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sullen, sour, and uncomfortable creatures, whose life presents a perfect contrast to that of the jester's; the length of whose supernaturally solemn visage by no means implies the longitude of his wisdom, for his snivellings, whimperings, and whinings are a constant reproach to God for having made him. You may depend upon it, if there are any evil spirits in the world, they take possession of a mind like this. Let us learn from him the moral to live otherwise. We can well understand why in some parts of Scripture a sad heart is called an evil heart. Doubtless there are misery and want, sorrow and trouble enough around and with us; but, on the whole, happiness predominates over misery, and pleasure over pain. Pleasure is natural and comes of itself, whereas pain is the consequence of some abnormal condition, and comes in the way of warning or as means to an end. Nature has made it much easier to laugh than to cry, and she has bountifully supplied us with sources of amusement.

“ All things are full of jest, nothing that's plain

But may be witty, if thou hast the vein.” If God has given us a sense of humour, let us be thankful to Him for His good gift. Dr. South, who “reconciled divinity and wit,” once said to Dr. Sherlock, when reproved by the latter for levity during a debate : “If it had pleased God to have given you wit, what would you have done with it?" Shakspeare, like Solomon, has taught us that everything is good in its season, and that there is a time for all things—for laughing and weeping, for fearing and hoping, for eating and drinking He might have been called the laughter-loving Shakspeare. How he must have laughed in the wanton gladsomeness of his heart with Falstaff Touchstone, Mercutio, Antolycus, Sir Toby Belch, &c. He must have laughed often, too, at the follies, foibles, and oddities of some of his own creations—at the red nose of Bardolph, at the self-sufficient swaggering airs of ancient Pistol, at the childish gabble of Shallow, at the “yellow-legged stork ” Malvolio, and a host of others, such as Froth, Dogberry, Bottom, Wart, Mouldy, Feeble, Bullcalf, &c., whose very names make us tremble with laughter. The world would be a great deal poorer without these fools, jesters, and mirth-moving creations of Shakspeare. They have helped to increase good humour and to throw a bright sunshine over existence ; have made our homes happier and kept us in mirth's daily food; and have given us also kinder, larger, and more tolerant views of life.

In conclusion we, remark that, with all Shakspeare's worldwide laughter, which was enough to exhaust the heart of a giant, the poet saw the serious side' of our complex existence as clearly as the ludicrous; and he has shown us that even the comic element is connected with the solemn and the tragic. The heart-breaking sorrow and mad fury of Lear must have " tore him as fire tears a thunder-cloud.” Where can be found such an accumulation of woes as in the tragedies of of “ Romeo and Juliet," " Macbeth," “ Othello,” “Hamlet,” “ Timon ?” What must that heart have been that could depict all these great struggles and dark passions, which found vent in the impersonations of ghosts, witches, demons, murderers, suicides, madmen, and misanthropes! It is only as we read the comedies of Shakspeare, that we can understand how it was possible for him to have written these tragedies. Humour, which is akin to pathos and springs from love, softened and subdued the inward striving of those passions, which like mad furies must have possessed and tormented his soul. Truly he has given us both tears and laughter for all time. In the immense space stretching between Dogberry and Hamlet, Touchstone and Timon, Calaban and Ariel, lies the Shaksperian world, where side by side with Kings, Queens, Princes, Cardinals, and angels in the form of women, are found these fools, jesters, clowns, pedlars, watchmen, joiners, weavers, &c., the boldest and broadest representations of the varieties of human character ; yet with our great poet's universal comprehensiveness, his knowledge of humanity in the lowest and highest aspects ever revealed to mortal ken : human nature, that mighty universal heart and brain, “ which outsee seers and outwit sages,” was infinitely greater and wiser than he ; and in “Hamlet” he has shown us how he was baffled and confounded in his attempts to interpret the dream of existence which floated around him. The words which he has put into the mouth of the soothsayer, in the play of “Antony and Cleopatra,” may be his own modest confession of the liinited range of vision, which was given even to him, wherewith to pry into the unfathomable mysteries of the universe.

66 In Nature's infinite book of secrecy

A little I can read.”

THE

RELATION OF POETRY TO HISTORY

ILLUSTRATED BY

SHAKSPEARE'S ENGLISH HISTORICAL PLAYS.

Lecture.

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