Abbildungen der Seite

Inverness. Shakspeare supplies the incidents from the murder of King Duffe in 971. The character of Lady Macbeth is sketched in the chronicle, and the history of King Duffe assisted the portrait. The materials, however, were rude, and from these Shakspeare has formed "a character (to use our author's words,) so sublime as to throw into the shade the finest works of the Greek tragic writers, those masters of the lofty and terrific!" The essay upon this drama contains much interesting disquisition, but our limits prevent us from entering upon it.

The thirty-sixth of the second part of Bandello's novels bears a very striking general resemblance to the plot of the Twelfth Night; (1607,) but it is supposed as the more probable that Shakspeare was indebted for his ground-work to the Historie of Apolonius and Silla, in a collection entitled Rich, his Farewell to Militarie Profession. The circumstances in the latter, which are not to be found in the former, render the conclusion as decisive as the nature of the subject will admit.

"In perusing Twelfth Night, it is remarkable how small a portion of its scenes is occupied by the incidents of the plot, and that in truth with the exception of Viola, the principal interest settles in Ague-cheek, Belch, and Malvolio,—characters entirely of Shakspeare's creation, who contribute but little to the progress of the story."

The acquaintance of Shakspeare with Roman history, appears to have been derived from the translation of Plutarch, by Sir Thomas North. Julius Cæsar had been introduced on the stage before the drama of Shakspeare. In 1579, there appears to have been a play called "The History of Cæsar and Pompey ;" and in 1582, a Latin play, by Dr. Eedes on Cæsar's murder acted at Oxford. Shakspear's Cæsar came out in 1607, but it does not appear that he was indebted to any other source than the translation of Plutarch. Our author has canvassed this matter very fully and satisfactorily.

The historical incidents comprised in Antony and Cleopatra (1608), appear to be drawn from the same source,-the work of Sir T. North; and it is remarked, that "Of the three plays founded by the bard on the history of Plutarch, that of Antony and Cleopatra is the one in which he has least indulged his fancy. His adherence to his authority is minute."

The story of Coriolanus (1610), had the same origin. Of the skill with which the materials were adapted, of the manner in which the dramatist exalted some of the features of the character and softened others, so as to present his hero with dignity and interest, the author has ably treated.

The incidents of Cymbeline (1609,) are referred to three

EE 2

sources the ninth novel of the Second Day of Boccacio,-a book published in London in 1603, called Westward for Smelts, and Holinshed.

"The charms which Shakspeare has thrown over the nakedness of his original stories make the reader regret that his attention is ever distracted. How beautiful is the development of Imogen's character; how rich and spirited the dialogue, particularly the scene between Posthumus and Iachimo, after the return of the latter to Rome! The fine poetry which the dramatist has lavished upon Fachimo is an excuse for having left him the same common-place villain that he appears in the novel; and where in Boccacio, or in any other writer, is the wretchedness of impure love so beautifully displayed, as in one of the speeches of this hypocrite, during his conversation with Imogen? The ancient British story is adorned with many beauties. Though the king and queen are dull, and prate too much, yet Cloten is interesting. He is a natural fool; yet he often talks with the wit of one of Shakspeare's professed fools. He loves Imogen, for she is fair and royal; but he hates her because she despises his person; and Shakspeare makes his hatred predominate, because vanity is the characteristic of a fool. What vigour and vitality are thrown over the monkish chronicle by the fable of the Cambrian gentlemen:— Belarius, full of valuable axioms and sentences, embittered indeed by a world that had disgraced him, and Guiderius and Arviragus, with glorious enthusiasm and lofty hopes, piercing through the meanness of their estate."

Timon of Athens (1610,) appears to have been derived from various quarters. A previous play on the subject was produced in 1601, but the title is not stated. This, as well as Painter's Palace of Pleasure, it is probable, were consulted. Timon's story is also related in Plutarch. No translation of the dialogue of Timon was at that time translated from Lucian, but the dramatist might derive it through some other medium.

The Winter's Tale (1611,) originated in a novel, called Dorastus and Fawnia, the production of Robert Greene, a contemporary of Shakspeare, and "a child of genius and misfortune." Upon the characters, as contrasted in the novel and the drama, we present the following:

"Paulina is not one of Shakspeare's happiest female portraits: however good her heart and her intentions, her manners are not well adapted for a court: her candour is ill-bred bluntness, and her vehemence vulgar passion. The intrinsic worth of Florizel is not very superior to that of Dorastus, but the air of refined sentiment which Shakspeare has thrown over his actions, elevates him greatly above his predecessor.

"The lovely Fawnia is interesting; but what portrait can be compared with Shakspeare's Perdita? She embodies the poetic conceptions of Arcadian innocence and simplicity; and with that truth to

nature so peculiar to the characterisations of our dramatist, he has endued the princess, though fostered in a cottage, with innate delicacy of sentiment and elegance of taste.

"The old shepherd of the novel has a wife who is naturally visited by some qualms of jealousy when her husband brings an infant home for her to take care of. Shakspeare omits this lady; but, not to leave the rustic without a companion, supplies her place by assigning him a son, who is no bad specimen of a country clown. The amusing awkwardness of the father and son at court is an incident of Shakspeare's own conception.

"As is the case in many other of Shakspeare's plays, a character is engrafted on the Winter's Tale of which no traces are to be found in the materials he used, and whose business in the progress of the business of the scene is utterly unimportant. Autolycus is a wit, a songster, a liar, and a thief. He is a shrewd observer of life and manners; his bosom is impenetrable to the necessities of others, and his vigilance ever awake to administer to his own. His fund of humour is inexhaustible, and his impudence matchless. He is moreover interesting, as connected with the manners of Shakspeare's ageas the representative of a class of persons numerous in the middle ages, but who dwindled away as towns increased, and the wants of life did not depend on wakes and fairs for their satisfaction."

[ocr errors]

The essay on the Tempest (1611,)* is thus introduced :

Collins, the poet, informed Warton that he had once met with a romance in which the principal character was a chemical necromancer who had bound a spirit, like Ariel, to obey his call and perform his services. His account that the story was printed in Italian, Spanish, French, and English, in 1588, has not led to its discovery. If such a tale preceded the composition of the Tempest, it may be inferred that Shakspeare, agreeably to his practice on other occasions, availed himself of as much of its contents as he found suitable to his purpose. Malone advanced the pretensions of the sixth tragical tale of George Turberville, and Greene's comical history of Alphonsus, king of Arragon, to the honour of having originated a large portion of the plot; but the points of resemblance are extremely few and imperfect, and the other authority is the more natural course.

"The use evidently made by Shakspeare, in his representation of the loss of the king's ship, of the printed accounts of the wreck of Sir George Somers in the Bermudas, in 1609, proves this play to have been written subsequent to that period."

This is succeeded by an examination of the opinions entertained at that time on the subject of magic, and its connexion in the best sense, with natural philosophy. There is scarcely any history of a magician, that might not be quoted as more or less illustrative of the Tempest, but none can with more propriety be referred to than "The Honorable Historie of

*The last of Shakspeare's Plays, it thus appears, was written five years before his death. In twenty years he had produced thirty-four dramas. Is it conceivable that his active and creative mind could be unoccupied from the age of 47 to 52?

Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay," the work of Robert Greene. Bacon, like Prospero, is mentioned as a master of his art.

From Eden's History of Travaile, published in 1577, and the chapter in Philemon Holland's translation of Pliny, 1601, which treats of "strange and wondrous shapes of sundrie nations;" Shakspeare gathered many general ideas of a monster in human shape, like Caliban. But the hints contained in both these works are neither sufficiently numerous nor important to shake his claim to the praise of originality in the production of what has not been improperly called a new character on the stage.

The question of the authenticity of the portraits of Shakspeare is briefly discussed by Mr. Skottowe. He dismisses Droeshout's engraving with little ceremony, as unlike any human being. Jansen's picture may be correct, but the evidence is insufficient. Pope's engraving was not of Shakspeare, but James I. The Somerville miniature is accompanied by a doubtful tradition. The pedigree of the Chandos portrait is also very defective; and the two latter are so unlike, that both cannot be genuine. The monumental bust at Stratford is said to be copied from a cast after nature. There was also a mezzotinto print by Simon, but its accuracy is falsified by discordant dates. From this print was modelled the statue in Westminster Abbey, assisted by the Chandos picture.

We have just seen another painting of the bard in the possession of a descendant of one of Dr. Hall's family, of which, we understand, no account has yet been given to the public. The history of this portrait is plausible, and many of the facts connected with it are well authenticated. The documents will soon be collected and prepared for publication.

[ocr errors]

Journal of a Residence in Chile, during the Year 1822, and a Voyage from Chile to Brazil in 1823. By Maria Graham. -4to. London. 1824.

THREE centuries have passed away since Spain acquired a footing on the western shores of America; never, perhaps, had so great an extent of country been obtained by means so apparently inadequate; and, we may add, never was more desperate courage and unshaken perseverance displayed than by the handful of Spaniards who subjugated a territory extending from Cape Horn in the south, to California in the north, a distance of nearly 5000 miles; and containing, within its limits, the richest treasures that the most insatiable cupidity could pant to possess. But wealth does not always secure national prosperity. Before the discovery of America, Spain was rich, powerful; and, we may add, comparatively free. She

has been ever since that period gradually becoming weaker, poorer, and less free, until, at length, she has sunk into a state of pitiable imbecility and hopeless degradation. There we must leave her, our business is with infancy, not with age. There are powerful associations that unite an Englishman to the eastern shores of the Pacific; it is not territory, for it is nearly the only part of the globe in which we have no possessions, and commerce has but recently connected us with its destinies but it was the theatre where British intrepidity and coolness triumphed over difficulties and confronted dangers, before which the bravest and the best might well have quailed, and still preserved their honour. The sufferings of Byron, and the accumulated miseries that attended the progress of Anson, were here met by a firmness that could not be shaken, and a courage that could not be subdued. In recent times, the countries on the Spanish main have drawn the attention of the civilized world, by awakening from that long and deadly slumber in which the soporific policy of Spain had succeeded in retaining them. The vis inertia of mind has been. overcome their energies have been aroused-they have shaken their wings and essayed their powers. The first steps have been taken towards the improvement of the arts of life and the comforts of civilized society, and they may safely be trusted to proceed by a longer or shorter path to something like knowledge and science. Till within these few years, little beyond the mere hydrography of Spanish America was known in Europe. At all times jealous of foreigners, the government took effectual pains to prevent them from "spying out the nakedness of the land;" and the greatest care was manifested at Madrid, to prevent the publication of maps or plans of their trans-atlantic possession: lately, however, curiosity has been busily employed; numerous travellers, urged by various motives, have directed their steps to this interesting portion of the globe, and have made us already tolerably well acquainted with its localities and productions. In October, 1822, the state of Chile was officially declared to extend from Cape Horn in the south, to the desert of Atacama and Peru, in the north, while the Andes are pronounced to be its natural limits on the east, and the ocean on the west; it claims, however, the islands of Mocha, Juan Fernandez, St. Mary, and the Archipelago of Chiloe, which lying off the coast, as advanced posts, contribute to its security. The country is, upon the whole, mountainous; and, sloping irregularly from the Andes to the sea, presents numberless magnificent combinations of rock, wood, water, and lawn, where vegetation luxuriates in boundless variety. The soil is generally fruitful and well adapted for corn. With the exception of the neighbourhood of Santiago, and other considerable towns, the roads are extremely bad;

« ZurückWeiter »