« ZurückWeiter »
and abode abroad; but think now with thyself, how much more unfortunate than all the women living, we are conie hither, considering that the sight which should be most pleasant to all others to behold, spiteful fortune had made most fearful to us : making myself to see my son, and my daughter here her husband, besieging the walls of his native country : so as that which is the only comfort to all others in their adversity and misery, to pray unto the Gods, and to call to them for aid, is the only thing which plungeth us into most deep perplexity. For we cannot, alas, together pray, both for victory to our country, and for safety of thy life also: but a world of grievous curses, yea more than any mortal enemy can heap upon us, are forcibly wrapped up in our prayers. For the bitter sop of most hard choice is offered thy wife and children, to forego one of the two: either to lose the person of thyself, or the nurse of their native country. For myself, my son, I am determined not to tarry till fortune in my lifetime do make an end of this war. For if I cannot persuade thee rather to do good unto both parties, than to overthrow and destroy the one, preferring love and nature before the malice and calamity of wars, thou shalt see, my son, and trust unto it, thou shalt no sooner march forward to assault thy country, but thy foot shall tread upon thy mother's womb, that brought thee first into this world. And I may not defer to see the day, either that my son be led prisoner in triumph by his natural countrymen, or that he himself do triumph of them, and of his natural country. For if it were so, that my request tended to save thy country, in destroying the Volsces, I must confess, thou wouldest hardly and doubtfully resolve on that. For as to destroy thy natural country, it is altogetber unmeet and unlawful, so were it not just and less honourable to betray those that put their trust in thee. But my only demand consisteth, to make a goal delivery of all evils, which delivereth equal benefit and safety, both to the one and the other, but most honourable for the Volsces. For it shall appear, that having victory in their hands, they have of special favour granted us singular graces, peace and amity, albeit themselves have no less part of both than we. Of which good, if so it came to pass, thyself is the only author, and so hast thou the only honour. But if it fail, and fall out contrary, thyself alone deservedly shalt carry the shameful reproach and burthen of either party. So, though the end of war be uncertain, yet this notwithstanding is most certain, that if it be thy chance to conquer, this benefit shalt thou reap of thy goodly conquest, to be chronicled the plague and destroyer of thy country. And if fortune overthrow thee, then the world will say, that through desire to revenge thy private injuries, thou hast for ever undone thy good friends, who did most lovingly and courteously receive thee.' Martius gave good ear unto his mother's words, without interrupting her speech at all, and after she had said what she would, he held his peace a pretty while, and answered not a. word. Hereupon she began again to speak unto him, and said : “My son, why dost thou not answer me? Dost thou think it good altogether to give place unto thy choler and desire of revenge, and thinkest thou it not honesty for thee to grant thy mother's request in so weighty a cause ? Dost thou take it honourable for a nobleman, to remember the wrongs and injuries done him, and dost not in like case think it an honest nobleman's part to be thankful for the goodness that parents do shew to their children, acknowledging the duty and reverence they ought to bear unto them? No man living is more bound to shew himself thankful in all parts and respects than thyself ; who so universally shewest all ingratitude. Moreover, my son, thou hast sorely taken of thy country, exacting grievous payments upon them, in revenge of the injuries offered thee; besides, thou hast not hitherto shewed thy poor mother any courtesy. And, therefore, it is not only honest, but due unto me, that without compulsion I should obtain my so just and reasonable request of thee. But since by reason I cannot persuade thee to it, to what purpose do I defer my last hope ? And with these words herself, his wife and children, fell down upon their knees before him : Martius seeing that, could refrain no longer, but went straight and lifted her up, crying out, Oh mother, what have you done to me?" And holding her hard by the right hand, Oh mother,' said he, you have won a happy victory for your country, but mortal and unhappy for your son: for I see myself vanquished by you alone.' These words being spoken openly, he spake a little apart with his mother and wife, and then let them return again to Rome, for so they did request him; and so remaining in the camp that night, the next morning he dislodged, and marched homeward unto the Volsces' country again."
Shakspeare has, in giving a dramatick form to this passage, adhered very closely and properly to the text. He did not think it necessary to improve upon the truth of nature. Several of the scenes in Julius Cæsar, particularly Portia’s appeal to the confidence of her husband by shewing him the wound she had given herself, and the appearance of the ghost of Cæsar to Brutus, are, in like manner, taken from the history.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
This is one of the most loose and desultory of our author's plays: il rambles on just as it happens, but it overtakes, together with some indifferent matter, a prodigious number of fine things in its way. Troilus himself is no character: he is merely a common lover: but Cressida and her uncle Pandarus are hit off with proverbial truth. By the speeches given to the leaders of the Grecian host, Nestor, Ulysses, Agamemnon, Achilles, Shakspeare seems to have known them as well as if he had been a spy sent by the Trojans into the enemy's camp-to say nothing of their being very lofty examples of didactick eloquence. The following is a very stately and spirited declamation :
Ulysses. Troy, yet upon her basis, had been down,
The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre,
Office, and custom, in all line of order : And therefore is the glorious planet, Sol, In noble eminence, enthron’d and spherd Amidst the other, whose med'cipable eye Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil, And posts, like the commandment of a king, Sans check, to good and bad. But, when the planets, In evil mixture to disorder wander, What plagues and what portents ? what mutinies ? What raging of the sea ? shaking of earth ? Coinmotion in the winds ? frights, changes, horrours, Divert and crack, rend and deracipate The unity and married calm of states Quite from their fixture ! 0, when degree is shaken, (Which is the ladder to all high designs) The enterprise is sick ! How could communities, Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities, Peaceful commerce from dividable shores, The primogenitive and due of birth, Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels, (But by degree) stand in authentick place ? Take but degree away, untune that string, And hark what discord follows ! each thing meets lo mere oppugnancy. The bounded waters Would lift their bosoms higher than the shores, And make a sop of all this solid globe: Strength would be lord of imbecility, And the rude son would strike his fatber dead : Force would be right; or rather, right and wrong (Between whose endless jar Justice resides) Would lose their names, and so would Justice too. Then every thing includes itself in power, Power into will, will into appetite; And appetite (an universal wolf, So doubly seconded with will and power) Must make perforce an universal prey, And last, eat up himself. Great Agamemnon, This chaos, when degree is suffocate, Follows the choking: And this neglection of degree it is,