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distinction in the case referred to would have been impossible without giving certain and perhaps just cause for offence: and therefore to bring an accusation of negligence' for not doing so, may not unfairly be regarded as somewhat captious and unreasonable.
SECT. 2. Of the Holy Angels, and of the Fallen.
A devout invocation for the ministering help of the Holy Angels is not to be confounded with the impiety of addressing them in prayer. The one is encouraged, the other is forbidden in Holy Scripture. Such invocations abound in Hamlet, and though the story of that play refers to a period long before the Reformation, and though, on that account, Shakspeare would seem to have intended to represent the characters as tinged to some extent, with the errors of Romanism,* yet I am not sure that upon the point now before us
*Thus the Ghost of Hamlet's father speaks of his being 'Confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away;'
which is the doctrine of purgatory; and again, of being
'Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd;'
Act i. Sc. 5.
that is, without the sacrament of extreme unction. And Hamlet, in addressing the players, Act ii. Sc. 2, swears 'By 'r Lady!' and again in Act iii. Sc. 4, ' By the rood.' Of which oaths Mr. Bowdler omits the former, but not the latter. On the other hand, however, also in
the last-named scene, Hamlet says to the Queen :-' Confess yourself On Shakspeare himself as a Protestant, see below, p.
he has transgressed the limits which a sound theology would impose. For instance, there is nothing to object to in the exclamation of Isabella, in Measure for Measure,
Oh, you blessed ministers above,
Keep me in patience!
Act v. Sc. I.
Or of Hamlet, at the sight of the Ghost
Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
Act i. Sc. 4.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Heb. i. 14.
And again, when the Ghost reappears in Act iii.
Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings,
You heavenly Guards!
Nor is the exclamation of the guilty king, when struggling to repent, and to betake himself to prayer, less appropriate:
Help, Angels; make assay!
Bow, stubborn knees! and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!
All may be well.
Act iii. Sc. 3.
And how pious and touching is the farewell of
Now cracks a noble heart: good night, sweet prince;
Act v. Sc. 2.
The singing of Angels, and their loving attendance upon the good at all times, but especially in their last
moments, have furnished our poet with beautiful and affecting imagery on two other occasions. The former in the Merchant of Venice, in the moonlight scene, where Lorenzo says to Jessica :
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;
There's not the smallest orb, which thou behold'st,
Still quiring to the young-eyed Cherubims.
Act v. Sc. I.
The latter, in King Henry VIII., where the Duke of Norfolk, speaking of Cardinal Wolsey in reference to the good Queen Katharine, thus testifies to her duty and affection for her unworthy husband :
He counsels a divorce-a loss of her,
That, when the greatest stroke of fortune falls,
Act ii. Sc. 2.
We know from S. Luke xv. 10, what is the great occasion of 'joy in the presence of the Angels of God.' It is in accordance with the same revealed truth that our poet sings:
Then is there mirth in heaven,
When earthly things made even
As you like it, Act v. Sc. 4.
On the other hand, we find a well-known passage in Measure for Measure, which represents the
See above, p. 31.
Angels as 'weeping' over the pride and follies of
Man, proud man,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high Heaven
Act ii. Sc. 2.
where Theobald has a note, in which he speaks of this notion as Rabbinical, and quotes from Grotius on S. Luke: 'Ob peccatum flentes Angelos inducunt Hebræorum magistri.'
Again, the notion of Guardian Angels has been introduced by our poet in King Henry IV., 2nd
For the boy-there is a good Angel about him;
Act ii. Sc. 4.
conformably to the teaching of the New Testament, more particularly with reference to the young; see Matt. xviii. 10, and Bishop Bull's Works, Vol. i., p. 301. But where, in the same play, Act i. Sc. 2, the Chief Justice says to Falstaff, 'You follow the young prince up and down like his ill angel,' our poet was either drawing merely upon his own imagination, or from what he had read respecting the belief of the heathen in genii or dæmons; a belief of which he has made use in Antony and Cleopatra, Act ii. Sc. 3; and again in Macbeth, Act iii. Sc. 1.
It is an opinion held by tradition in the Church, and not unsanctioned by Scripture (see 1 Tim. iii. 6), that pride, or ambition, was the sin which led to the fall of Satan and his associate angels. To this
opinion our poet has referred in the well-known farewell speech of Cardinal Wolsey to his servant Cromwell, afterwards the celebrated Earl of Essex :
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition;
King Henry VIII., Act iii. Sc. 2.
In a previous part of the same scene Wolsey had soliloquized to the same effect, using the same comparison, with the addition of the fearful consideration that such a fall is without hope:
O! how wretched
Is that poor man, that hangs on princes' favours!
More pangs and fears than wars or women have:
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
The simile in this last passage is evidently formed upon Isaiah xiv. 12,
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! where the well-known Oriental figure of speech, in which the overthrow of kingdoms is represented by the falling or eclipse of the Heavenly Bodies, is applied prophetically to the downfall of the King of Babylon. But there is no Scriptural authority for giving the name of Lucifer, or Morning Star, to
* i.e., their displeasure, producing overthrow.