Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Parolles. O! ransom, ransom: do not hide mine eyes.

Act IV. Scene 5.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL,

To which are added,

A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME, -CAST OF THE CHARACTERS,

ENTRANCES AND EXITS, RELATIVE POSITIONS OF THE PER

FORMERS ON THE STAGE, AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAGE

BUSINESS.

As now performed at the

THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.

EMBELLISHED WITH A FINE WOOD ENGRAVING,

By Mr. BONNER, from a Drawing taken in the Theatre, by

Mr. R. CRUIKSHANK.

LONDON:

JOHN CUMBERLAND, 19, LUDGATE HILL.

LONDON: Printed by John Cumberland, 19, Ludgate Hill. REMARKS.

All's Twell that Ends Uwell. To those who are accustomed to study Shakspeare through the distorted medium of a Theatre, this play is utterly unknown; yet should curiosity prompt them to a perusal, they will be surprised that a drama possessing so much variety of character, such delight. ful scenes of sentiment and humour, should be altogether iaid aside and forgotten. It is only in the closet that we become familiar with the genius of Shakspeare. The heavy hand of the player has no power over our musing moments. Nor are we deafened with the shouts of an applauding multitude, as ignorant as himself. Let this great poet be more generally studied, and the Drama's reformation will speedily follow. The stage will no longer be the pander of public taste, but its monitor.

The serious portion of this comedy comprises the characters of the Countess Rousillon, Helena, and the King of France. The comic, those of Lafeu, the Clown, and that most amusing of all cowardly boasters, (Falstaff alone excepted,) Paroles. The Countess is a noble Lady, who has been so familiar with sorrow; who bas felt

-“ So many quirks of joy and grief,
“ That the first face of neither, on the start

“ Can woman her unto't." Her maternal love for Helena becomes more interesting, compared with the conduct of her unworthy Son; and her struggle between duty and affection is finely portrayed. Though retired and unpretending, her character is so delicately tinished, that it carries a charm beyond all the other personages of the Drama. The melancholy tone that pervades her parting advice to Bertram is exceedingly beautiful.

“ Be thou blest, Bertram; and succeed thy father
" In manners as in shape I thy blood and virtue
“ Contend for empire in thee ; and thy goodness
“Share with thy birth-right I Love all, trust a few,
“Do wrong to none : be able for thine enemy
“Rather in power, than use; and keep thy friend
“ Under thine own life's key: be check'd for silence,
" But never tax'd for speech. What Heaven more will,
“ That thee may furnish, and my prayers pluck down,

"Fall on thy head.” The King is a portrait of that happy old age which contemplates the past with complacency, and the future without dread : 'from whom time has not taken away the power of temperate eujoyment, nor in whom enjoyment has created an unwonted desire to live. How admirably illustrative of his character is his speech to Ber. tram, where he calls to mind the beloved companion of his youth, and draws a picture of unequalled gracefulness and beauty.

“ I would I had that corporal soundness now,
“As when thy Father and myself, in friendship

<<

First try'd our soldiership! He did look far
“ Into the service of the time, and was
“ Discipled of the bravest.

his honour,
“ Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
“ Exception bid him speak--Who were below him
“He us'd as creatures of another place ;
" And bow'd lis eminent top, to their low ranks,

“ Making them proud of his humility:" and in what perfect harmony with this description, is the following pathetic wish—a wish to which every mind of feeling and sensibility cannot fail to respond.

“Let me not live
“ After my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff
“Of younger spirits; whose apprehensive senses
“ All but new things disdain: whose judgments are
“Merefathers of their garments; whose constancies

“ Expire before their fashions.
Upon which the King engrafts the following wish of his own:

“ 1, after him, do after him wish too,
“Since I nor wax, nor honey, can bring home,
“ I quickly were dissolved from my hive,

“ To give some labourer room." Shakspeare has been peculiarly happy in his pictures of female devotedness and constancy. To an enchanting delicacy he has added an heroic spirit, that can despise danger when opposed to woman's love. The character of Helena is highly impassioned. Her ardent affection for Bertram, and her modest concealment, are touched with infinite tenderness; an her candid avowal, when the Countess commands her to disclose the state of her heart, is worthy of a maid

" Too virtuous “For the contempt of Empire." Her reflections on the many dangers to which Bertram is exposed by their untoward marriage, and her resolution to depart a barefoot pilgrim, that her presence may no longer be a bar to his return, are in perfect accordance with her noble character; and we hardly think that poetical justice is awarded, when the unworthy Bertram, to use the phrase of Johnson, is dimissed to happiness.

The Clown inherits all the quibbling qualities of his motley brethren, His colloquies with Helena and the Countess, though they partake too much of those licentious freedoms that were the vice of the age, are rich in humour. We particularly instance his several reasons for marriage, and his bountiful answer that fits all ques. tions, “O Lord, Sir ""' We have here some curious allusions to old customs turned to very merry account. The French lord, Lafeu, is a gay old courtier, that points his jokes with intinite pleasantry. We do not remember a recurrence of this witty portrait in any other of Shakspeare's plays.

The Boaster and Coward Paroles is greatly superior to the Thraso of Terence. It is not often that a character every way contemptible is productive of such abundant merriment. He has none of Falstaff's Instinct to help him out of a dilemma, nor is he planet. struck like the Braggadocio Bobadil. He has not even Pistol's consolation of swearing while he swallows his leek. Yet does his whimsical candour ensure him a favourable reception. He is a coward, and scruples not to confess it--for he threatens to put his

« ZurückWeiter »