« ForrigeFortsett »
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE.
MALONE supposes that Shakspeare wrote Cymbeline in the year 1605. The main incidents upon which the p ot turns, occur in a novel of Boccaccio's; but our poet obtained them in a different shape, from an old story. book entitled Westward for Smelts. Cymbeline, who gives name to the play, but is a cipher of royalty, began to reign over Britain in the 19th year of Augustus Cæsar. He filled the throne during thirty-five years, leaving two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus. The play commences in the 16th year of the Christian era, which was the 24th year of Cymbeline's reign, and the 42nd of Augustus's. The subject of the piece is disjointed and much too diffuse : it exhibits some monstrous breaches of dramatic unity, and several very languid and make-shift scenes. But the part of Imogen is most delicately and delightfully drawn ; her ideas are remarkably luxuriant, yet restrained; and the natural warmth of her affections is, in many instances, most beautifully expressed. Cloten is an incongruous animal, with some strong points about him; and a fine contrast to Posthumus, who is sketched with great judgment, feeling, and consistency. The Queen is an unfinished character, desirous of producing mischief, but possessing neither energy nor ability to accomplish her schemes; and though lachimo's cunning is portrayed with uncommon skill in his first attempt upon Imogen's virtue, yet his subse quent penitence and candour (however conducive to the moral) are not consistent with the usual hardihood of so thorough-paced a villain. Notwithstanding its fine passages and affecting incidents, this play was lost to the stage until Garrick undertook to revise it, by the abridgment of some scenes, and the transposition of others, it was reduced within the compass of a night's performance; and has since continued a periodical favourite with the public. Dr. Johnson decides the merits of this historical drama in the following summary manner: "To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, and too gross for aggravation." No one can deny the elegance or point of the Doctor's critical sentences, nor their murderous efficiency when meant to despatch an adversary at a single blow; but the greatest fault of our poet consists in his having christened some characters of the first century with names which belonged to the fifteenth; and in his having seasoned their antique Roman honesty with a smattering of modern Italian villany.
1 Gent. His daughter, and the heir of his
He purpos'd to his wife's sole son, (a widow
2 Gent. None but the king?
1 Gent. He, that hath lost her, too: so is the queen, [tier, That most desir'd the match: But not a courof the king's looks, hath a heart that is not Although they wear their faces to the bent Glad at the thing they scowl at.
Too bad for bad report: and he that hath her,
In him that should compare. I do not think
2 Gent. You speak him far.
1 Gent. I do extend him, Sir, within himself; Crush him together, rather than unfold His measure duly.
2 Gent. What's his name, and birth ?
1 Gent. I cannot delve him to the reot: His father
Was call'd Şicilins, who did join his honour
(Then old and fond of issue,) took such sorrow,
As we do air, fast as 'twas minister'd; and
2 Gent. I honour him
Even out of your report. But, 'pray you, tell me, Is she sole child to the king?
1 Gent. His only child.
He had two sons, (if this be worth your hearing, Mark it,) the eldest of them at three years old, I'the swathing clothes the other, from their nursery [knowledge Were stolen and, to this hour, no guess in Which way they went.
2 Gent. How long is this ago?
1 Gent. Some twenty years.
2 Gent. That a king's children should be so convey'd !
So slackly guarded! And the search so slow,
1 Gent. Howsoe'er 'tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at, Yet is it true, Sir.
2 Gent. I do well believe you.
I Gent. We must forbear: Here come the queen and princess.
SCENE II.-The same.
So soon as I can win the offended king,
1 will be known your advocate: marry, yet
Your wisdom may inform you.
I will from hence to-day.
Queen. You know the peril :
I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
The pangs of barr'd affections; though the king
Hath charg'd you should not speak together. [Exit QUEEN.
Imo. O Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant Can tickle where she wounds -My dearest husband, [thing
I something fear my father's wrath; but no(Always reserv'd my holy duty,) what
His rage can do on me: You must be gone;
Of angry eyes; nor comforted to live,
Post. My queen! my mistress!
To walk this way: I never do him wrong, But he does buy my injuries, to be friends; Pays dear for my offences.
Post. Should we be taking leave
Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
Post. How! how! another?-
[Putting on the Ring. While sense + can keep it on! And sweetest, fairest,
As I my poor self did exchange for you,
It is a manacle of love: Vll place it
[Putting a Bracelet on her Arm. Imo. O the gods!
When shall we see again?
Enter CYMBELINE and LORDS.
Post. Alack, the king !
Cym. Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from
If, after this command, thou fraught the court With thy unworthiness, thou diest: Away! Thou art poison to my blood.
Post. The gods protect you! And bless the good remainders of the court! I am gone. [Exit
Imo. There cannot be a pinch in death More sharp than this is.
Cym. O disloyal thing,
Subdues all pangs, all fears.
Cym. Past grace? obedience
Imo. Past hope, and in despair: that way, past grace.
Cym. That might'st have had the sole son of my queen!
Imo. O bless'd, that I might not! I chose an eagle,
And did avoid a puttock. +
Cym. Thou took'st a beggar; would'st have made my throne
A seat for baseness.
Imo. No; I rather added
A lustre to it.
Cym. O thou vile one!
It is your fault that I have lov'd Posthumus:
Cym. What!-art thou mad?
Imo. Almost, Sir: Heaven restore me!-
A neat-herd's daughter! and my Leonatus
Cym. Thou foolish thing !--
SCENE 11.-A Public Place.
Enter CLOTEN, and two LORDS.
1 Lord. Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt; the violence of action hath made you reek as a sacrifice: Where air comes out, air comes in: there's none abroad so wholesome as that you vent.
Clo. If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it -Have I hurt him?
2 Lord. No, faith; not so much as his pa
1 Lord. Hurt him
in debt; it went o'the [Aside.
Clo. The villain would not stand me. 2 Lord. No; but he fled forward still, toward [Aside. your face. 1 Lord. Stand you! You had land enough of your own but he added to your having; gave you some ground.
2 Lord. As many inches as you have oceans : Puppies! [Aside.
Clo. I would, they had not come between us. 2 Lord. So would I, till you had measured how long a fool you were upon the ground.
[Aside. Clo. And that she should love this fellow, and refuse me !
2 Lord. If it be a sin to make a true election, she is damned. [Aside.
1 Lord. Sir, as I told you always, her beauty and her brain go not together: She's a [To the QUEEN.good sign, but I have seen small reflection of
Not after our command. Away with her,
Queen. 'Beseech your patience :-Peace,
Out of your best advice.
Cym. Nay, let her languish
A drop of blood a day; and, being aged,
Queen. Fie !-you must give way:
her wit. +
2 Lord. She shines not upon fools, lest the. reflection should hurt her. [Aside. Clo. Come, I'll to my chamber: 'Would there had been some hurt done!
2 Lord. I wish not so; unless it bad been the fall of an ass, which is no great hurt.
Here is your servant.-How now, Sir? What
Pis. My lord, your son drew on my master.
No barm, I trust, is done?
Pis. There might have been,
But that my master rather play'd than fought,
Queen. I am very glad on't.
Imo. Your son's my father's friend; he takes
To draw upon an exile !-O brave Sir!--
Pis. On his command: He would not suffer
Pis. No, madam; for so long
Imo. Thou should'st have made him
Pis. Madam, so I did.
Imo. I would have broke mine eye-strings;
To look upon him; till the diminution
Her beauty and her sense are not equal. + Auciently a most every sign had some attempt at a witticism underneath it.
Have turn'd mine eye, and wept.-But, good for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay, anc
When shall we hear from him?
Pis. Be assur'd, madam,
With his next vantage. *
Imo. I did not take my leave of him, but had Most pretty things o say: ere I could tell him, How I would think on him, at certain hours, Such thoughts, and such; or I could make him
The shes of Italy should not betray
Mine interest, and his honour; or have charg'd
And, like the tyrannous breathing of the north,
Enter a LADY.
Lady. The queen, madam,
Desires your highness' company.
yet pay still.
French. Sir, you o'er-rate my poor kindness: I was glad I did atone my countryman and you; it had been pity you should have been put together with so mortal a purpose as then each bore, upon importance of so slight and trivial a
Post. By your pardon, Sir, I was then a young traveller: rather shunned to go even with what I heard, than in my every action to be guided by others' experiences: but, upon my mended judgment, (if I offend not to say it is mended,) my quarrel was not altogether slight.
French. 'Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of swords; and by such two, that would, by all likelihood, have confounded one the other, or have fallen both.
Iach. Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference?
French. Safely, I think: 'twas a contention in public, which may, without contradiction, suffer the report. It was much like an argument that fell out last night, where each of us
Imo. Those things I bid you do, get them fell in praise of our country mistresses: This
I will attend the queen.
Pis. Madam, I shall.
SCENE V.-Rome.-An Apartment in PHI-
Enter PHILARIO, IACHIMO, a FRENCHMAN, a
Phi. You speak of him when he was less furnished, than now he is, with that which makes him both without and within.
French. I have seen him in France: we had very many there, could behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.
Iach. This matter of marrying his king's daughter, (wherein he must be weighed, rather by her value than his own,) words him, I doubt not, a great deal from the matter.
French. And then his banishment:lach. Ay, and the approbation of those that weep this lamentable divorce, under her colours, are wonderfully to extend ¶ him: be it but to fortify her judgment, which else an easy battery might lay flat, for taking a beggar without more quality. But how comes it, he is to sojourn with you? How creeps acquaint
Phi. His father and I were soldiers together; to whom I have been often bound for no less than my life :---
Enter POSTHUMUS. Here comes the Briton: Let him be so entertained amongst you, as suits, with gentlemen of your knowing, to a stranger of quality.-1 beseech you all, be better known to this gentleman; whom I commend to you as a noble friend of mine: How worthy he is, I will leave to appear hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.
French. Sir, we have known together in Orleans. Post. Since when I have been debtor to you
gentleman at that time vouching, (and upon warrant of bloody affirmation,) his to be more fair, virtuous, wise, chaste, constant-qualified, and less attemptible, than any the rarest of our
ladies in France.
lach. That lady is not now living; or this gentleman's opinion by this worn out. Post. She holds her virtue still, and I my mind.
Iach. You must not so far prefer her 'fore our's of Italy.
Post. Being so far provoked as I was in France, I would abate her nothing: though 1 profess myself her adorer, not her friend. band comparison,) had been something too fair Iach. As fair and as good (a kind of haud-inand too good for any lady in Britany. If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of your's outlustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady.
Post. I praised her, as I rated her so do I my stone.
Iach. What do you esteem it at ? Post. More than the world enjoys. lach. Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's outpriz'd by a tride.
Post. You are mistaken: the one may be sold, or given; if there were wealth enough for the purchase, or merit for the gift: the other is not a thing for sale, and only the gift of the gods.
Jach. Which the gods have given you?
Iach. You may wear her in title your's: but, you know, strauge fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your ring may be stolen too: so, of your brace of unprizable estimations, the one is but frail, and the other casual; a cunning thief, or a that-way accomplished courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.
Post. Your Italy contains none so accom. plished a courtier, to convince the honour of my mistress; if, in the holding or loss of that have store of thieves; notwithstanding I fear you term ber frail. I do nothing doubt you not my ring.
Phi. Let us leave here, gentlemen.
Post. Sir, with all heart. This worthy signior, I thank him, makes no stranger of me; we
are familiar at first.