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the Volscians, should be made, as he is, to kneel and beg his mother's blessing :
Look, sir, your mother !
Nay, my good soldier, up!
Act ii, Sc. 1.
See also Act v. Sc. 3, where Coriolanus again kneels to his mother, and she says to him :
O, stand up, blest !
In Cymbeline, we naturally expect the same from a son like Guiderius, see Act iv. Sc. 4; and from a daughter like Imogen, see Act v. Sc. 5. It is a daughter, too, who in Titus Andronicus says to her father, upon his return to Rome, after conquering the Goths :
O bless me here with thy victorious hand. Act i. Sc. 2. On the other hand, remembering the treatment which King Lear had received from his two unnatural daughters, Goneril and Regan, we are not surprised that the Fool should say to him, while they are out together in the pitiless storm upon the heath :
Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughter's I blessing ; here's a night pities neither wise men nor fools.
Act ii. Sc. 2.
* Cominius, the general with Coriolanus, against the Volscians. + Volumnia, mother to Coriolanus.
I So the Variorum prints it; but surely it should be daughters.' Lear goes on to speak of 'two pernicious daughters.'
While remembering also how he himself had acted towards his good daughter, Cordelia, we are not displeased that at the last, when moved to repentance, he should say to her :
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
Act v. Sc. 3. nor that she, on her part, should beseech and protest :
O! look upon me, sir,
Act iv. Sc. 7. In the Two Gentlemen of Verona, when Launce, the servant of Proteus, is to leave Verona in attendance upon his master, he ludicrously describes all the particulars of the mournful scene, and among the rest:Now come I to my father; Father, your blessing.
Act ii. Sc. 3. In like manner, we have already seen,* in Hamlet, Polonius laying his hand upon his son Laertes' head,
, and blessing him before he set out upon his travels; and in the same play, Hamlet says to the unhappy queen his mother, whom he had urged to repentance and reformation :
Once more, Good night!
Act iii. Sc. 4. that is, I'll beg your blessing, when you yourself are
* Above, p. 134. For another example see Tempest, Act v. Sc. 1.
desirous to amend, and so shall be in a condition to receive blessing from God.
In the Winter's Tale, when Perdita kneels to her mother Hermione, the latter's blessing is expressed in these terms:
You gods, look down
Act v. Sc. 3.
Once more, in King Richard III., the wicked Gloster, as he then was, has the hypocrisy to go through the same pious form towards his mother :
Glos. Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy!
Duch. God bless thee! and put meekness in thy breast,
Glos. Amen! And make me die a good old man.
[Aside. I marvel that her grace did leave it out. Act ii. Sc. 2.
It would be interesting to descend to the relations which exist in a family between the master and mistress and their domestics; and to endeavour to trace the notions which our poet entertained of the reciprocal duties that flow from that relationship. But I must be content to observe that he has drawn no purer or better character than that of old Adam, the servant, in As you like it ; and that in Cymbeline he takes occasion, in a speech of Posthumus to his servant Pisanio, to lay down the just and important principle, that no servant is bound to please his master by doing what is wrong :
Every good servant does not all commands:
Act v. Sc. I.
Sect. 9. Of Charity and Mercifulness.
If we are to lay a solid foundation of moral duty, we must first learn to entertain a just abhorrence of its opposite. 'Oye that love the Lord, see that ye hate the thing that is evil.' Ps. xcvii. 10 (P. B.). Thus, of the Ten Commandments not only the first three, but the last five also, are all couched in the negative form, as though the prohibition of vice was designed to form the foundation of virtue. And thus, too, we learn, even from a heathen poet
Virtus est vitium fugere, et sapientia prima
the beginning of Virtue is to flee Vice, and the beginning of Wisdom to have escaped from Folly.
In this and the four next sections I propose to test the teaching of Shakspeare by this rule; and, following the order of the second table of the moral law, to show how, after the model of Scripture, he would teach us (1) from the prohibition of murder to build up the grace of Charity; (2) from the prohibition of adultery to build up the graces of Chastity and Sobriety; (3) from the prohibition of stealing to build up the grace of Honesty; (4) from the prohibition of false
witness to build up the grace of Truth; and (5) from the prohibition of covetousness to build
up of Contentment.
The subject then of this section corresponds with the scope of the sixth commandment, as developed by our Lord in His sermon on the mount.
In K. Richard III. Clarence thus speaks to the two men who were sent by Gloster to murder him in the Tower :
Erroneous vassals! The great King of Kings*
Act i. Sc. 4. And so (according to the teaching of Scripture in Genesis ix. 6, Numb. xxxv. 16) we read in Macbeth, Act iii. Sc. 4, 'Blood will have blood.' Compare the speech of Bolingbroke, in King Richard II., quoted above, p. 59, and of the senator in Timon of Athens :
Friend, or brother,
Act iii. Sc. 5. except, indeed, it be in self-defence-an exception upon which Alcibiades argues in that same scene:
To kill, I grant, is sin's extremest gust;
* See above, p. 101.