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saw at the Globe Theater in the spring of 1611. The play finds its place in the front rank of tragedies ancient or modern; and its massive structure, its boldness of conception, the largeness of its outlines, have inclined some critics to give it the first place. It is pervaded by an atmosphere of tragedy, but it is free from the irony of blind fate. Macbeth is not the victim of a fate which is imposed upon him from without; he invokes the fate which pursues him, and "life becomes a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," because he has violated its laws and willfully evoked its possibilities of disaster.

In "Macbeth" the epic element mingled with the dramatic; in "King Lear" the tragic element is supreme and unmixed, and the tragic art of Shakespeare touches its sublimest height. There is no more tragic figure in literature than that of the old king, accustomed to rule and flung out into the night by the children among whom he has divided his power; intensely affectionate and willfully irrational; with all the majesty of a king joined to the passionate

ness of a child; his illusions destroyed, his reason unseated; with no companionship save that of the fool, wandering shelterless in the storm, symbolical of the shattering of his life in the awful tempest of passion.

This Titanic drama, which ranks with the sublimest work of Eschylus and Sophocles and stands alone in modern literature, was performed before the King at Whitehall, at Christmas-tide, 1606. The story, in a condensed form, is found in Geoffrey of Monmouth's "Historia Britonum," and was derived from an old Welsh chronicle; some of the motives introduced into the legend appear in a wide range of folk tales. Like "Hamlet," the formative conception in "King Lear" has its foundations deep in the vital experience of the race. It is Celtic in its origin; but it found its setting in literature at the hands of the old English chroniclers, Layamon, Robert of Gloucester, Robert of Brunne, and, finally, of Holinshed, in whose pages Shakespeare read it. The story of Cordelia was told in verse in "The Mirrour for Magistrates" and in "The Faerie Queene," and had

been dramatized at least fifteen years before Shakespeare dealt with it. The poet's attention may have been definitely drawn to the dramatic possibilities of this old story by a rude play which appeared in 1605, entitled "The True Chronicle History of King Leir and His Three Daughters-Gondrill, Ragan, and Cordella;" a version which, in the opinion of Dr. Ward, seemed only to await the touch of such a hand as Shakespeare's to become "a tragedy of sublime effectiveness." This was precisely what Shakespeare, by omitting irrelevant parts, by a free use of all the material, and by entirely reorganizing it, made of the old folk story.


Appalling as is the presentation of the play of elemental forces and passions in King Lear," and completely as it seems to break away from all relation to a spiritual order, and to exhibit men as the sport of fate, it is, nevertheless, rooted in the character of the men and women who are tossed about in its vast movements as by some shoreless sea. Gloucester, the putting out of whose eyes perhaps surpasses in horror any other incident in the plays, is not so blind that he cannot read the story of his own calamities in the sin of his youth. We are reminded of this relation between present misery and far-off offenses when Edgar says:

The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices
Make instruments to plague us;
The dark and vicious place where thee he got
Cost him his eyes.

The play is Titanic not only in force and grandeur, but in the elemental character of the passions and ideas which contribute to the catastrophe. Such a nature as Lear's-passionate, willful, undisciplined, dominated by a colossal egoism-could not escape a conflict of appalling dimensions. When the world which Lear had organized about him by the supremacy of his own will was shattered, he could neither recognize nor accept a new order, but must fling himself in a blind passion of revolt against the new conditions which he had unwittingly brought into being. His madness grew out of his irrational attitude towards his family.

Lear's sufferings are heightened by interweaving with them the sufferings of Gloucester. "Were Lear alone to suffer from his daughters," wrote Schlegel, "the

impression would be limited to the powerful compassion felt by us for his private misfortunes. But two such unheard-of examples taking place at the same time have the appearance of a great commotion in the moral world; the picture becomes gigantic, and fills us with such alarm as we should entertain at the idea that the heavenly bodies might one day fall from their appointed orbits." To still further deepen this impression, the Fool, the very soul of pathos in humorous disguise, strikes into clear light not only the King's misfortunes, but his faults as well.

In "King Lear," as clearly as in the other tragedies, men reap what they sow, and the deed returns to the doer with inexorable retribution; but the play is not to be explained by any easy and obvious application of ethical principles. It lifts the curtain upon the most appalling facts of life, and makes no attempt to rationalize them. In this revelation of the ultimate order of life, which is inexplicable by the mind in its present stage of development, the play takes its place with the Book of Job, with the great trilogy of Æschylus, or with the sublime "Edipus Tyrannus," of which Shelley thought it the modern equivalent. Its sublimity lies in the vastness of its presentation of the great theme of human suffering, and in the nobility of its method. Such a theme could have been touched only by a man of the first magnitude; and such a man could not go beyond its dramatic presentation; to have attempted the solution would have cheapened the work. The end of art is not to solve the problems of existence, but to deepen and freshen the sense of life; when this sense is deep and fresh, these problems are so dealt with that, as in the Book of Job, their very vastness and mystery suggest the only adequate and satisfying answer. In "King Lear," the greatest dramatic achievement of our race, the poet so enlarges the field of observation and dilates the imagination of the reader that the postponement of the ultimate solution of the problem of the tragedy is not only inevitable, but is the only outcome which would be tolerated by the reader.

In "Timon of Athens," which probably followed close upon "King Lear" in point of time, the poet turned once more from the lofty severity of tragedy, full of pity and of terror, to the easier, narrower,

and less noble attitude of the satirist, in whose comment there is a touch of corrosive bitterness. In style, in treatment, and in attitude this play is so full of inconsistencies, and in parts so essentially un-Shakespearean, that it is now generally regarded as a sketch made by the poet, but elaborated and put into its present form by other and later hands. This conclusion seems more probable than the hypothesis that it is an old drama worked over by Shakespeare, or that it was the product of collaboration with another playwright. It is not certain that any play on the subject was known to Shakespeare, who found the story of Timon in Plutarch's "Life of Antonius," and also in the version of the story in that repository of old stories, Paynter's " Palace of Pleas ure." It seems probable that the author of the play was familiar with Lucian's dialogue on Timon.

The character of Timon relates itself in various ways to that of Lear. Both confided blindly; both were generous without measure or reason; there was in both an element of irrationality; and in both the reaction was excessive and akin to madness. There were in both the elements of simple and kindly goodness; and both were lacking in perception and penetration. In both the seeds of tragic calamity lay very near the surface. The irony of Timon lies not so much in the reaction of his irrational prodigality upon his fortunes and character as in the fierce light thrown upon those who had benefited by his lavish mood. Timon hates mankind upon a very narrow basis of personal experience; Apemantus hates mankind. because he is a cynic by nature. Timon is blind alike to the good and the evil in mankind; he fails to recognize the loyal devotion of his steward Flavius, after misfortunes have overtaken him, as he failed to heed his warnings in the days of prodigality. In this blindness his calamities are rooted; it is this which turns all the sweetness of his nature into acid when the world forsakes him; and it is this which makes his judgment of that world valueless save as an expression of his own mood." Timon" is a study of temperament, not a judgment upon life.

There could hardly have been a greater contrast of subject and material than that which Shakespeare found when he turned

from "King Lear or "Timon" to "Antony and Cleopatra"-a tragedy almost incredibly rich in variety and range of character and in splendor of setting. He had recourse again to Plutarch's "Life of Antonius," fastening this time, not upon an episode, but upon the nature and fate of one of the most fascinating figures on the stage of the antique world. That world he recreated in its strength and weakness, in its luxury and magnificence, in a drama which brought before the imagination with equal firmness of touch the power of Rome, personified in the disciplined and far-seeing Octavius, the voluptuous temperament of the East in Cleopatra, and the tragic collision of two great opposing conceptions of life in Marc Antony-a man born with the Roman capacity for action and the Eastern passion for pleasure. In Cæsar's house in Rome, in newly contracted alliance with Octavius, Antony's heart is in Egypt:

I' the East my pleasure lies.

The style marks the transition to the poet's latest manner; rhyme almost disappears, and "weak endings," or the use of weak monosyllables at the end of the lines, become very numerous. The poet had secured such conscious mastery of his art that he trusted entirely to his instinct and taste. The story in Plutarch's hands has a noble breadth and beauty, and is full of insight into the ethical relations of the chief actors in this world-drama. The full splendor of Shakespeare's genius has hardly done more than bring out dramatically the significance of these great words of the Greek biographer:

Antonius being thus inclined, the last and extremist mischief of all other (to wit, the love of Cleopatra) lighted on him, who did waken and stir up many vices yet hidden in him, and were never seen to any; and if any spark of goodness or hope of rising were left him, Cleopatra quenched it straight and made it worse than before.

Again and again Shakespeare touched. upon this great theme and showed how tragic disaster issues out of unregulated passion and infects the coolest nature with madness; but nowhere else is that tragedy set on so great a stage and so magnificently enriched with splendid gifts of nature, noble possessions, and almost limitless opportunities of achievement.

It is the drama of the East and West in mortal collision of ideals and motives, and

the East succumbs to the superior fiber and more highly organized character of the West. Cleopatra is the greatest of the enchantresses. She has wit, grace, humor; the intoxication of sex breathes from her; she unites the passion of a great temperament with the fathomless coquetry of a courtesan of genius. She is passionately alive, avid of sensation, consumed with love of pleasure, imperious in her demands. for that absolute homage which slays honor and saps manhood at the very springs of its power. This superb embodiment of femininity, untouched by pity and untroubled by conscience, has a compelling charm, born in the mystery of passion and taking on the radiance of a thousand moods which melt into one another in endless succession, as if there were no limit to the resources of her temperament and the sorceries of her beauty. Of her alone has the greatest of poets dared to declare that "age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety." It is this magnificence which invests Cleopatra's criminality with a kind of sublimity; so vast is the scale of her being and so tremendous the force of her passions.

The depth of Shakespeare's poetic art and the power of his imagination are displayed in their full compass in " "Antony and Cleopatra." The play is vitalized as by fire, so radiant is it in energy and beauty of expression. The chief figures are not only realized with historical fidelity, but they breathe the very atmosphere of the East.

In "Julius Cæsar" there is Roman massiveness of construction and severity of outline; "Antony and Cleopatra" is steeped in the languor and luxury of the East. The Roman play has the definiteness and solidity of sculpture; the Egyptian play has the glow and radiancy of painting.

The study of classical subjects bore final fruit, at the end of this period in Shakespeare's life as an artist, in “Coriolanus" the tragedy of a great nature wrecked by pride. Written about 1609, and closely related to the magnificent drama of the East and West, the poet turned for the last time to the pages of Plutarch, who told this story, as he told the story of Antony, with a noble dignity and beauty which were not lost at the hands of his English translator. The

motive of the play is so admirably set forth in a few phrases in the Life of Coriolanus that it is impossible to avoid quoting them :

He was a man too full of passion and choler, and too much given over to self-will and opinion, as one of a high mind and great courage, that lacked the gravity and affability that is gotten with judgment of learning and reason, which only is to be looked for in a governor of State; and that remembered not how willfulness is the thing of the world, which a governor of a commonwealth, for pleasing, should shun, being that which Plato called “solitariness;" as, in the end, all men that are willfully given to a self opinion and obstinate mind, and who will never yield to other's reason but to saken of all men. their own, remain without company and forFor a man that will live in the world must needs have patience, which lusty bloods make but a mock at. So Marcius, being a stout man of nature, that never yielded in any respect, as one thinking that to overcome always and to have the upper hand in all matters was a token of magnanimity and of no base and faint courage, which spitteth out anger from the most weak and passioned part of the beast, much like the matter of an impostume went home to his house, full freighted with spite and malice against the people.

The humorous scenes which give the play variety were entirely contributed by Shakespeare; and the presentation of the mob is highly characteristic. The poet hated the irrationality and violence of untrained men. Coriolanus never for a moment conceals his contempt for them: I heard him swear,

Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i' the market-place, nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor, showing (as the manner is) his wounds
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.

This is quite in accord with Casca's contempt for the "rabblement" which "hooted, and clapped their chapped hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath," because Cæsar refused the crown. This contempt finds its most satiric expression in Jack Cade's manifesto:

Be brave then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be, in England, seven half-penny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer; all the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass.

In complete contrast with this conception of the common people as a mere rabble, full of passion and devoid of ideas, stands Coriolanus-a typical aristocrat, with the virtues of the aristocrat:

courage, indifference to pain, scorn of money, independence of thought, command of eloquence, and natural aptitude for leadership. These great qualities are neutralized by colossal egotism, manifesting itself in a pride so irrational and in

The Insight of the Christian

By the Rev. W. P. Allis

"Is the seer here?"-1 Samuel ix., II.


HIS is the question of a young countryman who with his servant is looking for live-stock which has strayed from his father's farm. He who later was called the "prophet" was then called "seer." The young Saul shares in a popular estimate of the day, and attributes to Samuel, the seer, some of the qualities of the soothsayer. It happens, then, as it has so often since, that the half truth can become a step toward the whole, and that even a superstition can begin a revelation. Saul is searching for a soothsayer, and finds a seer. He goes out with the hope that he can find the lost animals, and finds himself. The seer discloses to the peasant his coming kingship.

In time the seer merges into the prophet, but the discerning quality which makes the name "seer" so finely descriptive is never lost.

From Samuel to Elisha, from Amos to Jeremiah, from the later Isaiah to John the Baptist, the instinct of the seer is the key to prophecy. Whether the prophet is statesman, political economist, social reformer, or teacher of pure religion, he is sharply opposed to the professional ecclesiastic. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sends the arrogant message to Amos: "O thou seer, flee away to Judah, and prophesy there." It is Amos, as the prophet, who sharply retorts: "I was not one of the sons of the prophets, but the Lord took me as I followed the herd, and said, Go prophesy to my people Israel." The fact that he was not a professional was at once his credential and his safeguard. His right to prophesy did not lie in his family connections, nor in any laying on of hands. but in his being a seer.

The gulf between priest and prophet widens. Ecclesiasticism lays its hand

sistent that, sooner or later, by the necessity of its nature, it must produce the tragic conflict. Coriolanus, in spite of his great faults, has heroic proportions, and fills the play with the sense of his superiority; he lives and dies like a true tragic hero.

with ever-increasing rigor on secular as well as religious life. The prophets are succceded by the wise men who play so important a part in the education of the common people, and the prophecies are displaced by the wisdom literature. The rabbis in the widening circle of the synagogue life help to keep alive the democratic spirit, and the stream of prophecy, disappearing for a time from the surface, reappears in many a private utterance which would once have been distrusted in the face of the wider reputation of the national prophets. The stream becomes an intermittent spring in the Book of Daniel and the fierce religious spirit of the Maccabean rebellion, and rushes into sight again in the ringing denunciation of national and private sins which falls from the lips of the Baptist. At last prophecy takes on its original form, although heightened in a new insight and beauty, in the words of the Seer who spoke as never man spoke, teaching the world that even seership could take on a more abundant life.

Side by side with this persistent power to declare the principles of individual and national welfare, almost making it possible to say that prophecy was never lost, was the hardening of religion into the burdening formalism of the temple and its sacrificial rites. It is this professional spirit which is to send its haughty messengers to Jesus demanding his authority, and which with relentless hatred would make it expedient that one man should die rather than die itself. It is this eternal conflict between religion as a seeing and religion as a ritual which explains why Jesus could so long preach in the synagogues when the priests from almost the first of his ministry became so bitterly hostile. And this also explains why the synagogue so often

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