea as the buck-basket was emptied into the ditch^ no more suspecting that its gross       330 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   lading was not the incomparable jester of Eastcheap than Ford suspected the woman with a great beard to be other than the veritable Dame Pratt.”^   The third period of Shakspere’s development is that which contains the great tragedies. Shakspere’s laughter now is more than pathetic — though pathetic it is as it had never been before — it is also tragic and terrible. The gaze of the poet during this period was concentrated upon the evil in man’s heart, the deepest mystery of be- ing, iand upon the good which is at odds in the world   * With respect to the difficulty of identifying the characters of Mrs. Quickly, Pistol, Bardolph, and Sir John with the persons bearing the same names in the historical plays, see Mr. HalUwell’s introduction to ” The First Sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor” (Sh. Soc, 1842). My impression of this play is confirmed by that of competent critics. Mr. Hudson writes, ” That the free impulse of Shakespeare’s genius, without suggestion or in- ducement from any other source, could have led him to put Falstaff through such a series of uncharacteristic delusions and collapses is to me well-nigh incredible” (” Shakespeare : his Life,” etc., vol. i., p. 298). See also HazUtt’s criticism of the play. Hartley Coleridge writes, *’ That Queen Bess should have desired to see Falstaff making love proves her to have been, as she was, a gross-minded old baggage. Shakespeare has evaded the difficulty with great skill. He knew that Falstaff could not be in love ; and has mixed but a little, a very little, pruritus with his fortune-hunting courtship. But the Falstaff of The Merry Wives is not the Falstaff of Henry IV. It is a big-bellied impostor, assuming his name and style, or, at best, it is Falstaff in dotage. The Mrs. Quickly of Windsor is not mine hostess of the Boar’s Head ; but she is a very pleasant, busy, good-natured, unprincipled old woman, whom it is impossible to be angry with. Shallow should not have left his seat in Gloucestershire and his magisterial duties. Ford’s jealousy is of too serious a complexion for the rest of the play. The merry wives are a delightful pair. Methinks I see them, with their comely, middle-aged visages, their dainty white ruffs and toys, their half-witch-like conic hats, their full farthingales, their neat though not over-slim waists, their house- wifely keys, their girdles, their sly laughing looks, their apple-red cheeks, their brows the lines whereon look more like the work of mirth than years. And sweet Anne Page — she is a pretty little creature whom one would like to take on one’s knee” (“Essays and Marginalia,” vol. ii., pp. 133, 134). It is noteworthy that Maurice Morgann, in his essay on Falstaff, avoids ThA Merry Wives,       The Humor of Shakspere. 331   with this evil. He studies human life now with refer- ence to its most solemn issues. Of unalloyed mirth, of bright and tender fancy, we can now look for none. In Shakspere’s earliest tragedy, Mercutio disappears before half the play is over; and the gloom instantly deepens upon the withdrawal of his gleaming vivacity. The Mercutio in Shakspere’s brain also disappears when the tragedy of life becomes with him very grave and real. In Hamlet^ the humorous figures of the court are all a little contemptible and odious. Polonius, Osric, Eosen- crantz, and Guildenstern serve as irritants to stimulate Hamlet’s dissatisfaction with living and impatience of the world. The grave-diggers have a grim grotesqueness. and might almost appear as figures in the danses macdbres oi the Middle Ages ; each a humorous jester in the court of Death; hail-fellow-well-met with chap-fallen skulls; a go-between for my lady Worm and him she desires ; a connoisseur in corpses ; a chronicler of dead men’s bones. The scene of the knocking in Macbeth has similarly a grave significance.*^ To the criticism of De Quincey nothing, from the aesthetic point of view, remains to be added. ” The retiring of the human heart, and the en- trance of the fiendish heart, was to be expressed and made sensible. Another world has stepped in ; and the murder-   * Coleridge rejected the Porter’s soliloquy with the exception of two lines — viz., ” I’ll devil-porter it no further ; 1 had thought to let in som^ of all professions that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire.” On the other side, see (Trans. New Sh. Soc, 18’74) Mr. Hales, “On the Porter in Macbeth.” Mr. Hales endeavors to estabUsh the genuineness of the speech on the grounds —   (i.) That a Porter’s speech is »n integral part of the play.   (ii.) That it is necessary as a relief to the surrounding liorror.   (iii.) That it is necessary according to the law of contrast elsewhere obeyed.   (iv.) That the speech we have is dramatically relevant.   (v.) That its style and language are Shaksperian*       332 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ers are taken out of the region of human things, human purposes, human desires. They are transfigured. Lady Macbeth is ^ unsexed ;’ Macbeth has forgotten that he was born of woman ; both are conformed to the image of devils ; and the world of devils is suddenly revealed. But how shall this be conveyed and made palpable ? In order that a new world may step in, this world must for a time disappear. The murderers and the murder must be insulated — cut off by an immeasurable gulf from the ordinary tide and succession of human affairs ; we must be made sensible that the world of ordinary life is sud- denly arrested — laid asleep, tranced, racked into a dread armistice ; time must be annihilated, relations to things without abolished ; and all must pass self -withdrawn into a deep syncope and suspension of earthly passion. Hence it is that when the deed is done, when the work of dark- ness is perfect, then the world of darkness passes away like a pageantry in the clouds ; the knocking at the gate is heard ; and it makes known audibly that the reaction has commenced ; the human has made its reflux upon the fiendish ; the pulses of life are beginning to beat again ; and the re-establishment of the goings-on of the world in which we live first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful parenthesis that had suspended them.” *   In Lear^ where all else of Shakspere’s art attains a deeper and more intense life than in any other of his |)oem8,. the interpenetration of the humorous, the pathet- ic, and the tragic has become complete. When Lear,       * I)e Quincey’s Works (1st ed,), vol. xiv., p. 19Y. Bodenstedt (quoted by Furness, Variorum Shakespeare — Macbeth, p. 110) writes of the Porter, ” After all, his uncouth comicality has a tragic background : he never dreams, while imagining himself a porter of hell, how near he comes to the truth. What are all these petty sinners who go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire compared with those great criminals whose gates bi . guards ?”       The Humor of Shakspere. 333   assisted by the most learned justicer poor Tom, and his yoke-fellow in equity the Fool, arraigns a joint-stool as Goneri], we do not smile, we hardly as yet can pity ; we gaze on with suspended intellect, as if the entire spectacle were some mysterious, grotesque hieroglyph, the secret of which we were about to discover. In the smallest atom of the speeches of Lear, of Edgar, of the Fool, and equally in the entire drama, tragic earnestness is seen ar- rayed in fantastic motley. It is as if the writer wqre looking down at human life from a point of view without and above life, from which the whole appears as some monstrous farce-tragedy, in which all that is terrible is ludicrous, and all that is ludicrous terrible.   If, during this tragic period, Shakspere retain any ten- dency to observe the comedy of incident in life, the inci- dent will be of another sort from that which moves our laughter in The Comedy of Errors. It will rather be a fragment of titanic burlesque, overhung by some impend- ing horror, and inspired by a deep “idea of world-destruc- tion.”* Such a stupendous piece of burlesque, inspired by an idea of world -destruction, Shakspere found in Plutarch’s life of Antony, and having allowed it to dilate and take color in his own imagination, he transferred it to his play. Aboard Pompey’s galley the masters of the earth hold hands and dance the Egyptian bacchanals, joining in the volleying chorus, ” Cup us, till the world goes round !” and Menas whispers his leader to bid him cut the cable and fall to the throats of the triumvirs. A great painting by Orcagna shows a terrible figure, Deathj armed with the scythe, and sweeping down through bright air upon the glad and careless garden-party of noble and beautiful persons — men and women who lean to one another, and caress their dogs and hawks, while   * A word applied by Heine to Aristophanes — Wdtvernichtuw^^^u       334 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   . they listen to the music of stringed instruments. In /’ Shakspere’s scene of revelry, death seems to be more ^ secretly, more intimately present, seems more surely to L dominate life ; though it passes by, it passes, as it were, ) with an ironical smile at the security of the possessors of [ this world, and at the noisy insubstantial triumph of life, Vpermitted for a while. If now Shakspere be a satirist, his satire will not resemble the bright, airy mockery of fashions and affectations which made the early Love’s Labor ^s Lost effective with youthful aristocratic patrons / of the theatre. How great a distance has been measured since then ! Shakspere’s satire will now be the deep or ) fierce complaint against the world, of a soul in its agony — the frenzied accusations of nature and of man uttered by Lear, or the Juvenalian satire of the Athenian misan- thrope.   There is in every man of passionate genius a revolt against the insufficiency of the world, a revolt against the base facts of life. Most of us surrender to the world, sign a treaty of alliance with engagements of mutual service, and end by acquiescence. It is remarkable that Shak- spere’s revolt against the world increased in energy and comprehensiveness as he advanced in years. When he was thirty or five-and-thirty years of age, he found less in the world to arouse his indignation than when he was forty. Neither by force nor fraud, by bribe or menace, did the world subdue or gain over Shakspere. If he at- tained serenity, it was by some procedure other than that of selfish or indolent acquiescence. JSTo mood of egoistic laissezfaire succeeded Shakspere’s mood of indignation. Serenity Shakspere did attain. Once again before the ;end his mirth is bright and tender. When in some War- ^ wickshire field, one breezy morning, as the daffodil began ] to peer, the poet conceived his Autolycus, there might • Beem to be almost a return of the light-heartedness of       The Humor of Shakspere. 335   youth. But the same play that contains Autolycus con- tains the grave and noble figure of Hermione. From its elevation and calm Shakspere’s heart can pass into the simple merriment of rustic festivity; he can enjoy the open-mouthed happiness of country clowns; he is de- lighted by the gay defiance of order and honesty which Autolycus, most charming of rogues, professes; he is touched and exquisitely thrilled by the pure and vivid joy of Perdita among her flowers. Now that Shakspere is most a householder, he enters most into the pleasures of truantship.”^ And in like manner it is when he is most grave that he can smile most brightly, most tender- ly. But one kind of laughter Shakspere at this time found detestable — the laughter of an Antonio or a Se- bastian, barren and forced laughter of narrow heads and irreverent and loveless hearts. The sly knavery of Au- tolycus has nothing in it that is criminal ; heaven is his accomplice. ” If I had a mind to be honest, I see Fortune would not suffer me ; she drops booties in my mouth.” Whether Schiller’s Franz Moor made many robbers may be doubtful. But certainly no person of spirit can read A Winter* s Tale without feeling a dishonest and delight- ful itching of the fingers, an interest not wholly virtuous in his neighbor’s bleaching-green, and an impatience to be off for once on an adventure of roving and roguing with Autolycus.   * Readers of Mr. Browning’s ” Fifine at the Fair ” will associate an esot- eric sense with the word “householder,” and will remember his admirably bright and vigorous study of the causes of our love of truantship in the opening sections of that poem.       336 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.       CHAPTER VIII. shakspere’s last plays.   In these chapters we have been chiefly concerned with observing the growth of Shakspere’s mind and art. The essential prerequisite of such a study was a scheme of the chronological succession of Shakspere’s plays which could be accepted as trustworthy in the main. But for such a study it is fortunately not necessary that we should in every case determine how play followed play. It would for many reasons be important and interesting to ascer- tain the date at which each work of Shakspere came into existence ; but as a fact this has not been accomplished, and we may safely say that it never will be accomplished. To understand in all essentials the history of Shakspere’s character and Shakspere’s art, we have obtained what is absolutely necessary when we have made out the succes- sion, not of Shakspere’s plays, but of Shakspere’s chief visions of truth, his most intense moments of inspiration, his greater discoveries about human life. • In the history of every artist and of every man there are periods of quickened existence, when spiritual discov- ery is made without an effort, and attainment becomes easy and almost involuntary. One does not seek for truth, but rather is sought for by truth, and found ; one does not construct beautiful imaginings, but beauty itself haunts and startles and waylays. These periods may be arrived at through prolonged moral conflict and victory, or through some sudden revelation of joy, or through supreme anguish and renouncement. Such epochs of       Shakspere^s Last Plays. 337   epiritual discovery lie behind the art of the artist, it may be immediately, or it may be remotely, and out of these it springs. Among many art-products some single work will perhaps give to a unique experience its highest, its absolute expression ; and this, whether produced at the moment or ten years afterwards, properly belongs to that crisis of which it is the outcome. Lyrical writers usually utter themselves nearly at the moment when they are smitten with the sharp stroke of joy or of pain. Dramatic writers, for the purity and fidelity of whose work a cer- tain aloofness from their individuality is needed, utter themselves more often not on the moment, but after an interval, during which self-possession and self-mastery have been attained.   Now, although we are not in all cases able to say con- fidently this play of Shakspere preceded that, the order of his writings has been sufficiently determined to enable us to trace with confidence the succession of Shakspere’s epochs of spiritual alteration and development. Whether Macbeth preceded Othello^ or Othello Macbeth^ need not greatly concern us ; the question is one chiefiy of literary curiosity ; we do not understand Shakspere much the better when the question has been settled than we did while the answer remained doubtful. Both plays belong, and they belong in an equal degree, to one and the same period in the history of Shakspere’s mind and art, to which period we can unquestionably assign its place. In the present chapter Timon of Athens is placed near The Tempest^ although it is possible that a play, or two or three plays, in the precise chronological order, may lie between them. They are placed near one another be- cause in Timon of Athens Shakspere’s mood of indigna- tion with the world attains its highest, its ideal expression, while in The Tempest we find the ideal expression of the temper of mind which succeeded his mood of indigna- 22       338 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   tion — the pathetic yet august serenity of Shakspere^s final period. For the purposes of such a study as this we may look upon The Tempest as Shakspere’s latest play. Perhaps it actually was such ; perhaps A Winter^ s Tale or Cymheline^ or both, may have followed it in point of time. It does not matter greatly, for the purposes of the present study, which preceded and which succeeded. These three plays, as we shall see, form a little group by themselves, but it is The Tempest which gives its most perfect expression to the spirit that breathes through these three plays which bring to an end the dramatic career of Shakspere ; and therefore for us it is Shak- spere’s latest play.*^ We have been endeavoring, so to speak, to scan the metre of Shakspere’s life ; to do this rightly, we must count rather by accents than by sylla- bles ; if we can find the last accented syllable, we have found the real close of the verse, although it may be an additional syllable or two follow, and enrich the verse with a dying fall. And so in the case of Timon of Athens ; it may actually lie, in point of time, at a considerable dis. tance from those discoveries of evil in man’s heart which inspired the soliloquies of Hamlet and the frenzied utter- ances of Lear ; but in Timon indignation has attained its       ‘* Professor Ingram, in his paper ” On the * Weak-endings ‘ of Shakspere,’* arranges the plays of the weak-ending period in the following order : Antony and Cleopatra^ Coriolamcs^ Pericles, Tempest, Cymheline, Winter^s Tale, Two Nohle Kinsmen, Henry VIII. From an aesthetic point of view, Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus seem to me connected with the plays that imme- diately precede, not with those that follow them. Professor Ingram is dis- posed to place Macbeth immediately before Antony and Cleopatra. I had independently arrived at the same opinion. Timon cannot be far off, and must, I think, come before The Tempest. Observe that Pericles, Two Nohle Kinsmen, and Henry VIII are Shaksperian fragments. Thus the Tempest, Winter’s Tale, and Cymbeline remain as the three complete plays which repre- sent the final period of Shakspere’s authorship. I treat Timon, in this chap- ter, as earlier than these, but not a great deal earlier.       Shaksper^s Last Plays. 339   ideal expression ; it is the decuman wave which sets shoreward from that infinite and stormy sea of human passion.   Timon of Athens^ although deservedly one of the least popular of Shakspere’s plays, belongs to his best period, and was written by the poet with no half-hearted regard for his subject. Whether Shakspere wrote his portion first, and left it unfinished to be completed by a later dramatist — the conjecture of Mr. Fleay ; whether Shak- spere’s play was cut down and altered for the stage, to please a public which demanded comedy and the conceits of clownage, either during the poet’s lifetime or in the interval between his death and the appearance of the first folio ;^ or whether Shakspere worked upon the material   * See the laborious article by N. Delius, ” Ueber Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens,” Jahrbiich der deutschen Shakespeare- Gesellschaft, vol. ii. ; and that by B. Tschischwitz, ” Timon von Athen. Ein kritischer Versuch,” Jahrhuchy vol. iv. There is yet another and plausible theory, originated by Ulrici and modified by Karl Elze. In the first folio Timon ends upon p. 99. A vacant page (100) follows. Then immediately comes Julius Ccesar^ beginning not on p. 101, but on p. 109, Although there are irregularities in the pagination of the first folio, such a gap between two plays does not occur elsewhere in the volume. Sheet ii is wanting. Timo7i ends with sheet hh ; Jidius Ccesar begins with kk. Ulrici is of opinion that the printing of Julius Ccesar was begun before that of Timon was finished, probably because the manuscript of Timon was imperfect, and the deficiencies could not be immediately sup- plied. Shakspere’s manuscript was not forthcoming; the play had to be made up from the scattered parts of the individual actors. These parts were marred by omissions, and by the introduction of passages not by Shak- spere. Karl Elze adds the conjecture that only the parts of the principal actors could be found, (The play seems not to have been popular, and per- haps it had not been represented for several years.) To complete the play, the editors of the first folio fell back, for minor parts, upon the old Timon of Athens (not much older, perhaps, than Shakspere’s play), which may have been the work of George Wilkins. Hence the incoherences and incon- sistencies of the play as it exists at present. See the preface by Karl Elze to Timon in the German Shakespeare Society’s edition of Tieck and Schle- gel’s translation of Shakspere. For Mr. Fleay’ s study of this play, see Trans, New Sh. Soc.       340 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   of a preceding writer (perhaps George Wilkins), as Mr. Knight believed, and Delius and Mr. Spedding now main< tain — these are questions which do not essentially concern us.   With few exceptions, those portions of the play in which Timon is the speaker can have come from no other hand than that of Shakspere. If such conjectures were allowed to possess any worth, one might venture to assert that by the time this play was written, Shakspere had mastered the impulses within himself to mere rage against the evil that is in the world. The impression which the play leaves is that of Shakspere’s sanity. He could now so fully and fearlessly enter into Timon’s mood, because he was now past all danger of Timon’s malady. He had now learned to strive with evil and to subdue it ; he had now learned to forgive. And there- fore he could dare to utter that wrath against mankind to which he had assuredly been tempted, but to which he had never wholly yielded.   It would seem that about this period Shakspere’s mind was much occupied with the questions, In what temper are we to receive the injuries inflicted upon us by our fellow-men ? How are we to bear ourselves towards those that wrong us ? How shall we secure our inward being from chaos amid the evils of the world ? How shall we attain to the most just and noble attitude of soul in which life and the injuries of life may be confronted? Now, here in Timon we see one way in which a man may make his response to the injuries of life ; he may turn upon the world with a fruitless and suicidal rage. Shakspere was interested in the history of Timon, not merely as a dra- matic study, and not merely for the sake of moral edifi- cation, but because he recognized in the Athenian misan- thrope one whom he had known, an intimate acquaintance, the Timon of Shakspere’s own breast. Shall we hesitate       Shakspere’s Last Plays. 341   to admit that there was such a Timon in the breast of Shakspere ? We are accustomed to speak of Shakspere’s gentleness and Shakspere’s tolerance so foolishly that we find it easier to conceive of Shakspere as indulgent tow- ards baseness and wickedness than as feeling measureless rage and indignation against them — rage and indignation which would sometimes flash beyond their bounds and strike at the whole wicked race of man. And it is cer- tain that Shakspere’s delight in human character, his quick and penetrating sympathy with almost every vari- ety of man, saved him from any persistent injustice tow- ards the world. But it can hardly be doubted that the creator of Hamlet, of Lear, of Timon, saw clearly, and felt deeply, that there is a darker side to the world and to the soul of man.   The Shakspere invariably bright, gentle, and genial is the Shakspere of a myth. The man actually discoverable behind the plays was a man tempted to passionate ex- tremes, but of strenuous will, and whose highest self pro- nounced in favor of sanity. Therefore he resolved that he would set to rights his material life, and he did so. And, again, he resolved that he would bring into harmony with the highest facts and laws of the world his spiritual being, and that in his own high fashion he accomplished also. The plays impress us as a long study of self-control — of self-control at one with self -surrender to the highest facts and laws of human life. Shakspere set about at- taining self-mastery, not of the petty, pedantic kind, which can be dictated by a director or described in a manual, but large, powerful, luminous, and calm ; and by sustained effort he succeeded in attaining this in the end. It is im- possible to conceive that Shakspere should have traversed life, and felt its insufficiencies and injuries and griefs, without incurring Timon’s temptation — the temptation to fierce and barren resentment. What man or woman       342 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   who has sought good things, and with whom life has not gone altogether smoothly and pleasantly, has not known — • if not for days and weeks, then for hours ; if not for hours, then for intense moments — a Timon within him, incapable for the while of making any compromise with the world, and fiercely abandoning it with cries of weak and passion- ate revolt ? And when again such a man accepts life and human society, it is not what it had been before. The music of his life is a little lowered throughout ; the pegs are set down. Or what had been a nerve is chanored to a sinew. Or he finds himself a little more indifferent to pain. Or now and then a pungent sentence escapes his lips, which is unintelligible to those who had only known his former self.   In the character of Timon, Shakspere gained dramatic remoteness from his own personality. It would have been contrary to the whole habit of the dramatist’s gen- ius to have used one of his characters merely as a mask to conceal his visage, while he relieved himself with lyr- ical vehemence of the feelings that oppressed him. No ; Shakspere, when Timon was written, had attained self- possession, and could transfer himself with real disinter- estedness into the person of the young Athenian favorite of fortune. This, in more than one instance, was Shak- spere’s method — having discovered some single central point of sympathy between his chief character and his past or present self, to secure freedom from all mere lyr- ical intensity by studying that one common element un- der conditions remote from those which had ever been proper or peculiar to himself.   Timon, in the opening scene, surrounded by the para- sites of Athens, abandoned to a prodigality of heart and of hand, lives on terms of careless fellowship with all mankind and with himself. Like Lear, he is slenderly acquainted with his own heart, and he knows nothing of       Shakspere’s Last Plays. 343   the hearts and the lives of the men about him. To him life’s business is a summer mood. He moves in a dream — a beneficent genius waited on by spirits, which the magic of his bounty has conjured around him. ” We are born to do benefits; and what better or properer can we call our own than the riches of our friends ? Oh, what a precious comfort ’tis to have so many, like brothers, com- manding one another’s fortunes !” Ventidius is impris- oned for debt, and sends a servant to beg for the sum of five talents. Timon, who has had no eye for the base- ness of the man, exclaims,   ” Noble Ventidius ! Well ;   I am not of that feather to shake off   My friend when he must need me. I do know him,   A gentleman that well deserves a help ;   Which he shall have ; I’ll pay the debt and free him.”   Timon is acquainted with the commonplaces about the deceitfulness of the world, and utters them, but in an un- real, insubstantial way of talking :   ” Painting is welcome. The painting is almost the natural man ; For since dishonor trafl&cs with man’s nature, He is but outside ; these pencill’d figures are Even such as they give out. I like your work.”   These words are not insincere, but they are altogether unreal and notional. And precisely because the good- ness of Timon is so indiscriminating, so lax and liberal, . it is not veritable goodness, which, as Shakspere was well aware, has in it something of severity.”^ Precisely be- -r cause Timon has not discovered evil in man’s heart, he ^’ has made no genuine discovery of human goodness. He is altogether remote from the fact. His friends are sum- mer swallows, who will fly away when the days grow cold.   * In Richardson’s ” Essays on Shakespeare’s Dramatic Characters ” (1786), the truth about Timon is brought out under a number of heads in a method* ical and somewhat dry manner, but rightly and carefully.       344 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   The one honest heart that he might have known — hia steward’s — is to him indistinguishable from the rest. His wealth has melted away, and he remains unaware that such is the case. The steward presses the truth upon him, but Timon has no ears to hear it. The sum- mer sea of happiness and universal benevolence, how shall it ever be ruffled ?   Having never made discovery of human virtue, the jSrst incursion of veritable fact upon Timon, the first in his whole life, is that of the selfishness, ingratitude, and base- ness of man. The entire dream-structure of his life top- ples, totters, and crashes down. The mirage of universal brotherhood among men vanishes, and he is left in the barren wastes of the world. And because Timon has lived carelessly, with relaxed moral fibre, now, when ca- lamity overtakes him, he is wanting in all capacity for pa- tient endurance of the heart. He is ” passion’s slave :”   ” A pipe for Fortune’s finger To sound what stop she please.”   Shakspere in an earlier play — that from which these words are borrowed — had pictured a man who had taken ” Fortune’s buffets and rewards with equal thanks.” But the character of Horatio was not lax and self-indulgent ; he was ” more an antique Roman than a Dane.” Timon is unable to accept his sorrow, and hold his nature stren- uously under command until it can adjust itself to the altered state of things. He flings himself from an airy, unreal philanthropy into passionate hatred of men. He is a revolter from humanity. He foams at the mouth with imprecation. He shakes off the dust of Athens from his feet, and strives to maintain himself in isolation, the one protester in the world against the cruelty and self- ishness and baseness of the race.   Here is one way of bearing a man’s self towards the world which wrongs us. Nor is it devoid of a certain       Shaksperes Last Plays. 345   mistaken nobleness. There is, at least, something baser than the misanthropy of Timon — complacent acquies- cence in the life of greed, of selfishness, of unrighteous- ness in the cowardly and lascivious Athens. Timon’s rage proceeds, in part at least, from the natural goodness of Timon’s heart. Misanthropy, as Ulrici has said, was an atmosphere of poison to him ; he was therefore of necessity the victim of his annihilating rage against him- self and all mankind. But one entrance into peace re- mained for Timon — death, and the oblivion of death. There, upon the very ” hem of the sea,” as far from the world of men as may be, where the wave twice a day ef- faces the print of human feet, and where no tear will be shed for him except the salt spray of the breaking bil- low, Timon will cease to be, and will attain everlasting forgetfulness. Gold he had become again possessed of, yellow and massy ; but gold, without the human love of which he had dreamed, is to him worse than worthless — it is the detestable corrupter of men. Power and influ- ence he is offered again by the Athenian senate ; but he cannot accept them among the proud wrong-doers, the loveless voluptuaries of the city. Better gnaw his root in solitude, and curse ; yet better still to let sour words go by, and rest beneath the sands and the waves ! The misanthropy of Timon was less a crime than a cruel dis- ease, to which no one could be liable who did not possess a potential nobleness of nature. Neither his love was wise nor his hatred, but neither his love nor his hatred was altogether ignoble :   ” Though thou abhorrMst in us our human griefs, Scorn’ dst our brains’ flow and those our droplets which From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit Taught thee to make vasl Nep^ immediately to assign its place to this ingratitude and baseness in a world in which evil and good are mingled. Although possessed of none of the potential nobleness of Timon, Alcibiades possesses one virtue — that of per-       348 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   ceiving such facts as lie within the range of his limited observation. He does not see the whole world, but he sees the positive limited half of it rightly in the main. He is less than Timon, and yet greater ; for Timon mis- erably fails through want of the one gift which Alcibi- ades possessed. In like manner, Hamlet had failed for want of the gift which Fortinbras possessed; and yet Hamlet’s was beyond all measure a larger and rarer soul than that of the Prince of ISTorway. Alcibiades has, at least, not been living in a dream ; he lays hold of the positive and coarser pleasures of life, and endures its pos- itive, limited pains, definite misfortunes which lie within appreciable bounds. No absolute, ideal anguish like that of Timon can overwhelm him. Accordingly, instead of wasting himself in futile rage against mankind, Alcibia- des resolves to set himself in active opposition to those who have wronged him. While Timon is lifting weak hands of indignation to the gods, Alcibiades advances against Athens with swords and drums. To him the Senate will bow with humble entreaties for grace. Timon had fiercely thrust away their advances, because he could not accept benefits or render service in a base world which was remote from the ideal he had dreamed. Alcibiades, who deals with the world as it is, will punish and will pardon. The rage of Timon had been barren ; it is hushed at last under the sands and the wash of waves. But the positive opposition offered to evil by Alcibia- des, though in kind of no ideal purity or virtue, bears fruit :   “Bring me to your city, And I will use the olive with my sword, Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each Prescribe to other as each other’s leech. Let our drums strike.”   The olive and the sword — punishment and pardon — these were the beneficent gifts which Athens really needed.       Skakspere’s Last Plays. 349   These, and not the lax philanthropy, not the frustrate’^’^ rage against mankind of Timon.   Yet the idealist Timon was infinitely interesting to the imagination of Shakspere. The practical and limit- ed character of Alcibiades was esteemed highly by him, but did not really interest him. In like manner, Hamlet, who failed, interested Shakspere ; Fortinbras, who suc- ceeded, seemed admirable to him, but in his presence Shakspere’s sympathies and imagination were not deeply moved. Can we miss the significance of such a fact as this? Can we doubt that the Hamlets and Timons of Shakspere’s plays represent the side of the dramatist’s own character in which lay his peculiar strength, and also his special danger and weakness? An Alcibiades or a Fortinbras represents that side of his character into which he threw himself for protection against the weak- ness of excess of passion or excess of thought. It was the portion of his being which was more elaborated than the rest, and less spontaneous; and therefore he highly esteemed it, and loved it little. There is a poem by Shakspere in which he expresses his admiration of the calm, self-possessed, successful man upon whom nature bestows her gifts, because she is a good housewife, and knows that by such bestowal her gifts are husbanded; while the sensitive, the eager, the enthusiastic, who can- not possess themselves, squander the largess of the great giver of good things. But while Shakspere thus express- es admiration, he remains remote and unmoved in the presence of such a practical, successful, unideal character. We discern that in his secret heart he knew there was a more excellent way. ” The children of this world,” Shak- spere would say, ” are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” Let us borrow from the children of this world the secret of their success. Yet we cannot go over to them ; in spite of danger and in spite of weakness, we remain the children of light.       3 5o Shakspere — His Mind and Art ‘   ” They who have power to hurt and will do none, That do not do the thing they most do show, Who, moving others, are themselves as stone, Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow. They rightly do inherit heaven’s gt-aces And husband nature’s riches from expense ; They are the lords and owners of their faces, Others but stewards of their excellence.”   Were there in the life of Shakspere certain events which compelled him to a bitter yet precious gain of ex- perience in the matter of the wrongs of man to man, and from which he procured instruction in the difficult art of bearing one’s self justly towards one’s wrongers ? If the Sonnets of Shakspere, written many years before the close of Shakspere’s career as dramatist, be autobiographical, we may perhaps discover the sorrow which first roused his heart and imagination to their long inquisition of evil and grief, and which, sinking down into his great soul, and remaining there until all bitterness had passed away, bore fruit in the most mature of Shakspere’s writ- ings, distinguished as these are by serene pathetic strength and stern yet tender beauty.^   * I shall not enter into the controversy as to the interpretation of the Sonnets. The principal theories held with respect to them may be classi- fied as follows : I. They are poems about an imaginary friendship and love : Dyce, Delius, H. Morley. II. They are partly imaginary, partly autobio- graphical : C. Knight, H. von Friesen, R. Simpson (on the Italian love-phi- losophy, see Simpson’s interesting ” Philosophy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” Triibner, 1868). III. They form a great allegory : Dr. Barnstorff (” Schliissel zu Shakspere’s Sonnetten,” 1860; Mr. W. H.=Mr. William Himself !), Mr. Heraud (” Shakspere’s Inner Life;” the young friend =Ideal Manhood), Carl Karpf. IV. They are autobiographical ; (a) Mr. W. H. = Henry Wriothesley (the initials reversed), Earl of Southampton : Drake, Gervinus, Kreyssig, and others ; (b) Mr. W. H.= William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke : Bright, Boaden, A. Brown, Hallam, H. Brown. V. They were partly ad- dressed to Southampton: other sonnets were written in his name to Eliza- beth Vernon ; other some, to Southampton in E. Vernon’s name ; and sub- sequently the Earl of Pembroke engaged Shakspere to write sonnets on his behalf to the dark woman, Lady Rich. Of part of this theory, the first sug«       Shaksperes Last Plays. 351   The Sonnets of Shakspere were probably written dur- ing those years when, as dramatist, he was engaged upon the substantial material of English history, and when he was accumulating those resources which were to make him a wealthy burgher of Stratford. This practical, suc- cessful man, who had now arrived at middle age, and was growing rich ; who had never found delight, as Marlowe, Nash, Greene, and other wild livers had, in the flimsy idealism of knocking his head against the solid laws of the world — was yet not altogether that self-possessed, cheerful, prudent person who has stood with some writ- ers for the veritable Shakspere. In the Sonnets we rec- ognize three things : that Shakspere was capable of meas- ureless personal devotion ; that he was tenderly sensitive — sensitive, above all, to every diminution or alteration of that love his heart so eagerly craved ; and that when wronged, although he suffered anguish, he transcended his private injury, and learned to forgive. There are lovers of Shakspere so jealous of his honor that they are unable to suppose that any grave moral flaw could have impaired the nobility of his life and manhood. Shak- spere, as he is discovered in his poems and his plays, ap-   gestion was given by Mrs. Jameson. It was elaborated by Mr. Gerald Mas- sey in the Quarterly Review^ April, 1864, and in his large volume “Shak- speare’s Sonnets and his Private Friends.” The peculiarity of Mr. Henry Brown’s interpretation (” The Sonnets of Shakespeare Solved,” J. E. Smith, 1870) is that he discovers in the Sonnets an intention of Shakspere to par- ody or jest at the fashionable love-poetry and love-philosophy of the day. See on this subject the articles by Delius and H. von Friesen in Shakespeare- JahrhuohefT^ vols. i. and iv. ; the chapter ” Shakspere’s episch-lyrische Ge- dichte und Sonnette ” in H. von Friesen’s ” Altengland und William Shak- spere” (1874); and “Der Mythus von William Shakspere,” by N. Delius (Bonn, 1851), pp. 29-31. Critics whose minds are of the business-like, mat- ter-of-fact, prosaic type cannot conceive how the poems could be autobio- graphical. Coleridge, on the other hand, found no diflSculty in believing them to be such; and Wordsworth emphatically declares them to express Shakspere’s ” own feelings in his own person.”       352 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   pears rather to have been a man who, by strenuous et fort, and with the aid of the good powers of the world, was saved, so as by fire. Before Shakspere zealots de- mand our attention to ingenious theories which help us credit the immaculateness of Shakspere’s life, let them prove to us that his writings never offend. When they have shown that Shakspere’s poetry possesses the proud virginity of Milton’s poetry, they may go on to show that Shakspere’s youth was devoted, like the youth of Milton, to an ideal of moral elevation and purity. When we have been convinced that the same moral and spiritual temper which gave rise to the Comus gave rise to the Venus and Adonis^ we shall think it probable that Shakspere could have uttered the proud words about his unspotted life that Milton uttered.   Ato’suredly, the inference from Shakspere’s writings is not that he held himself, with virginal strength and pride, remote from the blameful pleasures of the world. What no reader will find anywhere in the plays or po- ems of Shakspere is a cold-blooded, hard, or selfish line ; all is warm, sensitive, vital, radiant with delight, or athrill with pain. And what we may dare to aflSrm of Shakspere’s life is, that whatever its sins may have been, they were not hard, selfish, deliberate, cold-blooded sins. The errors of his heart originated in his sensitive- ness, in his imagination (not at first inured to the hard- ness of fidelity to the fact), in his quick consciousness of existence, and in the self-abandoning devotion of his heart. There are some noble lines by Chapman in which he pictures to himself the life of great energy, enthusi- asms, and passions which forever stands upon the edge of utmost danger, and yet forever remains in absolute security :   ** Give me the spirit that on this life’s rough sea Loves to have his sails filled with a lusty wind       Shaksperes Last Plays. 353   Even till his sail-3^ards tremble, his masts crack, And his rapt ship run on her side so low That she drinks water, and her keel ploughs air ; There is no danger to a man that knows What life and death is — there’s not any law Exceeds his knowledge ; neither is it lawful That he should stoop to any other law.”*   Such a master-spirit, pressing forward under strained canvas, was Shakspere. If the ship dipped and drank water, she rose again ; and, at length, we behold her within view of her haven, sailing under a large, calm wind, not without tokens of stress of weather, but, if bat- tered, yet unbroken by the waves. It is to dull, lethar- gic natures that a moral accident is fatal, because they are tending nowhither, and lack energy and momentum to right themselves again. To say anything against de- cent lethargic vices and timid virtues, anything to the advantage of the strenuous life of bold action and eager emotion, which necessarily incurs risks, and sometimes suffers, is, we shall be told, ” dangerous.” Well, then, be it so ; it is dangerous.   The Shakspere whom we discern in the Sonnets had cer- tainly not attained the broad mastery of life which the Stratford bust asserts to have been Shakspere’s in his clos- ing years. Life had been found good by him who owned those lips, and whose spirit declares itself in the massive animation of the total outlook of that face.f When the greater number of these Sonnets were written, Shakspere could have understood Romeo ; he could have understood Hamlet ; he could not have conceived Duke Prospero. Un* der the joyous exterior of those days lay a craving, sensi«       * ByrorCs Conspiracy^ act iii., sc. 1 (last lines).   t This is the more remarkable, because the original of the bust was al- most certainly a mask taken after death ; and the bust betrays the prea- ence of physical death, over which, however, life triumphs. 23       354 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   tive, unsatisfied heart, which had not entire possession of itself, which could misplace its affections, and resort to all those pathetic frauds by which misplaced affec- tions strive to conceal an error from themselves. The friend in whose personality Shakspere found a source of measureless delight — high-born, beautiful, young, clever, accomplished, ardent — wronged him. The woman from whom Shakspere for a time received a joyous quicken- ing of his life, which was half pain — a woman of stained character, and the reverse of beautiful, but a strong nat- ure, intellectual, a lover of art, and possessed of curious magnetic attraction, with her dark eyes, which illuminat- ed a pale face — wronged him also. Shakspere bitterly felt the wrong — felt most bitterly the wrong which was least to be expected, that of his friend. It has been held to be an additional baseness that Shakspere could for- give, that he could rescue himself from indignant resent- ment, and adjust his nature to the altered circumstances. Possibly Shakspere may not have subscribed to all the items in the code of honor ; he may not have regarded as inviolable the prohibited degrees of forgiveness. He may have seen that the wrong done to him was human, nat- ural, almost inevitable. He certainly saw that the chief wrong was not that done to him, but committed by his friend against his own better nature. Delivering his heart from the prepossessions of wounded personal feel- ing, and looking at the circumstances as they actually were, he may have found it very natural and necessary not to banish from his heart the man he loved. How- ever this may have been, his own sanity and strength, and the purity of his work as artist, depended on his ul- timately delivering his soul from all bitterness. Besides, life was not exhausted. The ship righted itself, and went ploughing forward across a broad sea. Shakspere found ever more and more in life to afford adequate sustenance       Shaksperes Last Plays. 355   for man’s highest needs of intellect and of heart. Life became ever more encircled with presences of beauty, of goodness, and of terror ; and Shakspere’s fortitude of heart increased. Nevertheless, such experiences as those recorded in the Sonnets could not pass out of his life, and in the imaginative recurrence of past moods might at any subsequent time become motives of his art. Passion had been purified ; and at last the truth of things stood out clear and calm.*   The Sonnets tell more of Shakspere’s sensitiveness than of Shakspere’s strength. In the earlier poems of the collection, his delight in human beauty, intellect, grace, expresses itself with endless variation. Nothing seems to him more admirable than manhood. But this joy is controlled and saddened by a sense of the transi- toriness of all things, the ruin of time, the inevitable progress of decay. The love expressed in the early Son- nets is love which has known no sorrow, no change, no wrong ; it is an ecstasy which the sensitive heart is as yet unable to control :   ” As an unperf ect actor on the stage Who with his fear is put beside his part, Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage, Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart, So I, for fear of trust, forget to say The perfect ceremony of love’s rite, And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay, O’ercharged with burden of mine own love’s might.”   The prudent and sober Shakspere — was it he who bore this burden of too much love, he whose heart was made weak by the abundance of its strength ? He can-   * All that refers in the above paragraph to the supposed facts which un- derlie the Somiets may be taken with reserve. Only if this portion of ” the my thus of Shakspere ” be no myth, but a reality, the interpretation of events in their moral aspect given above is the one borne out by the SonneU and by Shakspere’s subsequent life.       356 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   not sleep ; he lies awake, haunted in the darkness by the face that is dear to him. He falls into sudden moods of despondency, when his own gifts seem narrow and of lit- tle worth ; when his poems, which yield him his keenest enjoyment, seem wretchedly remote from what he had dreamed, and, in the midst of his depression, he almost despises himself because he is depressed :   ” Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least.” *   He weeps for the loss of precious friends, for “lovers long- since- cancelled woe;” but out of all these clouds and damps the thought of one human soul, which he be- lieves beautiful, can deliver him :   ” Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate.”   Then comes the bitter discovery — a change in love that had seemed to be made for eternity ; coldness, estrange- ment, wrongs upon both sides ; and, at the same time, ex- ternal trials and troubles arise, and the injurious life of actor and playwright — injurious to the delicate harmony and purity of the poet’s nature — becomes more irksome :   ” And almost thence my nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.”   He pathetically begs, not now for love, but for pity. Yet at the worst, and through all suffering, he believes in love :   ” Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds.”   * From its connection, we may infer that this last line refers to Shafc spare’s poems and plays.       Shaksperis Last Plays. 357   It can accept its object even though imperfect, and still love on. It is not, in the common acceptation of the word, prudential — but the infinite prudence of the heart is indeed no other than love :   ” It fears not Policy, that heretic Which works on leases of short-numberM hours, But all alone stands hugely politic, That it nor glows with heat, nor drowns with showers.”   He has learned his lesson ; his romantic attachment, which attributed an impossible perfection to his friend, has become the stronger love which accepts his friend and knows the fact ; knows the fact of frailty and imper- fection ; knows also the greater and infinitely precious fact of central and surviving loyalty and goodness : and this new love is better than the old, because more real :   ” benefit of ill ! now I find true That better is by evil still made better ; And ruin’d love, when it is built anew, Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.”   And thus he possesses his soul once more ; he ” returns to his content.”   Such, briefly and imperfectly hinted, is the spirit of Shakspere’s Sonnets. A great living poet, who has dedi- cated to the subject of friendship one division of his col- lected works, has written these words :   ” Recorders ages hence ? Come, I will take you down underneath this impassive exterior—   I will tell you what to say of me ; Publish my name, and hang up my picture as that of the tenderest lover.”   And elsewhere, of these Calamus poems, the poems of tender and hardy friendship, he says,   “Here the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting: Here I shade and hide my thoughts— I myself do not expose them, And yet they expose me more than all my other poems.”       358 Shakspere—His Mind and A rt.   These words of Whitman may be taken as a motto of the Sonnets of Shakspere. In these poems Shakspere has hidden himself, and is exposed.   The plays belonging to Shakspere’s final period of au- thorship, which I shall consider, are three : Cymbeline^ The Winter^ s Tale^ and The Tempest^ The position in which they were placed in the first folio (whether it was the result of design or accident) is remarkable. The volume opens with The Tem^pest ; it closes with Cymbe- Ime. The Wmfer^s Tale is the last of the comedies, which all lie between this play and The Tempest. The circum- stance may have been a piece of accident ; but if so, it was a lucky accident, which suggests that our first and our last impression of Shakspere shall be that of Shak- spere in his period of large, serene wisdom, and that in the light of the clear and solemn vision of his closing years all his writings shall be read. Characteristics of versification and style, and the enlarged place given to scenic spectacle, indicate that these plays were produced much about the same time. But the ties of deepest kin- ship between them are spiritual. There is a certain ro- mantic element in each.f They receive contributions from every portion of Shakspere’s genius, but all are mellowed, refined, made exquisite ; they avoid the ex- tremes of broad humor and of tragic intensity ; they       * Mr, Fleay at one time placed Cymheline considerably earlier in the chron- ological succession of Shakspere’s plays (begun, 1605; finished, 1607- 1608). See his article ” Who Wrote our Old Plays ?” in MacmillajCs Maga- zine^ September, 1874. Professor Hertzberg, upon aesthetic grounds and the evidence of metrical tests, confirms the view taken above, and assigns Cym- belw£ to the year 1611. In the percentage of feminine endings (on which verse-test Hertzberg chiefly reUes for the determining of the dates of Shak- spere’s plays), the difference between Cymheline^ Winter^s Tale^ and The Tern- f>est is less than two. Mr. Fleay has recently adopted the date 1609.   f The same remark applies to Shakspere’s part of Pericles, which belongs to this period.       Shaksperes Last Plays. 359   were written with less of passionate concentration than the plays which immediately precede them, but with more of a spirit of deep or exquisite recreation.   There are moments when Shakspere was not wholly absorbed in his work as artist at this period ; it is as if he were thinking of his own life, or of the fields and streams of Stratford, and still wrote on ; it is as if the ties which bound him to his art were not severing with thrills of strong emotion, but were quietly growing slack. The so- liloquy of Belarius, at the end of the third scene of the third act of Cyrribeline^ and that of Imogen when she dis- covers the headless body of Cloten, were written as if Shakspere were now only moderately interested in certain portions of his dramatic work.^ Such lines as the fol- lowing, purporting to be part of a soliloquy, but being, in fact, an explanation addressed to the audience, could only have been written when the poet did not care to energize over the less interesting but still necessary passages of his drama :   ” Belarius, Cymbeline ! heaven and my conscience knows Thou didst unjustly banish me : whereon, At three and two years old, I stole these babes ; Thinking to bar thee of succession, as Thou reft’st me of my lands. Euriphile, Thou wast their nurse ; they took thee for their mother. And every day do honor to her grave ;       * Gervinus, writing of Antony and Cleopatra (and he repeats the remark in the criticism of Timon of Athens)^ says, ” It would appear as if Shake- speare, about the time between 1607-10, had had . . . intervals in which he wrote his poetry in a manner altogether more careless, whether we consider it from an aesthetic or an ethical point of view.” — Shakespeare Commenta’ riesy vol. ii., p. 858. Gervinus attributes this carelessness to ” the state of the poet’s mind,” p. 422. I see none of this alleged carelessness in Antony and Cleopatra or in Timon. Both plays are written with intense and com- plete imaginative energy. Not so, however, with Cymbeline and The Win- terh Tale. See on this subject some excellent remarks of Kreyssig, ” Voi> lesungen iiber Shakespeare ” (ed. 1858), vol. iii., pp. 422-424.       360 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call’d, They take for natural father.” *   The impression that Shakspere’s interest in his art was less intense than previously it had been is confirmed by the circumstance that he now contributes portions to plays which are completed by other hands in an inferior manner. Into the subject of Pericles he entered with manifest delight ; but he could be content to see his Ma- rina wedged in between the rough and coarse work of another writer. In The Two Noble Kinsmen the degra- dation of Shakspere’s work by the unclean underplot of Fletcher is painful, and almost intolerable. And in Hen- ry VIIL all artistic and ethical unity is sacrificed to the vulgar demand for an occasional play and for a spectacle.   Yet it is not to be wondered at that Shakspere now should feel delivered from the strong urge of imagina- tion and feeling, and should write in a more pleasurable, more leisurely, and not so great a manner. The period of the tragedies was ended. In the tragedies Shakspere had made his inquisition into the mystery of evil. He had studied those injuries of man to man which are irrepara- ble. He had seen the innocent suffering with the guilty. Death came and removed the criminal and his victim from human sight, and we were left with solemn awe upon our hearts in presence of the insoluble problems of life. There lay Duncan, who had ” borne his faculties so meek,” who had been ” so clear in his great office,” foully done to death ; there lay Cordelia lifeless in the arms of Lear; there Desdemona, murmuring no word, upon the bed; there Antony, the ruin of Cleopatra’s magic; and last, Timon, most desperate fugitive from life, finding his   * Professor Ingram suggests to me that the speech as written by Shak- spere ended immediately before these lines with the words ” The game is roused.” These words are awkwardly repeated at the end of the speech, ** The game is up,”       Shaksperes Last Plays. 361   sole refuge under the oblivious and barren wave. At the same time that Shakspere had shown the tragic mystery of human life, he had fortified the heart by showing that to suffer is not the supreme evil with man, and that loy- alty and innocence, and self-sacrifice and pure redeeming ardor, exist, and cannot be defeated. Now, in his last period of authorship, Shakspere remained grave — how could it be otherwise? — but his severity was tempered and purified. He had less need of the crude doctrine of Stoicism, because the tonic of such wisdom as exists in Stoicism had been taken up and absorbed into his blood.   Shakspere still thought of the graver trials and tests which life applies to human character, of the wrongs which man inflicts on man ; but his present temper de- manded not a tragic issue — it rather demanded an issue int o joy or p eace. The dissonan ce must be resolved into a hixm ony, clear and rapturousToFsoTemn an^j profound. And, accordingly, in each of t hese plays. The Winter^ s Tale^Cymbeline^ T7re~Temjpesi^vf\i\\Q grievou?~errors of the heart are shown to ns, and wrongs of man~to man as cruet as those of the great Tragedies, at the en? there is a resototteiTorthe^dissonBiTcuTU This is the   word which interprets Shakspere’s latest plays — reconcil- iation, ” word over all, beautiful as the sky.” It is not, as in the earlier comedies — The Two Gentlemen of Verona^ Much Ado about Nothing^ As You LiTce It^ and others — a mere denouement. The resolution of the discords in these latest plays is not a mere stage necessity, or a neces- sity of composition, resorted to by the dramatist to effect an ending of his play, and little interesting his imagina- tion or his heart. Its significance here is ethical and spiritual ; it is a moral necessity.   In The Winter’s Tale^ the jealousy of Leontes is not less, but more fierce and unjust, than that of Othello. No lago whispers poisonous suspicion in Leontes’ ear. His       362 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   wife is not untried, nor did she yield to him her heart with the sweet proneness of Desdemona :   ” Three crabbed months had sourM themselves to death Ere I could make thee open thy white hand, And clap thyself my love ; then didst thou utter * I am yours forever.’ ”   Hermione is suspected of sudden and shameless dishonor — she who is a matron, the mother of Leontes’ children, a woman of serious and sweet dignity of character, inured to a noble self-command, and frank only through the con- sciousness of invulnerable loyalty.^ The passion of Le- ontes is not, like that of Othello, a terrible chaos of soul — confusion and despair at the loss of what had been to him the fairest thing on earth ; there is a gross personal resentment in the heart of Leontes, not sorrowful, judi- cial indignation ; his passion is hideously grotesque, while that of Othello is pathetic.   The consequences of this jealous madness of Leontes are less calamitous than the ruin wrought by Othello’s jealousy, because Hermione is courageous and collected, and possessed of a fortitude of heart which years of suf- fering are unable to subdue :   ” There’s some ill planet reigns; I must be patient till the heavens look With an aspect more favorable. 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 honorable grief lodged 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 ; and so The king’s will be performed !” f   * The contrast between Othello and The Winter’s Tale has been noticed by Coleridge, and is admirably drawn out in detail by Gervinus and Kreyssig, to whose treatment of the subject the above paragraph is indebted.   \ Mrs. Jameson applies to the passion of Hermione the fine saying of       Shaksperes Last Plays. 363   But althougli the wave of calamity is broken by the firm resistance oSered by the fortitude of Hermione, it com- mits ravage enough to make it remembered. Upon the Queen comes a lifetime of solitude and pain. The hope- ful son of Leontes and Hermione is done to death, and the infant Perdita is estranged from her kindred and her friends. But at length the heart of Leontes is instructed and purified by anguish and remorse. He has ” per- formed a saint -like sorrow,” redeemed his faults, paid down more penitence than done trespass :   ” Whilst I remember Her and her virtues, I cannot forget My blemishes in them, and so still think of The wrong I did myself ; which was so much That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and Destroyed the sweetest companion that e’er man Bred his hopes out of.”   And Leontes is received back without reproach into the arms of his wife; she embraces him in silence, allowing the good pain of his repentance to effect its utmost work. The sin of Posthumus had been less grievous ; it had been half an error, and his restoration is proportionately more joyful. He, too, had learned his own unworthiness, and learned the measureless worth of Imogen. He will not render to the gods, in atonement for his wrong, less than his whole life :   ” For Imogen’s dear life take mine : and though ‘Tis not so dear, yet ’tis a life : you coin’d it : ‘Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp ; Though light, take pieces for the figure’s sake ; You rather mine, being yours ; and so, great powers, If you will take this audit, take this life, And cancel these cold bonds.”   It is not with silent forgiveness that Imogen receives   Madame de Stael, ” II pouvait y avoir des vagues majestueuses, et non de I’orage dans son cceur,’*       i       364 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   back her husband ; there are words of quick and exqui site mockery of joy. Posthumus had struck her to the ground, in her disguise as Lucius’s page, because she had seemed to make light of his love and of his anguish. Imogen, with one word of playful reproach for this last error of her husband, as if that were all she had suffered at his hands, and a happy mocking challenge to him to be cruel again, has her arms round his neck, making the union of wife and husband perfect in a moment, fore- stalling all explanation, rendering forever needless the painful utterance of penitential sorrow :   ” Imo. Why did you throw your wedded lady from you ? Think that you are upon a rock, and now Throw me again.   Fo8t, Hang there like fruit, my soul,   Tin the tree die!”*   The wrong-do ers o f The Tempe st are a group of per- ^ sons of yarious^egrees of ^11^^ ProspefoV   perfidious brother, still active in plotting evil, to Alonzo, whose obligations to the” D uke^ oTHilan had been of^a public or princely kindT ^pTritujJ^pwers. ar In alliance with Frospero ; and tneso^^byjfceiror and the awakening of remorse, prepare Alonzo for receiving the balm^of Prosperous forgiveness. Hejoqks uponliis tS(Hi~^Jost, a^td xecognizes in his son’s lo ss the punishmeirL xxms own guilt. ” The powj^^ delaying, not forgetting,” have in’censadllhe sea and shores against the sinful men ; nothing can deli ver^hemexce^Jiheart- sorrow and a clgarj^ife_^nsu^^ Goethe, in the opening of the sec- ond part of Faust^ has represented the ministry of exter-       * The line “Think that you are upon a rock” is probably corrupt; no proposed emendation is satisfactory. The criticism of the play of Cymhe- line in George Fletcher’s “Studies of Shakespeare” (184’7) may be men* tioned as intelligent and appreciative.       Shaksperes Last Plays. 365   nal nature fulfilling functions with reference to the hu- man conscience precisely the reverse of those ascribed to it in The Tempest, Faust, escaped from the prison-scene and the madness of Margarete, is lying on a flowery grass-plot, weary, restless, striving to sleep. The Ariel of Goethe calls upon his attendant elvish spirits to pre- pare the soul of Faust for renewed energy by bathing him in the dew of Lethe’s stream, by assuaging his pain, by driving back remorse :   ” Besantftiget des Herzens grimmen Strauss ; Entfernt des Yorwurfs gliihend bittre Pfeile, Sein Innres reinigt von erlebtem Graus.”   To dismiss from his conscience the sense of the wrong he has done to a dead woman is the initial step in the further education and development of Faust. Shakspere’s^ Ariel, br eathing through the elements and the powers of nature,jquickensjthe remorse of the King for a crime of twelve^ years since i ~”~~~ “^ ^   •^”^ – — – u Q^ j|. jg monstrous, monstrous !   Methought the billows spoke and told me of it ; The winds did sing it to me ; and the thunder, That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced The name of Prosper : it did bass my trespass, Therefore my son i’ the ooze is bedded, and I’ll seek him deeper than e’er plummet sounded, And with him there lie mudded.”   The enemies of^rospero jren ow completely in his pow-. er.*^ How shall he deaTwith them ? They had. perfid- iously taSen^ adv antage of his unworldly and un practicaT” t§L©s^llif^t^^yJ]^^ fromJhLisjdjake^^   dom ; they had exposed him, with his three – jears -jild daughterj in a rotten boatTto the mercy oT the waves. Sha ll he n ot now avenge^^Ei^ remorse I   W hat is~P rQS£ero^s decision ?   ! ” Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick, V Yet with my nobler reason Against my fury       366 Shakspere — His Mind and Art   Do I take part ; the rarer action is   In virtue than in vengeance ; they being penitent,   The sole drift of my purpose doth extend   Not a frown further/*   We have seen how Timon turned fiercely upon man- kind and hated the wicked race — ” I am Misanthropes, and hate mankind.” The wrongs inflicted upon Pros- pero were crueller and more base than those from which Timon suffered. But Prospero had not lived in a sum- mer mood of lax and prodigal benevolence; he had lived severely, ” all dedicated to closeness and the bettering of my mind.” And out of the strong comes forth sweet- ness. In the play of Cymbeline^ the wrong which Pos- thumus has suffered from the Italian lachimo is only less than that which Othello endures at the hands of lago. But lachimo, unlike lago, is unable to sustain the burden of his guilt, and sinks under it. In the closing scene of Cymbeline^ that in which Posthumus is himself wel- comed home to the heart of Imogen, Posthumus in his turn becomes the pardoner :   ” Kneel not to me ; The power that I have on you is to spare you ; The malice toward you to forgive you ; live, And deal with others better.”   Hermione, Imogen, Prospero — these are, as it were^ names for gracious powers which extend forgiveness to men. From the first Hermione, whose clear-sightedness is equal to her courage, had perceived that her husband labored under a delusion which was cruel and calamitous to himself. From the first she transcends al^ blind re- sentment, and has true pity for the man who wrongs her. But if she has fortitude for her own uses, she also is able to accept for her husband the inevitable pain which is needful to restore him to his better mind. She will not shorten the term of his suffering, because that suffering       Shaksperes Last Plays. 367   is beneficent. And at the last her silent embrace carries with it — and justly — a portion of that truth she had ut- tered long before :   ” How will this grieve you, When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that You thus have published me ! Gentle my lord, You scarce can right me throughly then to say You did mistake.”   The calm and complete comprehension of the fact is a possession painful yet precious to Hermione, and it lifts her above all vulgar confusion of heart or temper, and above all unjust resentment.   Imogen, who is the reverse of grave and massive in character, but who has an exquisite vivacity of feeling and of fancy, and a heart pure, quick, and ardent, passes from the swoon of her sudden anguish to a mood of bright and keen resentment, which is free from every trace of vindictive passion, and is, indeed, only pain dis- guised. And in like manner she forgives, not with self- possession and a broad, tranquil joy in the accomplished fact, but through a pure ardor, an exquisite eagerness of love and of delight. P^ospero^forgiveness is solemn, judicial, and has in it sqmeffiing abstract and impefsohalT H^cannot wrong his own higher nature, he cannot wrong the nobler reason, by cherishing so unworthy a passion as the desTre^oFvengeance. Sebastian and Antonio, from wTTose conscience no remorseT^as been elicited, are met by^~jgc)mf o r table pard on. They^have received their lesson of failure and of pain, and niay^ossibly be_con- vincedTof the good “sense and prudence of hon orable dealing, even “if tEey”carrnoT perceive its moral oblig a- tion. AIonzoTwho is re pentant,”lsrso lemnly pardonedT^ TheTorg iveness of Prospero is an embodlmen Tpr^a]^^ tial wisdom and loving justice. ‘^ portion of anoffier play^ertainly belongs to this lat-       368 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   est period of Sliakspere’s authorship — a portion of King Henry VHL^ Dr. Johnson observed that the genius of Shakspere comes in and goes out with Queen Katharine. Whatj then, chiefly interested the dramatist in this de- signed and partly accomplished Henry VHL ? The pres- ence of a noble sufferer — one who was grievously wrong- ed, and who, by a plain loyalty to what is faithful and true, by a disinterestedness of soul and enduring mag- nanimity, passes out of all passion and personal resent- ment into the reality of things, in which much, indeed, of pain remains, but no ignoble wrath or shallow bitter- ness of heart. Her earnest endeavor for the welfare of her English subjects is made with fearless and calm per- sistence in the face of Wolsey’s opposition. It is integ- rity and freedom from self-regard set over against guile and power and pride. In her trial-scene, the indignation of Katharine flashes forth against the Cardinal, but is an indignation which unswervingly progresses towards and penetrates into the truth.   When a man has attained some high and luminous table-land of joy or of renouncement, when he has really       * Karl Elze, in his article “Zu Heinrich VIII.” {Shakespeare -Jahrhuchy vol. ix.), attempts to show, not successfully, I think, that the play was writ- ten in 1603, and ” was set aside on account of Elizabeth’s death, and kept there till Rowley brought out his When You See Me You Know Me ; or, the Famous Chronicle Historie of King Henrie the Eighty in 1613. The Globe Company thereupon thought of their unused Henry VIII, ^ put it into Fletch- er’s hands to alter, and then acted it.” The portions of the play by Shak- spere are — act i., sc. 1 and 2 ; act ii., sc. 3 and 4 ; act iii., sc. 2 (in part Shak- spere) ; act v., sc. 1. Roderick, in Edwards’s ” Canons of Criticism ” (1765), noticed the peculiarity of the versification of this play. Mr. Spedding and Mr. Hickson (1850) independently arrived at identical results as to the divis- ion of parts between Fletcher and Shakspere. Mr. Fleay (1874) has con- firmed the conclusions of Mr. Spedding (double endings forming in this in- Btance his chief test). Professor Ingram has further confirmed them by the weak-ending test, and Mr. Furnivall by the stopped-line test.       Shakspere’s Last Plays. 369   transcended self, or when some one of the everlasting, virtuous powers of the world — duty or sacrifice, or the strength of anything higher than one’s self — has assumed authority over him, forthwith a strange, pathetic, ideal light is shed over all beautiful things in the lower world which has been abandoned. We see the sunlight on our neighbor’s field, while we are preoccupied about the grain that is growing in our own. And when we have ceased to hug our souls to any material possession, we see the sunlight wherever it falls. In the last chapter of George Eliot’s great novel, Romola, who has ascended into her clear and calm solitude of self-transcending duty, bends tenderly over the children of Tito, uttering, in words made simple for their needs, the lore she has learned from life, and seeing on their faces the light of strange, ideal beauty. In the latest plays of Shakspere the sym- pathetic reader can discern unmistakably a certain aban- donment of the common joy of the world, a certain re- moteness from the usual pleasures and sadnesses of life, and, at the same time, all the more, this tender bending over those who are, like children, still absorbed in their individual joys and sorrows.   Over the beauty of youth and the love of youth there is shed, in these plays of Shakspere’s final period, a clear yet tender luminousness not elsewhere to be perceived in his writings. In his earlier plays, Shakspere writes concerning young men and maidens — their loves, their mirth, their griefs — as one who is among them ; who has a lively, personal interest in their concerns ; who can make merry with them, treat them familiarly, and, if need be, can mock them into good sense. There is noth- ing in these early plays wonderful, strangely beautiful, pathetic, about youth and its joys and sorrows. In the histories and tragedies, as was to be expected, more mas- sive, broader, or more profound objects of interest en- i 24       370 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   gage the poet’s imagination. EuUn these lates JL^plajg^^ the beautifu l pathetic l i ^ht is always present . Thexaare^- the^uS^^ers, aged , experienced, t ried — Queen Katharine, Prospero, Hermione. And over against these t here are the diildren7^b ^rbed in their happy and exquisite ego^ ism^^^^3^erdita and JMirahda, Ftorlzetand Fefdlifand^and the boj|[o|_ol3riBeTaH^ ^ ‘   T^e same means to secure ideality for these figures, so young and beautiful, is in each case (instinctively, per- haps, rather than deliberately) resorted to. They are lost children — princes, or a princess, removed from the court and its conventional surroundings into some scene of rare, natural beauty. There are the lost princes — Arviragus and Guiderius — among the mountains of Wales, drink- ing the free air and offering their salutations to the risen sun. There is Perdita, the shepherdess-princess, ” queen of curds and cream,” sharing, with old and young, her flowers, lovelier and more undying than those that Pros- erpina let fall from Dis’s wagon. There is Miranda (whose very name is significant of wonder), m^e up of beauty and love and womanly ^ity, neither courtly nor rustiBpwith the bree3Rng”^f an island of enchantment, where T^rospefo”is~Eer tutof^T protector, and Caliban he/servant, and the~Prince of ^Naples her lover. In each of these plays we can see Shakspere, as it were, tenderly beuding over the joys and^sorrows qfjyouth. We rec- ognize this rather through the total characterization, and through a feeling and a presence, than through definite incident or statement. But some of this feeling es- capes in the disinterested joy and admiration of old Belarius when he gazes at the princely youths, and in Camillo’s loyalty to Florizel and Perdita; while it ob- tains more distinct expression in such a word as that which Prospero utters when from a distance he watch- es with pleasure Miranda’s zeal to relieve Ferdinand       Shakspere’s Last Plays. 371   from hi^ task of l og-bearipg : ” Poor worm^ thou art in- fected.”^   It is not chiefly because Prospero is a great enchanter, now about to break his magic staff, to drown his book deeper than ever plummet sounded, to dismiss his airy spirits, and to return to the practical service of his Duke- dom, that we identify Prospero in some measure with Shakspere h imse lf. It is rather because the tem’p erj)f PrQspe ro,”tEe grare h armony of his character^ his self- <^(l masg^T Eis calm validity of will, his sensitive ness to ^ * wro ng, h is unfalteri ng justice, and, with these, a certain ^ abandonment, a remoteness fronf the common joys and IQ, sorrowr of tlle”w6rld, are characteristic of “Shakspere” as v*^^ discovered toUs in all his latest plays. Prospero is an ^ harmonrous^d fully developedlz?^/^^. In the earlier play of fairy enchantments, A Midsummer-NigM s Dream^ the “human mortals ” wander to and fro in a maze of error, misled by the mischievous frolic of Puck, the jest- er and clown of Fairy-land. But here the spirits of the elements, and Caliban, the gross genius of brute matter — needful for the service of life — are brought under sub- jection to the human will of Prospero.f   W-h at is more, P rosper o has entered into completepos- session^f himself. Shaksp ere has sliown us his’^ ick sense of injury, his intellggtual i mpatience, h is occasional moment of keen^jrritability. in order that we rnay be niore deeply aware of his abiding strength and self-pos-   * The same feeling appears in the lines which end act iii., sc. 1 :   • ” Prospero, So glad of this as they I cannot be,   Who are surprised with all ; but my rejoicing At nothing can be more.”   f This point of contrast between The Tempest and A Midsummer-NigM’ s Dream is noticed by Mezi^res, *’ Shakspeare, ses (Euvres et ses Critiques,^* pp. 441, 442.       3/2 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   session, and that. we may perceive how these have been grafted ^upon a temperament not impassive or unexcita- ble. And Prospero has reached not only the higher levels of moral attainment; he has also reached an altitude of thought from which he can survey the whole of human life, and see how small and yet how great it is. His heart is sensitive ; he is profoundly touched by the joy of the children with whom, in the egoism of their love, he passes for a thing of secondary interest; he is deeply moved by the perfidy of his brother. His brain is readily set a-work, and can with difficulty be checked from eager and excessive energizing; he is subject to the access of sudden and agitating thought. But_JProspero naasters his own sens itiveness, emotional and in tellectual:   ” We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexM; Bear with my weakness ; my old brain is troubled : Be not disturb’d with my infirmity ; If you be pleased, retire into my cell And there repose ; a turn or two I’ll walk, To still my beating mind.’*   ” Such stuff as dreams are made on.” ITevertheless, in tEis” little life, in this dream, “Prospero will maintain his dream rights and fulfil his dream duties. In the dream, he, a Duke, will accomplish Duke’s work. Hav- ing idealized everything, Shakspere left everything real. Bishop Berkeley’s foot was no less able to set a pebble flying than was the lumbering foot of Dr. Johnson. Nevertheless, no material substance intervened between the soul of Berkeley and the immediate presence of the play of Divine power.”^   * See a remarkable article on Goethe and Shakspere by Professor Masson, reprinted among his collected Essays. On The Tempest, the reader may con* suit, as an excellent summary of facts, the article *’ On the Origin of Shak-       Shaksperis Last Plays. 373   A thought w hich seems to run through the whole of TJieTerwpest^ appearing here and there like a colored thread^irTsomTwlF, is the thougFt that’the trueTreedom ofTnair~cuimists in service. Ariel, untouched Hv human feeling, is panting for his liberty. In the last words of Prospero are promised his enfranchisement and dismissal to the elements. Ariel reverences his great master, and serves him with bright alacrity ; but he is bound by none of our human ties, strong and tender, and he will rejoice when Prospero is to him as though he never were.’^ To Caliban, a land -fish, with the duller elements of earth and water in his composition, but no portion of the high- er elements, air and fire, though he receives dim intima- tions of a higher world — a musical humming, or a twang- ling, or a voice heard in sleep — to Caliban, service is slavery.f He hates to bear his logs ; he fears the incom- prehensible power of Prospero, and obeys and curses. The great master has usurped the rights of the brute- power Caliban. And when Stephano and Trinculo ap- pear, ridiculously impoverished specimens of humanity,       speare’s Tempest,” Cornhill Magazine^ October, 1872. It is founded upon Meissner^s ” Untersuchungen iiber Shakespeare’s Sturm” (1’782). See also Meissner’s article in the Jahrhuch der deutschen Shakespeare -Gesellscha/i, vol. V. Jacob Ayrer’s “Comedia von der schonen Sidea” will be found, with a translation, in Mr. Albert Cohn’s interesting volume ” Shakespeare in Ger- many” (Asher, 1865).   * Ariel is promised his freedom after two days, act i., sc. 2. Why two days ? The time of the entire action of The Teinpest is only three hours. What was to be the employment of Ariel during two days ? To make the winds and seas favorable during the voyage to Naples. Prospero’s island, therefore, was imagined by Shakspere as within two days’ quick sail of Naples.   f The conception of Caliban, the ” servant-monster,” ” plain fish, and no doubt marketable,” the ” tortoise,” ” his fins like arms,” with ** a very an- cient and fish-like smell,” who gabbled until Prospero taught him language — this conception was in Shakspere’s mind when he wrote Troilics and Ores- dda, Thersites describes Ajax (act iii., sc. 3), ” He’s grown a very Irnid-Jishf languagelesSy a monster,””       3 74 Shakspere — His Mind and A rt.   with their shallow understandings and vulgar greeds, this poor^eaitltnionster is possessed by a sudden Schwdrmerei, a fanati^jn for liberty ! —   ” ‘Ban, ‘ban, Ca’- Caliban, Has a new master : — get a new man. Freedom, heyday ! heyday, freedom ! freedom ! heyday, freedom 1″   His new master also sings his impassioned hymn of liberty, the Marseillaise of the enchanted island :   ” Flout ’em and scout ’em, And scout ’em and flout ’em; Thought is free.”   The leaders of the revolution, escaped from the stench and foulness of the horse-pond. King Stephano and his prime-minister Trinculo, like too many leaders of the people, bring to an end their great achievement on be- half of liberty by quarrelling over booty — the trumpery which the providence of Prospero had placed in their way. Caliban, though scarce more truly wise or instruct- ed than before, at least discovers his particular error of the day and hour :   ” What a thrice-double ass Was I, to take this drunkard for a god, And worship this dull fool !”   It must be admitted that Shakspere, if not, as Hartley Coleridge asserted, ” a Tory and a gentleman,” had with- in him some of the elements of English conservatism.   But while Ariel and Caliban, each in his own way, is impatient of service, the human actors, in whom we are chiefly interested, are entering into bonds — bonds of affection, bonds of duty, in which they find their truest freedom. Ferdinand and Miranda emulously contend in the task of bearing the burden which Prospero has im- posed upon the prince :   ” I am in my condition A prince, Miranda ; I do think, a king : I would, not so ! and would no more endure       ^Shakspere’s Last Plays. ‘ 375   This wooden slavery than to suffer   The flesh-fly blow my mouth. Hear my soul speak :   The very instant that I saw you, did   My heart fly to your service ; there resides,   To make me slave to it ; and for your sake   Am I this patient log-man.”   And Miranda speaks with the sacred candor from which spring the nobler manners of a world more real and glad than the world of convention and proprieties and prud-   ” Hence, bashful cunning ! And prompt me, plain and holy innocence ! I am your wife, if you will marry me ; If not, I’ll die your maid : to be your fellow You may deny me ; but I’ll be your servant, Whether you will or. no.   Fer, My mistress, dearest ;   And I thus humble ever.   Mir, My husband, then ?   Fer, Ay, with a heart as willing As bondage e’er of freedom.”   In an earlier part of the play, this chord which runs throug hit had been playfully struck in th e description of Gonz svlo’s imagina ry c omm onwealth^ in which man Is^to be enfranchised jrom_aJlt^^ nec^ssitierof life.   Here is the ideal of n otional liberty. Shakspe re^would say^nd to a.tiamjptJ: a rpfllizp. it ?^tj fYnr* fi lands ^ i s in ab-   surditieoJii^elf-cpntmdict^ :   ” For no kind of traffic Would I admit : no name of magistrate ; Letters should not be known : riches, poverty, And use of service none ; contract, succession, Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none ; No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil ; No occupation ; all men idle, all. And women too, but innocent and pure ; No sovereignty.   Seb. Yet he would be king on’t.” *   ^ — ^__^_^__^_^_^__^___________^___^__^___-^^_— — ^— _^__^_^__^__«,   * Act ii., sc. 1. The prolonged and dull joking of Sebastian in this scene       376 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   Finally, in the Epilogue, which was written perhaps by Shakspere, perhaps by some one acquainted with his thoughts, Prospero, in his character of a man, no longer a potent enchanter, petitions the spectators of the theatre for two things, pardon and freedom. It would be strain- ing matters to discover in this Epilogue profound signifi- cances. And yet, in its playfulness, it curiously falls in with the moral purport of the whole. Prospero, the par- doner, implores pardon. Shakspere was aware — whether such be the significance (aside, for the writer’s mind) of this Epilogue or not — that no life is ever lived which does not need to receive as well as to render forgive- ness. He knew that every energetic dealer with the world must seek a sincere and liberal pardon for many things. Forgiveness and freedom: these are key-notes of the play. When it was occupying the mind of Shak- spere, he was passing from his service as artist to his ser- vice as English country gentleman. Had his mind been dwelling on the question of how he should employ his new freedom, and had he been enforcing upon himself the truth that the highest freedom lies in the bonds of duty?^   It remains to notice of The Te7rvpest that it has had       cannot be meant by Shakspere to be really bright and witty. It is meant to show that the intellectual poverty of the conspirators is as great as their moral obliquity. They are monsters more ignoble than Caliban. Their laughter is ” the crackling of thorns under a pot.”   * Mr. Furnivall, observing that in these later plays breaches of the family bond are dramatically studied, and the reconciliations are domestic recon- ciliations in Cymheline and A Winter^s Tale^ suggests to me that they were a kind of confession on Shakspere’s part that he had inadequately felt the beauty and tenderness of the common relations of father and child, wife and husband; and that he was now quietly resolving to be gentle, and wholly just to his wife and his home. I cannot altogether make this view of the later plays my own, and leave it to the reader to accept and develop as he may be able.       Shaksperis Last Plays. 377   the quality, as a work of art, of setting its critics to work as if^Jt2^ere_an_a]legory ; and ^rthwith it baffles them, and ^ems tQjnock them for sjipgosing^ that^ they had power to ^’ pliick._out tjie^eart^ of its mystery.” A curi- ous and^interestingchapter in the history of Shaksperian criticism mi^ht be writt^nTFthe various interpretations were brought together of the allegorlcaT significances of Prospero, of Miranda, of Ariel, of Caliban. Caliban^ says Kreyssig” is the PeopfeT” “He is Understanding apart from Imagination, declares Professor Lowell. He is the prim- itive man abandoned to himself, declares M. Mezieres; Shakspere would say to Utopian thinkers, predecessors of Jean Jacques Rousseau, ” Your hero walks on four feet as well as on two.” That Caliban is the missing link between man and brute (Shakspere anticipating Darwin- ian theories) has been elaborately demonstrated by Dan- iel Wilson. Caliban is one of the powers of nature over which the scientific intellect obtains command, another critic assures us, and Prospero is the founder of the In- ductive Philosophy. Caliban is the colony of Virginia. Caliban is the untutored early drama of Marlowe.*^ Such   * This last suggestion is that of M, fcnile Mon tegut. in the Refvue des Dewn Mondes, The following passage fronk^rofessoTliOwelDwrill compensate for its length by its ingenuity: “In The Tempest the scene is laid nowhere, or certainly in no country laid down on any map. Nowhere, then ? At once nowhere and anywhere — for it is in the soul of man that still vexed island hung between the upper and the nether world, and liable to incursions from both. . . . Consider for a moment if ever the Imagination has been so em- bodied as in Prospero, the Fancy as in Ariel, the brute Understanding as in Caliban, who, the moment his poor wits are warmed with the glorious liq- uor of Stephano, plots rebellion a gainst his natural lord^ the higher Reason. f Miranda is mere abstract VTomanhood, as truly so before she sees Ferdinand as Eve before she was awakened to consciousness by the echo of her own nature coming back to her, the same, and yet not the same, from that ,pf Adam. Ferdmand^ a gain> is nothing morp than Yont^ co mpelled to^ drudge at something he despiseS j^till ttie sa crifice_o jg .yill a4d_abne^tiQD,iiL- self winhim his ideal in Miranda. The subordinate personages are simply       378 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   allegorical interpretations, however ingenious, we cannot Bet much store by. B ut the significance of a work of art^ like the character of a man, is not to be discov ered solely by^?iTVTffft5g5Hir>n its inwar(l_gRggm»PL Its dynamical qualities, jp_to speak, must be considerg d as well as its statical. It must be viewed irTaction ; the atmosphere it effuses,’-i±s influence upo^ the minds of me^, must be noted. And it is certainly remarkable that this, the last, or almost the last, of Shakspere’s plays, more than any other, has possessed this q uality of soliciting’^meiTto’at- tempt the explanation of it, as oFan en igma, and, attlie sam e JiSgj_of^bafflingJhe^^ ^   If I were to allow my fancy to run out in play after   typ^aJL ^ebastian and Antonio , of weak character and evil ambition ; Gon- za]j2»^f average^s ense an d honesty ; Adrian and Francisco, ofthe walking gentlemen, who serve to fill up a world. They are not characters in the same sense with lago, Falstaff, Shallow^ or Leontius ; and it is curious how every one of them loses his way in this enchanted island of life, all the vic- tims of one illusion after another, except Prospero, whose ministers are purely ideal. The whole play, indeed, is a succession of illusions, winding up with those solemn words of the great enchanter, who had summoned to his service every shape of merriment or passion, every figure in the great tragi-comedy of life, and who was now bidding farewell to the scene of his triumphs. For in Prospero shall we not recognize the Artist himself—   * That did not better for his life provide Than public means which public manners breeds, Whence comes it that his name receives a brand ‘ —   who has forfeited a shining place in the world’s eye by devotion to his art, and who, turned adrift on the ocean of life in the leaky carcass of a boat, has shipwrecked on that Fortunate Island (as men always do who find their true vocation) where he is absolute lord, making all the powers of Nature serve him, but with Ariel and Caliban as special ministers ? Of whom else could he have been thinking when he says,   * Graves, at my command. Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let them forth, ByWy so potent art?'”   ^^AvMmg my Books, Shakespeare Once More^ pp. 191 – 192,       Shakspere’s Last Plays. 379   such an attempted interpretation, I shou ld describe Pro a^ pero a s^the man of genius, t he_great artist^ lacking at first in practi cat gifts which lead to material success, and set adn tt on TEejpenlous^s ea in~ wh icg Ee finds his   enchanted^ islan37wEe?e”^E^ may achiey e~Es work s of wonder. He_ bears with him T’SH’in’lts infan gy^the marvellous cWld^J^Kr^^ The grosser pas sions an d ap- petites — Caliban — he subdues to, hjs seryice :   ” Mir, ‘Tis a villain, sir,   I do not love to look on.   ProB, But as *tis,   We cannot miss him.”   And he partially informs this servant-monster witLintel- lect and imagination ; for CallbaiL^has dim affi nities with the highe r wor ld of spirits. But the^e_grosser passions and..appetitesattempLto. violate the purity of art. Cali- ban would seize upon Miranda and people the jsland with Calibans ; “therefore his^fierotude must be strict^ ^nd whojs Ferdinand? Is he not^wjth hia gallantry and his be auty, the young F letche r in conjunction with whom Shakspere worked upon TKe Two Noble Kinsmen, and Henry YmTf^ Fleicher is conceived asa follower of thQ Shaksperian style and method in dramatic art; he l^ad “eyed full many a lady with best regard/’ for sev- eral virtues hadrlikedT^veral women, but never any with whole-hearted devotion except Miranda. And to Ferdi- nand the old enchanter will intrust his daughter, ” a third of his own life.” But Shakspere had perceived the weak point in Fletcher’s genius — its want of hardness of fibre, of jgatient endurance, and of a sense of the solemnity and sanctity of the service of art. And therefore he finely hints to.his friend that his winning of Miranda must no1b be too light and easy. It shall be Ferdinand’s task to remove some thousands of logs and pile thenr according to the strict injunction of Prospero. ” Don’t despise       380 Skakspere — His Mind and Art.   drudgery and dryasdust work, young poets,” Shakspere would seem to say, who had himself so carefully labored over his English and Koman histories ; ” for Miranda’s sake such drudgery may well seem light.” Therefol-e, also, Prospero surrounds the marriage of Ferdinand to his daughter with a religious awe. Ferdinand must honor her as sacred, and win her by hard toil. But the work of the higher imagination is-not d^^dgery; it is swift and^serviceable among all the elements — fire upon the topmast, the sea-nymph upon Jhe sands ; Ceres, the goddes’T’^of earth, with Tiarvest blessings, in the masque. It is e^ntially Ariel, an airy spirit — the imaginative genius of poetry but recently delivered in England from long slavery to Sycorax. Prospero’s departure from the island is the abandoning by Shakspere of the theatre, the scene of his marvellous works :   ” Graves, at my command, Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let them forth, By my so potent art.”   Henceforth Prospero is but a man — no longer a great enchanter. He returns to the dukedom he had lost, in Stratford-upon-Avon, and will pay no tribute henceforth to any Alonzo or Lucy of them all.^   Thus one may be permitted to play with the grave subject of The Tempest; and I ask no more credit for the interpretation here proposed than is given to any other equally innocent, if trifling, attempt to read the supposedallegory.   Shakspere^s work, however, will, indeed, not allow itself to be lightly treated. The prolon ged studv of any g^reat interpreter of hu man life is a discip line. Our loyalty to   ^T~W^„, Ill II ^—”^   * Ulrici has jfecently expressed his opinion that a farewell to the theatre may be discovered in The Tempest; but he rightly places Henry VIIL later than The Tempest {Shakespeare-Jahrbuchj vol. vi., p. 358).       Shakspere V Last Plays. 38 1   Shakspere must not lead us to assert that the discipline of Shakspere will be suitable to every nature. He will deal rudely with heart and will and intellect, and lay hold of them in unexpected ways, and fashion his dis- ciple, it may be, in a manner which at first is painful and almost terrible. There are persons who, all through their lives, attain their highest strength only by virtue of the presence of certain metaphysical entities which rule their lives ; and in the lives of almost all men there is a metaphysical period when they need such supposed en- tities more than the real presences of those personal and social forces which surround them. For such persons, and during such a period, the discipline of Shakspere will be unsuitable. He will seem precisely the reverse of what he actually is : he will seem careless about great facts and ideas; limited, restrictive, deficient in enthu- siasms and imagination. To one who finds the highest poetry in Shelley, Shakspere will always remain a kind of prose. Shakspere is the poet of concrete things and real. True, but are not these informed with passion and with thought ? A time not seldom comes when a man, abandoning abstractions and metaphysical entities, turns to the actual life of the world, and to the real men and women who surround him, for the sources of emotion and thought and action — a time when he strives to come into communion with the Unseen, not immediately, but through the revelation of the Seen. And then he finds the strength and sustenance with which Shakspere has enriched the world.   ” ^ The true question to ask,’ says the Librarian of Con- gress, in a paper read before the Social Science Conven- tion at New York, October, 1869 — ‘ The true question to ask respecting a book is. Has it helped any humam^ soul f ‘ This is the hint, statement, not only of the great Litera- tus, his book, but of every great artist. It may be that       382 Shakspere — His Mind and Art.   all works of art are to be first tried by their art-qualities, their image-f orming talent, and their dramatic, pictorial, plot-constructing, euphonious, and other talents. Then, whenever claiming to be first-class works, they are to be strictly and sternly tried by their foundation in, and radi- ation (in the highest sense, and always indirectly) of, the ethic principles, and eligibility to free, arouse, dilate.””^   What shall be said of Shakspere’s radiation, through art, of the ultimate truths of conscience and of conduct ? What shall be said of his power of freeing, arousing, dilating ? Something may be gathered out of the fore- going chapters in answer to these questions. But the answers remain insufficient. There is an admirable sen- tence by Emerson : ” A good reader can in a sort nestle into Plato’s brain, and think from thence ; but not into Shakspere’s. We are still out of doors.”   We are still out of doors ; and, for the present, let us cheerfully remain in the large, good space. Let us not attenuate Shakspere to a theory. He is careful that we shall not thus lose our true reward : ” The secrets of nat^ ure have not more gift in taciturnity.” f Shakspere does not supply us with a doctrine, with an interpretation, with a revelation. What he brings to us is this — to each one, courage and energy and strength to dedicate himself and his work to that, whatever it be, which life has revealed to him as best and highest and most real.   * Whitman, ” Democratic Vistas,” p. 67. t Troilus cmd Cressida, act iv., so. 2.       INDEX.       Alcibiades, practical wisdom of, 347. All ‘s Well that Ends Well, date of, ’75. Antony and Cleopatra, contrasted with   Julius Caesar, 273 ; linked with Co-   riolanus, 248. Antony, character of, 256 ; failure of,   275. As You Like It, characteristics of,   70 ; and Winter’s Tale, date of, 67. Aufidius and Coriolanus, 296. Autolycus, 335.   Bacon and Shakspere compared, 16.   Bagehot, W., on Shakspere’s politics, 291 ; on religious teaching of Shak- spere, 34.   Beauty, feeling for, in last plays, 369.   Berowne as exponent of Shakspere’s mind, 57.   Bolingbroke, causes of success of, 182 ; strength of, and weakness of Richard II. contrasted, 175.   Bottom and Titania, humor and fancy combined in, 321.   BrogUe, Due de, on lago, 212..   Brutus, mistakes of, 271.   Brutus and Cassius, 288 ; contrasted, 251; speeches of, apologetic, 267.   Caesar, character of, 252 ; weakness   of, 253. Capulet and Montague, strife of, 93. Chasles, M., criticism of Romeo and   Juliet by, 89. Chronological arrangement, value of, ^ 837 ; study of Shakspere, 6 ; groups   of plays. Preface. Clarke, C. C, on notes of time in   Romeo aad Juliet, 105,       Cleopatra, and Caesar, 280 ; death o^   281 ; feeling of, to Antony, 277.   Coleridge, on cause of failure of Rich- ard IL, 178 ; on Hamlet, 116.   Comedy of Errors, source of, 50.   Cordelia, Shakspere’s fideUty to fact in, 202.   Coriolanus, egoism of, 298 ; himself central point of play, 292; pride of, twofold, 293.   Culture, Shakspere’s idea of, 57.   Denmark, state of, in Hamlet’s time, 120.   De Quincey, on the knocking in Mac- beth, 331.   Desdemona, love to Othello of, 207 ; weakness of, 210.   Dickens, Charles, humor of, 803.   Early and later writings of Shak- spere, difference between, 251.   Early plays, characteristics of, 52.   Edmund, inhumanity of, 237.   Edward IV., Shakspere’s opinion of, 171.   Elizabethan drama, as remedy for cyn- icism, 26 ; ethics and effect of, 25 ; realistic quality of, 8 ; vigor of, 22.   Environment, influence on the man of his, 7.   Experiments, dramatic, of Shakspere, 49.   External nature, treatment of, by Shakspere, 91.   Faerie Queene, object of, self-culture, 13 ; exponent of Renascence ideas, 12.       384       Index.       Falstaff, ethics of, 326 ; view of life of, 70.   Farce unpleasing to Shakspere, 304.   Female characters, change in type of, 80.   Fleay,Mr.,onWitchesofMacbeth,218.   Friar Laurence, position of, in play, 107.   Furnivall, on Shakspere’s part in The Taming of the Shrew, 805 ; on Ve- nus and Adonis, and Lucrece, 43,   Gertrude, Queen, emptiness of char- acter of, 120.   Goethe, criticism of Hamlet of, 114.   Goneril and Regan compared, 234.   Great minds, belief in supernatural of, 221.   Greatness of Shakspere’s heroes, 282.   Grotesque, perception of, useful, 315.   Hamlet, indications of later style in, 111 ; literature, 142 ; turning-point in career of Shakspere, 198.   Hamlet, compared with Romeo, 117; causes of failure -of, 138; cause of weakness of, 130; condict of, at the play, 137 ; effect of Ghost on, 127; fatalism of, 139 ; love of truth of, 134 ; madness of, 128 ; mind of, incapable of certitude, 118; posi- tion of, at opening of play, 119; Shakspere’s own character illus- trated by, 142.   Hazlitt, W., on love of Desdemona, 208 ; on Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece, 46.   Hebler, on symmetry of some plays, 54.   Helena, Bertram’s good sole aim of, 76 ; energy of, 76.   Henry V., conduct in war of, 195 ; ‘ double character of, 188 ; hearty piety of, 191; hero of historical plays, 195; his realization of fact, 189; inner character of, 187; re- lentlessness of wrath of, 194; Shak- spere’s ideal of practical character, 66.   Henry VL, authorship of first part, 153 ; origin of second part and of third part, 160.       Henry VI., as a prisoner, 169 ; causes of failure of, 154 ; timid saintliness of, 155 ; vacillation of, 157.   Henry VIII., authorship of, 368.   Hermione, calm justice of, 366.   Hogarth, study of laughter by, 301.   Hooker, influence of, on Reformation, 19.   Horatio and Hamlet, 136.   Hudson, Mr., on Fool in Lear, 243.   Humor of Shakspere, influence of, 300 ; innocence of, 320 ; two stages of, 316.   lago, personification of f raudful evil, 212.   Ideal and Real, conflict of, in mijid of Shakspere, 31, 41.   Imogen, 413.   Impartiality of Shakspere, source of, 307.   Incongruity, tragic and comic, 312.   Ingram, Professor, on chronology of last plays, 338.   Interest of Shakspere in his art di- minishing, 359.   Interpenetration of humor, pathos, and tragedy, 332.   Isabella, energy and will of, 72.   Jameson, Mrs., on Cleopatra, 279.   Juliet, state of mind of, when taking the poison, 102.   Julius Caesar, date of. Preface ; dom- inant power of, 255 ; apparent in- consistency of character of, 258.   Katharine, love of Henry V. to, 169.   King John, substance of, misery and failure, 153.   King John, fails from weakness of his wickedness, 150; strength in early scenes not real, 151.   King Lear, creed of leading persons in, 240 ; ethics of, 239 ; great- est Teutonic poem, 229 ; irony of, 230 ; Shakspere’s treatment of his- tory in, 232; significance of sec- ondary plot in, 236 ; teaching of. 232.       Index.       385       Knowledge of a great mind a great   good, 3. Kreyssig, on Shakspere’s freedom   from party spirit, 288.   Lady Macbeth, appearance of, 224. Lady Percy and Portia contrasted,   264. Laertes, superficiality of, 121. Last Plays, characteristics of, 358. Laughter, of men of genius, 302;   Shakspere’s, history of, 317. Leontes and Othello contrasted, 362. Love’s Labor ‘s Lost, character and   design of, 55.   Macbeth, motto of, 217.   Macbeth, and the Witches, 222 ; and Lady M. contrasted, 223 ; dishon- orable death of, 227 ; weakness of, 223.   Maginn on Theseus, 61.   Margaret, Queen, an avenging fury, 170.   Marlowe, influence of, on Shakspere, 86.   Mental progress, style a sign of, 54.   Mercutio, character of, 103.   Merry Wives of Windsor, criticism of, 328.   Middle Ages, ethics and idealism of, 9.   MoraUty of Shakspere’ s writings, 352.   Morgann, M., criticism of Falstaff,324.   Mysteries of Life, Shakspere’s treat- ment of, 202.   Ophelia compared with Juliet, 123. Othello, aim of, to contrast lago and   Othello, 216. Othello, f orcef ulness of, 209 ; strength   and weakness of, 205.   Periods, four, in art- life of Shakspere,   818,322,330. Polonius, morality of, 125. Portia, strength of, 266. Portia and Brutus, noble relations of,   263. Posthumus, reconciliation of, with   Imogen, 363. Progress of Shakspere cautious, 47.       Prospero, conduct of, to his enemies, 365 ; Shakspere’s ideal character, 67 ; Shakspere seen in, 371.   Queen Katharine, chief interest to Shakspere in Henry VIII., 368.   Reconciliation, characteristic of last plays, 361.   Reformation in England, characteris- tics of, 17.   Renascence, ethics of, 10 ; positivism characteristic of, 20,   Richard II., aims at effect without definite end, 173 ; and Jaques com* pared, 180; boyishness of, 172; unreality of, discussed, 178.   Richard III., uniqueness of, and re- semblance to Marlowe’s work, 160.   Richard III., cynicism and devilry of, 164 ; energy of, best seen in battle, 165 ; Shakspere’s teaching from character of, 168 ; sources of pow- er of, 162.   Roman Plays, measure of greatness in, 249 ; Shakspere’s and Jonson’s, contrasted, 245 ; significance of date of, 246.   Romeo and Juliet, feeling evoked by last scene of, 109 ; Shakspere’s va. riation from original, 105,   Romeo, contrasted with Mercutio, 102 ; development of character of, 104 ; love of, for Rosaline and Juliet, 94,   Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 132,   Rushton on euphuism of Shakspere, 125.   Ruskin on lago, 212.   Runnawayes eyes, note on, 110.   Satire, late and early, of Shakspere contrasted, 332.   Secondary plots, function of, 346.   Second period, characteristics of, 328.   Shakspere, as a poet of feudalism, 284 ; caution of, in trying styles, 87; character of, 146; character illustrated by life, 27 ; develop- ment of nature of, 39 ; enormous receptivity of, 38 ; ideal of practi-       3^6       Index.       cal strength of, lOT; incapable of despair, 203 ; influence of writings of, on student, 381 ; mode of study- ing, 2 ; on communism, 289 ; polit- ical views of, 28’6 ; practical and ideal sides of character illustrated, 29 ; relation of his life to his art, 144 ; religion of, 33 ; sympathy of, with ideal, 349 ; two existences of, 31.   Slender, the comic in, 311.   Sonnets, Shakspere’s life at time of writing the, 353 ; spirit of, 355 ; teaching of, 351 ; theories of in- terpretation of, 350.   Spenser, positive character of, 15.   Tempest, allegorical interpretation of, 377; freedom and forgiveness in, 373.   Theseus, example of Shakspere’s im- partiality, 63 ; man of action, 60.   Timon, a study of self-control, 342 ; as an illustration of Shakspere’s mind, 340; conjectures on origin of, 339 ; contrasts in, 346.   Timon, fails from ignorance of life, 342 ; misanthropy of, 345.   Titus Andronicus, pre-Shaksperian in tone, 48.       Tragedies, deal with deepest passions, 200 ; engrossed whole nature of Shakspere, 199 ; first, influence of external events on actors in, 115; first, gradual development of, 50, 84 ; influence of, on spiritual prog ress of Shakspere, 204 ; of Shak- spere and Restoration contrasted, 309.   Tragedy, first and second contrasted, 88.   Tragic and comic defined, 310.   Troilus and Cressida, difficulties in, 83 ; significance of. Preface.   Two Gentlemen of Verona, author- ship of, 51.   Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece, ex-   haustiveness of, 43. Victor Hugo on King Lear, 244.   Vt^est, E. D., on realism of Shakspere,   25. White, R. Grant, on authorship of   Romeo and Juliet, 84. Witches of Macbeth, interpretation   of, 218. Women of Shakspere contrasted witlo   the men, 97.