페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

is the privilege of every believer to be wholly sanctified, and to love God with all his heart in the present life; but at every stage of Christian experience there is danger of falling from grace, which danger is to be guarded against by watchfulness, prayer, and a life of faith in the Son of God.”

This quotation from the catechism of the Church raises the question in what sense and to what extent it is to be accepted as one of the Methodist doctrinal standards. Dr. Schaff + assigns to it conspicuous authority as one of them. 1 239 of the Discipline makes it “ the duty of our preachers to enforce faithfully upon parents and Sunday-school teachers the great importance of instructing children in the doctrines and duties of our holy religion; to see that our catechisms be used as extensively as possible in our Sunday-schools and families,” etc. The language of this section evidently conveys the impression that the catechism contains a summary of all the essential doctrines of Christianity as held by the Methodist Episcopal Church. The General Conference of 1848 intended that it should be so when that body ordered its preparation. Their instructions were carried out by the Rev. Dr. Kidder, assisted by other divines, and their work was approved and adopted by the General Conference of 1852. The series Nos. 1, 2, 3, does not consist of three separate catechisms, but of one, in three stages of development, the language of the basis being unchanged in the different nnmbers. No. 3 presents some. thing like a system of Christian doctrine in condensed form, and is designed " for an advanced grade of study."

This summary of Church doctrines enjoys the acceptance of the Methodist Episcopal Church, represented by the General Conference, and its use is obligatory, “as extensively as possible,” upon ministers and members. Assuredly the Church has not spoken in any uncertain tones about her doctrinal beliefs. She has nothing to conceal, no set of opinions for private study and ministerial subscription, and one altogether different for pulpit use and prudential ministration. What she believes is proclaimed with fervid boldness. The Catechism is as explicit as, and infinitely more credible than, the Westminster Confession and the Longer and Shorter Catechisms.

Nor did the General Conference of 1852 exceed the limits

7" IIistory of Creeds," p. 882.

of constitutional authority in the approving adoption of the catechism, for it neither revoked, altered, nor changed our Articles of Religion, nor established “any new standards or rules of doctrine contrary to our present existing and established standards of doctrine." All the definitions of the catechism are in concord with the Methodist consensus of creed, commentary, treatise, and discourse; nor has any Methodist preacher the legal right to impugn or attack them, unless he can show their dissensus from the other standards.

;

Art. III. - SHAKESPEARE: HIS WORKS AND HIS

EDITORS.

The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare. Revised by George STEVENS 20 vols.,

Folio. London: Printed by W. Bulmer & Co., Shakespeare Printing Ofice. For John and Josiah Boydell, George and W. Nichol. From the Types of

W. Martin. 1802. The Works of William Shakespeare. In Reduced Facsimile. From the Famous

First Folio Edit on of 1623. With an Introduction by J. O. HALLIWELL Pulil

LIPS. 810, pp. 993. London : Chatto & Windus. Piccadilly. 1976. Shakespeare's Comedy of the Merchant of Venice, etc. Edited with Votes by WILL

IAM J. ROLFE, A.M., Formerly Head-Master of the High School, Cambridge, díass. With Engravings. 37 vols., 12mo, square. New York: Harper &

Brothers. 1880, The Works of William Shakespeare. The Text Revised by Rev. ALEXANDER DYCE.

In Niue Volumes. Third Edition, 8vo. London: Chapman & Hall, 193 Piccadilly. 1875. The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare. With a Glossary. A New Edition,

Corrected and improved. 8vo, pp. 1124. London: Henry G. Bohn. 1863. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. From the Original Text. Carefully Collared

and Compared with the Editions of Halliwell. Knight, and Collier. With Historical and Critical Introduction and Notes to cach Play; and a Life of the Great Dramatist, by CHARLES KNIGHT. vols., Royal 8vo, pp. 1725. New

York: Johnson, Wilson & Co. Critics have spoken at times extravagantly of Shakespeare's songs and sonnets. There is much that is admirable in both; but the gems which give to “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece" their radiant beauty are not the foundations on which his fame is built. If he had only sung in these songs and charmed in these sonnets he would never have “ lifted us over all seas and mountains”-he would never havo taken us, as he has, to the very summit of the highest heaven of genius-inspired and genius-inspiring rapture.

Shakespeare's fame, undying, overwhelming, transforming,

radiates, from the dramatic portions of his works: his thirtyfive or thirty-seven well-authenticated plays.

These are usually divided into three divisions: comedies, historical, and tragedies. By whom this division was first made we know not. It is not, we think, the happiest arrangement that might have been devised. It is not a sufficiently discriminating one. There are histories that are also tragedies, and tragedies in which the soberest facts of history are mixed with comic elements of the broadest kind. The idea of the framer of this plan seems to have been that a play in which the events issue happily for the principal characters, must, for that reason, be regarded as a comedy, whereas a play the events of which come to a calamitous issue must, therefore, be regarded as a tragedy. In like manner, one in which the events happen in chronological order must be historical, though it might not be distinct from either tragedy or comedy. In noticing these divisions we will rererse the order in which they have been nained.

The thirteen tragedies are to be distinguished from the other plays by their continuous sublimity and massive grand

Of these tragedies, ten are associated with countries which, so far as is known, Shakespeare never visited. Two of these, “King Lear” and “Cymbeline,” belong to English history, and one, “ Macbeth,” has its scenes in Scotland. In “Hamlet,” “Macbeth," “Othello," and "King Lear,” we have an illustration of Shakespeare's power in unveiling and depicting the baser, the most unlovable, of human passions.

În “King Lear,” Taine tells us, “we have curses more than sufficient for all the madmen in an asylum and for all the oppressed of earth. Lear was the subject of ungrateful, savage, and diabolical cruelty in an age when vice reigned with lawless and gigantic power. He is a picture of human misery that has never been surpassed, and as an illustration of disordered reason, a portraiture beyond all reach of rivalry.”

The dreaded suspicion that he was becoming insane dawns upon him in the midst of a dreadful tempest. Kent finds him on the heath in front of a hovel :

Kent. Here is the place, my lord ; good my lord, enter:
The tyranny of the open night's too rough
For nature to endure.
Lear.

Let me alone.

eur.

Kent. Good my lord, enter here.
Lear.

Wilt break my heart ?
Kent. I'd rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter.

Lear. Thou think'st 't is much that this contentious storin
Invades us to the skin ; so 't is to thee;
But where the greater malady is fix'd
The lesser is scarce felt. Thou 'dst shun a bear;
But if thy flight lay toward the roaring sea,
Thou 'dst meet the bear i' the mouth.

When the mind's free
The body's delicate; the tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else,
Save what beats there.

He then curses the ingratitude of his daughters, and exclaims :

But I will punish home:
No, I will weep no more. In such a night
To shut me out! Pour on; I will endure:-
In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!
Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,
O, that way madness lies! let me shun that;
No more of that! *

“ Troilus and Cressida,” “ Julius Cæsar,” “Coriolanus," “Timon of Athens," and "Pericles” are based upon Greek and Roman histories, as is “ Antony and Cleopatra.” The characters included in these plays have been limned by Plutarch and Homer; but in neither case do they bear the slightest comparison with the same characters as drawn by Shakespeare. lle individualizes them as neither the historian or poet had the ability to do. This is remarkably apparent in the play of “ Julius Cæsar.” We feel that Cassius, Brutus, Cæsar, and Antony are living men. They stand and speak in our presence as only real men can. The play is intended to be an artistic development of the motives that influenced Brutus to aid in the assassination of Cæsar, and of the result of that action. " Brutus is," says Swinburne, “the very noblest figure of a typical republican in all the literature of the world.”

As in “ Julius Cæsar” so in “ Coriolanus.” The principal character is not of Plutarch's painting. Plutarch makes Coriolanus to have been a cold, hanghty patrician. Shakespeare's Coriolanus is a coarse soldier, a man of the people. He is an

*"King Lear," Act iii, Scene iv. FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XXXV.-4

athlete. He has a voice like a trumpet. He is proud and terrible. A lion's soul in the body of a steer.* He fights and drinks, and drinks and fights again. His military prowess is unrivaled. IIis character is severely sublime. He has an undisguised contempt for every thing base, vulgar, pusillanimous.

It has been affirmed that “Macbeth” is the greatest effort of the poet's genius, and that it is the most sublime and imposing drama the world has ever seen. In the opinion of the profoundest critics, Macbeth is represented as being too great and good to fall under common temptations; hence supernatural agencies are employed to subvert him. He is exposed to the suggestions of hell on the one side, and to those of his fiendlike wife on the other. Originally brave, magnanimous, gentle, he falls a prey to the idea of FATE. This was first siggested by the weird sisters. To this suggestion was added the ferocious and sarcastic eloquence of Lady Macbeth.

She clothes with splendor the issue of the deed; she taunts hiin with cowardice and irresolution; and, maddened, he rushes into the snare.

As soon as the deed is done, conscience awakes. It aceuses and condemns him. Ilorrified, he becomes the victim of agonizing remorse. He feels that he is deserted by God and man.

With what wonderful dramatic power does Shakespeare depict the beginning of Macbeth's misery. As soon as the murder was committed, Macbeth rushes into the presence of Lady Macbeth, and falters out:

Macbeth. I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise ?
Lady Macbeth, I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.
Did not you speak ?
Macbeth. This is a sorry sight. (Looking on his hands.)
Lady Macbeth. A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
Macbeth. There's one dil laugh in's sleep, and one cried, “Mur-

ther!"
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them :
But they did say their prayers, anıl address’d them
Again to sleep.

Lady Macbeth. There are two lodg’d together.
Macbeth. One cried “God bless us !” and “ Amen " the other;

as they had seen me wish these hangm:in's hands,
Listening their fear. I could not say “Amen,"
When they did say, “God bless us!”

[ocr errors]

* Taiwe.

« 이전계속 »