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had been exclusively among the vicious. What a transition, good heavens! from the fragrant outpouring of the soul of Imogen, to Iachimo's “ If you buy ladies' flesh at a million a dram, you cannot prevent it from tainting.

The truth is, that Posthumus, under the first shock and provocation of this revolting encounter, behaves both modestly and patiently—"as calm as virtue,”

, according to Iachimo's penitent admission. He does not propose the wager: it is forced upon him by the scoffs and taunts of the Italian; and is accepted at last with a view to punish them,—first, by the repulse which his addresses are sure to sustain,-secondly, by the loss of his property,—and thirdly, by the duel . which is to follow. They who have so violently objected against the husband's procedure on this occasion, have judged of it according to the cool, calculating habits of feeling belonging to the modern time,-ignorant of, or overlooking, the real character of that chivalric love, that truly religious faith and devotion of the heart, which Shakespeare found it here his business to paint.

Iachimo, in his repentance, gives the right version of the matter ;for, according to the code of chivalry, so far from its being regarded as an insult and profanation on the husband's part, to permit such an experiment to be made upon the constancy of his wife, it was looked upon as the highest proof of his confidence in her virtue, and therefore as the most decided homage he could pay to it; and the attempting seducer, in such a case, was afterwards to be called to account by the husband, not so much for the attempt itself, as for the disbelief in the lady's fidelity, which it implied. Therefore says Iachimo,

He, true knight,
No lesser of her honour confident
Than I did truly find her, stakes this ring;
And would so had it been a carbuncle
Of Phoebus' wheel ; and might so safely, had it
Been all the worth of his car.

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This account, which absolves Posthumus from impropriety and rashness in this proceeding, is given, let us remember, by the same accomplished man of the world who, but that he is stricken with remorse, has every interest in representing him as much as possible to have been in the wrong. In the present instance, too, it must be borne in mind, that the lady is a princess, surrounded by all the personal safeguards of à court, and therefore secure against there being offered to her the slightest personal violence.

So far concerning Posthumus's wager and his challenge. In another paper we shall speak of his character as shown in the course of his deception, his despair, his revenge, and his repentance.



[March 18th, 1843.]

They who are disposed to regard the dramatist as making Posthumus shew foolish credulity, in allowing himself to be convinced of his wife's infidelity by the evidence which Iachimo adduces, should attend to the sequel of that confession, from Iachimo's own lips, of which, in our preceding paper, we have cited the former part. Still addressing Cymbeline, he says:

Away to Britain
Post I in this design. Well may you, sir,
Remember me at court, where I was taught

your chaste daughter the wide difference
'Twixt amorous and villanous. Being thus quench'd
Of hope, not longing, mine Italian brain
'Gan in your duller Britain operate
Most vilely-for my 'vantage, excellent, &c.


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The sentence,

Mine Italian brain
'Gan in your duller Britain operate,
shews us clearly the spirit in which the dramatist
conceived the relation here subsisting between the
deceiver and the deceived. He treats it as
illustration of the grand contrast presumed to exist
between the open frankness of the British character
and the subtle guile of the Italian. It is no defect of
judgment in Posthumus, but the superabundance of
craft in Iachimo, that is made to work this false con-
viction in the husband's mind. What says Iachimo
himself on this point?—

My practice so prevail'd,
That I return'd with simular proof enough
To make the noble Leonatus mad,
By wounding his belief in her renown
With tokens thus, and thus; averring notes
Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet
(Oh, cunning, how I got it !), --nay, some marks
Of secret on her person,- that he could not
But think her bond of chastity quite crack'd,

I having ta'en the forfeit.
So, in the chamber scene itself, he had anticipated
the irresistibleness of these evidences. Taking off
the bracelet, he says:--

'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly,
As strongly as the conscience does within,
To the madding of her lord. On her left breast
A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops
l' the bottom of a cowslip : here's a voucher
Stronger than ever law could make : this secret
Will force him think I have pick'd the lock, and ta’en

The treasure of her honour.
The same prevalent idea, as to the superiority of
Italian cunning, appears in Imogen's exclamation to
Pisanio, on their way to Milford-haven-

My husband's hand !
That drug-damn'd Italy' hath out-craftied him,

And he's at some hard point !
as also in Pisanio's words to her-

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It cannot be,
But that my master is abus'd :
Some villain, ay, and singular in his art,

Hath done you both this cursed injury.

To shew that, in fact, Iachimo has been elaborately delineated by the poet as a villain most “singular in his art,” becomes requisite, in order to place the character and conduct of Posthumus in a light perfectly just and true.

In the banquet scene, indeed, wherein they first become acquainted, only one side of the Italian's character is brought out — the easy and familiar assurance of the libertine man of the world, sceptical as to all merit in men, and incredulous regarding feminine virtue. It is in his opening scene with Imogen that the powers of insinuation and deceit possessed by this “noble gentleman of Rome” begin to unfold themselves. Certain it is, that his very first glance at the princess whose virtue he has undertaken to assail, gives him an impression such as he has never before received from woman; and herein we find one of the master-strokes by which the poet exalts the ideal perfection of his heroine :

All of her that is out of door, most rich !
If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare,
She is alone the Arabian bird, and I
Have lost the

Already, indeed, his spirit quails before “the sun-
clad power of chastity;" and he feels that the enter-
prise he has engaged in calls for all, and more than
all, the resources of that artful and tasteful eloquence
wherewith the poet has so exquisitely endowed him :-

Boldness, be my friend!
Arm me, audacity, from head to foot !
Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight;

Rather, directly fly.
Yet, be it remembered, he has the advantage of that
strongest of all possible recommendations to the good-
will and the confidence of Imogen, that he bears to
her the first letters she receives from her banished

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lord, and in them is commended to her by his own hand as

one of the noblest note, to whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your truest Leonatus.” Well may she tell him, then,

You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I
Have words to bid you; and shall find it so,

In all that I can do.

How exquisite a masterpiece of insidious oratory do we find in his ensuing addresses! There is, first, the engaging her curiosity and attention by the acting of abstracted astonishment_" What ! are men mad ?" &c. ;-then, the giving her to understand that he is occupied with a comparison between herself and some absent lady

It cannot be i' the eye; for apes and monkeys,

'Twixt two such shes, &c.then, the vague insinuation

The cloyed will, That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, &c.until Imogen's question

Continues well my lord ?—his health, beseech you ?informs him that he has succeeded in rousing in her breast obscure apprehension concerning her husband. Then, we see the dexterity with which he touches this tender string, her anxiety for her husband's health and cheerfulness, till he makes his account of her lord's mirthful humour so naturally introduce the sentence wherein he attributes to him exactly one of his own voluptuary sentiments :

Can my sides hold, to think that manwho knows,
By history, report, or his own proof,
What woman is, yea, what she cannot choose
But must bewill his free hours languish for

Assured bondage ! Then comes his “pity” for them both;-next, his more direct insinuation of her husband's infidelity

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