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And he himself, as king, spake thus of the vile conspirator Lord Scroop
I will weep for thee;
For this revolt of thine methinks is like
Ibid. Act ii. Sc. 1.
Again, in Much Ado about Nothing, we meet with a reference to the same chapters of Genesis, in a passage which the fastidiousness of Mr. Bowdler has not allowed him to retain, but which surely need not excite any feeling of irreverence towards the sacred record. 'I would not marry her,' says Benedick of the Lady Beatrice, though she were endowed with all that Adam had left him before he transgressed!' Act ii. Sc. 1. Nor need we, I think, be offended at the dialogue between the two clowns in Hamlet, where allusion is made to the same primeval history:
1st Clown. Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers: they hold by Adam's profession.*
2nd Clown. Was he a gentleman ?
1st Clown. He was the first that ever bore † arms.
2nd Clown. Why, he had none.
1st Clown. What, art a heathen?
How dost thou understand
Scripture? The Scripture says, Adam digged. Could he dig without arms?
Act v. Sc. I.
* Compare King Henry VI., 2nd Part: 'Adam was a gardener.' Act iv. Sc. 2.
In Earle's Microcosmography, under the character of a Herald,' we read: His trade is honour, and he sells it, and gives arms himself, tho' he be no gentleman,' p. 130.
And as Adam digged, so he would be exposed to the inclemency of the weather; which has been also the lot of the greater portion of his posterity; thus alluded to in As you like it: Scene, forest of Arden :
Duke Sen. Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Than that of painted pomp ? Are not these woods
Act ii. Sc. 1.
If any wretch hath put this in your head,
Othello, Act iv. Sc. 2.
2. The history of Cain-'the first male child'†— and his brother Abel is of such a character that it would naturally suggest materials of thought to a tragic poet. Accordingly, the references which Shak
*The emendation of Theobald for not,' which Boswell objects to, and pronounces the old reading to be right. I wonder that neither of them has remarked how much the conjecture of the former is confirmed by the song which follows in Act ii. Sc. 5
'Here shall we see no enemy but winter and rough weather.'
King John, Act iii. Sc. 4. I am inclined to think there is a reference to the meaning of Cain's name (a man gotten from the Lord, at his mother's wish, Gen. iv. 1, and margin) in Ant. and Cleop., Act i. Sc. 4
'It hath been taught us from the primal state
speare has made to it are frequent and striking. First, in King Richard II. :—
Bolingbroke. Further I say, and further will maintain,
And, consequently, like a traitor coward,
Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood:
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth
Act i. Sc. 1,
It is needless to observe how accurately, and at the same time how reverently, this language represents both the letter and the spirit of the Bible narrative (Gen. iv. 10. Comp. Matt. xxiii. 35; Hebr. xii. 24). And so, too, where the King says in Hamlet:
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
A brother's murder!
Act iii. Sc. 3.
Next we trace the same sad history in the First Part of King Henry VI.—a passage which Bowdler has chosen to expunge-where the poet with much propriety puts into the mouth of the haughty Cardinal Beaufort, great-uncle to the king, addressing Duke Humphrey, the king's uncle and protector, these bold and wrathful lines:
Nay, stand thou back, I will not budge a foot:
This be Damascus : be thou cursed Cain,
Act i. Sc. 3.
It had been recorded by Sir John Mandeville, who
* Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk.
travelled in the East in the fourteenth century, that
in that place where Damascus was founded, Cain slew his brother Abel.' It is also said that the name Damascus means 'a sack of blood,' or 'a cup of blood.' But our poet has turned the same tragical history to a still more striking account, in the Second Part of King Henry IV.; I allude to the scene in which the Earl of Northumberland, as an enemy to the King, thus speaks, throwing upon the ground the cap which he had worn in sickness :
Hence, thou sickly quoif;
Thou art a guard too wanton for the head
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain
Reign in all bosoms, that, each heart being set
Act i. Sc. I.
A magnificent speech (whatever we may think of the speaker), in which the classical reader may fancy that he sees the utmost merit of two great, but most opposite Roman poets-Lucretius and Lucan-combined in one.
The punishment of Cain is recorded in Gen. iv. 12. 'A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in
It is obviously with these words upon his mind that our poet causes Bolingbroke, now King Henry IV., to address Exton, whom he had instigated to murder Richard, as follows:
The guilt of conscience take thou for thy labour,
King Richard 11., Act v. Sc. 6.
Another passage remains, which I shall not hesitate to produce, though, more than any of the foregoing, it requires to be read with allowance for the speaker, for the scene, and for the circumstances in which it was spoken. It is from the grave scene of Hamlet. The clown is engaged in digging, and he having thrown up a skull, Hamlet thus speaks:
That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. jowls* it to the ground, as if it were Cain's jaw-bone, murder.
How the knave that did the first Act v. Sc. I.
3. To the next great event in the history of the world-the Universal Deluge-there is less reference in our poet's works than might perhaps have been expected. It is spoken of as 'Noah's flood' in the Comedy of Errors, Act iii. Sc. 2; 'the great flood' in Julius Cæsar, Act i. Sc. 2; and in the last scene of As you like it, which winds up with the marriages of four couples, Jaques, on seeing the
* i.e., dashes it violently.