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bet is up in ons
annals of Chisk
TOSSIAs by curta
B- with Ms em--for what it
g at a lorer's o her good mauuli scenes of honesti scourse of mange ave taken place and that oll
by Brother Soni -but it don's
things to MrsC'
fashion was heroes to the day sigh, and be
should melt on
into Great de to express
hazard allusions to the awful myste- the inner structure and workings of mind in ries of Christianity, which, when a character, which he could otherwise never brought into contact with our sympa
have arrived at in that form of composition thies for mere humanity, cannot but by any gift short of intuition. We do here
as we do with novels in the epistolary form. wear an air of irreverence. Thus,
many improprieties, perfect solecisms when speaking of the “ Broken Heart,
in letter-writing, do we put up with in Claby Ford, he says, in reference to the rissa and other books, for the sake of the death of Calantha, “ the expression of delight which that form upon the whole this transcendant scene almost bears gives us. me in imagination to Calvary and the “ But the practice of stage representation cross; and I seem to perceive some
reduces every thing to a controversy of eloanalogy between the scenical suffer
cution. Every character, from the boisterous ings which I am here contemplating, timidity of womanhood, must play the ora
blasphemings of Bajazet to the shrinking and the real agonies of that final com-.
tor. The love-dialogues of Romeo and pletion to which I dare no more than Juliet, those silver-sweet sounds of lovers? hint a reference.” Mr Lamb has here tongues by night; the more intimate and dared to hint a great deal too much sacred sweetness of nuptial colloquy between far more than Ford himself would an Othello or a Posthumus with their marhave hinted, or Shakspeare.
ried wives, all those delicacies which are so passage must shock every heart; and delightful in the reading, as when we read we implore Mr Lamb, for whom we
of those youthful dalliances in Paradise entertain sincere respect and affection,
As beseem'd to obliterate, in a future edition, this Fair couple link'd in happy nuptial league, most unadvised, irreverent, and im
Alone : pious allusion.
He is a Christian : By the inherent fault of stage representalet him therefore beware of offending tion, how are these things sullied and turned his fellow Christians of offending his from their very nature by being exposed to God. Let him leave open blasphemy, a large assembly; when such speeches as or, what is as bad, affected and hypo- Imogen addresses to her lord, come drawlcritical piety, to such reckless unbe- ing out of the mouth of a hired actress, lievers as Hazlitt and Hunt.
whose courtship, though nominally adIn his “ Essay on the Tragedies of
dressed to the personated Posthumus, is
manifestly aimed at the spectators, who are Shakspeare," he adopts a paradox, to judge of her endearments and her returns namely, " that they are less calculated of love. for performance on a stage than those • The character of Hamlet is perhaps of almost any other dramatist what- that by which, since the days of Betterton, ever.'
a succession of popular performers have had “ Their distinguishing excellence is a the greatest ambition to distinguish themreason that they should be so.
There is so selves. The length of the part may be one much in them, which comes not under the of their reasons. But for the character itprovince of acting, with which eye, and self, we find it in a play, and therefore we tone, and gesture, have nothing to do.
judge it a fit subject of dramatic representa“ The glory of the scenic art is to person,
tion. The play itself abounds in maxims ate passion, and the turns of passion ; and and reflections beyond any other, and therethe more coarse and palpable the passion is, fore we consider it as a proper vehicle for the more hold upon the eyes and ears of conveying moral instruction. But Hamlet the spectators the performer obviously pos- himself what does he suffer, meanwhile,
For this reason, scolding scenes, by being dragged forth as the public schoolscenes where two persons talk themselves master, to give lectures to the crowd! Why, into a fit of fury, and then in a surprising nine parts in ten of what Hamlet does, are manner talk themselves out of it again, transactions between himself and his moral have always been the most popular upon sense, they are the effusions of his solitary our stage. And the reason is plain, because musings, which he retires to holes and corthe spectators are here most palpably ap ners and the most sequestered parts of the pealed to, they are the proper judges in this palace to pour forth ; or rather, they are war of words, they are the legitimate ring the silent meditations with which his bosom that should be formed round such intele is bursting, reduced to words for the sake of lectual prize-fighters.” Talking is the di- the reader, who must else remain ignorant rect object of the imitation here. But in all of what is passing there. These profound the best dramas, and in Shakspeare above sorrows, these light-and-noise-abhorring ruall, how obvious it is, that the form of minations, which the tongue scarce dares speaking, whether it be in soliloquy or dia
utter to deaf walls and chambers, how can logue, is only a medium, and often a highly they be represented by a gesticulating actor, artificial one, for putting the reader or spec
who comes and mouths them out before an tator into possession of that knowledge of audience, making four hundred people his
to a Roman d to these neto
elf a Mr H-' De best part de his serious &
y his "Chemi
onally quotes t of these
, a n the Old End ore we need onal extracks
confidants at once. I say not that it is the
rors : a ghost by chandelier light, and in fault of the actor so to do; he must pro- good company, deceives no spectators... nounce them ore rotundo, he must accom- ghost that can be measured by the eye, and pany them with his eye, he must insinuate his human dimensions made out at leisure. them into his auditory by some trick of eye, The sight of a well-lighted house, and a tone, or gesture, or he fails. He must be well-dressed audience, shall arm the most thinking all the while of his appearance, nervous child against any apprehensions :because he knows that all the while the spec as Tom Brown says of the impenetrable tators are judging of it. And this is the skin of Achilles with his impenetrable arway to represent the shy, negligent, retiring mour over it, “ Bully Dawson would have Hamlet.
fought the devil with such advantages.". All this is very ingenious, and it is • Much has been said, and deservedly, also, to a certain extent, very true. in reprobation of the vile mixture which Many profound and philosophical re- Dryden has thrown into the Tempest: flections follow this, on the character doubtless without some such vicious alloy, of Hamlet; and Mr Lamb considers have sate out to hear so much innocence of
the impure ears of that age would never in succession, and with reference to
love as is contained in the sweet courtship their unfitness for the stage, Macbeth, of Ferdinand and Miranda. But is the Othello, Lear, the Tempest, &c. We Tempest of Shakspeare at all a subject for can only make room for the following stage representation ? It is one thing to read extracts.
of an enchanter, and to believe the wonIt requires little reflection to perceive, drous tale while we are reading it; but to that if those characters in Shakspeare which have a conjuror brought before us in his are within the precincts of nature, have yet conjuring-gown, with his spirits about him, something in them which appeals too exclu. which none but himself and some hundred sively to the imagination, to admit of their of favoured spectators before the curtain are being made objects to the senses without supposed to see, involves such a quantity of suffering a change and a diminution,--that the hateful incredible, that all our reverence still stronger the objection must lie against for the author cannot hinder us from perrepresenting another line of characters, ceiving such gross attempts upon the senses which Shakspeare has introduced to give a to be in the highest degree childish and ina wildness and a supernatural elevation to his efficient. Spirits and fairies cannot be rescenes, as if to remove them still farther presented, they cannot even be painted, from that assimilation to common life in they can only be believed. But the elabowhich their excellence is vulgarly supposed rate and anxious provision of scenery, which to consist. When we read the incantations the luxury of the age demands, in these of those terrible beings the Witches in cases works a quite contrary effect to what Macbeth, though some of the ingredients of is intended. That which in comedy, or their hellish composition savour of the gro: plays of familiar life, adds so much to the tesque, yet is the effect upon us other than life of the imitation, in plays which appeal the most serious and appalling that can be to the higher faculties, positively destroys imagined ? Do we not feel spell-bound as the illusion which it is introduced to aid. Macbeth was ? Can any mirth accompany a A parlour or a drawing-room,—a library sense of their presence? We might as well opening into a garden,-a garden with an laugh under a consciousness of the principle alcove in it,-a street, or the piazza of Co. of Evil himself being truly and really pre- vent-garden, does well enough in a scene; sent with us. But attempt to bring these we are content to give as much credit to it beings on to a stage, and you turn them in as it demands; or rather, we think little stantly into so many old women, that men about it, it is little more than reading at and children are to laugh at. Contrary to the top of a page, “ Scene, a Garden;" we the old saying, that “ seeing is believing,' do not imagine ourselves there, but we the sight actually destroys the faith: and readily admit the imitation of familiar obthe mirth in which we indulge at their ex jects. But to think by the help of painted pense, when we see these creatures upon a trees and caverns, which we know to be stage, seems to be a sort of indemnification painted, to transport our minds to Prospero, which we make to ourselves for the terror and his island and his lonely cell ;* or by which they put us in when reading made the aid of a fiddle dexterously thrown in, in them an object of belief, when we surren an interval of speaking, to make us believe dered up our reason to the poet, as children that we hear those supernatural noises of to their nurses and their elders; and we which the isle was full :-the Orrery Leclaugh at our fears, as children who thought they saw something in the dark, triumph * " It will be said these things are done when the bringing in of a candle discovers in pictures. But pictures and scenes are the vanity of their fears. For this exposure very different things. Painting is a world of supernatural agents upon a stage is truly of itself, but in scene-painting there is the bringing in a candle to expose their own attempt to deceive; and there is the disdelusiveness. It is the solitary taper and cordancy, never to be got over, between the book that generates a faith in these ter- painted scenes and real people.
m with the rounds poetry and we ing and
ous of respect, shades Mr Lac
there a that ca
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men of any human being, yet the soul the ruins of Tadmor. It is idle to say
turer at the Haymarket might as well hope, calamity. Shakspeare gives us in his
spheres ring out that chime.” and
the voices, countenances, or bodies of Much as we admire such specula- men. If he gives us a great deal more tion as this, we cannot think that Mr than this, so much the better ; but we Lamb has at all made good his point. are at a loss to conceive why that
It is true, that in Shakspeare's trage- should make his plays worse fitted for d here
dies there are innumerable beauties, representation, We agree with Mr
more by far than in any other dramas, Lamb, that Shakspeare's plays read rredis ,
—which must be lost or marred in better in the closet than those of any
stage-representation. But grant this; other writer, and this is all that his ars alles
and do not more and higher beauties gument seems to us to prove: we can-
estros to aid ibrary th f Coo Cene; to it
nted ) be
with preternatural or supernatural a- witch-scene was over,--and who did
If there be any truth in these re- anomalies, and all the accompanying
ing bosom, and eyes held open by horIt is most true, that every thing ror, to and fro before our sight, in about the Witches, as they are painted vain striving to wring from her quivin this drama, is terrible as poetry can ering joints the ineffaceable stain of render superstition. But even in read- blood. But we have carried this dising Macbeth, it is by no means the cussion too far, and have no doubt case, that the influence of the written that Mr Lainb himself was aware that scenes, wherein the Witches exist, is he was embodying truth in the attracessential to the passion with which we tive form of a paradox, when he threw watch the progress of the drama. All out so many admirable reflections to that is necessary is to feel that Mac- support a position which never can be beth is under their power, and the vic- supported, and which is overthrown by tim of a wild national superstition. the universal consent of mankind, Shakspeare takes care to preserve this namely, that Shakspeare's plays are not feeling in us, because he preserves it well adapted for representation. Forour in Macbeth himself; and there can
own parts, we think that no man can be no doubt, that a person who had know how awful human life is, that never seen or heard of Macbeth, and has never seen its pageants of fear, tercame to witness the representation of ror, and despair, gliding before him in that first of all tragedies after the the imaginary, but, at the same time,
intensely real, world of Shakspeare. must have asked to destroy such a building ;
on the consummation of their
decay with no on the stage, of the poet's ideal crea
more of pity than is consistent with a smile.. tions,—while, on the other hand, per- The
mad taylor, the poor driveller that has sons, in whom that faculty is but weak, gone out of his wits (and truly he appears see in those personifications a far more to have had no great journey to go to get vivid and impressive existence, than past their confines) for the love of Charmthey could ever see in the silent words ing Betty Cureless, these half-laughable, of an unacted tragedy.
scarce-pitiable objects take off from the horFar as this article has exceeded the ror which the principal figure would of itbounds we had first assigned to it, we
self raise, at the same time that they assist cannot dismiss these volumes without the general notion of its subject."
the feeling of the scene by contributing to more particularly directing the atten
“ Is it carrying the spirit of comparison tion of our readers to the admirable
to excess to remark, that in the poor kneelessay on the genius of Hogarth. Mring weeping female, who accompanies her Lamb considers that great man, with seducer in his sad decay, there is something good reason, as in many things a kind analogous to Kent, or Caius, as he delights of Shakspeare; and the following pa- rather to be called, in Lear,—the noblest rallel displays, we think, truth and pattern of virtue which even Shakspeare has originality.
conceived,—who follows his royal master in
banishment, that had pronounced his ban* I have sometimes entertained myself ishment, and forgetful at once of his wrongs with comparing the Timon of Athen's of and dignities, taking on himself the disShakspeare, (which I have just mentioned) guise of a menial, retains his fidelity to the and Hogarth’s Rake's Progress together. The figure, his loyalty to the carcass, the shastory, the moral, in both is nearly the same.
dow, the shell and empty husk of Lear?”
He then goes over all the principal
“ It is,” says Mr Lamb, “ the fashion
of which Sir Joshua Reynolds is placed,
to exclude Hogarth from that school, as
an artist of an inferior and vulgar class.
Those persons seem to me to confound the Progress is perhaps superior to the last painting of subjects in common or vulgar scenes of Timon. if we seek for something life with the being a vulgar artist
into every picture, would alone unvulgarize
“ We are for ever deceiving ourselves
a great historical painter, because he has those“ strange bed-fellows” which misfor
taken for his subjects kings or great men, tunes have brought Lear acquainted with,
or 'transactions over which time has thrown so finely sets forth the destitute state of the
a grandeur. We term another the painter monarch, while the lunatic bans of the one,
of common life, and set him down in our and the disjointed sayings and wild but
minds for an artist of an inferior class, withpregnant allusions of the other, so wonder
out reflecting whether the quantity of thought fully sympathize with that confusion, which
shewn by the latter may not much more they seem to assist in the production of, in than level the distinction which their mere the senses of that “ child-changed father."
choice of subjects may seem to place between • In the scene in Bedlam, which termi- them ; or whether, in fact, from that very nates the Rake's Progress, we find the same
common life a great artist may not extract assortment of the ludicrous with the terrible.
as deep an interest as another man from Here is desperate madness, the overturning
that which we are pleased to call history.' of originally strong thinking faculties, at
With all this we perfectly agree; which we shudder, as we contemplate the
but we wish that Mr Lamb had stopduration and pressure of affliction which it ped here, and not allowed his passions