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highest degree, could we follow, step by step, in his career, an author who at once founded and carried his art to perfection, and to go through his works in the order of time. But, with the exception of a few fixed points, which at length have been obtained, we are here in want of the necessary materials. The diligent Malone has indeed has made an attempt to arrange the plays of Shakspeare in chronological order; but he himself only gives it out for hypothetical, and it could not possibly be attended with complete success, as he excludes from his research a considerable number of pieces which have been ascribed to the poet, though rejected as spurious by all the editors since Rowe, but which, in my opinion, must, if not wholly, at least in a great measure be attributed to him. The best and easiest mode therefore of reviewing the dramas will be to arrange them in classes. This, it must be owned, is merely a last shift: several critics have declared that all Shakspeare’s pieces substantially belong to the same species, although sometimes one ingredient, sometimes another, the musical or the characteristical, the invention of the wonderful or the imitation of the real, the pathetic or the comic, seriousness or irony, may preponderate in the mixture. Shakspeare himself, it would appear, only laughed at the petty endeavours of many critics to find out divisions and subdivisions of species, and to hedge in what had been so separated with the most anxious care; the pedantic Polonius in Hamlet recommends the players, for their knowledge “tragedy, comedy, history,
pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical, historical-pastoral, scene-undividable, or poem unlimited.” On another occasion he ridicules the limitation of tragedy to an unfortunate catastrophe:
“And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
However the division into comedies, tragedies, and historical dramas, according to the usual practice, may in some measure be adopted, if we do not lose sight of the transitions and affinities. The subjects of the comedies are generally taken from novels: they are romantic love tales; none are altogether confined to the sphere of common or domestic relations: all of them possess poetical ornament, some of them run into the wonderful or the pathetic. To these two of his most distinguished tragedies are immediately linked, Romeo and Juliet and Othello; both true novels, and composed on the same principles. In many of the historical plays a considerable space is occupied by the comic characters and scenes; others are serious throughout, and leave behind a tragical impression. The essential circumstance by which they are distinguished is, that the plot bears a reference to a poetical and national interest. This is not so much the case in Hamlet, Lear, and Macbeth; and hence we do not include these tragedies among the historical pieces, though the first is founded on an old northern, the second on a national tradition; and the third comes even within the epoch of the Scottish history, after it ceased to be fabulous.
EXTRACT FROM RUSSIAN HISTORY.
An account of the Reign of Ivan IV. first Czar and Autocrat of all
the Russias. Abridged from an unpublished History of Russia.
I sh ALL now pass, without further preface, to the period which forms the first great epoch in the annals of Russia, and which is in itself highly interesting on various accounts. In 1541, after a turbulent and disastrous minority, the sceptre passed into the hands of Ivan Vassilievitch 2d, or Ivan the 4th, appropriately surnamed by his subjects, the Terrible, and by foreigners, the Tyrant. His long reign of forty years laid the foundation of Russian greatness in almost every respect, and abounds with memorable events. Much more deserves to be known of his political and domestic career, than it would comport with my purpose to narrate. I shall confine myself principally to such transactions of both, as may serve to develope the progress of the Russian power, which, henceforth, as regards Europe, will present itself in a regular and tangible shape.
From the time that Ivan, at the age of fourteen, snatched the rod of empire from an ambitious regency, and gave thus a sure pledge of the extraordinary energy and ardour of character, for which he was ever afterwards distinguished, three great objects are said to have fixed his attention and constituted the business of his life;—the destruction of the Tartar power, the humiliation of the Poles and Swedes, and the civilization of his people.
In the former, he was entirely
streets of his capital, thrown into the Moskowa. Ivan experienced only mortification and loss in his first attempts upon the kingdom of Kasan, which although humbled and weakened, had not been tototally subdued, by his two immediate predecessors. He persevered, however, and with the aid of musquetry and artillery then first employed by the Russians, took the metropolis by assault, after an obstinate siege. The carnage was horrible and the victory decisive of the permanent fate of the kingdom. Astrackan was next invaded, and speedily reduced. The Tartars were too blind and furious in their mutual animosities, to be instructed by the misfortunes of their brethren, or to comprehend the necessity of union. After the fall of Astrackan, but one great fragment of their empire remained,—the kingdom of the Crimea, of which much remains to be said hereafter. The enormities committed by the Russians in these two important conquests, were of a nature to sustain that appalling reputation, which their previous history had established. Columns or pyramids of human heads, are the trophies which the “Delight of the East,” Tamerlane, is said to have sometimes left on the ground where stood before flourishing cities. Ivan might have reared the same execrable monuments, out of the slaughter of the unresisting victims, on the occasions just mentioned. The inestimable value to Russia of these acquisitions, may be understood from a simple inspection of the map of the empire. Independently of being for ever relieved from a formidable enemy Vol. I.
and rival, she became, by the conquest of Kasan, the mistress of the Volga. By the reduction of the city of Astrackan so favourably situated for commerce, her power was solidly established on the Caspian sea, and the opportunity afforded for the extension of her dominion towards the South and East. It would be idle to examine whether the wars waged by Ivan upon the Tartars were just or otherwise, as respects the motives from which they were undertaken. In that rude stage of society beyond which the Russians had not then advanced, the passions alone prompt to action. Revenge, hate, the lust of dominion, the spirit of rapine or of adventure, are the
causes of contention; never those
deliberations of right, necessity, or general expediency which in a higher state of refinement usually precede a resort to arms, and sometimes justify it, even in the eye of pure morality and enlightened reason.” Self preservation undoubtedly required of the Russians to break and dispere the Tartar power. When we consider likewise the original
* “ Civilized nations,” says Dr. Robertson in his introduction to the history of Charles V., “which take up arms upon cool reflection, from motives of policy or prudence, with a view to guard against some distant danger, or to prevent some remote contingency, carry on their hostilities with so little rancor or animosity, that war among them is disarmed of half its terrors. Barbarians are strangers to such refinements. They rush into war with impetuosity, and prosecute it with vioience. Their sole object is to make their enemies feel the weight of their vengeance, nor does their rage subside until it be satiated with inflicting on them every possible calamity.”
aggression, the provocations, the numberless incentives given to deadly hate, we can the more easily excuse the intemperance and severity of the vengeance exercised. Neither would I undertake to decide as to the comparative merits, under the same point of view, of the Russians and their Western neighbours, in the many sanguinary contests in which they were engaged before the time of Ivan. The remarks just made would seem applicable to this, as well as the other CaSe, There is, however, a material circumstance which should not be forgotten in this train of observation: I mean the inevitable tendency of such intestine feuds, as those by which Russia was so frequently convulsed; of such external wars as those in which she was constantly involved, to produce or render inveterate in the national character, the passions and habits most hostile to the peace and security of the world. An insensibility to the finer touches of humanity, a contempt of all moral restraints, an invincible restlessness of dispotion, an insatiable lust of dominion, the spirit of intrigue and guile, in short, all those anti-social unruly qualities of which the natural agent is the sword, are the necessary consequences. I will not now say how far they are visible in the ulterior march of Russia; but they may be readily traced in the proceedings of Ivan subsequent to his expedition against the Tartars, whatever may be the dispositions with which he set out. It seems evident from the sequel, that while his sword was yet reeking with their blood,
he indulged ambitious hopes concerning Finland and Livonia, and meditated a plan for the conquest of both these provinces. The war which he either provoked with Sweden and Poland, or which their injustice furnished as an opportunity for the purpose, deserves to be noticed, although it did not end in any immediate increase of the Russian power. Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, and Sigismund Augustus of Poland were cotemporaries of Ivan, as were Francis the first of France, and Charles the fifth of Spain. The constellation of such characters is fitted to place the ruggedness of the Czar in still higher relief. Gustavus; the heroic deliverer, the mild legislator, the enlightened reformer of his country, the true founder of the Swedish monarchy; merits all the admiration and gratitude, wit which Sweden celebrates hi memory: Sigismund, although an inferior order of merit, is i lustrious for the gentleness his nature, his taste for t sciences and fine arts, his for tude and bravery, and the lo and esteem which he conciliate from a rude and turbulent nation Both monarchs conceived, per haps, a well founded jealousy o Ivan and leagued against him; a a moment however, when he wa best prepared to withstand their attacks. The Swedes were se-o verely beaten and compelled to abandon the enterprize. The Czar entered and ravaged Finland, renewing there the scenes which had been exhibited by his ancestors, in their expeditions against Constantinople. After forcing Gustavus to sign a separate peace, he turned his tri
of umphant arms against Livonia. * This province existed as an in* dependent power under the * Knights of the Sword, and was to invaded on the pretext that its ** sovereigns had once paid tribute is to Russia. It was quickly overo run by an army composed not * only of Russians, but of Tartars to and Cossacks of the Don, whom on the Czar had taken into his ser; : , vice. The fate of the wretched or Livonians was such as might be expected from the dispositions of the spoilers, who indulged an unbounded license of pillage and butchery. The fields were desolated, the towns mercilessly sacked, and such of their inhabitants * of whatever sex or age as accito dently escaped the sword and the A flames, either sold as slaves to on the Tartars, or torn to pieces by outhe explosion of combustible mawitxterials introduced into their vitals. he she governor of Wittenstein and ghosthose who survived the assault of isiréthat fortress, were, by the order ss of Ivan, spitted and roasted alive, tthon lances. sorpo Lithuania and Courland were lotualso laid waste and occupied by utopthe Russian forces. The war with to hipoland continued for a long term powith various success; and here I is, it'must repeat a remark made in a mapreceding part of this work, of the watpolish government, that whatever their might have been its superior rest. finement, it seems, in the course d to of this contest to have manifested The at times a character still more inPin-geniously perfidious and scarceones y less sanguinary than that of its his intagonist. Fortune however ulions timately declared against Russia. for Her armies were discomfited in
or several recounters. Ivan found,
tri- imself attacked at, once by the £oles, the Swedes, the Tartars,
and the Turks.” The Tartars however penetrated as far as Moscow, and wrapped it in flames. Ivan was at length compelled to sue for peace. What is not a little remarkable, he appealed to Pope Gregory XIII. of Rome as mediator, through whose nuncio the Jesuit Possevin,t A. D. 1581, deputed to Russia, for the purpose, it was finally negotiated upon the basis of a mutual relinquishment of all conquests made, and pretensions advanced, during the war. * Ivan was thus frustrated in his views on Livonia and Finland, and had lost an immense number of men. Russia was covered with mourning from calamities of every kind; but the war was not wholly unproductive of advantage. It contributed to extend her military renown, to improve her tactics, and to establish more direct relations between her and the Western powers. During these hostilities an event occurred which fully indemnified her for every disaster. I refer to the arrival at the port since called Archangel, of a British ship which had formed part of a squadron of four sent from England in 1550, under the directions of Sebastian Cabot, to discover a north-east passage to China and
* Selim II., eager to wrest Astrackan from his hands, sent against it a body of thirty or forty thousand Janissaries, which the Russians nearly annihilated under the walls of the city. Of the whole expedition only three or four thousand survived to return to Constantinople.
f From whom we have an entertaining work entitled .lntonii Possevini.Moscovia, containing an account of his mission, and of the state of Russia under Ivan.