« ZurückWeiter »
Satan, as our poet has given it above, and elsewhere.* The misapplication of the name, however, if it is to be considered such, did not originate with our poet. On the contrary, we find that in very early times the Prophet Isaiah was understood to speak in that place of the evil spirit; and long before Shakspeare the name Lucifer had been, in consequence, popularly so applied. Mr. Malone quotes very appositely from Churchyard's Legend of Cardinal Wolsey (published in Higgin's Mirrour for Magistrates, 1527)—
Your fault not half so great as was my pride;
For which offence fell Lucifert from the skies.
The same chapter of Isaiah represents Lucifer as having said in his heart (v. 13) —
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
and Steevens has quoted these last words to explain a speech of La Pucelle (the Maid of Orleans) in the First Part of King Henry VI. :—
The regent conquers and the Frenchmen fly,-
And give me signs of future accidents! [Thunder].
* Viz., in King Henry V., Act iv. Sc. 7, and in King John, Act iv. Sc. 3, where he is styled ' Prince Lucifer.' In the former passage, the appellation is coupled with that of Belzebub, which occurs also in Macbeth, Act ii. Sc. 3, and in Twelfth Night, Act v. Sc. 1.
e.g., by Tertullian.-See Advers. Marcion., Lib. v. pp. 475, 482.
You speedy helpers that are substitutes
Under the lordly monarch of the north,
Appear, and aid me in this enterprise! Act v. Sc. 3.
Compare S. Paul, Eph. ii.;
and see Milton, P. L., Book v. 689, 'the quarters of the North.'
In a scene which shows that Shakspeare possessed a remarkable insight into the Scotch character, and designed to exhibit it, more especially in Malcolm, the son of a murdered king, we read :
Angels are bright still, tho' the brightest fell.
Macbeth, Act iv. Sc. 3.
And then became most deformed. So our poet
What is it, then, to me if impious war,
Do, with his smirch'd complexion, all fell feats
Act iii. Sc. 3.
Again, Satan is described, in the terms of Scripture, as the 'Prince of Darkness,' in King Lear, Act iii. Sc. 3, and in All's Well, etc., Act iv. Sc. 5; also, in the latter place, as 'the Prince of the World;' and by implication, as 'the Father of Lies,' in King Henry IV., 1st Part, where Hotspur says to Glendower :
And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil,
Act iii. Sc. 1.
Moreover, he is represented as misapplying Scripture in the speech of Gloster, quoted above (p. 66), and as a 'slanderer,' or false accuser, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act v. Sc. 5, and finally as 'the Tempter,' in Comedy of Errors, Act iv. Sc. 3:
Satan, avoid! I charge thee, tempt me not!
The passage of S. Peter,
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,
1 Pet. v. 8.
was plainly in our poet's mind, in King Henry V., where the king says to the traitor Lord Scroop:
If that same dæmon, that hath gull'd thee thus,
Act ii. Sc. 2.
A soul so easy as that Englishman's. The power which we learn from S. Paul that Satan possesses of 'transforming himself into an angel of light' (2 Cor. xi. 14), is ascribed to him in Hamlet.
The devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape.
Act ii. Sc. 2.
And again in Love's Labour's Lost, Act iv. Sc. 3:Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light.
† See Mark v. 9, and comp. Twelfth Night, Act iii. Sc. 4.
See also the doubtful passage Act iii. Sc. 4, 'That monster
And again, with the addition that such deceitful disguises are most used when the worst temptations are to be practised, in Othello :
When devils will their blackest sins put on,
Act ii. Sc. 3.
But the Scripture quoted above is alluded to still more expressly in another passage, where our poet applies it to abandoned women, whom the Devil instigates, while they act as tempters, and do his work by the destruction which they bring upon body and soul:
It is written, they appear to men like Angels of light.
Comedy of Errors, Act iv. Sc. 3. Once more, the Satanical artifice by which a partial statement of truth may be made subservient to the introduction of deadly error is thus exhibited::
Oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
1 In deepest consequence.
Macbeth, Act i. Sc. 3.
SECT. 3. Of God's Goodness in Creation, and in the Redemption of Man.
How comprehensive is the view which our poet has taken of the goodness of creation in all its stages, from the composition of the simplest herb up to the crowning work of all-the soul of man! And how
natural the transition from the rising of day out of night, of light out of darkness, to the reproduction of all things out of the earth, to which they fall and sink as into a grave! How just, also, and how Scriptural, the representation that, though all things were made ' very good' by their Creator, His creature, man, has the power of perverting them to evil, and will abuse that power, or will keep it in subjection, according as he follows the guiding of his own free but corrupted will, which brought death into the world, or obeys the dictates of conscience and of the Spirit of grace! I allude to the scene in Romeo and Juliet, before Friar Laurence's cell, where the friar, entering with a basket, thus soliloquizes:
The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,
From forth day's path, and Titan's fiery wheels :
Was our poet indebted here to that bold figure of the prophet Isaiah, 'The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage' -xxiv. 20?
Now ere the sun advance his burning eye,
* Spotted, streaked.