« PreviousContinue »
fellow. He is a mixture of the ancient cynick philosopher with the modero buffoon, and turns folly into wit, and wit into folly, just as the fit takes him. His courtship of Audrey not only throws a degree of ridicule on the state of Wedlock itself, but he is equally an enemy to the prejudices of opinion in other respects. The lofty tone of enthusiasm, which the Duke and his companions in exile spread over the stilluess and solitude of a country life, receives a pleasant shock from Touchstone's skeptical determination of the question.
“ Corin. And how like you this shepherd's life, Mr. Touchstone ?
Clown. Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my humour; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach."
Zimmerman's celebrated work on Solitude discovers. only half the sense of this passage.
There is hardly any of Shakspeare's plays that contains a greater number of passages that have been quoted in books of extracts, or a greater number of phrases that have become in a manner proverbial. If we were to give all the striking passages, we should give half the play. We will only recall a few of the most delightful to the reader's recollection. Such are the meeting between Orlando and Adam, the exquisite appeal of Orlando to the humanity of the Duke and his company to supply him with food for the old man, and their answer, the Duke's description of a country life, and the account
of Jaques moralizing on the wounded deer, his meeting with Touchstone in the forest, his apology for his own melancholy and his satirical vein, and the well known speech on the stages of human life, the old song of “Blow, blow, thou winter's wind,” Rosalind's description of the marks of a lover and of the progress of time with different persons, the picture of the snake wreathed round Oliver's neck while the lioness watches her sleeping prey, and Touchstone's lecture to the shepherd, his defence of cuckolds, and panegyrick on the virtues of “an If."-All of these are familiar to the reader : there is one passage of equal delicacy and beauty which may have escaped bim, and with it we shall close our account of AS YOU LIKE IT. It is Phebe's description of Ganimed at the end of the third act.
“Think pot I love him, tho' I ask for him ;
(The Taming of the Shrew is almost the only one of Shakspeare's comedies that has a regular plot, and downright moral. It is full of bustle, animation, and rapidity of action. It shews admirably how self-will is only to be got the better of by stronger will, and how one degree of ridiculous perversity is only to be driven out by another still greater.) Petruchio is a madmap in his senses; a very honest fellow, who hardly speaks a word of truth, and succeeds in all his tricks and impostures. He acts his assumed character to the life, with the most fantastical extravagance, with complete presence of mind, with untired animal spirits, and without a particle of ill humour from beginning to end.The situation of poor Katherine, worn out by his incessant persecutions, become at last almost as pitiable as it is ludicrous, and it is difficult to say which to admire most, the unaccountableness of his actions, or the unalterableness of his resolutions.
It is a character which most husbands ought to study, unless perhaps the very audacity of Petruchio's attempt might alarm them more than his success would encourage them. What a sound must the following speech carry to some married ears !
“ Think you a little dia can daupt my ears ?
Not all Petruchio's rhetorick would persuade more than “some dozen followers” to be of this beretical way of thinking. He unfolds his scheme for the Taming of the Shren, on a principle of contradiction, thus:
“ I'll woo her with some spirit when she comes.
He accordingly gains her consent to the match, by telling her father that he has got it; disappoints
her by not returning at the time he has promis. ed to wed her, and when he returns, creates no small consternation by the oddity of his dress and equipage. This however is nothing to the astonishment excited by his mad-brained behaviour at the marriage. Here is the account of it by an eye wit
“ Gremio. Tut, she's a lamb, a dove, a fool to him :
Tranio. What said the wench when he rose up again?
The most striking and at the same time laughable feature in the character of Petruchio throughout is