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way; for such they rather seem to be than the mere absence of prejudice. What really Saxon Englishman with half his opportunities, beside the vital exigence of courting public favour, had not been lavish in laudation, sincere or otherwise, of his countrymen? Yet nothing of the kind is ever once observed in Shakespeare. A recent editor remarks it as a singular exception to the universal custom of the writers of that age, that Shakespeare had never made a personal appeal, through the actors or directly, to the public of his audience, except on two occasions, and there by mere allusion. He seems as one who felt himself among a foreign people, of whom he had his own, and no very high opinion, but from whom he was determined to earn his bread, and to retire upon the earliest convenient opportunity. It would be perhaps going too far to call this state of feeling prejudice. But it is wonderful to see how freely he gives way to it repeatedly. Thus, in Portia's review of the various nations through her suitors, she says of the Englishman: "He is the picture of a proper man; but who can converse with a dumb show?" Moreover, none but a Celt could value men by their conversing powers; at least, no Teuton poet, nor even Italian princess. So the word "proper" which the critics, teaching Shakespeare how to flatter, would gloss by the consoling attribution of "handsome," means simply clean, well-washed, as in the French original. Again, Iago is made to characterize the English as "most potent in potting: your Dane and your German, and your swag-bellied Hollander-drink, ho are nothing to your English." Thus the whole Teutonic family is brought into comparison; as if "none but itself could be its parallel."
And, in sooth, drinking is no less characteristic of the race than eating. Their harsh, intoxicating liquors are not, as is pretended, a requisite of their climate, but of their constitution; a supplement of spirit to their feeble nervous action, to agitate the muscular phlegmatism that oppresses them. Hence their general consumption of crude or windfall oranges, a gulp of the juice of which would give the tetanus to a hippopotamus. Accordingly, the Celts, however
far to the North, knew originally nothing of this brutal beers and spirits, while they follow, in both hemispheres, the Teuton to the Line. Their own indigenous drink was mead, a delicate concoction, in which honey was the principal ingredient. The horse beverages have been the chief boon to them from their conquerors. They were adopted by the Irish to drown a sense of their hopeless miseries, and will be found to disappear as that people become themselves. The Scotch, who had not the same excuse, appear, besides, to be more persistent so that their "potency in potting" is commended to those among them who desire a serious title to Teutonic extraction. In truth, however, the Scotch are no exception to the Celtic rule. They do not enter taverns to stand around like skidded barrels, as sucking and as silent, to be filled with acrid beer. Their favourite drink is whisky in some mitigated form, which promotes that social converse so dear to the Celt. And accordingly the whisky would also be disused, if the Scotch and the Irish would only combine to obtain the cheap admission of wine from the continent; the social beverage of their chiefs in the days of independence, and the only one befitting a humane or civilized being.
So, it is evident, thought Shakespeare, who was the soul
of sociability, and who thus proclaimed his loathing of the national propensity. He ventures even further, though somewhat less explicitly. Who can doubt of the original, for instance, of "Bully Bottom"? who browbeats his fellows, arrogates all parts however incongruous, pretends to know all without having learned any, but prefers "the 'Ercles' vein, the tyrant's vein." The reader will remark the clinching hint of the form 'Ercles, the metropolitan pronunciation of the name of the god of muscle.1 The rash wit attains the climax of his daring in Caliban ; this queer personage, who has been hitherto so inexplicable to the critics, but whose specific traits of "eating," "cursing," and "carousing," with his "navie"-like laboriousness, might well have prompted men less partial. Accordingly, the poet, as if to jog this obtuse bias-which he must have well known, as the stalking-horse to his shafts-is found, as in respect to 'Ercles, to throw in indirectly, but also unmistakeably, a guiding intimation. He makes Trinculo say naïvely, in allusion to the strange islander: "In England, the monster would make a man; any strange beast there makes a man." In short, it could perhaps be shewn that the history of the British island is enveloped in the mystery of this island of the Tempest.
But the point was
1 Malone, with his usual small and technical spirit, sees in Bottom but the elevated Shakespearian purpose of ridiculing "some theatrical candidate for applause.”—“A theatrical candidate for applause"! exclaims Mr. Knight, with a merited contempt; "why, Bottom is the representative of the whole human race." The English critic, although scarcely less extreme than the Irishman, is naturally less mistaken. No doubt the truth lies, as usual, intermediate the two opinions; the meaning neither was an individual nor the species, but a nation-which could alone, in fact, be dramatic, as proved in the Introduction.
not to prosecute discoveries in Shakespeare; but to note the means of judging if his feelings towards the English, extravagant as they thus were, might not be properly deemed prejudices. They, at all events, were not feelings of either sympathy or respect.
On the other hand, the Celts, in no one member of the race, are made the subject, not to say of caricature, but even a sarcasm. The "neighbourly charity" imputed to the Scotch is uttered in a spirit of reproof, and not of satire, and the nation is always mentioned elsewhere with praise. The noble eulogy of the Spaniards has been already noted. French are also treated with a candid discrimination. Welsh are represented but by foibles that are respectable; and to an Irish weakness there is but one allusion. And this immunity is the more striking from the circumstance, that, at that period, the English were at open or covert warfare with all these peoples, and no less eager than they still are to hear a diatribe in their disparagement. What is more, perhaps, the religion that remains common to all or most of them, and then a bugbear with all England from the court to the crowd, is not treated once by Shakespeare with so much as a gibe! So marked is this, indeed, that the Catholics claim the poet as of their fold. That he should have, in the circumstances, left a ground for even suspicion, is a fact that would weigh strongly in support of the affirmative. But accident has, besides, furnished an insuppressible1 attestation,
1 The force of this epithet and of the argument will be conceived, if it be called to mind that the forgeries of Ireland-the coarsest impostures ever passed upon even the English-began adroitly with, and perhaps, in fact, owed their success to, "A Protestant Profession of Faith, by William Shakespeare."
in the form of a credo, that his father at least was Catholic. And as between the two religions there is no better mark of Had the illustrious More not announced it by his name, and by being the first of moderns to plan an ideal society, and even by the bons mots that followed him to the block, his Celtic blood would have been proved by being the only man in England, with the exception of one bishop, to adhere to Catholicity, against the interdiction of a licentious murderer. No doubt the English changed so easily, for the like reason of race; although they for the most part changed backwards the next reign. But this is the prerogative, as now explained, of Conscience, which may make a thousand somersets and always light upon its legs. It is also the apology for the harsh judgment of Hegel, who says of the race generally, that "their religion has no profundity, and the same might be said of their ideas of law."1 He meant their doctrinal religion, of which the charge is true.
But not more true
than it would be of all their other abstract notions; and for the reason that their intellect is too concrete to conceive them unless embodied, as their laws are, in personal agents or physical processes: thus the French organization seems to this people a despotism. The Celt adheres to dogmas, for the opposite reason-besides logical consistency and social concentration. For Catholicity (not the Roman, which is spiritual despotism, but the rational and systematic) is the Celtic sociability; while Protestantism, in the genuine or Lutheran varieties, is the similar expression of personality and Teutonism.
If the character, variety, and concurrence of the foregoing 1 Philosophy of History, p. 366. (Eng. Transl.)