« ZurückWeiter »
Is he not honest?
Iago. Honest, my lord ?
Othello. Think, my lord ! Alas, thou echo'st me,
The stops and breaks, the deep workings of treachery under the mask of love and honesty, the anxious watchfulness, the cool earnestness, and if we may so say, the passion of hypocrisy marked in every line, receive their last finishing in that inconceivable burst of pretended indiguation at Othello's doubts of his sincerity.
“) grace ! 0 Heaven forgive me !
If Iago is detestable enough when he has business on bis hands and all his engines at work, he is still worse when he has nothing to do, and we only see into the hollowness of his heart. His indiffe. rence when Othello falls into a swoon, is perfectly diabolical.
“ Iago. How is it, General ? Have you not hurt your head ?
The part indeed would hardly be tolerated, as a foil to the virtue and generosity of the other characters in the play, but for its indefatigable industry and inexhaustible resources, which divert the attention of the spectator (as well as his own) from the end he has in view to the means by which it must be accomplished.-Edmund the Bastard in Lear is something of the same character, placed in less prominent circumstances. Zanga is a vulgar caricature of it.
TIMON OF ATHENS.
TIMON OF ATHENs always appeared to us to be written with as intense a feeling of his subject as any one play of Shakspeare. It is one of the few in which he seems to be in earnest throughout, never to trifle por go out of his way. He does not relax in his efforts, nor lose sight of the unity of his design. It is the only play of our author in which spleen is the predominant feeling of the mind. It is as much a satire as a play: and contains some of the finest pieces of io vective possible to be conceived, both in the snarling, captious answers of the cynick Apemantus, and in the impassioned and more terrible imprecations of Timon. The latter remind the classical reader of the force and swelling impetuosity of the moral declamations in Juvenal, while the former bave all the keepness and caustick severity of the old Stoick philosophers. The soul of Diogenes appears to have been seated on the lips of Apemantus. The churlish profession of misanthropy in the cynick is contrasted with the profound feeling of it in Timon, and also with the soidier
like and determined resentment of Alcibiades against bis countrymen, who have banished him, though this forms only an incidental episode in the tragedy.
The fable consists of a single event;-of the transition from the highest pomp and profusion of artificial refinement, to the most abject state of savage life, and privation of all social intercourse. The change is as rapid as it is complete; nor is the description of the rich and generous Timon, banquetting in gilded palaces, pampered by every luxury, prodigal of his hospitality, courted by crowds of flatterers, poets, painters, lords, ladies, whom
"Follow his strides, his lobbies fill with tendance,
more striking than that of the sudden falling off of his friends and fortune, and his naked exposure in a wild forest digging roots from the earth for his sustenance, with a lofty spirit of self-denial, and bitter scorn of the world, which raise him higher in our esteem than the dazzling gloss of prosperity could do. He grudges himself the means of life, and is only busy in preparing his grave. How forcibly is the difference between what he was, and what he is described in Apemantus's taunting questions, when he comes to reproach him with the change in his way of life !
" What, think'st thou,
That have out liv'd the eagle, page thy heels,
The manners are every where preserved with distinct truth. The poet and painter are very skilfully played off against one another, both affecting great attention to the other, and each taken up with his own vanity, and the superiority of his own art. Shakspeare has put into the mouth of the former a very lively description of the genius of poetry and of his own in particular.
" A thing slipt idly from me.
is as a gum, which issues
The hollow friendship and shuffling evasions of the Athenian lords, their smooth professions and pitiful ingratitude, are very satisfactorily exposed, as well as the different disguises to which the meanness of self-love resorts in such cases to hide a want of generosity and good faith. The lurking selfishness of Apemantus does not pass undetected amidst the grossness of his sarcasms and his contempt for the pretensions of others. Even the two courtezans who accompany Alcibiades to the cave of Timpa are very characteristically sketched; and