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there are various ways in which a bias may declare itself, and these incline in Shakespeare to the Celts against the Teutons. The opposition of these two races in the subject of politics, although this test was purposely excluded from the argument, must yet have been surmised from the co-ordinate lines of survey. The personality of the Teutons is in politics democracy; the sociability and organization of the Celts is aristocracy aristocracy, that is, as a hierarchy of merit; not, as in the lower races, an accident of wealth or birth. But this disposition is found imbueing the deepest sentiments of Shakespeare. The expression is decided not alone in the Celtic plays, where the doctrine might be thought to be exacted by the characters. The most emphatic declarations of it is presented in a Greek subject, and in the person of the ancient type of statesmanship, Ulysses. In the piece of Troilus and Cressida, among the latest of the author, the most mature in thought and the most conversant in politics, he gives, with habitual propriety, to this mythic politician the most eloquent and prolix allocution in his writings, to inculcate the necessity of social graduation. Some lines may be transcribed to note the tenor of the reasoning:
degree being visarded,
The unworthiest shews as fairly in the mask.
The heavens themselves, the planets and this centre,
Insistance, course, proportion, season, form,
Office and custom, in all line of order.
And hark what discord follows; each thing meets
In meer OPPUGNANCY, etc.
Then everything includes itself in power [force],
And appetite an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded by will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
Act i. sc. 3.
Never, surely, was portrayed in more profound and faithful colours at once the cause, the character, the career, and the end of the governments and races of conquest and muscularity; that universal scramble of "each for himself," as the great observer continues to strip it of the last disguise: an envious fever
Of pale and bloodless emulation.
Into no other passage perhaps of his whole writings has the poet so undramatically poured his heart and head. He could not, had he formally held the theory of these pages, have insisted more emphatically on this contrast of race and character. For instance, the meer oppugnancy," which marks the absence of "degree," is precisely the expedient of balances, antagonisms, on which revolve the institutions, morals, mind of the race of muscle; and indispensably, as in the muscular system itself. Nor is the poet yet satisfied, but makes the Greek orator return, with scarce Homeric decorum, to the charge. He is alluding to Achilles, Patroclus, and their Myrmidons, and talking to Nestor, Agamemnon, and other chiefs :
Ulyss.-They tax your policy and call it cowardice;
Count wisdom as no member of the war;
Forestall prescience and esteem no act
But that of hand: the still and mental parts,
When fitness calls them on; and know, by measure
So that the ram that batters down the wall,
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine;
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.
To which Nestor responds:
Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse
This sort of animus of Shakespeare is indeed throughout so pointed as to have provoked the latest of his commentators to reproof. They impute his debasement of Ajax and Achilles-his making them, as they express it, “bullies and blockheads"-to something like an envious disparagement of Homer. These critics were misled, it may well be, by honest sympathies. The subjects drawn by Shakespeare were nearer home than Homer; as they were, on many other unsuspected occasions. Besides, he was justified by far a deeper knowledge of the character in question than was possible to the great ancient. For example, he improves on him in painting Achilles as "lolling on his lazy couch"; thus hitting off a feature of the muscular complexion which, from the seeming contradiction, had escaped the Greek poem. It also escaped Horace, in his otherwise happy summary :
IMPIGER, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer.
The irritability, vindictiveness, and harshness are to the life. But the restless agitation is only half true; the impiger is less characteristic than would be piger. The latter is accordingly what struck the mind of Shakespeare, who
copied his description from the nature before him, and not from Homer's pages, as the critics would oblige him.
Tacitus, who likewise is supposed a keen observer, has remarked of the very ancestors of Shakespeare's real models : Mira diversitate naturæ, cum iidem homines sic AMENT INERTIAM et oderint quietatem.' Here are the impiger and
piger combined, with the general antagonism or contradiction that marks the race.
The same decided predilection for order and gradation— that is, organization is shewn repeatedly in the Celtic plays. Thus Macbeth was made to formalize a scheme of social statics, in applying the distribution of the breeds of dog to the grades of merit. In "Cymbeline," Belario is made to protest :
though mean and mighty rotting
Together have one dust; yet Reverence—
THAT ANGEL OF THE WORLD-doth make distinction
Nothing could be possibly more Celtic than this sublime sentiment. Indeed, the whole character of this old Morgan is amongst the most remarkable conceptions of Shakespeare, considering the little opportunity he could have had of observing the more primitive or pure varieties of the Celtic type: he could have drawn its colouring but from the depths of his own sympathies. With the Teutons, the angel of the world would be irreverence-that is, democracy, liberty, negation, rebellion; as it has in fact been chanted by both Milton and Goethe. Again, the disguised Imogen is asked by Arviragus: "Are we not brothers"? The answer of even the woman is
1 Germania, ch. xx.
still the more significant in view of the dependence and distraction of her state :
So man to man should be ;
But clay and clay differ in dignity,
Whose dust is both alike.
What an epitome of social and moral wisdom! The Goth would have seen nothing but the elemental “dust"; and, ignoring both the temper and the moulding of the clay, inferred equality in rank and race from equality in rottenness. Only turn to the princely meditations of Hamlet, on the progress of a king through the guts of a beggar, and the dust of Alexander employed to stop a bung-hole.
Thus consistent was the contrast of the races in Shakespeare's mind, and his personal predilection is scarcely less decided. He speaks of the multitude repeatedly with contempt; and what is still more significant, he sometimes expresses it by means of the distinctive attribution of the Teutons. As, for instance, "the differing multitude"; the "still discordant wavering multitude." On the other hand, there does not occur throughout his writings a single line of eulogy upon their commonplace of "liberty." Now, if these negative characteristics, combined with the positive, inculcating political and social graduation - nay, extending the principle to philosophical generality, as where the poet again says, in the Merchant of Venice,
Nothing is good, I see, without respect [relation]—
if these things can be shewn of any other standard writer of English race and literature, in either prose or poetry, this portion of the evidence will be foregone as null.
The very prejudices of the poet appear to lean the same