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which had been "stomachers to her heart," that they might not intercept the blow he commanded to be dealt her,—seeking it:
The lamb entreats the butcher:"
The poor weary Fidele mournfully exclaiming,
"I think foundations fly the wretched;"
trying to be happy in the cave of Belarius,—
"A smiling with a sigh,"
supposed to be dead and to have died of melancholy,-from her manly attire, bewailed by Polydore and Cadwal as a brother,— the humble dirge sung over her, her awaking terror,-her conscience of not strictly uttering the truth to Lucius,—her challenge of the diamond on the hand of Iachimo,-her outbreaking joy in recognising her brother, her vindication,
Of virtue was she; yea, and she herself,”
all make up the sweetest, purest, picture of woman's wedded love. Well might Hamlet harp upon such a daughter as Ophelia. Her parting with Laertes,
"Do you doubt that ?"
her simple truthful answers to Polonius, who enquires of the Lord Hamlet's tenders of affections,-her ignorance of his meaning when he had burst upon her, wild and incoherent, from the sight of the ghost of his buried father, his appeal to her, "Nymph, in thy orisons,
Be all my sins remembered,”
her lamentation that she is,
"Of ladies most deject and wretched ;"
after his cruel slight and desertion, yet unupbraiding,-her madness,―her filial devotion amidst its paroxysms,—her snatches of song,
"I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him in the cold ground,"
then crowned with fantastic wreaths of flowers, making her little presents,
"I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died," her death, “mermaid-like,” or rather that the water-lily which had opened its flower so meekly and chastely on the surface of the stream, broke from its slender stem, and sunk in the current, her funeral deprived of requiem,-all constitute a creature of such innocence, and a tale of such anguish, as never were surpassed.-Perdita is fairer than the flowers she twines into her garland, she is queen of the greensward and the woodland, her voice is sweeter than the mating turtle, her step lighter than the bounding fawn, we dread her recovery from her sylvan banishment, even to her Father's Court. Would she could continue shepherdess for ever!-Desdemona wants not the grim visage of the Moor to make her lovely. She is very simplicity, until sorrow and cruelty raise her higher.
"Am I that name Iago?"
"Such as she says, my lord did say I was ?"
Touching is her reply to Emilia's wish that she "had never seen him :"
"So would not I; my love doth so approve him,
That even his stubbornness, his checks and frowns,—
Then how natural is her reminiscence of her mother's maid, called Barbara!
"She was in love and he, she loved, prov'd mad,
And did forsake her."
It strikes in with her own fear of Othello's madness, her apprehension of being abandoned by him, and the presentiment of her approaching death, just entering the bed from which she shall not rise again.
Juliet, the child of wayward love, ignorant of the world, finding in a moment the fellow of her soul, the twin of her heart,— her credulousness so fond, that it is the nightingale and not the
lark, a meteor and not the sun,-spoiled by her parents and then sacrificed,-her worth had scarce been known from the melancholic praises of Romeo,—the strewments, the tears, "the funeral praises" of Paris, show that she might be "honoured," as well as loved.-What a ministering angel is Cordelia to her "mightily abused" parent! How she watches his awakening from sleep and madness! Her flowing tears fall on the neck of the old man, and help his return of memory and love—
Can appeal be nobler?
"Be your tears wet ?"
"Was this a face
To be exposed against the warring winds ?
To stand against the deep dread-bolted thunder?
In the most terrible and nimble stroke
Of quick, cross lightning? Mine enemy's dog,
Catharine is noble in appeal against injustice, loves on, however wronged, yearns in very tenderness, rises to a proud generosity of forgiveness, is chastened and meetened by affliction to join the "blessed troop" who invite her to the "heavenly banquet," yet lifts up herself to her wonted greatness, "a queen and a king's daughter."-Portia is the Roman Matron, but Nature's Child. The noble sister of Publicola, asks none other description than Coriolanus gives:
"The moon of Rome: chaste as the icicle,
That 's curded by the frost from purest snow
Miranda is the simple enchantress of the enchanted isle.—1 indeed assume that in Shakspeare's Female characters, in his respect for the sex, in his dramatic illustration and defence of it, there is no "brother near his throne."
If the simplicity of the Greek drama be alleged, especially in the case of its few interlocutors, against the frequently numerous dialogue of ours,-especially that of Shakspeare,—we object to the rule as unmeaning and arbitrary: we do not see that the objection of Horace to a fourth speaker is reasonable:
and as we have no Chorus to fill up the hiatus, or to explain the
Secondly, it scarcely diminishes
the difficulty of the illusion.
Hor: Carm lib. iii. 2.
But Shakspeare's vindication is not this! Why did Aristotle lay down these rules?-because the most perfect tragedians, whom he had known, wrote upon them. Why do we disclaim them in our Poet's instance?—because he, greater than them all, has by his genius soared above them, and proved himself nobly independent of their necessity. To all may be indulged his license who shall emulate his flight. He is "an eagle towering
in his pride of place." He is his own Lawgiver and Ruler.
Without recourse to Grecian art,—
The bright Original he took.
And tore the leaf from Nature's Book.”*
In the supernatural machines of Shakspeare there is deur which places him greatly above the masters, in comparison of whom many desire to lessen him. Mention will now be made only of the Ghost in Hamlet. The French critics have been much amused with it, chiefly with its disappearance at the crowing of a cock. To dismiss this petty objection at once, we have but to remember that the popular superstition on which the whole is founded, universally agrees that the ghost only walks at night that at the earliest dawn, "the extravagant and erring spirit, hies to his confine." What more natural announcement of the day-break than this "shrill clarion ?" Shakspeare need not be alarmed for his fame, because of this introduction, when Euripides demands of Æschylus, in their trial before Bacchus :
To sin with the Father of Tragedy is indeed small disgrace. Aλεxlogopwvia (cock-crowing) is good Greek for morning. Why so severe, M. Voltaire, on the Gallinaceous device of your proud National shield? So again Voltaire derides the phrase of Francisco, a common soldier, "Not a mouse stirring." How expres sive of the undisturbed solitude and silence until the ghost appears! But we must protest against such a translation as that of which we have heard :
"Je n'ai pas entender une souris trotter."