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mobilité qui appartient à une civilization presque sauvage ; ses passions sont imperieuses, mais aucune serie de raissonnements et de projets ne les determine et ne le gouverne. It must be now needless to say, that these assertions present, at every point, the precise opposite of Macbeth's qualities. Is it then that the writer never read the piece with care, or that he was unable to comprehend it? It may be partly the latter, for a reason to be noted, notwithstanding his being a translator of Shakespeare. But the principal cause was partly passion and partly policy. The work in question was published in 1852 ; that is, soon after M. Guizot had himself and his royal master expelled from the ministry and throne of France, through a dogged imposition of his doctrinized Anglicanism, with its confusion, corruption, and commercialism, on a Celtic nation. Of course this nation had in consequence the precise vices stated, and it would be safe to say so through the medium of the Scotch Celts : it was a prelude to the tactic by which the same hand employed the Cromwells as a stalking-horse against the French Emperor. Not merely safe, but also politic, the English being well known to like a man the better, the worse he likes that race But there were then some hopes of reinstalling the entente cordiale. The ex-minister set to making what the Americans call “ political capital.” The way to do this with the English is believed, on the Continent, to be by rapturous admiration of either the Anglo-Saxon race, the genius of Shakespeare, or the blessings of the Bible. Thus Kossuth, when he came to enlist England against Austria, had just learned the English language in the odd horn-book of Shakespeare. M. Guizot
. was already president of a Bible society in Paris. He there
fore took up the alternative of “ Shakespeare et son Temps." The only literary glory of the unfortunate Welsh and Irish, the Bards, he transfers wholesale to the credit of the English. Instead of labouring, as history assures us for centuries, to exterminate them as an obstacle to quiet domination, the English were their patrons and propagators, as producers. Hence the nation had been the most poetical in Europe. Hence in turn it produced Shakespeare, the greatest poet, etc. Such is the project which, together with his rancour towards the French or Celtic character, produced his travesty of Macbeth.
The animus, in fact, is no less plain than the misjudgment. It is not the "civilization” alone that is sauvage(by the way, this “savage" species of "civilization” would seem to have escaped the professor in his history); all things in the play of Macbeth are savage. The style itself is but
une energie sauvage.” Nay, the reasoning or dialectic, which he cannot dissemble, he vilifies by the name of recherche, and this he also tells us is a property of savages. Take his own words : “ Ceque nous connaissons des discours des sauvages contient beaucoup d'idées recherchées,” etc. Thus M. Guizot as critic comprehends the Celts of Shakespeare as sagaciously as the politician comprehended the Celts of France. But while Macbeth and his countrymen are made decided savages, what does the writer think of the contemporary Hamlet ? “Hamlet,” says M. Guizot, “est beau, populaire, genereux, affectueux, TENDRE même !" Now, this suggests the species of apology alluded to. For not the pettiest fueilletonist of the Paris press would have hazarded his reputation on the crudities just cited, unless he really was deluded to some extent as to their grossness. It is but
fair to himself, then, to observe, that M. Guizot is far more a Teuton than he is a Frenchman. His sympathies, his studies, and doubtless his blood, are all, like his politics and religion, of Hamlet's race. He has always had an Englishman's contempt for the French, and they in turn have detested in him what they call his morgue—a quite peculiarly Gothic quality dressed in French formalism. It is quite probable, therefore, that this sympathy and antipathy co-operated with the passion and the purpose exposed, to mislead a man so able into notions so preposterous. How different is the estimate of Schlegel, though a Teuton, who says of this play, with a noble enthusiasm, that “since the Eumenides of Eschylus nothing so grand and terrible has ever been written.”
It was a question left impending at the close of the previous chapter, whether Shakespeare must not owe the extraordinary penetration, shewn in the part and play of Hamlet, to a sympathy of race; and the decision was referred to the experimental result of the analysis of Macbeth, a case excluding the supposed cause. But the effect, it is seen, the excellence continues here the same, and so would equally claim the poet as appertaining to the Celtic family. Indeed, the character and conduct of Macbeth, as now expounded, appear the more profound or the more finished of the two portraitures. The composition also takes the cast of the Celtic mind. Both the unities of place and time are far less outraged than is common. The former is but once so, in passing to the court of England. The time is not determined, but, as is well remarked by Schlegel, “ that time appears the shortest to the imagination which is the most crowded with events ;” and this able critic also observes the striking con
trast between the Celtic rapidity of the action in Macbeth, and its unwieldy and straggling tediousness in Hamlet. The pieces are to each other as the French and German empires, or even as the Scotch and the English jurisprudence. The personages also are fewer in Macbeth than in any other of the first-class plays; a fact implying a corresponding composition in the action. The piece itself is a good deal shorter, the economy is more compact, the distribution of the scenes is more sequential and suggestive, the metaphors are less extravagant, the common-places less intrusive, the style more powerful, pithy, pure, than Shakespeare ever reached elsewhere. He seems concentrated, composed, condensed for this supreme effort of his genius.
But all this, though it may neutralize the inference as to Hamlet, is on the other hand as inconclusive of the Celtic claim to Shakespeare. It is in fact a simple consequence of the department assigned the dramatist. The great innovator could not edify beyond the ground floor of character, and so his modicum of action is still but character drawn out. But when the character to be depicted was ratiocinative, systematic, how could the conduct and the composition be disorderly, without absurdity ? And on the other hand, in a character of which the essence was incoherence, as the motives were radiations from the centre of personality, to give the piece constructive qualities, would be preposterous to art and truth. It is the subjects, then, and not his sympathies, that guided Shakespeare's genius. At least, it will be well, before finally concluding, to wait the test of the avowedly heterogeneous race of Shylock-after fortifying the foregoing results by the secondary characters.
PRINCIPALLY OF THE PIECES OF HAMLET AND MACBETH.
1. To keep some order among a crowd, the chief subordinates of both those plays will be considered, first, in reference to the race, like the principals ; and then in contrast with each other, in proportion to their saliency. It would be useless and pedantic to push this summary discrimination into a formal application of all and each of the testing attributes. The type in secondary personages fades forthwith into the mass, presenting little of the race, nay, individual, beyond the
The course will be, then, to note the sparks, but the nore probative for this declension, here and there as stricken out by mere attrition with the leading characters, and let them run illumination along the frame-work in the previous articles.
The place of precedence belongs by rank as well as courtesy to the women. Ophelia, and even the Queen, are main agents in the piece of Hamlet, and the dread Lady Macbeth is scarcely second to the Thane himself.
With regard to the Gothic ladies, the common trait that first arrests is a neutrality of intellectual and moral character