« AnteriorContinuar »
son, and suited to the taste of the great vulgar and the small.—“'Tis an unweeded garden : things rank and gross do merely gender in it!" If a man of genius comes once in an age to clear away the rubbisb, to make it fruitful and wholesome, they cry, “'Tis a bad school : it may be like nature, it may be like Shakspeare, but it is not like us.” Admirable criticks !---
THE WINTER'S TALE.
We wonder that Mr. Pope should have entertained doubts of the genuineness of this play. He was, we suppose, shocked (as a certain critick suggests) at the Chorus, Time, leaping over sixteen years with his crutch between the third and fourth act, and at Antigonus's landing with the infant Perdita on the seacoast of Bohemia. These slips or blemishes however do not prove it not to be Shakspeare's; for he was as likely to fall into them as any body; but we do not know any body but himself who could produce the beauties. The stuff of which the tragick passion is composed, the romantick sweetness, the comick humour, are evidently his. Even the crabbed and tortuous style of the speeches of Leontes, reasoning on his own jealousy, beset with doubts and fears, and entangled more and more in the thorny labyrinth, bears every mark of Shakspeare's peculiar manner of conveying the painful struggle of different thoughts and feelings, labouring for utterance, and almost strangled in the birth. For instance :
“ Ha' not you seen, Camillo!
Is thicker than a cuckold's horn) or heard ?
Here Leontes is confounded with his passion, and does not know which way to turn himself, to give words to the anguish, rage, and apprehension, which tug at bis breast. It is only as he is worked up into a clearer conviction of his wrongs by insisting on the grounds of his unjust suspicious to Camillo, who irritates him by his opposition, that he bursts out into the following vehement strain of bitter indignation : yet even here his passion staggers, and is as it were oppressed with its own intensity.
" Is whispering nothing ?
The character of Hermione is as much distinguished by its saint-like resignation and patient forbearance, as that of Paulina is by her zealous and spirited remonstrances against the injustice done to the queen, and by her devoted attachment to her misfortunes. Hermione's restoration to her husband
and her child, after her long separation from them, is as affecting in itself as it is striking in the representation. Camillo, and the old shepherd and his son, are subordinate but not uninteresting instruments in the developement of the plot, and though last, not least, comes Autolycus, a very pleasant, thriving rogue; and (what is the best feather in the
of all knavery) he escapes with impunity in the end.
The Winter's Tale is one of the best-acting of our author's plays. We remember seeing it with great pleasure many years ago. It was op the night that King took leave of the stage, when he and Mrs. Jordan played together in the afterpiece of the Wedding day. Nothing could go off with more eclat, with more spirit, and grandeur of effect. Mrs. Siddons played Hermione, and in the last scene acted the painted statue to the life with true monumental dignity and noble passion; Mr. Kemble, in Leontes, worked himself up into a very fine classical phrenzy; and Bannister, as Autolycus, roared as loud for pity as a sturdy beggar could do, who felt none of the pain he counterfeited, and was sound of wind and limb. We shall never see these parts so acted again; or if we did, it would be in vain. Actors grow old, or no longer surprise us by their novelty. But true poetry, like nature, is always young ; and we still read the courtship of Florizel and Perdita, as we welcome the return of spring, with the same feelings as ever.
“ Florizel. Thou dearest Perdita,
Mine own, nor any thing to any, if
Perdita. O lady fortune,
Enter Shepherd, Clown, Mopsa, Dorcas, Servants; with POLIXENES,
and Camillo, disguised.
Shepherd. Fie, daughter! when my old wife liv'd, upon
Perdita. Sir, welcome! [To Polixenes and Camillo.