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[Jan. less well of purest affection, but its waters sleep in silence and obscurity
. Every thing in her seems to lie beyond our view, and affects us in a manner which we feel rather than perceive. The character appears to have no surface, no salient points on which the fancy can readily seize; there is little external developement of intellect, less of passion, and still less of imagination." It is completely made out in the course of a few scenes, and we are surprised to find, that in these few scenes there are materials enough for twenty heroines. She then gives us her idea of Cordelia's character:
calm fortitude and elevation of soul tery, any thing withheld or withdrawn arising out of a sense of duty, after from our notice, seizes on our fancy by her defeat, and lifting her out of all awakening our curiosity. Then we are consideration of self, while she won more by what we half perceive and feels and fears only for her father. half create, than by what is openly exWhat follows is more striking, and pressed and freely bestowed. But this shews how genius can utter senti- feeling is a part of our young life: when meats as original as just, even on a
time and years have chilled us, when we subject that is felt, if not understood,
can no longer afford to send our souls by all the world.
abroad, nor from our own superfluity of
life and sensibility spare the materials out “But it will be said that the qualities of which we build a shrine for our idolhere exemplified—as sensibility, gentle. then do we seek, we ask, we thirst for that ness, magnanimity,—fortitude, generous
warmth of frank, confiding tenderness, affection-are qualities which belong, in which revives in us the withered affections their perfection, to others of Shakspeare's and feelings, buried but not dead. Then the characters--to Imogen for instance, who
excess of love is welcomed, not repelled unites them all: and yet Imogen and it is gracious to us as the sun and dew Cordelia are wholly unlike each other.
to the seared and riven trunk, with its Even though we should reverse their few green leaves. Lear is old_“ four. situations, and give to Imogen the filial
score and upward”—but we see what he devotion of Cordelia, and to Cordelia the
bas been in former days: the ardent pasconjugal virtues of Imogen, still they sions of youth have turned to rashness would remain perfectly distinct as wo
and wilsulness; he is long passed that What is it, then, which lends age when we are more blessed in what to Cordelia that peculiar and individual
we bestow than in what we receive. truth of character which distinguishes When he says to his daughters • I gave her from every other human being?
ye all!' we feel that he requires all in re" It is a natural reserve, a tardiness turn, with a jealous, restless, exacting afof disposition which often leaves the section which defeats its own wishes. history unspoke which it intends to do," How many such are there in the world? -a subdued quietness of deportment How many to sympathize with the fiery, and expression-a veiled shyness thrown fond old man, when he shrinks as if peover all her emotions,--her language and
trified from Cordelia's quiet calm reply! her manner--making the outward demon
Now our joy,
Although the last not leaststration invariably fall short of what we What can you say to draw koow to be the feeling within. Not only
A third more opulent than your sisters ? Speak! is the portrait singularly beautiful and
Cor. Nothing, my lord.
Lear. Nothing ! interesting in itself, but the conduct of Cor. Nothing. Cordelia, and the part which she bears
Lear. Nothing can come of nothing – speak
again! in the beginning of the story, is rendered Cor. Unhappy that I am! I cannot heave consistent and natural by the wonderful
My heart into my mouth. I love your majesty
According to my bond; nor more, nor less.' truth and delicacy with which this peculiar disposition is sustained throughout
“ Now this is perfectly natural. Cordelia has penetrated the vile characters
" It appears to me that the whole chia. racter rests upon the two sublimest prin.
ciples of human action, the love of truth 3. and the sense of duty; but these, wken
they stand alone, (asóin the Antigone,)
are apt to strike us as severe and cold. le Shakspeare has, therefore, wreathed thea
round with the dearest attributes of our
feminine nature, the power of feeling and ne inspiring affection. The first part of the n, play shews us how Cordelia is loved, Ilie to second part how she can love. To her le father she is the object of a secret prefer
ence; his agong at her supposed unkind.
ness draws from him the confession, that if he had loved her most, and thonght to set y his rest on hier kind nursery.' Till then she
had been ‘his best object, the argument of d his praise, balon of bisage, most best, most
dearest!' The faithful and worthy Kent is ready to brave death or exile in her de. fence; and afterwards a further impresa sion of her benign sweetness is conveyed in a simple and beautiful manner, when we are told that since the lady Cordelia
went to France, her father's poor fool had | much pined away.' We have her sensi.
of her sisters. Is it not obvious that in Many have written well-ourselves proportion as her own mind is pure and mayhap among the number of guileless, she must be disgusted with Cordelia-none better than Charles their gross hypocrisy and exaggeration, Lamb and Mrs Jameson.
You will their empty protestations, their • plaica find our account of her character ed cunning; and would retire from all and condition in Drake's Life of competition with what she so disdains
and abhors-even into the opposite exShakspeare, quoted from an antique number of Maga. The Doc- treme? In such a case, as she says ber
selftor calls it incomparable—but here is something at least as good--pardon 'What should Cordelia do ?-love and be silent." the harmless vanity of a simple old for the very expressions of Lear
What can you say to draw " In early youth, and more particular.
A third more opulent than your sisters ?" Jy if we are gifted with a lively imagina- are enough to strike dumb for ever a getion, such a character as that of Cordelia nerous, delicate, but shy disposition, such is calculated above every other to impress as is Cordelia's, by holding out a bribe and captivate us. Any thing like mys- for professions,
bility when patience and sorrow strore which should express her goodliest;' and all ber filial tenderness when she commits her poor father to the care of the physician, when she hangs over him as he is sleeping, and kisses him as she contemplates the wreck of griefand majesty." We have ther, accompanied by illustrative quotations, unpretending but admirable remarks on Cordelia's mild magnanimity, as it shines out in her farewell to her sisters, of whose evil qualities she is perfectly aware,--in the modest pride with which she replies to the Duke of Burgundy—the motives with which she takes up arms, “not for ambition but a dear father's rights,”-in her
“If Cordelia were not thus portrayed,
Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound this deliberate coolness would strike us as
Upon a wireel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead, verging on harshness or obstinacy; but Cor. Sir, do you know me? it is beautifully represented as a certain
Lear. You are a spirit, I know: When did you
die? modification of character, the necessary Cor. Still, still far wide! result of feelings habitually, if not natu
Phys. He's scarce awake: let him alone awhile.
Lear. Where have I been? Where am I? rally, repressed; and through the whole
Fair daylight ?-play we trace the saine peculiar and indi I am mightily abused. I should even die with pity
To see another thus. I know not what to say. vidual disposition the same absence of
I will not swear these are my bands. Let's see ; all display-the same sobriety of speech I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured veiling the most profound affections
of my condition.
Cor. O look upon me, sir, the same quiet steadiness of purpose And hold your hands in benediction o'er me. the same shrinking from all exhibition of No, sir, you must not kneel.
Lear. Pray, do not mock me: emotion.
I am a very foolish, fond old man, "" Tous les sentimens naturels ont leur l'ourscore and upwards; and to deal plainly with
you, pudeur,' was a viva voce observation of
I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Madame de Siaël, when disgusted by the Methinks I should know you, and know this man, sentimental affectation of her imitators.
Yet I am doubtful: for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is: and all the skill I have This pudeur,' carried to an excess, ap Remembers not these garments, nor i know not pears to me the peculiar characteristic of Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
For as I ani a man, I think this lady Cordelia. Thus, in the description of To be my child Cordelia, her deportment when she receives the Cor. And so I am, I am! letter of the Earl of Kent, informing her
Lear. Be your tears wet? Yes, 'faith. I pray you
weep not: of the cruelty of her sisters and the If you have poison for me, I will drink it. wretched condition of Lear, we seem to
I know you do not love me; for your sisters
Have, as I do remember, done me wrong: have her before us.
You have soine cause, they have not.
Cor. No cause, no cause!" * Kent Did your letters pierce the queen to any demonstration of grief?
“ As we do not estimate Cordelia's Gent. Ay, sir, she took them, and read them
affection for her father by the coldness in my presence: And now and then an ample tear stole down of her language, so neither should we Her delicate cheek. It seemed she was a queen Over her passion; who, most rebel like,
measure her indignation against her sisSought to be king over her.
ters by the mildness of her expressions. kent. O then it moved her!
What, in fact, can be more eloquently
significant, and at the same time more father
characteristic of Cordelia, than the single Pantingly forth, as if it pressed her heart, Cried, Sisters! sisters! Shame of ladies--Sisters !
line when she and her father are conveyWhal! i' the storm! i' the night!
ed to their prison Let pily not be beiiered! Then the shook The holy water from her heavenly eyes ;
• Shall we not see these daughters and these
sisters? Then away she started, to deal with grief alone.'
The irony here is so bitter and intense, “ Here the last line -- the image and at the same time so quiet, so femibrought before us of Cordelia starting nine, so dignified in the expression, that away from observation,' to deal with who but Cordelia would have uttered it grief alone,'-—is as exquisitely beautiful as in the same manner, or would have conit is characteristic.
densed such ample meaning into so few “ But all the passages hitherto quoted and simple words? must yield in beauty and power to that “ We lose sight of Cordelia during the scene, in which her poor father recogni. whole of the second and third, and great ses her, and, in the intervals of distraction, part of the fourth act; but towards the asks forgiveness of bis wronged child. conclusion she reappears.
Just as our The subdued pathos and simplicity of sense of human misery and wickedness, Cordelia's character, her quiet but in being carried to its extreme height, betense feeling, the misery and humiliation comes nearly intolerable, like an engine of the bewildered old man, are brought wrenching our frame of nature from its before us in so few words, and at the same fixed place,' then, like a redeeming angel, time sustained with such a deep intui she descends to mingle in the scene, tive knowledge of the innermost work. ' loosening the springs of pity in our ings of the human heart, that as there is eyes,' and relieving the impressions of nothing surpassing this scene in Shak
pain and terror by those of admiration speare himself, so there is nothing that
and a tender pleasure. For the catacan be compared to it in any other writer. strophe, it is indeed terrible! wondrous • Cor. How does my royal lord? How fares terrible! When Lear enters with Corde
your majesty ? Lear. You do me wrong to take me out of the lia dead in his arms, compassion and awe grave.
so seize on all our faculties, that we are
d, Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears as
Do scald like molten lead, ut
Cor. Sir, do you know me? ca
Lear. You are a spirit, I know; When did you
Cor. Still, still far wide!
Lear. Where have I been? Where am I? le
Fair daylight ?sin I am mightily abused. I should even die with pity
To see another thus. I know not what to say, of I will not swear these are my hands. Let's see ; ch I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
Of my condition.
Cor, o look upon me, sir,
And hold your hands in benediction o'er me. of No, sir, you must not kneel.
Lear. Pray, do not mock me:
l'ourscure and upwards; and to deal plainly with of
you, I fear I am not in my perfect mind. he
Methinks I should know you, and know this inaa,
Yet I am doubtful: for I am mainly ignorant TS.
What place this is: and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments, nor I knos pot of
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at ne ;
her the to
For as I am a man, I think this lady
Cor. And so I am, I am!
Cor. No cause, no cause!
" As we do not estimate Cordelia's em
affection for her father by the coldness of her language, so neither should we measure her indignation against her sisters by the mildness of her expressions.
left only to silence and to tears. But if I threes,” been done justice to on the might judge from my own sensations, the luminous page of philosophical criticatastrophe of Lear is not so overwhelm cism. Mrs Montague was a woman ing as the catastrophe of Othello. We of much merit in her day; but, comdo not turn away with the same feeling pared to Mrs Jameson, was as an of absolute unmitigated despair. Corde
owl to a nightingale. True, that lia is a saint ready prepared for heaven our earth is not good enough for her:
" Of all the birds that I do see, and Lear_0 who, after sufferings and
The owl is the wisest in her degree;" tortures such as his, would wish to see his life prolonged ? What! replace a
and her degree was that of a Doctor
in Civil Law. The good lady dined sceptre in that shaking hand ?--a crown
out and in on the credit of her criti. upon that old grey head, on which the tempest had poured in its wrath ?-on
cism, and ought to have been thankwhich the deep dread-bolted thunders
ful that she died not of surfeit. and the winged lightnings had spent her writings, is a domestic character,
Mrs Jameson, we should guess from their fury?- never, never !
and fond of “parlour twilight.” She Let him pass ! he hates him
manifestly belongs to no coterie; but That would upon the rack of this rough world Stretch him out longer.'”
there is no society, however distin
guished, that her fine genius, talents, In an introductory dialogue be- and accomplishments, would not tween Alda and Medon (the fair cri. grace. In these, her exquisite comtic and a friend) full of spirit and mentaries on the impersonations of grace, Medon asks,“ do you really the virtues of her sex, she has “done expect that any one will read this the state some service," and they little book of yours ?” and Alda an- will know it.
will know it. “Long experience of swers, “no one writes a book without what is called the world, of the folly, a hope of finding readers, and I shall duplicity, shallowness, selfishness, find a few.” But she adds fervently, which meet us at every turn, too "out of the fullness of my own heart soon,” she well says, “unsettles our and soul have I written it. In the youthful creed. If it only led to the pleasure it has given me, in the new knowledge of good and evil, it were and various views of human nature well; if it only taught us to despise it has opened to me, in the beautiful the illusions, and retire from the and soothing images it has placed be pleasures of the world, it would be fore me, in the exercise and im better. But it destroys our belief, it provement of my own faculties, I dims our perception of all abstract have already been repaid.” But Me- truth, virtue, and happiness; it turns don asks how she could choose life into a jest, and a very dull one such a threadbare subject," hinting too. It makes us indifferent to beauthat Alda has written the book to ty, and incredulous of goodness; it maintain the superiority of the fe- teaches us to consider self as the
What, in fact, can be more eloqueadly of
significant, and at the same time more characteristic of Cordelia, than the single line when she and her father are convefed to their prison • Shall we not see these daughters and these
Some of Shakspeare's centre on which all actions turn, women, be allows, are fit indeed to and to which all motives are to be "inlay heaven with stars;" but very referred. While we are yet young, unlike those who at present walk up- and the passions, powers, and feelon the earth.
ings, in their full activity, create to Many, doubtless, after Medon, will us a world within, we cannot fairly call the " subject threadbare.” The look on the world without-all things heavens themselves have to many then are good. When we first throw eyes a threadbare look-not abso- ourselves forth, and meet burrs and solutely tatter'd, but sorely worn, briars on every side, which stick to our like the blue surtout-the more's the very hearts; and fair tempting fruits, pity of a Polish patriot or a Spanish which turn to bitter ashes in the refugee. In the same predicament taste, then we exclaim with impaseem Shakspeare and the sky; tience, all things are evil. But at But as to nobler optics “ the eternal length comes the calm hour, when heavens are fresh and strong," so are they who look beyond the superfithe songs of the Swan of Avon. cies of things begin to discern their Never, till now, have Shakspeare's true bearings; when the perception female characters, except when like of evil
, and sorrow, and sin, brings were out in twos and also the perception of some opposite
The irony here is so bitter and intense, ge and at the same time so quiet, so femi18 nine, so dignified in the expression, that th
who but Cordelia would have uttered it in the same manner, or would have co
densed such ample meaning into so fer d and simple words?
“ We lose sight of Cordelia during the in whole of the second and third, and great
part of the fourth act; but towards the
conclusion she reappears. Just as out í sense of human misery and wickedness,
being carried to its extreme height, becomes nearly intolerable, 'like an engine wrenching our frame of nature from its fixed place,' then, like a redeeming angel, she descends to mingle in the scene,
loosening the springs of pity in our eyes,' and relieving the impressions of pain and terror by those of admiration and a tender pleasure. For the catastrophe, it is indeed terrible! wondrous terrible! When Lear enters with Corde. lia dead in his arms, compassion and awe
ing op all our faculties, that we are
good, which awakens our indulgence, listen to him. He rips her to pieces beor the knowledge of the cause which fore us—he would have bedeviled an excites our pity.”
angel! yet such is the unrivalled, though
passive delicacy of the delineation, that These fine sentiments, so finely it can stand it unhurt, untouched. It is expressed, introduce a noble eulo wonderful!-yet natural as it is wondergium on the moral and philosophical ful. There are still people in the world, genius of Shakspeare. For in his whose opinions and feelings are tainted pages, says this gifted lady, the crook- by an habitual acquaintance with the evil ed appears straight, the inaccessible side of society, though in action and ineasy, the incomprehensible plain. tention they remain right; and who withAll we seek for is found there; his out the real depravity of heart and macharacters combine history and real lignity of intention of Iago, judge as he life; they are complete individuals, does of the characters and productions of whose hearts and souls are laid open others.” to us-all may behold and judge for
Alda is then asked by Medon, if themselves.
there be indeed in the world many “ Medon. He flattered no bad passion, “women in whom the affections and disguised no vice in the garb of virtue, the moral sentiments predominate," trifed with no just and generous princi- and she answers many such; for the ple. He can make us laugh at folly, and development of affection and sentishudder at crime, yet still preserve our ment is more quiet and unobtrusive love for our fellow beings, and our reve- than that of passion and intellect and rence for ourselves. He has a lofty and
less observed. It is more common a fearless trust in his own powers, and
too, and therefore less remarked ; in the beauty and excellence of virtue;
but in women it generally gives the and, with his eye fixed on the load-star
prevailing tone to the character, exof truth, steers us triumphantly among
cept where vanity has been made the shoals and quicksands, where with any other pilot we had been wrecked ;-for
ruling motive. Alda, therefore, wantinstance, who but himself would have
ed character in its essential truth, not
eu dared to bring into close contact two
modified by particular customs, by such characters as Iago and Desdemona? fashion, by situation; she wished to Had the colours in which he has arrayed illustrate the manner in wbich the Desdemona been one atom less trans affections would naturally display parently bright and pure, the charm had themselves in women, whether combeen lost; she could not have borne the bined with high intellect, regulated approximation : some shadow from the by reflection, and elevated by imagioverpowering blackness of his character nation, or existing with perverted must have passed over the sunbright pu- dispositions, and purified by the mority of hers. For observe, that Iago's ral sentiments. “I found all in Shakdisbelief in the virtue of Desdemona is speare; and his delineations of wonot pretended, it is real. It arises from men, in whom the virtuous and calm his total want of faith in all virtue; he is affections predominate, and triumph no more capable of conceiving goodness, over shame, fear, pride, resentment, than she is capable of conceiving evil. vanity, jealousy, are perfect in their To the brutal coarseness and fiendish kind, because so quiet in their ef. malignity of this man, her gentleness ap- fect. pears only a contemptible weakness; her purity of affection, which saw Othello's How nobly Mrs Jameson has dig. visage in his mind,' only a perversion of charged one part of her gracious task taste; her bashful modesty only a cloak we have now seen;-and next month for evil propensites : so he represents we shall be delighted to accompany them with all the force of language and her in her exposition of the Characself-conviction, and we are obliged to ters of Passion and Imagination.
Printed by Ballantyne and Company, Paul's Work, Edinburgh,"
Hulgence, listen to him. He rips her to pieces be-
angel ! yet such is the unrivalled, though
passive delicacy of the delineation, that
BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
laid open others.”
Alda is then asked by Medon, if
there be indeed in the world many ad passion, “women in whom the affections and
of virtue, the moral sentiments predominate,"
than that of passion and intellect and
too, and therefore less remarked;
cept where vanity has been made the cked ;--for
ruling motive. Alda, therefore, wantcould have ed character in its essential truth
, not ntact two
modified by particular customs, by esdemona? fashion, by situation; she wished to vas arrayed
illustrate the manner in which the
affections would naturally display
How nobly Mrs Jameson has dis.
Much has been said and sung in
We smile to read that there were praise of this our era or age. To hear giants in those days; for to the “large some people speak, you would think orbs of our majestic eyes,” they are it the mostillustrious since the Flood; but pigmies. Of all obsolete beliefs, that not till now had the human soul the most absurd is that in the wisdom reached its full stature, and been of our ancestors. firmly knit in all its powers. Accord But, strange to note, as much has ing to their creed, Sensation, Percep- been said and sung in disparagement tion, Judgment, Abstraction, Taste, of this our era or age. It has been Imagination, Genius, Reason, are now eloquently lamented that the ancient all as excellent faculties as they ever spirit is dead-dead and buried. The can be in mortal nature. Compared “Fancy's Midwife" is a sinecuristwith the past, the present is a glori- for she is called on to assist at no ous time, and we can only hope that new births. And how should she, its glories will survive in the future. since Fancy's self is effete; and her Dawning has grown meridian; nor is elder sister, Imagination, once so prothere need of another sun to rise on lific in her loveliness, a Polyandrist midday, so splendid the illumination with all her Passions of old ardent of the mental heavens. “ The fond as bridegrooms and affectionate as admirers of departed worth,” must husbands in that long honeymoon moderate their enthusiasm –hang that for ages knew no setting, bas down their heads and be mute. The been by her lords and masters "flung "March of Intellect has left, dwin off to beggarly divorcement ?” As dled in the distance, shapes whose for Reason, she has turned her eyes stature once seemed to reach the sky. outwards from herself and her own
we have now seen;-and next month
we shall be delighted to accompany uage and her in her exposition of the Charac liged to ters of Passion and Imagination.
Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical, and Historical ; with fifty vignette etchings. By Mrs Jameson. In two volumes. London: Saunders and Otley. VOL. XXXIII. NO, CCIV.
e and Company, Paul's Work, Edinburghi'