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ARIOSTO, SHAKESPEARE

AND CORNEILLE
BY

BENEDETTO CROCE

TRANSLATED BY DOUGLAS AINSLIE

'RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET. W.C.I T.ONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN, LTD.

perNTKD IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE
Evviva
L'ltalia!
Italy,

Britain's

ancient

friend and loyal ally, has been an important factor both in winning the
to

war and

in

bringing

it

an earlier conclusion.

The Warl
all
in.

That

greatest practical effort that the world has ever

made
it

is

now

over and

we must

work

to

make

a better place for all to live

Now

at the

hands of her philosopher-critic,


this

Italy offers us a first effort at reconstruction of

our world-view with

masterly treatise on

the greatest poet of the English-speaking world, so original and so profound that
it

will serve as

guide to generations yet unborn.

And

it

will

not be only the

critics

of

Shakespeare
all critics

who
and

should benefit by this treatise, but


lovers of poetry

including prose who go beyond the passive stage of mere admiration.

The

essays on Ariosto and Corneille are also

unique and the three together should inaugurate

everywhere a new era

in literary criticism.

These are the

first

of Benedetto Croce's
the
light
in

lit-

erary criticisms to see

English.

iv

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE
are

They

profound and suggestive, because

based upon theory, the Theory of Aesthetic,


with which some readers will be acquainted in
the original, others in the version by the present
translator.

These

will not

need to be told that

Croce's theory of the independence and auto-

nomy

of the aesthetic fact, which

is

intuition-

expression,

and of the
is

essentially lyrical char-

acter of all art,

the only one that completely

and

satisfactorily

explains

the

problem

of

poetry and the

fine arts.

But
point,

this

is

not the place for philosophical disit

cussion, although

is

important to stress the


is

that

all

criticism

based upon philosthe philosophy

ophy, and that therefore

if

upon

which

it

is

based

is

unsound, the criticism suf-

fers accordingly.

Croce has elsewhere shown

that the shortcomings of such critics as Sainte-

Beuve,

Taine,

Lemaitre and Brunetiere are


insufiicient

due to incorrect or

philosophical

knowledge and
plied at

similar criterion can be ap-

home with

equal truth.
if

The

translator will be satisfied

the present

version receives equal praise from the author

with that accorded to the four translations of


the Philosophy into English, which Croce has

often declared to

come more near

to his spirit

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE
than those
in

any other language


all

and he has
European
lan-

been translated into


guages

the great

the

Aesthetic

even

into

Japanese.

The
inal,

object adhered to in this translation has

been as close a cleaving as possible to the origwhile preserving a completely idiomatic

style

and remaining free from

all

pedantry.

translation should not in any case be taken

as a pouring
vessel, as

from

the golden into the silver

used to be erroneously supposed, for


in so

Croce has proved that

far as the transis

lator rethinks the original he


ator.

himself a cre-

This

explains

why

so

many

have been addicted to translation

writers

in

English

we have
three of

Pope, Fitzgerald, Rossetti, to

many

and
Spirit,

name but

the author of the Phil-

osophy of the
lished
a

Croce himself, has pub-

splendid Italian version of Hegel's

Encyclopaedia of the Philosophic Sciences.

Douglas Ainslie.

The Athenaeum,
Pall Mall, London,

October, 1920.

CONTENTS
PART
iAPTEB
I I

LUDOVICO ARIOSTO
TAOn
II

A Critical Problem The Life of the Affections


osTO,

in Arii8

AND the Heart OF His Heart


.

III

The Highest Love: Harmony IV The Material for the Harmony V The Realisation of Harmony
Historical Disassociations

34 48 69 95

VI

...

PART

II

V^ILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
VII
VIII

The

Practical Personality and the Poetical Personality 117


138

Shakespearean Sentiment

IX

Motives and Development of Shakespeare's Poetry 163

X The
XI
XII

Art of Shakespeare

274 300
328

Shakespearean Criticism

Shakespeare and Ourselves

viii

CONTENTS
PART III PIERRE CORNEILLE
Criticism of

^
XIII

the Criticism

XIV The Ideal of Corneille XV The Mechanism of the Cornelian


Tragedy

....
. .

337

362

390
.

XVI

The

Poetry of Corneille

408 431

Index

PART

LUDOVICO ARIOSTO

CHAPTER

A CRITICAL PROBLEM
The
compared

fortune of the Orlando Ftirioso


to that of a graceful, smiling

may be
woman,

whom

all

look upon with pleasure, without ex-

periencing any intellectual embarrassment or


perplexity, since
direct
it

suffices to

have eyes and to

them

to the pleasing object, in order to


is

admire.
in

Crystal clear as

the poem, polished

every particular, easily to be understood by


culture,
it

whomsoever possesses general


never presented
tation,

has

serious difficulties

of interpre-

and for that reason has not needed the

industry of the commentators, and has not been


^

In the preparation of this essay, I believe that


all,

examined

or almost

all,

the literature of erudition

have and

criticism, old

and new,
titles

in connection

with Ariosto;

this will

not escape the expert reader, although particular discussions

and pages of books have seemed to this occasion. But in judging this work, the reader should have present in his mind above all the chapter of De Sanctis on the Furioso (illustrated with fragments from his lectures at Zurich upon the poetry of chivalry), which forms the point of departure for these later

and quotation of

me

to be superfluous

on

investigations

and conclusions.
3

CRITICAL PROBLEM

injured by their quarrelsome subtleties; nor has


it

been subject, more than to a very slight exto

tent,

the

intermittences from which other

notable poetical works have suffered, owing to


the varying conditions of culture at different
times.

Great men and ordinary readers have


complete agreement about
about the beauty,
let
list
it,

been

in as

as,

for

instance,

us

say,

of a

Madame
who have

Recamier; and the


experienced
its

of great men,

fascination, goes

from

Machiavelli and the Galilei, to Voltaire and to

Goethe, without mentioning names more near


to our

own

time.

Yet, however unanimous, simple and unrestrainable

be

the

aesthetic

approbation
critical

ac-

corded to the poem of Ariosto, the

judg-

ments delivered upon

it

are just as discordant,


is

complicated and laboured; and indeed this

one of those cases where the difference of the

two
and

spiritual

moments,

intuitive

or aesthetic,

the apprehension or tasting of the


intellective, the critical

work of

art,

ment,

and historical judg-

difference

wrongly disputed

one point of view by sensationalists


another

by

intellectualists,

it

from and from


out
so

stands

clearly as to

seem

to be almost

spatially di-

vided, so that one can touch

with one's hand.

CRITICAL PROBLEM
easily read

Anyone can

and

live

again the oc-

taves of Ariosto,

caressing
as

them with voice


in

and imagination,

though passionately
to determine that

love; but to say whence comes that particular

form of enchantment,

is

to

say, the character of the inspiration that

moved
is

Ariosto, his dominant poetical motive, the peculiar effect

which became poetry

in

him,

very different undertaking and one of no small


difficulty.

The

question has tormented the critics

from

the time

when

literary

and

historical criticism

acquired
that
is

individual

prominence

and energy,

to say at the origin of romantic aesthet-

icism,

when works

of art were no longer exam-

ined in parts separated from the whole, or in


their external outline, but in the spirit that ani-

mated them.
earlier times

Yet we must not think that

were without

all

suspicion of this,
it is

for an uncertain suggestion of

to be

found

even

in the eccentric enquiries,

as to

whether

the Furioso be a moral


it

poem

or not, or whether

should be looked upon as serious or playful.


intellects such as Schiller

But

and Goethe,

Hum-

boldt and Schelling, Hegel, Ranke, Gioberti,

Quinet and
it

De

Sanctis, treated or

touched upon

in the last century,

and very many others dur-

CRITICAL PROBLEM

ing and after their times, and the theme has

again been taken up with renewed keenness, in


dissertations,

memoirs and

articles,

some of

them

foreign, but mostly Italian.

Many

of the problems or formulas of prob-

lems, which one at one time critically discussed

have been allowed to disappear,


clothes as the results of the
art: that
is

like

cast-off

to say,

new conception of not only those we have menit

tioned, as to

whether the Furioso were or were

not an epic, whether

were serious or comic,

but also a throng of other problems, such as

whether

it

possessed unity of action, a protaits

gonist or hero, whether


to the action,

episodes were linked

whether
It

it

maintained the dignity

of history, whether
If so,

afforded an allegory, and


it

of what sort, whether

obeyed the laws

of modesty and morality, or followed good examples, whether


tion,
it

could be credited with inven-

finer

what measure, whether it were fine, and as to what it was finer or less fine; and so on. All these problems have become obsolete, because
and
if

so in

than the Geriisalemme or less

they have been solved in the only suitable way,


that
is

to say, they

have been shown to be

falla-

cious in their theoretical terms;

and

to say that

they are obsolete does not

mean

that

there

A CRITICAL
have not been some, both

PROBLEM
who have

in the nineteenth cen-

tury and at the present time,

set to

work

to solve them,

and have arrived

at un-

fortunate conclusions in different ways.

The
in-

unity of action of the Furioso has also been

vestigated and determined (by Panizzi, for ex-

ample, and by Carducci)


also been

its

immorality has
;

blamed (by Cantu, for instance)

the

book of the debts of Ariosto to his predecessors has been re-opened and charged with so very

many
mous

figures

on the debit side that the

final bal-

ance-sheet of credit and debit presents an enordeficit

(Rajna)

the comparison with ex-

name of amples " Evolutionary History of Romantic Chivalry," in which the Furioso, according to some, does
from prototypes under the
not represent the summit, but rather a deviation

and decadence from the ideal prototype (Rajna


again)
final
;

according to others, the Furioso gave

and perfect form to " The French Epic of

Germanic Heroes"

(Morf)

allegory,

con-

tained in a moral judgment as to Italian


the time of the Renaissance, lost in
its

life at

pursuit

of love, like the Christian and Saracen knights


in

their pursuit of Angelica


in

(Canello).
or in their

But

whether

their primitive

more

modern forms

these problems are obsolete, for

A
who

CRITICAL PROBLEM
from which they
arise;

us

are aware of the mistakes and errors in

aesthetic,

and others of

more

recent date must also be held obsolete

with these, such theories as these for instance


(to quote one of them)

which undertake to
" formation," under-

study the Ftirioso in

its

standing by formation the literary presuppositions of


title.
its

various parts, beginning with the


Scientific

Decorated with the name of


is

Study, this
philology.

mere inconclusive or
of

ill-conclusive

The work

modern

criticism does not re-

strict itself to the clearing

away of

these idle

and unnecessary
varied

enquiries, but also includes a

and

thorough

investigation

into

the

poetry of Ariosto, whose every aspect

we may

claim to have illuminated in turn, and to have

given

all

the solutions as to the true character

of the problem that can be suggested.

And

it

almost seems

now

that anyone

who

wishes to

form an idea upon the subject needs but select from the various existing solutions, that one which shows itself to be clearly superior to all others, owing to its being supported by the most
valid arguments, after he has possessed himself

of the

critical literature relating to

Ariosto.

It

seems impossible to suggest a new solution, and

A
as

CRITICAL PROBLEM
It

though the argument were one of those

of which

may

be said that " there


in

is

no

hope of finding anything new


with
it."

connection

And
nearly,

this

is

very nearly true, but only very


non-superficial

for

examination

of

those various solutions leads to the result that

none of them
that
it.

is

valid in the

way

it is

presented,

is

to say, with the


is

arguments that support

It

therefore advisable to indicate some

of these arguments, which have already been


given, and to deduce

quences, though

from them other consewe may not succeed in framing


this

others which shall shine with amazing novelty.

But upon consideration,


less

will

be nothing

than providing a new solution, just bethe

cause

problem has been


a step

differently

pre-

sented and differently argued: a novelty of that


serious sort which
is

forward upon what

has already been observed and acquired, not


that sort of extravagant novelty agreeable to
false originality

and to

sterile subtlety.

There are two fundamental types of reply


to the question as to the character of Ariosto's

poetry; of these the

more important

is

the

first,

either because, as will be seen, really here near


to the
truth,

or because supported with the

lo

CRITICAL PROBLEM
Sanctis.

supreme authority of De
Sanctis,
it

Prior to

De

is

only to be vaguely discerned as

suggested by the eighteenth century writer, Sulzer,

and more clearly


Vischer;
it

in

the

German

aesthetic

writer,

prevailed and was accepted,


Carducci.

was afterwards repeated, among others by

According to

De

Sanctis

and

to his

precursors and followers, in the Furioso Ariosto

has no subjective content to express, no senti-

mental or passionate motive, no idea become


sentiment or passion, but pursues the sole end
of art, singing for singing's sake, representing
for

representation's

sake,

elaborating

pure

form, and satisfying the one end of realising


his

own dreams.
is

This affirmation
eral
sense,

not to be taken
in

in a
is

gen-

the

words

which

it

formu-

lated must not be construed literally, for in that


case
it

would be easy
is

to raise the reasonable

objection, that not only Ariosto, but every artist,

just because he

an

artist,

never has any

end but that of

art,

of singing for singing's

sake, representing for representation's sake, of

elaborating pure form, and of satisfying the

need that he

feels to realise his

own dreams:

woe
ends,

to the artist,

who

has an eye to any other


persuade, to shock,

and

tries to teach, to

A
to

CRITICAL PROBLEM
to

ii

move,

make

a hit or an effect, or anything


art.

else
art,

extraneous to

The
is

theory of art for

opposed by many,
it is

this point of view,

from indeed indubitable and


incontestable
critics

altogether obvious.
that

The

who

attribute

end as a character of Ariosto's poetry,


rather to affirm, that the author of the
in his

mean

Furioso proceeded

own

individual proper

manner with
the

respect to other poets; and they

then proceed to determine their thoughts upon


subject in two ways, differing somewhat from one another. Both of these are to be found mingled and confused in the pages of

De

Sanctis.

Ariosto

is

held to have allowed

him the chain of romantic figures of knights and ladies and the stories of their arms and audacious undertakings, of
to pass in defile within
their loves

and

their love-making, with the one

object of delighting the imagination.


is

Ariosto

held to have depicted that various

human

world without interposing anything between


himself and things, without reflecting himself
in things,

without sinking them


feelings.

in

himself or in

his

own

He

is

held to have been

solely an objective observer.


first case,

that

is

to say,

if

the

Now, work

taking the
of Ariosto

be really resolved into a plaything of the imag-

12

CRITICAL PROBLEM
although he might have pleased him-

inatlon,
self

by doing something agreeable to himself


a

and to others, yet he would not have been

poet, " the divine Ariosto," because the pleas-

ure of the fancy belongs to the order of practical acts, to

what

are called

And

in

the

second case,

games or diversion. when he has been


is

praised for being perfectly objective, this

not

only at variance with the actual creation of the


poet, but
is

also in contradiction to

it

and
spir-

indeed
itual

in

contradiction to every

form of
things

production.

As though
it

existed

outside the spirit and

were possible to take

them up
canvas.

in their

externalise

supposed objectivity and to them by putting them on paper or


of
art

The theory

for

art,

when

taken as a theory of merely fanciful pleasure or


of indifferent objective reproduction of things,

should be firmly rejected, because

it

is

at vari-

ance with and contradicts the nature of art and of the universal
spirit.

paradigms,

At

the most, these

two

art as

trinsic objectivity,

might be

mere fancy and

art as ex-

of avail as desig-

nating two artistic forms of deficiency and ugliness, futile art


in

and material

art, that is to say,


in like

both cases, non-art; and

theory of art for art's

manner the sake would in those

CRITICAL PROBLEM

13

cases be the definition of one or


artistic perversion.

more forms of

Owing
iosto

to the impossibility of denying to Arat the

any content, and

same time of

en-

joying him and of acclaiming him a poet,


impossibility

an
has
but

more or

less

obscurely felt by

some, although without discovering and demonstrating


it

as has been

done above,

it

come about
those very

that
critics

not only other

critics,

who,

like

De

Sanctis,

had him
of

described him as a poet of pure fancy or pure


objectivity,
a content,

have been led to recognise


other, in a heap.

in

and sometimes several contents, one

upon the top of the


mitted,
is

One

such contents, perhaps that most generally ad-

without doubt the dissolution of the

world of chivalry, brought about by Ariosto through irony: a historical position conferred

upon him by Hegel, and amply illustrated by De Sanctis. But what do they mean by saying that Ariosto expresses the dissolution of
the world of chivalry?

Certainly not simply

that in his

poem

are to be found documents

concerning the passing of the ideals of chivalry,

because whether this be true or not,

it

does not
its

concern the concrete artistic form, but


stract

ab-

material,

considered and treated as a

14

A
mean

CRITICAL PROBLEM
Nor
can

source of historical documentation.


it

that he

was inspired with aversion


and
in

to the
ideals,

ideals of chivalry

favour of new

because polemic and criticism, negation and affirmation,

are

not

art.

So what was really


this

meant was (although those who maintain


interpretation often understand
it

in

one or

other of those meanings, which are external to


art),

that Ariosto

and
cal

real feeling

was animated with toward the ideals of the


poem.

a true
life

of

chivalry,

and that
his

this feeling supplied the lyri-

motive for

This motive has been

disputed in

its

details in various ways,

some

holding

it

to

have been aversion, others a mix-

ture of aversion and of love, others of admiration

and of pleasure; but before we engage

in
if

further investigation,
there exist, that
is

we must
if

first

ascertain

to say,

dowed with

his

own

feeling

prevailing aversion or prevailing inclination or


a prevalent alternation of the two,
terial of chivalry, rendering tional,
it

whatever
serious

Ariosto really enit

be,

maand emothe
all,

through the seriousness and emotion of


feeling.
all

his

own

And
is

this

does not exist at

for

what

feel and see as chivalry in Ariosto's

mode

of treatment,

on the contrary

a sort of

aloofness and superiority, owing to which he

CRITICAL PROBLEM
hilt in

15

never engages himself up to the

admira-

tion or in scorn or in passionate disagreement

with one or the other; and

this

impression

which his narratives of sieges and combats, of


duels and feats of arms produce upon us, has

afforded the ground for the above-mentioned

opposed theories as to

his objective

attitude

and
as

as to his cultivation of a

mere pastime of

the imagination.
is

Had

Ariosto really aimed,

said, at

an exaltation or a semi-exaltation
of
chivalry,

or

at

an

ironisation

he

would

clearly have missed the mark, and this failure would have been the failure of his art. What has been remarked concerning the con-

tent of chivalry

is

to be repeated for all the


in

other contents which have been proposed


turn, each

one or

all

of them together as the

true

and proper leading motive; and of these

(leaving out the least likely, because

we

are

not

here

concerned

with

collecting

curious

trifles

of Ariostesque criticism, but are resum-

ing the essential lines of this criticism with the


intention of cutting into
it

more deeply and

with greater certainty), the next thing to mention,

immediately after chivalrous ideality or


is

anti-ideality,

the philosophy of
is

life,

the wis-

dom, which Ariosto

supposed to have ad-

i6

CRITICAL PROBLEM
This wisdom
is

ministered and counselled.

suppoli-

posed to have embraced love, friendship,


tics,

religion, public

and private

life,

and

to

have

been directed with great moderation and good


sense,

noble

without
dignified

fanaticism,

courageous

and

patient,

and modest.

We
in the

ad-

mit that these things are to be found

Fur-

ioso, just as chivalrous things are to

be found

there also; but they are there in almost the

same way, that

is

to say, with the not doubtful

accent of aloofness and remoteness, which at

once places a great chasm between Ariosto and


the true poets of wisdom, such as were for Instance,

Manzoni and Goethe.

The
Tasso)

latter of
in praise

these, in the fine verses (of the

of Ariosto,
in the

who

is

held to have there draped


all

garb of fable

that can render

man
expe-

dear and honoured,


rience, intelligence,

to

have

exhibited

good
a

taste, the

pure sense

of good, as living persons, crowned with roses

and surrounded with


of Amorini,
ject of his eulogy, self: although, as

magic winged presence


transfigured the sub-

somewhat
we
it

by approaching him to himperceive from the images


did not escape

that he employed,

him that
as
it

in

the case of the lovable singer of the Furioso,

the

wisdom

was

covered,

and

were

CRITICAL PROBLEM
a cloud of

17

smothered beneath
flowers.

many

coloured
hith-

Thus

the

two principal solutions

erto given of the critical problem presented by

Ariosto, the only two which appear thinkable,


that the Furioso has no content; that
it

has

this

or that content,

each

finds
its

countenance

in the

other and arguments in

favour.

This

means that they confute one another

in turn.

And

since

it

is

impossible that there should be

no content
rected

in Ariosto,

and on the other hand,


first di-

since all those to

which attention was

(admiration or contempt of chivalry,


life)

wisdom of
ence,
it is

turn out to be without existis

clear that there

no way out of the

difficulty,

save that of seeking another content,


as shall

and such an one


las of "

show how the truth

has been improperly symbolised in the formu-

mere imagination," of " indifferent objectivity " and of " art for art's sake."

CHAPTER

II

THE

LIFE OF THE AFFECTIONS IN ARIOSTO, AND THE HEART OF


HIS

HEART

Ariosto had ordinary emotional experiences


in life,

and

this

has been shown to be true, not


the biographies of his con-

so

much through

temporaries and documents which have later

come

to light, as through his

own words,
if

bein

cause he took great pleasure,

not exactly

confessing himself, at any rate in giving vent


to his feelings.
It is

well

known

that he

was
and
life,

without profound intellectual passions, religious


or
political,

free

from longing for


in his

riches

honours, simple and frugal


seeking above
all

mode

of

things peace and tranquillity

and freedom

to follow his

own

imagination, to

give himself over to the studies that he loved.

Rarely or only for brief spaces of time was


given to him to live in his

it

own way, owing

to

the necessity, always on his shoulders, for pro-

viding for his younger brothers and sisters and


z8

ARIOSTO'S HEART
taining bread for himself. stances together constrained

19

for his mother, and also the necessity of ob-

All these circum-

the hard
life.

him to undertake work and the annoyances of a court He was admirable in the fulfilment of
duties,

family

perfectly
full

honest

and

reliable

on every occasion,
of universal
to

of good, just and gen-

erous sentiments, and therefore the recipient

esteem

and confidence.
office,

Owing
he was

reasons connected with his

obliged to associate with greedy, violent, unscrupulous


self to

men, but he did not allow himof an honest employee towards


attentive
to

be stained by their contact, preserving

the
his

attitude

patrons,

the

formal duties

with

which

he

was

charged.

He

is

dis-

creet, but

pure and dignified, refraining from

taking part whatever in the secret plots and

machinations of those whose orders he obeys.

He

was thus enabled

to carry out the instruc-

tions of his superiors,

whom

he regarded solely

as filling a certain lofty rank, idealising

them

in

conformity with their rank, praising them, that


is

to say, for their attainments, their ability

and

their noble undertakings,

either because they


really accomplished

really possessed

them and

the things for which he praised them, or be-

20

ARIOSTO'S HEART
the feats in question, as attributes

cause they should have possessed them and ac-

compHshed

inherent to their social station.

Among

these duties and labours one single

passion ran like an ever

warm
a

stream through

his brain: love, or rather the

need of woman's

society, to

have with him

beloved woman, to

enjoy her beauty, her laughter, her speech: and

although he frequently alludes to


is

this passion,

it

as

one ashamed of a weakness, but aware that


v/ith the

he can by no means dispense


that
it

sweetness
is

procures for him and which


his being.

a vital

element of

But even

his love

for

woman, however strong it may have found its correct framework in his idyllic
and
in his reflective

been,
ideal

and temperate

spirit:

it

con-

tained nothing of the fantastic, the adventurous, the

Donjuanesque; and after the customher " for

ary evil and evanescent adventures of youth, he

took refuge

in

whom
in

he trembled

with amorous zeal" and (as his friend Hercules

Bentivoglio

tells

us
his

verse)

in

that

Alexandra,

who was
his

friend

for

twenty

years, and finally his

more or

less legal wife.

United to
at

desire for quietude, there

was

thus a potent stimulus not to


all,

or

if at all,

then as

little

as possible,

remove himself from

ARIOSTO'S HEART
her
to
its

21

who was warmth and comfort


mother.

for him,

and
re-

whom

he clung Hke a child to the bosom of

His

latter

years,

in

which,

called

from

his severe sojourn at

Garfagnana,

he occupied himself with correcting his poems


at Ferrara, with the
side,

woman

he loved at his

were perhaps the happiest he knew; and


in that

he passed away

peace for which he had

sighed, ere attaining to old age.

Such tendencies of soul and the


sulted

life

which

re-

from them, have sometimes been adsix-

mired and envied, as for instance by the


Harrington.

teenth century English translator of the Fiirioso,

After

having

described
sins,
in-

them, and having disclaimed certain

indeed as he said, the single pecadillo of love, he


concludes with a sigh: "Sic
vere, Sicque mori."

me

cont'mgat vi-

Sometimes too they have


Sanctis and others,

been looked upon from above and almost with


compassion, as by

De

who

have insisted upon the negative aspects of the


character of Ariosto.

These negative aspects

are however nothing but the limits, which are

found

in

everyone, for

we

are not

all

capable
espe-

of everything; and really Italian


cially in the

critics,

period of the Risorgimento, were

often v/rong in laying

down

as a single

measure

22

ARIOSTO'S HEART
civil, political, patriotic, religious,

for everyone,

excellence, forgetful that

judgment of an depend upon

indi-

vidual's character should


ral

his natu-

disposition,
life
it

his

temperament.

Certainly,

the

of Ariosto was not rich and intense, nor


present important problems in respect

does

of social and moral history; and the industry of


the learned, although crease
its
it

has been able to

in-

collections

and conjectures
as

as to his
his offi-

economic and family conditions, as to


cial duties as courtier,

ambassador and adof Ferrara, as to his

ministrator for the


loves and as to the

Duke

names and persons of the

women whom
ticulars,

he loved, as to the house which

he built and inhabited, and other similar paranecdotes

and

curiosities

concerning

him (the collection of which shows with how much religion or superstition a great man is surrounded, and also sometimes the futility of the searcher), has not added anything substantial to what the poet tells us himself, far
less

has been able to furnish materials for a

really

new biography, which should be


it

at once

profound and dramatic.


Nevertheless, such as

was, the

life

of a

good and of

poor man, of one tenaciously deit

voted to love and poetry,

found literary ex-

ARIOSTO'S HEART
presslon in the minor works of the author:

23
in

the Latin songs, in the Italian verses, and in

the satires.

In saying
dies,

this,

we

shall set aside the

come-

which seem to be the most important of might be almost

those minor works and are notwithstanding the


least significant, so that they

excluded from the history of his poetical de-

velopment, connected rather with his doings as


a

courtier,

as an

arranger of spectacles and

plays, for

which purpose he decided to imitate

the Latin comedy, for he did not believe there

was anything new to be done in that field, since the Latins had already imitated the Greeks.

No

doubt Ariosto's comedies stand for an imin the history

portant date

of the Italian the-

atre and of the Latin imitation which prevailed


there, that
is

to say, the history of culture, but

There they are mute. They are works of adaptation and combination, and therefore executed with effort; there is nothing new, even about their form, and a proof of this is that Ariosto, after he had made a first attempt to write them in prose, finally put them into monotonous and tiresome antenot
in that

of poetry.

penultimate hendecasyllabics, which have never


pleased anyone's ear, because they were not

24

ARIOSTO'S HEART
It-

born, but constructed according to design, with

evident artifice and with a view to giving to


aly the metre of comedy, analogous to the

Roto
in-

man

iambic.

Whoever

(to

cite

an instance

from the same period and "style") calls memory the Mandragola of Machiavelli,
stinct

with the energetic


great
thinker,

spirit,

the bitter disdain

of

the

or

even the sketches

thrown upon paper anyhow by the ne'er-do-well


Pietro Aretino,
is

at once sensible of the differ-

ence between dead ability and living force, or


at

any rate careless vigour.


alive, as

Nor
some

does the
easily con-

dead material come


tented
osto
critics

maintain, from the fact that Ariespecially


into

introduced,

the

later

of

those comedies, allusions to persons, places and

customs of Ferrara, or satirical gibes at the


vices of the time; all these things are light as

straws and quite indifferent

when

original in-

spiration lacks, as in the present case.

On

the other hand, there are


in the

many pure and

spontaneous parts

minor works: even the

imitations of Horace, of Catullus, of Tibullus


in the

Latin poems, do not produce a sense of

coldness, because

we

feel that they are inspired

with devotion of the humanists for the Latins,


for "

my

Latins,"

as

he affectionately called

ARIOSTO'S HEART
with
theirs,

25

them; and the heart of the poet often beats

whether he be lamenting the death


fair lady, or describing the de-

of a friend and companion, or drawing the portrait of

some

lights of the country, or inveighing against

treacherous and venal


ner,

tion

woman. In like we observe some fine traits of lofty emoamong the Italian poems, such as the two

some man-

songs for Philiberta of Savoy; and the true accents of his love find their

way

to utterance

among
the

the Petrarchan, the madrigalesque


qualities

and
the

courtly

of others.
first

Such

is

song celebrating their


her

meeting. In which

he records the Florentine festa, where he saw

who was

to

become

his mistress,

and who
all

immediately occupied a place above

other

women
as
it

in his eyes,

her whose

fair,

dense hair,
fell

shaded her cheeks and neck and

upon

her shoulders, whose rich silken robe adorned

with scarlet and gold, became part of his soul;

and the elegy which


other

is

an outburst of joy upon


felicity;

having attained the desired

and that
visit to

which

records

the

lovers'

meeting at

night; then too the chapter

upon the
a

Florence, where
city

all

the attractions of the sweet

failed to

secure fr

him

moment's

re-

spite,

eager as he was to return to the longed-

26

ARIOSTO'S HEART
whom
as

for presence of the loved one,


scribes

he dea
fair

poetically

in

her

absence

magician:
" Oltra acque, monti, a ripa I'onda vaga

Del re de' fiumi, in bianca e pura stola, Cantando ferma il sol la bella maga, Che con sua vista puo sanarmi sola."

and
"

in the

sonnet which ends:

Ma

benigne accoglienze,

ma

complessi

Licenziosi,

ma

parole sciolte

D'ogni freno,

ma

risi,

vezzi e giuochi."

They

are often echoes of the erotic Latin poets,

refreshed by the true condition of his


which,
in the

own

spirit

passion of love, never went beyond


slight degree of sensual-

a tender
ity.

and somewhat

It

would be vain

does not possess


cosmical

to seek in

him what he

that suave imagining, those

analogies,

those moral finesses and


in

lofty thoughts,

which are to be found

other

poets of love.

For this reason, reflections upon himself and upon the society in which it was his fate to live,
confidences about his

own

various ways of feel-

ing and the recital of his adventures, follow

and accompany the brief


eroticism.

lyrical effusions of this

When

Ariosto

limits

himself

to

ARIOSTO'S HEART
the thoughts
it

27

and happenings of

his daily life,

is

rather a question of narrating than cre-

and the culmination of the minor works are known as the Satires, which must not be limited to the seven which bear this title
ating,
in

the

printed

editions,

but

should

be

exlike

tended to include other compositions of


tone

and content,
and the
such
In
as

to

be

elegies

capitals,

among and even among


found

the the

odes,
ibus.

the

elegy

De

diversis
is

amor-

all

of these, Ariosto
in

writing his

autobiography
series

fragments,
letters

or rather as a
to
his

of
as

confidential

friends,
at
least

such

he did not write in prose,

none are to be found among those of


remain.
ness, dry,

his that

These are all connected with busisummary, and written in haste, only

here and there revealing the personality of the


writer; whereas,
verse,

when he expressed himself in he made his own soul the subject, paying
said.

attention to the vivacity of the representation

and the precise accuracy of what he


is

This

most pleasing

versified

correspondence,

where we hear him lamenting, losing patience,


telling us

what he wants, forming

projects, re-

fusing,

begging

a favour, candidly laying

bare

for us his true disposition, his lack of docIHty,

28

ARIOSTO'S HEART
and
his caprices,

his volubility

discussing life

and the world, smiling

at others

and

at himself;

we converse with an Ariosto in his dressinggown, who experiences great pleasure and has
no compunction about showing us himself as
he
is,

and we know how he abhorred any


But these
quality,
letters in verse,

sort of

restraint.

although

perfect in

vivacious and eloquent as

only

the writings

of

man who

speaks of
let-

things that concern himself can be, yet are


ters, confessions,

autobiography: they are not


is

pure poetry; their metrical form

to

them
In

something of a delicate pleasing whim,

in har-

mony
saying

with such a definition of the soul.


this,

we do not wish
which

to detract in
is

any

way from
to

their value,

great, but only

prevent their true character

from escap-

ing us.
It is

no marvel then
hills

if

a connection, such as
valleys,

prevails between

and

seems to

run between these lesser works, the odes, the


verses of the satires, and the Furioso.
sufficient to
It
is

read an octave or two of the

poem

to discover at once the difference in altitude sep-

from the most delicious of the lovesongs, from the most nimble and picturesque
arating
it

of the satires, which express the feelings of

ARIOSTO'S HEART
the

29

author far more directly than does the


It
is

Furioso.

further to be noted that Ariosto

never wished to publish, and certainly never

would have had published

a great

number of

them, with the exception of the comedies, even


after his death, except perhaps the satires; but
since the

minor works are nevertheless the

ex-

pression of his feelings in real and ordinary


it

life,

follows that

if

we wish

to discover the inspira-

tion of the Furioso, the passion

which informed
not in the

and gave to
for this

it its

proper content, we must seek


his

beyond

ordinary

life,

heart which
a

we know
a lover:

as that of a son, a brother,


it is

poor man,

something hidden yet


his heart.

more deeply within him, the heart of That there really was a hidden that Ariosto really had a heart of
the

affection;
his

heart

shut up within himself; that beyond and above

beloved

woman
is

he

worshipped

another

woman

or goddess, with

whom

he daily held re-

ligious converse,

apparent from his whole

habit of

life.

Why

for practical ambitions,

had he so lofty a disdain why was life at court


to him,

and business so wearisome

why

did he

renounce so much, sigh so often and so often

pray for leisure and rest and freedom, save


to celebrate that cult, to give himself over to

30

ARIOSTO'S HEART
work upon
the Fiirioso, which
its

that converse, to

was

altar, or the statue


it

which he had sculphis chisel?

tured for

and was perfecting with

What was

the origin of his well-known " dis-

traction," that

mind of
ever

his so aloof

from

his

surroundings,
else,

dwelling upon

something

which

his

contemporaries

observe

and

about which curious anecdotes are preserved?

His need of love and of feminine caresses did not present itself to him as a supreme end, as with people desirous of ease and pleasure, but seemed to him to be rather a means to an end:
as though
it

were the surrounding of serene


love.

joy,

of tumult appeased, which he prepared for himself

and for that other more lofty

Car-

ducci has successfully defined this psychological


situation in his sonnet
osto,

on the portrait of Ari-

where he says that the only longed for


" prize for his

and accepted
the

poems " was for which great dreamer "a lovely mouth

should appease the burning of his Apollonian

brow

with

kisses

..."
is

The

proof of the scrupulous attention which


to be found in the
it

he devoted to the Furioso,

twelve years, during which he worked upon

in the flower of his age, " with long vigils and

labours," as he wrote to the

Doge

of Venice,

ARIOSTO'S HEART
when
first

31

requesting the privilege of printing the

edition of 15 16;
it,

and

in his

having always
to soften
it

returned to
in
it,

to chisel

smooth and

innumerable delicate
or in the throwing

details, or to

amplify

he had written by

away of five cantos, which way of amplification, but


For these
personally

which did not go well with the general design,

and

finally

failed to content him.

he substituted as

many more, and

superintended the edition of 1532, which also

him altogether, so that he began to work upon it again during the few months which separated him from death. His son Virginio attests that he " was never satisfied with his verses, that he kept changing them
failed to content

again and again, and for this reason never re-

membered any of them


a corrector
aldi

.";

and contempo-

raries never cease marvelling at his diligence as

and a maker of perfect things: Gir-

Cinzio, to mention but one witness, says that after the first edition, " not a single day

passed," during sixteen years, " that he was

not

occupied

upon

it

with

pen

and

with

thought," and that he was also desirous of obtaining the

opinions

and impressions of the

greatest

men

of letters and humanists in Italy


it,

as to every part of

men

such as

Bembo, Mol-

32
za,

ARIOSTO'S HEART
Navagero; and
as Apelles with his paintAriosto kept his work for two years " in
it

ings,

the hall of his house, leaving

there that

it

might be
to

criticised

by everyone "; and he parwished


his critics

ticularly said that he

merely

mark with

a stroke of the

pen those parts

which did not please them, without giving any


reason for so doing, that he might find
for himself, and then discuss
so arrive at a decision
it
it

out

with them, and


in his

and a solution

own

way.

He

pushed

his

minute delicacy of taste

so far as to be preoccupied about the choice of

modes of spelling, refusing, for instance, to remove the " h " from those words which possessed
it

by tradition, thus opposing the sug-

gestion of
illiterate

Tolomei and the new fashion of the crowd, by jocosely replying that " He

who removes the h from Huomo, does not know Huomo (man), and he who removes it
from Honore,
is

not worthy of honour."

What
pressed,

then was the passion which he thus ex-

who was

the goddess, for

whom,

since

he could not raise a temple and a marble statue


in the little in

house which he longed for and built

the Via Mirasole, he constructed the archi-

tecture, the

forms and the poetical adornments

of the Fur'ioso?

He

never uttered her name,

ARIOSTO'S HEART
was
so httle a theorist or critic as Ariosto.

33

because none of the other great Italian poets

He

never discussed his art or art

in general, limit-

ing himself to saying very simply, and indeed

very inadequately, that what he meant by art

was
ful

work containing pleasing and delightthings"; nor, as we have seen, have the

"

critics told us

who

she was, since they have at

the most indicated vaguely and indirectly in


their illogical

formula that " his Goddess was

Art."

CHAPTER

III

THE HIGHEST LOVE: HARMONY


But we on the other hand shall name her,

and we
Ariosto

shall call her

Harmony, and we
assign a simple

shall

prove that those


in the

who

aim

to

Furioso, Art or Pure Form, were


it

gazing at her and seeing her as


a veil of clouds.

were through

In doing

this,

same time

define the concept of

we shall at the Harmony. We


it

cannot avoid entering upon certain theoretical


explanations in relation to this matter; but

would be wrong
sions, since
it

to look

upon them

as digres-

is

only by their means that the

way

can be cleared to the understanding of the

spirit

which animates the Furioso.


which we
find ourselves, of

There

is

something comic or at
sity in

least ironic in this neces-

weighting with

philosophy a discourse relating to so transparent a poet as Ariosto; but

we have already

warned the reader at the beginning that it is one thing to read and let sing to him the verses of a poet, and another to understand him, and
34

THE HIGHEST LOVE


that

35

what

is

easy to learn

may sometimes

be

very

difficult to

understand.

It is

therefore without doubt contradictory

to state that an artist has for his special

and

particular end or content, art


is

itself,

art

which

the general end of every artist: as contradic-

tory as to say that an individual has for his concrete

and proper end, not


life.

this or that

work and
no doubt

profession, but

And

there

is

also
it

that since every error contains in

an element

of truth,

those

erroneous theories aimed at

something
tent,

effectively existing: a particular condefine,

which they were not able to


in

and
art.

which could never be

any case art for

Two

sorts of

judgments of that formula have

nevertheless been expressed in relation to two


different

groups of works of art: those relating


to be inspired

to

works which seemed

by

a par-

ticular

form of

art,

and those which seem to be


itself,

inspired by the idea of Art

by Art

in uni-

versal; and for this reason our rapid investigation

must be divided and directed


case.

first

to the one

and then to the other

The

first

case includes the poetry which


classicistic "
:

may
not

be called " humanistic " or "


the classicism and

out talent or taste, but that lively

humanism of pedants withhumanism

36

THE HIGHEST LOVE


to

and classicism which we are wont


enjoy
in several

admire and
in

poets of our Renaissance

the

Latin language, such as Sannazaro,

Politian

and Pontano, and


Monti,
in his best

also in later times those exin

tremely lettered writers

Italian,

of

whom
to
in

work,

may

be said to be the

greatest representative and

we might add

him Canova, although he has not poetised


verse.

What

is

there that pleases us in them,

in their imitations, their re-writing, their can-

tos of classical phrases

and measures?
carried

And
them

what was

it

that

warmed and

away, so that they were able to transmit their

emotion to us and obtain our delighted sym-

pathy?

It

has been answered that this was

due to their remaining faithful to the already


sacred traditions

of beautiful

form,
is

handed
not satis-

down by

the school; but this answer

factory, because pedants also can be mechanically faithful in repeating;

we have

alluded to

and shown that on the contrary they weary and annoy us. The truth is that the
these

former hold to those forms of


sion of their feeling, which

art,

because they

are the suitable symbol, the satisfactory expresis

one of affection

for the past, as being venerable, glorious, decorous, national or super-national and cultural;

THE HIGHEST LOVE


and
their content
is

37
Itself,

not literary form by

but love for that past, love for some one or other historical age of
true,
art.

And

if

this

be

we must
same

place those romantic archalsers

In the

class of art

with the humanists or


the substantial na-

classicists,

when considering

ture of things.

For the former nourish the

same feeling and employ the same procedure, not In relation to the Greek and Roman past,
but
In relation

to the Christian

and medieval
let

past, particularly in

Germany, where they

us

hear again the rude accent of the medieval epic,

and represent the Ingenuous forms of pious


legends and sacred dramatic representations,

and make themselves the echo of ancient popular songs: this re-writing has often
In
it

something

of the pastiche

(as the

humanists and

classicists also

have something of the pastiche,


is

which

with

them

pedantry),

yet

some-

times produce passages of delicate art, which


if

not profound, were certainly agreeable to

the heart that remembers, to the eternal heart

of childhood which

Is

in us.

Ariosto was also a more or

less successful

humanist

in certain

of his minor works, as

we

have

said, but In the Fiirioso,

although he took
poets, he

many schemes and

details

from Latin

3^

THE HIGHEST LOVE


towards
of

stands essentially outside their line of Inspiration, for instead of directing his spirit

the past, he always draws the past towards his


spirit,

and there

is

no observable trace

in

it

Latin-Augustan archaism, or of the archaism


of medieval
chivalry.

For

this

reason,

the

view that he had Art

itself as his

content must
In

be taken as applicable without doubt

the

other sense to him and to certain other artists:


as devotion to

Art as universal,
Is

to

Art

In Its

Idea, a devotion which


narratives, his figures

bodied forth
his verse.

In his

and

Now
Idea
Is

It

must be remembered that Art

nothing but expression or

tation of the real,


flict

in Its

represenIs

of the real which

con-

and

strife,

but a conflict and a strife that


It

are always being settled; that

Is

multiplicity

and
tic

diversity, but at the

and development, and

same time unity, dialecalso and through that,

cosmos and Harmony.

And
Is

since

Art cannot
it Is

be the content of Art, that

to say,

imIt is

possible to represent representation

(as
If

impossible to think thought, so that


is

thought
itself

made

the object of thought,


is

it is

always

and the other, that


eliding the

to say, the whole),


Is

by

term which

superfluous and has

been unduly retained, we obtain the result that

THE HIGHEST LOVE


when
Form,
it

39

is

stated of Ariosto or of other artists

that they have for content pure Art or pure


it

is

really to be understood that they

have for content devotion to the pure rhythm


of the universe, for the dialectic which
for the development which
if
is
is

unity,

Harmony.

Thus,

humanistic or otherwise archaistic artists do


is

not as

generally believed love beautiful forms,


it

but rather the past and history,

may

be said

of those others that they do not love pure Art,

but the pure and universal content of Art, not


this

or

that

particular

strife

and Harmony

(erotic, political, moral, religious,

and so on),
eternal.

but strife and

Harmony

in idea

and

The

concept of cosmic

Harmony, which has


in

also been called pure

Beauty or absolute Beauty,


old

and indeed God, has been much employed


(old always being understood
historical sense,
in
its

philosophy, and notably in the old aesthetic


logicallife

which
in

is

still

tenacious of

and re-appears
tion of the

our

own

day,

where

it

might

be least expected), and has

made an

elabora-

new

theory, which conceives of art

as lyrical intuition or expression, very laborious.

For many reasons that it would occupy too much time and be out of place to detail here. Harmony or Beauty came to be considered

40

THE HIGHEST LOVE


of
accounting,

as the true essence of Art; hence the impossibiHty

not

only

for

many

works of
artificial

art,

but for art In general, and the

attempts

made by

the upholders of

this doctrine
in

and by

criticism to pervert facts

support of a partial and incorrect principle. For the reasons given above, it is easy for us to

discern the origin of the error, which lay in

transferring one of the classes of particular


contents which Art
as the
is

able to elaborate, to serve

end and essence of Art.

And

the one
its

selected
religious

was

precisely that

which owing to
dignity,

and philosophical

appeared to
itself to-

have the power to absorb Art into


gether with
everything else
the whole In a sort of mysticism.

and to dissolve
This
of
Is

con-

firmed by

the

historical

course

the

doc-

trine, the first

conspicuous form of which was


oc-

Neoplatonism, which reappeared on several


casions In the

Middle Ages,
owing

at the time of the

Renaissance and during the Romantic period.

De

Sanctis himself,

to the romantic ori-

gins of his thought,

was never altogether

free

from

it;

and his judgment upon Ariosto bears


Art

traces of the transcendental conception of as an actualisation of pure Beauty.

Similar traces are to be found in another doc-

THE HIGHEST LOVE


trine to

41

which

De

Sanctis held

and formulated
which
de-

as the distinction

and opposition between the


a doctrine
it

poet and the artist:


sirable to

is

make

clear,

not only with a view of

strengthening the concept to which

we have

had recourse, but also because Ariosto himself is numbered among the poets to whom the distinction has been chiefly applied, as he has

been

held to be distinct and opposed, along with Politian


ists,

and Petrarch, and perhaps others,


to

as art-

Dante or

to Shakespeare, as poets.

The

doctrine appears to be endorsed by facts, and

therefore looks plausible and

is

readily accepted
ocIt

and continually reproduced, as on several


casions in the history of aesthetic ideas.

was not altogether unknown


Ariosto himself,
to
if

in

the days of

Giraldo Cinzio can be held

have suggested

it,

when
in

in his

description of

an allegorical picture,

which were to be seen


Helicon," Dante, with

the two great Tuscans " in a green and flowery

meadow upon
his

a hill of

robe fastened at the knees, " manipulated


all

the circular scythe, cutting


scythe

the grass that his


" robed in

met with," while Petrarch,


herbs

senatorial robe, lay there selecting

among

the

noble

and
it is

the

delicate

flowers."

In

spite of this,

altogether unsustainable as an

42

THE HIGHEST LOVE


it

exact theory, because


fied

introduces an unjusti-

and

unjustifiable dualism,

which

it

is

alto-

gether impossible to mediate, since each of the

two distinct terms contains in itself the other and nothing else, thus demonstrating their
identity: the poet
is

poet because he

is

an

artist,

that

is

to say, he gives artistic


artist

form

to feeling,

and the
to
this

would not be an
is

artist, if

he were

not a poet, that


elaborate.

to say, if

he had not a feeling


confirmation of
this,

The apparent

theory by facts arises from

that there
a devotion

are as

we know,

for cosmic

others

artists who have Harmony as their chief content, and who have other devotions: and this
it is

proves that

advisable to

make

very mod-

erate and restrained use of the distinction be-

tween poets and

artists,

between those who rep-

resent the beautiful and those the real, as


tions.
is

who

represent

the case with

all

empirical distinc-

Sometimes the same distinction, taken from the bosom of poetry or of some other special art, has been thrown into the midst of
the series of the so-called arts, severing those
arts

which
for

have
their

cosmic

Harmony,
from

absolute

Beauty, ideal Beauty, the rhythm of the Universe


object,

others

which

have for their object individual feelings

and

THE HIGHEST LOVE


life.

43

Among
school

the former were

numbered (as
the
art

in

the

of Winckelmann)

of

sculpture

and certain
latter,

sorts of painting at least,

and among the

poetry; or (according to

Schelling and Schopenhauer)

bestowing upon

music alone the whole of the

first field. Music would thus be opposed to the other arts and would possess the value of an unconscious Met-

aphysic, in so far as

it

directly portrayed the

rhythm of the Universe itself. A clumsy docwhich we only mention here, because Ariosto would furnish the best example of all
trine,

among

the poets, against the exclusion of poetry


arts

from among the

which alone were able to


he had seemed to an

portray the rhythm of the Universe or Har-

mony:
poet

Ariosto, who,

if

Italian philologist to be nothing less than " a

who was

an excellent observer and rea-

soner," has yet appeared to Humboldt, whose


ear

was more

sensitive to the especially " musi-

cal " musikalisch,

and

to Vischer

more

especially

as one
a

who developed

his fables of chivalry " in

melodious labyrinth of Images, which proin its sensual serenity the

duced

same enjoyment

as the rocking

and dying of the Italian can-

zone," thus giving the reader " the pure pleasure of moving without matter."

44

THE HIGHEST LOVE


When
empirical
classifications

are

not

handled with caution and with

a consciousness

of their limits, not only do they deprive the


principles of science of their rigour

and vigour,

but also carry with them the unfortunate result

of making
cretely

it

seem possible

to distinguish con-

what has been roughly divided for the

purpose of aiding the creation of images.


double class of poets and of
artists,

The

the one

universal

moved by particular affections, the Harmony, does not hold as


duality, because the love of

other by
a logical
is

Harmony

itself

one of

many

particular affections, and forms

part of the series comprising the comic, tragic,

humorous, melancholy, jocose, pessimistic, passionate, realistic, classicistic poets,

and so on.

But even when


of
thjC

it

has been reduced to the level


is

others, there

no

necessity, either in its

case or in that of the others, to fall into the


illusion

that there really exist poets

who

are

only tragic or only comic, only realistic or only


classicistic,

singers only of

Harmony, without

the other passions, or solely passionate without

the passion for

Harmony.

The

love of tradi-

tional forms, for example,

which we have seen

to be the base of classicism, exists in a certain

measure

in

every poet, for the reason that every

THE HIGHEST LOVE

45

poet employs, re-lives and renews the words of


a given language, which has been historically

formed, and

is

therefore charged with a


full

liter-

ary tradition and

of historical meaning.
exists also in

And

the love of

Harmony

every

poet worthy of the name, since he cannot represent his


ticular

drama of

the affections, save as a par-

mode of drama and of the dramatic or dialectic cosmic Harmony, which is therefore
contained and dwells
the particular.
in it as the universal in

tinctions,

Are we ourselves overthrowing our own disimmediately after asserting them?


are not overthrowing the principles which established in connection with the na-

We

we had

ture of Art, and with the nature of

Harmony

and Beauty
sense; but
it

in the super-aesthetic

and cosmical

was necessary clearly to state and to overthrow the definition of Ariosto as poet of Harmony, because in doing so, we cease to
preserve
it
it

in its abstractness,

but

make

use of

as a living principle.

In other words, by
first

thus defining him,


ject of

our quest,

we have attained the which was no longer


art's sake,

ob-

to leave

him hidden beneath the nebulous


of a poet of art for

description

nor beneath that

other equally fallacious description of him as a

46
satirical

THE HIGHEST LOVE


and
ironical poet, or as a poet of pru-

dence and wisdom, and so on; and

we have

pointed out where the principal accent of his art


falls.

Passing

now
in

to other determinations, in

order to show

what matter and


is

or tone that accent

realised,
it

what way maintained and


in

developed, even

when

happens that we can

do

this in

the best possible manner,

we

shall
fa-

not allow ourselves to be ensnared by the


tuous belief, in vogue with certain
day,
that
critics

of the

we have

supplied an equivalent to

Ariosto's poetry with our aesthetic formulas:

such an equivalent would not only be an arrogance, but


it

would
is

also be useless, because

Ariosto's poetry
it

there,

and anyone can see


determinations must

for himself.

The new

however

also be asserted

and refuted, only the


analogous to those

new

results being preserved,

already obtained, by means of which

we

shall

dispose of other false ideas circulated by the


critics

concerning Ariosto and point out the

salient characteristics of the material

which he

selected for treatment, together with the

mode
of the
is

and the tone of


individuum

his

poem.

The poetry
all

Furioso, as for that matter


ineffabile,

poetry,

an

and Ariosto, the poet of

Harmony,

limited in this direction and that,

THE HIGHEST LOVE


the Arlostesque poet, the poet of

47

never at any time exactly coincides with Arlosto,

and not only of Harmony as defined

in the

Harmony, way

we have

defined

it,

but also

in

other ways un-

derstood or Indefinable.

We

do not propose

to exhaust or to take the place of the concrete


living Arlosto; he
Is

indeed present to the im-

agination of our readers as to our

own and
critical

forms the perpetual criterion of our


be unintelligible.

explanations, which without this criterion

would

CHAPTER

IV

THE MATERIAL FOR THE HARMONY


Had
Ariosto been a philosopher or a poetphilosopher, he would have given us a

hymn

to

Harmony,
are to be

similar to a

good many others which


him

found

in

the history of literature,

celebrating that lofty Idea, which enabled

to understand the discordant concord of things

and while satisfying


with peace and
joy.

his intellect, filled his soul

But Ariosto was the op-

posite of a philosopher,
able to read

and

certainly,

were he

what we are now investigating and him, first he would be astonished, then he would smile and finally he would comment upon our work with some good-natured
discovering
in jest.

His love for Harmony never took the form of a concept, it was not love of the concept and
of the intelligence, that
is

to say of things an-

swering to a need which he did not experience;


it

was love for Harmony


48

directly

and ingenua har-

ously perceived, for sensible

Harmony:

HARMONIC MATERIAL
mony, therefore, which did not
loss of his

49
a
all

arise

from

humanity and an abandonment of


ideas, but existed for

particular sentiments, a religious mounting up


to the

world of the
as
a

him
a

rather

sentiment

among
place.

sentiments,
all

dominant sentiment, surrounding

the others

and assigning

to each

its

In this respect,

he really belonged to one of the chief spiritual


currents of the period of the Renaissance, or

more
the

accurately, of the early Cinquecento

to

when Leonardo, Raphael, Fra Bartolommeo, Andrea del Sarto,


period,

that

is

to

say,

with their beautiful, harmonious decorum and


majestic forms, had succeeded to Ghirlandaio,
to Botticelli, to Lippi,

when

it

seemed
of

(in the

words of
Italy," a

Wolfflin,

historian

art)

" as
in

though new bodies had suddenly grown up

new and

magnificent population, re-

splendent in painting and sculpture, which was

indeed the reflection of a new psychical


tude, of a different direction

atti-

and of

new

centre

of interest.

Now

if

we undertake

to consider the sentiif

ments which form part of the Furioso,


associate

we

dis-

them from the connection established among them by the harmonising sentiment of
in their particularity,

Harmony, and therefore

50

HARMONIC MATERIAL
we
shall

disaggregation and materiality,


" material " of

have

before us the material of the Furioso.

For the

Art

is

nothing but

this,

when
which
the

ideally distinguished

from the content,


are
it

in

the

sentiments

themselves

fused

in

dominant sentiment, whether


which
self or
in

be called the
:

leading motive or the lyrical motive


its

a content

turn can be only ideally distinin

guished from the form,


is

which

it

expresses

it-

possessed and present in the

spirit.

Philological criticism,
cal

deprived of philosophiin its

enlightenment, philology

bad sense or
or
external

philologism,
" sources,"

means
as

rather by " material "


also
called,

they are

things, such as the

books which the poet had

read or the stories that he

had heard
in

told,

and
the

on the pretext of supplying


genesis of a
to

this
it

way

work

of art ab ovo,

penetrates

the

sources of the sources, let us say to

the origins of warrior

women, of

the ogress

and the hippogryph of Arlosto.


cedure suggests that of one

Their pro-

who when asked

what language
time, should

poet found

in circulation in his

open for that purpose an etymo-

logical dictionary of the Italian language, or of

the

romance languages, or of Indo-European

languages, which expound formative ideological

HARMONIC MATERIAL
processes, either forgotten or

51

thrown
if

into the

background of the speaker's consciousness when


engaged
lose
in speaking.

But even

we do not

our

way

in
if

such learned and interminable

dissertations,

we

escape the error referred to

above, of forming judgments as to merit upon

them, philologistic search for sources and for


material becomes capricious and ends by being
impossible; because
tain literary
it

takes as sources only cer-

lumber scattered here and there,


this

and were we to unite


musical arts,

with the whole of

the rest of literature, with the figurative

and
pri-

and with other external things


scientific

which actually surround the poet, public and


vate events,
beliefs, customs,

teachings and disputes,


find our-

and so on, we should and

selves involved in all endless

infinite

enu-

meration, convincing proof of the illogical nature of such an inquiry.

Nor do we make any


that
is

progress in the determination of the material by


limiting
it

to

more modest terms,

to say,

only to certain things which the poet had before

him
tion,

(even

if

they be documents and informa-

not without use for certain ends), because


is

the true material of art, as has been said,

not

things but the sentiments of the poet, which

determine and explain one another,

why and

52

HARMONIC MATERIAL
what reason he turns
Since
to certain things

for

and

not to others, to these things rather than to


those.

we have already
and shown
its

described Arireflection in his

osto's character

minor works, now that we are examining the


material of the Fiirioso,
character, that
is

we

to say,
will

same the same complex of


shall find the

sentiments which

it

be desirable to illustrate

and to distinguish
ner, with

in a

somewhat

different

man-

an eye no longer directed to the psy-

chology of the

man

or to the minor works, but

just to the Furioso.

And we
already

shall

find

above

all

an amorous

Ariosto, Ariosto perpetually

in love,

whom we
love and

know

an Ariosto for

whom

woman

are an important affair, a great pleasis

ure which he

not able to renounce, a great


set himself free.

torment from which he cannot That love is always altogether


a beautiful bodily form,

sensual, love for

shining forth in the

luminous eyes,
too,

seductive,

charming; virtuous

but relatively virtuous, just as

avails to prevent too

much as much poison entering into

the delicate linked tenderness of love; and for


this reason,
all

ethical or speculative idealisastyle,


is

tion, in the

new or Platonic
of a

("Not

love

lady of theology

excluded ":
. .

HARMONIC MATERIAL

53

here too, CarduccI saw clearly and spoke well)

Absent too or extraneous are the consecration


and purification of love
in "

matrimony"; the
from

choice of a wife, the treatment of a wife, are

for Ariosto, things differing but slightly


the

and the breaking in of a horse, matrimony in its noble ethical sense beand longs at the most to his intellect, and to his inchoice
tellect in so far as
it

is

passive

in the

Furioso

are to be found the politics and not the poetry

of matrimony, and
free
love,

among innumerable

ties

of

Bradamante " " the conjugal tie alone aims at with Ruggiero. But the love of Ariosto is healthy and
the

chaste sighing of

natural in

its

warm

sensuality;

it is it

not sophisticonscious of

cated with luxurious images,


its

is

own

limits;

nor does
desires,
in the

it

inextinguishable

from mad or but only from that


suffer

which was known


coldness; but

language of the time


refusal or her

as the " cruelty " of


it

woman, her

tortures itself yet

more with
a

jealousy and the anxious working of the imagination.

The Ferrarese Garofalo,

con-

temporary biographer, bears witness to the


very lively jealousy of Ariosto,
since he loved " with a great

saying that

was

" above

vehemence," he measure jealous," and " always

54

HARMONIC MATERIAL
much modof his per-

carried on his love affairs in secret and with

great solicitude, accompanied with


esty "; but this
is

evident in the matter of the


in

poem

itself,

being exhibited

many

sonages, descriptions and situations, and finding

complete expression

in

the verse which closes

on so pathetic

a note: "believe one

who

has

had experience of it." Cruelty on the one side and jealousy on the other, although they torture, do not make him sad or cause him to give
vent to desperate utterances, because, since he

had not too


he
is

lofty nor too


it

madly an intransigent
greatly delighted him,

idea of love, although

not apt to expect too


infidelity

much from
forbids

it,

and

knowing the

and the

fragility of

man,

him from bringing his hand down too heavily upon the Hence infidelity and the fragility of woman. comes, not forgiveness, but resignation and in" My lady is a lady, and every lady dulgence.
a sort of sense of justice
is

weak"; remarks Rinaldo

wisely.

Ariosto's

is

an indulgence without moral elevation, but

also without cynicism


tain element of

and inspired with

a cer-

goodness and humanity.

Re-

ciprocal deception and illusion are inherent to

love affairs; but

how

can they be done

away

with, without also doing

away

at the

same time

HARMONIC MATERIAL
The
his

55

with the charm of that bitter but amiable sport?


lover takes care to preserve the illusion by
is

very passion, which blinds him to what

visible

and makes the

invisible visible, leading

him

to believe

what he

desires, to believe the

person

who

fascinates him, as does

Brandimarte

with his Fiordiligi, wandering about the world

and returning to him uncontaminated:


fair Fiordiligi, of

"To

whom

had believed greater

things."

Thus

the imagination of Ariosto, as

these various equal and conflicting sentiments

wove

their

own

images, became quite

filled

with

marvellous seductive beauties, perfect of limb,

and with voluptuous forms and scenes (Alcina


and her
which
arts,

Angelica

in the

arms of Ruggiero
;

who had

set

her free, Fiordispina)

of others

oscillate

between the passionate and the

comic (Gicondo and Fiametta, the knight


tests the

who

wife he loves too much, the judge An:

selmo and his Argia) of others whose love was unworthy or criminal (Origille, whom Grifone strives to save from the punishment that
she deserves, notwithstanding her wickedness

proved on several occasions and her known


treachery; the sons of King Marganorre; Gabrina,

who

did receive punishment, perhaps be;

cause her depraved old age was so repulsive)

56

HARMONIC MATERIAL
all

and above

of the

woman who

symbolises

Woman,
of

for

whom

the bravest knights sustain

every sort of labour and danger, and because

whom

a big strong

man

loses control of hima love

self,

and who, herself slave of

which

owns no law outside itself, ends by bestowing her hand upon a "poor servant" (Angelica, Orlando and Medoro). These are but a few
instances of the

many
in its

places in the Furioso,

bearing upon love

various

modes of

pre-

sentation, in addition to the introductions to the

cantos and the digressions into which Ariosto

pours

his

whole store of feeling or

sets forth his


is

reflections.

And

the love matter


all

of so great

volume

as to

dominate

the rest, possibly in


intensity; so

extent, certainly in relief


so, that
it is

and

marvel that among the

much many at-

tempts to establish the true motive and argu-

ment of the poem, by abstracting it from its subject matter, and to determine its design and unity in the same way, no one has yet insisted upon considering it, or has been able to consider
it

as " the

poem

of love," of the casuistry of


life

love, to

which knightly and warlike

should

but provide the decorative background.

This

theory would certainly seem to be

less unlikely
it

than the other, which assigns to

as

its

end

HARMONIC MATERIAL
mante.
In any case, this motive
is

57

and unity the war between Carlo and Agraplaced sec-

ond
first
first

Furioso, where the word is not by chance " women," and the verse ends with " loves " (and in the first
in the protasis to the

edition
ladies

we even read:
is

"The
;

ancient loves of

and of knights")

and the scene with


and

which the poem opens

the flight of Angelica,

who
which

is

immediately met by Sacripante

Rinaldo
it

who

are in love with her, and that with


is

concludes

the marriage feast of Rug-

giero and Bradamante, disturbed yet heightened


in its

solemnity of celebration by the incident of

the duel with

Rodomonte.
in

Love matter dominates


cause
it
it

the Furioso, be-

dominated

in

the heart of Ariosto,

where
justice

easily passed over into

ings, into piety that

more noble feelgoes beyond the tomb, into

rendered to calumniated innocence, into

kindness ill-recompensed, into admiration for


the sacred
tie

of friendship.

Hence,

in

marked

contrast to the beautiful Doralice, so crudely


sensual, that

when her

lover's

body

is still

she

is

capable of looking with desire

warm, upon his

slayer, the valiant

Ruggiero, Isabella deliber-

upon putting herself to death that she may keep faith with her dead lover; and
ately decides

58

HARMONIC MATERIAL
whose pretty
flitters

Fiordlligi,
still

upon which something of the impudence atlittle face,

tributed to her by Boiardo, becomes furrowed

with anguish and sublime with sorrow, when she

apprehends

the

loss

of

Brandimarte.

And

Olympia stands by the side of Ginevra, trapped and drawn to the brink of ruin by a wicked man,
and
is

rescued by

Rinaldo,

the

righter

of

wrongs, Olympia

whom

the second time not only

Orlando twice saves, from death, but from

desperation at the desertion of her most thankless

husband.

Zerbino, brother of Ginevra and


is

lover of Isabella,
the knights.

a flower of nobility

among

He

alone understands and pities

the affectionate deed of

Medoro,
in the

careless of his

own

life

and absorbed

anxiety to obtain
lord.

burial for the

body of
traitor,
is
it

his

When

his

former friend who has shown himself to be

a
in

most infamous

dragged before him


in

chains, he cannot find

him

to

inflict

upon

him the death he deserves, for he remembers Devoted to their long and close friendship. the greatness of Orlando and in gratitude for
what he had done
in

saving and taking care of

Isabella, he collects the

arms of the Paladin,

scattered at the outbreak of his madness, and


sustains a

combat with Mandricardo for these

HARMONIC MATERIAL
arms,
ing been able to defend

59

dying rather for sorrow at not hav-

wound.

them than from his Cloridano and Medoro, Orlando and


are

Brandimarte,

other

idealisations

of

friendship which lasts beyond the tomb; and

anyone searching the poem for motives of commiseration and indignation for oppressed vir-

unhappy peoples trodden beneath the heel of the tyrant, robbed, tortured and allowed
tue, for

to perish like cattle

and goats, would

find other

instances of the goodness

and generosity which

burned

in the

mild Ariosto.

Goodness and generosity were also the substance of his political sentiment, which was that
of the honest

man

of

all

times,

who laments

the

misfortunes of his country, loathes the domination of foreigners, judges the oppression of the

nobles with severity,

is

scandalised by the cor-

ruption and hypocrisy of the priests and of the

Church, regrets that the united arms of Europe


cannot prevail against the Turks, that barbarian " of
this
ill

omen

"

but

it

does not go beyond

superficial impressionability,
his

and ends by

accepting

own

times

and respecting the


finally prevailed.

powerful personages who have

For

this

reason there
it

is

but slight interest in

noting

(and

can be noted in the Furioso

6o
itself)

HARMONIC MATERIAL
the
first

variety of the political ideas of


hostile to the Spaniards, as
to them,

Ariosto,

we

see
cer-

from several references


and
finally to
in

and from
lost

tain attributes given to the Spaniard Ferrau,

the

French,
find

who had
him
and

the

game

Italy,

and we
Carlo

extolling the

Spanish-Imperial

V.,

those

who

maintain his cause

in Italy,

whether they were


But on the other
it

Andrea Doria or
hand, as

the Avalos.

we have

already said,

Is

unjust to

reprove him for not having been a champion of


italianity

and of rebellion against tyrants and

foreigners,

such

existed

though they were rare


litical

or

in

those

days,

al-

a passionate po-

thinker and prophet, like Machiavelli.


invective against firearms suffices

The famous
him
politics

to indicate the quality of Ariosto's politics: for

were morality, private morality,


little

morality but

combative and very

idyllic,

although not vulgar, disdainful indeed of the

however fortunate and highly placed. Thus it was not such as to creand scenes in the poem, like love and ate figures
vulgar of
all

sorts,

human

piety; suffice that

if

it

insinuated itself

here and there

among

the reflective, exclama-

tory and hortatory octaves.

His

feeling towards his

own sovereign

lords,

HARMONIC MATERIAL
the Estes, has not, as
In his soul or in the

6i

we have

suggested, either
it

Furioso, anything in

of

the specifically political,

although he admired

them for the splendour of art and letters, which they and their predecessors had conferred upon the country, and for the strength of their rule. And he praised them with words and comparisons,

which he introduced into

his

poem on

large scale, and into the general scheme

itself.

These have
to

at times been held to be base adula-

tion or a subtle

form of irony almost amounting sarcasm; they were however neither, being

serious celebrations of glorious military enter-

and of magnanimous acts (it does not matter whether they really were so or seemed so and were bound to seem so to him) and for
prises
;

the

rest,

and especially

as

far as

concerned

Cardinal Hippolyto, they resemble the madrigals

addressed to ladies or their attendants,


In

which always contain a vein of mockery mingled


with the hyperbole of their compliments.
fact he treated this material as an imaginative

theme,

now

decorous and grave,


a courtier;

now

elegant

and polished as by
have been
in this
still

and he would
his

more

Inclined to treat the Estes

way, had they In return for

words

and "

works

of ink " dispensed

him from the

62

HARMONIC MATERIAL
and particularly from those
to run hither

duties of his post,

which obhged him

and

thither, to

behave
ful

like a " teamster."

Like

many

peace-

individuals,

who have no

taste for finding

themselves

in the

midst of battles, or for chang-

ing the place of their abode, or for travelling


to see

foreign races, or for voyages, or for

rapid ups and downs and adventures, or for anything of an upsetting and extraordinary nature
that happens unexpectedly, he
to

was

quite ready

accept

all

these things in his imagination,


idols of

where he preserved, caressed and made them. His inclination imaginatively


artists,

to

dec-

orate the Estes, the nobles of Italy, great ladies,

good or bad men of

letters of

any

sort,

to

make

radiant statues of them, had the same

root as his inclination for stories of knightly

romance.

These stories were the favourite reading, the " pleasant literature " of good society, especially in

Ferrara, where the Estes possessed a

fine collection in their library,

whence had come

who had versified them during the previous century, setting them Ariosto free from plebeian prose and verse.
the majority of Italian poets,

must have read very many of these in his youth, and must have delighted in them, and we know

HARMONIC MATERIAL
that he himself translated

63

some from French


to be found terrible

and Spanish.

Here were

and tremendous
monsters,

battles, duels of

hard knocks

and of masterly blows, combats with giants and


tragical
situations,

magnanimous
a vying to-

deeds, proofs of steadfast faith,

gether of loyalty and

courtesy, persecutions

and

favours and aid afforded by prodigious beings,

by and

fairies

and magicians, travels


flight,

in

distant

lands,

by sea or by

enchanted gardens

palaces,

knights

of

immense

strength,

Christian

and Saracen,
desirable

warlike

women and

women who were women,


him the
one

royally: all this gave

and agreeable pleasure of

who

looks on at a variously coloured ex-

hibition of fireworks, and owing to this pleas-

ure they gave, he incorporated a great number of them in the Furioso.


It
is

superfluous to

inquire whether the material of chivalry ap-

peared to him to be serious or burlesque, when we have understood the feeling which led

him in that direction: it was beyond all judgment of that sort, because we do not judge
rockets or fireworks morally or economically,

with approval or reproof.

It

can of course be

remarked that knightly

tales

been reduced to such an extent

had henceforth in Italy and in

64

HARMONIC MATERIAL

the spirit of Arlosto that they were not only

without the rehglous and national feeling of the


ancient epic, but even without

what

Is still

to be

found

in certain

popular Italian compilations,


this ob-

such as the

Monaixhs of France; but

servation, though correct


in the

and Important enough

history of culture, has no


as

meaning what-

ever

regards Ariosto's poetry.

The

fact

was sometimes entranced and carried away as It were by the spectacles which his fancy presented to him, and sometimes kept aloof from them, with a smile for commentary, or turned away towards the real world that surrounded him, goes without saying, and does not
that Arlosto

appear to demand the discussions and the


tellectual efforts

init.

which have been devoted to

His was on the other hand upon religious beliefs, God, Christ, Paradise, angels and saints; and Charlemagne's prayer to God, the vision of the angel Michael
ing outlook

a distinctly jest-

upon earth and the voyage of Astolfo


world of the Moon,
the Evangelist, the

to the

his conversations with

John

deeds and words of the


Angelica and Isabella find
those
of
the
saintly

hermit with
themselves,

whom
and

finally

hermit

who

baptises Ruggiero, accord with this


spirit.

laughing and almost mocking

Here we

HARMONIC MATERIAL
do not
find
in the

65

even the seriousness of the game and game, with which he treats of knightly doings; nor could there be, because relation to-

wards religion admits only of complete


ence

rever-

or

complete irreverence.

And

Ariosto

was
as
it

irreverent,

or what comes to the same

thing,

indifferent; his spirit

was

as areligious

was

aphilosophical,

untormented with

doubts, not concerned with


curious as to the

human

destiny, inthis

meaning and value of


in

world, which he saw and touched, and

which

he loved and suffered.

He

side the philosophy of the Renaissance,

was altogether outwhether


as he

Ficino's or Pomponazzi's,

every sort of philosophy.


it

was outside This limits and as

were deprives of importance his mockeries and to salute him as some have done " the

Voltaire of the Renaissance " or as a precursor


of Voltaire, and Voltaire himself

who

so

much

enjoyed Ariosto's profanations of sacred things,


maliciously underlining the witticism that es-

capes from the lips of

St.

John about

"

my

much-praised Christ" (after having said that


writers turn the true into the false, and the
false into the true,

and that he also had been

a " writer " in the world), has given Ariosto a

place which does not belong to

him

at

all.

66

HARMONIC MATERIAL
irreligious in so far as he attacked all

Voltaire was not areligious or indifferent, and

was only

historical religions with a religion of his

own,

which was deism or the religion of the reason;

and for
found

this

reason his satires and his lampoons


is

possess a polemical value, which


in

not to be

the jests of Ariosto.


in its

Presented

outstanding features, and to


is

the extent which suits our purpose, such

the

complex of sentiments which flowed together to

form
which
the

the Furioso and to produce the images of


it

consists.

They produced them


he

all

same,

where

seems

to

have

taken

them from other poems or books, from Virgil or from Ovid, from French or Spanish romances, because
in

the

taking and with the


his

taking of them, he

made them images of


is

own
them

sentiment, that
a

to say, he

breathed into
in

new

life

and poetically created them


this

so doing.

But although
to us

material of the

poem may seem


owing

who have

considered

it

to

be anterior and external to the

poem

itself
it

and

to our analysis, disaggregated,

must

not be supposed that those sentiments ever existed in the spirit of Ariosto as
in

mere matter or
is

an amorphous condition, because there


in

nothing

the spirit without

some form and

HARMONIC MATERIAL
without
its

67

own form.
it

Indeed,

we have

seen a

great part of

take form in the minor works,

while some dwelt in his mind, expressed and


realised in their
if

own way, even

if

unfulfilled or

we

lack written record of their existence.


a different aspect in this an-

But they possessed

terior form, differing therefore

from that which

they assumed in the poem.


satires,

In the lyrics and

words of love and

nostalgia, of friend-

ship

and complaint, of anger and indignation

against princes

who
like,

take

little

interest in poets,

of impatience and contempt for the ambitious


throng, and the
are

more

lively

and direct;

and
cal

it

would be easy
two

to find parallels for identi-

thoughts appearing with different intonadifferent places.


artistic

tions in the

Had

Ariosto

always accorded
timents at the

treatment to those senexperiencing them, he

moment of

would have continued


epistles

to write songs, sonnets,


set to

and

satires,

and would not have

work upon An examination of the poem upon Obizzo D'Este as to the material of chivalry, or if we like the sound of it
the Ftirioso.
better, as to feats of

arms and of daring,

will

at least yield us a glimpse of

what

it

would have

become, had

it

received immediate treatment,


to the early years of

whether

this

poem belongs

68

HARMONIC MATERIAL
prior
to

Ariosto,

the

composition
is

of

the
it

Furioso, or whether (as

more probable),
edition.

be later than the composition of the


the appearance of the
first

poem and The fraghad

ment

is

notable for

its

great limpidity and narraif

tive fluency, but

one sees that

the poet

continued in this direction, the

poem would have

been nothing but an elegant book of songs;


Ariosto did not wish to be a song-writer, so he
ceased the work which had been begun.

Had

he versified his mockeries of sacred things, he

would have become

a wit, a collector of bur-

lesque surprises, capable of arousing laughter

about friars and saints; but Ariosto disdained


such a trade, Ariosto whose

many

grandiose

dis-

tractions are on record, but

no witticisms or
a

smart sayings
too
fine

he was too much of

dreamer,

an

artist to take pleasure in such things.

His sentiment for Harmony aided him to turn the pleasant stories of chivalry and capricious jesting into poetry, and lesser erotic or narrative

and argumentative poetry into more com-

plex poetry, to accomplish the passage and ascent


truly

from

the minor
to

works

to that

which

is

great,

mediate

the

immediate,

by

transforming
ner that

his various sentiments in the

man-

we

are about to consider.

CHAPTER V

THE REALISATION OF HARMONY


The
first

change to manifest

itself in

them so

soon as they were touched by the

Harmony

which sang at the bottom of the poet's heart,

was

their loss of

autonomy, their submission

to a single lord, their descent

whole to becoming a part,


than ends, their
of the

from being the their becoming oc-

casions rather than motives, instruments rather

common

death for the benefit

new life. The magical power which accomplished

this
self-

prodigy was the tone of the expression, that

possessed, lightness of tone, capable of adopting


a

thousand forms and remaining ever graceful,


to the old school of critics as " the con-

known

fidential air,"

and remembered among the other But


this,

" properties " of the " style " of Ariosto.

not only does his whole style consist of


but since style
is

nothing but the expression of

the poet and of his soul, this

was

all

Ariosto

himself and his harmonious singing.


69

70

HARMONY
This work of disvaluatlon and destruction
Is

to be detected

In

the

expressive tone In the

proems

to the separate cantos, In the digressive


In the

argumentations,

observations Interjected,
of vocables, in the

in the repetitions, In the use

phrasing and the arrangement of periods, and

above

all In

the frequent comparisons that

pictures which rather than intensifying the


tion, cause
It

form emo-

to take a different path, In the in-

terruptions to the narrative, sometimes occurring at their most dramatic point. In the nimble

passage to other narratives of a different and


often opposite nature.

Yet the palpable part


is

of this whole, what

It

possible to segregate

and to analyse
along
feel
it

as elements of style,

forms but a

small part of the impalpable whole, which flows


like a

tenuous

with our soul, though

with our hands,

since It Is soul, we we cannot touch it even though they be armed with


fluid,

and

scholastic pincers.

And

this tone

Is

the often noted and named,


It

but never clearly defined irony of Arlosto;

has not been well-defined, because described as


a kind of jesting or mockery, similar or coinci-

dent with what Arlosto sometimes employed In


his descriptions of knightly

personages and their

adventures.

It

has thus been both restricted

HARMONY
and materialised, but what we must not
sight of
is

71

lose

that the irony

is

not restricted to one

order of sentiments, as for instance those of

knighthood or rehgion, and so spares the


but encompasses them
jesting,
all,

rest,

and thus

is

no

futile

but something far more lofty, more

purely artistic and poetical, the victory of the

dominant sentiment over


All the
sentiments,

all

the others.

sublime

and mirthful,

tender and strong, the effusions of the heart and


the workings of the intellect,
ings of love to the laudatory

from the pleadlists

of names,

from representations of
selves uplifted in
it.

battles to witticisms,

are alike levelled by the irony and find them-

The marvellous
all

Arios-

tesque octave rises above them

as they fall

before

it,

the octave which has a

life

of

its

own.

To

describe the octave as smiling,

would be an
be un-

insufficient qualification unless the smile

derstood in the ideal sense, as a manifestation of


free

and harmonious
in

life,

poised and energetic,

throbbing

veins rich with

good blood and

satisfied in this incessant throbbing.

The

oc-

taves sometimes have the quality of radiant

maidens,

sometimes of shapely youths, with

limbs lithe from exercise of the muscles, careless


of exhibiting their prowess, because
it

is

re-

72

H A R MO N Y

vealed

in their every gesture and attitude. Olympia comes ashore with her lover on a desoand deserted island, after many mislate

fortunes, and a long, tempestuous sea voyage:


II travaglio del

mare
di

e la

paura,

che tenuta alcun

I'aveano desta;

II ritrovarsi al lito

ora sicura,

lontana da rumor, nella foresta:


e

che nessun pensier, nessuna cura,

poi che'l suo

amante ha
ghiri aver

seco,
si

la

molesta;

fur cagion ch'ebbe Olimpia

gran sonno

che

gli orsi e

maggior nol ponno.^

Here we have
reasons

the complete analysis of the


fell Into

why Olympia

the deep sleep,


clearly

expressed with precision; but

all this is

secondary to the intimate sentiment expressed

by the octave, which seems


coming,

to enjoy itself,

and

certainly does so in describing a motion, a be-

which

attain

completion.

Brada-

mante and Marfisa vainly pursue King Agramante, to put him to death:

Come due

belle e generose

parde

che fuor del lascio sien di pari uscite,


1 Tempestuous seas and haunting fear which had kept her waking for days now gave place to a feeling of security: deep in the forest and removed from care and noise, Olympia clasped her lover to her breast and fell into sleep as deep as that of bears and dormice.

HARMONY
poscia ch'
i

73

cervi o le capre gagliarde


si

indarno aver

veggano

seguite,

vergognandosi quasi che fur tarde,


sdegnose se ne tornano e pentite
cosi

tornar
il

le

due donzelle, quando


salvo, sospirando.^

videro

Pagan

Here we find but we observe


trinsic interest

a like process
a like process

and and

a like result,

result

where
in-

there appears to be nothing whatever of


in

the subject, that


is

is

to say,
a

where the thought

merely conventional,

complimentary expression of courtly homage or


an expression of friendship and esteem.
say of a fair lady:

To
from

" She seemed in every act

of

hers

to
is

be

Goddess

descended
it is

heaven,"

not a subtle figure, but

so turned

and so inspired with rhythm by Ariosto that we


assist at the

manifestation of the Goddess as


witnessing the

she

moves

majestically along,

astonishment of those present and seeing


kneel devoutly down, as the
rolls itself:
little

them drama un-

^ As two fair generous leopards issuing simultaneouly from the slips return full of shame and repentance as though weighed down by the disgrace of having vainly pursued the lusty goats or stags which had tempted them to the chase: So returned the two damsels sighing when they saw the

Pagan was saved.

74

HARMONY
Julia Gonzaga, che dovunque
il

piede

volge e dovunque

sereni occhi gira,

non pur ogn'

altra di belta le cede,


ciel

ma, come scesa dal

Dea, I'ammira.^

To

rattle

off

a list of

mere names with a

view to affording honourable mention, and without varying any of them beyond the addition of

some

slight word-play,

is

an exercise even

less

subtle; but Ariosto arranges the

names of conthe

temporary painters

as

though upon a Parnassus,

according to the greatest


lofty place, in such a

among them

most
mas-

manner

that those bare


to the

names each of them resound (owing


tery of the

many

stresses in the verse), so as to

seem

alive

and endowed with sensation:


a'

quel che furo

nostri di, o sono ora,

Leonardo, Andrea Mantegna, Gian Bellino,

duo Dossi,

e quel ch' a par sculpe e colora,


. .

Michel, piu che mortale. Angel divino.

The

" reflections " of Ariosto, which "

were held
" not

to be

commonplaces " by

De

Sanctis,

profound and original observations," have by


1

Wherever
like

Julia

Gonzaga

sets

her foot or turns her serene

gaze, not only does she excel


tion
2

all in

beauty but compels adoraas

Goddess.

And

the painters

those
the

still

with us:

Leonardo,
skill.

who

lived in former days as well

A. Mantegna, Gian Bellino,

two Dossi and Michael who sculptures and portrays

with more than mortal

HARMONY
tradictory."
osto,

75

others been described as " banal " and " con-

But they are

reflections of Ari-

which should not be meditated upon but

sung:

Oh
Ne,

gran contrasto

in giovanil penslero,

desir di laude, ed impeto d'

Amore!
trova
il

chi

pill

vaglia, ancor

si

vero,
. .

che resta or questo or quello superiore.


It
is

.^

could be said of the irony of Ariosto, that


like

it

the eye of

God, who looks upon the

movement of

creation, of all creation, loving all

good and evil, the very great and man and in the grain of sand, because he has made it all, and finds in it nought but motion itself, eternal dialectic, rhythm and harmony. From the ordinary meaning of the
things equally,
the very small in

word
it

" irony " has been accomplished the pas-

sage to the metaphysical meaning assumed by

among

Fichtians and Romantics.

We should
critics
is

be ready to apply their theory to the inspiration

of Ariosto,

save that these

and

thinkers confused with irony

what

called huis

mour, strangeness and extravagance, that


1

Oh powerful
for

contrast in the breast of youth aflame with

valorous renown and the passion of love; nor can one say which is the more delectable, since each lays claim alternately to superiority.
desire

76

HARMONY
art.

to say, extra-aesthetic facts, which contaminate

and dissolve
is

Our theory on

the contrary

less

pretentious and exaggerated, confining

itself

rigorously within the bounds of art, as

Ariosto confined himself within the bounds of


art,

never diverging into the clumsy or humour-

istic,

which

is

a sign of

weakness:

his irony

was

the irony of an artist, sure of his

own

strength.

This perhaps

is

the reason or one of the reasons


suit the taste

why

Ariosto did not

of the

di-

shevelled Romantics,
fer Rabelais to

who were inclined to him and even Carlo Gozzi.

pre-

To weaken
der them
all

all

orders of sentiment, to ren-

equal in their abasement, to de-

prive beings of their autonomy, to remove from

them

their

own

particular soul, amounts to con-

verting the world of spirit into the world of nature: an unreal world, which has no existence

save

when we perform upon


and

it

this act of con-

version,

in certain respects, the

whole world

becomes nature for Ariosto, a surface

drawn

and coloured,

shining, but without substance.

Hence
tail,

his seeing of objects in their every de-

as a naturalist

making minute observations,


is

his description that


trait
ists,

not satisfied with a single


for other art-

which

suffices as inspiration

hence his lack of passionate impatience

HARMONY,
with
It
its

77

inherent objections to certain material.

in

may seem that the figure the way it is, as a jest

of

St.

John

is

drawn

Nel lucente vestibule di quella felice casa un Vecchio al Duca occorre, Che'l manto ha rosso e bianca la gonnella,
che I'un piu
i

al latte, I'altro al

minio opporre;

crini

ha bianchi

bianca la mascella
. .

di folta

barba ch'al petto discorre.


is

.^

But the beauty of Olympia

portrayed

in a like

manner, forgetful of the chastity of the lady,

which might have seemed

to ask a different sort

of description or rather veiling:

Le

bellezze d' Olimpia eran di quelle


piii

che son

rare; e

non

la fronte sola,

gli occhi e le guancie, e le

chiome avea
.

belle,
.

la bocca,

il

naso, gli omeri e la gola,

."

Finally,

way,

Medoro is described in the same Medoro whose brave and devoted heart
to ask in its

and youthful heroism might seem


1

An aged man

goes

to

encounter the

Duke along
is

the

bright vestibule of that fortunate house: the sage


in

clad

red cloak and white robe, the former white as milk, the

latter vermilion, vivid as a rose.

His hair

is

white and his

chin
2

snowy with

the thick beard flowing over his chest.

Olympia's loveliness was of rarest excellence: not only


she fair of face with forehead, eyes, cheeks glowing

was
was

amidst the hair which


perfection.

waved over

her shoulders:

all

else

78

HARMONY
Its

turn a less attentive observation of

fresh

youthfulness:

Medoro avea

la

guancia colorita, ne
la eta novella.^
.
. .

e bianca e grata

The very numerous

similes

between the perIn

sonages and the situations

which they

find

themselves and the spectacles afforded by the


life

of animals or the phenomena of nature,

also

form an almost prehenslble and palpable

part of this conversion of the


the world of nature.
tails

human world

Into

We

shall not give de-

of

It,

for this has already been done in


a

an irrltatlngly patient manner by


philologist,

German

whose cumbrous compilation effecone from desiring to dwell even for a moment upon Arlosto's similes, comparisons and metaphors.
tually

precludes

This apparent naturalism,

this objectivism, of

which we have demonstrated the profoundly


subjective character, has led to the erroneous

statement, already met with, as to Arlosto's

form consisting of

Indifference

and

chilly ob-

servation, directed to the external world.

He

has been coupled with his contemporary Machiavelli


1

in

this

respect.

Machlavelll examined
in the fresh flour-

Medoro's cheek showed white and red

ish of youth.

HARMONY
scribing

79

history and politics with a sagacious eye, de-

as they say

their

mode

of proce-

dure and formulating their laws, to which he

gave expression
inexorable
It is true

in his

prose with analogously

objectivity

and

scientific

coldness.

that both did in a certain but in a

very remote sense, destroy a prior spiritual content

and naturalised

in

different

fields

and

with different ends (Machiavelli destroyed the

mediaeval religious conception of history and


politics).

But

this

judgment of Machiavelli

amounts

to nothing

more than

a brilliant or

principal remark, for Machiavelli, as a thinker,

developed and explained facts with

his

new

vig-

orous thought, and as a writer gave an apparently cold form to his severe passion.
osto's naturalistic

Ariis

and objective tendency

also

to be regarded as nothing

more than
it

meta-

phor, because Ariosto reduced his material to


nature, in order to spiritualise
in a

new way,

by creating spiritual forms of Harmony.

From

the opposite point of view and arising

out of what

we have

just said,

we must

refrain

from praising Ariosto for his the epic nobility and decorum which
praised so

" epicity,"

for

Galilei

much

in

him, or for the force and

coherence of his personages, so

much admired

8o

HARMONY
re-

by the old as well as by new and even


cent critics.

How
when

could there be epicity in


the author not only lacked

the Furioso,

the ethical sentiments of the

epos and

when

even that small amount, which he might be


said
all

to

have inherited,

was dissolved with

the rest in

harmony and irony?


characters

And how
in

could there be true and proper characters in


the

poem,

if

and personages

art are nothing but the notes of the soul of

the poet themselves, in their diversity and op-

position?

who
the

certainly

These become embodied in beings seem to live their own proper


lives,

and particular

but really

live, all

of them,

same

life

variously

distributed

and are

sparks of the same central power.


the worst of
critical prejudices
is

One of

to suppose

that characters live on their

own

account and

can almost continue living outside the works of


art of

which they form a part and

in

which

they in no wise differ nor can be disassociated

from the strophes, the verses and the words. Since there is no free energy of passionate sentiments in the Furioso, we do not find there characters, but figures,

drawn and painted

certainly,

but without relief or density, portrayed rather


as

general or typical than individual beings.

HARMONY
The

8i

knights resemble and mingle with one an-

other, though differentiated by their goodness

or wickedness, their greater polish or greater

means of external and accidental attributes, often by their names alone; in like manner the women are either amorous or
rudeness, or by
perfidious, virtuous

and content with one

love,

or dissolute and perverse, often distinguished

merely by their different adventures or the

names that adorn them. The same is to be said of the narratives and descriptions (typical and non-individual, or but little individual, is the madness of Orlando, to compare which with Lear's is a rhetorician's fancy), and of
natural objects,
landscapes,
palaces,

gardens,

and

all

else.

Reserves have been

and can

with justice even be

made

as to the coherence

of the characters taken as a whole and forming part of a general scheme, for Ariosto's person-

ages take

many

liberties

with themselves, ac-

cording to the course of the events with which


they find themselves connected, or rather ac-

cording to the services which the author asks


of them.

Such warnings as these are indispensable, because,


if

some readers

realise

their expecta-

tion of finding objectively described

and cohe-

82 rent

HARMONY
characters
In

Ariosto

and consequently
are
disap-

praise him for creating them, others with Hke

expectations

equally

unfounded

pointed and consequently blame him.


for

Thus

De

Sanctis Arlosto's feminine characters

have seemed to be Inferior to those of Dante,


of Shakespeare and of Goethe: but this
Is

an

Impossible comparison, because Angelica, Olympla,

and

Isabella, although they certainly lack

the

passionate

Intensity

of
yet

Francesca,
the
latter

Desfor
In

demona
their

and

Margaret,
the
trio

part

lack
first

harmonious
lives

octaves
Its

which the
consisting
is

and has
octaves.

being,

of just

these

And what
the imperin

more, neither

trio

suffers

from

fections,

which are Imperfections only

the

light of imperfect critical

knowledge and conIn

sequent prejudice, but not real Imperfections

and poetical contradictions


Sanctis
also

themselves.
his
It

De

blamed Ariosto for sentiment for nature, as though


defect; but
ture

lack of

were a
for na-

what

is

called sentiment

(as for that matter the great master

De

Sanctis himself taught) does not depend upon

nature, but rather

upon the attitude of the hufeelings of comfort, of

man

spirit,

upon the

melancholy or of religious terror, with which

HARMONY
man
Invests

83

nature

and

finds

he has placed them; but

this

them where attitude was for-

eign to the fundamental attitude of Ariosto,

and were there


ence to
it

in the

to be by chance some referpoem, were some note of sen-

timent to sound there,


be
sensible

we should immediately
and impropriety.
critic,

of the

discord

To

Lessing, another objective

the por-

trayal of the beauties of Alcina

seemed to be a

mistake and to exceed the limit of poetry, to

which

De

Sanctis replied that this materiality

which Lessing blamed was the secret of the


poetry, because the beauty of the magician Alcina

required a material description, since


fictitious

it

was

in

its

nature.

This blame was


to
It

unjust,

and although the answer


it

was

in-

genious, yet

was perhaps not perfectly

cor-

rect, for we have already seen that Ariosto always described thus both true and imaginary The true anbeauties, Olymplas and Alclnas.

swer seems to be the one already given, that

It

would be
In

useless to seek for features of energy


off in a

Ariosto, lively portraits dashed

couple

of brush strokes, for these things presuppose a

mode
at

of feeling that he lacked altogether or,


rate

any

suppressed.

Those
all Sylvia,

" laughing

fleeting " eyes, which are

" le

doux

84
sourire

HARMONY
amoureux
et souffrant,"

which are the

whole of the
pardi and to

spiritual sister-soul of the

Maison
Leo-

du Berger, do not belong

to Arlosto, but to

De

Vigny.
in

There are two ways


should not be read: the

which the Furioso


the

first is

way

In

which

one reads a work of rhythmic and lofty moral


inspiration,
like

the Promessi Sposi,

tracing,

that

is

to say, the

development of

a serious hu-

man
tail;

affection,

which circulates
alike,

in

and deter-

mines every part


the second
as Faust,
is

even to the smallest de-

is

that suitable for such

works

where the general composition, which


less

more or
all

guided by mental concepts, does

not at

coincide with the poetical inspiration


parts.

of

the

separate

Here

the

poetical

should be separated from the unpoetical parts,

and the poetically endowed reader


the one to enjoy the other.
this inequality of

will neglect

In the Furioso,

work

is

absent or only present


(that
is

to a very slight extent

to say, to the

extent that imperfection must ever be present


in

the most perfect

work of man) and

it is

as

equally harmonious as the Promessi Sposi; but


it

lacks that particular


to

form of passionate

seri-

ousness,

be

found throughout Manzoni's


passages of Goethe's.

work and

in stray

The

HARMONY
Furioso should therefore be read
in

85
a

third

manner, namely by following a content which


is

ever the same, yet ever expressed in

new

forms, whose attraction consists in the magic

of this ever-identical yet inexhaustible variety


of appearances, without paying attention to the
material element of the narratives and descriptions.

As we

see,

this

too amounts to accepting

with a rectification a
Furioso, which nied the

common judgment on
the

the

may

be said to have accompa-

poem from

pearance: namely, that

it

moment of its first apis a work devoid of


It

seriousness, being of a light, burlesque, pleas-

ing and frivolous sort.

was described

as

"

liidicro

more

''

by Cardinal Sadoleto, when


of

according the license for printing the edition of


1

16 in the

name

Leo X, although he added

perhaps translating the declaration of the poet himself, " longo tamen studio et cogito this,
tatione, multisque vigiliis confectum."

Bernar-

do Tasso, Trissino and Speroni, and other suchlike

grave pedantic personages, did not


his

fail to

blame Ariosto for having dedicated


to the sole

poem

end of pleasing.
a "

Boileau looked

upon
iques,

it

simply as a collection of fables comit

and Sulzer called

poem with

the

86
sole

HARMONY
end of pleasing, not directed by the reaand even to-day are to be found its mer;

son "
its

and defects noted down

to credit

and debit

account in

many

scholastic

manual; on the

credit side stand the perfection of the octave,

the vivacity of the narrative, the graceful style,


to the debit account lack of

profound sentiment,

light

which shines but does not

warm and

fail-

ure to touch the heart.


this

We
poem
is

accept and rectify

judgment with the simple observation that

those

who regard

the

thus see clearly


level with their

enough everything that

on a

own
is

eyes, but

do not

raise

them
is

to regard

what

above their heads and

the principal qual-

ity of the Fur'wso, owing to which the frivolity

of Ariosto reveals
ness

itself as

profound

serious-

of

rare

quality,

profound emotion

of

the heart, but of a noble and exquisite heart,


equally remote

from the emotions of what


life

is

generally looked upon as

and

reality.

Apart, but not separated from, nor alien


to,

nor indifferent: and

in

respect to this

we

must resume and develop the


begun by setting readers on
the

analysis already

their

guard against

easy

misunderstanding of the " destruc-

tion,"

which we have already spoken of as

brought about by the tone and the irony of Ari-

HARMONY
osto.

87

This must not be looked upon as total


word, which

destruction and annihilation, but as destruction


in the philosophic sense of the
is

also conservation.

Were

this otherwise,

what
in

could be the function of the varied material or

emotional content, which we have examined


the

poem?

Are

the stars stuck into the sky

like pin-heads in a pin-cushion

would

sarcastically enquire) ?

(Don Ferrante The eloquence


and an absence

of other's but not Ariosto's poetry, arises from


a total indifference of sentiment

of content: theirs

is

the rouge on the corpse,

not the rosy cloud that enfolds and adorns the


living.

Such eloquence produces soft and suversification of the

perficially musical

Adone,

not the octave of the Furioso; and to quote Giraldi

Cinzio once more, the lover of Ariosto


the advice to readers not to confuse

(who gave

the " facility " of the Furioso with verses " of

sweet sound but no feeling"), the eight hun-

dred " stanzas," by one of the composers of


that
time,

which Giraldi once had to read,

" which seemed to be collections the flowery gardens of poetry,

made among
so
full

were
but

they of beauty

from stanza

to

stanza,

put together, were vain things, seeming, so far


as sense
is

concerned, to have been born of the

88
soil

HARMONY
of childishness," because their author was

from the splendour and choice of words, and had altogether neglected the dignity and assistance
afforded by sensibility."

" intent only upon the pleasure that comes

Had

Ariosto while

in the act

of composition

not been keenly stirred in the various ways


described, by the varied material
his

employed

in

poem, he would have lacked the Impetus,

the vivacity, the thought, the Intonation, which

were afterwards reduced and tempered by the

harmonious disposition of

his soul.

He

would
This

have been a cold writer of poetry, and no one


ever succeeded in writing poetry coldly.

was the

case, as

it

seems to me, with the Cinque

Canti, which he excluded

for which he substituted

from the Furioso and In them the others.


Is

cunning of Ariosto's hand

everywhere to be

found

In

the descriptive passages and transi-

tions, as are also all the

elements of the every-

day world,

stories of war, knightly adventures,

tales of love

(the love of Penticone for the

wife of Otto and that of Astolfo for the wife


of GIsmondo), satirical tales (the foundation of the city of Medea, with the sexual law which
she Imposed

upon

It),

astonishing fancies (such

as the knights Imprisoned In the

body of

the

HARMONY
and
their tub), copious

89

whale, where they have their beds, their kitchen

moral and

political re-

flections

(on jealousy, ambition, wicked men,


;

mercenary soldiers)
that Ariosto wrote

yet

we
in

feel nevertheless

them

an unhappy mo-

ment, when Minerva was reluctant or averse:


the poet did not take
sufficient

interest
is

and
It

lacked the necessary heat.


part of the Furioso

And

there no

itself that

languishes?

would seem
of
the
first

so,

not indeed

in the forty

cantos
in

edition,

which originated

his

twelve-year-old poetical springtime, but in the


parts which were added later,
all

of them (as

could be shown)

more or

less intellectualistic

of origin, and therefore (save the episode of

Olympia) not among the most read and most


popular.

The most

intellectualistic

of

all

is

toward the end of the poem, the double betrothal of Bradamante and the contest in courtesy between Leone and
the long delay introduced

Ruggiero, where the tone becomes here and


there

altogether pedestrian.

It

is

true

that

philologists

who have

given themselves to art


in

have discovered progress


these languid parts,

Ariosto
all in

in

just

and above

the Cinque

Canity

where he has

lost his bearings

and

Is

out

of tune.

Here they suppose him

to

have be-

90

HARMONY
" serious," to join hands with no less a

come

personage than Torquato Tasso.

The
those

process of " destruction " effected upon

the material

may

possibly be rendered clear to

who do
find

not appreciate philosophical for-

mulas or
painting

the comparison with


is

them too difficult, by means of what in the technique of


its

called " concealing a colour," which


cancellation, but
its

does not

mean

toning

down.
down,

In such an equally distributed toning


all

the sentiments which go to

form the
their

web of

the

poem, not only preserve

own

physiognomy, but their reciprocal proportions

and connections; so that although they certainly


appear
transparent polished glasses " smooth shining waters " of the ocand in the
" taves, pale as " pearls on a white forehead
to the sight, yet they retain their distinctness
in the "

"

and are more or


in

less

strong according to the

greater or less strength which they possessed


the soul of the poet.

The

comic, at once

lowered and raised, nevertheless remains comical,

the sublime remains sublime, the voluptu-

ous voluptuous, the reflective reflective, and so


on.

And sometimes

it

happens that Ariosto


if

reaches the boundary, which

he were to pass,

he would abandon his

own

tone, but he never

HARMONY
does abandon
it,

91

because he always refrains

from passing the boundary. Everyone remembers the most emotional words and passages of
the Furioso

Medoro, who, when surrounded and surprised by his enemies, makes a sort of
:

tower of himself, using the trees as a

shield,

and never abandoning the body of


Zerbino,
stays his

his

lord,

who
hand

feels

penetrated with pity and

as he looks

on

his beautiful coun-

when on the point of slaying him; Zerbino, who when about to die, is desperate
tenance,
at

leaving

his

Isabella

alone,

the

prey

of

unknown men,
ness; Fiordiligi,

while

she

bursts

into

tears

and speaks sweet words of eternal

faithful-

who

hears the news, or rather


.

divines the death of her husband

We

know

ways catch our breath, not what comes

and something

al-

into our eyes, as

we
Fi-

repeat these and similar verses.


ordiligi,

Here

is

who shudders

as she feels the presenti-

ment:

questa novita d' aver timore

le fa

tremar di doppia tema

il

core.^

The

fatal

news comes
the

to

hand: Astolfo and


to

Sansonetto,

two friends who happen


it

be where she has remained, hide

from her

92

HARMONY
may prepare her

for an hour or so, and then decide to betake

themselves to her that they

for the misfortune that has befallen:

Tosto ch'entrano,

e ch'ella loro

il

viso

Vide

di

gaudio in

tal vittoria privo,


sa,

Senz' altro annunzio

senz' altro avviso,


e piii vivo.
. .

Che Brandimarte suo non

.^

Another moment

of

the

same narrative,

where suffering appears to resume its strength and to grow upon itself, is that in which Orlando,

who

is

awaited, enters the temple where


is

the funeral of Brandimarte

being celebrated:

Orlando, the friend, the companion, the witness of his death


Levossi, al ritornar del Paladino,

Maggiore

il

grido e raddoppiossi

il

pianto.^

Before such words and images as these,


Sanctis used to say to his pupils,

De

when

explain-

ing to

them the Furioso


had! "

" See

how much

heart

Ariosto
1

But he always kept

telling

The novel
As
it,

feeling of fear caused her heart to tremble,

doubly
2

terrified.

she

saw them

enter

without joyous exultation over


direct
slain.

so great a victory, with no

of
3

announcement or any she was aware her Brandimarte had been


the return of the Paladin, the cry arose

word

On

more loudly

and the wail redoubled.

HARMONY
them
this

93

truth

also

that

" Ariosto

never

pushes situations to the point of painfulness," forbidden to him by the tone of his poetry; and he used to show them
times to

how Ariosto used some-

make

use of interruptions, sometimes

of graceful similitudes, or reflections, or devices of style, in order to restrain the painful-

ness

ready to break through.

Those

critics

who
the

for instance are shocked by the octaves on

name

of " Isabella " are too exigent, or

ask too much, and what they ought not to ask


(this

name of

Isabella

adorn beautiful,
wise

was destined by God to noble, courteous, chaste and


this

women from

time

forth,

and was
to

originally intended as

homage from Ariosto

the

Marchesana of Mantua,
life

Isabella of Este).

With

these octaves he concludes the narrative

of the sacrifice of her

made by

Isabella to

keep faith with Zerbino; they do not understand that those octaves and the Proficiscere

which precedes them ("


blessed soul")

Go

thou

in peace,

thou

and the very account of the

drunken

bestiality of

Rodomonte, and prior

to

that, the semi-comic scene of the saintly

hermit

who

presides over the virtue of Isabella, " like

a practised

mariner and

is

quite prepared to
spiritual

offer her speedily a

sumptuous meal of

94

HARMONY
whom Rodomonte
seizes

food," the hermit

by

the neck and throws three miles Into the sea, are
all

words and representations

so accentuated as

to produce the effect of allowing Isabella to die

without plunging the Furioso into tragedy with


Its

correspondingly tragical catharsis; for the


Its

Furioso has

own

general and perpetually har-

monious
It

catharsis,

which we have now made


this

sufficiently clear.
is

precisely

owing to the action of


effectual surpassing,
it

sentimental and passionate material.

In spite

of

and through

Its

that the

varied colouring arising from

enters the

poem

and confers upon


alysis that

It

that character of humanity,


at the outset of our an-

which led us to declare

when we define Ariosto as the Poet Harmony, we proposed only to indicate of where the accent of his work falls, but that he is
the poet of
else,

Harmony and
in fact

also of

something

of

harmony developed

in a particular

world

harmony to which Ariosto attains. Is not harmony in general, but an altogether Ariostesque Harmony.
of sentiments, and
that the

CHAPTER

VI

HISTORICAL DISASSOCIATIONS
From
these last words, there can be no
diffi-

culty in seeing

what must be our opinion

as to

the confrontations and comparative judgments


instituted

between Ariosto and Pulci or Boiarall

do,

and even Cieco da Ferrara, and

the

other Italian poets of chivalry.

These have

sometimes been extended so as to include poetical

humourists, such as Folengo and Rabelais,

or burlesque writers like Berni, Tassoni, Forteguerri, or neoepical poets, like

Tasso and CaThis


as

moens, and

finally to

Cervantes, that direct and


is

fully conscious ironist of chivalry.

perfectly admissible as it is natural that classes " of " poems of chivalry " or " narrative poems

or

'*

romances," should be formed, when once

rhetoricians and writers of treatises have in-

vented the genus and that these should be

dis-

posed

in

series

under such headings, thus


with no real
the accidents of certain ab-

forming

a sort of artificial history,

foundation beyond

stract literary forms,

which are really repre-

sentative of certain social tendencies


tutions.

and

insti-

And

it is

equally, indeed
95

more admis-

96
sible,

DISASSOCIATIONS
because relating to more nearly connected
that
these

problems,

documents afforded by

poems of

chivalry should be
in

made

use of

among
of the
in

other documents

the

investigation

gradual dissolution of the ideal of chivalry


the
first

period of modern society.


in a

Salvemini

has not neglected to do this


ner,
in

temperate man-

his

dignity "

monograph relating to " knightly in the commune of Florence. But


is

the aesthetic judgment, which they strive to de-

duce from these comparisons,

inadmissible

and
the

illegitimate:

when

for instance they bestow

or that poet for having better observed than others the " genus " or a particular " species " and " variety " of the genus;
this

palm on

or because chivalry or anti-chivalry has been


better

represented by one

than by another.

We

can explain the fact that

De

Sanctis

was
and
of

sometimes entangled
poetry,

in this sociological net, in

spite of his exquisite sense of individuality

when we
none the

consider

the

condition

studies in his

time and his philosophical origins;


less true that the

but

it

is

judgments

which he pronounced upon this matter, deviate from true and proper aesthetic criticism, and carry with them the bad effects of every deviation.

DIS ASSOCIATIONS

97

Having ourselves refused to be among those whose feet are caught In the insidious net of
Caligorante,

we

shall

have nothing further to

say as to comparisons with Ariosto, because the

poet of the Fiirioso has always come out of


those maladroit confrontations and the arbitrary judgments of merit which result

from

them, crowned above


of victory,
other,
equals.

all

others with the sign

or

at

least

unconquered by any
a

and admitting but

very few as his

The German men

preference accorded by romantic


of letters to Boiardo
in Italy,

(recently

revived to some extent

by Panzini) belooked upon

longs rather to the domain of anecdote than to


the history of criticism: Boiardo
is

by them as the poet of grand heroic dreams,


while Ariosto
is

mere

citizen poet; or

Boiardo
of chiv-

again

is

lauded for having better represented

the logical
alry,

form of the

Italian

poem

prescribed according to a chemical combi-

nation

drawn up

in the philological

laboratory

of the anti-Ariostesque Professor Rajna,


is

who
well-

in other respects

most worthy and


is

deserving person.

But there

no denying

that the peculiar beauty of Ariosto has often

injured Boiardo, Pulci, Tasso and other poets,

who have been

illegitimately

compared with

98

DISASSOCIATIONS
has

him; and therefore, without talking of Tasso

who
who

numbered

a Galilei

now won his among

case,

although he

the ranks of those

under-estimated

him when making the

above-mentioned confrontation,

it

will not be

inopportune to cast a rapid glance upon Pulci

and Boiardo.

Looking
another
is

at Pulci in Pulci

since to place one

not a

and not at Ariosto, physiognomy on the top of good way of seeing, what do
the

we
a

find?

What
or
a

is

Morgantef
to

It

is

above
author

all a

whimsicality, one of those works, born of


bet,

caprice

which
after

the

neither

devotes

himself

the

necessary

previous meditations, nor works at with the


scrupulosity

of

the

artist,

who expends

his

powers and employs

his

utmost endeavour to

do the best he can everywhere.


sion or the inspiration
is

But the occa-

never the substance

of a work, which on the contrary always consists

of what the author really brings to

it

in

the course of his labour; and the mention of

the

occasional

origin

of the
its

Morgante only
ill-digested

avails here to account for

and

undoubtedly chaotic nature.

Nor

is

it

to the

purpose to

recall

what

certainly seems to have


in his

been Pulci's intention, namely, to satisfy

DISASSOCIATIONS
own way
a wish of the pious Lucrezia

99

Torna-

buoni, by composing or re-writing a Christian

poem

of chivalry, for this

in its

turn only ex-

plains certain superficialities

and

extrinsicalities,

such as the general plan of the


parts of
it

poem and

the

possessing religious tone, which are

successful to the extent that they could be successful with such a brain as Pulci's.

com-

mencement
Morgante,

will

have been made towards a


intrinsic inspiration,

proper understanding of the substance of the


its
it

proper and
first

by referring

to the curiosity with

which
re-

educated Florentine citizens observed and


people of the city and the surrounding

produced the customs and the psychology of the


districts,

productive of the poetry of Politian, of Lor-

enzo and of Pulci himself, author of the Beca


di

Dicomano, each with

its

various popular apcontains

peal.

That
in

inspiration

something
ironical, as

both of the sympathetic and of the

we observe
tic

all

poetry based upon popular


dialect, in the

themes and use of

German roman-

Lieder and Balladen and

in the dialect litera-

ture of the Italy of to-day (one feels inclined


to call the

Morgante
in

" dialect "

and not

" Ital-

ian")

and

Pulci there vibrated a sympa-

thetic-ironic

chord,

peculiar

to

himself

and

lOo

DISASSOCIATIONS
in
still less in

therefore naturally not exactly the same as

Lorenzo, or
doing
ity

Politian.

But

it

did not

vibrate pure and clear, being prevented from


so,

not so

much owing

to initial eccentricas to

and to the intention above-mentioned,


of Pulci.

the accumulation of other inspirations, arising


in the fertile spirit

For

Pulci

had

in

mind,

in

addition to the reconstruction of a

sympathetic-Ironic popular
story-tellers,

poem

of the popular
a

something that might be called

" Picaresque romance," understanding thereby

not only tales of the sort to be found

in

Spanish

literature, but also certain other tales of Boc-

caccio

and

a great part of

Folengo's Baldus.
turn sympathy

Picaresque romance asked

in its

and
ing,

irony, but of a different sort to the preced-

no longer sympathy for popular ingenuity,


for
cleverness,
trickiness,

but

for

an irony,

which should no longer be simply that of superior culture, but also of superior morality;
this too

and

was

in

some measure and

in his

own

way

in Pulci;

but he often spoilt this disposipassing, like a

tion of

mind by inadvertently

person lacking refinement of education, from


Picaresque romance to Picaresque intonation,

from the representation of


blackguard himself.

a blackguard to the

And

there

is

something

DISASSOCIATIONS
else also in the

loi

Morgante:
himself,
religious

the imaginings
his

and

caprices

of

Pulci

own personal
philosophical;

moral
those

opinions,

or

things that are sometimes thought about even by

who do

not think much about them, and

which, owing to this casual hasty thinking, be-

come nevertheless opinions or semi-opinions. Finally the Morgante Is a skein formed of strands of different colour and make, some of
them
thicker or thinner than others:
it

is

poem

that

is

not in tune with a single dominant

inspiration,

and

if

we take one of those

eleit

ments that we have described and transport


to the principal place, feeling that

we immediately have the we are depriving the complex naNevertheless ture of the work of its vigour. the Morgante must be looked upon as one of the most richly endowed works of our literature, where we meet at every step with delightful figures

and

traits

of expression: Morgante,
Astarotte,
Farfarello,

Margutte,

Fiorinetta,

Archbishop Turpin, certain touches of character in Orlando, and especially in Rinaldo, and
also
tions,
in

Antea, together with certain descripanecdotes

and

acute

remarks.

Mar-

gutte,

plunged deep

in vice,

but quite shameless

and aware that he cannot be other than what

102

DISASSOCIATIONS
made him,
is

nature

also

human, incapable of

treachery, capable of affection for

Morgante

and of enduring
that

his all-consuming voracity; so

when his companion dies, he never ceases recalling him to mind, and talking about him

even with Orlando

E
E

conta d'ogni sua piacevolezza,

lacrimava ancor di tenerezza.^

Rinaldo, ardent and furious for revenge, seeks


to slay Carlo

Magno, who has been hidden


after a few days

from him; but him to believe


to

Orlando leads

that the
tells

Emperor has died of

him that he has appeared whereupon Rinaldo changes countenance and begins to wish him ahve again, to feel pity for him, to repent him of his fury,
desperation, and

him

in vision,

so that in this
effected.

way peace and


the
lie,

reconciliation are

After a great battle, the conquered


field,

as they leave

recognise their dead

ones where they

and we hear them lament-

ing a father, a brother or a friend:


Eravi alcun che cavava I'elmetto
al

suo

figliolo, al

suo cognato, o padre;

poi lo baciava con pietoso affetto,

E
1

dicea:

"Lasso, fra
delightful

le

nostre squadre

Saying

how

he was

and

still

weeping for

tender

recollection.

DISASSOCIATIONS
non tornerai
in

103

Soria piu, poveretto;


afflitta

che diren noi alia tua


o chi sara piu quel che

madre,
^

la conforti?

Tu

ti

riman cogli

altri al

campo morti."

And
marked
words

this

Is

an apology, by means of which


to

Orlando explains
his

Rinaldo that he has

re-

new

affection,

and that

it

is

of no

use that he should try to deceive him with

Rispose Orlando:

Noi
occhi
la

sarem que'
si

frati

che mangiando
I'altro
e
gli

il

migliaccio, I'un
gli

cosse;

vede

imbambolati,

domando

quel che

cagion fosse.
sian due restati

Colui rispose:

"Noi

a mensa, e gli altri sono or per le fosse,

che trentatre

fummo

e tu lo sia:

Quand' io vi penso, io piango sempre mai." Queir altro, che vedea che lo 'ngannava,
finse di pianger,

mostrando dolore;

e disse a quel che di cio " E anco io piango, anzi

domandava:
mi scoppia
;

il

core,

che noi sian due


"
1

restati "
all'

e sospirava,

Ed

e gia I'uno

altro traditore."

Sometimes one would remove the helmet from his son, cousin, or his father, kissing him with pious affection, and saying " alas, poor fellow, never again will he return to
his

our ranks

in Soria;

what

shall

we

say to his

afflicted

mother,

who among us the others who

can comfort her?


lie

But thou remainest with


field."

dead on the

I04

DISASSOCIATIONS
Cosi mi par che faccian noi, Rinaldo

che nol di tu che'l migliaccio era caldo?

"

And
it

here

is

an octave

in

which Pulci makes

psychologically clear

why King Carlo allowed

himself to be led astray and deceived by Gano:

Molte

volte, anzi spesso, c'interviene

che tu t'arrecchi un amico e fratello,


e cio che fa
ti

par che facci bene,

dipinto e colorito col pennallo.

Questo primo legame tanto


che,
s'

tiene,

altra volta
ti

ti

dispiace quello,

e qualcha cosa

para molesta,
resta.^

sempre
1

la

prima impression pur

Orlando answered:

We
in

shall

be

like

the

friars

one

of

whom

burnt himself
are,

eating his gruel; the other see-

His neighbour retwo of us remained sitting at table, while the others are in the tomb; well thou knowest that we were thirty-three; it always makes me weep to think of it." The other, who saw the deception, in his turn made belief to lament and grieve and when asked the reason: "Yea, I also weep; my heart indeed is bursting to think that we two remain"; then sighing he continued, "And that one of us two is betraying the other. We seem to be doing much the same thing, Rinaldo: why won't you confess that the gruel was hot?" 2 It often happens that a friend becomes like a brother to you, and whatever he does seems to be so well done as This first bond holds so to deserve being made a picture. firmly that when he finally does something you do not like injures you in some way nevertheless the first impression
ing his eyes watering asked the reason.
plied:

"Here we

remains the same.

DISASSOCIATIONS
"
:

105

These are not the octaves of Ariosto " we


Certainly they are not,

have said as much.


of
Pulci,

just as the octaves of Ariosto are not those

and Ariosto, whatever trouble he

might have taken, could never have attained


to the inventions, the emotions, the clevernesses

and the accents of the Morgante, which are


just as inimitable in their

way

as are the graces

of the Furioso.

And
of

it is

really unjust

and

al-

most odious that the reader, face


the treasures fresh

to face with

and original poetry,


his
re-

which Pulci throws without counting into


lap,

should pull a wry face and ungratefully


that Pulci's poetry
is
is

mark

not that other poetry


it

which he

now

thinking about, and that

should be abolished, or
other poetry!

made
is

perfect by the

Almost the same thing


also been tormented,

to

be

repeated

about the author of the Innamorato,

who

has

condemned and executed

by means of
a

comparison with the author

of the Furioso, sometimes conducted with such


refinement of cruelty that the strophes of

the

one

are

printed

facing

the

strophes

of

the other, and selected as bearing upon similar

situations,

so that every

word and

sylla-

ble

may

be weighed; as though the strophes

io6

DISASSOCIATIONS
in

of a poet are not to be considered solely


themselves

and

in

the

poem

of which
if

they

form
arise

part,

and to be condemned,

occasion

for condemnation, within that circle to

which are confined the real conditions of judgment.


Boiardo, to one

who

reads

him with-

out any sort of preconception and abandons

himself to the simple impressions of reading,

immediately shows himself to be altogether


different

from what some

critics

maintain, the

pedantic singer of chivalry taken seriously,


gives
ter

who

way now and


a

then to involuntary laugh-

and to

harsh intonation which should be


skill

toned down and softened by the


iosto.

of an Ar-

He

is

quite

other also than the epic

bard, which some people have imagined him to


be; he could not be epic, because he had no
national sentiment, no feeling for class or
gion,
reli-

and the marvellous

in

him

is

all

fancy, a

marvel of the fairies; nor was he a pedant, for


he obviously follows his

own spontaneous

in-

clinations, without any secondary purpose.

No,

Boiardo was on the contrary

a soul passionately

devoted to the primitive and the energetic, his

was

the energy of the lance-thrust, of the brand

wielded, but also the energy of a proud will, of


ferocious courage, of intransigent honour, of

DISASSOCIATIONS
marvellous devices.
this energy,

107
just to

And

it

Is

owing

which has

a value of its

own, that

he lives to unite poetically the cycles of Charle-

magne and of Arthur,


love, both of

the Carlovingian and the

Breton traditions, arms and adventures and

them primitive

cycles, the

second

being remarkable for the extraordinary nature


of
its

adventures and the violence of


if

its

loves;

whereas,
full

had continued to be would have been diffir cult to make it a theme for erotic treatment, representing a different and opposed sentiment.
that heroism
it

and

substantial,

To

ask of him delicacy of treatment


of
his

in the rep-

resentation

knights,
in his

or

delicacy

of

thoughts and words

treatment of

women

and
Is

love,

and

in general,
is

beauty of sentiment,
external to his funda-

to ask of

him what

mental

motive.

To

be

astonished
is

that

he

sometimes laughs or smiles,


at

to be astonished

what happens every day among the people


It

(and there are traces of


epic)

in

the Ingenuous

when they

are listening to the recital of

great deeds, which do not forbid an occasional

comic remark.
lect

To
to

lament his supposed negcensure

of art, his lack of polish of language and


is

versification,

him

as

gram-

marian who

employs pre-established models

io8

DISASSOCIATIONS
at-

or dwells upon minute details to which he


tributes

sovereign importance.
it

How
when

on the

other hand can


his rich fancy

be forgotten,

praise of
style

and robust frankness of


them,
that

and

composition
larded

is

opposed to censures or

inter-

among
to

we must

explain

whence came
soul.
etical

him these

merits, for they are

not to be snatched, but are born only of the

Whence came

they, if not

from

true po-

inspiration and

from

his

already men-

tioned passion for the energetic and the primitive?

Hence

the

admiration aroused by his


:

vast canvases, his vivid narratives


ca,

Angeli-

who by merely appearing


makes everyone
fall in

at Carlo's ban-

quet,

love with her, and

whom

even the Emperor himself cannot refrain

from admiring, though with discretion, lest he should compromise his gravity, Angelica,

whom

the greatest champions of Christianity

and Paganism follow with admiration, refusing


herself to
all

abhors her;

and loving only him who alone


the solemn council of war, held
to entering France, with

by Agramante previous

the speeches of the kings

who surround

him,

courageous or prudent, the sudden appearance


of the youthful Rodomonte,

with his

tremendous energy;

who dominates

all

the joyful cour-

DISASSOCIATIONS
mishaps,

109

age of Astolfo, never disconcerted by headlong

whom

fortune succours by furnishing

him with

a lance,

by means of which, to the

as-

tonishment of

all,

he accomplishes prodigies,

while he himself remains unastonished;


nello,

Bru-

as to whose doings one would like to apply Vico's phrase about " heroic thieving,"

Brunello,

who wanders about

the earth, steal-

ing the most carefully guarded objects, with an

audacious dexterity and so comic an imagination,


ity

Brunello, revelling in his joyous virtuos-

and vainly pursued over the whole world by

Marfisa of the viper's eye, which spirts venom,

Marfisa who wishes to put him to death; but


he
flies

from

her, turning

in his flight to

laugh

tures of

mockery;

Then

in

her face and

from time to time make ges-

again there are the

colloquies of

Orlando and Agricane, during the


which must end
in

pauses

in their bitter duel,

the death of one of them; Rinaldo's caustic re-

ply to Orlando,

who

has reproved him for wish-

ing to carry
fairy's

away

the golden couch

from the

garden; and that other no

less caustic re-

partee of the courageous highway robber to

Brandimarte; and many and many another most


beautiful passage?

Yet

the Innamorato, not-

withstanding

its

poetical abundance, has never

no

DISASSOCIATIONS
classical

been numbered among really


enjoyed

works, so

that after the vogue which for ephemeral rea-

sons

it

in its

own

day,

it

has not received

and does not receive the


of any but those

affection

and homage
loved

who

love what

is little

and prize what

is

pure, spontaneous and rude.


it is

The poem does


satisfied

not conclude in itself;

not

with
:

itself: there is a

break somewhere
formal

in the circle

the representation of the energetic


is

and primitive, which


has something
in
it

a sort of

epicity,

of the monotonous and arid,


it

and the pleasure derived from


of the solitary and
sterile.

has something

Like the charger

that sniffs the battle, so says Boiardo

Ad

ogni atto degno e signorile,


se

Qual
come

raconti di cavalleria,

sempre

se allegra I'animo gentile,

nel fatto fusse tuttavia,


il

manifestando fuore

cor virile.

.^

That
it

is

well, but the

manly heart

is

not slow

to express a certain feeling of delusion,

when
all

recognises that the images in question are

body, without depth of soul, and without the

guidance and inspiration of a superior

spirit.

He
1

says somewhere
gentle
soul

else:
at
it

The

rejoices

every worthy, noble deed

recounted of knighthood, as

does

when

the deed

was

ac-

complished, which revealed the manly heart.

DISASSOCIATIONS
Gia molto tempo m'han tenuto a bada Morgana, Alcina e le incantazioni,

in

Ne ve ho E pieno il

mostrato un bel colpo di spada,


eel de lancie e

de tronconi.

.^

But there are too many lances that meet and


clash, too

many
all

limbs flying about without our

ever seeing the cause, the meaning or the


fication

of

that

fighting

even

justi-

Boiardo
thinks of

himself becomes melancholy,


those blows exchanged
in

when he

a spiritual void, ex-

claiming in one of those frequent purely spon-

taneous epigrams, which invest his noble per-

son with sympathy


Fama, seguace
Ninfa, che
e'

degli imperatori,
gesti a' dolci versi canti,
gli

che dopo morte ancor

uomini onori,
amori,

e fai coloro eterni, che tu vanti,

ove

sei

giunta? a dir

gli antichi

e a narrar battaglie de' giganti;

merce del mondo, che

al tuo

tempo

e tale,

che piu di fama o di virtu non cale.

Lascia a Parnaso quella verde pianta,

che da salvivi ormai perso


e

il

cammino,

meco al basso questa istoria canta del re Agramante, il forte Saracino.


^

Morgana, Alcina and


of
.
. .

me

in their chains, so that I


fine

aught
limbs.
2

sword

incantations have long held have been unable to show you play, the sky full of lances and
their

Where

art

thou gone,

O fame

that followest

emperors

and singest

their

brave deeds

in gentle verse,

thou that hon-

112
Pulci

DISASSOCIATIONS
and
Boiardo
then,

not

to

mention

others, are to be placed neither above nor be-

low Arlosto, for they are not even related to him. Proof of this is to be found in the fact
that thought has gone to other artists, to

Ovid
and

for example, in the search for his parallel in


literature

to Politian

among the Latins, among Italians, or

to Petrarch

to architects like

Bramante and Leon Baptista Alberti, and yet more to painters, like Raphael, Correggio and
Titian, comparisons having been instituted with
all

of these and with others

whom

it is

unneces-

sary to mention.

Now

as regards quality of

artistic inspiration, affinity is certainly

more

in-

trinsic than are relations established from the

use of similar abstract material; yet


abstract

it is

itself

and

extrinsic,

because

it

always accepts

one or certain aspects of inspiration, not the


full

inspiration.
is

comparison
Ovid,
orest

Thus, for example, when a drawn between Ariosto and

who was
This
is

a story-teller, lacking altogether and conferrest eternity upon those thou Thou art gone to
tell

men

after death

vauntest?

the fault of the world.

sing of ancient loves and to

of the battles of the giants,

thanks to this world of ours that cares no longer for courage

Leave upon Parnassus that growth of green, knows now the upward path that leadeth thither, and sing here below with me this history of King Agramante,
or for fame.
since none

the mighty

Saracen.

DISASSOCIATIONS
in religious feeling for

113

mythological fables and

attracted to
variety,

them solely by their beauty and we must immediately hasten to add

that with the exception of this side, which they

share in

common, Ariosto

is

different

and

su-

perior to the Latin poet

in

every other, for

Ovid had not a delicate taste in art, being merged altogether in his pleasing and delightHe improvised and overflowed, ful themes. owing to his incapacity for firm design and lack
of control: he would be better described as the

model of the luxurious


osto,

Italian versifiers of the

seventeenth century than as the model of Ari-

whose

art

be

superficially

was most chaste. compared with

If again he
Politian,

the

comparison breaks up immediately, because the


Stanze are inspired by the voluptuousness of the
sensible world, contemplated in all
brilliance
its

fugitive

and with that trembling accompaniment of anxiety and suffering, inseparable from
it,

while Ariosto soars above the pathos of vol-

uptuousness.
a

To

note

afl'inities

is

of avail in

work introductory to the general study of literature, and to draw comparisons and point out
contrasts

and successive approximations may


But

also serve as a useful aid to the accurate de-

scription of an artist's special character.

114

DISASSOCIATIONS
to supply here such a di-

we do not propose
dactic

introduction,
is

for

the

use

of

such

a
de-

method
scribed

superfluous, as

we have already
in

Ariosto's

characteristics

the

ner proposed.

We

shall not therefore

manform a
this

group of

artists,

as related to

him

in

or

that respect, for such cannot be expected of


us,

nor has

it

for us any special attraction.


aflSnities

Observations as to
also,

have another use


observed of

as providing a basis

for sparkling and


it

resonant metaphors, as when

is

an

artist that

he

is is

the " Raphael of poetry," of


" the
is

Dante of sculpture," Michael Angelo of sound," or as was said (by Torquato Tasso, perhaps as a witticism, and certainly with little
another that he
or of a third that he
" the

truth),

that Ariosto

is

"the Ferrarese Ho-

mer."

We

already

possess

many pages
we

of

magnificent metaphors to the honour and glory

of the author of the Furioso, nor do


to

intend

depreciate

their

merit;

but

the

present

writer begs to be excused from the labour of


increasing their number, since he
little
is

in

general

disposed to oratory and has allowed what

slight gift of the sort he

might have possessed

to flow

away and

lose itself, while conversing

with so unrhetorical and so conversational a poet as was Ludovico Ariosto.

PART

II

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

CHAPTER

VII

THE PRACTICAL PERSONALITY AND THE POETICAL PERSONALITY


To
state
at

the

outset,

that the practical


is

personality of Shakespeare

not the object of


art,

study for the

critic

and historian of

but

his poetical personality; not the character

and and

development of

his life, but the character

development of
us in proceeding

his art, will

perhaps seem to be
it

superfluous, but as a matter of fact

will aid

more
at

rapidly.

We
sort of

do not aim

forbidding the natural

curiosity,

which leads to the enquiry as to what


in practical life

men

were those

whom

we admire
there
is

as

poets,

thinkers

and

scientists.

This curiosity often leads to delusion, because


nothing to be found behind the poet,
the philosopher, or the

man
it is

of science, which can

arouse interest, though


It

sometimes

fruitful.

would

certainly be agreeable to raise that

sort of mysterious veil that surrounds Shake-

speare.

We

should like to
117

know what

sort of

ii8

TWO PERSONALITIES
what
ethical, philosophical
his,

passions,

and mental

thought about himself whether,


to those
later,

experiences were

and above

all

what he
appeared

as

who

rediscovered him a century or so

he were really without feeling the great-

ness of his genius and of his

own work.
have

For
his

what reason,

too, if there

were

a special rea-

son, did he not take the trouble to

plays printed, but exposed them to the risk of

being lost to posterity?

Was

it

due to the

ingenuousness and innocence of the poet, or to

proud

indifference on the part of a

man, who

disdains the world's applause and the mirage

of glory, because he
the greatness of his

is

completely satisfied with

work?

Or was

it

due to

simple indolence, or to a settled plan, or to the

web of events?
suggested,
theatre,

Did he suppose,

as has been

that

those plays, written

for

the

would have continued ever

to live in

the theatre, under the care of his companions


in art, in

accordance with his intentions and


suitable to their merit?

in
is

manner

But

it

clear that these

and such

like questions

concern

the biography, rather than the artistic history

of Shakespeare, which gives rise to an alto-

gether different series of researches.

We

do not however

v/ish to assert that these

TWO PERSONALITIES
two
tion
series
:

119

of different questions are without

relation
to

even different things have some relaone another, which


resides
in

their

diversity itself

and

is

connected above them.

The
find

critic
it

and historian of art would certainly


to undertake, to

advantageous for the studies that he

was about
positions,

know
the

the chron-

ology, the circumstances, the details, the com-

the

recompositions,

recastings

and the collaborations of the Shakespearean


drama.

He

would thus avoid the obligation of


less

vexing his mind as to certain interpretations,

and of remaining more or


peculiarities,

perplexed for a

greater or lesser space of time, before certain

discordances
is

and

inequalities,

doubtful, that

to say, as to

whether they be
it is

errors in art, or art forms of which


cult

diffi-

to seize the hidden connection.


this

But he

would gain nothing more from

advantage
apt to

(with the conjoined admonition, to beware of


the prejudices that such information
is

cause).

His judgment would of necessity be


in final analysis,

founded,

upon

intrinsic

reasons

of an artistic nature, arising from an examination of the

works before him.

The chronology

that he will succeed in fixing, will not be a real

or material chronology, but an ideal and an

I20

TWO PERSONALITIES
two forms of chronaltogether

aesthetic one, for these are

ology which only coincide approximately and

from one another. Were the authenticity of the works all clearly settled, the critic would be preserved from proclaiming that certain works or parts of works are Shakespeare's, when they are
sometimes
diverge
really, say,

Greene's or Marlowe's, which


of nomenclature,
as also
as
Is

is

an
the

Inexactitude

treating of Shakespeare's

work
But

being by

someone
tlc

else or

anonymous.
is

this

onomas-

inexactitude

already corrected by the pre-

sumption that the critic has his eye fixed, not on the biographical and practical personage of
Shakespeare, but

on the poetical personage.


extremely improb-

He Is
which
able,

thus able to face with calmness the danger,


is

not a danger and

is

of allowing to pass under the colours of

Shakespeare a work drawn from the same or a


similar source of inspiration, which stands at

an equal altitude with others, or of adding another

work
is

to

those of Inferior quality and

declining value assigned to the

same name,

be-

cause he

differentiating aesthetic values

and

not title-deeds to legal property.

As we have
fluous

said,

it

has not seemed superin

to

repeat these statements, because

TWO PERSONALITIES
the
first place,

121

the silent and tenacious, though

erroneous conviction, as to the unity and identity

of the two histories, the practical and the

poetical, or at least the obscurity as to their

true relation,

is

the hidden source of the vast

and

to

large extent useless labours, which


phil-

form the great body of Shakespearean


ology.

This

in

common

with the philology of


is

the

nineteenth

century in general,

uncon-

sciously
tical

dominated by romantic ideas of mysunity,


is

and naturalistic

whence

it

is

not by

accident that

Emerson

found among the pre-

cursors of hybrid biographical aesthetic, and


the romanticizing Brandes

among

its

most conani-

spicuous supporters.

These labours are

mated with the hope of obtaining knowledge


of the poetry of Shakespeare in
its

full reality,

by means of the discovery of the complete


chronology, of biographical incidents, of
lusions,
al-

and of the origin of

his themes.

The

ranks of the seekers are also swollen by those

who

are animated with like hopes and wish to

exhibit their cleverness in the solution of en-

igmas, or are urged by the professional necessity

of

producing

dissertations

and

theses.

Unfortunately, the documents and traditions


relating to the life of Shakespeare are very

122

TWO PERSONALITIES
All or
nearly
all,

few.

relate

to

external
let-

and

insignificant details.

We

are without

ters, confessions or memoirs by the author, and also without authentic and abundant collec-

tions of facts relating to him.

Although almost

every year there appears some new Life of

Shakespeare,

it

is

now

time to recognise with


it

resignation and clearly to declare that

is

not

possible to write a biography of Shakespeare.

At

the most, an arid and faulty biographical

chronicle can be composed, rather as proof of

the devotion of posterity, longing to possess

even a shadow of that biography, than as genuinely satisfying a desire for knowledge.

Owalmost

ing to this

lack of documents, the above-men-

tioned philological literature consists,


altogether, of an

enormous and ever increasing


all

number of
tests,

conjectures, of which the one con-

impugns, or varies the other, and


glance through a

are
It

equally incapable of nourishing the mind.


suffices

to

few pages of
"

Shakespearean annual or handbook, to hear of


the
"

Southampton theory," the


to say,

Pembroke

theory," and

of other theories, in relation to


is

the Sonnets; that

whether the person

concealed beneath the


printer's dedication,
is

initials

W. H.

in

the

the Earl of

Southamp-

TWO PERSONALITIES
ton, or the Earl of

123

Pembroke, or

a musician of

the

name of Hughes,

or even William Harvey,

the third husband of Southampton's mother, or

the retail bookseller, William Hell, or an in-

vention of the printer, or a joke of the poet,

who should
Himself)
the "
;

thus

indicate

himself

(William
that

and so

on, with the " Fitton theory,"


like,
is

Davenant theory," and the

to say,

whether the " dark lady," celebrated


Fitton, or the hostess

in

some of the
Shakespeare

sonnets, be a court lady of the

name of Mary
is

by

whom
critics

said to have

become the father


re-

of the poet Davenant (and one of the

has dared admit that he spent fifteen years in

search and meditation on this point alone), or the French wife of the printer Field, or
finally a

conventional and imaginary personage

of Elizabethan sonneteering, which was based

upon the manner of Petrarch. And in the same way as with the Sonnets, there have been
conjectures

of

the

most varied

sorts

as

to

Shakespeare's marriage, his relations with his


wife,

the incidents of his family and of his

profession.

Passing to the plays, there are and

have been discussions without apparent end, as


to

whether Titus Andronicus be an original

work, or has been patched up by him; as to

124

TWO PERSONALITIES
all

whether Henry VI be
portions of

of

It

his,

or only a part,

or revised and enlarged by him; as to which

Henry

VHI

and of Pericles are

his

and which Fletcher's, or whether by other


hands; as to whether Timon be a sketch
fin-

ished by others or a sketch by others finished

by Shakespeare; whether and


there persists in

Hamlet

what extent previous Hamlet by


to

Kyd

or by another author; whether certain of

Arden of Feversham and Edward HI, are on the contrary to be held to be authentic. In like manner,

the so-called " apocryphas," such as

the difficulties connected with the chron-

ology are great and conjectures numerous.

The
in the

Drea7n, for instance,


year 1590, by others

is

by some placed
1595, Julius

in

Caesar
in

now

in

1606,
1,

now

in

1599, Cyvibeline

1605
in

and 161

Troilus and Cressida, by


still

some

1599, by others in 1603, by others

in 1609,

by yet others resolved into three parts or

strata,

form 1592
est

to 1606,

by other hands.
dated

and 1607, with additions For the majority, the Temp1,

belongs to the year 161


earlier,

but

is

by others

and

as regards

its first
it

form, there are some

Hamlet again, in who believe that


in

was composed, not by any means

1602, but

between 1592 and 1594.

And

so on, without

TWO PERSONALITIES
as

125

advantage being taken of the few sure aids


offered by stylistic or metrical measurements,

one

may

prefer to call them.

Now

con-

jectures are of use as heuristic instruments, only


in so

far as

certainties,

hoped to convert them into by means of the documents of which


it

is

they aid In the search and the Interpretation.

But when
gether

this

is

not possible, they are alto-

vain

and vacuous,

and consequently,
certainties,

were they convertible into


of the

would

not give the solution or the criterion of solution


critical

problems relating to the poetry

of Shakespeare.

When

they are not to be so

converted and remain mere vague imagining,


they do not even supply the practical and biographical history, which others delude themselves with the belief that they can construct

piecemeal by means of them.

Hence

it

has hap-

pened that careful writers, who have wished to


give the character and life of Shakespeare, as
far as possible without hypotheses

and

fancies,

have been obliged to


assertions, In

retail a series

of general
is lost,

which

all

individualisation

even
est,

if

Shakespeare be pronounced good, honserviceable,

gentle,

prudent,

laborious,

frank, gay, and the like.

But the majority convert the

less

probable

126

TWO PERSONALITIES
from
title.

conjectures Into certainties, and proceed

conjecture to conjecture and from assertion to


assertion,
finally

producing,

under the

Life of Shakespeare, nothing but a romance,


which, however, always turns out to be
colourless to be called artistic.

too

rapacious

hand
of

is

stretched out to seize the poetical works

themselves, with the view of writing this sort


fiction since

(to quote the author of one of


it

these unamusing fictions, Brandes)

cannot be
de-

admitted that

it

Is

Impossible to

know by
life,

ducing them from his writings, the


ventures,

the adleft

and the person of

about forty plays

man who has and poems. And It is


a

cer-

tainly possible to deduce all these things

from

the

poetical writings,

but the

life,

and the
the case

poetical
practical

adventures and personages, not the

and biographical; save


Is

in

(which

not that of Shakespeare,)

where

definitely

Informative, autobiographical stateto be

ments and excursions are


the poems, that
is

found among

to say, passages that are not

poetical, but prosaic.

In every other instance,

the poetical emotion does not lead to the practical,

because the relation between the two


effect to cause,

is

not deterministic, from


tive,

but creain-

from material

to form,

and therefore

TWO PERSONALITIES
commensurable.
the

127

The moment
a
is

it

Is

raised to

sphere

of poetry,

sentiment that has

really

been experienced

plucked

from

its

practical
tive of

and

realistic soil,

and made the mowhich


as

composition for a world of dreams, one


infinite possible

of the

worlds,

in

it is

useless to seek any longer the reality of that

sentiment, as

it is

vain to seek a drop of water

poured into the ocean, and transformed from

what

it

was previously by ocean's vast embrace.


almost inclined to repeat as warning

One

feels

that strophe

from the Sonnets, where the poet

said of his mistress to his friend:

" Nay,

remember not I love you so, That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, If thinking on me then should make you woe."
if

you read

this line,
it;

The hand

that writ

for

For this reason, when we read in Brandes's book (which we select for quotation here, because
it

has been widely circulated), such stateIII, the

ments as that Richard

deformed dwarf,
in intellect,

whom we

feel to

be superior

ad-

umbrates Shakespeare himself, obliged to adopt


the despised profession of the actor, but full of

the pride of genius,

it is

not a case of rejecting

128

TWO PERSONALITIES
upon them
air

or accepting his statements, but of simply looking


as so

many

conjectures founded

upon

and

as such, devoid of Interest.

This

criterion can also be applied in the following

cases: that the pitiful death of the youthful

Prince Arthur, in King John, shows traces of


the loss of one of his sons, sustained by the

author at the
that
is

drama;

that the riotous youth of

moment when he was composing Henry V^


London; that Brutus,
In Julius

symbol of the youth of Shakespeare during

his first years in

Caesar, has reference to the persons of Essex

and Southampton, protectors of the poet and


unsuccessful

conspirators

against

the
Is

queen;

that Coriolanus, disdainful of praise.

Shaketo take

speare in the attitude that

It

suited

him

up towards the public and the


feeling of
Is

critics; that the

King Lear, appalled with Ingratitude,

that of the poet, appalled at the ingratitude

he experienced at the hands of his colleagues,


of the impresarii and of his pupils; and finally
that Shakespeare must have written those terrible

dramas

in

the nocturnal hours, although


In the early

he most probably worked as a rule

morning; together with many other fancies of


a similar sort;
It
is

not a case of accepting or

of confuting them, but of just taking them for

TWO PERSONALITIES
what they
are, conjectures

129

based upon

air,

and

as such of no interest.

The
Harris.

like

may

be said of another volume,

which has also been much discussed, that of Here,


in

a view based

upon the
is

in-

spection of his lyrics and dramas, he

repre-

sented as sensual and neuropathic, almost affected with erotic mania,

weak of
and

will,

attracted

and tyrannised over during almost the whole


of his
lady,
life,

by

a fascinating

faithless

dark

named Mary

Fitton.

Hence

the origin

of his most poignant tragedies, and the mystery


that conceals his last years,
to Stratford, by no

when he withdrew means with the intention


body
or

of there enjoying the peace of the country as a


f Generator Appius, but because, ruined in

and

soul,

he wished there to nurse his

ills,

rather to die there, as soon afterwards he did.

The
private

period of the great tragedies, especially,


in

has been connected with circumstances


life

the
in

of the*author and with events


life.

English public be true:

This too may or may not

Shakespeare

may

or

may

not have

been extremely excitable, both


practical matters; he

in

personal and

may on

the other

hand

have remained perfectly calm and watched the


tossing sea

from the shore, with that tone of

I30

TWO PERSONALITIES
by psychoto be at-

feeling proper to artists, described


logists as Scheingefiihle, a

feeling of appearis

ance and dream.

No

value also

tributed to conjectures as to the models that

Shakespeare sometimes had before him: for


Shylock in the shape of some adventurer of
his time, or for

Prospero
II,

in

the person of the


interested in

Emperor Rudolph
science

who was
like,
its

and magic, and the and

because the
is

relation between art

model

incom-

mensurable.
speare, one
is

In reading the works of Shake-

sometimes inclined to think (as


,

for that matter in the case of other poets)

that

some
author

affection
is

or incident of the

life

of the
this

to be

found

in the

words of

or

that character, as for example in Cymbeline,

where Posthumus

says,

The woman's
That
It
is

part in

tends to vice
the

Could I find out me! But there's no motion in man, but I affirm

"

woman's part!"

or in those others of Troilus and Cressida:


"Lechery, lechery;
still,

wars and lechery; nothing


"

else holds fashions: a burning devil take them!

in the

same way

as

some have suspected


the
case

a per-

sonal

memory

in

of Dante, in the

TWO PERSONALITIES
tion.

131

Francesca episode of the reading and inebria-

But there

is

nothing to be done with


it.

this suspicion

and the thought that suggested

Nor

is

there anything to be built upon in those

rare passages,

where

it

may seem

that the poet

breaks the coherence and aesthetic level of his

work,

in

order to lay stress upon some real or

practical feeling of his own,


tion; because, even if

by over-accentuathat there are

we admit
it

such passages in Shakespeare,

always remains

doubtful whether for him, as for other poets,


the true motive for this inopportune emphasis,
is

to be

found

in the

eruption of his

own power-

ful feelings, or rather in

some other accidental


from wonder

motive.

We
work

may

also save ourselves


"

and invective of the


by means towards

Baconian hypothesis,"

of this indifference of the poetical

biography.

This

hypothesis

maintains that the real author of the plays,

which pass under the name of Shakespeare, was


Francis

Bacon.

We

are

likewise

preserved

from those others of more recent date and


vogue, which

maintain that the author was

Roger,

fifth

Earl of Rutland, or that Rutland


society of

collaborated with Southampton, or that there


really

existed a

dramatic author^

132

TWO PERSONALITIES
Heywood, Webster,
etc.)

(Chettle,

with the

final revision

entrusted to Bacon, or finally (the

latest discovery of the sort) that

he was Wil-

liam Stanley, sixth Earl

'of

Derby.

thou-

sand or more volumes, opuscules and

articles

have been printed to deal with these conjectures,

and although

trained philologist

to the severe eye of the

they

may

justly

seem

to

be extravagant, yet they retain the merit of

being a sort of involuntarily ironic treatment


of the purely philological method and of
its

abuse of conjecture.

But even

if

we grant

the unlikely contention

that in the not very great brain of the philoso-

pher Bacon, there lodged the brain of a very


great poet, from v/hich proceeded the Shake-

spearean drama, nothing would thereby have

been

discovered or proved,

save

singular

marvel, a joke, a monstrosity of nature.

The

artistic problem would remain untouched, because that drama remains always the same; Lear laments and imprecates in the same man-

ner, Othello struggles furiously,

tates
ity

and wavers before the


and
in the

Hamlet mediproblem of humanis

and the action that he

called

upon

to

take,
in

same manner,

all

are

enwrapped

the veil of Eternity,

TWO PERSONALITIES
It
is

133

good thing
it,

to shake off this

weight of

erroneous philology (another philology exists


alongside of

which

is

not erroneous, since

it

preserves the probably genuine text,

and

In-

terprets the vocabulary and the historical refer-

ences with a genuine feeling for art), not only

because, whether or no

It

attain the

end of
right

biography,

It

distracts attention

from the

and proper object of


because
it

artistic criticism,

but also
false,

employs the biography, true or

for the purpose of clouding and changing the


artistic

vision.

Confounding

art

and docuit

ment,

it

transports Into art whatever

has

dis-

covered or believes itself to have discovered

by

means of

research, turning the serene composi-

tions of the poet into a series of shudders, cries,


restless motions, convulsions, ferocious springs,

manifestations,

now
It

of

sentimental

rapture,

now

of furious desire.

We
tails

know

that

Is

necessary to

make an

effort of abstraction, to forget biographical de-

concerning the poets, in those cases where


if

they abound,

we

v/Ish to

enjoy their
is

art, in

what

it

possesses of ideality, which


too, that poets
dislike

truth.
al-

We

know,

and

artists

have

ways

experienced

and contempt
investigate

for
re-

those gossip-mongers,

who

and

134

TWO PERSONALITIES
lives,

cord the private occurrences of their

in

order to extract from them the elements of


artistic

judgment.

This

is

the reason
his

why

poet's contemporaries

and

fellow-country-

men and fellow-townsmen

are said not to be

good judges and that no one is a poet or prophet among his familiars and in the place
of his birth.

The advantage
tic

of the lack of a bar to artis-

contemplation, one of the good consequences

of this lack of biographical detail relating to

Shakespeare,
turers,

is

thrown away by these conjecmule of Galeazzo Flori-

who,

like the

monte, bring stones to birth that they


stumble upon them.

may

We

can observe the re-immersion of Shakein psychological materiality in

spearean poetry

book of Brandes (and some extent in the more subtle and ingenious work of Frank Harris) and in the case
the already mentioned
also to

of Brandes, the readjustment of values that


its

is

consequence, as with Kin^ Lear and Timon,


in-

both documents of misanthropy induced by

gratitude; and even the sinking of values into


non-values,

when he

fails to effect his

psycho-

logical reduction, even by

travagant methods, as in

means of those exthe case of Macbeth,

TWO PERSONALITIES
where he declares that
this play,

135

which

is

one

of the dramatic masterpieces, appears to him to


possess but " slight interest," because he does

not feel " the heart of Shakespeare beating


there," that
is

to say, of the

Shakespeare en-

dowed with
ests

certain practical objects

and

inter-

by

his imagination.
is

This error

also to be

found

in the so-called

" pictures of the society of the time," by

means
less

of which another group has striven to interpret


the art of Shakespeare.
extrinsic

These are not

and disturbing than the others, assumTaine, for instance, having got

ing that they are composed with like historical


ignorance.
into his
it

head that the English of the time of were


" des
betes

Elizabeth
scribes the

sauvages^

de-

drama of

the time as a reproducall


''

tion

'*

sans choix " of

les laideurs, les bas-

sesses, les horreurs, les details crus, les

moeurs
and the

dereglees et feroces " of that time,


style of

Shakespeare as " un compose

d' expres-

sions forcenees," in such wise that

when one

reads the famous Histoire de la litterature anglaise,


it is

difficult to

say whether poets or as-

sassins are passing across the stage,

whether
of

these be artistic and harmonious contests, or

dagger-thrust

struggles.

The

opinion

136

TWO PERSONALITIES
is

Goethe

opposed to

all

these deformations, to
shrieks on the

the Shakespeare

who moans and who

wind of the wild passions of his time, to that


other Shakespeare
his

reveals the

wounds of
dis-

own

sickly soul with bitter

sarcasm and

gust.

In the conversations with Eckermann,

he gives as his impression that the plays of

Shakespeare were the work " of


fect

man

in per-

health

and strength, both

in

body and
so

spirit ";

he must indeed have been healthy and

strong and free,

when he created something

free, so healthy and so strong as his poetry.

In a calmer sphere of considerations, those

who make

the personages and the action of the

plays depend upon the political and social events

upon

of the time commit a similar deterministic error


the victory over the

Armada,

the con-

spiracy of Essex, the death of Elizabeth, the


accession of James, the geographical discoveries

and colonisation of the day, the contests with the Puritans, and the like. Others err in tracing the different forms of
the poetry to the course of his reading, to the

Chronicle of Holinshed, to Italian novels, to


the Lives of Plutarch, and especially to the

Essais

of

Montaigne

(where

Chasles

and

others of more recent date have placed the

TWO PERSONALITIES
origin of the

137

new great period of

his poetical
in the cir-

work)
in

others again have found

it

cumstances of the EngHsh stage of the time, and


the various tastes of the " reserved "
seats,

and

" pit "

" as in the so-called " realistic

criticism of Riimelin.

The

poetry, then, should certainly be inter-

preted historically, but in the


connected, that
is is

proper sense,

dis-

to say

from

a history that
its

foreign to
is

it

and with which

only connec-

tion

that prevailing between a

man and what

he disregards, puts away from him and rejects,


because
it

either injures

which comes to
already

him or is of no use, or, the same thing, because he has


of
it.

made

sufficient use

CHAPTER

VIII

SHAKESPEAREAN SENTIMENT
Everyone possesses
heart, as
it

at

the

bottom of

his

were, a synthetic or compendious

image of
to the

a poet like Shakespeare,

who

belongs

common patrimony of culture, and in his memory the definitions of him that have been
given and have become current formulae.
is

It

mind upon that image, to remember these formulae, and to extract from them their principal meanings, with the view of
well to
fix

the

obtaining, at least in a preliminary and provisory manner, the characteristic spiritual atti-

tude of Shakespeare, his poetical sentiment.

The

first

observation leaps to the eye and

is

generally admitted: namely, that no particular


feeling or order of feelings prevails in him;
it

cannot be said of him that he

is

an amorous

poet, like Petrarch, a desperately sad poet like

Leopardi, or heroic, as Homer,

His name

is

adorned rather with such epithets as universal


poet,
as

perfectly

objective,
138

entirely

imper-

SENTIMENT
sonal,

139

extraordinarily

impartial.

Sometimes

even his coldness has been remarked

a cold-

ness certainly sublime, " that of a sovran spirit,

which has described the complete curve of hu-

man

existence

and has survived

all

sentiment

"

(Schlegel).

Nor
social.

is

he a poet of ideals, as they are called,


religious, ethical, political, or

whether they be

This explains the antipathy frequently


of

manifested towards him by apostles of various


sorts,

whom

the last

unsatisfied desires

was Tolstoi, and the that take fire in the minds

of the right thinking, urging them always to


ask of any very great
for
a

supplement.

man for something more, They conclude their adin

miration with a sigh that there should really be something missing

him

he

is

not to be
for

numbered along those who


liberal political
social balance,

strive

more

forms and for a more equable


nor has he had bowels of com-

passion for the humble and the plebeian.


certain school of

German

critics

(Ulrici,

Gerv-

inus, Kreyssig, Vischer, etc.), perhaps as an act

of opposition to such apparent accusations (I

would not recommend the reading of these


authors,

whom

have

felt

obliged to peruse

owing

to the nature of

my

task) began to rep-

I40

SENTIMENT
a

resent Shakespeare as a lofty master of morality,

casuist

most acute and

reliable,

who
in the

never

fails to solve

an ethical problem

correct way, a prudent and austere counsellor


in politics,

and above

all,

an infallible judge

of actions, a distributor of rewards and punishments,

graduated according to merit and

demerit, paying special attention that not even


the slightest fault should go unpunished.

Now

setting aside the fact that the ends attributed


to

him were not

in

accordance with his charac-

ter as a

poet and bore evidence only to the

lack of taste of those critics; setting aside that

the design of distributing rewards and punish-

ments according to

moral

scale,
in

which they

imagine to exist and praise

him, was alto-

gether impossible of accomplishment by any

man

or even by any God, since rewards and

punishments are thoughts altogether foreign to


the moral consciousness and of a purely practical

and

judicial

nature; setting aside these

facts,

which are generally considered unworthy


as the ridiculous survivals of a byif

of discussion and jeered at in the most recent


criticism,

gone age, even

we make

the attempt to trans-

late these statements into a less illogical form,

SENTIMENT
and assume that there really existed
in

141

Shake-

speare an inclination for problems of that sort,


they shew themselves to be at variance with
simple reality,

Shakespeare caressed no ideals


all political

of any sort and least of

ideals;

and

although he magnificently represents political


struggles
specific

also,

he always went beyond their

character and object, attaining through


the only thing that really attracted

them
him;

to
life.

This sense of life is also extolled in his work, which for that reason is held to be eminently
dramatic, that
is

to say, animated with a sense


in itself,

of

life

considered

in its eternal disits

cord,
all its

its

eternal harshness,

bitter-sweet, in

complexity.
feel life potently,

To

without the determinait

tion of a passion or an ideal, implies feeling

unilluminated by

faith,

undisciplined

by any by the

law of goodness, not

to be corrected

human

will,

not to be reduced to the enjoyment

of idyllic calm, or to the inebriation of joy; and

Shakespeare has indeed been judged


religious,

in turn

not

not moral, no assertor of the freewill,

dom

of the

and no optimist.

But no one

has yet dared to judge him to be irreligious,

142

SENTIMENT
fatalist,

immoral, a

or a pessimist, for these

adjectives are seen not to suit him, as soon as

they are pronounced.

And

here too were required the strange aber-

ration of fancy of a Taine, his singular incapacity for receiving clear impressions of the
truth,
in

order

to

portray

the

feeling

of

Shakespeare towards

man and

life

as being

fundamentally irrational, based on blind deception, a

sequence of hasty impulses and swarm-

ing

images,

without

an

autonomous

centre,

where truth and wisdom are accidental and unstable effects, or appearances without substance.

These are simply exercises in style, repeated with variants from other writers; they do not
even present a caricature of the art of Shakespeare,
since
is

even for

this,

some connection

with fact

necessary.

Shakespeare,

who

has

so strong a feeling for the bounds set to the

human

will,

in
it,

relation to the

Whole, which

stands above

possesses the feeling for the


liberty in equal degree.

power of human
Hazlitt says, he,
least
est

As
" the

who

in
is

some respects

is

moral of poets,"

in others " the great-

of moralists."

He who
evil

beholds the unhis

removable presence of

and sorrow, has

eye open and intent in an equal degree upoa

SENTIMENT
and
was.
is

143

the shining forth of the good, the smile of joy,

healthy and virile as no pessimist ever

He who

directly to a

nowhere in his works refers God, has ever present within him
and the spectacle of the
seems to him to be withtheir passions a

the obscure consciousness of a divinity, of an

unknown

divinity,

world, taken by
out significance,
a

itself,

men and

dream,

dream

that has for intrinsic

and correlative
is

solid

end a reality which, though hidden, and perhaps more lofty.

more

But we must be careful not

to insist too

much
his

upon these

positive definitions
it

and represent
in

sentiment as though
tive elements

were one

which nega-

were altogether overcome.


is

The
in
it

good,

virtue,

without
evil

doubt stronger
vice,

Shakespeare than

and

not because

overcomes and resolves the other term


but simply because
ness, because
it is
it is

in itself,

light

opposed to darkit is

the good, because


its

virtue.

This

is

because of

special quality,

which the
purity

poet discerns and seizes

in its original

and
it.

truth,

without sophisticating or weakening

Positive and negative elements do really


into one another, in

become interlaced or run


his

mode of
in

feeling,

without becoming recon-

ciled

superior harmony.

Their natural

144
logic can be
justice

SENTIMENT
expressed
in

terms of rectitude,

and

sincerity; but their logic


its

and nat-

ural character also finds

expression in terms

of ambition, cupidity, egoism and satanic wickedness.

The

will
it

is is

accurately aimed at the

target, but also,


it

sometimes diverted from


it

by

power, which
it

does not recognise,

al-

though

obeys

it,

as

though under a

spell.

The

sky becomes serene after the devastating

hurricane, honourable

men occupy

the thrones

from which the wicked have fallen, the conquerBut the ors pity and praise the conquered.
desolation
of
faith

betrayed,

of

goodness

trampled upon, of innocent creatures destroyed,


of noble hearts broken, remains.

The God

that

should pacify hearts

is

invoked, his presence

may even be felt, The poet does

but he never appears.

not stand beyond these strug-

gling passions, attraction and repugnance, love

and hate, hope and despair, joy and sorrow;


but he
other.
is

beyond being on the

side of

one or the

He
may

receives
feel

that he

them all in himself, not them all, and pour tears of

blood around them, but that he

may make

of

them

his

unique
is

world,

the

Shakespearean

world, which
conflicts.

the world of those undecided

SENTIMENT
What
poets appear at
first

145

more different than Shakespeare and Ariosto? Yet they have this in common, that both look upon something that is beyond particular emotions, and
sight

for this reason it has been said of both of them, more than once, that " they speak but
little

to the heart."

They

are certainly senti-

mental and agitated by the passions to a very


slight degree; the "

referred
cause
little

to,

humour " of both has been word that we avoid here, bemeaning and of such
all

it is

so uncertain of

use in determining profound emotions of

the spirit.

Ariosto veils and shades

the par-

ticular feelings that he represents,


his divine irony;

by means of
in a differ-

and Shakespeare,
all

ent way, by
relief,

endowing

with equal vigour and

succeeds in creating a sort of equilibrium,

by means of reciprocal tension, which, owing


to
its

mode

of genesis, differs in every other


in

respect

from the harmony


Furioso
evil,

which the singer


surpasses

of

the

delights.

Ariosto

good and

retaining interest in
life,

them only

on account of the rhythm of

so constant

and yet so various, which

arises,

expands, be-

comes extinguished and


again
to

is

reborn, to

grow and

become extinguished.
all

Shakespeare

surpasses

individual emotions, but he does

146

SENTIMENT

not surpass, on the contrary, he strengthens our

good and evil, in sorrow and joy, in destiny and necessity, in appearance and reality,
interest in

and the vision of

this strife

is

his poetry.

Thus

the one has been metaphorically called " im-

aginative "; the other " realistic," and the one

has been opposed to the other.

They

are op-

posed
point,

to

one another, yet they meet at one

not at the general one of both being

poets, but at the specific point of being cosmic

poets, not only in the sense in which every poet


is

cosmical, but in the particular sense above

explained.

Let us hope that

it

is

not neces-

sary to

recommend
as

that this should be underis

stood with the necessary reservations, that


to
say,

the trait that dominates the two

poets in a different

way and does not


all

exclude
all

the other individual traits of feature, above

not that which belongs to


ever.

poetry whatsocritical

The

limits set to

every

study,

which should henceforth be known to


laid

all,

are

down by

the impossibility of ever render-

ing in logical terms the full effect of any poetry

or of other artistic work, since


if

it

is

clear that

such a translation were possible, art would


is

be impossible, that
cause

to say, superfluous, bea


substitute.

admitting

of

Criticism,

SENTIMENT
nevertheless, within those limits, performs

147
its

own

office,

which

is

to discern

and

to point out

exactly

where

lies

the poetical motive and to


in distinguish-

formulate the divisions which aid


ing what
is

proper to every work.


rest, if

For the
ject

Arlosto has often been com-

pared to contemporary painters, with the obof drawing attention to his harmonic
in-

spiration,

Ludwig has been unable from making similar comparisons

to abstain

for Shake-

speare.

He

found the most adequate image


in the portraits
*

for his

dramas

and landscapes

of Titian, of Giorglone, of Paul Veronese, as


contrasting with the amiability of Correggio,
the insipidity of the Caracci, the affected

manIn

ner of Guido and of Carlo Dolce, the crudity

of the naturalists Caravagglo and RIbera.

Shakespeare, as
is

everywhere

in those great Venetians, there " existence," life upon earth,

transfigured perhaps, but devoid of restlessness,

of aureoles and of sentimentalisms, serene even

where

tragic.
strife in vital unity, this prolife,

This sense of
found sense of
antitheses of

prevents the vision from


superficlalised in the
evil,

becoming simplified and

good and

of elect and rep-

robate beings, and causes the introduction of

148
conflict, In

SENTIMENT
varying measure and degree,
the battle
is

In

every

being.

Thus

fought at the very

heart of things.

Hence
is

the aspect of mystery

that surrounds the actions and events portrayed

by Shakespeare, which
in the

not to be understood
Is

general sense that every vision of art

a mystery, but rather In the special sense of a

course of events of which the poet not only

does not possess (and could not possess) the


philosophical explanation, but never discovers
the reposeful term, peace after war, the ac-

ceptance of war as a means to a


peace.

more

lofty

For

this

reason

is

everywhere diffused

the terror of the

Unknown, which surrounds

on every side and conceals a countenance that

may

be

more

terrible than terrible life Itself,

in the

development of which human beings are

involved

a countenance terrible for

what

it

will reveal,

and perhaps sublime and

ecstatic,

giving in

its

very terribleness, terror and rap-

ture together.

The mystery
of

lies

not only in the

occasional
witches.
In

appearance
the

spectres,

demons,

poetry, but in the whole ata part, assist-

mosphere of which they form only


ing by their

mination.
the
first

more direct deterThis mystery was well expressed by


pr^ence
critics

in

great

who

penetrated into the

SENTIMENT
Goethe, to the second of

149

world of Shakespearean poetry, Herder and

whom

belongs the
as "

simile of the Shakespearean

drama

open

books of Destiny,
emotional
leaves
In
life
Its

In

which blows the wind of


In

here and there stripping their


violence."

Shakespeare's

musicality

we

are everywhere sensible of a vo-

luptuous palpitation before the mystery which


at times link
reflects

upon

Itself

and supplies the

between music and love, music and sadness,

music and unknown Godhead.

We

must

insist

upon the word

" sentiment,"

which we have adopted for the description of


this spiritual condition. In

order that

It

may

not

be mistaken

foi-

a concept or

mode

of thought

6t phllosopheme, which occurs when the " conception " or " mode of conceiving
Is

word
life

"

taken

In a literal

and material manner as apin

poets when,

plied to

Shakespeare and
for instance.

general to the

It is

asked by what

special quality does Shakespeare's " conception

of tragedy "

differ

from Greek and French


though
In

tragedy, and the


It

like, as

such a case,

were a question of concepts and systems.


Is

Shakespeare
tendency
Is

not a philosopher: his spiritual

altogether opposed to the philo-

sophic, which dominates both sentiment

and the

I50

SENTIMENT
it,

spectacle of life with thought that understands

and explains

reconciling conflicts under a sin-

gle principle of dialectic.

Shakespeare, on the

contrary, takes both and renders


vital mobility

or theory

and

them

in their

they

know nothing

of criticism

he does not offer any solu-

tion other than the evidence of visible representation.

For

this reason,

when he

is

character-

ised
his

and

receives praises for his " objectivity,"


his

" impersonality,"

" universality,"

and

those

who do

this are

not satisfied even with

their incorrect description of the real psycho-

logical differences noted above, but proceed to

claim a philosophical character for his spiritual


attitude,
it is

advisable to reject

them

all,

con-

fronting his objectivity with his poetic subjectivity,

his

impersonality with his personality,


his

his

universality with

individual
in
life,

mode

of

feeling.

The

cosmic oppositions,

imagining
not only
in his

which he symbolises reality and


but
they
are

are not philosophical solutions for


plays,

him

not

even

problems of

thought; only rarely do they tend to take the

form of

bitter

interrogations,

which remain

without answer.

Equally fantastic and arbi-

trary are the attempts to compose a philosophical

theory from the work of Shakespeare

who

SENTIMENT
is

151

alternately, theistic, pantheistic, dualistic, de-

terministic,

pessimistic

and

optimistic,

by

ex-

tracting

it

from

his plays in the

same manner

as

that employed in the case of the philosophy implied in a historical or political treatise; be-

cause there

is

certainly a philosophy implied in

these latter cases,

embodied

in

the historical

and

political

judgments which they contain.


is

In
that

the case of Shakespeare, however, which

of poets
it

in general, to extract
is,

it

there, that

to think and to

means to place draw conclusions

ourselves under the imaginative stimulus of the


poet,

and

to place in his

mouth, through a psy-

chological illusion, our swers.


It

own

questions and anto discuss a

would only be possible


if,

philosophy of Shakespeare

like

Dante, he

had developed one in certain philosophical sections of his poems; but this is not so, because
the thoughts that he utters
fulfil

no other func-

tion than that of poetical expressions,

and when

they are taken from their contexts, where they

sound so powerful and so profound, they lose


their virtue

and appear to be indeterminate,


another question as to whether his
called

contradictory or fallacious.
It is quite

sentiment

was based upon what are

mental or philosophical presumptions and as to

152

SENTIMENT
these, properly speaking,
it

what

were; because,
at once

as regards the first point,

must be

admitted that a sentiment does not appear


without a basis of certain mental presumptions
or concepts, that
tions,
is

to say, of certain convic-

affirmations, negations

and doubts.

As

regards the second point, the legitimacy of the


enquiry will be admitted, and
it

will also be

noted that

this

forms one of several historical

enquiries, relating to Shakespeare in his poetry,

to

which belongs the place unduly usurped by

ineptitudes and superficialities on the


his private
affairs; his

theme of

domestic relations, his

business transactions,
intrigues with Mary dam Davenant.
It is

and

his

pretended love

Fitton and the hostess

Ma-

also true that the researches into the

mental presumptions of Shakespeare have often


strayed into the external and the anecdotic, as
is

the case with such problems as the religion

that

he

followed

and

his

political

opinions.

Stated in this way, they likewise sink to the


level of biographical problems,
art.

indifferent to
to

That Shakespeare belonged

the

An-

and not to the Catholic confession (as some still maintain, a-nd in 1864 Rio wrote a whole book on the subject), and opposed Purlglican

SENTIMENT
tanism
in

153

one quality or the other; that he supin his conspiracy,

ported Essex

or on the con-

trary was on the side of

Queen EHzabeth, has

nothing to do with the mental presuppositions

immanent
a

in his poetry.

He may
a

have been

impious and profane

in active practical life as

Greene or

Marlowe, or
Stuart,

devout papist,
like

worshipping with secret superstition,


adept of

an

Mary

and nevertheless he may

have composed poetry with different presup-

upon thoughts that had entered his mind and had there become formed and dompositions,

inated in his

spirit,

without for that reason


research of which

having changed the faith previously selected

and observed.

The

we speak

does not concern the superficial, but the pro-

found character of the man;

it is

not concerned

with the congealed and solidified stratum, but

with the tide that flows beneath

it,

which others

would

call the unconscious in relation to the


it

conscious, whereas,

would be more exact

to

invert the

two

qualifications.

Presuppositions

are

the

philosophemes that everyone carries

with him, gathering them from the times and

from

tradition, or

forming them anew by means

of his

own

observations and rapid reflections.

In poetical works, they form the condition re-

154

SENTIMENT
attitude,

mote from the psychological


generates poetical visions.

which

In this depth of consciousness, Shakespeare

shows himself
Christianity,

clearly to be outside, not only

Catholicism, but also Protestantism, not only

but

every

religious,

or

rather

every transcendental and theological conception.

Here he

also resembles the Italian poet

of the Renaissance, Arlosto, though reaching


the position by different
results.
In

ways and with different His sentiment would have appeared


if

an altogether different guise,


judging God,
this

a theological
life,

conception, such as the belief in an eternal


in a

In

rewards and punishments


view that earthly
life

beyond
is

world,

in the

a trial

and

a pilgrimage,

had been

lively

and

active in him.

He knows
life

no other than the


earth,

vigorous passionate

upon

divided

between joy and sorrow, with around and above


it,

the
It
is

shadow of

a mystery.

with natural wonder, then, that


especially

of

Shakespeare,

we read among German

authors, as a spirit altogether dominated by the

Christian

ideas

proper to the Reformation,


al-

whereas, with regard to Christianity, he was


together lacking, both
In

the theology of Judaic-

Hellenic origin and In the tendency to ascet-

SENTIMENT
icism

155

and mysticism.
in the

On

the other

hand we

cannot admit the opposite statement that he was


a

pagan,

somewhat popular
it is

sense of self-

satisfied

hedonism, because

not less evident

that his moral discernment, his sense of

what

is

sinful, his delicacy of conscience, his humanity,

bear a strong imprint of Christian ethics.


deed,
it is

Inex-

precisely

owing

to this lofty

and

quisite ethical

judgment, united to the vision of


its

a world,

which moves by
or

own power
or

or any-

how by some
posing

mysterious power, frequently opperverting


the

overthrowing

forces directed to the good, that this tragic conflict

arises in him.

To

this

double presupposi-

tion

must be added,

as inference, a third, the

negation, the scepticism, or the ignorance of the

conception of a rational course of events and

of a Providence that governs

it.

Not even

does he accept inexorable Fate as sole master


of

men and Gods; nor


as

the determinism of in-

dividual character as another kind of Fate, a


naturalistic Fate,

some of

his

interpreters

have believed; he remains unaffected by the

hard Asiatic or African

dualistic idea of pre-

destination; on the contrary, he recognizes hu-

man

spontaneity

and

liberty,

as

forces

that

prove their own reality

in the fact itself,

though

156

SENTIMENT
and the one sometimes to overpower the
without suspecting their identity

he nevertheless permits liberty and necessity to


clash

other, without establishing a relation between

the two,

in

opposition,

without discovering that the two

elements at strife form the single river of the


real,

and therefore

failing to rise to the level

of the modern theodicy, which Is History. Our wonderment bursts forth anew, in observing
the emphatic and insistent statements of such

writers as for instance Ulrici as to the historicity

of the

thought and of the tragedies of


is

Shakespeare, where just what


sent
is

altogether ablife,

the historical conception of

which

was possessed by Dante, though


the
since

in the

form of

mediaeval
historicity

philosophy
Is

of

history.

And
social
is

both political

and

ideality,

Shakespeare must have been and

wanting, as has been said.

In true political faith

and passion.
like

He

has however been credited

with this by publicists and political polemists


Gervinus,

great a

who have desired to count so name among their number, have imagIt

ined him possessed with the passion for

and

even believed that


doctrinal wisdom.
It
is

it

was crowned

In

him with

difficult

to

decide by what ways and

SENTIMENT
means these presuppositions were formed
his inmost soul, for with this question

157
in

we

re-

enter the biographical problem as to his education, the

company he

kept, his reading, his exall


is

periences; and upon

these subjects
available.

little

or

no exact information
serve the fervour of

Did he obin the

life

which prevailed

England of
sions
tions

his

vigilant eye?

day with sympathetic soul and Did he lend an ear to discusa sense of their

upon theological and metaphysical quesand carry away from them


which

emptiness?
universities,

Did he frequent the youth of the


just at that time

gave sevto

eral university wits

to literature

and

the

drama?

Did he read

the Laiis Stultitiae of

Erasmus, moral and religious dialogues and


treatises, the

English humanists, the Platonic-

ians, the ancient

and modern

historians, as he

certainly

Montaigne at a later date? Did he read Machiavelli and the other political writers of Italy, and those who had begun to sketch the doctrine of the temperament and
read
the passions, such as

Huarte and Charron, did


did the influence of these

he

know Bruno,

or had he heard of him and

of his doctrines?

Or

men and books

reach him by various indirect

paths, at second or third hand, through con-

158

SENTIMENT
we
part
his,

versation, or as by a figure of speech

say,

from
due

his

environment?

And what
certainty

of

those doubts, negations and beliefs of


to
his

was
in-

vivacity

and

of

tuition,

or to his
in

own continuous and steady


rather

rumination

himself,

than
if

to

the

course of his studies?


sessed

But even
on
this

we

pos-

abundant
still

notes

subject,

we

should

remain without much Information,


escape
for the most part
the

because the processes of the formation of the


individual
ob-

servation of others

and frequently even the


they have actually oc-

memory
curred,

of him in

whom

and the

facility

with which they are


Is

forgotten proves that what


to preserve,
Is

really Important

not these, but their result.

And what
life

is

here of importance

is

the rela-

tion of these mental presuppositions with the

of the time, with the general culture of the

period,

with

the

historical
spirit

phase

through
In
as he

which the human


these respects,

was then passing.


truly,

Shakespeare was

has appeared to those stood him, a

who have
its

best under-

man
its

of the Renaissance, of that

age, which, with


its

its

navigation,

commerce,
Its

philosophies,
its

religious strifes,
its

natural

science,

poems,

pictures.

Its

statues, its

SENTIMENT
graceful architecture, had set earthly
full relief,
its

159
life

in

and no longer permitted

it

to lose
in the

colours,

become

pallid

and dissolve
it,

had happened through the long period of the MidBut Shakespeare did not belong to dle Ages. the pleasure-seeking, joyous and pagan Renaisrays of another world external to
as

sance, which

is

but a small aspect of the great


to that side of
it

movement, but rather

which

was animated with new wants, with new religious tendencies, with the spirit of new philosophical
research,
full

of doubts,
future.

permeated
flashes,

with flashes from the

These

which appeared only

in the

great thinkers,

were not yet able to arrest

who make of them and

them were

distributors of a calm and equable light,


also irreducible to a radiant centre in its

greatest poet, in

whom

philosophy served as a

presupposition and did not form the essence


of his mental
in
life.

It is

therefore vain to seek

Shakespeare for what neither Bruno nor

Campanella attained, nor even Descartes and


Spinoza at a later date, namely the historical
concept, of which
it is

we have already spoken, and

also vain to talk of his Spinozistic or Shel-

lingian pantheism.

Shakespeare

nevertheless

has

assumed

in

i6o

SENTIMENT
appearance of
a

the past and sometimes assumes even in our


eyes, the

philosopher and of

a master, or a precursor of the loftiest truths,

which have since come to


that

light.

It

is

fact

modern

idealistic

and

historical

philoso-

phy has not experienced equal attraction towards any other poet, recognising in him the
soul of a brother.

How
in

can this be?

The
not-

answer
ing

is

contained

what we have been


Shakespeare's
rejected
the

and

establishing.

mental

presuppositions,

which

Middle

Ages and were on


and above
all

a level with the

seeking and failing to find unity and

new times, harmony

that vigorous feeling of his for

the cosmic strifes, breaking out


rising to the sphere of poetry,

from them and


seems to offer
for he some-

material already prepared and to some extent


also shaped to the dialectician,

times almost suggests the right

word

to

the

moralist, the politician, the philosopher of art.

He

might also be called


this

a " pre-philosopher."

owing to

power of stimulation that he possesses, and this appellation would have the further advantage of making it well understood that there is no use attempting to make of him

a philosopher.

And

precisely because

it

is

im-

possible to extract a definite

and particular doc-

SENTIMENT
trine

i6i

from

his

pre-philosophy and poetry, can

many

of different kinds be extracted, accord-

ing to diversity of minds and the progress of the times.

Hence,

that the logical


vision
is

some have maintained complement of that poetical


if

speculative idealism, dialectic, anti-as-

cetic morality,
itics,

romantic aesthetic,

realistic pol.

the historical conception of the real, and


this

have maintained

with reason, basing their

views upon doctrines v/hich they believed to be true, and have justly thought that the logical

complement of beauty

is

truth; others have

possibly arrived at pessimistic conclusions


that vision
ers

from

and assertion of

conflicts;

and otheffect the

have striven and are striving to

restauration of

some of
in

the presumptions that

are negated or are absent, such as faith in an-

other world and


justice.

divine and transcendental

This latter position has been mainit

tained as well as

possibly could have been,

with the aid of much research, by an Italian

mind of the

first

order,

Manzoni, who was both


Shakespearean.

a severe Catholic

and

a fervent

He

found in profoundest morality, and remarked that " the


representation of profound sorrows and inde-

the profundity of Shakespeare the

terminate terrors," as given by Shakespeare,

i62

SENTIMENT
when man
beaten
inquisitively

" comes near to virtue," because "

comes
that he

forth

from

the

path of things known and from the accidents


is

accustomed to combat, and


of possible

finds himevils,

self in the infinite region

he

feels

his

weakness, the cheerful ideas of de-

fence and of vigour abandon him.

Then he

thinks that virtue only, a clear conscience, and


the help of
to his

God
in

alone can be of some succour

mind

that condition."

And

thus he

concluded with characteristic certainty:

"Let
a

everyone

look into himself

after

reading

tragedy of Shakespeare, and observe whether

he does not experience a similar emotion

in his

own

soul."

CHAPTER IX
MOTIVES AND DEVELOPMENT OF SHAKESPEARE'S POETRY
I

The
What we

"

Comedy of Love

"
as

have hitherto described

the

sentiment of Shakespeare corresponds to the

Shakespeare carven
ness, that

in

the general consciousin

which

is

Shakespeare
say, a

an eminent
his

degree, almost,

we might

symbol of

greater

self,

the poet of the great tragedies

{Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet) and of the
tragic portions of those that are less intense

and

less perfect.
is

But the work that bears


in tones

his

name
alities

far
in

more varied

and person-

and

order to prepare the

way

for the

passage of more particular characteristics, we

must distinguish
Shakespeare
the

(and here the students of


always

have

been

industrious)

various

configurations
163

and

degrees,

or

i64

COMEDY OF LOVE

sources of inspiration of the poet, and

make of them groups, which may then be arranged in a


an ideal succession.

series of relations,

On

casting the eye over the rich extent of

his works,

the attention

is

at once

drawn

to

certain of them, whose fresh, smiling colours


indicate that their principal
is

and proper theme

love.

Not

the love that becomes joined to

other graver passions and unified with them,

forms
tony

a complex, as in the Othello, or in

Anpro-

and Cleopatra,

thus

acquiring

foundly tragic quality, but love and love alone,


love considered in

are to be found rather in the

than

in

These passions then comedy of love the tragedies or dramas: in love, reitself.

garded certainly with affectionate sympathy, but


also with curiosity,
instinct

with softness and

tenderness, indeed, one might almost say, with


the superiority of an expert
delicate
this

mind and thus with


that

irony.

The mind
their

accompanies

amorous

heart, observes the caprices


inevitability

and

illusions,

recognising

and

their necessity, but yet

they are,

knowing them for what imaginings, however irresistible and


caprices,

delicious they be,

though noble and

beautiful, weaknesses, deserving of indulgence

and of gentle treatment, because human, and

COMEDY OF LOVE
belonging to

165

man

as he passes

through
youth.

the

happy and

stormy

season

of
is

This

mode
Latin
find

of experiencing love
itself

something that

manifests

only episodically in the Greek,

and medieval poets.


represented,

With them we

love

sometimes as a pleas-

ant, a sensual strife, or as a furious blind passion, fearless

of death, or as a spiritual cult of

lofty

and superhuman beauty.

Sometimes

inits

deed, as in

the comedy of Menander and

long suite of descendants and posterity


the Latins and the Italians,
it

among

gives rise to a

general and rather cold psychological simplification, in

which love

is

not

found

to

differ

much from any other passion or


as

desire,

such

avarice,

courage or greed.
it

In the

form

we have mode of
tic

described,

belongs entirely to the

feeling of the Renaissance, to one of


Vv^hich

those attitudes

the antiascetic and realis-

view of human
in a

affairs

developed and be-

queathed

perfected form to

modern
for

times.

Here we must again note


tween
manner.
Shakespeare

the similarity be-

and

Ariosto,

both

painted the eternal comedy of love in the same

That
ceived;

love
it

is

sincere, yet deceives


itself to

and

is

de-

imagines

be firm and con-

i66
stant,
it

COMEDYOFLOVE
and turns out
to be fragile

and

fleeting;

claims to be founded upon a dispassionate

judgment
guided

of the mind and upon luminous moral choice, whereas, on the contrary, it is
in

an altogether irrational manner by

impressions and fancies, fluctuating with these.

Sometimes, too,

it is

represented as repugnance
it is

and aversion, whereas


traction;
it is

really irresistible at-

content to suppress itself with de-

liberate humbleness before

works and thoughts


on the

that are
first

more

austere, but reappears

occasion,

more vehement, tenacious and

indomitable than ever.


" In his men, as in his

with his

women," says Heine, accustomed grace, when talking of the


is

Shakespearean comedy, " passion

altogether
fatalistic

without that fearful seriousness, that


necessity,

which

it

manifests in the tragedies.

Love does
darts.

in truth

wear

there, as ever, a bandfull

age over his eyes and bears a quiver

of

But these

darts

are

rather

winged

than sharpened to a deadly point, and the little god sometimes stealthily and maliciously peeps Their flames too out, removing the bandage.
rather shine than burn; but they are always
flames,

and

in

the

comedies of Shakespeare,

love always preserves the character of truth."

COMEDYOFLOVE
Of
truth,

167

and for

this reason,

none of these

comedies descends altogether to the level of


farce, not
It,

even those that most nearly approach

Labour Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, nor even The Comedy of Errors, where some element of human truth always
such as Love's
leads us back to the seriousness of art.
less Is there satire there, Intellectual
Still

and angufind there

lar satire, constructor of types, exaggerates In

the Interest of polemic; always

we

suavity

of outline,

the

soft as

veil

of poetry.

Even in the most feeble, men of Verona, we enjoy


tive,

The Two Gentle-

the fresh love scenes,

mingled with the saltatory course of the narrathe

abundant dialogues,

the

misunder-

standings and the verbal witticisms.

Even
which

in

those that are developed in a somewhat mechanical

and

superficial

manner,

we
is

should

now

describe as being a these, there

vivacity, joking, festivity,

and an eloquence so

flowery (for instance in the scene where Biron

defends the rights of youth and of love) that


it

has almost lyrical quality.


In this last

comedy there
and

is

a king

and

his

three gentlemen, who, in order to devote themselves to study


to attain to
to

fame and im-

mortality, have

sworn

one another that they

i68
will

COMEDY OF LOVE
not see a

woman
fail

for three 3^ears.


fall in

All
al-

three of them

of this and

love

most
with

as soon as the Princess of France arrives

her

three

ladies.

These

ladies,

when

they have received the most solemn declarations of love


faithless to

from the four of them, each one himself, punish them in their turn

for their levity by condemning


a

them

to wait for

certain period, before receiving a reply to


offers.

their

the

Italian

setting the
aliers

Thus it was that Angelica, in poems of chivalry, succeeded in hearts of the most obdurate cav-

aflame with love, even of those


discourse.

who
all

held
fol-

severest

She made them

low the queen of


resist.

love,

whom

no mortal could

In the

Taming

of the Shrezv, Petruchio the

male,

who knows what

he wants and wants his

own

ease and comfort, hits immediately upon


is,

the right line of conduct, a line that

however,

altogether spiritual, because based upon psychological knowledge

and

volitional

resolve.

He

espouses the terrible Catherine and reduces

her to lamblike obedience, afraid of her husband, no longer able not only to say, but even
to think, anything save

what he has forced her

COMEDY OF LOVE
to think.

169

Yet who can

tell

that she does not

love him

who

maltreats and tyrannises over

her?
In
Tzvclfth

Night,

vainly sighing for the beautiful

we behold the Duke widow Olivia,


in

and the love that suddenly blossoms

her for

the intermediary sent by the Duke, a

woman

dressed as a man; while the steward Malvolio,


the Puritan, the pedantic Malvolio,
to the
illusion
this case
is

urged on

most

ridiculous acts,

by hope and the


fortune in

of being loved.

Finally,

making the single beloved into two, a man and a woman (in a more modest but identical manner to that in the adventure of Fiordispina with Bradamante and Ricciarall.

detto) brings about a happy ending for

In All's IVell, the Countess of Roussillon,


receives the discovery that

poor Helena, the


is

orphan child of the family doctor,


with her son, with hostility arid
"

in

love

rather with benevolence


reflects:
I

than

Even

so

it

was with me when

was young:
. . .

If we are nature's, By our remembrance

these are ours;

of daj^s foregone,

Such were our

faults

though then

we thought them

none."

I70

COMEDY OF
and of
exile

LOVE'

The amorous
fugitives,

couples of princesses, exiles or

and fugitive gentlemen,

wander about
Like
It,

the forest of Arden, in

As You

alternating

and mingling with the


-nrri;];,

couples of rustic lovers.

Perhaps the best example of thi^'- comedy


of love "
lovers,
is

the fencing of the two unconscious

Beatrice and Benedick, in

Much Ado

About Nothing.

This young couple seek one


swords of biting

another only to measure weapons, to sneer and


to fence, with the fine-pointed
jest

and disdain, they believe themselves to be


disbelieve

antipathetic,

one another; yet the

simplest

little

intrigue of their friends suffices

to reveal each to each as whole-heartedly lov-

ing and desiring the adversary.


the two
is

The
find

union of

sealed,

when they

themselves

united in the same sentiment to defend their


friend,

who has been calumniated and


strife,

rejected,

thus discovering that their perpetual following

of one another to engage in

had not
affinity

concealed the struggle, which implies


of sex, but the spiritual
hearts.
Benedick.
of
affinity

of two generous

And,

pray thee now,


first

tell

me
in

for

which

my
. .

bad faults didst thou


.

fall

love with

me?

COMEDY OF LOVE
And
"Suffer
I

171

the other, speaking with tenderness and

ceasing to carry on the pinpricking:


love,

good epithet!
I

do suffer love indeed, for

love thee against

my

will."

hght touch permeates the treatment of

these characters

and
act.

suffices

to animate

them
are

and make them


tragic situations,

The dramatic
at

or indeed
arise,

which

times

treated as

it

were with the implied consciousthe appre-

ness of their slight gravity and danger, which


shall

soon be evident and dispel

all

hensions of those

who

doubt.

They some-

times consist of nothing but an external action or occurrence, suited to the theatre, and more
frequently
a

decorative

background.

Paral-

lelism of personages

and symmetry of events


plays,

also

abound

in

these

suitable

to

the

merry teaching that pervades them.

The quintessence of all these comedies (as we may say of Hamlet in respect of the great tragedies) is the Midsummer Night's Dream.
Here
the quick ardours, the inconstancies, the
caprices, the illusions, the delusions, every sort

become embodied and weave a world of their own, as living and as real as
of love
folly,

that of those

who

are visited by these affec-

172
tions,

COMEDYOFLOVE
tormented or rendered
ecstatic, raised
in

on

high or hurled

downward by them,
is

such a

way

that everything
as

equally real or equally


to call
it.

fantastic,

you may please

The

sense of dream, of a dream-reality, persists and

prevents our feeling the chilly sense of allegory


or of apology.

The

little

drama seems born


it

of a smile, so delicate, refined and ethereal


is.

Graceful and delicate to a degree

is

also

the setting of the dream, the celebration of the

wedding of Theseus and Plippolyta and

the theatrical performance of the artisans, for


these are not merely ridiculous in their clumsiness;

they are

also

childlike

and ingenuous,
not laugh at
at

arousing a sort of gay pity:

we do

them: we smile.

Oberon and Titania are

variance owing to reciprocal wrongs, and trouble has arisen in the world.

Puck obeys the


in

command

of Oberon and sets to work, teasing,

punishing and correcting.

But

performing

this duty of punishing and correcting, he too makes mistakes, and the love intrigue becomes more complicated and active. Here we find a

resemblance to the rapid passage into oppostates

site

and the strange complications that

arose in Italian knightly romances, as the result

of drinking the water from one of two

COMEDY OFLOVE
opposite fountains whereof one
filled

173

the heart
first

with amorous desires, the other turned


ardours to
ice.

In Titania,

who embraces

the

Ass's head and raves about him, caressing and

looking upon him as a graceful and gracious


creature, the

comedy
as

creates a symbol so ample


rightly to

and so

efficacious

have become
astonished
at

proverbial.
the effect

Puck meanwhile,

upon men of the


" Lord,

subtle intoxication

that he has been himself distributing, exclaims


in his surprise

what

fools these

morto
is

tals

be!"; and Lysander, one of the madmen


are constantly passing

who

from one love


Its

another,

from one thing

to

opposite,

nevertheless perfectly convinced that


"

The And

will of

man

is

by

his reason

sway'd

reason says you are the ivorthier maid."

Yet the individual


through
this

reality of the figures appears

exquisite version of the

eternal

comedy,

as

though to remind us that they

really belong to life.

Helena follows the man


not love her, like a
it

she loves, but

who does
more

lapdog, which, the


it

is

beaten, the

more

runs round and round

its

master; she trem-

bles at the outbreak of furious jealousy in her


little

friend Hermia,

who

threatens to put out

174

COMEDY OF LOVE
of
it,

her eyes, believing her to be capable

when

she remembers the time

when they were

at school together:
"

O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd! She was a vixen when she went to school

And

though she be but

little

she

is

fierce."

When we

read

Romeo and

Juliet, after the

Dream, we seem not


calls us,

to have left that poetical

environment, to which Mercutio expressly re-

with his fantastic embroidery around


all,

Queen Mab, above


style, the

when we

consider the

rhyming and the general physiognomy


All have inclined to suave

of the

little story.

and gentle speech and metaphor, when speaking


of

Romeo and
with

Juliet.

For Schlegel
of

it

was

scented

" the

perfumes

springtide,

the song of the nightingales, the freshness of


a

newly

budded

rose."

Hegel

too

found

himself face to face with that rose: "sweet


rose in the valley of the world, torn asunder

by
"

the

rude

tempest

and

the

hurricane."

Coleridge too speaks of that sense of spring:

The
its

spring

with

its

odours,

its

flowers

and
it

fleetingness."

All have looked upon


love
its

as

the

poem

of youthful

and have

remarked that the play reaches

acme

in

COMEDY OF LOVE
the

175
at

two love scenes


In

In

the garden

night,

and
in

the departure after the nuptial night,

which some have seen the renovation of


traditional

the

forms

.of

love

poetry,

" the
is

epithalamlum," " the dawn."

This play

not

only closely connected with the

Dream, but

also with the other comedies of love;

Romeo
from
the

passes there with like rapidity, indeed suddenness to the personages of those comedies

love of Rosalind to love of Juliet.


first

At

sight of Juliet he

is

conquered and believes


first

that he then loves for the

time
it,

"Did my
For
I

heart love

till

now?
till

Forswear

sight!

ne'er

saw true beauty

this night."

Saintly Friar Laurence, a mixture of aston-

ishment,

of being

scandalised

and of good

nature, sometimes almost plays there the part

of Puck.

When

he learns

that

Romeo no
he had

longer loves

Rosalind,

about

whom

been so crazy; he says:


" So soon forsaken
!

Young men's

love there

lies

Not

truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

Jesu Maria!

"

When
with

Juliet enters her cell, the friar

remarks
which

admiration her lightsome

tread,

176
will

COMEDY OF LOVE
never wear out the pavement, and
reflects

that a lover "


idles in the
fall;

may
is

bestride the gossamer that


air,

wanton summer
vanity."
is

and yet not


tragedy or

so

light
It

Is

it

comedy? comedy:
children,

another situation of the eternal

the love of two

young people, almost


all

which surmounts

social obstacles,

including the hardest of

all,

family hatred and

party feud, and goes on

Its

way, careless of

these obstacles and as though they

had no imin real-

portance for their hearts, no existence


ity.

And

In

truth those

obstacles

seem

to

yield before their advance,

or

rather

their

winged

flight,

like

soft

clouds.

Certainly,

those obstacles reappear solidly enough later


on, asserting their value

and taking

their re-

venge, so

much

so, that the

young lovers are


goes into
exile.

obliged to separate and

Romeo

But

it

will be only for a little while, for Friar


in

Laurence has promised to interest himself


their affairs, to obtain the

pardon of the Prince,

to reconcile the parents and the other relations,

and

to

obtain sanction for their secret mar-

riage.

And

if

nothing of

all this

happens,

if

the subtle previsions and the acuteness of Friar

Laurence turn out to be

fallacious,

If

se-

quence of misunderstandings makes them lose

COMEDYOFLOVE
their

177
if

way and

take a

wrong
is

turning,

the

two

young lovers perish, it and the sentiment that

the result of chance,

arises

from

it is

one of

compassion, of compassion not divorced from


envy, a sorrow, which, as

lorous reconciliation
in

Hegel said, is " a doand an unhappy beatitude


is

unhappiness."
in a

This too then

tragedy, but
call

tragedy

minor key, what one might

the

tragedy of a comedy.
"

greater

power than we can contradict


intents."

Hath thwarted our

But that power


moral
necessity,

is

not the mysterious power,

something between destiny and providence and


which weighs upon the great
is
it

tragedies;

rather

Chance,
in

which Friar

Laurence hardly succeeds


the words of religion
" So hath willed

dignifying with

it

God."
is

There

is

metaphor which

repeated

in

Kin0 Lear, and which is itself able to reveal the difference between the Romeo, whose life has been two tragedies.
the terrible accents of

spared and
that

who

has been sent into

exile, thinks
is

what has been done for him,


Juliet lives:

torture
is

rather than pardon, because Paradise

only

where

178

COMEDY OF LOVE
"

And

every cat, and dog,

And

little

mouse, every unworthy thing,


in heaven,
!

Live here

and may look on her;

" But Romeo may not

who Is preparing to drink the medicine that may be poisonous, is the shy and timid young girl of Leopardi's Amove e Morte, who
Juliet,

" feels her hair stand on end at the very

name

of death," but when she has fallen in love " dares meditate at length on steel and on
poison."

The very

sepulchral cave shines, and

Romeo
that he
to bury
"

after having stabbed Paris at the feet

of Juliet,
is

whom
a

he believes to be dead, feels


in

companion

misfortune and wishes

him

there " In a

triumphant grave."

grave,

no, a lantern, slaughtered youth,


Juliet,

For here lies This vault a

and her beauty makes

feasting presence full of light."

Such words of admiration for love and for the


youthful lovers are found
instance
In
I

In

other poets, for


for

Dante's

words

Beatrice:

"Death,
been
If
in

hold thee very sweet:

Thou must

ever after be a noble thing, since thou hast

my

lady."
In

we

find love
Juliet,

rather piteous guise In


in

Romeo and

comedy reappears

the

COMEDYOFLOVE
cause

179

wise Portia, bound to the promise of allowing

her fate to be decided by means of a guess, be-

although

she

submits

to

selection

by

chance, she has already chosen in her heart, not

among
are

the dukes and princes of the various

nationalities, indeed of various continents,

who

competing for her hand, but a youthful

Venetian, something between a student and a


soldier, half an adventurer, but courteous

and
to

pleasing
please,

in

address,

who

has
but

contrived

not

only

mistress,

maid,
"

which

shows, in this agreement of feminine choice,

where feminine
troth,
this

taste

really

lies.
is

By

my

Nerissa,

my

little

body

a-weary of
with

great

world" (she
toward
is

sighs,

with gentle co-

quettishness

herself),

perhaps

that languor, which

the desire of loving and

of being loved, the budding of love; weary, as


those amorous souls
feel,

weary,

with an exquisite
is

sensibility.

who vibrate And indeed she

most sensible

to music

and

to the spectacles

of nature; and the music that she hears in the


night causes her to stay and listen to
it
it,

and

seems to her far sweeter than when heard


the

in

daytime.

Nocturnal moonlight gives


is

her the impression of a day that


rather pallid

ailing,

of a

day when the sun

is

hidden.

i8o

COMEDY OF LOVE
is

In the Merchant of Venice, there

also the

couple of Jessica and Lorenzo, those two lovers

who do
nor,

not feel the want of moral idealisa-

tion,

one would be inclined to say, any

solicitude for the esteem of others.


steals

The man
has not

without scruple from the old Jew his


his jewels,

daughter and

and the

girl

even a slight feeling of pity for the father, both


alike

plunged

in

the
is

happy egotism of
unperturbed,

their

pleasure.

Jessica

sustaining

and exchanging epigrams with her husband and


the salacious jesting miliarity

and somewhat insolent


Lancellotto,

fa-

of the

servant
all

though

abandoning herself
attains

the time to ecstasy, a senis

sual ecstasy, for she too

sensible to music

and

by means of

it

to a

melancholy of the

only sort that she

is

capable of experiencing,

namely, the sensual.

There is malice, almost mockery, though tempered with other elements, in the portrayal
of
these
in

loves

of the

daughter of Shylock.

But

those of Troilus and Cressida,

we meet

at once with sarcasm, a bitter sarcasm.

The

same background, the doings of the Trojan


war, which
in

other comedies has the superficial


is

charm of

a decoration,

here also a decora-

COMEDY OF LOVE
tion,

i8i

but treated with sarcasm and bitterness.


fills

Thersites

the part of the cynic


in the relations

among
in

the

Greek warriors,
lus

between TroiTroy.
should be

and Cressida, as does Pandarus


of
the
last

The hastening
noted, the large
the

scenes

amount of
in a

fighting, the tumult:

world

is

dancing as

puppet show, while


is

the story of Troilus and Cressida


its

drawing to
burlesque
great
in re-

close,

amid the imprecations of the nauseand


of
the

ated

Troilus

grotesquely

lamentations
artist of the

Pandarus.

Another

Renaissance comes to mind,

lation to this play: not Ariosto, but Rabelais.

The theme
love, but a

the

still, however, the comedy of is comedy bordering on the faunesque, immoral, the baser instinct, upon lust and

feminine faithlessness.

Pandarus

is

ever the

go-between; he laughs and enjoys himself, for


he
is

an expert at

this sort of business, a batit

tle-stained warrior, as

were, bearing traces


if

of that long amorous warfare,


soul,
in

not

in

his

his

old bones; he

is

the

living

de-

struction of love, of the credulous, sensual cupidity of

man and

of the non-credulous, friv-

olous vanity of

woman.

His too
is

is

the obex-

session of love-making: he

unable to

i82

COMEDYOFLOVE
from
it,

tricate himself
ish

taking an almost devil-

delight in
to

involving those

who have
not
pleases

re-

course

him.

Troilus

does he

displease

Cressida,

on

the

contrary,

her

greatly, yet she fences with him, because she


is

already in

full

possession of feminine wis-

dom and
are
angels,

philosophy.

She knows that


after

women
as

admired,
while
yes,

sighed

and
but

desired

being
all
is

courted,
over.
in

once

they

have said

She knows that

the true pleasure

lies

the doing, in the act

and not
become.

in the fact, in the

becoming, not
in

in the

She knows that


a folly,

yielding,

she

is

committing
is

by breaking the law, which

known to her, but she puts everything she now undertakes upon Pandarus " Well, uncle,
:

what
of

folly I
is

commit,

dedicate to you."

How

different

her union with her lover, to that


Juliet!
in

Romeo and

comic solemnity

the rite

pander uncle and

in the

There is an ironicperformed by the oaths of constancy and

loyalty, which all three of them exchange, while the uncle intones: " Say amen," and the

two
the

reply, "

Amen," and
is

are then pushed into


priest.

nuptial

chamber by the profane


" the

How

different too

dawn,"

their separa-

tion in the

morning!

COMEDY OF LOVE
"

183

But that the busy day,


lark,

Waked by the And dreaming


I

hath raised the ribald crows

night will hide our joys no longer,


thee."

would not from

Whereupon

the

uncle

begins

to

utter

im-

proper epigrams and plays upon words, which


the impatient Cressida repays, by sending
to the devil.

him

Cressida begins the new intrigue


is

with Diomede, as soon as she


with him alone,
in spite

face to face

of this scene and the


it.

numerous oaths that preceded and followed


She
is

perfectly aware that she

is

betraying

her love for Troilus and that she has no excuse for doing so.
gift of Troilus
it

She gives to Diomede the


to

and when he asks her

whom

belongs, she replies


"

'Twas one that lov'd me better than you But now you have it, take it."
find consciousness of

will,

Here we

her

own femas a natu-

inine levity, looked

upon not merely


it,

ral force dragging her after


right, as the exercise

but almost as a

of a mission or vocation.
be
sentimental,
as

Cressida

can

even

she

abandons herself

to another!

" Troilus farewell, one eye yet looks

on thee

But with my heart

Ah! poor our

sex!

the other eye doth see. "

i84

COMEDY OF LOVE
is

Troilus

meanwhile indignant, not from

sense of injured morality, for that sort of love

does not admit of such a thing: he


masculine jealousy.
. .
.

is

mad
all,

with

"Was
.

Cressida here?"
at

and further on: "Nothing


.

unless

that they were she

,"

The

figures

of

Ferdinand

and

Miranda
all

bring us back to love, youthful and pure,

the
the

more pure, because


island.

it

reveals

itself,

not
in a

in

midst of a great court or

city,

but

desert
ship-

The young man comes


off
it

there

wrecked, cut
his,

from the world that once was


Yet her love
is

born as

were anew; the maiden has been


awakthe beautiful phrase of
so fond of

brought up
ened at

in solitude.

first

sight,

in

Marlowe, which Shakespeare was


quoting:
first

"Who

ever loved that loved not at

sight? "

It is love,

law of beings as of

things,

which returns eternally new and fresh

as the dawn,

making

his

Goddess appear

to

the youth, her

God

to the maiden, each to each

as beings without their equal

upon earth:
"
I

might

call

him

A
I

thing divine, for nothing natural


ever saw so noble."
"

Most

sure, the goddess,

On whom

these airs attend," says Ferdinand.

ROMANCE
The
are

185

choice

Is

soon made,

firm, resolute
tells

and de-

termined.

When
in

Prospero

her that there

men

the world,

the youth she admires

compared with whom, would seem a monster,

Miranda

replies:
"

My

affections
I

Are then most humble;

have no ambition

To

see a goodlier

man."

All noble things that can be imagined sur-

round and elevate their loves: misfortune, compassion, chaste desire, virginal respect.
things,

These
world's

though

infinitely

repeated

in the

history seem new, as the two live through them, " surprised withal," surprised and rav-

ished at the mystery, which in

them

is

cele-

brated once more.

The Longing For Romance


Another motive, related
to

the preceding,

may
but

be described as the longing for romance,


this expression

must be taken with

all

due

limitations.

Amorous damsels don


line attire, in

the travesty of mascu-

order to follow their faithless or

cruel lovers, to escape persecution, or to per-

i86

ROMANCE

form wondrous deeds; brothers, or brothers and sisters, who resemble one another, are taken for one another, and thus form a centre
for the most curious adventures; with like objects
in

view, princes travesty themselves as


in forests
chil-

shepherds; gentlemen are discovered

with bandits and are themselves bandits;

dren of royal blood, ignorant of their origin,


live like

peasants, yet are

moved by

inclina-

tions,

which make them impatient of their

quiet,

humble

lives,

urging them on to great

adventures; sovereigns move, disguised and un-

known, among
free

their subjects, listening to the

speech

around them and observant of


rustic

everything;

or

city

maidens

become

queens and countesses, or are discovered to be


of royal stock; brothers,

come reconciled; those


having
been

who are enemies, bewho are innocent and


accused

wrongfully

and

con-

demned, are believed to have died or been put


to death, survive, to reappear at the right

mo-

ment, thus gratifying the long-cherished hopes


of those

who had
rules

once believed them guilty


their loss.

and had mourned


Strange

and compacts are imposed,


to,

strange understandings come

such as the

winning of husband or wife upon the solution

ROMANCE
object; then there
a
Is

187

of an enigma, or upon the discovery of some


the bet as to the virtue of
a trick

woman, won with

by the punster or

by the perfidious accuser; the betrothed or unwining husband,


stitution of
finally

obtained by the sub-

another person; there are miracudreams,

lous

events,

magical
.
.

arts,

work of

spirits

of earth and sky

Men
from

and

women
from a
life.

are tossed
est

from land

to sea,

city to for-

and

desert,

from court

to country,

civil

and cultured,

to a rustic

and simple

These
in

latter situations are peculiar to

romance

the

form of the

idyll,

which This

is

really the
it

most romantic of romanticisms, though

may

seem
even

to be the opposite.

is

so true that

Don

Quixote,

when he saw

the

way

closed

for the time being to the performance of chiv-

alrous feats of knight errantry, thought of retiring to

the country, there to pasture herds

and

to pipe songs to the beloved, in the

com-

pany of Sancho Panza.


Several of Shakespeare's plays derive both
plot

persons,

and material from suchlike things and as for instance, As You Like It,

Twelfth Night, All's Well That Ends Well,


Cymheline, The Winter's Tale, Pericles, The

Two Gentlemen

of Verona,

Much Ado About

i88

ROMANCE
The Merchant
of Venice,

Nothing,

Measure
to be

for Measure.

These plays may be said


in a

altogether or in part, of literary origin, or sug-

gested by books,
in

sense different

from that

which Shakespeare treated the other plays,

where, although not bookish, he gathered his

raw materials from the English chroniclers, from ancient historians, or Italian novelists, breathing upon it a new spirit and thus making of it something altogether new to the world. Here on the other hand, he found the spirit itself,

the general sentiment, in the literature of


Italy

his time.

had worked upon the ancient


ro-

poetry of Greece and Rome, upon Hellenistic

and Byzantine romances, upon mediaeval

mances, upon poems and plays, novels and comedies, and with Italy was also Spain, whose Amadigi and Diane were known throughout

Europe.
of
his

The

genesis

of

these

themes
is

and
be

attraction

towards
rather in

them,
the

to

sought,
in

therefore,

times than
this

Shakespeare himself, and for

reason

we shall not delay our how the play of sentiment


the idyllic
life

progress,

to

show
to

within
in

made dear

him that wandering away


and
artifice,

imagination to

of the country, far from

pomp

the deceits and the delusions of

ROMANCE
courts; though this idyllic life itself
its

i8g

became

in

turn refined and


It is

artificial at his

hand, a pas-

toral theme.
all

important to note, too, that

the above-mentioned material of situations

and adventures had already been fashioned and


arranged for the theatre,
in

the course of the

second half of the century.


cially

This was espeThis

due to the Italian theatre of improvisait

tion or of " art," as

was

called.

lit-

erature, so often of a
inative kind, has

most romantic and imaglittle

had but

attention at the

hand

of

investigators

into

Shakespeare's

sources of inspiration.

Both material derived from books and literary inspiration combine to throw light upon certain of Shakespeare's works, which have
given great trouble to the historians of his
It is quite
art.

natural that writers should

draw

upon what they have done before and should


execute variations upon
it,

particularly in their

earlier years, but also later in the course of their


lives,

when they have


of
their
this,

afforded

far

greater

proofs

capacity.

Shakespeare

was

no exception to

any more than the great

contemporary poet of
y Sigismunda.

Don

Quixote,

who was
as

also the author of th^ Galatea

and of Persiles

The Comedy of Errors,

we

I90

ROMANCE
a

know, consists of

motive from Plautus,

re-

peated and rearranged innumerable times by


the dramatists of the Renaissance.

In treatit

ing this theme, Shakespeare rendered

on the

one hand yet more


he endowed
it

artificial,

while on the other,

with a more marked tendency

towards the romantic, and notwithstanding the


frivolity

and

frigidity

of misunderstandings

arising

from

identity of appearance, he yet re-

vived them here and there according to his

wont with

a touch of the reality of life.

The

Menecmi, or of very close resemblance, pleased him so much that he introintrigue of the

duced

it

in

Twelfth Night, where the pair are


This variation was
in his
it

of different sex.

first

em-

ployed by Cardinal Bibbiena


but the Cardinal
lubricity

Calandria,

made

use of

to increase the

of
it

the
a

intrigue,

while

Shakespeare

drew from
inspiration.

theme for most graceful poetic


think that the tragic theme of

One would
like to say

Titus Andronicus

(which many

critics

would

was not by Shakespeare, but dare


lit-

not, because here the proofs of authenticity are

very strong), was also born of a love for

erary models, for the tragedy of horrors, so

common

in

Italy in those days of the Canaci

ROMANCE

191

and the Orbecchi, which were rather imitations


of Seneca than of Sophocles and Euripides, and

had already inspired plays

to the predecessors

of Shakespeare, with slaughter for their theme.

What more
The

natural

then,

than

that
this

Shake-

speare as a young

man
is

should strike

note?

splendid eloquence with which he adorned

the horrible tale

Shakespearean.

His two poems, Venus and Adonis and The

Rape
same

of Lucrece, are to be attributed to this


literary
taste

for

favorite

models.

These poems received much praise from contemporaries, but are so far from the " greater
Shakespeare," that they might almost appear
not to be
his,

always, that

is

to say,

if

the

greater Shakespeare be turned into a rigidly


historical

and conventional personage.


is

Their

literary origin

evident, not only to those

who

know

well the English literature of the period

of the Renaissance

posing

(when Marlowe was comHero and Leander) but yet more to


,

those versed in the Italian literature of the

same period, where the themes of the two little poems were in great favour. As regards the first of these, Giambattista Marino, who was
destined to expand
it

into a long
at

and celebrated
Shake-

poem, was already born

Naples.

192

ROMANCE
voluptuous
oc-

speare here flaunts his virtuosity like our Italian

composers of melodious and

taves, revelling in a wealth of flowery

image

phrase, in his abundant, rhetorical capacity and


in a

formal beauty which contains something of


Sonnets are also

aesthetic voluptuousness.

The
to

based

upon

Italian

models, where

we

find exhortations

addressed

admired youth

set

upon

a pinnacle, similar

to those that passed between


is.

Venus and Adon-

The
lyric

beautiful youth,

posing as Adonis,

and treated like him, became very


our

common

in

poetry of the time of Marino,

in the

seventeenth century, as were also love sonnets

addressed to ladies, possessing some peculiar


characteristic, such as red hair or a

dark comor un-

plexion, or even something

different

familiar in their beauty, such as too lofty or

too diminutive a stature.

Notwithstanding
a poet, because he

this literary

tendency

in his

inspiration, Shakespeare does not cease to be


is

never altogether able to

separate himself from himself, everywhere he


infuses his

own thoughts and modes of


peculiar
to
soul, so delicate

feeling,

those

harmonies,

himself,

those

movements of the
found.

and so pro-

This has endowed the Sonnets with

ROMANCE
the aspect of a biographical mystery, of a

193

poem

containing some hidden moral and philosophical sense.

When we

read verses such as these


full as

The
As

canker-blooms have

deep a dye

the perfumed tincture of the roses,

Hang on

such thorns, and play as wantonly


their
is

When
They
Die

summer's breath
live

masked buds

discloses.

But, for their virtue only

their show.

to themselves.

unwoo'd and unrespected fade; Sweet roses do not so;


made.
.

Of

their sweet deaths are sweetest odours

we

feel the

commonplace of

literature, revived
in the

with lyric emotion.


their pensiveness,
their

Note too
psychological

Sonnets
tone,
ih

their exquisite

moral

wealth

of

allusions,

which we often recognise the poet of the great


plays.

Sometimes there echoes

in

them that

malediction of the chains of pleasure, which


will

afterwards
\- at

patra

others

become Anthony and Cleowe hear Hamlet, tormented

and perplexed; yet more often we catch glimpses of reality as


reality, as in the

appearance and appearance as

Dream

or the Tempest.

The

truth
into
1

is

that the soul of Shakespeare, poured


fixed

and therefore inadequate mould,


CXXIX: "The
expense of
spirit in

See Sonnet

waste

of shame."

194
his
lyrical

ROMANCE
Impulse confined to the epigram-

matic, cause the poetry to flow together there,

but deny to
ing.

it

complete expansion and unfold-

To
death

note but one example, the celebrated

sonnet
ful

LXVI
I

("Tired with
is

all

these for rest-

cry "),

in the

manner of Hamlet,
in

but developed analytically, by means of enu-

merations and parallelisms, and


to literary usage,

obedience

and

Is

obliged to terminate on

the cadence of a madrigal. In the last


couplet.

rhymed

The

soft, flexible verse


Is

of the early

Venus and Adonis


and

also free of

Marino's cold

Ingenuity, of his external sonority


is

and melody,

inspired rather with a sense of volup-

tuousness, a grace, an elegance, which recall at

times the stanzas of Politian:

The

night of sorrow
blue

now

is

turned to day;

Her two
Like the

windows

faintly she upheaveth,

fair sun,

when

in his fresh

array

He

cheers the morn, and all the earth relieveth:

And
So
is

as the bright

sun

glorifies the sky,

her face illumined with her eye.


Is

In Shakespeare

nothing of the cold literary

exercise; he takes a vivid interest even in the

play of fancy. In the bringing about of marvellous coincidences,

of unexpected meetings, in
Idyllic.

the romantic and the

He

loves

all

ROMANCE
these things, composing

195
his

them for

own

en-

joyment and fondling them with the magic of


his
style.

He

cannot of course

make them

what they are

not, he cannot change their in-

timate qualities into something different from

what they are he cannot destroy their externality, since they came to him from without. What he can and does put into them is above
;

all

their

attractiveness

as

images.
find

For
is

this

reason, the poetry that


sity rather superficial

we

here

of neces-

and tenuous, far more so

than the poetry of the love dramas, where his

powers have
reflexion
tions.

wider scope for observation, for


affec-

and for meditation upon human

What
tions

has been said above as to the invenfables,

and

which serve as a decorative

background to certain of the comedies of love,


is

also applicable to these romantic


in

and

idyllic

plays,

which
first

the

decorative

background

takes the

place and becomes the principal


rest,
it

theme.

For the

goes without saying

that the plots or decorations referred to are


also to be included (as has been done) in the

present argument, because

it

turns

upon the
distinct.

different motives of Shakespeare's poetry, not

upon the works that are materially

196

ROMANCE

where several motives usually meet and are sometimes so very loosely connected, as to form
no more intimate
a unity

than the rather capri-

cious one, of general tone.

sense

of unreality

is

therefore diffused

upon the romantic


play of fancy,

plays,

not of

falsity,

but

just of unreality, such as

we

experience in the
tale,

when we
it

recount a fairy

well aware that

is

a fairy tale, yet greatly

enjoying the passage to and fro before us of


the prince, the beauty, the ogre and the fairy.

proof of

this is to

be found

in the

summary

treatment of the characters and the turningpoints or crises of the action, the easy pardon-

ing and

making of peace, and

the bizarre ex-

pedients adopted to bring the intrigue to an


end.

Instances of the second sort are the ad-

venture of the lion in the Forest of Arden


the reconciliation of the
in

As You Like

It,

the

two enemy brothers dream of Posthumus in

Cymbeline, the advent of the bear and the shipwreck, in the Winter's Tale, and the like.
as regards
find a

summary treatment, more off-hand lago than


as

And where could we


the Hyacinth

of Cymbeline, guilty of the most audacious

and perverse betrayals,


yet later on,

though by chance,
is

when he

confesses his sins, he

ROMANCE
forgiven and starts again, so far as
a

197

we

can see,

gentleman and perfect knight.

We

do not

speak of Posthumus, of Cloten, of King Cymbeline

and of so many personages


all

in this

and
turn

others of the romantic plays.

The wicked

out to be
their

more harmless, the greater wickedness; the good are good nunc et
the
at the beginning of the play; the

semper, without intermission, exactly as intro-

duced

most

desperate situations, the most terrible passes,


are speedily and completely overcome, or one

foresees

that they will be overcome.

Here

romance

has no intention whatever of ending


in

unhappily or

pensive sadness;

it

wishes to

stimulate the imagination, but at the same time


to keep
tented.
it

agile

and happy and

to leave

it

con-

Indeed, in those rare cases

when we
which

do meet with painful or


are not easily

terrible motives,

overcome

in the course of the

imaginative development of the work,


sensible of being slightly jarred,

we
is

are
per-

and

this

haps the reason for that " displeasure," which


such
fine

judges as Coleridge note

in

Measure
splendid

for Measure, so
does

rich, nevertheless, in

passages, worthy of Shakespeare.


this

Not only

comedy verge upon tragedy, but here and there it becomes immersed In It, vainly

i9^

ROMANCE
like a fairy story,

attempting to return to the light romantic vein

and end

with everyone happy.


to the imagina-

Another element which adds


tive unreality

and the gay lightsomeness of the


Is

romantic dramas,
the burlesque

to be

found

In the

clown,
in
all

Incidents,

which abound

of

them:

Malvollo

and
in

Uncle
All's

Toby

in

Twelfth Night, Parolles

Well, the

watch

in

Much Ado and

so on.

Certain per-

sonages also,

who might seem

to be characters,

such as the melancholy Jacques in

As You Like

It or Autolycus In the JVinter's Tale, are treated

rather as character studies.

These comedies
tricate

excel in the

weaving of

in-

Incidents,

they are replete with grace

and winsomeness, melodious with songs inspired

by

idyllic

themes.

They
Is

are far superior in

emotional quality, as
pastoral
Italy

the rustic, woodland,


to

poetry of Shakespeare,

that

of

and of Spain, not only to the Pastor Fido,

but also to the Afninta, because Shakespeare


succeeds in grafting his gay and gentle heart

upon

his

artificial

and conventional models.

Take

for instance in

As You Like

It the scenes

in the third act,

between Rosalind and Cella,

Rosalind and Orlando, Corin and Touchstone,

ROMANCE
and
In In general, the

199

whole

life

led by the

young

men and maidens,


air

the shepherds and gentlemen,

that idyllic Forest of

Arden; or the open

banquet, in the Winter's Tale, at which the

king surprises his son on the point of marrying


Perdlta
;

or in CymbeUne, Hyacinth's contem-

plation of the chaste and tender beauty of the

sleeping Imogen; and in the same play,


scenes

all

the

among

the mountains between Bellario

and the two refugee sons of the king, Guiderlo

and Arviragus.

They correspond

to that

most beautiful

ut-

terance In exquisite verse of Tasso's

Hermione

Among
back

the

Shepherds.

His thoughts come

in such lines as the following:


"

O,

this life

Is

nobler than attending for a check,

Richer than doing nothing for a bribe,

Prouder than rustling

in

unpaid for

silk:
fine.
.

Such gain the cap of him that makes 'em

."

or

Come, our stomachs Will make what's homely savoury: weariness Can snore upon the flint, when rusty sloth
Finds the

"

down

pillow hard.

Now,

peace be here,

Poor house that keepest thyself!"

200

PRACTICAL ACTION
rise

But Shakespeare can


jnost tender of songs

yet higher, to that

by the two brothers over

Imogene,

whom

they believe to be dead.

Shakespeare's Interest in Practical

Action

The
as

third

conspicuous

aspect

of

Shake-

speare's genius corresponds to

what are known


Only
here

the

" historical

plays."

and

there do
the

we

find a critic

who

takes them to be

loftiest

form of Shakespearean poetry,

while the majority on the other hand hold them


to

be merely a preparatory form for other

poetry, and the general view

(always worthy

consideration)
less intense

is

that they are less

happy or

than the " great tragedies."


of them that they represent

It is also said

the period of the " historical education,"

which

Shakespeare undertook, with a view to acquiring a full sense of real


life

and the capacity for


has defined them

drawing personages and situations with firmness of outline.

One

critic

as a series of " studies," studies of " heads,"

of " physiognomies," of " movements," taken

from

historical life or reality, in order to

form

PRACTICAL ACTION

201

the eye and the hand, something like the sketch-

books and collections of designs of a future


great painter.

The
in

defect of such critical explanations

lies

continuing to conceive of the artistic process

as

something mechanical, and the unrecognised

but understood presumption of some sort of


" imitation of nature."

Had Shakespeare intended to educate himself " historically," by


admitting,
that
to

writing the historical plays, (assuming, but not

run through the English


lives,

chronicles,

and even Plutarch's


his

can be

called historical education), he

veloped and formed

would have dehistorical thought and

become a thinker and a critic, he would not have conceived and realised the scenes and personages of the plays.

Neither Shakespeare nor

any other

artist

can ever attempt to reproduce

external nature or history turned into external


reality

(since they
in the

do not
do

exist in
first

a concrete

form) even
recognise

period of
is

attempts and

studies; all he can


his

to try to

produce and
give
it

own

sentiment and to

form.

We

are thus always brought back and

confined to the study of sentiment, or, as in the

present case, to the sentiment which inspired

what are known

as the historical plays.

202

PRACTICAL ACTION
these are to be

Among

that deal with English history,

numbered all those The Life and


II,

Death of King John, Richard

Henry IV

VI, and Richard III, setting aside for cer-

tain reasons

Henry VIII, but


are
also

including

among

the plays

from Roman history (or from Pluthey


called),

tarch

as

Coriolanus,

while Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra


are connected with the great tragedies.
historical quality of the material, in like

The
man-

ner, with every other material determination,


is

not conclusive as to the quality of the poetic


is

works, and
in the

therefore not independently valid


critic,

estimation of the

as a criterion for

separation or conjunction.

reconsideration

of the plays mentioned above and their prominent characteristics, does not lead to accepting them as a kind of " dramatised epic," or as
"

works which stand half way between


(Schlegel,

epic

and drama"
there
is

Coleridge), not that

any

difficulty in the

appearance of epic

quality in
just

the form of

theatrical dialogue, but


is

because epic quality


It

absent

in

those

dramas.

epic quality appearing in an episodic

would indeed be strange to see manner in means


feeling for

an author, during the period of youth alone.


Epiclty, in fact,

human

strug-

PRACTICAL ACTION
gles,

203

but for

human

struggles

lit

with the light

of an aspiration and an ideal, such as one's

own
like,

people, one's

own

religious faith

and the

and therefore containing the antitheses


side finally victorious, because pro-

of friends and foes, of heroes on both sides,

some on the
tected by
is

God

or justice, others upon that which


subjected, or destroyed.

to be discomfited,

Now
is

Shakespeare, as has already been said and


is

universally recognized,

not

-a

partisan; he

marches under no
he
is

political or religious banner,

not the poet of particular practical ideals,


est

non

de hoc mundo, because he always goes

beyond, to the universal man, to the cosmic


problem.

Commentators have,
extract
ideals

it

is

true,

laboured to

from these and others of his plays, the which they suppose him to have culticoncerning the perfect king, the inde-

vated,

pendence and greatness of England, the aristocracy,

which

in their

judgment was the main-

stay and glory of his country.

They have
of
" Achilles

dis-

covered his Achilles


" Achilles
in

(in

the double

form of
at

Sciro "

and

Troy

") in Prince Henry, and his pius Aeneas,

in the same prince become Henjy V, who, grown conscious of his new duties, resolutely

204

PRACTICAL ACTION
definitely severs himself, not

and

from

a Dido,

but from a Falstaff.


paladins
In

They have

discovered his
of the

the great representatives

English aristocracy, and as reflected

in the

Ro-

man

aristocracy, by a Corlolanus,

and on the

other hand the class which he suspected and despised,


in

the

populace and plebeians of

all

time,

whether of those that surrounded Men-

enius

Agrippa or who created tumult for and

against Julius Caesar in the Forum, or those

others
as

who bestowed upon Jack Cade


it

a fortune

evanescent as

was sudden.

Finally, his
his people,

Trojans or Rutulians, enemies of


are supposed by the epic ideal
sistency in the

them

to be the French.
real force

But

if

had possessed

and con-

mind of Shakespeare, we should


interpreters
it.

not have
track
It

needed industrious

to

down and demonstrate


It Is

On

the

other hand.

clear that the author of

VI,

in

treating as he did Talbot and the

Henry Maid
in his

of Orleans, and the author of Henry


illustration of the struggles

between the Eng-

Hsh and the French and the victory of Agincourt, restricted himself to adopting the popular

and traditional English view, without


ing that with his spiritual
self,

identifyIt

or taxing

as

PRACTICAL ACTION
his guide to the conception

205

of the English and

Roman plays. Nor is there any value


effect

in

another view, to the

that Shakespeare in these plays set the


after-

example and paved the way for what was

wards called

historical

and romantic drama.


political, social

Had

he sought this end, he would not only

have required some sort of


sense of

and

religious ideal, but also historical reflection, the

what distinguishes and gives character


and also

to past times in respect to present,

that nostalgia for the past, which both Shake-

speare and the Italian and English Renaissance

were altogether without.

About twp

centuries

had

to

elapse before

an imitator of Shakehis external

speare, or rather of

some of
in

forms
the

and methods, arose,


von
Berlichingen.

the

composer of Goetz
assimilated
affection

He

had
and

new
first

historical curiosity

for the

rude and powerful past, and there provided the

model of what was soon afterwards


by Walter
Scott.

dees-

veloped as historical romance and drama,


pecially

Whoever

tries to discover the internal stim-

ulus, the constructive idea,

the lyrical motive,

which led Shakespeare to convert the Chronicles

of Holinshed and the Lives of Plutarch into

2o6

PRACTICAL ACTION
and nostalgia for the past have been
ex-

dramatic form, when his possession of the epic


ideal

cluded, finds nothing save an interest in and an


affection for practical achievement, for action

attentively followed, in
ity,

its

cunning and audacit

in the obstacles that

meets, in the dis-

comfitures, the triumphs, the various attitudes

of the different temperaments and characters

of men.

This

interest, finding its

most

suitable

material in political and warlike

conflicts,

was
es-

naturally attracted to history and to that


pecial

form of

it,

which was nearest to the soul


his

and to the culture of the poet of


of his time, English and

people and

Roman
was

history.

This

material had already been brought to the theatre by other writers and
in this

way

intro-

duced to the attention and used by the new


poet.

psychological origin of this sort ex-

plains the vigour of the representations, which

Shakespeare derived from history, incomprehensible,

maintain, he had simply set himself to cultivate, a " style " that
if

as

philologists

was demanded
chronicle
plays,

in

the

theatre and
set

known

as

or

had there

himself a

merely technical
dexterity.

task,

with a view to attaining

That psychological

interest, too, in so far as

PRACTICAL ACTION
separated from a supreme end or wards which actions tend, or rather
as
it

207
to-

ideal,

in so far

remains uncertain and vague

in this

re-

spect, limiting itself to questions of loss or gain,

of success or failure, of living or dying,


a
qualitative,

is

not

but a formal interest.

It

can

also be called political, if you will, but political


in the in

sense of Machiavelli and the Renaissance,

so far as politics are considered for them-

selves,

and therefore only formally.

Hence

the impression caused by the historical plays of Shakespeare, of being now " a gallery of portraits,"

now

" a series of personal experiences,"


is

which the poet


imagination.
It
is

supposed to have achieved in

certain that their richness, their bril-

liancy, their attraction, lie in the

emotional rep-

resentation of practical activity.

Bolingbroke

ascends the throne, by the adoption of violent

and tortuous means, knowing when


himself and
to his son

to

withdraw

when to dare. Later he recounts how artfully he composed and mainattitude,

tained the

which caused him to be


humility and humanity,

looked upon with sympathy and reverence by


the

people,

affecting

but preserving at the same time the element of


the marvellous, so that his presence, like a robe

2o8

PRACTICAL ACTION
was
ne'er

pontifical,

seen

but

wondered

at.

He

causes the blood of the deposed king to be

shed, while protesting after the deed his great


grief that blood should sprinkle

me

to

make me
is

grow, and promising to undertake a voyage of


expiation to the
falling

Holy Land.
II,

Facing him
in

the

monarch, Richard

whose breast

consciousness of his

own
the

sacred character as

legitimate sovereign and of the inviolable dignity

attached

to

it,

sense

of

being

to

blame, of pride humiliated, of resignation to


destiny or divine decree, of bitterness, of sar-

casm towards himself and towards others,


ceed,

suc-

alternate

and combat one another,

swarm of writhing
focated passions.

sentiments, an agony of suf-

"

O,

that I were as great

As

is

my

grief, or lesser
I

than

my name!
I

Or Or

that

could forget what


I

have been!

not remember what


thou,
.

must be now!
I'll

Swell'st

proud heart?
."

give thee scope to

beat.

Elsewhere we

find the

same Inexorable con-

queror, Bolingbroke, as

Henry IV, triumphant

on several occasions against different enemies,

now

infirm

and approaching death, raving from

lack of sleep, and envying the meanest of his sub-

PRACTICAL ACTION
jects,

209

blindly groping In the vain


effort, as

shadows of

human
and

once his conquered predecessor,

filled

with terror, as he views the whole ex-

tent of the universe and the


" Revolution of the times

Make mountains level, and the continent, Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
Into the sea!
. .
.

And changes With divers The happiest

fill

the cup of alteration

liquors!

O,

if

this

were

seen,

youth,
past,

viewing
sit

his progress

through

What perils Would shut

what

crosses to ensue,

the book and

him down and

die."

And
is

hearing of some friends becoming

es-

tranged and of others changing into enemies, he

no longer indignant nor astonished:

"Are these things then Then let us meet them

necessities?
as necessities."

Henry
arates

meditates upon the singular condi-

tion of kings,

upon

their majesty,

which sep-

them from all other men and by thus elevating, loads them with a weight equal to
that

which

all

men

together have to carry,


to

while
others,

taking

from them the joys given

and depriving them of hearing the truth

or of obtaining justice.

2IO

PRACTICAL ACTION
feels himself to be

He
those

more than
in his

a king in

moments when he

tears off his

own
are

kingly
reality

mask and mirrors himself


as

naked

man.
he

Facing the enemies


field

who
the

drawn

up on the
him,

of battle and ready to attack


to

murmurs

himself

profound

words
" Besides they are our natural consciences,

And

preachers to us

all

admonishing

That we should

dress us fairly for our end."

Death reigns above

all else in

these dramas,

death, which brings every great effort to an


end, all torment of burning passion
tion, all

and ambiis

rage of barbarous crimes, and

there-

fore received as a lofty and severe matron; in

her presence, countenances are composed, however ardently she has been withstood, however
loudly the brave show of
life
all

has been affirmed.


or nearly
all

Death

is

received thus by

the

men

in

Shakespeare, by the tortured and elegiac


II,

Richard

by the great sinner

Suffolk,

by the

diabolic Richard III,

down

to the other lesser

victims of fate.

The

vileness of the vile, the

rascality of rascals, the brutal stupidity of ac-

claiming or imprecating crowds, are

felt

and

represented with equal intensity, without once

PRACTICAL ACTION
permitting anything of the struggle of
escape, so vast in
its

211
life to

variety.

The personages

of these plays arise like


is

three-dimensional statues, that

to say they

are treated with full reality, and thus form a


perfect antithesis to the figures of the romantic

plays.

These

are

superficial

portraits,

vivid, but light

and vanishing

into air; they are

rather types than individuals.

This does not

imply a judgment of greater or lesser value or


a difference in the art of portraying the true;
it

only expresses in other words and formulas

the different sentiment that animates the


different

groups of

artistic creations,

two that which


Hotspur,

springs

from delight
in

in the

romantic and that

due to interest
introduced

human

action.

upon the scene of the romantic


like a statue

dramas, would break through them

of bronze placed upon a fragile flooring of

boards and painted canvas.


impatient, exuberant;
his

He

is

the true

" formal " hero, volitional, inrushing, disdainful,

we walk round him,


his

admiring
strength,

lofty

stature,

muscular
is

his

potent gestures.

He

like

splendid bow,
tight

with
the

its

mighty string drawn


but wherefore or
tell.

to
it

hurl

missile,

whither

will strike,

we cannot

He

is all

212

PRACTICAL ACTION
and
satire
Is

rebellion and battle, yet his wit

worthy of an artist; he loves, too, with a pure


tenderness.

But wit and

satire

and the words

of love, alike, bear even the imprint and are

hastened by impetuosity, as of a
in

man engaged
battle that

conversation between one combat and anstill

other,
is is

joyful and hot

from the

over, already hot and joyful for that which


to begin.

"

Away, away, you

trifler,"

he

says to his wife, "

you that are thinking of love.

Love
I

love thee not,


is

care not for thee, Kate: this

no world
with
lips:

To

play with meinraets and to

tilt

We

must have bloody noses and cracked crowns,


horse!

And pass them current too. Gods me, my What say'st thou, Kate? What would'st
with me?
"

thou have

His
ically),

parallel (perhaps slightly inferior artistis

the

Roman

Coriolanus, as brave, as

violent and as disdainful as he, a despiser of

the people and of the people's praise; he too

rushes over the precipice to death and a " formal " hero, because his bravery

is
is

also

not

founded upon love of country, or upon

a faith

or ideal of any kind, one might almost say that

was without object or that its object was itself. Nor, on the other hand, is Coriolanus
it

PRACTICAL ACTION
a superman, in the sense suggested by the

213

works

of some of the predecessors and contemporaries


of Shakespeare.

He

is

not less tenderly desilent

monstrative towards his mother or his


wife

{" iny gracious silence")^ than

is

Hot-

spur to Kate, or when, yielding to a woman's


prayers, he stays the course of his triumphant

vengeance.

It

would be tedious

to record all

the personages of indomitable

power that we
King John, and
artisin-

meet with

in

these historical dramas, such as

the bastard Faulconbridge, in

most popular of
tically

all,

though not the most


III,

executed, Richard

replete with

iquity,

who

clears

the

way by
pity,

dealing death
dies in the

around himself without


courage,
"

and

midst of combat with that

last cry
!

of desperate

A
!

horse, a horse

My

kingdom
those

for a horse

"

At

their side stand, not less


in relief,

powerfully delineated, and set

queens Constance and Margaret: deprived of


their

power and

full

of maledictions, terrible

in their fury,

they are either ferocious or shut


in their

themselves up
Constance,

majestic sorrow.
herself

Queen

when

she sees
in

abandoned

by her protectors

the face of her enemies,

who have become

their allies, says, as she lets

herself fall to the ground:

214

PRACTICAL ACTION
;

" Let kings assemble

for

my

grief's so great

That no supporter but the huge firm earth Can hold it up: here I and sorrows sit; Here is my throne: bid kings come bow to it."

This gallery of historical figures

is

most varied;

we

find here not only the vigorous

and proud,
like the

the sorrowful and troubled, but also the noble

and severe,
little

like

Gaunt, the touching,

princes destined to the dagger of the as-

sassins, Prince

Arthur and the sons of Edward

IV,

to those

down to the laughing and the credulous, who defy prejudice to wallow in deJohn
Falstaff
is

bauch.
Sir

the

first

of these latter,

and

it is

important not to misunderstand him, as

certain critics have done, especially

French.
jovial,

among the They have looked upon him as a

comic type, a theatrical buffoon, and

have compared him with the comic theatrical


types of other stages, arriving at the conclusion
that he
is

a less

happy and
and

less successful conis

ception than they, because his comicality


clusively English,
is

ex-

not to be well under-

stood outside England and America.

But we
to inter-

must on the other hand be careful not

pret the character moralistically, as an image of


baseness, darkly coloured with the poet's con-

PRACTICAL ACTION
tempt, as one towards
feeling of disgust.

215

whom

he experienced a

Falstaff could call himself a

" formal " hero in his

own way:

magnificent in

ignoring morality and honour, logical, coherent,

acute and dexterous.

He

is

being

in

whom

the sense of honour has never appeared,

or has been obliterated, but the intellect has

developed and become what alone


come, namely,
is

it

could be-

esprit, or

sharpness of wit.
is

He

without malice, because malice


of moral conscientiousness,

the antithe-

sis

both thesis and antithesis.

and he lacks There is in him,

on the contrary,

a sort of innocence, the result

of the complete liberty of his relation toward


all

restraint

and towards

ethical

law.

His

great body, his old sinner's

flesh, his

complete

experience of taverns and lupanars, of rogues

male and female, complicates without destroying the soul of the boy that
vicious boy, but yet a boy.
is

in

him, a very
this reason,
is

For

he

is

sympathetic, that

is

to say, he

sympa-

thetically felt

and lovingly depicted by the poet.


is

The image
innocence,

of a child, that

to say of childish
to the lips of

comes spontaneously
as

the

hostess,

she

tells

of

how
in

he

died:

"Nay,
bosom,

sure, he's not in hell: he's


if

Arthur's

ever

man went

to Arthur's

bosom.

2i6
'

PRACTICAL ACTION
made
a fine end,

and went away, an


.
.

it

had

been any Christom

child.

."

Shylock the Jew also finds a place


" the Jew,"

in

the hisis

torical gallery, for the very reason that he

Jew,
tion,

indeed,

historical

forma-

and Shakespeare conceives and describes


the characteristics proper to his race
religion,
It

him with
and
cally.

one might almost say, sociologi-

has been asserted that for Shake-

speare and for his public Shylock was a comic

personage, intended to be flouted and laughed


at

by the

pit; but

we do not know what were

the intentions of Shakespeare and as usual they

matter

little,

because Shylock lives and speaks,

himself explaining what he means, without the


aid of commentaries, even such as the author

might possibly have supplied.


out in his desperation
:

Shylock crying

"

My

daughter

my

ducats

."

may have made

laugh the

spectators in the theatre, but that cry of the

wounded and tortured animal does not make


the poetical reader laugh; he forms anything

but a comic conception of that being, trampled

down, poisoned

at heart

and unshakeable

in his

desire for vengeance.

On

the other

hand the

pathetic and biassed interpretations of Shylock


that have been given during the nineteenth cen-

PRACTICAL ACTION
tury, are foreign to the
tion,

217

ingenuousness of a crea-

without a shadow of humanitarianism or

of polemic.
fusing his

What
of his

Shakespeare has created,


experiences in

own impressions and


attentive
is

the

crucible

and thoughtful

humanity,

the Jew, with his firm cleaving to

the law and to the written word, with his hatred


for Christian feeling, with his biblical language,

now

sententious

now

sublime, the

Jew with

his

peculiar attitude of intellect, will and morality.

Yet we are Inclined


in

to ask

why
is

Shylock, seen

the relations in which he

placed

in

the

Merchant of Venice, arouses some doubt in our minds; he would seem to require a background which Is lacking to him there. This background cannot be the romantic story of Portia and the three caskets, or of the tired and melancholy Antonio.

The

reader

Is

not convinced

by the rapid
accepts the

fall

of so great an adversary,

who

conversion to Christianity finally

imposed upon him.


serious

But apart
which we

also

from the

particular mixture of real and Imaginary, of

and

light,

find In the

Mer-

chant of Venice,

It

does not appear that the

characters of the strictly historical plays find


the ideal complement which they should find
in the plays

where they appear.

The

reason

2i8
for this
reliance

PRACTICAL ACTION
is

not to be found in the looseness and

upon chronicles for which they have


since
effect

so often been blamed,

this

is

rather a

consequence or general
attitude

of Shakespeare's
life,

towards the practical

described

above.

This attitude, as we have seen, lacks


is

a definite ideal,

indeed, without passion for


ideals, but
is

any sort of particular


humanity.
centrated,

animated

with sympathy for the varying lots of striving

For

this reason,

it

is

entirely con-

on the

one hand upon character


is

drawing, and on the other

inclined to accept

somewhat
it is all

passively the material furnished by

the chronicles and histories.

On

the one

hand
it

force and impetus, while on the other

lacks idealisation

and condensation.
the

The mar-

velous Hotspur appears in the play, in order


that

he

may

confirm
is

glory of youthful

Prince Hal, that

to say, that he

may

provide

a curious anecdote

of what was or appeared

to be the scapegrace youth of a future sage

sovereign; that

is,

he

is

not fully represented.

Coriolanus runs himself into a blind alley; and

even

if

the poet portrays with historical pene-

tration, the patricians


it

and plebeians of Rome,

would be vain

to seek in the play for the

centre of gravity of his feelings, of his pre-

PRACTICAL ACTION
dilictlons,

219

or of his aspirations, because both

Coriolanus, the tribunes and his adversaries are

looked upon solely as characters, not as parts

and expressions of
Falstaff

sentiment

that

should
Finally,

justify one or other or


Is

both groups.

sacrificed, because, like

Hotspur, he

has been used for the purpose of enhancing


the greatness of the future

Henry V;
from the
part of

for this
first

reason, he declines in prestige


the last scenes of the
first

to

Henry

IV,

not to speak of the

Merry Wives

of Windsor,

where we

find him reduced to being a merely

farcical character, flouted

and thrashed.

And

when

his

former boon companion, Prince Hal,


the throne, answers his advances, fa-

now on

miliar and confidential as In the past, with hard,

cold words,
his

we do

not admire the

new king

for

seriousness,

because

we

are sensible of a
Aesthetically

lack

of

aesthetic

harmony.

speaking, Falstaff did not deserve such treat-

ment, or at least

Henry V, who

inflicts it

upon

him, should not be given the credit of possessing an admirable moral character, which he

does not possess, for


that he
is

it

cannot be maintained
In

a great

man, lofty

heart and mind,

when he shows
stand Falstaff,

us that he has failed to under-

and

to

grant him that indul-

220

PRACTICAL ACTION
is

gence to which he

entitled, after so lengthy a

companionship.

Falstaff's

friends knovv'

that

poor

Sir John, although

he has tried to put a

good

face on his cruel reception


is

by

his

young

friend,

unconsolable

in

the face of this in-

human estrangement,
"

this chill repulse:

The

king hath run bad humours in the knight,


is

His heart

fracted and corroborate."

And

Mistress Quickly, although a


a procuress,

woman

of

bad character and

shows that she

possesses a better heart and a better intellect

than the great king, when she attends the dying


Sir

rative, of
first

John with feminine solicitude. The narwhich we had occasion to quote the
phrase above, continues
in the

following

pitiful strain:

" 'A parted even just between twelve and one,

even at the turning of the tide: for after

saw

him fumble with


there

the

sheets,

flowers and smile upon his

and play with fingers ends, I knew

'

was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and 'a babbled of green fields. How now. Sir John,' quoth I, what, man! be
'

o'

good

cheer.'

So

'a

cried out

'

God, God,
to

God,' three or four times.


him, bid him
'a

Now

I,

comfort
I

should not think of God;

GOODANDEVIL
hoped there was no need
with any such thoughts
yet.
I

221

to

trouble himself
'a

So
put

bade me lay
into

more

clothes on his feet:

my hand

the bed and felt them, and they were as cold as

any stone; then

felt to his knees,


all

and so upany

ward and upward, and


stone."

was

as cold as

And

since the

friends of the tavern


sack, of his fa-

have heard that he raved of


that

vourite sweet sack. Mistress Quickly confirms

was so; and when they add that he raved of women, she denies it, thus defending in her own way the chastity of the poor dead man,
it

The Tragedy
The
three
hitherto dealt,

of Good and Evil


with

aspects,

which

we have
called the

compose what may be

lesser Shakespeare, in contradistinction to the

greater Shakespeare, of
speak.

By

" lesser,"

whom we are about to we do not wish to sugartistic-

gest that the

works thus designated are

ally weak and imperfect, because there among them some true masterpieces, nor

are that

they are less perfect by comparison with others,

because every true work of art

is

incomparable

and contains

in

itself

its

proper perfection..

222

GOODANDEVIL
Is

What
are

intended to be conveyed

is

that they
as the
is

" less complex," in the

same way

sentiment of a mature or an old

man

dis-

tinguished by complexity of experiences


that of a

from

young man, which

is

not for that rea-

son less genuine.

There are major and minor


and
of
in this sense the

works
and of

in this

sense in the production of poets

all artists;

greater

works

themselves

the

various

historical

epochs stand to one another

in the relation
is

of

greater or less richness, although each one


entire

an
in-

world and each


in
itself.

is

most beautiful and

comparable
imately

In the case of Shake-

speare, the distinction has already been approx-

made by
It

the
is

and

critics.

common accord of readers among things accepted and


the most
is

we have acted upon this assumption. Whoever, for example, passes from
excellent " historical plays " to

Macbeth,

im-

mediately sensible, not only of the diversity,


but also of the greater complexity, proper to
the

the former,

new work which he has begun to study. In we find a vision that might be deas psychological or
is

scribed in general terms,

practical; in the latter, the vision

wider,
it

it

seems to be almost philosophical, yet


not
exclude
the

does or

particular

psychological

GOODANDEVIL
within
itself.

223
it

practical vision of the former, but includes

In the historical plays,

individuals,

powerful yet limited, as

we we

find

find

them when we consider the social competition and the political struggles of the day; in the
great plays, the characters are more than
in-

dividuals; they represent eternal positions of


the

human

spirit.

In

the

former,

the

plot

hinges upon the acquisition or loss of a throne,


or of
there

some other worldly


is
it

object; in the latter,

also this external gain or loss, but over

and above
itself,

the winning or losing of the soul

the strife of

good and

evil at the

heart of

things.

Evil: but
openly,
if
it

if this evil

were so altogether and


finished before

were altogether base and repug-

nant, the tragedy

would be

it

had begun. But evil was called greatness for Macbeth: that greatness, which the fatal sisters

had prophesied

to

him and the destined


all

course of events immediately begins to bestow,

pointing out to him that

the rest

is

both
reit.

near and certain, provided that he does not

main

passive, but extends his

hand

to grasp

It shines before

Macbeth,

as a beautiful
artist,

and

luminous idea shines before an


for this warlike

assuming

and masterful man, the form

224

GOOD AND EVIL


Shall he

of power, supreme, sovereign power.


miss the
his

mark?

Shall he fail of the mission of

being?

Shall he not harken to the call of

Destiny?

The

idea
is

fascinates

him: nothing
it

now

is

but what

not in his eyes;


it

also fashis

cinates

and draws along with


self,

his wife,

second

who

has instantly and with yet

more
the

irresistible violence,

thrown herself
and

into
al-

non-existing, which
exists.

creates itself

ready

"Thy

letters,"

(she says),

"have transported me
I feel

be-

yond

This ignorant

present,

and

now

The

future in the instant."

The
*'

idea,

for her,

is

visible to the eye,

it

is

the golden circle," which

" fate

and metatogether, as

physical aid,"

appear already to have placed

upon her brow.


at the

The two tremble


They

springs of being, in the abode of the

mysterious Mothers.

are both doers and

sufferers in a process of things, in the appear-

new greatness: they tremble in that moment of daring, which demands resolute dedication of the whole
ance of a
experience, at that creative

man.
But the obstacle towards the
realis^atiori

of

GOOD AND EVIL


their daring plan,
is

225

not a material obstacle,

nor

is

it

the cowardice that sometimes attacks


it is

the bravest;

good of
in

a different sort, not

less vigorous,

but of a more lofty quality, gentle


the heart of
loyalty,

and serene, planted

Macbeth
duty, jus-

and called by the name of


tice,

respect for the being of others,

human
at once

piety.

Thus he

feels himself

thrown

Into confusion by the idea that has flashed be-

fore him, so great


It

is

the savage desire, which

has set alight

in his breast,

and such on the

other hand the reverence which the other idea


Inspires Into
his

deeper

being,

and against

which he prepares for a desperate struggle.

The
his
ill,

supernatural challenge keeps undulating In

mind,

now

divine,

now
But

diabolical: cannot be
his wife. In

cannot be good.

whom

the

power of desire displays itself as absolute and whose determination of will is rectilinear, knowing not struggle or only struggles speedily and completely suppressed, his wife. Is ready to take his place, when he shows his weak side, In the or at the moments of his vacillation. logical clarity of vision that comes to her as the
result of the clearness of

view with which she

contemplates the achievement of her end, she

has discovered an element of danger.

It

Is

226

GOODANDEVIL
in

concealed

the

" milk of

human

kindness,"

circulating in the blood of

Macbeth, whereby
the

he would attain to greatness, without staining


himself with crime.

Having discovered
in

cause of the weakness, she applies the remedy.

This does not consist


ting

making

a frontal at-

tack upon his moral consciousness, or by negait,

but

in exciting

or strengthening the will

for

action,

the will pure

and simple, taking


it

pleasure in itself alone, by making


necessity of expressing in action
it it

feel the

what seems

to

to be beautiful

and delightful, and by making


to remain at the

ashamed of not knowing how


which
it it

level of the desire

has encouraged, of

the plan that

has formed.

Macbeth holds
is

back troubled, because, though he

as bold as

man
from

can be in facing dange-r, he yet feels that

the deed

now

required of him would take

away

him the very character of man; but for


deed would make of him more

his wife, that

than a man.
aid of which
desire,

The

sophistry of the will, to the

comes the conquering seduction of exercises its irresistible action and the
accomplished.

deed
It

is
is

accomplished, but with


is

it,

as

Macbeth

says to himself, nothing

accomplished or con-

cluded: the same atrocious discord, which ap-

GOODANDEVIL
peared with the
first

227

thought of the crime, and


its

which has accompanied


able to get the better of

preparation and exis

ecution, continues to act,

and Macbeth

never

it,

being incapable both

of achieving insensibility to the pricks of conscience

and

at the

same time of repentance.

He

persists in his attitude of the first

moment,

drunk with greatness, devoured with remorse.

He

neither can nor will go back, and does go

forward; but he goes forward, increasing both


the terms of the discord, the

sum of

his crimes,

and the torment of

his conscience.

No way

of

salvation opens itself before him: neither the

complete redemption of the good, nor the opposite redemption of the completeness of evil;

neither the tears that relieve the ferocious soul,

nor absolute hardening of the heart.


torments, he would blame

If he

had

to blame anything for his course of crimes and


life itself,

that fitful

feverJ that stupidity of

life,

which

is

" a tale
told

by an

idiot,

full

of

sound and fury,

signifying nothing."

And

if

there

is

any image that attracts him

from time
of desire,
the great

to time, filling
it

him with

the suavity

is

that of sleep, and beyond that,

final,

dissolving sleep, which Duncan,

228

GOOD AND EVIL


he
has
slaughtered,

whom

already

enjoys.

Thus Macbeth consumes


self, his wife,

himself, and his other


also, in a differ-

consumes herself

ent way, because


call,

what was

in

him an implacable

to

which he could do violence, but could not

suppress, presents itself to his wife as the fas-

had presented itself to her. In sensible images, and therefore as an obscure rebellion of nature. For this reason, the woman from whose hand the dagger had fallen,
cinating idea

when

she

faced

the

sleeping

Duncan,

who
in the

seemed

to her to be her father,

wanders

night, vainly seeking to

remove from her small


it

hands the nauseating odour of blood, which,


seems to her,
long,
still

clings to

them.

Both are
to these

already dead, before they


bitter,

die,

owing

continuous,

internal

shocks and

Macbeth receives the news of the death of her who was his wife, of her whom he had loved and who loved him, with the desolate
corrosions.

coldness of one
ticular affections,

who

has renounced
life

all

par-

and the

of the affections

themselves.

Yet he

will not die like a "

Ro-

man

fool," he will not slay himself, but will

but victory.

provoke death in battle, still seeking, not death, For even in his last moments, the
internal conflict in

him has not

ceased, even in

GOODANDEVIL
him and urges him
on.

229

those instants, the impulse for greatness rules

To

kill

himself would

be to admit that he was wrong, and he does not

admit to himself that he was wrong or right:


his tragedy lies in this incapacity to hold himself right

or wrong;

it is

the tragedy of reality

contemplated at the

moment

of conflict and

before the solution has been obtained.


fore he dies austerely,

There-

representing a sacred

mystery, covered with religious horror.


In Macbeth, the

good appears only


personified.

as

re-

venge taken by the good, as remorse, punishment.


It
is

not

The amiable

king Duncan glides along on the outside of


things,

unsuspectful of betrayals, without an

inkling of
beth,

what

is

passing

in the

mind of Mac-

whom
is

he has rewarded and exalted.

The

honest Macduff, reestablisher of peace and justice,

warrior pitted against a warrior.

Lady Macdufl^ and her son are innocent victims, who flee the knife of the murderers in vain. The boy with his childish logic expresses his
wonderment
choke the
that the

good

in the

world does not


mother,
justice

evil

and

replies to his

who
upon and

man must do " Then wicked men and traitors:


says that the honest

the liars and


liars

swearers are fools; for there are

230

GOODANDEVIL
men and
drama,
.

swearers enow to beat the honest

hang up them.
In
Kiriff
Is

."

Lear,

that

tempestuous

which

nothing but a sequence of betrayals


is

and horrible torments, goodness


ated and takes the
in the
is

imperson-

name

of Cordelia, shining

midst of the tempest, as when the sky

dark and we look, not upon the darkness,


is

but upon the single star that


there.

scintillating

An

Infinite

hatred for deceitful wickedness

has inspired this work: egoism pure and simple,


cruelty, perversity, arouse
ror, but

repugnance and hor-

do not directly lead to that tremendous


as to Its not being recognisable
Its

doubt as to the non-existence of goodness, or


still

less

and

separable from
ceit,

contrary, since that moral de-

which takes the appearance of rectitude,

generosity, loyalty,

and when
Itself

it

has realised

its

purpose,
aridity,

discovers

as

impure cupidity,

hardness of heart, which alone were


throughout.

present

Poor humanity,
it

which

has thus allowed


into such a fury,
lusion,

itself to

be deceived, enters
its il-

when

has discovered

both

against

itself

and

against

the

world that has permitted so atrocious an

illusion

or delusion, as to reach the point of madness.

GOODANDEVIL
And humanity
and
in his

231

goes by the
full

name of King Lear,


in

proud, imperious,

of confidence

himself

own power and


so, since

strength of judgment,

quite sure that others will agree with his wishes,


all

the

more

he

is

their benefactor

and

they owe him, not only obedience, but duty and


gratitude.

King Lear

is

a creation of pity

and

of sarcasm: pitiful

in his cries in the

of injured pride,
the

of old age deserted,


ness that
is

shadow of

mad-

falling

upon him.

He

has been

sarcastically,

though sorrowfully, realised by

his creator, because he was mad before he became mad, and the clown who keeps him company, has been and is more serious and clear-

sighted than he.

But the creative impulse of


creates so great a reality,

Shakespeare goes so deeply into the heart of


reality,

or rather

it

that he neglects everything suggestive of the

obvious, vulgar side of things, as seen

average and mediocre point of view.

from an King
sorin his
is

Lear assumes gigantic proportions


row,
in his

in his

madness,

in his piteousness,

sarcasm, because the passion that shakes him


gigantic.

daughters
gigantic,

The who

figures

of

the

two

deceitful

are opposed to him, are also


to

especially Goneril,

whom
gives

Regan,
relief.

who

is

somewhat

the

younger,

232

GOOD AND EVIL


mind and the
initiatit
is,

Goneril's are the guiding ing will; she

who first counsels and instructs her sister, who first faces and dominates her father, and who first recognises her own equal in the iron will of the evil Edmund, loving him and despising her own husband, so weak in
his

goodness,

strives

with her sister for the

loved one, finally slaying her sister and immediately afterwards,

and there

a fugitive

of hesitation

Regan has here moment, not of piety, but and almost of suggestion, and
herself.
less strong, just

shows herself to be the

because

she always allows herself to be led by the other.

Each of them, although both are thus powerfully individuated, express the same force of egoism without scruples, untamed and extreme
in
its

boundlessness.
felt

Their personalities are


expressed,

concentrated,

and

with

the

whole-hearted hatred of an expert.

Yet
is

v/e

come

to think that in this tragedy

the inspiration of love

of immense love

equal to or greater than the inspiration of

hate.

Perhaps

intensity

of

hatred,

making
is

more

intense the attraction of goodness, helped

to create the figure of Cordelia, which

not

a symbol or allegory of abstract goodness, but


is all

compact of goodness, of

need for purity,

GOODANDEVIL
thrown
its

233

for tenderness, for adoration, which has here


real

and unreal appearance, an apreality.

pearance which has poetical


Is

Cordelia

goodness

itself

in
it

its

original

well-spring,

limpid and shining as


sents

gushes forth: she repreIs

moral

beauty

and

therefore

both

courageous and hesitating, modest and dignified,

ready to disdain contests, where they are

of no avail, but also ready to fight bravely,

when
ness

to

do so

is

of service.

Hers

is

a true

and
so
al-

complete goodness, not simply softness, mild-

and indulgence.

Words have been

misused for purposes of deceit that she has


munication: she

most abandoned that inadequate means of comis

silent,

when speech would be


But
since she has

vain or would set her truthfulness on the same


level as the lies of others.

clear
self

knowledge and
and
its

a fine sense of her

own

contrary, she does not allow her-

self to

be confused or enticed by false splen" I

dours.

know you what you


In

are'' she says,


as she
is

looking her sisters


leave

the

eyes,

takes
also

of them.

And

since

goodness

sympathetic intelligence, she understands, par-

dons and lovingly

assists

her old father, so

unjust and so wanting in understanding toward


herself.

And

since

goodness cannot adopt the

234

GOODANDEVIL
passion, even in the act of defence
it

form of blind
and
offence,
evil, is

and even when

refuses to tolerate

forced to

bow
its

to the

law of severe

res-

ignation, which governs the world,

and thus

entrusts her with

best duty, so Cordelia does

not burst into a rage against the wickedness of her


sisters,

when

she hears

how King Lear

has
re-

been driven out and despised, but at once


as says one to

signs herself to patience in the affliction, " like,"

who

has seen her at that moment,

" Sunshine and rain at once: her smiles and tears

Were

like a better

day."

There are other personages in the play, who affirm the reality of good against the false assertion of it: the pure and faithful Kent, the
loyal though unintelligent Gloucester, the brave

Edgar, the weak but honest Duke of Albany,


the husband of Goneril,
"

who

says:

Where
I

could not be honest,

never yet was valiant."

Finally the perfidious

Edmund, when he

sees

himself near death, hastens to accomplish a

good
all

action and to pay

homage

to virtue.

But
is

these belong to the earth:

Cordelia

on

the earth, earthly herself and mortal, but she

GOODANDEVIL
Is

^35

made

of celestial substance, of purest huis

manity, which

therefore divine.

It

has ocSoul,

curred to

me

to

compare her with the

whom

Friar Jacob likened to the only daughter

and heiress of the King of France, and


her father, for that he loved her

whom

adorned

" with a white stole,"

had and her fame


infinitely,

flew " to every land."

No

greater spiritual triumph can be

con-

ceived than that of Cordelia, throughout the

drama, from the


she
first

first

scene to the last, although

appears as denied and rejected by her

father,

and

later,

when

she comes with arms

to the aid of the unfortunate

Lear against the

infernal sisters and the treacherous

Edmund,
and

is

conquered,

thrown

into

prison

there

strangled by the hangman.

Why? Why

does

not goodness triumph

in

the material world?

And, why, thus conquered, does she increase in


beauty, evoke ever
until she
is

more
King

disconsolate desire,
as

finally

adored

something sacred?
is

The

tragedy

of

Lear

penetrated

throughout with
of

this

unexpressed yet anguished

interrogation, so full of the sense of the misery


life.

The

king,

acquiring
veil

new

sensibility

in his

madness, as though a

drawn from before

his eyes,

had been withsees and receives

236
for the
first

GOOD AND EVIL


time
in himself, suffering

humanity,

weeping and trembling,


less,

like

a child, defence-

ill-treated.

The

fool,

who accompanies

him, sings, along with


to the effect that

much else, his prophecy when calumnies cease, when


and usurers and thieves
all

kings are punished,

give up their trade, then

the

kingdom of
But the
sor-

Albion will be

in great confusion.
is

row of sorrows

that of Lear, when, having

found Cordelia, he dreams of being ever after


at her side, adoring,

and sees the prison


:

trans-

formed

into a paradise

they will sing, he will


tell

kneel before her, they will pray, and

one

another ancient

tales.

But she

is

brutally slain
lies

before his eyes and her dead body

in his
it,

arms, as he vainly strives to reanimate

and

he too
tion:

dies,

uttering the last cry of despera-

" Thou'lt

come no more,
never!

Never, never, never,

on an-

In the tragedy of Othello,

evil takes

other face, and here the sentiment that answers


to
it,

is

not condemnation mixed with pity, not

horror for hypocrisy and cruelty, but astonishment, lago does not represent evil done

through a dream of greatness, or

evil for the

GOOD AND EVIL


egoistic satisfaction of his

237

own

desires, but evil

for evil's sake, done almost as though through

an

artistic need, in
it

order to realise his

own

be-

ing and feel


tive,

strong, dominating

and destruc-

even

in
is

the subordinate social condition

in

which he

placed.
it

Certainly, lago, in

what

he says, w'shes
self believe that

to be believed or
is

makes himhis "

he

aiming only at

own
said,

advantage," as Guicciardini would have

and that he despises those who have


rule of conduct

different

and manage

to live honestly,
is

the honest knaves.

But the truth

that he

does not obtain any material advantage for


himself, and that the path he has selected

was

not necessary for that object and does not lead


to
it.

Feelings of vengeance for injustices and


it

affronts suffered lead to

still less,
it

though

at

times he says they do, and wishes


lieved or tries to believe
it

to be be-

himself.

What
in

re-

from his acts is arising from a turbid


sults

evil as

an end

itself,

desire to prove himself

superior to the rest of the world, to delude and


to

make
in

it

dance to the tune of his


this to

and

proof of

bring

it

to ruin.

own mind, The

fact that he

gives various reasons, with the

object of justifying and of explaining his acts,

demonstrates that he himself failed to under^

238

GOODANDEVIL
form of
evil

stand that peculiar


sessed his spirit.

which pos-

None

of those about him sus-

pect him: not Othello, a simple, impetuous soldier,

who understands open


in

strife

and plotting,

but both
another.
refined

war and between one enemy and


is

He
and

quite unable to conceive this

intellectual

degradation.

Desdere-

mona,

too, a

young woman newly married,


to find everyone about her
is

joicing in the happiness of realized affection

and disposed and


to

good
brave

make everyone happy,


is

unsuspicious,

as also

Cassio,

who

trusts lago, as a
his wife,

and loyal comrade, and


enced Emilia,

the experi-

who knows him from


of
"

long habit.

good lago," of " honest lago " ring through the whole play and are a bitter and ironical comment underlining the illusion that possesses them all. He is weaving, without reason, and as it were for amusement, a horrible web of calumnies, of moral and physical tortures and of death: a good and generous man, rendered blind and mad with jealousy and injured honour, is thus led to murder his innocent and beloved wife. Pity

The

epithets

and terror

arise together in the soul, as

we

see

Othello poisoned drop by drop, excited, changed


into a wild beast: one feels that in

Desdemona

GOOD AND EVIL


the warrior possessed the force of
life,

239

all

the sweetness and all

the happiness on which re-

posed

all

the rest,

and that

in

her person he

had found all that one can conceive as most noble, most gentle and most pure in the world.

When
(this

he suspects that she has betrayed him,


is

not only

he pierced with sensual jealousy,


is,

too there

certainly), but injured in

what he holds

sacred, and therefore the death


is

that he deals to Desdfemona

not simply vengeall

ance for the shame done him, but above

expiation and purification, as though he wished


to purify the

world of such impurity, and to


a stain,

cleanse her
defiled her,

from

which irremediably
all

" O, the pity of

this,

lago!

O, lago, the pity of all this! "


before he
kills her, kissing his

He

kisses her

own

ideal,

which

he lays at that

moment

in the sepulchre.

But

he

still

trembles with love, and perhaps hopes


to get her

somehow

back and to be united with


sacrifice.

her forever, by means of that bloody

Desdemona
Othello's.

is

not aware of the fury raging


is

around her, sure as she

of her love and of

Owing

to her very innocence, she

affords involuntary incentives to the jealousy

of Othello and easy occasion to the


lago.

artifice

of

Her

very unconsciousness

makes her

240
fate the

GOOD AND EVIL


more moving.
Such
Is

the infamy of

the crime thus accompHshed against her, that


the prosaic, shifty wife of lago becomes sub-

lime with indignation and courage,

when

she

sees her dying, rising to poetic noblHty

and de-

fying every menace.

Transpierced by her hus-

band, she

falls at

the side of her mistress and

dying sings the willow song, which she had

caught from the


also dies,

lips

of Desdemona.

Othello

when

the deceit has been revealed to

him.

The

leader

great honour and

whom Venice in whom she


is

had held in had reposed

complete

faith,

charging him with

commands

and governments,
he returns
in

now nothing
But
to

but a wretch

deserving punishment.

in slaying himself,

memory

what he was,

substi-

tuting that image of himself for his present

misery, and using the

memory

of the warrior
into his

that he was, to drive the


throat.

sword deeper

On

the other hand, the rallying-point or cen-

tre of the

whole play
the

is

not the ruin of the

valiant Othello, not the cruel fate of the gentle

Desdemona, but
demidevil,

work

of lago,

of that
in

of

whom

one might ask

vain,

why, as Othello asked, why he had thus noosed the bodies and souls of those men, who

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


"Demand me
From
this

241

had never nourished any suspicion of him?


nothing; what you know, you
I

know

time forth

never will speak word."

This was the answer to the poet from that

most mysterious form of


with
it,

as he

perversity,
self.

when he met was contemplating the universe: which is an end and a joy to itevil,

The Tragedy
The tragedy
sometimes
followed,

of the Will
is

of the good and evil will,

sometimes preceded by
itself.

another tragedy, that of the will

Here
allows

the will, instead of holding the passions in control

making
it

its

footstool of

them

itself to

be dominated by them

in their

onrush;

or

seeks the good, but remains uncertain,


the path chosen; or finally,

dissatisfied as to

when
sort,

it

fails to find its

own way,

way
Itself

of some
itself

and does not know what to think of


it

or of the world,

preys upon

In

this

empty

tension.

A
will

typical
is

form of

this first condition

of the
a

voluptuousness,

which

overspreads

242
soul

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


and makes
itself

mistress there, inebriating,

sending to sleep, destroying and liquefying the


will.

When we
same

think of that enchanting sweet-

ness and perdition, the image of death arises


at the
instant, because
it

truly

is

death,

if

not physical, yet always internal and' moral


death, death of the spirit, without which
is

man
comin its

already a corpse
of

in

process of decomposition.
is

The tragedy
power
a

Anthony and Cleopatra


and

posed of the violent sense of pleasure,


to bind
at

to dominate, coupled with

shudder

its

abject effects of dissolution

and of death.

He

moves

in a

world

all kisses

and

caresses,

languors, sounds, perfumes, shimmer of gold

and splendid garments, flashing of


lence of deep shadows, enjoyment,
tic,

lights or

si-

now

ecstais

now spasmodic and


this

furious.

Cleopatra

queen of

world, avid for pleasure, which


diffusing

she herself bestows,

around her

its
it

quivering sense, instilling a frantic desire for


into
all,

offering herself as an example


it

and an

incitement, but while conferring

on others,

remaining herself a regal and almost a mystical


personage.

A Roman

who

has plunged into

that world, spoke then of her, astonished at

her power, demoniac or divine:

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


"

243

Age cannot wither nor custom Her infinite variety."

stale

Cleopatra asks for songs and music, that she

may

melt

into

that

sea

of

melody,

which

heightens pleasure
" Give

me some music

music,
"

moody food

Of

us that trade in love!

She knows

how

to toy with men, keeping their

interest alive

by her denials:
" If you find

him

sad,

Say

I I

That

am dancing; in am sudden sick."


if

mirth, report

Her words
most
terrible

express sensual fascination in

its

form:
"

My bluest
Have

veins to kiss

There is gold, and here a hand that kings


;

lipped,

and trembled

kissing."

All around her dance to the same tune and


imitate the rhythmic folly of her
life.

Note

the scene of the two waiting

women, who are

joking about their loves, their future marriages,

and the manner of


sayer.

their deaths, with the soothfirst

Listen to the

words of Carminia,
in

so

mirthful
"

and

caressing
Alexas-,

her

playful

coquetry:

Lord

sweet Alexas, most

anything Alexas, almost most absolute Alexas,

244

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


O,
that
I

where's the soothsayer that you praised so to


the queen?
"
!

knew

this

husband,

which, you say, must charge his horns with

garlands

Anthony
he appears.
world,
all

is

seized and dragged into this ver-

tiginous course of pungent pleasures, as soon as

In his inebriation the rest of the


vv^orld,

the active, real

seems heavy,

prosaic,

contemptible

and

displeasing.

The

very name of

Rome

has no longer any power

over him.
" Let

Rome
the

in

Tiber melt, and the wide arch


fall

Of

ranged empire
are clay: one

Kingdoms

Here is my dungy earth alike


!

space.
i

Feeds beast as man."

As he

folds Cleopatra in his arms, he feels that

they form a pair

who make
it

life

more

noble,
signifi-

and that
cance.

in

them alone
is

assumes real

This feeling
called
it

not love

we have
:

already

by

its

proper name

voluptuousness.

Cleopatra loves pleasure and caprice, and the


dominion, which both of them afford her; she
also loves

Anthony, because he

is,

and

in so far

as he

is,

part of her pleasures and caprices, and

serves her as an instrument of dominion.

She

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


busies herself with keeping

245

struggles to retain
self

him bound to her, him when he removes him-

from

her, but she always has an eye to

other things, which are equally necessary for


her, even

more
in

so than he, and in order to re-

tain them, she

give

Anthony

would be ready if necessary to exchange. Anthony too, does

not love her; he clearly sees her for what she


is,

imprecates against her, and enfolds her in

his

embrace without forgiveness.


"Shed Even
not a
tear; give

me

a kiss:

this repays

me."
sort between

Love demands union of some


beings for an objective end,

two

with

the

moral

consent of both; but here


ity,

we

are outside moral-

and even outside the

will.

We

are caught

in the

whirlwind and carried along.


it
is,

Anthony
quered.
the present

who weakens and


life,

is

con-

He

has lived an active

which, in
of no
strife,

account.

He

moment of folly, he holds has known war, political

the government of States; he has even been

brushed with the wing of glory and of


tory.

vic-

He
lost

tries

several

times

to

grasp

his

own
not

past and to direct his future.


his

He
he

has
rec-

ethical

judgment,

for

246

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


Is,

ognlzes Cleopatra as she really


verently before the
treats his

bows

re-

memory of Fulvia, and new wife Octavia, whom also he will


For
a brief

abandon, with respect.

moment,

he returns to the world he once knew, takes


part
in political business,

comes
It

to terms with

his colleagues

and

rivals.

would seem that


is

he had disentangled himself from the chain


that

bound him.

But the

effort

not lasting,

the chain encircles

him again; vainly and with


is

ever declining power of resistance, he yields to


that destiny, which

on the side of Octavius,


firm of
the vol-

the man without loves, so cold and so will. Bad fortune dogs every step of

uptuary: those that surround him remark a

change

in

his

appearance from what he was


see

formerly.

They

him betray

this

change by

uttering thoughts that are almost ridiculously


feeble,

and making inane remarks.

They
is

are

led to reflect that the

mind of man

nothing

but a part of his fortune and that external


things conform to things internal.
self feels that

He

him-

he

is

inwardly dissolving, and

compares himself to the changing forms of the


clouds,

dissolved with a breath of wind, like

water turning to water.


thus in process

Yet the man, who

is

of disaggregation, was once

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


great,

247

and

still

affords

flashes

of greatness,

bursting forth in feats of warlike prowess, ac-

companied with
actions.

lofty

speech

and

generous

His generosity confounds Enobarbus,


deserted him and

who had
life

now

takes his

own

for very shame.

Around him

are yet those

ready to die for sake of the affection that he


inspires.

Cleopatra stands lower or higher:

she has never

known nor has ever

desired to

know any
There
is

life

but that of caprice and pleasure.

logic, will, consistency, in

her vertig-

inous abandonment.

She

is

consistent also in

taking her

own

life,

when

she sees that she

would die in a Roman shame and the mockeries of the triumphant foe, and selecting a death of regal voluptuousness.

prison, thus escaping

And

with her die her faithful handmaids, by a

similar death; they have

queen and goddess of pleasure, and


spising this vile world

known her as now

their

as de-

and

a life

no longer wor-

thy of being lived, because no longer beautiful

and
self^

brilliant.

Carminia, before she slays her-

takes a last farewell of her mistress:

"Downy windows

close;

And golden Phoebus never be beheld Of eyes again so royal! Your crown's awry;
I'll

mend

it,

and then play."

248

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


of the
will,

The tragedy
ally lofty in

which

is

most poeticis

Anthony and Cleopatra,


low form, that
is

neverit is

theless morally a

to say,

simple and elementary in its roughness, such as would manifest itself in a soldier like Anthony,
the

bloody,

quarrelsome,

pleasure-seeking,

crapulous Anthony.
It

shows
with

itself in

an atmosphere far more

subtle

Hamlet.

Hamlet,
so
delicate

the
in

hero
taste,

so so

refined

intellectually,

conscious of moral values, comes to the action,

not from the


of

battlefields

Roman forum or from the Gaul or Pharsalia, but from


of

the

University

Wittenberg.

In

Hamlet,
or
a
at-

the seductions of the will are altogether over-

come; duty
titude.
is

is

no longer a condition,

vain effort, but a spontaneous and regular

The
it is

obstacle against which


it,

it

strives

not external to

it

is

no inebriation of the
passage from meditato action, in

senses;
tic

internal, the will itself in the dialecin its

of

its

becoming,

tion to purpose
its

and from purpose

becoming

will, true, concrete, factual will.

Hamlet has with reason


in Julius

often been recog-

nised as a companion and precursor of Brutus

Caesar, a play which differs from the

" historical tragedies,"

more

substantially even

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


than Anthony and Cleopatra, which
is

249

restrict-

ed to the practical
a

activity.

more

lofty significance.
in a

Hamlet attains to Here too we find a


ethical jcon-

tragedy of the will


scientiousness
lives
is

man whose

not internally troubled, for he

upon

a sublime plane;

and here too the

obstacle
will.

arises

Brutus

differs

from the very bosom of the from Hamlet, in that he


acts; but his action
is

comes to a decision and


the impurity with which

accompanied with disgust and repugnance for


its

accomplishment

must be stained.

He

reproves, condemns and

abhors the political end towards which Caesar


is

tending, but he does not hate


like to

Caesar; he

would
with
sity
it

destroy that end, to strike at the

soul of Caesar, but not to destroy his


his life.

body and
his death,

He bows

reluctantly to neces-

and with the others decides upon

but requests that honours should be payed to

Caesar dead, and spares Anthony contrary to


the advice of Cassius, because, as he says, he
a priest
is

bound
is

to sacrifice the necessary victim;

but

he

not a butcher.

Melancholy dogs

every step toward the achievement of his end.

He

differs

here from Cassius,

who does

not

experience like scruples and delicacy of feeling,

but desires the end, by whatever means.

He

250

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


too from Anthony,

differs

who

discovers at
it;

once the path to tread and enters

cautious

and
finds

resolute, he will

triumph over him.


such a

He
make

everywhere impurity: Cassius,


behaves
in

his friend,

his brother,

way

as to

him doubt
mighty

his right to

shed the blood of the

Julius, because, instead of that justice,


re-

which he has thought to promote and to


store by his act, he
injustice.

now

sees only rapine

and
of

But

if

the

spiritual
it

greatness

Brutus shrouds him


standing

in sadness,

does not de-

prive him of the capacity for feeling and under-

human

nature.

His

difference with

Cassius comes to an end with his friend's sor-

row, that friend


sincerely,

who

loves and admires

him
is,

and yet cannot be other than he

hoping

that his friend will not

condemn too

se-

verely his faults and vices, but pass them over


in indulgent silence.

two

is

sealed

The when Brutus

reconciliation of the

reveals his

wounded
Bru-

heart, as he briefly tells his friend of Portia's

death.
tus
is

He
among

enfolds himself in his grief.


those

who have always meditated


themselves with the
is

upon death and


thought of
virtue
it.

fortified

His
Into

suffering

not limited to
for

forced

contamination;

he

is

haunted by doubt unexpressed.

He

feels that

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


man
is

251

surrounded with mystery, the mystery

of Fate, or, as

we should

say,

with the mystery

surrounding the future history of the world;


he seems to be anxiously asking of himself
the
if

way

that he has chosen and followed

is

the
evil

best

and wisest way,

or whether

some

genius has not introduced itself into his

life, in

order to drive him to perdition?


night the voice of the
evil

He

hears at

genius amid the


re-

sounds and songs that should give rest and


pose to his agitated
self to face the
spirit.

He

prepares himin-

coming
It is

battle,

with the same

vincible sadness. to an

the day that will bring

end the work begun on the Ides of March.


if

He

takes leave of Cassius, doubtful

he will

ever see him again, saying farewell to him for


ever:

"If we do meet
If not,

again,

why, we

shall smile;

why

then, this parting

was well made."

O,

if

man
it

could

know
But

the event of that day


it

before

befell!

must

suffice to

know
the

that day will have an end, and that the end


will

be known.

Mighty powers govern

world, Brutus resigns himself to them: they

may

have already judged him guilty or be about to


do
so.

252

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


generally been considered the

Hamlet has

tragedy of Shakespearean tragedies, where the


poet has put most of himself, given us his philosophy, and with
dies.
it

the key to the other trage-

But

strictly

speaking, Shakespeare has


is

not put himself, that

to say his poetry, into


less

Hamlet, either more or


the others; there
is

than into any of


as

not

more philosophy,
life

judge of reality and of


others; there
is

here than in the

perhaps

less,

because

it is

more
io

perplexed and vague than the others, and even


the celebrated

monologue {To he or not


is

be)

though supremely poetical,

irreducible

to a

philosopheme or to a philosophic problem.


it is

Finally,

not the key or compendium of the

other plays, but the expression of a particular


state of the soul,

which

pressed

in

the others.

the ingenuous spirit in

differs from those exThose who read it in which it was written and
it

conceived, find no difficulty about taking

for

what it is, namely the expression of disaffection and distaste for life; they experience and assimilate that state of the soul.

Life

is

thought

and

will,

but a will which creates thought and

a thought which creates will,

and when we

feel

that certain painful impressions have injured

and upset

us,

it

sometimes happens that the

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


will does not

253

obey the stimulus of thought and


will; then thought, feeling in

becomes weak as
its

turn that

it

is

not stimulated and upheld by

the will, begins to

wander and
this
it

fails

to

make

progress

it

tries

now

and now

that, but

grasps nothing firmly;

is

thought not sure

of

itself,
is,

it

is it

not true and effective thought.


were, a suspension of the rapid
losing of the way,
in fact a

There

as

course of the

spirit, a void, a

which resembles death, and


death.

is

sort of

This

is

the state of soul that Shake-

speare infused into the ancient legend of


let,

Ham-

Prince of Denmark, on

whom

he conferred

many

noble aptitudes and gifts, and the promise


life.

or the beginning of a fervent

He

then

interrupted and suspended Hamlet's beginning

of

life,

and

let

it

wander, as though seeking


proper task, but even the
it

in vain,

not only

its

strength necessary to propose

to

himself,
is,

with that firmness which becomes and


deed, itself action.

in-

Hamlet

is

generous and

gentle youth, with a disposition towards meditation

and

scientific

enquiry,

lover of the

beautiful, devoted to knightly sports, prone to

friendship, not averse to love, with faith in the

human goodness and


cially in his father

in

those around him, espein all his

and mother, and

254

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


and
friends.

relations
refined

He

was perhaps too


but
law,
its

and

sensitive, too delicate in soul;

his life proceeded,

according to

own

towards certain ends, caressing certain hopes.


In the course of this facile and amiable existence,

he experienced,

first

the

death of his

father, followed soon after by the second mar-

riage of his mother,

who seems
first

to

have very
in

speedily forgotten her

husband

the

allurement of a new love.

He

feels himself in

every

way

injured by this marriage, and with

the disappearance of his esteem for his mother,


a horrible suspicion insinuates itself,

which

is

soon confirmed by the apparition of his father's

demands vengeance. And Hamlet will, nay must and will carry it out; he would find a means to do so warily and effectually, if he had not meanwhile begun to That die from that shock to his sentiments. is to say, he began to die without knowing it,
restless

ghost,

which

to die internally: the pleasures of the world

become in his eyes and the sky itself


thing that
is

insipid

and rancid, the earth


Every-

lose their colours.

contrary to the ideal and to the


hypocrisy,
riches,

joy of

life,

injustice, betrayal, lies,

bestial sensuality,

greed of power and

cowardice, perversity and with them the nullity

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL

255

of worldly things, death and the fearful unknown, gather themselves together in his spirit,

round that horrible thing that he has discovered, the assassination of his father, the adult-

ery of his mother; they tyrannise over his spirit

and form
his living

a barrier to his further progress, to

with that former warmth and joyous


it

vigour, as indispensable to thought as


action.
is

is

to

Hamlet can no longer


all off

love, for love

above

love of life; for this reason he

breaks

the love-idyll that he

had begun with


in a certain

Ophelia,

whom
still

he loved and

whom

way, he

loves infinitely, but as

we

love one

dead, knowing her to be no longer for us.

Hamlet can laugh no more sarcasm and irony


:

take the place of frank laughter on his

lips.

He

fails to

coordinate his

acts,

himself becom-

ing the victim of circumstances,

though con-

stantly maintaining his attitude of contempt, or

breaking out

into

unexpected

resolves,

fol-

lowed by hasty execution.

Sometimes he
but this too
tion.

still

rises to the level

of moral

indignation, as in the colloquy with his mother,


is

paroxysm, not a coordinated ac-

Joy

is

needed, not only for love, but

also for vengeance; there

must be passion for

the activity that

is

being exercised; but Hamlet

256
is

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


he should give him-

in such a condition that

self the

same advice

ble

Ophelia

as he gives to the miseraa

to

get her to

nunnery and

there practice renunciation and restraint.

But

he

is

not conscious of the nature of his malady,


it

and
ill;

is

precisely for this reason that he


it

is

instead of combating

by applying the

right remedy, he cultivates, nourishes

and

in-

creases

it.

At

the most,

what

Is

taking place

within him excites his astonishment and moves

him

to vain self-rebuke

and equally vain

self-

stimulation, as

we observe

after his dialogue

with the players, and after he has heard the


passion, fury and weeping they put into their
part,

and when he meets the army led by For-

tinbras against Poland.


"
I

do not know
'

Why
Sith

yet I live to say


I

'

This
will,

thing's to do

have cause, and

and strength, and means


exhort me:

To

do't.

Examples, gross
this

as earth

Witness

army, of such mass and charge,

Led by

a delicate
spirit

and tender prince

Whose

with divine ambition pufF'd,


at the invisible event,
is

Makes mouths
Exposing what

miserable and unsure

To

all

that fortune death and danger dare


.

Even

for an egg-shell.

O, from

this

time forth,
"
!

My

thought be bloody or be nothing worth

TRAGEDY OF THE WILL


but
alas, in

257

Finally, he accomplishes the great vengeance,

how

small a way, as though jestit

ingly, as

though

self dies as

were by chance, and he himthough by chance. He had abandeath must be

doned

his life to chance, so his

due to chance.

We

too have termed the condition of spirit

that ruins Hamlet, an illness; but the

word

is

better applied to a doctor or a moralist, whereas the tragedy


is

the

work of

a poet,

who

does

not describe an

illness,

but sings a song of des-

perate and desolate anguish, and so lofty a

song
that

is
it

it,

to so great a height does

it

attain,

would seem

as

though

newer and more

lofty conception of reality and of

human
soul,

action

must be born of

it.

What was

perdition for

Hamlet,

is

a crisis of the

human

which

assumed so great an extension and complexity


after the time of Shakespeare as to give
its

name to a whole historical period. Yet it has more than historical value, because, light or
serious, little or great,
it

returns to live again

perpetually.

258

JUSTICE
6

Justice and Indulgence


Tt

would be vain

to seek

among

the songs of

Shakespeare for the song of reconciliation, of


quarrels,

composed of inner peace, of


song of
in his

tran-

quillity achieved, but the

justice echoes

everywhere

works.

He knows

neither

perfect saints, nor perfect sinners, for he feels the struggle at the heart of reality as necessity,

not as accident,

artifice,

or caprice.

Even
evil,
is

the

good, the brave and the pure have


ity

impurthe

and weakness
utters

in

them:

" fragility"

word he

most

often, not only with re-

gard to women; and on the other hand, even


the wicked, the guilty, the criminal, have glimpses of goodness, aspirations after redemption,

and when everything


itual greatness.

else

is

wanting, they have


a sort of spir-

energy of will and thus possess

One hears

that song as a re-

frain in several of the tragedies, uttered

by

foes over the foes

whom

they have conquered.

Anthony pronounces
Brutus

this elegy

over the fallen

" This was the noblest

Roman

of

them

all

All the conspirators, save only he,

JUSTICE
Did
that they did in envy of great Caesar;

259

He
His

only in a general honest thought

good to all, made one of them. was gentle and the elements So mix'd in him that nature might stand up And say to all the world This was a man.' "
life
'

And common

Octavian,

when he hears of

the death of Anth-

ony, exclaims:

"O
.

Anthony!
let

We
ment,

could not

stall together;

but yet

me

la-

With
That

tears as sovereign as the blood of hearts,

thou,

my

brother,

my

competitor
in empire,

In top of

all design,

my mate

Friend and companion in the front of war,


Unreconcilable should divide

Where mine

his

thoughts did kindle, that our stars

Unreconciliable should divide

Our

equalness to this."

It is

above

all in

Henry Fill

that this feeling

for justice widens into a feeling towards oneself

and others.
it

instance of

in

Catherine

and

good the dialogues between Queen her great enemy Wolsey.


find a particularly
all

We

When

the queen has mentioned

the grave

misdeeds of the dead

man

in

her severe speech,

Griffith craves permission to record In his turn


3II

the

good there was

In

him; and with so

26o

JUSTICE

persuasive an eloquence does he record this

good, that the queen, when she has heard him,


concludes with a sad smile
*'

After

my

death

wish no other herald,

No

other speaker of

my

living actions,
as Griffith.

But such an honest chronicler

Whom
With

most hated living thou hast made me,


honour: peace be with him!
"

thy religious truth and modesty,


in his ashes

Now
One who
to be

feels justice in this

way,

is

inclined
find

indulgent,

and

in

Shakespeare we

the song of indulgence, in the Tempest-, a lofty indulgence,


evil

for his discernment of

was

acute, his sense alike for


is

good and what is noble

and for what


false indulgence,

base,

exquisite.
slip into

He

could

never be of those

who

some form of

which lowers the standard of


greater or

the ideal, in order to approach the real, cancelling

or rendering uncertain,

in

lesser measure, the boundaries

between virtue
is

and

vice.

Prospero

it

is,

who

indulgent in

the Tempest, the sage, the wise, the injured, the beneficent Prospero.

The Tempest
tion,

is

an exercise of the imagina-

delicate pattern,

woven perhaps
it

as

spectacle for

some

special occasion, such as a

marriage ceremony, for

adopts the proce-

JUSTICE
popular Italian comedy.

261

dure of some fanciful, jesting scenario from the

Here we
earthly

find islands

unknown,
monsters;

aerial
It

spirits,

beings

and

is

full

of magic and of prodigies,

of shipwrecks,

rescues

and incantations; and

the smiles of Innocent love, the quips of comical creatures, variegate pleasantly Its surface.

We

have already noted the traces of Shaketendency toward the


romantic,
love, of

speare's

and

those echoes of the

comedy of

Romeo

and

Juliet,

who

are not unfortunate but fortuare called Ferdinand and Mi-

nate,

when they

randa, with their irresistible impulse towards


love and joy.

But although the work has


in
it

bland tone, there are yet to be found

char-

acters belonging to tragedy, wicked brothers,

who usurp
and attempt
and
rich
in

the throne, brothers


fratricide.

In Caliban

who meditate we find the


ecstaticisle

malicious, violent brute, abounding in strength


possibilities.

He

listens

ally to the soft music,

with which the

often
is

resounds, he

knows
him

its

natural secrets and

ready to place himself at the service of him

who
and

shall aid shall

in his desire for

vengeance

redeem him from


all his

captivity.
In his

Hencepower;
is

forth Prospero has

enemies

he can do with them what he

likes.

But he

262

JUSTICE
meditation, experience and
is

not on the same plane with them, a combatant

among combatants:
science

have refined him: he

penetrated with
its

the consciousness of humanity, of


its

instabihty,

illusions,

its

temptations,

its

miseries.

Where
is

others think they see firm foothold, he


insecurity;

aware of change and

where others

find everything clear as day, he feels the pres-

ence of mystery, of the unsolved enigma


"

We
Is

are such things are

As dreams

made

of

and our

little life

rounded with a sleep."


Finally,

Will he punish?

even his sprite

Ariel, his minister of air, feels compassion for

when asked by Prospero, does not withhold from him, that in his place he would be human.
those downcast prisoners, and
"

And mine
air,

shall.

Hast thou, which are but

a touch,

a feeling

Of their afflictions, and shall not myself, One of their kind, which relish all as sharply,
Passion as they, be kindlier

moved than thou art?"

The

guilty are pardoned,

and
is

finally Cali-

ban, the monstrous Caliban,

pardoned

also,

promising to behave himself better from that

moment onward.

Prospero divests himself of

JUSTICE
his

263
a

magic wand, which gave him so absolute


his like,

power over
sion,

and while yet

in his posses-

caused him" to incur the risk of behaving


in a

towards them

more than human, perhaps

an inhuman way.

Shakespeare can and does attain to indulgence towards men; but since
test
tive,

between good and

evil,

him the conpositive and negain


is

remains undecided, he

unable to

rise

to a feeling of cheerful

hope and

faith, nor,

on

the other hand, to submerge' himself in

gloomy
life
all

pessimism.
is

In his characters, the lave of

extraordinarily vigorous and tenacious;

of them are agitated by strong passions; they

meditate great designs and pursue them with


Indomitable vigour;
all

of them love infinitely


all

and hate

infinitely.

But

of them, almost
life

without exception, also renounce

and face
it

death with fortitude, serenity, and as though

were a sort of
is

liberation.

The motto
in

of

all

uttered by Edgar, in King Lear,

reply to

his old father, Gloucester,

who

loses courage

when he hears of the defeat of the* king and of Cordelia. Edgar reminds his father that men must face " their coming
and wishes to
die,

here

even

as
is

their
all."

going hence,"

and that

" ripeness

They

die

magnificently,

264

JUSTICE

either In battle, or offering their throats to the

assassin or the executioner, or they transpierce

themselves with their


is

own

hands,

left but

death or dishonour.
it

when nothing They know


all

how
beth,

to die;

seems as though they had


a character in

"studied death," as says

Macnever
in-

when

describing one of them.


life

And

nevertheless the ardour of

becomes lessened or extinguished.


deed admired the tenacity of
of death
in
life

Romeo

and the fear

him who sold him the poison; misby men and by the law, as he was. In Measure for Measure, In the scene where Claudio is in prison and condemned, the usual order Is Inverted; first we have the prompt persuasion and decision to
erable, hungry, despised, suspected

accept death with serenity, and a few

moments
the con-

later the will to live returns with furious force.

The
in
Is

make-believe

friar,

who

assists

demned man,
language
troublous

sets the nullity of life

before him

full

of

warm and
such
as

rich

imagery:
but

It

and
a
It,

" none

fools

would keep,"
fear of losing

constant
a

heart-ache
after

for

the

craving

happiness

never attained, a falsity of affections, a crepuscular

condition,
In

without joy or repose; and


these

Claudio drinks

words and images,

feel-

JUSTICE
ing that to live
is

265

indeed to
sister

die,

and wishes for and when she

death.
tells

But

his

enters,

him how she has been

offered his life as

the price of her dishonour, he instantly clutches

hold again of life at that glimmer of hope, of hope stained with opprobrium, and dispels with a shudder of horror the image of death:
"

To
and
;

die

and go we know not where


motion to become

To

lie in

cold obstruction and to rot;

This

sensible

warm
'tis

kneaded clod

too horrible
life

The

weariest and most loathed worldly

That age, ache, penury and imprisonment Can lay on nature is a paradise ." To what we fear of death.
. .

And

in

the

same play the singular personage


is

of Barnadine

placed before us, perfect in a


al-

few strokes, Barnadine, the criminal and

most animal,

indifferent to life

and death, but

who

yet lives, gets drunk and then stretches

himself out and sleeps soundly, and

when he

is

awakened and

called to the place of execution,


is

declares firmly, that he

not disposed to go

there that day, so they

had better leave him


to his cell,
if

alone and not trouble him; he turns his shoul-

them and goes back they can come and find him,
ders on

where

they have any-

266

PLAY SEQUENCE
Here
too the feeling of astonishat an eagerness for life,

thing to say.

ment

which does not


death,
is

exclude the tranquil acceptance of

accentuated almost to the point of becoming

comic and grotesque.

Ideal Development and Chronological


Series
It
is

clear that in considering the principal

motives of Shakespeare's poetry and arranging

them

in series

of increasing complexity,

we

have not availed ourselves of any quantitative


criterion or rule of

measurement, but have con-

sidered only the philosophical concept of the


spirit,

which

is

perpetual growth upon


act,

itself,

and of which every new


its

since

it

includes

predecessors,

is

in this sense in

they.

We
is

declare

the

more rich than same way, that


it

prose

more complex than


it,

poetry, because

follows poetry, assumes and dominates, while

making use of

and that certain concepts and

problems imply and presuppose certain others;

we

further declare that a particular equality in


a

poetry presupposes other poetry of

more

ele-

mentary

quality,

and that

a pessimistic

song of

PLAY SEQUENCE
Thus,
in

267

love or sorrow, presupposes a simple love-song.


the succession of his

works

as

we

have considered them, which might be more


closely defined

and particularised, we have nothe


ideal

thing

less

than

development

of

Shakespeare's

spirit,

deduced from the very

quality of the poetical

works themselves, from

the physiognomy of each and

from

their recip-

rocal relations, which cannot but appear in relations

which

are

serial

and

evolutionary.

The comedies
dies

of love and the romantic come-

have the vagueness of a dream, followed


reality of the historical plays, to

by the hard

and

from these we pass

the
reality

great

tragedies,

which are dream and

and more than

dream and
struct his

reality.

The

general line followed

by the poet even offered the temptation to condevelopment by means of the


dialectic

triad of thesis, antithesis

and

synthesis.
if

But
fol-

we do
lowed,

not
it

recommend

this

course, or

should only be with the view of reach-

ing and adopting a compendious and brilliant

formula, without suppressing


consciousness

in

any way the

of

complexity

and variety of
less the positive

many

effective passages,

much

value of individual expressions.

This development does not

in

any case

co-

268

PLAY SEQUENCE
works
in

Inclde with the chronological order, because the

chronological order takes the

the

order

in

which they are apprehensible from


is

without, that

to say, in the order in

which

they have been written, acted or printed, and

arranges them

in a series that is qualitatively

irregular, or in other words, chronicles them.

Now

this

arrangement must not be opposed


on
a

to or placed

level

with

the

other,

as

though
real

it

were the

real

opposed to the ideal


is

development, for the ideal

the only

truly
is
is

development, while the chronological


or arbitrary, and thus unreal; that
it

fictitious

to say, in clear terms,

does not represent de-

velopment, but simply a series or succession.

To make
we have

this point yet

more

clear,

by means

of an example taken from


all

common experience, known men, who in their youth


to practise

have practised or tried

some form

of activity (music, versification, painting, phil-

osophy, etc.) which they have afterwards aban-

doned for other


cause in them These men, later

activities,

more

suitable, be-

susceptible of richer development.


on, in their maturity, or

when

old age

is

approaching, revert to those earlier

occupations,

and

take

delight

in

composing

verses or music, in painting or in philosophis-

PLAY SEQUENCE
ing, returning, as

269

they say, to their old loves.


certainly

Such returns

are

never

pure

and
in-

simple returns: they are always coloured to

some extent by what has occurred


terval.

in

the

But they really and substantially be-

long to the anterior moment; the differences


that

we observe

in

them some part of that parwhich we have disregard-

ticular consideration

ed

in

considering the development of Shake-

speare, while
special study.

recommending

it

as a

theme for
rep-

As we

find In

works which

resent a return to the period of youth, echoes

of the mature period, so

in

youthful works

we

sometimes
the

find anticipations

and suggestions of
is

mature period.

This

the

case

with

Shakespeare, not only

in certain situations

and

characters of the historical plays, but also in


certain effects of the

Dream,
Juliet.

the

Merchant of

Venice and

Romeo and

As

the result of our argument,

we cannot

pass from the ideal to the extrinsic or chronological order,

and therefore

it

could only indi-

cate caprice,

were we

to conclude

from
a

the fact
literary
It

that

Titus

Andronicus

represents

Shakespeare or a theatrical imitator, that

must chronologically precede


iet,

Romeo and

Jul-

or even Love's Labour's Lost.

The same

270

PLAY SEQUENCE
argument that because Cymbethe Winter's Tale and Pericles are com-

applies to the
line,

posed of romantic material similar to that of


Jll's

Well,

of

Much Ado and

of

Twelfth
falsely

Night (where we find innocent maidens accused and afterwards triumphant,

dead
have

women, who turn out


as

to be alive,

women
must

dressed
all

men, and the

like), that they

been written at the same time.


holds good of the historical plays:

The same we cannot

argue from the fact that these plays represent


a

more complex condition of


are
all

the soul than the

love comedies and the romantic plays, that the


historical plays

of them to be dated

two groups above-mentioned; or that for the same reasons, Hamlet, the first Hamlet, could not by any means have been
later than the

composed by Shakespeare
period,

in

his

very earliest
asserts,

about

1592,
his

as

Swinburne
is

swears and takes

solemn oath
is

the case:

and who knows but he


In like manner,

right?

we cannot

pass from the

chronological to the ideal order, and since the

chronology, documentary or conjectural, places


Coriolantis
after

Hamlet,

and

also

after

Othello, Macbeth,
patra,

must

not,

Lear and Anthony and Cleotherefore, insist upon finding

PLAY SEQUENCE
in
it

271

profound thoughts, which


or deny that
it

it

does not con-

tain,

belongs to the period of


it

the " historical plays " with which


closest connection.

has the

Again, although the chro-

nology
Tale,

places

Cymbeline
in

and

the

Winter's

as has been said,


life,

the last years of


insist

Shakespeare's

we must not

upon

find-

ing profound meanings in those works, or talk,


as

some have done, of


to
last to

a superior ethic, a " theis

ological ethic,"

which Shakespeare

sup-

posed at

have attained, or dwell upon

the gracious idyllic scenes to be found in them,

weighing them down with non-existent mysteries,

making out that the Imogens and Hermiin-

ones are beings of equal or greater poetic


tensity than Cordelia, or

Desdemona, or take
Jacques
for
lago,

Leontes
whereas,

for

Othello,

in the eyes

of those possessed of po-

etic sentiment,

the former stand to the latter

in the relation of little decorative studies

com-

pared

to

works by
this
is

Raphael or
found

Giorgione.

Proof of
latter

to be

in the fact that the

have become popular and


all,

live

in

the

hearts and minds of


us,

while the former please


pass on.

we admire them, and

All that can be admitted, because


able to logic and experience,
is

that the

comformtwo

272

PLAY SEQUENCE
quite in general,

but therefore with and correspond ments big and


orders in general
several exceptions
little

and
one

disagreeto

another.

Indeed,

if

we

take the usual chrono-

logical order, as fixed

by philologists and to be

found

in all

Shakespearean manuals and at the


plays, with little variation,

head of the
that the
first

we

see

comedies of love and the tragedy


Juliet,
is

of

Romeo and
the

including the romantic


to all of them, be-

element, which

common
period,

long to
1592.

first

between

1591

and

We

next find the historical plays, the

comedies of love and the romantic dramas,


closely

associated; then begins the period of

the great tragedies, Julius Caesar

and Cleopatra; then


to anterior

again,

and Anthony

after a return

forms with Coriolanus, Cymbeline

and the JFinter's Tale,


pest,
last of

we

reach the

which seems to be the


Shakespeare's works.

last,

Temor among the


last

Biographers have tried to explain the

period of Shakespeare's poetry in various ways, sometimes as the period of his " becoming serene," sometimes as that of his
''

poetical

exhaustion " sometimes as " an attempt after

new forms of art " ; but with such as these, we find ourselves among

utterances

those con-

PLAY SEQUENCE
jectural constructions, which

273

we have purposely

avoided,

if

for

no other reason than that so

many people, who are good for nothing else, make them every day, and we do not wish to
deprive them of their occupation.

The

biographical character of that period

can be interpreted, as

we

please, as one of re-

pose, of gay facility, of weariness, of expectation

and training for new works, and so on:


in ques-

but the poetical character of the works


tion,
all
is

such as

we have

described,
It
is

and such
plausible,

as

see

and

feel that

it is.

too but a bio-

graphical

conjecture,

however

but certainly most graceful and pleasing

which maintains that the magician Prospero,

who

breaks his wand, buries his book of en-

chantments,

and

dismisses

his

aerial

spirit

Ariel, ready to obey his every nod, symbolizes

William Shakespeare himself, who henceforth


renounces his art and takes leave of the imaginary world, which he had created for his
delight and in obedience to the law of his

own own

development and where


sovereign.

till

then he had lived as

CHAPTER X

THE ART OF SHAKESPEARE


The motives
of Shakespeare's poetry having
is

been described, there

no occasion for the

further question as to the

way

in

which he has

made of them
as to the
tent.

concrete poetry, in other words,


to that affective con-

form he gave

Form and

content cannot be separated

from one another and considered apart. For this reason, everything remarked of Shakespeare's poetry, provided that
real
it

is

something

and well observed, must be


the characteristics,
all

either a repeti-

tion applied to Shakespeare of the statement as to

that

is

to

say,

the

unique character of
in

poetry, or a description

language more or

title

less precise, beneath the of " formal characteristics," of what con-

stituted the

physiognomy of the sentiment or


of which

sentiments of Shakespeare, thus returning to


that determination of motives,

we

have treated above.


in

Still less

can

we engage

an enquiry as to the technique of Shake274

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
speare, because the concept of technique
is

275
to

be

altogether

banished

from the sphere of

aesthetic criticism,

technique being concerned

solely with the practical purposes of extrinsication, such as for

poetry would be the training

of a reciter's voice, or the making of the paper

and the
is

type, with

which
in

it

is

printed.

There
" can be

no trade secret

Shakespeare, which can


" part "

be communicated, no
taught
tained)
;

that

and
in

learned"
the
best

(as

has

been

mainhas

sense

" technique "

value as a synonym of artistic form and

in that

way

returns to

become part of the dilemma


this fact
is

above indicated.

Easy confirmation of

to be

found

in any one of the many books that have been " written on the " form " or on the " technique

of Shakespeare.
intelligent of
all,

Take

for example the

most
and

that by Otto Ludwig, writart in general

ten with

much penetration of

of Shakespearean art in particular, which contains the

words that have been censured above.


read, that in Shakespeare " everyindividualised,

There we
thing
is

and

at the

idealised,

by means of

loftiness

same time and power:

every speech accords with the sentiment that

has called

it

forth, every action with the char-

276
acter

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
and
situation, every character

and

situa-

tion depends

upon every other one, and both

upon the individuality of the time; every speech and every situation is yet more individuaHsed by means of time and place, even by means of natural

phenomena;
plays

In such a
its

way

that each one

of his
clearer,

has

own atmosphere, now


is

now more

dark."

But of what poetry that


Individuated
Idealisation

poetry cannot this


affirmed
or
de-

be

manded?

We

read
Is

in the

same volume that

Shakespeare "

never speculative, but always

holds to experience, as Shylock to the signature

on the bond."

But what poetry that

is

poetry

ever does abandon the form of the sensible for


the concept or for reasoning?

The

"

supreme

truth " of every particular of the representation is praised, but this does not exclude the use of the " symbolical," that is, of particulars

which are not found


pression
of the

in nature, but mean what they are intended to mean, and " give the im-

most persuasive

reality,

al-

though, indeed precisely because, not one

word

of them can be said to be true to nature."

With
tained
tic

such a statement as
is

this,

the utmost at-

a confutation of the pertinacious artis-

heresy as to imitation of nature.

We

find

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
" Shakespearean
totality "
is

277

exalted,

by means

of which " a passion

like a

common denomsum
denominator of
clearly synony-

inator of the capital sum, and the capital

becomes

In its turn the general

the play."

This "

totality "

is

mous with

the lyrical character, which consti-

tutes the poetry of every

poem, including those

that are called epic and dramatic, or narrative,

and those
a sense the
in

in

the

form of dialogue.
all

We

find

here too that nearly


'*

the tragedies assume in

form of

a sonata,"

which contains

close

relation

and contrast the theme, the

idea of the hero and the counter-theme, and in the passages aforesaid develops the motives of
the

theme with " harmonious and contrapuntal


and
" In the third part

characteristics "

resumes

the whole theme In a


in

more

tranquil manner,

and
this

tragedy

in a parallel

minor key."
Is

But

imaginary technical excellence


the " musical character " of
the " lyrical character,"
sisting
is

nothing but
which, like

all art,

certainly

worth

in-

upon

as against the materially figurative

and
to

realistic

interpretation of artistic

repreas

sentations.

Analogous observations
in

avail

the

"ideality" of "time"

and "place,"

which Ludwig discovers


which are to be found
In

Shakespeare, and

every poem, where

278

SHAKESPEARE'S ART

rhythm and form obey rules, which are by no means arithmetical or geometrical, but solely internal and poetic.

the other statements of


ics

They also avail against all Ludwig and other critis

as to typicity, Impersonality, constancy of

characteristics,

which

also

variability,

and

the like.

These are
is

all

similes or
It
is

metaphors
true that

for poetry, which

unique.

some of these things are noted,


poets,

just with a

view to differentiate Shakespeare from other

and therefore assume a proper

individ-

ual meaning,

when we

take truth as being the

particular Shakespearean truth, his vision of


things,

and the sense which he reveals for the


between good and
evil existing in

indivisible tie

every man; for "Impersonality," his attitude


of irresolute but energetic dialectic, and so on;

but in certain other cases,

it

Is

not a question

of the form of Shakespeare, but, as has been


said, of his

own sentiment and of


is
It

his

motives

of inspiration.
In one case only
possible to separate
to

form from content and


self; that
Is

consider

It

in

It-

Is

to say,

when
in

the rhetorical

method

applied to Shakespeare or to any other art-

ist.

This consists

separating
It

form from
which be-

content and making of

a garment,

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
comes
which
just nothing at all
it

279

without the body with

grew

up, or gives rise to pure caprice

and

to the illusion that


it

anyone can appropriate


purposes.
existed
a

and adopt
tic

to his

own
there

In roman-

parlance

(for

romantic
as a mix-

manner of speech) what was known


what was
called the "

ture of comic and tragic, of prose and verse,

humorous, the grotesque,

the fanciful," such as apparitions of mysterious

and supernatural beings, and again the method


that

Shakespeare employed
his

in

production of
conflict
in

his plays,

manner of treating the


his

and determining the catastrophe, the way


which he makes
ity

personages speak, the qual-

and richness of his vocabulary, were enumerated as " characteristics of his art," things
that others could employ
so,
if

they wished to do

and indeed they were so employed, with the poor results that one can imagine. This is
the source of the anticritical terminology em-

ployed for Shakespeare and other poets, which


discovers and magnifies his " ability," his " expedients," his " conveying of the necessary in-

formation without having the

air of

doing so,"

as though he were a calculator or constructor

of instruments with certain practical ends, not


a divine imagination.

But enough of

this.

28o

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
it

Certainly,

would be possible
all

to take one

of the plays of Shakespeare, or

of them, one

after the other, and having exposed their fund-

amental motive

(this has

been done), to

illus-

trate their aesthetic coherence

and

to point out
bit,

the delicacy of treatment, bit by


scene,

scene

by
In

accent

by accent, word by word.


instance,

Macbeth, for

might be shown the ro-

bust and potent unity of the affective tragical


representation, which bursts out and runs like
a lyric, all of a piece,

everywhere maintaining

complete harmony of parts,

and each scene


its

seeming to be a strophe of the poem, from

opening, with the sudden news of Macbeth's


victories,

and the joy and gratitude of the old


by the fateful meet-

king, immediately followed

ing with the witches and by the kindling of the

voracious desire, against which Macbeth struggles;


castle,

down

to the

coming of the king

to the
his un-

where ambush and death await

suspecting confidence; then the scene darkens,


the

murder takes place on that dread night, and Macbeth becomes gradually involved in a crescendo of crimes, up to the moment when the
combat and the

terrible tension ends in furious

slaying of the hero.

arrives at the gate of the castle, serene

King Duncan, when he and

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
happy
as he
is,

281

in

the event which has given

peace to his kingdom, hngers to enjoy the deUcafee air

and to admire the amenity of the Banquo echoes him, and abandons himself

spot.

to inre-

nocent pleasure, in whole-hearted confidence,


peating that delicious
martlet,
little

poem about
nest

the

which has suspended everywhere on


its

the walls of the castle


cradle,
"

and

fruitful

This guest of summer,

The

temple-haunting martlet,"

plies that the " air

whose presence he has always observed, imIn the whole is delicate."


of that quiet

thy for the good old man,


is

in

we feel sympawe shudder for what coming and are sensible of the piteous wrong When Macbeth crosses swords things.
little

conversation,

with Macduff, he remembers the

last

words of

the witches' prophecy, which he believes to be

favourable to himself; but

when
it is,

it

becomes sudshall slay

denly evident that Macduff


"

who

him, he shudders and bursts out as before, with:


I will

not fight with thee."

This ejaculation
in-

reveals the violence of the shock and an


stinctive

movement
its

of the will to

live,

which

would elude

destiny.

And we

can pause at

282

SHAKESPEARE'S ART

any part of Othello, for instance, at the moment when Desdemona intercedes for Cassio, with the gentleness and coquetry of a woman in love, who knows that she is loved, and talks like a child, who knows it has the right to be a little spoilt; or at the moment when Desdemona is in the act of being slain, when she
does not break into the complaints of innocence
calumniated, nor assumes the attitude of a
vic-

tim unjustly sacrificed, but like a poor creature

of

flesh

and blood that loves

life,

loves love,

and with childish egoism has abandoned her


father for love, and

now breaks

out into childre-

ish supplications, trying to

postpone and to

tard death, at least for a few moments.


"

Kill

O, banish me, my me to-morrow;

lord, but kill


let

me

not!

me

live
.

to-night!
.

But half an hour! " But while I say one prayer!

We

could in like manner enable anyone to


the

understand

fabulous-human character of
at once

King Lear, who did not


between Lear and

understand

it

for himself, by analysing the great initial scene


his three daughters,

where,

at the poet's touch, the story

and the fabulous

personages assume at one stroke a reality that

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
is

283

the very strength of our abhorrence of dry


itself

egoism cloaking

in

affectionate

words

and also the very strength of our tender admiration for the true goodness, which conceals
itself

and does not speak

("What

shall Cor-

delia

do?

Love and be

silent ")

This insistence upon analysis and eulogy


be of special value to those

will

who do

not immeeither

diately understand of themselves,

owing

to preconceptions, to habitual lack of attention, to their slight

knowledge of
It will

art or to their lack


in schools, to
it

of penetration.

be of use

promote good reading, and outside them,

may

assist in softening those

hard heads which


letters.

belong sometimes to men of


nor
does

But
to

it

does not form part of our object in writing


this

treatise,

it

appear

form

part of the duty of Shakespearean criticism,


for

Shakespeare

is

one of the clearest and


capable of being per-

most evident of
fectly

poets,

understood by men of slight or elemen-

tary culture.
the

We

run with impatience through

many

prolix, aesthetic

commentaries which

we

already possess on his plays, as

certainly listen with impatience to anyone

we should who

should draw our attention to the fact that the


sun
is

shining brightly in the sky at midday,

284
that

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
it is

gilding the country with

its light,
its

makrays

ing sparkle the dew, and playing with

upon the

leaves.
it

On

the other hand,

is

not inopportune to
art

record that excellence

in his

was long

de-

nied or contested to Shakespeare.

This was

the general view of his contemporaries themselves, because

think of the
lating
to

we now know what we are to words of praise, which we find rein

him

the

literature

of his time.

These had been

diligently traced

and collected
less deliberin a

by scholars, but had been more or


ately misunderstood,

and interpreted

sense

opposed to their correct meaning, which was


that of benevolent sympathy and condescending praise for a poet of popular appeal, ap-

proximately what
lively tures.

we should employ now

for a

and pleasing writer of romantic advenSimilar judgments reappeared in a dif-

ferent style and at a different time in the fam-

ous utterances of Voltaire, which vary in their


intonation according to his

humour: such are


to

barbare aimable,

foil

seduisant, sawvage ivre,

and the
tain

like.

They do not appear

have

lost

their weight especially in France,

where

a cer-

Monsieur

Pellissier has filled a large vol-

ume with them, coming

to the conclusion that

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
the

285

work of Shakespeare,
it

" malgre

tant

de

beautes admirables est un Immense fouillis,"

and that
ecolier,

generally seems to be, " celle d'un

d'un ecolier genial, qui n'ayant ni ex-

perience, ni mesure, ni tact, gaspille premature-

ment son genie

abortif."

Finally

(and

this
his-

has greater weight), Jusserand, a learned

torian of English literature, treating of Shake-

speare with great display of erudition, presents him as " un fidele servlteur " of his theatrical
public,

and speaks of
in his

his " defauts

enormes."

Chateaubriand,

essay of 1801, playing

the Voltaire In his turn, attributed to

him

"

le

genie," while he denied to him servance of the " regies " and " genres," which

" I'art," the ob-

are " nes de la nature


recognises
that

meme

"

but later he
" mesurer

he was wrong to

Shakespeare avec

la lunette classique."

Here

he put his finger on the fundamental mistake of


that sort of criticism, which judges art, not by
its

intrinsic quahties, but


art,

by comparison with

which are taken as models. The same mistake was renewed, when French
other works of

tragedy was not the model, but the art of realistic

modern drama and


in

fiction.
Is

The

principal

document
where
at

support of this

Tolstoi's book,

every word or

gesture

of

Shake-

286

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
is

speare's characters, he exclaims that

speak thus, that

to say, the

man

in universal,

but the

men do not men who are not men of Tolstoi's ro-

mances, though these latter happen to be far


nearer to the characters of Shakespeare than
their

great,

but

unreasonable

and quite un-

critical

author suspected.

Tolstoi arrives at

the point of preferring the popular and unpoetical play

Kin^ Lear,

to the
is

Shakespeare, because there

King Lear of more logic in the

conduct of

the plot in the former, thus show-

ing that he prefers minute prosaic details to

sublime poetry.

An

attenuated form of these views as to the


is

lack of art in Shakespeare

the theory main-

tained better by Riimelin than by others, to the


effect

that the characters in Shakespeare are


a

worth
plots,

great deal

more than

the action or

which are disconnected, intermittent, con-

tradictory and without any feeling for verisimilitude.

He

also holds that Shakespeare

works

on each scene, without having the power of


visualising the preceding scene, or the one that
is

to follow,

and also that the characters them-

selves

of the drama,
is

do not respect the truth of dialogue and in their manner of speech, which
fiery,

always

imaginative

and

splendid.

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
Finally,
it

287

might be said of him that he comlibretti,

poses beautiful music for

which are
theory

more or less had for its


the

ill

constructed.

Now

if this

object to assert, though with

em-

phasis and exaggeration, that in a poetical

material part

of the story, the

work web of

events, does not count,

and that the only thing


not the material side
is

of importance
it,

is

the soul that circulates within


it is

just as in a picture,

of the things painted (which


of painting " the
literary
is

called

by

critics

element,"

or

that

which taken

in itself

external and without

importance), but the rhythm of the lines and


of the colours, what he maintained would be
correct, if only as a reaction.

Coleridge has

already noted the independence of the dramatic

interest

from the
in the

intrigue

and quality of the

story,

which

Shakespearean drama, was

obtained from the best


sources.

known and commonest


this

But the object with which

theory
it is

was conceived by Riimelin and with which


generally maintained, has for
its

object to es-

tablish a dualism or contradiction in the art of

" Shakespeare, by proving him to be " strong


in

one domain of the

spirit

and " weak "


is

in an-

other,
in

where strength

in

both

" necessary,"

order to produce a perfect work.

288

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
are
:

We

bound

to

deny with firmness

t!.is

as-

sumption

we

refuse to admit the existence of

any such dualism and contradiction, because the


distinction

between characters and and dialogue and and


style

actions, be-

tween
is
is

style

arbitrary, scholastic
in

rhetorical.

and work, There


it is

Shakespeare one poetical stream, and


its

impossible to set

waters against one another


like.

characters against actions, and the


is

So

true

this,

that save in cold blood, one does not


so-called

notice

his

contradictions,
is

omissions

and improbabilities, that


begin to examine what
it

to

say,

when we

leave the poetical condition of the spirit and

we have

read, as though

were the report of an occurrence.


cast

Nor

is

the

imputation

upon the speech of Shakeis

speare's characters, which

perfectly conso-

nant with the nature of the poems, admissible.

Hence from
and proper

the lips of

Macbeth and of Lady

Macbeth, of Othello and of Lear, came true


lyrics.
in

and dissonances

These are not interruptions the play, but motions and


life
life,

upliftings of the play itself; they are not the

superposition of one

upon another, but the


which
is

outpouring of that
the central motive.

continued in

These
in

witticisms, conceits

and misunderstandings

Romeo and

Juliet,

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
which have so often been blamed, are

289

to be ex-

plained, at least in great measure, in a natural

way, as the character of the play, as the comedy,

which precedes and imparts


tragedy, and
is

its

colour to the

brilliant

with the fashionable

and gallant speech of the day.


In

not wish to deny that


speare
are
to

making the foregoing statement, we do in the drama of Shakebe

found

(besides

historical,

geographical, and chronological errors, which


are indifferent to poetry but not necessary and for that reason avoidable or to be avoided)

words
scenes,

and

phrases,

and

sometimes

entire

which

are

not

justifiable,

save

for

theatrical reasons.

We

do not know to what

extent they had his assent and to

what extent
his

they are due to the very confused tradition,

under the influence of which the text of

works has descended


sights

to us.

We

also

do not
over-

wish to deny that he was guilty of

little

and contradictions, and that he was perBut


it

haps generally negligent.


in

is

important

any case to understand and bear

in

mind the
in-

psychological reasons for this negligence,

spired with that sort of indifference and con-

tempt for the easy perfecting of certain

details,

of those engaged upon works of great magni;

290
tude

SHAKESPEARE'S ART

and importance. Giambattlsta Vico, a mighty spirit who resembles Shakespeare, both
in his full,

keen sense of

life

and

in the

adven-

tures of his

work and of

his

fame, was also apt

frequently to overlook details and to make slight mistakes, and was convinced " that diligence

must lose
ute,

itself in

arguments, which have anyit

thing of greatness in them, because

is

a min-

and because minute

a tardy virtue."

Thus
de-

he openly vindicated the right of rising to the


level of heroic fury,

lay

which will not brook from small and secondary matters.


never
sparing
himself
the

As Vico was
essentials,

nevertheless most accurate in

most

lengthy meditations to sound the bottom of his


thoughts, so
it is

impossible to think that Shake-

speare did not give the best and greatest part

of himself to his plays, that he was not continually intent

upon observing,

reflecting

com-

paring, examining his

own

feelings, seeking out

and weighing

his

expressions,

collecting

and

valuing the impressions of the public and of


his colleagues in art, in fact, his art.
tions, the

upon the study of


an
of

The

precision, the delicacy, the gradahis representations, are

shading of

irrefragable
classic

proof
is

of

this.

The

sense

form

often denied to him, even by his

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
admirers, that
is

291

to say, of a partial

and old-

fashioned Ideal of classical form, consisting of


certain
classic,
is

external

regularities.

But he was a
nor
but

because he possessed the strength that


itself,

sure of

which does not exert

itself,

proceed

in

series of

paroxysmal
which
It,

leaps,

carries In Itself Its


ity.

own moderation and


taste
Is

seren-

He

had that

proper to

genius and commensurate with

because genius

without taste
In

Is

an abstraction to be found only

the pages of treatises.

The

various pas-

sages,

where he chances

to find an opportunity

for theorizing on art,

show that he had proIn

foundly meditated the art he practised.

one of the celebrated passages of the Dream, he makes Theseus say,


"

The

poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven


heaven

to

earth,

from earth

to

And as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the


Turns them
to shape,

poet's pen

and gives

to airy

nothing

local habitation and a name."

And

that a powerful imagination,


joy, imagines
if It

If it is

affected

by some
terror,

someone

as the bringer

of that joy, and


it

imagine some nocturnal

changes a bush into a wild beast with

292

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
facility.

great

That

is

to say, he

shows himpoetry

self conscious of the creative virtue of

and of

its

origin in the feelings, which

it

changes

into persons,

endowed with ethereal sentiment.


celebrated passage of

But
let,

in the equally

Ham-

he dwells upon the other aspect of

artistic

creation,

upon

its

universality,

and therefore

upon

its

calm and harmony.

What Hamlet
very torrent,

chiefly Insists
ers, is "

upon
I

in his

colloquy with the playIn the

moderation," " for

tempest, and, as
passion, you

may
It

say, the

whirlwind of
a temper-

must acquire and beget


give
to

ance that

may

smoothness."
a

To

declare

Shakespeare

be

representative

of

the

frenzied and convulsed style in poetry, as has

been done several times.


verse of the truth.

Is

to utter just the reit is

In this respect,

well to

read the contemporary dramatists, with a view


to

measuring the

difference,

indeed the abyss

between them.
another hand)

In the famous Spanish TragIs

edy of Kyd, there


In

a scene

(perhaps due to

which HIeronymus asks a

painter to paint for


son,
"

him the

assassin of his

own

and

cries out:
a passion, there you

There you may show


a passion.
.
. .

may show

Make me

rave,

make me

cry,

make me mad,

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
Make me
well again,

293

make me

curse hell,

Invocate, and in the end leave

me

In a trance, and so forth."

The same

character
"

is

attacked by doubt and


this

asks with anxiety:


the painter replies:

Can

be done? " and

"Yes,

Sir."

Such was not the method of Shakespeare,

who would have made


His
acter,
art,

the painter reply, not

with a yes, but with a yes and a no together.


then,

was neither
its

defective

nor

vitiated in any part of

own

constitutive char-

although

certain

works are obviously


his

weak and
vast

certain parts of other works, in the

mass that goes under

name.

Such

youthful plays as Love's Labour's Lost, The

Gentlemen, the Comedy of Errors, are not notable, save for a certain ease and grace,
only manifesting in certain places the trace of
his

Two

profound

spirit.

The

" historical plays,"

are as

we have already shown, fragmentary and


a

do not form complete poems animated with


single breath of passion.

pecially the first part of

Some of them, and esHenry VI, have about


,

them an arid quality and are loosely anecdotal; in others, such as Henry IV and Henry V is
evident the desire to stimulate patriotic feelings,

and they are further burdened with scenes

294

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
purely informative nature.

of a

Coriolanus

too, which was apparently composed later and is derived from a different source, also lacks

complete internal

justification, for

it

consists of

a study of characters.

Timon (assuming

that

it was his) is developed in a mechanical manner, although it is full of social and ethical

observations and possesses rhetorical fervour.

Cymbeline and the Winter's Tale contain lovely


scenes, but are not as a

whole works of the


in

first

order; the idyllic and romantic Shakespeare ap-

pears in them to have rather declined

com-

parison to the author of the earlier plays of


the same sort, inspired with a very different
vigour.

Measure for Measure


and personages
that

contains senti-

ments

are

profoundly

Shakespearean, as the protagonist Angelo, the

meter out of inexorable

justice, so sure
first

of his

own

virtue,

who

yields to the

sensual temp-

tation that occurs, in Claudius,

who

wishes and
al-

does not wish to

die,

and

in the

Barnadine

ready mentioned.

This play, which

oscillates

between the tragic and the comic, and has a

happy ending, instead of forming


the

drama of
fails

sarcastic-sorrowful-horrible
it

sort,

to

persuade us that

should have been thus de-

veloped and thus ended.

There

is

something

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
derful

295

of the composite in the structure of the won-

scenes of Troilus

Merchant of Venice, and certain of the and Cressida, such as those of


Hector and Troilus, seem to be echoes
with
ironic

the speeches of Ulysses and those on the other


side of

or even entire pieces taken from historical plays

and
even

transported

intention

into

comedy.

Points of this sort are to be found

in the

great tragedies.

In Lear, for

in-

stance, the adventures of Gloucester

and

his

son

are not completely satisfactory, grafted as they are upon those of the king and his daughters,
either because they introduce too realistic an

element into a play with an imaginary theme, or


because they create a heavy parallelism,
praised by an Italian
to express
critic,

much
form;

who has attempted

Kin^ Lear

in

a geometrical

but the origin for this parallelism

may perhaps

be really due to the need for theatrical variety,


complication and suspense, rather than to any

moral purpose of emphasising horror


gratitude.

at

in-

The

clown,

who accompanies
But
if

the

king, abounds in phrases, which are not all of

them

in

place and significant.

to

set

about picking holes in the beauties of Shakespeare's plays has

seemed

to us a superfluous
too,

and tiresome occupation, such

from an-

296

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
to be the investigation
in

other point of view and in addition pedantic

and irreverent, seems


of defects that

we observe

them; they are


in

opaque points, which the eye does not observe


the splendour of such a sun.

Another judgment which also has vogue


fers

rein

to

constitutive

or

general

defect

Shakespeare's poetry, a certain limit or barrier in


it,

a narrowness, albeit an ample

and a

two forms of this judgment, the first of which might be represented by the epigrams of Platen, who,
rich

narrowness.

We

must distinguish

while recognising Shakespeare's power to


declared that " so

move
fatal

the heart and the strength of his characterisation,

much

truth

is

gift,"

and that Shakespeare draws so

incisively,

only because he cannot veil his personages in


grace and beauty.

He
full

greatly admired even


it

what

is

painful in Shakespeare, looking upon

as beautiful,

and was

of admiration for his

comical figures, such as Falstaff and Shylock,


but he denied to Shakespeare true tragic power, which " must

"an incomparable couple";

open the deepest of wounds and then heal


them."

The

second of these forms


as

is

the comrepre-

monest, and Mazzini may stand


sentative.

its

He

maintained

that

Shakespeare

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
was
isolated individual, not of society; that he

297

a poet of the real, not of the ideal, of the

was
in

not dominated by the thought of duty and responsibility


politics

towards mankind, as expressed


history, that his

and

was

a voice rather

of the Middle Ages than of modern times,

which found their origin

in Schiller, the

poet of

humanity and Providence.

Even Harris's book concludes with

a series

of reservations: he says that Shakespeare was


neither a philosopher nor a sage; that he never

conceived a personage as contesting and combating his

own

time; that he had only a vague

idea of the spirit by which

man

is

led to

new

and lofty
that he

ideals

in

every

historical

period;

was unable

to understand a Christ or a

Mahomet;
the

that instead of studying,

he

ridi-

culed Puritanism and so remained shut up in

Renaissance, and that for these reasons,

in spite of

Hamlet; he does not belong to the modern world, that the best of a Wordsworth
is

or of a Tolstoi

outside him, and so on.


all this

We
be

may

perfectly admit

and

it

may even

of use in putting a curb upon such hyperbole and


such superlatives as those of Coleridge, to the
effect that

Shakespeare was aner myr'wnous, the


(although even this my-

myriad-minded man

298

SHAKESPEARE'S ART
may seem
if

rlad-mlndedness

to be but a very

ample narrowness,
finite

myriads be taken as a
desired

number).
to

Shakespeare could never have

possess the ideal of beauty, which visited the


soul of the hirsute and unfortunate Platen, the
social or

humanitarian ideals of the Schillers

and Tourgueneffs.

But he had no need whatinfinite,

ever of these things to attain the

which

every poet attains, reaching the centre of the

from any point of the periphery. For this reason, no poet, whatever the historical period at which he was born and by which he is
circle

limited,

is

the poet of only one historical epoch.

Shakespeare formed himself during the period


of the Renaissance, which he surpasses, not with
his practical personality, but

with his poetry.

There
save

is

nothing, then, for these limiters to do,

to

manifest

their
is

dissatisfaction

with

poetry
ited.

itself,

which
I

always limited-unlimalso

This,

think,

was

the case with

Emerson,

who

lamented

that

Shakespeare

(whom
pany of

he nevertheless placed in the good com-

Homer and

of Dante) " rested in the

beauty of things and never took the step of


investigating the
bols," which

virtue

that

resides

in

sym-

seemed

to be inevitable for such

SHAKESPEARE'S ART

299

a genius, and that " he converted the elements

awaiting his commands," into a diversion, and

gave " half truths to half men "


tire

whereas, ac-

cording to Emerson, the entire truth for en-

men

could only be given by a personage


still

whom
this

the world

awaits.

To

Emerson,

personage seemed most attractive, but to

others he may possibly perhaps seem as little amiable as Antichrist: he called him " the poetpriest.'*

CHAPTER XI
SHAKESPEAREAN CRITICISM
Criticism of Shakespeare,
cism, has followed
like

every

criti-

and expressed the progress


art,

and alternations of the philosophy of


aesthetic;
it

or

has been strong or weak, profound

or superficial, well-balanced or one-sided, ac-

cording to the doctrines that have there been


realised.

Their history would form an

excel-

lent

History of Aesthetic, because the fame of

Shakespeare became widespread, concurrently


with the spread of aesthetic theory, with
liberation
its

from external norms and concepts,


its

and

its

penetration to the heart of


its

subject.

Shakespeare's poetry in

turn stimulated this


its re-

deepening of the theory of aesthetic, by

velation of a poetic world, for emotion and ad-

miration, in appearance at least, very different

from what had previously passed


and perfect example.
cupied at the present

as its

sole
oc-

But since we are

moment with Shakespeare


shall touch
300

and not with aesthetic theory, we

CRITICISM

301

only upon certain points of this criticism, in

order the more firmly to establish by indirect

proof the judgment expressed above, and to


indicate certain obstacles, which the student of

Shakespeare will meet with


relating to
definition of

in critical literature

that

poet.

Our

description

and
cer-

them may render avoidable


errors.

tain of the

most common
these

Among

must be included (not

in the

seat of criticism, but in the entrance-hall


at the gates)
criticism,
in

and

what may be
his

called exclamatory

which instead of understanding a poet


finite-infinity,

his

particularity,

drowns

him beneath a flood of superlatives. This is the method employed by English writers towards Shakespeare (I am bound to admit that the Italians do the same as regards Dante).

An
we

example of
learn
that

this habit, selected

erable others,

is

*'

from innumSwinburne's book, from which it would be better that the


all

world should lose

the

books

it

contains

rather than the plays of Shakespeare"; that Shakespeare is '* the supreme creator of men ";
that he " stands alone," and at the most might admit " Homer on his right and Dante on his
left

hand";

then,

as to

individual plays,

we

learn that the trilogy of

Henry IV-V

suffices

302
to reveal

CRITICISM
him
as " the greatest playwright of

the world," that the

Dream

stands " without


criticism."

and above any possible or imaginable

Thus he
to

continues, puffing out his cheeks to find

hyperboles, which themselves finally turn out

be

inferior

to

hyperbolic

requirements.

Sometimes such exclamations not only border


on the
ridiculous, but fall right into
it,

as

is

the case with Carlyle,

who

stood

in perplexity

before the hypothetical dilemma, as to whether

England could better afford


of India or Shakespeare."

to lose " the empire

Victor Hugo, more

generous, and an admirer of the ocean, constituted a series of

hommes

oceans,

where the

tragic poet of Albion found a place alongside

of Aeschylus,

Dante, Michael-i\ngelo, Isaiah

and Juvenal.
found

Another style of criticism, by images to be in works that are estimable in other reis

spects,

somewhat akin
if it

to this criticism with-

out criticism, besides being far


because,

more
it

justifiable,

does not explain,

tries at least

to give, as

though

in a poetical translation, a

synthetic impression of Shakespeare's art

and
It

of the physiognomy of his various works.


describes the works of Shakespeare by

means

of landscapes and other

pictures,

as

Herder

CRITICISM
period delighted
likewise
in

303

and other writers of the Sturm und Drang


doing.

Coleridge too did

and Hazlitt even more often, as may Miss Florence O'Brien, on King Lear,
in

be shown by an extract from the letter of a


certain
to be

found

well-nigh

all

books that deal with


" This play
first
is

this tragedy.

She begins:

like

tempestuous night: the

scene

is

like

wild sunset, grandiose and terrible, with gusts

of wind and rumblings of thunder, which an-

nounce the imminence of the hurricane: then

comes a furious tempest of madness and

folly,

through which we see darkly the monstrous

and unnatural
et cetera.

figures of Goneril

and Regan";

The danger

of such poetical varia-

tions

is

that of superimposing one art on an-

other,

and of leading astray or of distracting

the attention
original to

from the genuine features of the be enjoyed and understood, in the


its effect.

attempt to render

Let us pass over biographical-aesthetic


cism:
its

criti-

fundamental error and the arbitrary


it

judgments with which

disturbs

both bio-

graphy and the


been

criticism of art

have already
us also pass

sufficiently illustrated;

and

let

over the aesthetic criticism of philologists,

who

imagine themselves to be interpreting and judg-

304
ing poetry,

CRITICISM
when they
are talking

mere

philol-

ogy

and uttering ineptitudes prepared with


Being confined to
method,
I

infinite pains.

citing but

one

example of

their

would

select for that

purpose Furnivall's introduction to the Leopold


Shakespeare.
introduction
enced.
is

fail

to

understand

why

this

so highly esteemed

and rever-

Furnivall too,

when he
praise
fail

contrives not

to lose himself in exclamations

and attempts
Falstaff
suffi-

poetry,

("who

could

ciently?"

"who could " the countess mother in

to love Percy?" All's Well resembles


etc.),

one of Titian's old ladies ";


self

amuses him-

by establishing links between the plays. These he discovers in the situations, in the action and elsewhere, regarding the works externally

and from

general point of view.

Thus he

discovers a connection between Julius


in

Caesar and Hamlet,

the repetition of the


is

name of

" Caesar," which

found thrice

in the

latter play, in the

mouth of Horatio, of

Pol-

onius and of Hamlet, on the occasion of both


seeing a ghost, in Hamlet's feeling that he must

avenge

his

father like Antonius Caesar, and

in the likeness

of character between Brutus and

Hamlet's

father.

Thus he

attains

to

the

ridiculous, as Carlyle

and Swinburne by another

CRITICISM
a certain sense

305

route, when, for instance, he affirms that " in

Henry IV) is in the Taming

Hotspur (the fiery Hotspur of Kate (that is to say, the shrew


of the Shrew)
"
^

become

man

and bearing armour!

We
cism,

upon rhetorical critiwhich employs the method of " styles."


shall also not dwell

This

method,

after

having

rejected

Shake-

speare, because he does not


different styles of writing

pay attention to the


(French criticism),

and having then proceeded to reconcile him


with styles as explained by Aristotle
Poetics,
in

his

when

these are well understood

(Les-

sing), having sung his praises as the "genius

of

the

drama,"

the
is

"

Homer
in

of

dramatic
is

style"
" his

(Gervinus),

still

seeking for what


" the

alone and individually "


" of the "

treat-

ment
find,

drama." This it will never " because such a thing as a " dramatic style
in the

does not exist


exist
is

world of poetry: what does

simply and solely " poetry."

These

questions of literary style are

now

rather out of

date: they survive rather in the lazy repetition

of words and forms than in actual substance.


It
is

certainly surprising to
exist

still

persons

know that who examine what are

there
called

the " historical plays," and because they are

3o6

CRITICISM

" historical," compare them with history books,

blaming the poet for not having given to Caesar


the part that should have been his in Julius

Caesar, and quoting in support of their argu-

ment

(like

Brandes) the histories of

Mommsen

and of Boissier.

And

there are also fossils

who

discuss in the language of the sixteenth


verisimilitude,

century,

incongruity or

multi-

plicity of plot, congruity or reverse of characters,

crudeness of expression, and observation

or failure to observe by Shakespeare the rules of dramatic composition.

To German

criti-

cism of the speculative period and to the vast

monographs that it produced upon Shakespeare must be given the credit of having tried to
discover

and

determine

the

soul

of

Shake-

speare's poetry.

We must also admit,

as a genlit-

eral quality of scientific

German books on
make

erature, even

when

these are of the heaviest

and most

full

of mistakes, that they do

us

feel the presence of problems not yet solved,

whereas other books, more easy to read, better


written and perhaps less
less fruitful
full

of mistakes, are

of thoughts that arise by repercusUnfortunately, these

sion or reaction.

German

writers imagined that soul to reside in a sort of


philosophical,

moral,

political

and

historical

CRITICISM
teaching,
to have
ofl^ence

307

upon which Shakespeare was supposed


his plays.
all

woven
against

This was a flagrant

sense of poetry, for not only

did they forget the poetical in favour of the


non-poetical; and attributed equal value to
all

of Shakespeare's widely differing works, what-

ever their real value, but also, since this nonpoetical

teaching had no
it

existence,

they

set

about creating

on their own account by means


in Ulrici,

of various subtleties, and of a sort of allegorical exegesis.


sig,

Thus

Gervinus, Kreys-

Vischer and others like them,

we read with

astonishment, that in Richard III (to take a


historical play)

Shakespeare wished to impart

" an immortal doctrine

upon the divine right


does not

of kings and their intangibility," and at the

same time
suffice a

to

give warning that

it

king to be conscious of his right divine,


it

unless he be prepared to maintain

with force

against force.

These writers have an almost

prophetic vision that


lesson in the case of
erick

Germany
Its
!

will

need

this

romantic king, FredIn the Tempest

William IV of Prussia
(to
is

again
speare

take

an Imaginative play)

Shake-

supposed by them to have desired to

give his opinion upon the great question, com-

mon

to our time

and

his,

as to the right of

3o8

CRITICISM
to colonise

Europeans

and the need of

subject-

means of whip and sword, free of any scruple dictated by false sentiment. Finally (to take a last example from
ing the native savage by
the great tragedies), they held that the ideal

teaching of Othello

is

that punishment awaits

unequal marriages, marriage between persons


of different race, or different social condition,
or of different age; and that

served her cruel fate, for she was weighed

Desdemona dedown

with

sin,

having disobeyed her old father, im-

prudently and over-warmly supported the cause


of Cassio, and shown negligence and lack of
care
in

handling

the

famous handkerchief,

which she
reply to

let fall at

her feet!

We

can only

all this in

the witty

words of Riimelin,
effect

a propos of such incredible interpretations of

Shakespeare's catastrophes, to the


this

that

" dramatic justice,"


is

so

dear to

German

aestheticians,

" like Draco's sanguinary code,


all

which decreed a single penalty for


death."

misdeeds

NumbeVless are the shocks that the artistic consciousness receives from such a method as
this.

Gervinus,

who
in

professed " an even firmer

belief in Shakespeare's infallibility in matters

of morality than

his

lack of aesthetic de-

CRITICISM
fects,"
find
is

309

indignant with readers disposed to

hard and cruel Prince Henry's repulse on


to the throne, of his old friend Falstaff,
his

coming
the

companion of
declares
to

merry adventures.
this

He

gravely
readers

that

proves

modern
and

be
to

" far

inferior

both to Prince
in

Henry and

Shakespeare
it is

nobility

ethical fervour "; whereas

evident that the

poor readers are and moral

right, because

we have
justly

to deal

here with poetical images, not with practical


acts,

and readers

feel

that

Shakespeare was on

this occasion

obeying cerFalstaff

tain ends outside the province of art.


is

sympathetic to every reader: even Gervinus

does not dare to declare him antipathetic, but


sets

about finding plausible explanations for this


attractiveness.

illicit

He

produces three: the

artistic

perfection of the representation, the

logical perfection of the type,

and the struggle


always stim-

between the

will for pleasure that

ulates Falstaff,

and

his old

age and his paunch,

which hinder or make him impotent, and according to Gervinus, are bestowed

upon him,

in or-

der to appease or mitigate our shocked sense


of ethical severity.

But the only and obvious

explanation of Falstaff's sympathetic attractiveness


is

the

sympathy which the poet himself

felt

3IO
in his

CRITICISM
genial

way

for

him

as a

human

force.

In

hke manner, what we have held and


his sons
is

to be

an error

of composition, such as the story of Gloucester

forming a parallel with that of


as

Lear,

held to be a miracle by the professors


because,
says
Ulrici,

aforesaid,

the

poet
is

wished

to teach us that "

moral corruption
the

not isolated, but diffused


families,

among
of
all

the most noble


others."

representative

Vischer holds a similar view, to the

effect that
if

Shakespeare " intended to show that,


piety
sible,
is

im-

widely diffused, society becomes imposto


its

and the world rocks

foundation;
so he

but one instance of this did not

suffice,

had

to accumulate the

most terrifying confirmaalso

tion of the fact."

These professors are

unanimous
words:
his

in re-

jecting the interpretation of the

"

He

has no sons!" uttered by Macduff,


learns that
little

when he
wife and

Macbeth has caused

son to be murdered, as they are under-

stood by the ingenuous reader, namely, that

Macduff thus expresses


by slaying
his sons.

his

rage at not being

able to take an equal vengeance

upon Macbeth,

that such a thing

Their reason for this is would be unworthy of so

upright and honourable a

man

as

Macduff.

As

CRITICISM
though such honourable men
ble of at least
as

311

Macduff are

not subject to the impulse of anger and capa-

momentary

blindness; as though

the eyes, even of Manzoni's Father Christopher did not sometimes blaze " with a sudden
vivacity," though he kept

them

as a rule fixed

on the ground,

as if (in the

word

of the author)

they were two queer-tempered horses, driven

by a coachman,

whom

they

know

to be their
in

master, yet they will nevertheless indulge

an

occasional frolic, for which they immediately

atone with a good pull on the

bit.

That

is

what happens
words
it

to

Macduff,

who

as-

sumes possession of himself when he hears

Malcolm's
low.
" I shall

that
like
I

immediately

fol-

"Dispute

man,"

and
feel
it

says:
like a

do so; but

must also

man."
Quitting psychology and returning to poetry,

nothing short of Malcolm's savage outburst


can express his torment, in the climax of the
dialogue.

Were

Shakespeare himself to come

forward and declare that he meant what those


insipid,

moralising professors declare that he

meant, Shakespeare would be wrong, and whoever said that he was wrong, would be
in better

accordance with his genius than he himself, for

312

CRITICISM
logic of poetry.

he was a genius, only upon condition of re-

maining true to the

We

could

fill

a large

volume with the misinbut

terpretations of moralising and philosophising

Shakespearean

critics,

it

is

hoped that

having here demonstrated the absurdity of the


principle, readers should be able to recognise
it

for themselves, in

its

sources and methods of

approach.

But

it

would need
all

series of

volumes to

catalogue

the absurdities of another


criticism,

Shakespearean
day:

which

differs

form of from the

preceding, in being in full flower and vigour to-

we

refer to ohjectivistic criticism.


is

The
aware

reason for this

that few are yet fully


is

that every kind and example of art


cessful to the extent that
a sentiment,
all its parts.
it

only suc-

is

irradiated with
it

which determines and controls


This used to be denied of

in

cer-

tain forms of poetry, particularly of the dra-

matic; hence the false, but extremely logical deduction of Leopardi, that the dramatic was the

lowest and least noble kind of poetry, because


it

was

the

most remote and


is

alien

from pure
perfect

form, which
tivity

the

lyric.

Shakespeare's objec-

of

" representation "

and the

" reality " of his characters, which live their

CRITICISM
own
lives

313

independently

are

often

praised-

This can be said

in a certain sense,
it

but must not

be taken literally, for


cause,

is

metaphorical; bethose

when we would reach and handle


of
the
poet's

images
Faust

sentiment,
(as

not be an

" explosion "

may happened when


there

threw himself upon the phantom of Helen), but in any case they will lose their
shape, fall into shreds and vanish before our
eyes.

In their place will appear an infinite num-

ber of insoluble questions as to the manner of

understanding or reestablishing their solidity

and coherence.
let-Litteratur
is

What
it

is

known

as the
all

Hamthese

the most appalling of


is

manifestations and
Historians,

daily on the increase.

psychologists,

lovers

of amorous

adventures, gossips, police-spies, criminologists


investigate

the

character,

the

intentions,

the

thoughts, the affections, the temperament, the

previous

life,

the tricks they played, the secrets

they hid, their family and social relations, and


so on,
so,

and crowd, without any


" characters

real claim to

do

round the

of

Shakespeare,"

detaching them from

the creative centre of the

play and transferring them into a pretended objective field, as

though they were made of

flesh

and blood.

314

CRITICISM
those inclined to such realistic and

Among
see in

antlpoetical investigation,

some there

are,

who
his

Hamlet

a pleasure-seeker, called to the

achievement

of

an

undertaking

beyond

powers; others

find in

him

a scrupulous person,

who
and

struggles between the call to vengeance


his better

moral conscience, or one who


again,

studies vengeance, but without staining his conscience.

For others
inclined

he

is

an

artistic

genius,

to

contemplation,
or
a

but

ill-

adapted to
adapted to

action,

partial

genius

not

artistic creation,

or a pure soul, or

an impure and diseased soul, or a decadent, or a


sexual psychopath, obsessed with lust and incest.

We find others

able to discover that he

in-

herited the characteristics of a father,


tyrannical, vicious

who was

and a bad husband, and of an


Finally,

uncle possessed of a lofty soul and capacity for

governing a kingdom.

some have even suspected him of not being a man, but a woman, daughter of the king, disguised as a man, and
for that reason and for no other, rejecting the

beautiful Ophelia and seeking Horatio, with

(Hamlet) was secretly in love. And what kind of maiden was Opheha? Was she naive and innocent, or was she not rather a Perhaps she too malicious little court lady?

whom

she

CRITICISM
had her
secret,

315

which would explain her strange

relations with

Hamlet.

An

English enquirer

has arrived at the conclusion that Ophelia was

not chaste, that she had given birth to a baby,

and what

is

more, to a baby whose father was

not Hamlet, and that this was the reason

why
and

Hamlet advised her


burial.

to get her to a nunnery,

the priest refused to give her

Her

brother,

Laertes,

body Christian had lived in


cus-

Paris,

and having there learned French

toms, was for this reason so ready to accept


the advice of the king to use a poisoned sword.

According to some, Macbeth was so powerfully

restrained by his

own

conscience,

that,

save for his wife, he would never have satisfied


his ambition

and

slain

King Duncan.

But

ac-

cording to others, he had meditated regicide for

some time and had deferred his design, because he hoped to succeed in a legitimate manner, were the king to die without an heir. But he broke truce, when the king contemplated bestowing upon his son the title of Duke of
Cumberland,
that
is

to

say.
is is

Crown
a
cold,

Prince.
pitiless

For many. Lady Macbeth

woman, but

for others she


is

tender and sweet


in

by nature; for some, she

madly

love with

her husband, for others, madly incensed with

3i6

CRITICISM
first

him, because, judging by his undoubted military

prowess, she had at

believed

the great soul of a conqueror,

him to possess and then, when


mildness, sen-

she found

him

vile

with

human

sible of scruples and remorse perturbed at the

results of his

own

deeds, to the extent of ex-

periencing hallucinations and behaving rashly,


she
is

consumed with scorn and

dies of a

broken

heart, on the fall of that idol

and which she

had

aspired, the perfect criminal.

Othello has been by some identified with a

Moor,
is

a Berber, a Mauritanian, for others he

without doubt a bestial negro, boiling with

African blood.
ised as

lago

is

generally charactera

amoral

and

Machiavellian,

true

Italian; but others deem him worthy the name of " honest lago," because he was good, amiable,

serviceable in

all

things

when

his per-

sonal ambition was not at stake.

By some, Desdemona has been held


sirable as a wife

to be de-

(others, on the other hand,

would be ready to marry Cordelia or Ophelia, others Imogen or Hermione, others the nun Isabel, and finally there are some who would prefer Portia, as " an ideal woman," and a
" perfect wife ")
;

but as regards

this,

there are

some who have divined the secret tendencies of

CRITICISM
Desdemona and have had no
fining her as " a virtual courtesan."

317

hesitation in de-

Then
between

again: what was the difference of age

Othello

and

Desdemona?

Had
in

Othello seen the wonderful things existing

other countries of which he speaks, or had he

imagined them, or had he been told of them?

Perhaps he had enjoyed the wife of lago, which

would explain the regard he has for the husband?


Brutus, until lately, passed for an idealist

tormented with ideals; but more accurate


vestigations have revealed

in-

him to be a hypocrite in the Puritan manner, who, by means of repeated lies, ends by himself believing the
noble motives to be found on his
lips;

however,

things turn out badly and he finally receives the

punishment he deserves.
Falstaff's

religious

origin has been discov-

ered: he was a Lollard, and thus a declared

eudemonist,

convinced

of

the

nullity

of the

world and of the


minute to minute.

inutility

of

life,

Hving from
he

He

is

not really a liar and


is

a boaster, but an imaginative person; nor


vile,

save in appearance; he should be regarded

rather as an opportunist.

We

read these and an

infinity

of other not

3i8
less

CRITICISM
astonishing

statements

in

the

volumes,

opuscules and articles which are published every

year

upon
effect

the

characters

of

Shakespeare.

The

of such discussions, even where most


Is

sensibly written,

never to clear up or decide

anything, but on the contrary, to darken

what

appeared perfectly certain, and gave no reason


for any difficulty, to render uncertain
clearly determined.

what was
rise fur-

Such works give

ther to the doubt that Shakespeare

was perhaps

so inexpert a writer as not to be able to represent his

own

conceptions, nor express his

own

thoughts.

But when we do not allow ourselves to be


caught
In

the meshes of these fictitious prob-

lems, of which

we

Indicated the proton pseudos,

when we
out

resolutely banish

them from

the mind,

and read and reread Shakespeare's plays with-

more ado, everything remains or becomes


everything, that
is

clear again,

to say,

which

should (as

is

natural) be clear for the ends of

poetry, In a poetical work.

As

Grillparzer re-

marked
cally,

In his time,

that very Hamlet,

whom
in-

Goethe took such trouble and over

to explain psychologi-

whom

so

many hundreds of
Is

terpreters have so diligently tolled, "

under-

stood with perfect ease by the tailor or the

CRITICISM
bootmaker
feelings to
sitting
in

319

the gallery,

who

under-

stands the whole of the play by raising his


its

own

level."

From

this

derives

another

consequence:

Shakespeare has been loudly praised for his


portentous
fidelity to

nature and reality, but at

the same time the

critics, as

quoted above, have

placed obstacles of various sorts in the


those

way

of

who would understand him


Shakespeare

so
is is

it

has been

freely stated that

certainly a

great poet, but that his method

not that of

" fidelity," to nature, on the contrary, he violates " reality " at every turn, creating charac-

ters

and

situation,
It

" which are not

found

in

nature."

would be better
in

to say simply that


is

Shakespeare, like every poet,

neither in ac-

cordance nor
ality

disaccordance with external reis

(which for that matter

what each one

of us likes to

make and

to imagine in his

own

way), for the reason that he has nothing to do


with
it,

being intent upon the creation of his


reality.

own spiritual The third

great misadventure that has be-

fallen Shakespeare, after those of the moralis-

ing and psychological-objectivistic


transference,

critics, is his

we

will not call

it

his

promotion,
to that of

to the position of a

German, opposed

320

CRITICISM
It
is

a Latin or neo-Latin poet.

not

difficult

to

trace the origin of this transference,

when we

remember

that Shakespeare

both by his

was looked upon, contemporaries and yet more so


in

when rediscovered
a
just

the eighteenth century, as

spontaneous, rough, natural, popular poet,


the

opposite of the cultured, mannered

school, in which, however, he

had shown

evi-

dence of prowess with the lesser poems and


the sonnets.

This conception of
found
in

his as a natural

poet

is
lit-

the

first

school of the

new German
and from

erature,

known

as the

Sturm

iind

Drang, which
this

cultivated the idea of " genius ";

arose the idea of Shakespeare as the expression

of " pure virgin genius, ignorant of rules and


limits,

force as irresistible as those of na-

ture " (Gerstenberg).

And

since the

new Geradmired

man

poets and men of

letters greatly

him, and as has been said, the

new Aesthetic

understood him much better than the old Poetic

had done or been able to do, instead of this better sympathy and intelligence being attributed to the spiritual dispositions of the Ger-

mans of

that period and to the progress that


in the life

they were effecting


attributed
to

of thought,

it

was

affinity

and relationship, which

CRITICISM
was supposed
to connect the

321
spirit

German

with

that of Shakespeare.

It is true that this

theory

was soon found


best

to lack foundation, because the

German

critics,

among whom were August

William Schlegel, proved that there was as much art and regularity in Shakespeare as in any other poet, although they were not the same
in

him
It

as in others,

and he did not obey con-

tingent and arbitrary rules.


is

also true that to a

Frenchman was due

the

first

revelation of Shakespeare outside his


Voltaire, with his odi et amo,

own

country:

has always been blamed and held up to ridicule


for the negative side of his criticism, but the
positive
side

of

it,

the

mental courage, the


in-

freshness of mental impressions, which his


terest in Shakespeare,
his

admiration for his

sublimity, deserved, have not been sufficiently

remarked.

But

it

is

likewise true that France

has never understood Shakespeare well, owing


to her classical tradition in literature
intellectualist

and her
though

tradition in philosophy,

we do

not forget her fugitive enthusiasms for

the poet.

Even

to-day, Maeterlinck notes " la

profonde
I'oeuvre
plus

ignorance "

that

still

reigns

" de " les

shakespearienne,"

even

among

lettres."

This afforded an opportunity

322

CRITICISM

for underlining the antithesis between " German " and " French " taste, which was soon,

but without

any

justification,

expanded

into

" Latin " taste.

The Enghsh
and
literature,

of that period, both in speech

were almost as

indifferent

to

Shakespeare as were the French.

This was ob-

served and commented upon in a lively manner,

among
Heine.

others by Schlegel, Tieck, Platen and

However,

man
to

criticism

new methods of Gersoon made their influence felt in


the

England (Coleridge, Hazlitt), and it seemed the Germans that these writers had preserved the true tradition of the race and had reillumined the fire that was languishing or had
been
altogether

extinguished

among

their

brethren of the same race, and that they had


dissipated the heavy cloud of classical, French

and Latin
land.

taste,

which was hanging over Eng-

To

their real merit in recognising the

fame of Shakespeare and their profound study of the poet, and to the false interpretation that they gave of these merits by attributing them to the virtue of their race, were added, for well known political reasons, German pride and selfconceit,
critics,

which did the


to

rest.

All the moralising

whom

we have referred, were also

CRITICISM
critics

323
spirit.

imbued with the German

They

united the austere morality, which they discov-

ered in Shakespeare and his heroes, to celebration of the

of the poet.
uine,

German nature of these qualities and They set in opposition the genrealistic

rude,

quality of

Shakespeare's

poetry, to the

artificial,

cold, schematic poetry

They celebrated the GermanHenry IV (his wild youth is just that of a German youth, says Gervinus; it is the genius of the German race, with its incorruptiof the Latins.

ism of a

ble health, its strength of

marrow,

its

infinite

depths of feeling, beneath a hard and angular


exterior, its childlike humility, its

wealth of hu-

mour, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, says Kreyssig), of a

Hamlet

(naturally, because he

is

rep-

resented as a student of Wittenberg)

and so

on, through the Ophelias and the Cordelias,

and even the characters of the comedies, such as Benedick and Biron (this last " possessing a
character entirely German," " with the harshness of a Saxon," humorous, remote

from

senti-

mentality and affectation, and therefore " out


of place
ciety

among
all

the gallantries
is

of Latin so-

"

the above

taken from Gervinus)


is

Shakespeare's place "


the

in the

Pantheon of

Germanic people,

in the anctuary richly

324

CRITICISM
all

adorned with
race, the

the gods and

demons of

this

most vigorous

in life, the best

capable
all

of development, the most widely diffused of


races."

He

stands, either beside

Durer and

Rembrandt, or on

a spur of Parnassus, facing

Homer and

Aeschylus on another spur, some-

times permitting Dante to stand at his side

Dante was of German origin


at his feet.

is

while the im-

potent crowd of the poets of Latin race seethes

For Carriere, he
spirit in
is

the mouthpiece

of the

German

England, while for an-

other, he
to

England's permanent ambassador


to the

Germany, accredited
Both French and

whole German
also

people.
Italian
critics

gave

credence to this boasting, sometimes echoing


the theory of difference between the

two
and

differ-

ent arts, that of the north and that of the


south, romantic
istic

and

classic, realistic

ideal-

or abstract, passionate or rhetorical, while

others

bowed

reverently before the superiority


In the recent
style,

of the former.
rapid change of
tions.

war took

place a

but not of mental assumpItalians

Both French and

mocked and

expressed their contempt for the rough and violent poetry of

Germany, and even Shakespeare

did not have une bonne presse on the occasion

CRITICISM
second year.

325

of his centenary, which took place during the

But return to serious matters,


to be

it

seems undegen-

niable that the historical origin of Shakespeare


is

found

in the

Renaissance, which
chiefly

is

erally admitted to

have been

an Italian
Italy,

movement.
material, but

Shakespeare got from

not

only a great part, both of his form and of his

what
this,

is

of greater moment,

many

thoughts that went to form his vision of reality.


Jn addition to

he obtained from Italy that

literary education, to

which

all

English writers
think,

of his time submitted.


ever,

One may

how-

what one

likes as to the historical deriva-

tion of Shakespeare's poetical material


his literary education
:

and of

the essential point to re-

member
in

is

that the poetry

had

its
it

origin solely

from without, either from his nation, his race, or from any other source. For this reason, divisions and
himself; he did not receive
counter-divisions of

poetry, and similar


criteria, are

Germanic and Latin dyads, based upon material


it,

into

without any foundation whatever.

Shakespeare cannot be a Germanic poet, for the


simple reason that
is

in so far as

he

is

a poet,

he

nothing but a poet and does not obey the law


it

of his race, whether

be lex salica, wisigothica,

326

CRITICISM

langohardica, anglica or any other harharorum,

nor does he obey the romana


the universally

he obeys

only

human

lex poetica.

That
standing

more profound and


of

a better under-

Shakespeare

should

have been

formed and be steadily increasing, in the midst of and because of these and other errors, is a
thing that

we

are so ready to admit as indubit-

able and obvious that

we

take

it

as understood,
in

because

it

always happens thus,

every

circle

of thought and in literary history and criticism


in general,

and so

in the particular history

and

criticism of Shakespeare.

Our

object has not been, however, to give

the history of that criticism, but rather to select

those points in

it,

which

it

was advisable

to

clear up, in order to confirm the

judgment that

we propose and

defend.

If

erroneous posi-

tions of criticism serve

by their opposition to

arouse correct thoughts relating to the poet,


others, which are not erroneous, lead directly
to

them.

In addition to the pages of older

writers, always

worthy of perusal

(though de-

voted to problems of different times), such as


those of Herder, Goethe, Schlegel, Coleridge

and Manzoni, the student


with

will find

whom

he will

like

to

among those think among the

CRITICISM

327

Dowdens, the Bradleys, the Raleighs of to-day. These will inspire in him the wish to continue
thinking on his

own

account about the nature of

the great poetry of Shakespeare.

CHAPTER

XII

SHAKESPEARE AND OURSELVES


Shakespeare (and
longer.
this

applies to every in-

dividual work) had a history, but has one no

He

had

a history,

which was that of


changing
it

his poetical sentiment, of its various

notes, of the various

forms
also

in

which

found
an

expression.

He

had

(we must

insist),

individual history which

it is

difficult to identify

united with that of the Elizabethan drama, to

which he belongs solely as an actor and provider


of theatrical works.

-The general

traits,

which,

among many
when

differences, he shares with his con-

temporaries, predecessors and imitators (even


these are

more

substantial than theatrical

imitations, conventions

and habits) form part


in particular,

of the history of the Renaissance in general and

of the English Renaissance

but do

not of themselves constitute the history that

was properly speaking

his

own.
because what hapin

But he no longer has


present,

this,

pened afterwards and what happens


is

the

the history of others,


328

is

our history,

OURSELVES
no longer
in the
his.

329

Indeed, the histories of Shake-

speare, which have been composed, considered

Hght of later times

being written

have been and


it is

and

they are

still

are understood,

in a first sense, as the history of the criticism

of his works; and


is

clear that in this case,

it

the history of us, his critics, the history of crit-

icism

and of philosophy, no longer that of

Shakespeare.

Or

they are understood as the

history of the spiritual needs and


different periods,

movements of

which now approach and now

recede from Shakespeare, causing either almost

complete forgetfulness of his poetry, or causing


is
it

to be felt

and loved.

In this case too,

it

the history, not of Shakespeare, but of the

culture

and the mode of feeling of other times

than

his.

Or

they are understood in a third

sense, as the history of the literary

and

artistic

works,

in

which
is

the

so-called

influence

of

Shakespeare
since
if
it

more or less discernible; and this influence would be without interest, produced nothing but mere mechanical

and on the contrary has interest only because we see it transformed in an original mancopies,

ner by
the

new poets and artists, it is the history of new poets and artists and no longer that of

Shakespeare.

330

OURSELVES
the last statement,
it

As regards

will not be

out of place to remark that the accounts which

have been given of the representations of

his

plays are altogether foreign to Shakespeare;

because theatrical representations are not, as


believed,

is

" interpretations,"

but

variations,
art,"

that

is

to say " creations of

new works of

by means of the actors, who always bring to them their own particular manner of feeling.

There

is

never a tertium comparationis,

in

the

sense of a presumably authentic and objective


interpretation,
plies

and here the same

criterion ap-

as

to music

and painting suggested by


his part

plays,

which are music and painting, and not


Giuseppe Verdi, who for

those plays.

composed an Othello, wrote to the painter Morelli, who had conceived a painting of lago
(

in a letter

of

88

recently published)

"

You

want

a slight figure, with little muscular develif I

opment, and

have understood you


.
.

rightly,
.

one of the cunning, malignant sort


if

But

were

an actor and wished to represent lago,

should prefer a lean, meagre figure, with thin

lips,

and small eyes

close to the nose, like a

monkey's, a high retreating forehead, with a


deal of development at the back of the head;

absent and nonchalant in manner, indifferent to

OURSELVES
everything,
incredulous,
sneering,

331

speaking

good and
says

evil lightly,

with an

air of thinking

about something quite different from what he

..."

They might have entered

into a

long discussion as to the two different interpretations,

had not Verdi, with his accustomed " But good sense, hastened to conclude whether lago be small or big, whether Othello
:

be Venetian or Turk, execute them as you conceive

them

the result will

always be good.

But remember not

to think too

much about

it**

The insurmountable

difference that exists be-

tween the most studiously poetic theatrical representation and the original poetry of Shakespeare,
is

the true reason why, contrary to the

general belief in Shakespeare's eminent " theatricality,"

Goethe considered that " he was not


and did not think of the
too narrow for too narrow for so vast a soul,
is

a poet of the theatre


stage,

which

is

that the visible world

it."
in-

Coleridge too held that the plays were not

tended for acting, but to be read and con-

templated as poems, and added sometimes to


say
laughingly,

that

an

act

of

Parliament

should be passed to prohibit the representation


of Shakespeare on the stage.
Certainly,

Lear and Othello, Macbeth and

332

OURSELVES
in

Hamlet, Cordelia and Desdemona are part of


our souls, and so they will be
the future,

more or

less active, like

every part of our souls,

of our experiences, of our memories.

Some-

times they seem inert and almost obliterated,


yet they live and affect us; at others they re-

vive

and reawaken, linking themselves

to our

greatest and nearest spiritual interests.


latter

This

was notably the case in the epoch that extends from the " period of genius " at the
end of romanticism, from the criticism of Kant
to the exhaustion of the

Hegelian school.

At
as

that time, poets created

Werther and Faust,

though they were the brothers of Hamlet,


Charlotte and Margaret and Hermengarde, as

though

sisters of the

Shakespearean heroines,

and philosophers constructed systems, which

seemed

to

frame the scattered thoughts of


and crowning them with the conclu-

Shakespeare, reducing his differences to logical terms,

sion that he either did not seek or did not find.

At

that time persisted even the illusion that the

spirit

of

Shakespeare had transferred

itself

from the Elizabethan world to the new world of Europe, was poetising and philosophising with the mouths of the new men and directing
their sentiments

and

actions.

OURSELVES
speare,
If

333

Perhaps after that period, love of Shakenot altogether extinguished, greatly


declined.

The
this

colossal

mass of work of every


this

sort devoted to Shakespeare, cannot be brought

up against

judgment, for

mass, In great

part due to German, English and American


philologists,

proves

rather

the

sedulity

of

modern
pulse.

philology, than a profound spiritual im-

This was

more

lively,

speare was far less Investigated,

when Shakerummaged and

hashed up, and was read


critically correct.

In

editions far less

How

could he be truly loved

and really

felt In

an age which burled dialectic


positiv-

and idealism beneath naturalism and


ism,

for the

former of which he stood and


In his

which he represented
age,

own way?

In this

the

consciousness of the distinction beevil, nobil-

tween liberty and passion, good and


ity

and

vlleness,

fineness

and

sensuality,
in

be-

tween the lofty and the base

man, became
differ-

obscured; everything was conceived as

ing In quantity, but identical in substance, and

was placed
tic

In a

deterministic relation with the

external world.

In such an atmosphere artisblind,

work became

diseased, gloomy,

in-

stinctive;

struggling for expression amid the

torment of sick senses, no longer amid pas-

334
sionate,

OURSELVES
moral struggles of the soul; confused

writers, half pedantic, half neurasthenic,

were

taken for and believed themselves to be, the


heirs of Shakespeare.

Even when one reads

some of the most highly praised pages of the critics of the day upon Shakespeare, so abounding in exquisite refinements, a sort of repug-

nance comes over one, as though a warning


that this
is

not the genuine Shakespeare. but more profound, less

He
in-

was
they.

less

subtle,

volved, but

more complex and more great than

This

is

not a lamentation directed against


is

the age, which


close

perhaps now drawing to a


to

and perhaps has no desire


its

do

so,

and

will continue to develop

own
It is

character for

a greater or lesser period.

simply an ob-

servation of fact, which belongs to that history,

which
speare.
in

is

not the history of William Shake-

He

continues to live his

own

history,

those spirits alone,

who

are perpetually

mak-

ing

anew

that history which

was

truly his, as

they read him with an ingenuous mind and a

heart that shares in his poetry.

PART

III

PIERRE CORNEILLE

CHAPTER
CRITICISM OF
There
cism of
is

XIII

THE CRITICISM
criti-

no longer any necessity for a


tragedies
in

Corneille's
It

negative
in several

sense, for

is

already to be found
if

works.

Further,

there exists a poet,

who

stands outside the taste and the preoccupations

of our day

(at least in France),

it is

Corneille.

The

greater number of lovers of poetry and

art confess without reserve that they cannot endure his tragedies, which " have nothing to

say to them."
declined
the

The

fortune of Corneille has


the

more and more with

growth of

fame of Shakespeare, which has been correlative to the formation and the growth of
aesthetic

modern
to

and

criticism;

and

if

the

fame

of Shakespeare seemed strange and repugnant


classicistic

elegance, the

same

fate has beresult of

fallen the

French dramatist, as the


in

Shakespeareanism
tion of art

relation to the apprecia-

which has now penetrated every-

where.

Corneille once represented " la proZ2>7

338

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
les ir-

fondeur du jugement " as opposed to "


regularites

sauvages et capr'icieuses "

of the
it,

Englishman, decorum against the lack of

calm diffused

light against

shadows pierced

at

rare intervals with an occasional flash.

Less-

ing hid selected for examination and theme the

Rodogiine, which he held to be a work, not of


poetical genius, but of an ingenious intellect,

because genius loves simplicity, and Corneille,

manner of the ingenious, loved comSchiller, when he had read the most highly praised works of Corneille, expressed his astonishment at the fame which had
after the
plications.

accrued to an author of so poor an inventive


faculty, so

meagre and

so dry in his treatment


in passion, so

of character, so lacking
rigid in the

weak and
Schle-

development of

action,

and almost

altogether deprived of interest.

William

gel noted in him, in place of poetry, " tragic

out grandeur he found him was not


scenes
his love
in the

epigrams " and "

airs of

parade,"

pomp

with-

cold in the love

as a rule love, but,

words of

the hero Sertorius, a well calpolitique

culated

aimer par

intricate

and

Machiavellian and at the same time ingenuous

and puerile

in

the representation of politics.

He

defined the greater part of the tragedies as

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
in

339

nothing but treatises on the reason of State

form of discussions, conducted rather manner of a chess-player than of a poet. Even the most temperate De Sanctis could not
the
in the

succeed in enjoying this writer, as

is

to be gath-

ered from his lectures upon dramatic literature


delivered in 1847.

^^

found that he does not


but only the extreme

render the fullness of

life,

points of the passions in collision, and that he

prefers eloquence to the development of tra-

gedy, so that he often unconsciously turns tra-

gedy into comedy.


neille's

The
de

confrontation of Cor-

Cid with
of

its

Spanish original, Las mocCastro,

edades

Guillen

has

however

prevailed

above

all

others as the text upon

which to base arguments against the French


dramaturge.
Corneille

Shack declared that the work of


negative, that he re-

was altogether

duced and reelaborated his original, losing the


poetical soul of the Spanish poet in the process

and destroying the alternate and spontaneous


expression of tenderness and of violent passion.

He

found that he substituted oratorical


a swollen

adornments and
struggle of the
rectly opposed,

phraseology for the

pure language of sentiment, coquetry for the


affections,

to

which

it

is

di-

and

a boastful charlatan for the

340

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
Klein, passing
satire,

heroic figure of Rodrigo. severe


criticism

from

into

open

described

commentary in Alexandrines " upon the poem of the Mocedades, comparing


the Cid to be a "

the Spanish Jimena to a fresh drop of dew upon " a flower that has hardly bloomed," and the

French Chimcne on the contrary

to a "

muddy
inin-

drop, which presents a tumultuous battle of fusorians to the light of the sun " the "
:

fusorians "
the

would represent the


tears "

antithesis

to

" Alexandrine
^

{Alexandr'inerthrd-

nen)

which she pours forth.


re-

But these negative judgments were not


stricted

altogether and at

first

to

foreigners

and romantics.
taire

In the eighteenth century, Vollifts his

(who

for that matter sometimes

eyes to the dangerous criterion of Shakespeare


in his

notes upon Corneille)


criticising his

did not refrain

from
the

illustrious predecessor for


in

frequent froideur observable

his

dra-

matic work, as well as for his constant habit of


speaking himself as the author and not allowing his personages to speak, for his substitution

of reflections for immediate expressions, and


for the artifices, the conventions and the padding,
in

which

he

abounds.

Vauvenargues
(Racine was his

showed himself

irreconcilable

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
ideal).

341

He

too blamed the heroes of Cor-

neille for uttering great things

and not

inspir-

ing them, for talking, and always talking too

much, with the object of making themselves

known
those
tion,

acterised

whereas great men by do not they do say and general


the things they
in

are rather char-

say than

for ostenta-

which takes the place of

loftiness,

and for

declamation, which he substitutes for true eloquence.

Gaillard allowed the influence of the


full
its

generally unfavorable verdict or the verdict

of retractations and cautions

in

respect of

theme, to colour the eulogy which he composed


in

1768.

It

used to be said of Corneille that


at

he

aimed rather

" admiration "


in

than

at

" emotion,"
tragic."

and that he was

fact

" not

This insult (declared Gaillard) was spoken, but not written down, " because the
is

pen

always wiser than the tongue."

But
itself

the accusation of " coldness "

had made

heard on the
in the

lips

of Corneille's contemporaries

second half of the seventeenth century,

particularly

when

the tragedies of Racine, with

their very different

message to the heart, had

appeared to afford a contrast.

The defenders

of Corneille have often yield-

ed to the temptation of accepting Shakespeare's

342

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
at least the tragedies of

dramas or
cism.

Racine as a
criti-

standard of comparison and a reply to

They have attempted

to

prove

that

Corneille

should be read, judged and inter-

preted in the spirit of those poets.

They have
which

claimed to discover
their

in Corneille just that

adversaries

failed

to

discover
this

and of
they call

which they denied the existence:


truth,

reality

and

life,

meaning thereby, pas-

sion

and imagination.

Thus we

find

Sainte-

Beuve lamenting that not only foreigners, but


France herself, had not remarked and had not
gloried in the possession of Pauline (in Polyeucte)
,

one of the divine poetical


list

figures,

which

are to be placed in the brief

containing the

Antigones, the Didos, the Francescas da Rimini,

the

Desdemonas,

the

Ophelias.

More

recently others have elevated the Cleopatra (of

Rodogune)

to the level of

Lady Macbeth, and

the Cid, on account of the youthful freshness

of his love-making, to the rank of


Juliet,

Romeo and

while they have discovered in Androless

mede nothing
Night's

than that kind of f eerie poet-

ique " to which the English

owe
a

Dream and

the Tempest."
is

Midsummer They also


in

declare that the

Horace

tragedy

which

reigns a sort of " savage

Roman

sanctity," cul-

CRITICISM O F
minating
in the

CR

T C
I

343

youthful Horace, " uitransigeiit


;

and

fanatical, ferociously religious "

while his

sister

Camilla

is

" a creature of nerves

and

flesh,

who
rises

has strayed into a family of heroes "

and

up

in

revolt

against
is

that

hard world.

For them Camilla

an " invalid of love,"

" one possessed by passion," a " neurotic," of

an altogether modern complexion.


represents " a

Polyeiicte

drama of nascent

Christianity,"

and

its

protagonist, a " mystical rebel," recalls

at once " Saint Paul,

Huss, Calvin and Prince

Krapotkine," arousing the same curiosity as a

Russian

nihilist,

such as one used to see some

years ago in the beershops, with bright eyes,


pale and fair, the forehead narrow about the

temples and of

had

whom it was whispered that he some general or prefect of police at Severus seems to them to be Petersburg.
killed

similar in

some

respects to " a

modern

exegete,"

who

writing the history of the origin of Christianity. There exists no play " which
is

penetrates

more profoundly
in

into

the

human

soul or opens a wider perspective of untrodden

paths."

Cinna represents
Augustus,

the tragedy of

Augustus another neurotic after the modern


manner.
ambitious

and

without
his de-

scruples, has attained to the

summit of

344
sires

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
and
in
is

weary and

tired of power.

He
al-

negates the
that
is

man who ordered


for

the proscriptions
is

himself and his generosity


satiety

due

most to

too
in

easy

triumphs

and

vengeances.

Attila,

the

tragedy of that
as " a

name, springs out before us


pride, cruel, emphatic

monster of

and

subtle, conscious of

being the instrument of a mysterious power, an

ogre with a mission "


ception
is

this "

stupendous " con-

worthy

to stand side

by side with the


Siecles.

gigantic figures of the

Legende des
which

These are
phors,
easel

all

fantastic embroideries, meta-

pictures,

sometimes

do

honour to the

artistic capacity

of the eulogists,

but have no connexion whatever with the direct

impression of Corneille's tragedies.

Spinoza

would have
ion

said that they have as

much connexof
this

with

them as the dog of zoology with

the
is

dog-star.

An

obvious

instance

the

strange

comparison

of

the

character

Poluseu^ty with the "Russian nihilist"


it

but

is

little
it

less evident in
is

the other instances,

because

altogether arbitrary to interpret

the Augustus of the Cinna as though he were


a

Shakespearean

Richard

II

or

Henry IV

and to attribute to him the psychology of what


Nietzsche describes as the " generous man."

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
Fancy for fancy,
ment.
as well

345

admit Napoleon's com-

He

declared

himself

persuaded that
in

Augustus was certainly not changed

mopoor
"

ment

into a " prince dcbonnaire," into a


si
if

prince exercising " une


as clemency,

paiivre petite vertu

and that

he holds out to Cinna

the right

to deceive

hand of friendship, he only does this him and in order to revenge himself
usefully
at

more completely and more


propitious moment.
It
is

the
like

an amusement

another to take up the personages of a play or


of a story and refashion them
in

our own way

by the free use of the fancy, or

to

weave

new

mode

of feeling out of the

facts

concerning

certain cases and characters.

Camilla can thus

be quite well transformed even into a nympho-

maniac; but unfortunately criticism insinuates


itself

into the

folds of fancy

and causes the


to

note that Camilla sacrifices her love to her duty " delihfancier

himself

(Lemaitre)

erement," that she certainly resembles a character of Racine, but " non certes par la langue,"

and that she would show us what she


"
si elle

really

is

parlait un langage mains rude at mains

campact."

As though

the speech and the in-

flection were an accident and not the whole of a

poetic creation, the beating of

its

heart!

The

346

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
it
is

demoniacal, the neurotic Camilla,

true,

speaks in this way:


" II vient, preparons-nous a montrer constamment

Ce que

doit

une amante a

la

mort d'un amant."

Here

Voltaire's

unconquerable good sense

could not refrain from remarking:

"'Prepa-

rons-nous

'

adds
is

to

the

defect.

We

see

woman who

thinking

how

she can demonre-

strate her affliction

and may be said to be

hearsing her lesson of grief."

The same
tro's play,

fantastic

and

anticritical

method

of comparison has been adopted with

De

Cas-

with the object of obtaining a conit

trary result: this comparison, whenever

is

conducted with the criterion of


of art
full

realistic art,
in

or
a

of passion, cannot but result

condemnation of Corneille's reelaboration of


the theme.

This has been frankly admitted


critic

by more than one French


ample),
chains

(Fauriel for ex-

who

contrived to loosen somewhat the

of

national

preconceptions and

tradi-

tional admirations.

Indeed

it

was already im-

plied in the celebrated

judgment of the Acad-

emy, which

is

not the less just and acute for

having been delivered by an academy and written by a Chapelain.

Guillen de Castro's play,

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
which
the
is

347

epical

and popular

in tone, celebrates

youthful hero
faithful

Rodrigo,

the

future

Cid,
all,

strong,

and pious,

admired by

and looked upon with love by princesses.


anecdote
is

An
cel-

recounted, with the object of

ebrating him, describing


to

how
the

he was obliged
father of
the

challenge

and to

slay

maiden he loved.

Bound

to the

same degree
is

as himself by the laws of chivalry, she

held

to be obliged to provide for the vendetta re-

quired by the death of her father.

She per-

forms her duty without hatred and solely as a legal enemy, an " ennemie legitime " (to employ
a phrase of the

same Corneille

in the

Horace).

She does not cease to love, nor does she feel

any shame

in loving.

Finally, his

prowess and

the favour of heaven, which he deserves

and

which ever accompanies him, obtain for Rodrigo the legal conquest of his loving beloved,

who
ings.
it,

is

also his
is

enemy for honour's

sake.

De

Castro's play

limpid, lively, full of happen-

Corneille both simplifies and complicates


it

reducing

to series of casuistical discussions,

vivified here

and there with echoes of the passoftened

sionate

original,

with

moments of

abandonment,

as in the vigorous scene of the


is

challenge, which

an echo of the Spanish play,

348

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
cruf
is
. .
.

or in the tender sigh of the duet, " Rodr'igue, qui


I'eut

Chimene^ qui

I'eut dit?

."
.
.

which

also in

De

Castro.

After

this,

it

can

made a human drama of universal human appeal, out of an exclusively Spanish drama " it will also be declared that " the most beautiful words of
drama,
a
;

be asserted that Corneille " has

the French language find themselves always at the point of the pen,

when one

is

writing about

the Cid; duty, love, honour, the family, one's native land," because " everything there is generous, affectionate, ingenuous,

and there never

has been breathed a livelier or a purer air upon


the stage, the air of lofty altitudes of the soul."

But
in

this is verbiage.

It is also possible to revel

the description of " the fair cavalier, pro-

tected of

God and adored by


it

the ladies,

who
in

carries his country about with

him wherever he
veil,

goes, and along with

everybody's heart;

the beautiful
so strong

maiden with the long black

and yet so weak, so courageous and

so tender; in the grand old man, so majestic and


yet so familiar, the signor so rude and so hoary, yet with a soul as straight and as pure as a
lily, in

whom

dwells the ancient code of honour

and

all

the glory of times past; in the king, so


like

good-natured and ingenuous, yet so clever,

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
the

349

good king one


little

finds In fairy stories; in the

gentle
quies,

infanta, with her precious solilo-

so
.

full
.

of gongorism and knightly robut as

mances
tures.
it

.";

we have

previously ob-

served, this will be merely drawing fancy picIt suffices to

read the Cid, to see that

contains nothing of this and nothing of this


to be

is

found among the tragedies of Corneille.


vanity of such criticisms, which attempt
Corneille by presenting
is

The

to alter

him

as that

which he

not and does not wish to be, a poet

of immediate passions, would at once be apparent, were


it

to be realised that
in

no such

at-

tempts are made

the case of Racine,


its

whose
felt

passionate soul makes

presence at once

through literary and theatrical conventions,


for

in

the affection which he experiences for the sweet,

what
in

is

tremendous and mysterious with


which palpitates
in in

re-

ligious

emotion,

Andro-

mache,

Phoedra,

Iphigenia and Eriphylis

in Joad and in Attila. But it confutes itself by becoming modified, sometimes among the very
critics

whom we
is

have been

citing. Into the thesis

that Corneille

the poet of the " reason," or of

" the rational will."

And we

say modified, bev/ill is in

cause the reason or the rational


itself a passion,

poetry

and he would be correctly de-

350

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM

scribed as a poet of that kind of inspiration,

who should accentuate the rational-volitional moment in the representation of the passions,
by creating types of wise and active men, such
as are to be

found
in

in the epic, in

many dramatic

masterpieces,

high romance and elsewhere.

But not even


so

this exists in Corneille, so

that

the

very persons

much who maintain the

remark that he isolates a principle and and the will, and seeks out how the one makes the other triumph. To
thesis,

a force, the reason

this,

they declare,

we must

attribute the " char-

acter of stiffness " proper to the heroes of Corneille,

who

are necessarily bound to lack " the

seductive flexibility, the languors, the perturbations,

which are to be observed

in

those

moved
even

by sentiment."
in art,
if it

Now

this

is

not permissible
a passion,

because

art, in

portraying

be that of inflexible rationality and


it.

Inflexi-

ble will and duty, never " isolates "

In the

fashion of an analyst in a laboratory, or a physicist,

but seizes
all

it

in its

becoming, and so to-

gether with

the other passions, and together

with

the

" languors "

and

" disturbances."

Thus

Corneille, described as they describe hiin


will,

by isolating the reason and the


a slayer of
life,

would be
rea-

and so of the

will

and the

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
son themselves.
love, " to the act
itself,

351

And when

he

is

blamed for

having given so small and so unhappy a place to

by which the race perpetuates

to the relations of the sexes

and to

all

the sentiments that arise

from them, and which,


essential part

by the nature of things form an


of the
life

of the

human

race,"

it is

not observed
is

that beneath this reproof, which

somewhat

physiological and lubricious and lacks serious-

ness of statement, there

is

concealed the yet


that

more
of

serious and

more general reproof

Corneille suffocates and suppresses the quiver


life.

La Bruyere was probably among


give

the

first

to

currency

to

the

saying,

which

has been repeated, that Corneille depicts not " as they are," but " as they

men

ought to be,"
poetry
in

and leads
in

to a like conclusion,

though expressed
to

an

euphemistic

form;

because

truth
be,

knows nothing of being or of having


its

and

existence

is

having to

be, its

having

to be a being.

This
plain

critical

position,

which desires to

ex-

and

to justify Corneille as poet of the

reason and of the rational will (although, as

we
is

shall see further on,

it

contains
it

some truth),

indeed equivocal, because

seems to assert

on the one hand that he possesses a particular

352

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
*'

form of passion, and on the other takes it away from him with its " isolation," its having to be," and with its assertion that his personages
" surpass nature," with
its

boasting of his " Ro-

mans being more Roman than Romans," his " Greeks more Greek than Greeks " and the like, that is to say, by making of him an exaggerator of types and of abstractions, the opposite of a poet.

The

passage, then,

is

easy

from
tion,

this position to its last thesis or modifica-

by means of which Corneille

is

exalted as

an eminent representative of a special sort of


poetry, " rationalistic poetry," which is held to coincide with poetry that is especially " French."

The theory here implied is to be found both among the French and those who are not French, among classicists and romantics, sometimes being looked upon among both as a merit,
that
is

to say,

it

is

recognised by them that this


In the course of
ex-

sort of poetry
his

is

legitimate.

proof that French rationalistic tragedy

cludes the lyrical element and

demands

the in-

trigue of action and the eloquence of the passions,

Frederick Schlegel indicated " the splenit

did side of French tragedy, where


lofty

evinces

and incomparable power,

fully

responding

to the spirit

and character of

a nation, in

which

CRITIC
private life."

S:vl

OF CRITICISM
contemporary writer on

353
in

eloquence occupies a dominant position, even

art,

Gundolf, blames his

German

conationals for the

prejudices in which they are enmeshed, and for


their lack of understanding of the great rationalistic

poetry of France, so logical, so uniform,

so ordered and subordinated, so regular and so


easily to be understood.
It is

the natural and

spontaneous expression of the French character,


in the

same way

as

XIV,

differing thereby

tion or imitation,

the monarchy of Louis from the narrow convenwhich it became in the hands
is

of Gottsched and others of Gallic tendencies, in

other countries.

Sainte-Beuve, alluding in par-

ticular to Corneille, argued that in French tragedy " things are not seen too realistically

or over-coloured, since attention

is

chiefly be-

stowed

upon

the

saying

of

Descartes:

and

think, therefore I

am:

I think,

therefore I feel;
in

everything there happens

or

is

led

back to the bosom of the interior substance,"


in the " state of

pure sentiment, of reasoned


in a

and dialogued analysis,"


tended,

sphere " no longer

of sentiment, but of understanding, clear, ex-

without

mists

and without clouds."


dif-

Another student of Corneille opposes the


ferent

and equally admissible system of the

354

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
a constructor

French tragedian, "

and as

It

were

an engineer of action," to that of Shakespeare,


portrayer of the soul and of
all
life.

Thus, while

the most famous plays of Shakespeare are


lyrical

drama, but

drama, " hardly one of the

most beautiful and popular plays of Cornellle


Is

essentially lyrical."

What

are

we

to think

of

" rationalistic "

or

" Intellectuallstic,"

or

" logical " or " non-lyrical " poetry?

Nothing
of French

but this: that

It

does not

exist.
It

And
is

poetry?
cause

The same:
Is

that
in

does not exist; benaturally

what

poetry

France

neither intellectuallstic nor essentially French,

but purely and simply poetry, like

all

other

poetry that has grown


bed.

In

this earthly flower-

And

If

the

old-fashioned romanticism,
to national-

which
ity

sanctifies

and gives substance


art,
it

and demands of
else,

of thought and of
first

everything
is

that

should

be national,

reappearing

among French

writers in the dis-

guise
this
Is

of anti-romanticism

and neo-classlcism,

but a proof the more of the spiritual dul-

ness and mental confusion of those nationalists,

who embrace their presumed adversary. The only reality that could be concealed
" rationalistic poetry," for which Cornellle
praised, as

in
Is

shown above, would be one of the

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
categories in old-fashioned books of literary
struction,

355
in-

known

as

" didactic poetry,"

which

was not too well spoken of, even there, Corneille is admired from this point of view, among other things, for his famous political dissertations in the China and in the Sertorius, where
Voltaire considers that he
praise
is

deserving of great

for

" having

expressed very beautiful


In

thoughts
this

in correct

and harmonious verse."

connexion are quoted the remarks of the

Marechal de Grammont about the Otiion, that


*'

it

should have been the breviary of kings," or

of Louvois, " an audience of ministers of state

would be desirable for the judgment of such


work."
which
is

It is

indeed only

in " didactic

versified prose, that

we

poetry," " " thoughts find

that are afterwards " versified."

The method
would also masked

employed by another man of

letters

make of

the

tragedies

of

Corneille

didactic poetry.

He

is

an unconscious manipu-

lator of thesis, antithesis

and

synthesis, in the
it

manner of Hegel, and

describes

as " the al-

liance of the individual with the species, of the

particular with the general," which were separate in the medieval " farces "
ties," the

and " moraliideas,

former being
actions,

all

compact of individof

uals

and

the

latter

which

356

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
was
able to unite, being one of those

Cornellle

great masters

who proceed from

the general

to the particular

and vivify the abstractions of


of the tragedies of Cor-

thought with the power of the imagination.

The
society

justification

neille, as

based upon the foundations of French


in

and history

the time of Corneille,

is

certainly

them
tions

as

more solid than that which explains based upon a mystical French " char-

acter," or " race," or " nation."

Do

conven-

and etiquette govern and embarrass the


in

development of dialogue and action


part of those tragedies?
court, or life

every
life at

But such was


life

modelled upon

at court,

in

those days.

Do

the characters rather reason

about their sentiments than express them?


such was the custom of well-bred
day.

But

men

of that

And do
all

they always discuss matters acthe rules of rhetoric and with

cording to

perfect diction?

But to speak well was the


and diplomatists
mingle love and
at that
politics,

boast of
time.

men

in society

Do

the

women

and rather make love for


politics for

political reasons

than

love?

But the ladies of the Fronde

did just this; indeed Cardinal Mazarin, in conversation with the Spanish ambassador, gave

vent to the opinion that

in

France " an honest

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
a mistress with her lover, unless they

357

womr.n would not sleep with her husband, nor

had

dis-

cussed affairs of State with them during the

day."

And

so discussions continue and are to


in

be found continuing

Taine and many others,

without explaining anything, because they pass


over the poetry and the problem of the poetry,

which

is

not, as

Taine held, " the expression of


(society reflects

the genius of an age " or " the reflection of a

given society"
itself

and expresses

in

its

own
is

actions

and customs), but

" poetry, that

to say, one of the free forces of

every people, society and time, which must be


interpreted with reasons contained in itself."
It is
^

superfluous to add that the poetry

is

lost

sight of in the delight of finding the personages

and
tury,

social types of the

French seventeenth cen-

beyond the verses and the ideal concep-

tions of character; for example,

declaring their own affectionate " Christian Theodora," for this martyr, of the
dress with the starched collar and the equally

them sympathy for


find

we

proudly
^

starched
que
la

sentiments,

for

this

proud
I'art

" Est-ce

pour dans

I'histoire?
I'ecole

critique moderne n'a pas abandonne La valeur intrinseque d'un livre n'est

rien

Sainte-Beuve-Taine.

On

y prend tout en con-

sideration, sauf le talent."

(Flaubert, Correspondence, IV, 8i.)

358

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
in the

martyr,

grand

style

of Louis XIII,"

al-

together forgetting the reality of the art of


Corneille and the critical problems suggested

by

the

Theodora.

This

is

certainly
it

very

prettily

and gracefully

said, but

misses the

point.

There remains

to mention but one last


is

form

of defence, which however

not a justification

of the art of Corneille, but a eulogy of him as

an ingenious man,

who deserved

well of culture

and possessed refinement of manners, particularly as regards theatrical representations.

To

'him belongs the " great


in

merit" (said Voltaire


of
" having

concluding

his

commentary)

found France
I

rustic,

gross and ignorant, about


it

the time of the Cid, and of having changed

'by teaching

it

not only tragedy and comedy,

but even the art of thinking."


Racine,
in

And

his rival

his praise

of Corneille before the

Academy
stage

at the time of his death,

had recorded
disor-

" the debt that

French poetry and the French

owed

to him."

He

had found

it

dered, irregular and chaotic, and after having

sought the right road for some time and striven


against the bad taste of his age, " he inspired
it

with an extraordinary genius aided by study of


the ancients, and exhibited reason {la raison)

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
on the stage, accompanied with
all

359

the

pomp
of

and

all

the ornaments, of which the French lanis

guage

capable."

All

the

historians

French
ing

literature repeat this, beginning by

bow-

down before
means

Corneille, the " founder," or

" creator " of the French theatre.


as this
little

Such praise
because

or nothing

in art,

non-poets, or poets of very slender talents, even

pedants, are capable of exercising this function

of being founders and directors of the culture

and the

literature of a people.

An
"

instance of

this in Italy
this pure,

was Pietro Bembo,

who removed
its

sweet speech of ours from

vulgar

obscurity,
it

and has shown us by


a poet, yet

his

example what

ought to be."

He

was not

was surrounded with

the gratitude and with the m-ost sincere rever-

ence on the part of poets of genius,

among

whom was

Ariosto, to

whom

belong the verses

cited above.

That other merit accorded

to Corneille, of

having accomplished a revolution, cleared the

ground and " raised the French tragic system

upon
define

it,"

the

" classical

system,"
it

is

without

poetical value.

We

shall leave

to others to

as they please,

precisely of

what

this

work

consisted, the introduction of the unities

36o

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
rules of verisimilitude, the concep-

and of the
tion

and

.realisation

of

tragic

psychological

tragedy, or the tragedy of character, of which


actions

and catastrophes should form, the conthe

sequences,

fusing

and harmonising

in

single type of sixteenth century tragedy,


starts

which

from

" the tragic incident," with that of


It,

the seventeenth century, which ends with

and

so on.
this

We prefer to
to so

remark, with reference to


other disputes that have

and

many

taken place since the time of Calepio and Lessing onward, and especially during the romantic

period, with regard to the merits and the defects of the " French system," as compared with " the " Greek system " and with the " romantic or " Shakespearean," that " systema " either

have nothing to do with poetry, or are the abstract

schemes of single poems, and therefore

that such disputes are and always have been,


sterile

and

vain.

Here

too

it

should

be

mentioned that a " system "

may

be the work

of non-poets or of mediocre poets, as was the case in Italy with the system of " melodrama," of which (to employ the figure of

De

Sanctis),

Apostolo Zeno was

the " architect " and Pietro

Metastasio the " poet."

In England too, the

system of the drama was not fixed by Shake-

CRITICISM OF CRITICISM
deed as compared with him.
observe that death or
the
life

361

speare, but by his predecessors, small fry in-

We

would

also

may

exist in

one and

with bolts and bars.

same system, for indeed a system is a prison, Note in this respect, that although the romantics had boasted the salva-

tion that lay in the Shakespearean system, a

new

dramatic genius springing therefrom was vainly


awaited.

There appeared only semigeniuses


less cold

and a crowd of strepitous works, not


in the

and empty than those that had been condemned


opposing " French system."

We

may

therefore conclude that the argu-

ments of the admirers and apologists of Corneille, which have been passed in review, do not

embrace the problem, but leave the judgments


of negative criticism free to exercise their perilous

potency.

They

find

in

Corneille

intel-

lectual combinations in place of poetical


tions, abstractions in place of

forma-

what

is

concrete,

oratory

in

place

of

lyrical

inspiration

and

shadow

in place

of substance.

CHAPTER XIV

THE IDEAL OF CORNEILLE


Nevertheless,

when

all this

has been said and

the conclusion drawn, there remains the general

impression of the work, which has

in

it

some-

thing of the grandiose, and brings back to the


lips the

homage

that the next generations ren-

dered to the author, when they called him " the


great Corneille,"
It is to

be hoped that no one


dis-

has been deceived as to the intention of our

course up to this point, which has been directed

not against Corneille, but against his

critics,

nor among them against those

who have

written

many

other things both true and beautiful on


to refer to the acute
recent, to the diligent

we have but Lemattre among the most


the subject;
all,

and loving Dorchain, and to the most solid of


Lanson.

We

shall avail ourselves of

them

in

what

follows,

but shall oppose their par-

ticular theories

and presuppositions, which are


criticism,

misrepresentations of the subject of their judg-

ments

itself.

For the negative


362

which

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
we have
fidence, but rather

363

recapitulated, does not win our con-

shows

itself to

be erroneous

or (which amounts to the same thing) incomplete,

exaggerated and one-sided, for the very


it

reason that

does not account for that impres-

sion of the grandiose.

Conducted
suit a writer

as

it

has

been,
a

it

would very well

who was

rhetorician with an appearance of

a writer able to

make

warmth, good show before the

public and in the theatre, while remaining internally


lous.

unmoved

himself, superficial and frivo-

But Corneille looks upon us and upon


critics

those

with

so

serious

and

severe

countenance, that

we

lose the courage to treat

him

in so

unceremonious and so expeditious a


that air of severity, which
in his portraits

manner.

Whence comes we find not only


page of

but

in

every

his tragedies,

even

in

those and in those

parts of them, in which he fails to hit the mark,

or appears to be tired, to have lost his way,

and to be making

efforts?

From

this

fact

alone:
in

that

Corneille

had

an ideal, an ideal

which he believed, and to


all

which he clung with

the strength of his soul,


al-

of which he never lost sight and which he

ways tended

to realise in situations, rhythms,

364

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
his

and words, seeking and finding


satisfaction,

own

intimate
ideal,
in

the

incarnation

of his

those brave and solemn scenes and sounds.

His contemporaries
this

felt this,

and

it

was for
all,

reason that Racine wrote that above

"

what was

peculiar to Corneille consisted of a


a

certain

force,

certain

elevation,

which

as-

tonishes and carries us away, and renders even


his defects,
if

there be found

some

to reprove

him for them, more estimable than the virtues of others "; and La Bruyere also summed it up in the phrase that " what Corneille possessed of most eminent was his soul, which was sublime."

The most

recent

interpreters

have found
its

Corneille's ideal to reside in will for

own

sake, the " pure will," superior or anterior to

good and

evil, in

the energy of the will as such,

which does not pay attention to particular ends.

Thus

the false conception of

him

as

animated

with the ideal of moral duty or with that of


the triumph of duty over the passions has been
eliminated, and agreement has been reached, not

only with the reality of the tragedies, but also

with what Corneille himself laid

down

in

his

Discoiirs as to the dramatic personage.


a

Such

personage

may

indeed be plunged

in all sorts

of crimes, like Cleopatra in the Rodogune, but

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
in the

365

words of the author, " all his actions are accompanied with so lofty a greatness of soul
that

flow,

we admire the source whence his actions while we detest those actions themselves."
the other hand, the concept of the pure

On

will runs

some

risk of being perverted at the


it by power "

hands of those who proceed to interpret


identification with that other " will for

of Nietzsche,
in this

who understood

the French poet


to

hyperbolical

manner and referred

him

with fervent admiration on account of this fancy of


his.

The

ideal of the will for


in

power has

an altogether modern origin,

the protoro-

'mantic and romantic superman, in over-excited

and abstract individualism.


poet,

It did

not exist at

the time of Corneille, or in the heart of the

who was

very healthy and simple.

The

figures of Corneille's tragedies

must be looked

at

through coloured and deforming glasses, as

supplied by fashionable literature, in order to


see in

them such

attitudes

and gestures.
it

The

further definition, which, while

rend-

ers the first conception more exact and more appropriate, at the same time shuts the door

on these new fancies,

is

this: that Corneille's

ideal does not express the pure will at the

mo-

ment of violent onrush and

actuation, but of

366

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
Is

,ponderatIon and reflection, that


deliberative
will.

to say,

as

This

was what Corneille


its

truly loved: the spirit

which deliberates calmly


resolution,

and serenely and having formed


adheres to
it

with unshakeable firmness, as to

a position that has been

won with

difficulty

and

with
for

difficulty

strengthened.
lofty

This represented

him the most

form of strength, the


" Laisscz-moi mieux
of Corneille's

highest dignity of man.


consulter

mon dmej'

says one

personages, and all of them think and act in the same way. " Voyons," says the king of the

Gepidi to the king of the Goths in ihe Attila, " voyons qui se doit vaincre, et s' il faut que

flamme.

mon dme A votre On s'il n'est


Augustus hesitates

ambition

im?nole

cette

point plus beau que votre

ambition Elle-meme s'immole a cette passion.'*


a

long while, and gives

vent to anguished lamentations, when he has


discovered that Cinna
life,
is

plotting against his

as

though to clear

his soul

and to make

it

better capable of the deliberation, which begins


at once

under the influence of passion,

in the

midst of anguish and with anguish.

Has

he

the right to lament and to become wrathful?

Has

he not also

made

rivers of blood to flow?


in his

Does he then

resign himself

turn?

Docs

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
past?

367

he forsake himself as the victim of his own

Far from
to defend

it:
it,

he has a throne and

is

bound

and therefore

will punish

blood to flow, he
ous plots.

when he has caused more find new and greater hatreds surrounding him, new and more dangerthe assassin.

Yes, but

will

It

is

better,

then,

to

die?

But
re-

wherefore die?

Why

should he not enjoy

venge and triumph once again?


hard,

This

is

the
as a
it

tumult of irresolution, which, while


a

felt

desperate

torment,

and although
to

seems to hold the


sets
it

will in suspense, in reality


it

in

motion, insensibly guiding

its ir-

end.
I

''O
.
.

rigoureux
."

combat

d'un

coeiir

resolu!

The more

properly deliberative

process enters his breast with the appearance


,

whose advice he is opposed, for he disputes and combats it, yet listens and weighs it, seeming finally to remain still irresolute, yet he has already formed his resolve, he has decided in his heart to perform
upon the scene of Livia,
to

y
\

an act of political clemency, so thunderous, so


lightning-like in quality, as to bewilder his en-

emy and to hurl him vanquished at his feet. The two brother princes in Rodogune
as to

are

conversing, while they await the announcement

which

is

the legitimate heir to the throne.

368

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
announcement also depends which become the happy husband of Rodogune,
this

Upon
shall

whom

they both love with an equal ardour.

How
fate?

will they face

and support the decision of


proposes to renounce the

One

of the two, uncertain and anxious


future,

about the

throne in favour of his brother, provided the


latter renounces

the

Rodogune; but he is met with same proposal by the other. Thus the satby means of mutual renunciaBut the other course
firm,
is

isfaction of both,
tion, is precluded.

also

precluded, that of strife and conflict, for their

brotherly affection

is

and so

is

the senti-

ment of moral duty


neither

in

both.

This also forbids

the one sacrificing himself for the other, because

would accept the sacrifice. saved from a collision, from which

What can
it

be

seems that,

nothing can be saved?


ers,

One

of the two brothat-

after

these various

and equally vain

tempts at finding a solution, returns upon himself,

descends to the bottom of his soul, finds


is

there a better motive and


late the unique resolution
:

the

first

to formuI'

" Malgrc

eclat
si

du

trone at I'amour d'une femme^ Faisons

hien

regner I'amitie sur notre ame, Ou'c'toiiffant dans


leur perte
tin

regret suborneur,

Dans
.
.

le

honheur

d'un frere on trouve son honheur.

."

And

the

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
other,

369

has not been the first to see and to " he pourriez, vous mon follow this path asks The first replies: " Ah; que vous me frere? "
:

who

pressez!

Je

le

et c'est assez; et

voudrah du moins, mon frere, ma raison sur moi gardera tant

Que je desavoural mon coeur, s'il en soupire." The other, firm in his turn replies: " J'embrasse comme vous ces nobles sentid' empire,

ments.

."
.

Loving

as he did, in this way, the

work of the

deliberative will

of the situations
cite

(we have recorded two only in his tragedies, and we could

hundreds), Corneille did not love love, a

thing that withdraws itself from deliberation,


a severe illness,

which man discovers

in his

body,
it

like fire in his house,

without having willed


it

and without knowing how


times the deliberative will

got there.
affected by

Someit

is

and

for the moment at least upset, and then we hear " Quel nouveau coup de the cry of Attila
:

foudre!
etouffe.
.

O
. :

raison confondue, orgueil presque


."

chantments

as he struggles against its en" cruel poison de I'dme et doux

charme des

yeux.'^
it

But as a general

rule,

he

promptly drives

away from him,


it

coldly
it

and
as a

scornfully; or he subdues

and employs

means and an

assistance in far graver matters,

370

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
it

such as ambition, politics, the State; or he accepts

for

what

it

contains of useful and

worthy, which as such is the object and the " Ce ne sont pas les sens fruit of deliberation.

que

mon amour
is

consult e: II halt des passions


.

Vimpetueux tumulte.
titude intransigent,
it?
''

."

Certainly, this at-

ascetic

and severe: but

what of
it

Un peu
and

lc durete sied hien aux

grandes antes."
diminished

Certainly love comes out of " L' Amour humiliated:

n'est pas le maitre alors qu'on delibere " ; love

deserves its fate and almost deserves the gibe: " La seide politique est ce qui nous emeut; On
la suit et

V amour

s'y

mele
s'il

comme
it

il

peut:

S'il

vient on I'applaudit;
sole.
.
.

manque on
as best

s'en con-

."

It

manages

can and be-

comes

less

powerful and wonderfully ductile


ready to bend
to
in

beneath

this pressure,
it is it

whatever

direction

commanded

bend by the reason.

Sometimes

remains suspended between two


".

persons, like a balance, which awaits the addition of a weight in order to lean over
:

Ce

coeur des deux parts engage, Se donnant a vous

deux ne

s'est point

partage, Toujours pret d'ejnle voire,

brasser son service et

Toujours pret a

mourir

et

pour

I'un et
il

pour V autre.

adorer qu'une,

eut fallu choisir;

Pour n'en Et ce choix

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
eut ete
aii

371

mains quelque

desir,
recti

Quelque espoir
. .

oiitrageux d'etre

mieux

d'elle.

."

On

another occasion, although there might be some


inchnation or desire, rather toward the one than
the other side,
it is

yet kept secret, beneath the


it

resolve to suffocate

altogether, should reason


into

ordain
channel.

that

love

must flow

contrary

only are Corneille's personages " II tie faiit plus aimer,'* told to their face
:

Not

an act of renunciation to be asked of a saint, " II faut aimer but they are also bidden thus:
ailleurs," an act

worthy of
passion,

a martyr.
it

He

did not love love, not because


it is

is

love,

but because

which carries one


so, will

away and which,


clearly,

if it

be allowed to do

not consent to state the terms of the debate

and engage

in deliberation.

His

dis-

like for the inebriation of

hatred and of anger,


vision,

which blind or confound the


as passion,
is

and which,
" Qui hait

also foreign to his ideal, also ap-

pears in confirmation of this view.

hrutalement permet tout a sa haine, II s'emporte Mais qui hait par oil sa fureur Ventraine.
.
. .

devoir ne s'aveugle jamais;


hait.
.
.

c'est sa raison qui

."

His

ideal

personages

sometimes

declare,

when

face to face with their

enemy:

" je

te

dois estimer, mais je te dois hair."

372

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
the other hand,

On

we

perceive clearly

why

Corneille

was

led to admire the will, even

when

without moral illumination, even indeed when


it

is

actively
it

opposed to or without morality;

for

has the power of not yielding to and of

dominating the passions, of not being violent


.

weakness, but strength, or as


ing the Renaissance, " virtu."

it

was

called dur-

In that sphere

of deliberation there existed a

common ground
evil

of mutual understanding between the honest

and dishonest man, between the hero of


of duty,
in his

and

the hero of good, for each pursued a course

own way and both agreed

in

with-

standing and despising the madness of the passions.

domain towards which Corneille directed his gaze and for which he had a special predilection, was bound to be
also see

And we

why

the

that of politics,
it

where "

virtii," in the sense that

possessed during the period of the Renais-

sance,

found ample opportunity for free expanself-realisation.

sion

and for

In politics,

we

find ourselves continuously in difficult

and conneces-

tradictory situations, where acuteness and long

views are of importance and where


sary to

it

is

make

calculations as to the interests

and passions of men, to act energetically upon

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
what has been decided
balance, to be firm as well as prudent.
It

373

after nice weighing in the

has

been jocosely observed by William Schlegel that


Corneille, the

most upright and honest of men,


politics,

was more Machiavellian than any Machiavelli


in his

treatment and representation of

that he boasted of the art of deceiving, and that

he had no notion of true

politics,

which are

less

complicated and far more adroit and adaptable.

Lemaitre too admits that


" fort candidc."
the things that he loves?

in this respect
is

he was

But who

not excessive in
is

Who
is

not some-

times too candid regarding them, with that can-

dour and simplicity which


enthusiasm?
real politics, his simpllcism

born of faith and


in
in

His very lack of experience


and exaggeration

conceiving them.

Is

there to confirm the vigour

of his affection for the ideal of the politician, as

supremely expressed by the

man who ponders


has
la

and

deliberates.

He

always
d'etat

raison
lips.

d'etat

and

les

maximes
in

upon

his

We
tion.
It

feel that these

words and phrases move,

edify

and arouse

him an

ecstasy of admira-

was free determination and complete subfitting

mission to reason,

what was

and not

duty,

objective
a spirit

utility,

to

of courtly

374

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL

him to look with an equal upon personages in high positions and upon monarchs, the summit of the pyramid. He did not therefore admit them
adulation
that led
ecstasy of admiration

because they can do everything,

still

less be-

cause they can enjoy everything, but on the contrary, because,


cipline

owing

to their office, their dis-

and

tradition, they are

accustomed to

sacrifice their private affections

and to conduct
a heart, they

themselves

in

obedience to motives superior to

the individual.

Kings too have

too are exposed to the soft snares of love; but


better than
all

others they
:

know what
reine
et

is

be-

coming behaviour
regner sur moi:
le

" Je

suis

dois

rang que nous tenons, jaloux


tel cho'ix

de notre gloire, Souvent dans un

nous

defend de nous
des yeux."

croire, Jette sur nos desirs


I'avis et

un
et

joug imperieux, Et dcdaigne

du coeur

And

elsewhere

" Les princes ont

cela de leur haute naissance,

Leur dme dans leur

rang prend des impressions Qui dessous leur


vertu rangent leurs passions; Leur generosite

soumet tout a leur


certainly, as
it

gloire.

."

They

love,

happens to
" Je ne

all

to love, but they

do not on that account yield to the attractions


of the senses.
le
I'

cele

point, j'aime,
I'etat plus

Carlos, Old, j'aime;

Mais

amour de

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
fort que
jet le
cle

375

moi-meme, Cherche, an lieu de Fobplus doux a mes yeux, Le plus digne heros

de rcgner en ces lieux."


history, especially for

His predilection for


history, has the

Roman

same
ideal

even

root,

and had long been elaborated as an


in the

Rome

of the Empire, yet

more

so at the time of the Renaissance and dur-

ing the post-Renaissance, and even in the schools

of the Jesuits.

It

was thus transformed

into a

history that afforded examples of civic virtues,

such as self-sacrifice, heroism, and greatness of


resolve.

We

spare the reader the demonstra-

tion that this tendency

was altogether

different

from, and indeed opposed to historical knowledge and to the so-called " historical sense," because questions of this sort and the accompanying eulogies accorded to Corneille as a historian, are

now

to be looked

upon

as antiquated.

The
in

historical relations of Corneille's ideal

are clearly indicated or at any rate

adumbrated
its

these references and explanations, as also

incipience

and

genesis,

which

is

to be found, as

we have
the
office

stated, in the theory

and practice of

Renaissance,

concerning politics and the

of the sovereign or prince, and for the rest

in the ethics

of stoicism, which was so widely

diffused in the second half of the sixteenth cen-

376
tury,

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
and not
less
In

France than elsewhere.


Is

The image

of Corneille
all

surrounded

In

our

Imagination with

those volumes, containing


illustrative

baroque frontispieces
scenes,

of historical
light every

which
all

at that time

saw the

day

in

parts of Europe.

They were
in

the

works of the moralists, of the Machiavellians,


of the Taciteans, of the councillors
the art of

adroit behaviour at court, of the Jesuit casuists

Botero and Ribadeneyra, Sanchez and Mariana,


Valeriano Castlglione and Matteo Pellegrini,

Graclan and Amelot de

la

Houssaye, Balzac
Justus
Lipslus.

and
plete

Naudee,

Scioppio

and

They might
the

be described as comprizing a comthe " Intellec-

and conspicuous section of the Library of

Manzonian Don Ferrante,


this

tual " of the seventeenth century.

Such literature as
time
Itself

and the history of the

have been more than once given as

the source of the poetical inspiration proper to

and Indeed they appear spontaneously mind of anyone acquainted with the particular mode of thought and of manners that
Corneille,
In the

have prevailed during the various epochs of

modern
for
it,

society.

It

Is

therefore unpleasant to

find critics Intent


In

on fishing out other origins

an obscure determinism of race and

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
religion,

377

almost as

if

disgusted with the obvious


is

explanation, which

certainly

the

only true

one

in

this

case,

pointing out for instance in

Corneille

" an
is

energy that comes


to say

from the

north," that

from the Germany that

produced Luther and Kant, or from the country


that
thers the

was occupied for a time by their forefaNormans, those Scandinavian pirates


the leadership of Rollo
all

who disembarked under


(if this

fancy originated with Lemaitre, they


it)
;

repeat

or they discover the characteristic


in the subtlety in the

of his poetry

and

litigious spirit

of the Norman, and


trate

lawyer and magishis ideal with

whose functions he

fulfilled.

The customary association of


the theory of Descartes
truth.
is

also without

much
in

Chronological incompatibility

would

any case preclude derivation or repercussion

from

this source, the

utmost that could be ad-

mitted being that both possessed

common
namely

ele-

ments, since they were both descended from a

common patrimony
the cult of

of

culture,

the

stoical morality already

mentioned, and from


In Descartes, as

wisdom

in general.

later in Spinoza, the tendency

was towards the


in-

domination of the passions by means of the


tellect or the

pure intelligence, which dissipates

378

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL

them by knowing and thinking them, while with Corneille the domination was all to be effected by means of an effort of the will.

The
neille

historical element in the ideal of


its

Cor-

does not mean that

value was restricted

to the times of the author

and should be looked

upon

as

having disappeared with the disappear-

ance of those customs and doctrines, because

every time expresses

human

eternal truth in

its

'forms that are historically determined, laying


in

each case especial stress upon particular as-

pects or

moments of

the spirit.

The
it

idea of
in

the deliberative will has been

removed

our

day

to the second rank, indeed


in the

has almost

been lost

background, under the pressure


as-

of other forces and of other more urgent


pects of reality.

Yet

it

possesses eternal vigour

and
soul,

is

perpetually returning to the mind and

through the poets and philosophers and


life
itself,

through the complexities of

which

make
moral
in

us feel

its

beauty and importance.

The

history of the manners, of the patriotism, of the


spirit,

of the military spirit of France,


this,

bears witness to
the

for one of

its

mainstays

past

as

in

the

present has been the

tragedies of Corneille.

The

heroic, the tragic


in

Charlotte

Corday gave

reality

her

own

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
person to one of Corneille's characters, so

379
full

of will power and ready for any enterprise: she

was one of those aimables


of Plutarch,

furies, nourished like

the tyrannicides of the Renaissance on the Lives

whom

her great forefather had set

on paper with such delight.


It
is

inconceivable that such heroines as she,


in

sublime

their

meditated

volitional

act,

should have been audaciously classed and con-

founded with those weak and impulsive beings


extolled by the philosophers and artists of the
will

for power,

from Stendhal

to

Nietzsche,

who

freely sought their

models among the de-

generates of the criminal prisons.

The whole
we have

life

of Corneille, the whole of his

long activity, was dominated by the ideal that


described, with a constancy and a co-

herence which leaps to the eye of anyone

who

examines the particulars.


of horrors

As

young man, he
tragedy

touched various strings of the

lyre, the

in the manner of Seneca (Medee)^ comedy in L'lllusion comiqiie, the romantic drama of adventures and incidents in

eccentric

Clitandre, the comedies of love; but


find

we already
especially

many

signs in these

works and

in the comedies, of the tendency to fix the will in

certain situations,

as will for a purpose

and

38o
choice.
is

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
After
his novitiate (in

which period
is

to be

comprehended the Cid, which

rather

an attempt than a reahsation, rather a beginning than an end) he proceeded in a straight


line

and with over increasing resolution and


It
is

self-consciousness.

due to a prejudice,

born of

extrinsic or certainly but little acute

considerations, that an interval should be placed

between the Cid and the later works, though


this

was done by

Schlegel,

by Sainte-Beuve and

by many others, both foreigners and French. They deplored that Corneille should have

abandoned the Spanish mediaeval and knightly


style, so in

harmony with

his generous, grand-

iose

and imaginative

inclinations,

so

full

of

promise for the romantic future, and should

have restricted himself to the Graeco-Roman

world and to
(as
originality

political tragedy.
in

It is

impossible

we have shown

passing), to assert the


it

and the beauty of the Cid, when

is compared with and set in opposition to the model offered to Corneille by Guillen de Castro.

Now
is

if

there

is

not to be found beauty, there

certainly to be found a sort of originality in

the personality of Corneille,

who

eats into the

popular epicity of the model and substitutes for


it

the

study of deliberative situations.

The

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
harmonious
in a society

381
in

versification

of these explains

great part the success which the play met with

accustomed to debate " questions of

love " (as they had been called since the period

of the troubadours at the Renaissance), and


those of honour and knighthood, of challenges

and
of

duels.

But on the other hand, the reason

its

success

was

also to be found in

what perwhich

sisted scattered here

and there of the ardour


play,

and tenderness of the original

moved

the
:

spectators
''

and made them love

Chimene

yeux de Rc^drigue."

Tout Paris pour Chimene a les Yet these words of ten-

derness and strong expressions, though beautiful in

themselves,

foreign to the
there

show themselves to be rather new form of the drama, and

is some truth in the strange remark of Klein: that " there is not enough Cidian elec-

tricity,

enough material for electro-dramatic


full

shocks in that atmosphere

of the exhala-

tions of the antichambre, to produce a slap in

the face of equally pathetic force and conse-

quence " with the hofetada which Count Lozano


applied
to

the

countenance
in

of

the

decrepit

Diego Laynez
there
is

the

Spanish drama.

And

emy, that the subject of the Cid

truth also in the judgment of the Acadis " defective

382
in

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
the essential part "
;

and

" lacking in veriit

similitude "

of course not because

was

so

with Guillen de Castro, or that


is

a subject, that
itself

to say,

mere material, can be of


it

good or

bad, verisimilar or the reverse, poetic or unpoetic,

but because
in

had become defective


hands
refined

and

discordant

the

of
it.

Corneille,

who

elaborated

and

Rodrigue,

Jimena the lady Urraca, are simple, spontaneous, almost childlike souls, in the
lar

heroes.
are

Infanta

mould of popuChimene and Rodrigue and the reflective and dialectical spirits,

and

since their novel psychological attitude does

not chime well with the old-fashioned manner


of behaviour, Rodrigue and the father some-

times appear to be charlatans, Chimene some-

times even a hypocrite, the Infanta insipid and


superfluous.

Also,

when

Corneille returned to

the " Spanish style," in

Don

Sanche d'Aragon,

he charged

it

with reflections and ponderations


at

and deliberative resolutions, without aiming


at dialectic

the picturesque, as the romantics did later, but

and

subtlety.

It

must however be
this superior-

admitted that
if

all this

represents a superiority,
:

viewed from another angle but


does not reside

ity

in the artistic eflect

obtained;

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
it is

383

rather mental and cultural and represents a

more complex and advanced humanity. Thus the Cid is to be looked upon as really a work of transition, a transition to the Horace, which has seemed to a learned German, to be substantially the same as the Cid, the Cid reconstructed after the censures passed upon
it

by

his adversaries

and

in

the

Academy, which

Corneille inwardly felt to be, in a certain meas-

ure at any rate,


creates a
/

just.

But another prejudice

gap between what are called the four

principal tragedies, the Cid, the Horace, the

Cinna and the Polyeucte


ian

'*

the great Cornel-

quadrilateral "

eulogised

by

Peguy

in

rambling prose,

and

the later tragedies, as


his

though Corneille had changed


tragedy."

method
ideal,
*'

in

these and begun to pursue another


litical

po-

Setting aside for the time be-

ing the question of greater or lesser artistic


value,
his
it is

certain that he never really

changed
no sugno trace

method.

In the Horace, there

is

gestion of the ferocious national sanctity of a


primitive society, in the Cinna, there
is

of the imagined tragedy of satiety or of the


lassitude,

which the sanguinary Augustus

is

sup-

posed

to

have

experienced.

The Polyeucte

384

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL

does not contain a shadow of the fervour, the


delirium, the fanaticism, of a religion in the act of birth, but as Schlegel well expressed it, " a

firm

and constant

faith rather than a true re-

ligious

enthusiasm."

In

the

four

tragedies

above mentioned,

le coeiir is
is

not supreme, any


in the later trageis

more than
dies,

I'

esprit

supreme

but " political tragedy "

present

more or

less in all

of them, in the intrinsic sense of a

representation of calculations, ponderations and


resolutions, and often too in the

sense of State

affairs.

He

more evident pursues these and

suchlike forms of representation, heedless, firm

and obstinate, notwithstanding the disfavour of


the public and of the critics,
things.

who asked

for other

They

divest themselves of extraneous

elements and attain to the perfection at which


they

aimed. very

This may be observed


latest,

in

one
au-

of

the

the

Pulchcrie.
its

The

thor congratulated himself upon


cess or

half-sucit is

shadow of

success, declaring that "

not always necessary to follow the fashion of


the time, in order to be successful on the stage."

Just

previously,

he was pleased with

Saint-

Evremond
is

for his approbation of the secondary


it

place to be assigned to love in tragedy, " for

a passion too surcharged with weaknesses to

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
be dominant
In a

385

heroic drama."

Voltaire was

struck with this constancy to the original line of

development, for he
astonishment and

felt

bound

to

remark

at

the conclusion of his commentary, not without


In opposition to the current opinion, that " he wrote very unequally, but I

is

do not know that he had an unequal genius, as maintained by some; because I always see him
and
in his Inferior

intent, alike in his best

works,

upon the force and the profundity of the Ideas.

He

Is

always more disposed to debate than to


rich In finding ex-

move, and he reveals himself


guments, though these are but

pedients to support the most ungrateful of arlittle tragic, since

he makes a bad choice of his subjects from the

Oedipe onwards, where he certainly does devise Intrigues, but these are of small account and
lack both

warmth and

life.

In his last

works

he

Is

trying to delude himself."

But Corneille

did not delude himself; rather he

knew
his

himself,

and he himself the author was and for

personage

who

had deliberated and had made up


all.

mind, once

The

vigour of this resolution and the com-

pactness of the

work which

resulted

from

It,

are

not diminished, but are rather stressed by the


fact that

Corneille possessed other aptitudes

386

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL

and sources of inspiration, which he neglected and of which he made little or no use. Certainly,

the
in

poet

who

versified

the

delicious

Psyche,

collaboration with Moliere, would


able,

have been

had he so desired, to enter into the graces of those " doucereiix" and " enjouh,"
he despised.

whom

There are

witty,

tender

and melancholy poems among


works, and
in certain

his miscellaneous

parts of the paraphrase of

the Imitation and other sacred compositions,

there

is

a religious fervour that

is

to seek in the

Polyeiicte.

His youthful comedies contain


life,

power of observation of
ing social drama.
tain personages
lais,

replete with pas-

sionate sympathy, which foreshadows the com-

We

refer especially to cer-

and scenes of the Galerie du Pa-

of the Venue and of the Suivante; to cer-

tain studies of marriageable girls, obedient to

the resolve of their parents, and to mothers,

who

still

carry in their heart


in

how much

that

submission cost them

the past and do not

wish to abuse the power which they possess over


their daughters.

There are

also certain tremu-

lous meetings of lovers,

who had been

sepair-

rated and are annoyingly interrupted by the

ruption of prosaic reality in the shape of their relations

and friends

{"Ah!

mere, soeur, ami,

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
comme vous m'

387

importtinez! ") and certain odi-

ous and painful psychological cases, like that of

Amaranthe, the poor


is

girl

of good family,
girl,

who

made companion
or
blood.

of the richer

not supe-

rior to her either in attractiveness, or spirit, or

grace,

She

envies
ofi

and

intrigues

against her, attempts to carry

her lover and

being finally vanquished, hurls bitter words at


society

and

distils

venomous maledictions.

" Curietix," " etomtant," " Strange," " paradoxal," " de concert ant," are the epithets that
the critics alternately apply to the personage of

Alidor, in the Place Roy ale, and Corneille himself calls him " extravagant " in the examination of his

work

that he wrote later.

All too
his

have held that uncompromising lover of


nelian,"

own
of

liberty to be very " Cornelian " or " pure Cor-

who although
it

in

love,

is

afraid

love, because

threatens to deprive him of his

internal freedom.

He

therefore tries to throw

the
the
this

woman

he loves and

who

adores him, into

arms of others, by stratagem. Failing in endeavour, and being finally abandoned by

the lady herself,

who

decides to enter a con-

vent, instead of sorrowing or at least being mortified at this,

he rejoices at his good fortune.

Indeed, Corneille, despite the tardy epithet of

388

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
affixes

" extravagant," which he


edy, nor does he

to

this

per-

sonage, does not turn him to ridicule in the com-

condemn or
the

criticise

him.

On
ad-

the

contrary,

in

dedicatory

epistle,

dressed to an anonymous gentleman,

who might

be the very character

in question,

he approves

of the theory, which Alidor illustrates.

have learned from you"


the love of an honest
tary; that he

he

writes

"that

"

must never love


if

man must always be volunin one way what


he should find himit

he cannot but love; that


self

reduced to

this extremity,

amounts

to a
off.

tyranny

and the yoke must be shaken


to our love, in so far as

Finally, the loved one

must have by so much


it is

the

more claim

the

result

of our choice and of the loved one's

merit and does not derive from blind inclination

imposed upon us by
able to resist."

a heredity

which we are un-

But the disconcertion and per-

plexity caused by the play in question, have their

origin in this; that Corneille

had not yet

suc-

ceeded
taneous

in repressing

and suppressing the sponhis

emotions,

and therefore throws


softer, their

ideal creation into the midst of a throng of beings,

whose limbs are


like

blood warmer
suffer

and more tumultuous, who love and


despair,

and

Angelique.

This would render

CORNEILLE'S IDEAL
that ideal personage

389

comic,

ironical

and

ex-

travagant,

if

the poet did not for his part think

and
flaw,

feel

it

to be altogether serious.

subtle

therefore, permeates every part of the

play, Vi^hich lacks fusion


tal

and unity of fundamen-

motive.

This

is

doubtless a grave defect,

but a defect which adds weight to the psychological

document that

it

contains, proving the


ideal of the delibera-

absolute
tive will

power which the was acquiring in

Corneille.

CHAPTER XV

THE MECHANISM OF THE CORNELIAN TRAGEDY


The
ideal

of

the

deliberative

will,

then,

formed the

real, living

passion of this

man

de-

void of passions; for no one that lives can withhold himself from passion: he
is

only able to

change
other.

its

object by passing

from one to the

The judgment
is

that holds Corneille to

be

an intrinsically prosaic, ratiocinatory and


therefore to be looked upon

casuistical genius

as lacking of penetration.
uist,
it

Had
Nor

he been a cas-

seems clear that he would have comcasuistical

posed
the

works.

did he lack of

requests and encouragement in that direction in


literature

that

was admired and sought


Instead, however, of acin

after in his time.

ceding to them, he dwelt ever

the world of
life,

poetry and was occupied throughout his

up to his seventieth year, with the composition


of tragedies.

He

was not
390

a casuist, although
dif-

he loved casuistry: these two things are as

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY

391

ferent as the love for warlike representations

and accounts of wars and the being actually


tion

soldier, the perpetual dwelling of the imagina-

upon matters of
(like

business,

commerce and
for
in-

speculation

Honore de Balzac

stance), and being really a

man

of business.

Nor

can his gift be described as merely that of

a didactic poet, although he often gives a dis-

was not inspired with the wish to teach, but rather to admire and to present the power and the triumphs of the Those philologists free will for admiration. who have patiently set to work to reconstruct
sertation in verse, because he
Corneille's conception of the State into a Staats-

idee

have

not

understood

this.

Corneille's

conception of the State, of absolute monarchy,

of the king, of legitimacy, of ministers, of subjects,

and so on, were not by any means

in

him
idol-

political doctrine, but just

forms and symbols of

an attitude of mind, which he caressed and


ised.

The

enquiry as to the nature and degree and

tone of that passion differs altogether from the


fact of Corneille's powerful passionality, as to

which there can be no doubt.


that
is

The problem,
is

to say,

is,

whether passion, which

cer-

tainly

a necessary condition for poetry, was so

392

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
in

shaped and found

him such compensations

and restraints
It

as to yield itself with docility to


it

poetry and to give


is

a fair field for expression.

well

known

that the sovereign passion, the

pain that renders mute, the love that leads to


raving, impede the

dream of the
There
it is

poet, they im-

pede

artistic

treatment, the cult of perfect form


in beauty.

and the joy


tical:

too a form of

passion, which has in


it is

something of the prac-

favourite dreams, in order to obtain

more occupied with embodying its from them


incentive,

stimulus

and

than with

fathoming
in

them
It

poetically

and idealising them

contem-

plation.

seems impossible to deny that something


in the case

of this sort existed


as

of Corneille, for
re-

we read

his

works, while we constantly

ceive the already

mentioned impression of
is

seri-

ousness and severity, there


that
gests
fixed
is

another impression

sometimes mingled with these and sugdisquieting presence


in

the

of

men

firmly

and rooted

an ideal.

When

faced with

his predilection for deliberation

and resolution,

the figure of the Aristophanic Philocleon some-

times returns to the memory.

This Philocleon
to say he

was

a " philoheliast," that

is

was

the

victim of a mania for judging,

roii StKo^eii/.

His

CORNELIA
dow,
in

xN

TRAGEDY

393

son locked him up, but he climbed out of win-

order to hasten to the tribunal and

satisfy his vital

need of administering justice!

The
clusive

consequences of this excess of practical


its

passionality in the case of Corneille, of

ex-

domination

in

him, was that he either

did not love or refused to allow himself to love

anything else
all

in the

world, and lost interest in

the

rest

of

life.

He
in its

did not surpass

it

ideally, in

which case he would have remained


presence, although
it

trembling and living

was combated and suppressed, but he drove


out or cut
it off

it

altogether.

He

acted as one,

who

for the love of the

human body, should

from his picture, landscape, sky, air, the background of the picture, upon and from which the figure rises and with which it is connected, although separated from it in relief, and
eliminate

should limit himself to the delineation of bodies

and

attitudes
all

of

bodies.

Corneille,
life,

having

abolished

other forms of

found nothing

before him but a series of situations for deliberation, vigorously felt,

warmly

expressed, sung

with

full voice,

and illustrated with energetic

yet becoming gestures.

What

tragedy, what drama, what represen-

tation, could

emerge from such a limitation of

394

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
How
could the various

volitional attitudes?
tonalities

and

affections

and so the various per-

sonages,
selves

unite
all

and harmonise
their

among themfull

with

shades and gradations?

The

bridge that should give passage to this

and complete representation was wanting or had been destroyed.


a suite

All that
lyrics,

was

possible

was

of deliberative

of magnificent per-

orations, of lofty sentiments, sometimes stand-

ing alone, sometimes also taking the

duet or a dialogue, a theory of statues,


in

form of a draped

solemn attitudes, of enormous

figures, rigid

and similar as Byzantine mosaics.


there a writer such as
tent
ity

Here and Lanson has to some exre-

had an

inkling of this intrinsic impossibil-

when, writing about the Nicomede, he

marked
terror,

that Corneille " in his pride at having

founded a new kind of tragedy, without pity or

and having admiration

as its motive,
it

did not perceive that he was founding

upon

a void; because the tragedy will be the less dramatic, the purer
is

the will, since

it is

defeats or
diffi-

semi-defeats that are dramatic, the slow,


cult victories

of the

will,

incessant combats."

But he held on the other hand that Corneille had once constructed, in Nicomede, a perfect
tragedy, on the single

datum of

the pure will,

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
par un coup de genie; but
this

395

was the only one

that ever could be written, the reason that it could not be repeated being " that all the works

of

Corneille

are

dramatic,

precisely

to

the

extent that the will falls short in


fection

them of per-

and

in virtue

of the elements that sep-

arate

it

from them."

The

beauty, he says, of

the Cid, of Polyeucte and of Cinna, " consists


In

with

what they contain of passion, cooperating and striving against the will of the
But " strokes of genius " are not

heroes."

miracles and they do not


possible and the other

make

the impossible

dramas of Corneille that


not differ substantially
in

we have mentioned do
from the Nicomede, for
ments are intruded and

them passionate

ele-

felt to

be out of har-

mony

(as in the Cid)

or they are apparent and

conventional.

Apparent and conventional: because the lack


of the bridge for crossing over forbade Corneille to construct poetically out of volitional

situations representations of

life,

to

which they

did not of themselves lead. ever

It

did not howconstruction,

prevent

another

kind

of

which may be called


cal.

intellectuallstic or practi-

deduced other situations and other antitheses from the volitional situations and

He

396

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
had conceived, and thus
to

their antitheses that he

he formed a sort of semblance of the representation of


life.

At

the

same time he reduced

it

the dimensions of the

drama

that he

was

orig-

inating mentally, partly through study of the


ancients and above
all

Seneca, partly from the

Italian writers of tragedy of the sixteenth century, partly

from that of the Spanish writers

and of

his

French predecessors, but not without

consulting, following or modifying the French

and

Italian casuists

and regulating the whole

with his

own

sense for theatrical effect and for


it

the forms of

likely to suit the taste of the his day.


its

French public of

This structure of tragedy, with


ses

antithe-

and parallelisms,

its

expedients for acceler-

ating and arresting and terminating the action

has been qualified with praise or blame as possessing

great

" logical "


Is

perfection.

Logic,

however, which

the life of thought, has no-

thing to do with the balancing and counter-

balancing of mechanical weights, whose


outside them. In the head and In the

life lies

hand that
It

has constructed and set them

in

motion.

has

been also compared to architecture and to the


admirable proportions of the Italian art of the
Renaissance.

But here too, we must suspect

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
that the true
acterised

397

meaning of the works thus charus,

escapes

for

attention

is

paid

only to the external appearance of things, in


so far as
it

can be expressed in mathematical

terms.

We

have said exactly the same thing,


that the structure of

without having recourse to logic or to architecture,

when we noted
from

Corneille's tragedies did not derive

from

within,

that

is,

his true poetical inspiration, but


it,

rose up beside

and was due to the unconscious

practical need of making a canvas or a frame

upon which
situations

to stretch the series of volitional

desired by the imagination of the


It

poet.
ent,

Thus

was

poetically a cold, incoher-

absurd thing, but practically rational and

coherent, like every " mechanism."


is

This word
time owing

not pronounced here for the


Is

first

to our irreverence, but

to be

found among

those

who have
felt

written about Corneille and


re-

have

themselves unable to refrain from

ferring to his " mecanique thcatrale " and to

the " systeme ferme " of his tragedies, where

" s'opere par

iin

jeu visible de forces, la produc-

tion d'lin etat defimtif appele

denouement."
it

When

this has been stated,

is

easy to see

that anyone

who examines

this

assemblage of

thoughts and phrases with the expectation of

398

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
and passionlife,

finding there a soft, rich, sensuous

ate representation of

full

of throbs, be-

dewed with
1

tears,

shot through with troubles


as

and enjoyments, such


tragedy,
scribes

are to be found in
in

Shakespearean drama and also


is

Sophoclean

disappointed,
art as

and thereupon defalse,

Corneille's

whereas he
counterpoise

should perhaps describe his


false.

own

expectation as

But

it is

strange to

find, as

to that delusion,

the attempt to demonstrate


is

that the apparatus

not an apparatus, but flesh


is

and blood, that the frame


picture, like

not a frame but a

one of Titian's or Rembrandt's,


aside,

and now setting comparisons


neille

that the

pseudo-tragedy and the pseudo-drama of Coris

pure drama or tragedy, that his

intel-

lectualistic deductions, his practical devices, are

lyrical

motives and express the truth of the


heart.

human

Such,

however,

is

the wrongre-

headedness of the criticisms that we have

viewed above.
deny what
neille
is

The mode
evident,

of procedure

is

to

for example that Cor-

argues through the mouths of his charinstead

acters,

of expressing

and setting

in

action his

own mode
would

of feeling, in such a
require,

way

as

the situations
ally

were they

poeticre-

treated,

Faguet answers

Voltaire's

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
" II est des noeiids secrets,
. .

399

marks upon the famous couplet of Rodogune


il

est des

sympathies
is

." to the effect that " the poet

always

himself talking and that passion does not thus


express Itself," by saying that people are ac-

customed
that
is

to

express themselves in this way,

to say, in the

form of general
as

ideas,

when they
of ordinary

are calm,

though the question

could be settled with an appeal to the reality


life,

whereas on the contrary


Is

It

Is

a question of poetlclty, that


tragic situation, which

to say, of the

by

its

own

nature, ex-

cludes couplets In certain cases,

however well
are thus guilty

turned they be.

Yet the very same


neille,

critics,

who

of sophistry in their attempts to defend Corare capable of observing on another ocIf

casion that

not

all,

at

any rate many or sev-

eral of CornelUe's tragedies are "

melodramas,"

and that the author tended more and more to melodrama, in the course of his development
or decadence, as

we may

like to call

It.

Per-

haps

in so saying,

they are making a careless

use of the
it

word

" melodrama," and

mean by

drama

of Intrigue, of surprises, of shocks


If

and of recognitions.
have employed
It

on the contrary they


or
if

In its true sense,

their

400

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
melodrama
is

tongue has been instinctively more correct than


their thought, since "
cisely a
self,

"

means preexist for


it-

melodrama, that does not

but for the music, and

a canvas or frame,

they have again declared the extrinsic character

of the Cornelian tragedy.

Another confirmation of
tragedies
I

this character of the


in

is

to be

found

that suspicion of
in

comicality,

which lurks so frequently


clearly

the

background as we read them, and occasionally

makes

itself

audible in the course of


It

development of

their pseudo-tragic action.

has been asked whether the Cid were a tragedy


or a comedy and inquiry has resulted in no satisfactory answer being arrived
at,

because

in-

voluntary comicality

is

present there, akin to

what is to be found in certain of the pompous and emphatic melodramas of Metastasio. It


is

true that

Don

Diego's reply to the king has

been cited as sublime, when he does not wish


i

the

new duel

to take place at once, in order that

'

the Cid
battle

may have a little rest, after the great that he has won against the Moors, which

he has described triumphantly and at great


)

length: " Rodrigiie a pris haleine en vous la ra-

contant! "

But are we then to regard as

sinful

the smile that gradually

dawns upon

the lips of

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
those
costs?

401

who

are not pledged to admire at all

Emilia,

And consider the case of the furious who at the end of the Cinna gets rid in
all

the twinkling of an eye, of

the convictions

anchored

in

her breast, of that hatred that


in

burned her up, much


stomach-ache
sedative,

the

same manner
the
all

as a

disappears upon

use

of

and declares that she has

of a sud-

den become the exact opposite of what she was


previously?

"Ma

haine va motirir, que

j'ai

cm

immortelle;

elle est niorte et ce coeiir de-

z'ient

sujet fidele,

Et prenant desormais

cette
siic-

haine en horreur, L'ardeur de vous scrvir


cede
a sa fureiir."
in

And

Curiace,

who
:

finds

himself

such a situation as to deliver the following madrigal to his betrothed " D'Albe

avec

mon amour
encor que

j'accordais la querelle ; je souelle;

pirais
fallait

pour vous, en comhattant pour


I'

Et

s'il

on en vint aux coups, Je comen soupirant pour vous.^'f

bat trais pour elle

But we

will not insist

upon

this descent into the

comic, for

it is not always to be avoided, being natural effect of the " mechanicity " of the a

Cornelian drama and

is

for the rest in con-

formity with the theory which explains the comic as " I'automatisme installe dans la vie et
imitant la vie"

(Bergson).

402

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY

Another form of the comic, discoverable in him, must also be insisted upon; but this is not
involuntary and blameworthy, but coherent and

praiseworthy.

The form

in

question

is

that

which led to the comedy of character and of


costume, to psychological and political comedy.
Brunetiere even said between jest and earnest:

The Cid, Horace, Cinna and me much trouble. Were It not


*'

Polyeucte, give
for these four,

should say that Cornellle


all

is

fundamentally

and above
are

comic poet, and an excellent


this
is

comic poet; and

perfectly true; but

how

we

to say

it,

when

the Cid, Horace, Cinna

and Polyeucte are there?


dies embarrass

These four trage-

And he pro" ceeds to note and illustrate the " family scenes

me

exceedingly! "

scattered

among

his

tragedies,

the

prosaic

and conversational phraseology, which so displeased Voltaire, and the complete absence in

some of them of
ternal sort, that

tragic quality, even of the exis,

scenes of blood and death,


ethical over the pa-

and the prevalence of the


thetic

representation,

in

the

manner of

the

comedy of Menander and of Terence.


spite all this,
his

DeIn-

definition of Cornellle as a

comic poet will be admired as acute and

genious, but will never carry conviction as being

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
true
:

403

none of those tragedies

is

a comedy, be-

cause none
the

is accentuated in that manner. same reason that Corneille could not

For
attain

to the poetical representation of

life,

because

he was not able to pass beyond the one-sidedness of his ideal, by merging
it

in the fulness

of things, he was unable to present the comic or ethical side of them, because he did not pass

beyond the spectacle of


by viewing
ternal
to
it

life

and so of

his ideal,
its

sub specie intellectus, in


limitations.

ex-

and internal
in

The attempt

do so

the Alidor of the Place Royale had


it

not been successful, and

never was successful,


it.

even assuming that he attempted


not indeed attempt
it,

He

did

and the ethos that so


itself a

often took the place of the pathos in the structure of his tragedies,

was

natural conto this,


initial

sequence of their mechanicity.

Owing

when they had


poetic motive,

lost the

guidance of the

they often fluctuated between


elo-

emphasis and cold observation, between

quence and prose, between stylisation of the


characters and certain realistic determinations.

This hybridism, which has sometimes led to

the belittling of Corneille to the level of a poet

of observation

and of

comicality, has

more

often led, from another point of view, to his

404

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
being belauded and acclaimed as possessing

being increased in stature and importance, to


his
,

" romantic tendencies," or as a " French Shake'

speare," although but " a Shakespeare in tram-

mels."

There

is

really nothing
in

whatever

in
is

him of the romantic,


to say,
is

the conception, that

and in the sentiment of life; and there


than nothing
its

less

whose work had


certainly
interests.

him of Shakespeare, origins in a far wider and


in

very different sphere of spiritual

But

since

" romanticism "

and
simply
is

" Shakespeare "

perhaps

stand

here

for poetry,
poet,

it

must be admitted that he


not explain himself
fully,

who does

or ex-

plains himself badly, without the liberty, the

sympathy, the abandonment of


for poetry.

self

necessary

He

harnesses his inspiration to an

apparatus of actions and reactions, of parallelisms

and of conventions, which may be well

described as " trammels,"


poetry.

when compared with

But they are


sets in his

in

any case trammels which he


creates

own way, trammels which he

and fixes in his soul and are not imposed upon him by the rules, conventions and usages, which jwere in vogue at the time he wrote, as is erroneously maintained,

coupled with lamenta-

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
ing of poetry, which
fell to his lot.

405

tlons as to the unfavorable period for the writ-

What
The

poet poet

can be trammeled from without?

sets such obstacles aside, or he passes through

them, or he goes round them, or he feigns to

bow
in

to

them, or he does

bow

to them, but only


indiffer-

secondary matters that are almost

ent.

For

this

reason, disputes and doctrines

as to the three unities, as to the characters of

tragedy,

as

to

the

manner of obtaining the

catharsis or purgation, have considerable im-

portance for anyone investigating the history of


aesthetic

and

critical ideas,

of their formation,

growth and progress, by means of struggles that seem to us now to be ridiculous, though
they were once serious; but they have no im-

portance whatever as an element

in the judg-

ment of
feel

poem.

Corneille

did

not

rebel

against the so-called rules, because he did not

any need for rebellion; he accepted or


to

ac-

customed himself
did him no harm,
ical rules, laid

them,

because,
it

having

treated tragedy mechanically,


to take

suited him, or

heed of the mechanliterary

down by custom and


his

and

theatrical precepts.

For

this

reason,

method of

theatrical

composition was not only susceptible of being

4o6

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
and receiving the and the admiration of the

tolerated, but even of pleasing


praise, the applause

contemporary public, which did not seek in them the joy of poetic rapture, but a different and more or less refined pleasure, answering to It could its spiritual needs and aspirations. later and can now prove insupportable, because
the delight of a certain period in dexterity, ex-

pedients and clever devices, in the fine phrases

of the courtier, in certain actions that were the


fashion, in the gallantries of pastoral and heroic romance, in epigrams, antitheses
rigals, are

and mad-

no longer our delights.


art, as
it is

Passionate

or realistic

called, flourishes every-

where,

in

place of the old scholastic, academic

and court models.


nique of his

But for

us,

everything that

concerns Corneille's composition and the tech-

work

is

indifferent, since

we

are

viewing the problem from the point of view of


poetry.

We

shall not therefore busy ourselves


it

with discriminating those parts of


well
his

that are

from those that are ill put together, nor clever from his unsuccessful expedients, his

well-constructed " scenes " from those that suffer from padding, his " acts " that run smoothly

less

from those that drag, the more from the happy " endings," as is the habit of those

CORNELIAN TRAGEDY
critics,

407

who

nourish a superstitious admiration


''

for what Flaubert would have called


theatral."

V arcane

We

care nothing for the canvas,


in the

but only for what of embroidery of poetry there


is

shape

upon

it.

CHAPTER XVI

THE POETRY OF CORNEILLE


The
there
is

poetry of Corneille, or what of poetry


in

him,

is

all to

be found

in the lyrical

quality of the volitional situations, in those debates, remarks,

solemn professions of
in

faith, en-

ergetic assertions of the will,

that superb

admiration for one's own personal, unshakable


firmness.
in

Here

it

is

that

we must

seek

it,

not

the development of the dramatic action or

in the

character of the individual personages.

For

it is

only an affection for


it

life,

that

is

to say,

penetration of
is

in all its

manifestations, which

capable of generating those beings, so

warm

with passion,

who

insinuate themselves into us

and take possession of our imagination, who

grow

in

it

and eventually become so familiar to


to

us that

we seem
of

have really met them: the


of
Shakespeare,
or of

creations

Dante,

Goethe.

Certainly, Corneille's lyricism, which

seems to be exclusive and one-sided, would not


be lyricism and poetry,
if it

were

really always

408

THE POETRY
exclusive

409
it

and one-sided and although


in the sense

cannot

give us

drama
its

we have
doing so

described,

owing to
yet
it

driving

away
in

the other passions,


in

does not succeed

such a
fail to

complete and radical manner that we

perceive their fermentation, however remote,


in

those severe and vigorous assertions of the

will.

The

loftiness itself of the

rhythm

indi-

cates the high standard of the vital effort,


it

which

represents and expresses.

To

continue the
situa-

illustration

above

initiated,

Corneille's

tions

may

be drawings rather than pictures, or

pictures in design rather than in colour; but

these pictures also possess their


as pictures, they too are

own

qualities

works of love and must

not be confounded with drawings directed to


intellectual ends, with illustration of real things,

or concepts with prosaic designs.

And

indeed everyone has always sought and

seeks the flower of the spirit of Corneille, the

beauty of his work,


" places."

in

single

situations,

or

The commentators who busy themand the degustation

selves with the exposition

of his works have but slight material for analy-

employed by them in the case of other poets, whose fundamental poetic


sis

of the sort that

is

motive furnishes a basis for the rethinking of

4IO

THE POETRY
Here on
from

the characters and of their actions.

the contrary they feel themselves set free

an obstruction, when they pass to the single passages,


at once declare with Faguet, one of " the latest: II y a de beaux vers a citer." The

and

actors too,

who attempt

to interpret his trage-

dies in the realistic romantic


vince, while those succeed

manner,

fail to

con-

on the other hand


style.

who

deliver

them

in a

somewhat formal

In thus listening to the intoned declamations of


the monologues, exhortations, invectives, senti-

ments and couplets, one

feels

oneself

trans-

planted into a superior sphere, exactly as hap-

pens with singing and music.


Corneille's characters are not to be laid hold

of

in

their

full

and corporate being.

It

is

but rarely that they allow us a glimpse of their

human

countenance, or permit us to catch some

cry of scorn, and then rapidly withdraw themselves into the abstract so completely that

we

do not succeed

in

taking hold of even a fold of

their fleeting robes,

although a long-enduring
in

echo of their lightning-like speech remains


the
soul.

The

old

father
in

of

the

Horatii

strengthens his sons

their conflict

between

family affection and their imperious duty to " Faites votre their country, with the maxim
:

THE POETRY
devoir et laissez faire
ful Curiace
aiix

411

Dieux."

The

youth-

murmurs with

tears in his voice, to

the youthful Horace, his friend and brotherin-law: " Je vous connais encore et c'est ce qui

me Hie"

but Horace

is

as inflexible as a syllo-

gism, having arrived at the conclusion that the


posts assigned to

them

in

the

feud between

Rome and Alba


other
in future.

have made enemies of them,


Curiace,

and therefore that they must not know one an-

when

at last he has

become
notre

bitterly resigned to their irremediable

separation and hostility, exclaims: "Telle est

miscre

."

Emilia,

another

being

with nerves
soul
in

like steel springs, reveals

her proud
sug-

a single phrase;

when Maximus
a

gests flight to her, she exclaims as she faces

him, in a cry that

m'aimer

et tu n'

blow: '' Tu oses " oses mourirf She is perhaps


is

like

more deeply wounded here in her pride as a woman, who fails to receive the tribute of heroism, which she expects, than in her moral sentiment.

The
:

noble Surena holds

it

an easy

thing, a thing of small

moment,

to give his life

for his lady

he wishes " toujours aimer, tou;

jours souffrir,
ochus, in
is

and Antitoujours mourirf " Rodogune, when he discovers that he surrounded with ambushes, decides to die and

412
in

THE POETRY

doing so directs his thought to the sad shade

of his brother, who has been slain in a like manner: " Cher frere, c'est pour moi le chemin du
trepas
. .

."

and Titus

feels

himself pene-

trated with the melancholy of the Heeting hour,


the sense of
Oui, Flavian,

human

fragility:
mourir.

c'est affaire a
;

La vie est peu de chose et tot ou tard qu'importe Qu'un traitre me I'arrache, ou que I'age I'emporte? Nous mourrons a toute heure et dans le plus doux sort
;

Chaque

instant de la vie est

un pas vers

la

mort.

Words

expressive of death are always those

whose accent is clearest and whose resonance is the most profound with Corneille. It is perhaps as well to leave the

Moi

of

Medea and
to the
let

the Qii'il moiirrait of the old

Horace

admirative raptures of the rhetoricians; but


us

repeat

to

ourselves

those

words of the
,

sister of Heraclius (in the Heracliiis)


fied

morti-

by

fate,

ever at the point of death and ever

ready to die:
Mais
II

a d'autres pensers

il

me

faut recourir:
. . .

n'est plus temps d'aimer alors qu'il faut mourir.

And
Mon

again:
la foi

Crois-tu que sur

de tes fausses promesses

ame

ose descendre a de telles bassesses?

THE POETRY
Prends

413
s'il

mon

sang pour

le

sien

mais,

y faut

mon

coeur,
Perisse Heraclius avec sa triste soeur

And when
Ne

she stays the hand of the menacing

tyrant suddenly and with a


. .
.

word

menace

point, je suis prete a mourir.

Or,

finally,

those

sweetest

words of

all,

spoken by Eurydice
Non,
je

in the

Surena:

ne pleure pas, madame, mais je meurs.

These dying words form


treme points of the resolute
fierce

as

it

were the
of the

ex-

will,

will,

usque ad mortem.

But the others,


fixed

in

which the volitional situations are


course
asserted,

and dethe

veloped and determination to pursue


is

a certain
said,

are,

as

we have

proper and normal expression of the poetry of


Corneille, which can be fully enjoyed, provided

that

we do

not

insist

upon asking whether they

are appropriate in the


ages,

mouths of the person-

who

should act and not analyse and define


or whether they are or are not

themselves,

necessary for the development of the drama.

Their poetry consists of


folds of their

just that analysis, that

passionate self-definition, that arranging of the

ing of their

own decorous own statues.

robes, that sculptur-

414

THE POETRY
a

Let us examine

few examples of

it,

taking

them from the

least

known and
it is

the least praised

tragedies of Corneille, for

perhaps time to
ex-

have done with the so-called decadence or


haustion

of

Corneille,

with his second-child-

hood (according
period
in his

to which,

some would main-

tain that he returned to his boyish, pre-Cidian

maturity), and with the excessive

and to no small extent affected and conventional


exaltation of the

famous square block of stone


four
faces

representing

the

of honour

(the

Cid), of patriotism

(Horace), of generosity
.

{Cinna) and of sanctity (Polyeucte)


is

There

often in those four most popular tragedies


certain
a

pomposity,

an emphasis,

an appa-

ratus,

rhetorical colouring, which Corneille

gradually
der to

did

away with

in

himself,

in

or-

make himself ever more nude, with


It

the

austere nudity of the spirit.

was perhaps

not only constancy and coherence of logical de-

velopment, but progress of art on the road to


its

own

perfection,

which counselled him


subjects.

to

abandon too pathetic


unless

In any case,

we wish

to turn the traditional

judgment

upside down,

we must

insist

that those four

tragedies, like those that followed them, are

not to be read by the lover of poetry otherwise

THE POETRY
than
in

415
is

an anthological manner, that

to say,
to

selecting the fine passages

where they are


in
in

be found, and these occur

no

less

number
less

and

in

beauty at least equal

the other trage-

dies also,

some of which are more and some


is

theatrically effective.

Pulcherie

the last and one of the

most mar-

vellous Cornelian condensations of force in deliberation.

She thus manifests her mode of

feeling to the youthful

Leon whom

she loves

Des feux

Je vous aime, Leon, et n'en fais point mystere: tels que les miens n'ont rien qu'il faille taire.
et

Je vous aime,

non point de

cette folle

ardeur

Que Non

les

yeux eblouis font maitresse du coeur;


les sens

d'un amour congu par

en tumulte,

A
Et

qui I'ame applaudit sans qu'elle se consulte,


qui,

ne concevant que d'aveugles desires,


les

Languit dans

faveurs et meurt dans

les plaisirs:

Ma passion pour vous genereuse et solide, A la vertu pour ame et la raison pour guide,
La
gloire

pour objet

et veut, sous votre loi,

Mettre en ce jour

illustre et I'univers et moi.

Here we have
self,

clearly the lyricism of a soul


it-

which has achieved complete possession of

of a soul overflowing with affections, but

knowing which among them are superior and


which inferior, and has learned
ister

how

to admin-

and how

to rule itself, steering the ship

4i6

THE POETRY
its

with a steady and experienced hand through


treacherous seas, and feeling
to lie in just

own

nobility

what others would call coldness and lack of humanity. Note the expressions
" folle ardeur " and " sens en tumttlte," and the contempt, not to say the disgust, with which they

are uttered and the hell that

is

pointed out as

lying in that soul which allows itself to be carried

away "

sans qu' elle se consulte."

Note too

the vision of the sad effeminacy of those affections, so blind

and so

egotistic,
in

which consume

and corrupt themselves


he enhances
it

themselves, and

how

by contrast with her own rational

passion, so " gcnereuse et solide," with those

solemn words of " vertu," of " raison," of


" gloirc," and the final apotheosis, which lays
at

the

feet

of the

man

she loves and loves

worthily, her person and the whole world.

And

Pulcherie,

when

she has been elected

empress, again takes counsel with herself and


recognises- that this love of hers for
still

Leon

is

inferior, not yet sufficiently pure,


it,

and deagain

cides to slay
as

in

order that
as

it

may

live

something

different,

something purely

rational

Leon

seul est

ma

joie,

il

est

mon

seul desir;
le choisir:

Je n'en puis choisir d'autre, et je n'ose

THE POETRY
Depuis
J'en
ai

417

trois ans unie a cette chere idee,

I'ame a toute heure en tous lieux obsedee;

Rien n'en detachera

mon

coeur que

le trepas,

Encore apres

ma mort
tombeau

n'en repondrai-je pas,


le ciel

Et

si

dans

le

permet qu'on aime,

Dans le fond du tombeau je I'aimerai de meme. Trone qui m'eblouis, titres qui me flattez,
Pourriez-vous

me

valoir ce que vous


la

me

coutez?
haute

Et de tout votre orgueil


A-t-elle

pompe

la plus

un bien egal

a celui qu'elle m'ote?

She thus concedes to human frailty the


a lament, such a lament as can issue
lips,

relief of

from her
noble,

full

of strength and charged with resolu-

tion in passion, but at the

same time
this,

measured and
firmness.

dignified.

After

she fol-

lows the direction of her will with inexorable

Leon

shall

not be her spouse, be-

cause her choice must be and seem to be dictated by the sole

good of the

State,

and

fall

upon
but

a man whom she will who will be for Rome

not love with love,

an emperor to be

feared and respected.

conflict

had been

en-

gaged between one part of herself and another,


between the whole and
to
a part,

and she has again

subjected the part to the whole and has assigned


it

its

duty, that of obedience.

Je

suis imperatrice et j'etais Pulchcrie.

De

ce trone,

ennemi de mes plus doux souhaits,

4i8

THE POETRY
qu'il fait sur

Je regarde I'amour comme un de mes sujets; Je veux que le respect qu'il doit a ma couronne
Repousse I'attentat

Je veux Je veux

qu'il m'obeisse,
qu'il

au

lieu

de

ma personne; me trahir;

donne

a tous I'exemple d'obeir;

Et, jalouse deja de

mon

pouvoir supreme,

Pour

I'affermir sur tous, je le prends sur

moi-meme.
it

Thus

love

is

subjected to the mind, or as


in

used to be expressed
time, which

the language of the

was of

Stoic origin, to the " hege-

monic potency."
tent,

She would desire to raise her


in-

youthful beloved to the lofty level of her

by removing him from the sphere of weak


a

lamentations and assuring his union with herself


in

mystic marriage
is

of superior wills.
sentimentalism,

What
wanted,
tears"!

contempt
for

hers

for
itself

which wishes to insinuate


" tears,"

where

it is

not
of

for

" the

shame

La plus ferme couronne est bientot ebranlee Quand un effort d'amour semble I'avoir volee;
Et pour garder un rang si cher a nos desirs II faut un plus grand art que celui des soupirs.

Ne
Et

vous abaissez pas a


si

la

honte des larmes;

Centre un devoir
si

fort ce sont de faibles

armes;

de

tels

secours vous couronnaient ailleurs,

J'aurais pitie d'un sceptre achete par des pleurs.

TiHE When we
of

POETRY
we

419

read such verses as these, our breast


it

expands, as

men whose

duce gravity,

are in the company word and deed inwhose superiority over the crowd

does when

gravity of

makes you forget the

existence of the crowd,

transporting you to a sphere where the non-

accomplishment of duty would appear, not only


vile,

but incomprehensible.
is

On

another occaitself in

sion our admiration


pity,
itself

about to shroud

but soon shines forth again and displays

triumphant, as

in

the

young

princess Hie-

dion of the Attila,

horred king of the

who is accorded to the abHuns by a treaty of peace


the

were she
calamities
ple.

to

refuse
fall

union,

immeasurable

would

upon her family and peo-

She too observes a sorrowful attitude


is

but hers

an erect and combative sorrow:


que
je suis,
finir

Si je n'etais pas, seigneur, ce

J'en prendrais quelque droit a

mes ennuis:

Mais

I'esclavage fier d'une haute naissance,

Ou

toute autre peut tout,

me

tient

dans I'impuissance

Et, victime d'etat, je dois sans reculer

Attendre aveuglement qu'on daigne m'immoler.

The heart trembles and restrains itself at the same moment before that " esclavage fier," that
proud and sarcastic
''qu'

on daigne m'immoler"

420

THE POETRY
finds herself, the

the victim has already scrutinised the situation


in

which she

duty which

is in-

cumbent upon
which opens

her, the prospect of

vengeance
In

itself

before her and her race, and

has already conceived her terrible design.


like

tharite,

manner with Queen Rodolinde in the Perwhen she is solicited and implored by

the usurper Grimoalde,

who wished

to espouse

her and promises to declare himself tutor to her son and to

suspecting that in this

make him heir way he

to the throne,

will deprive her

of the honour of marriage faith and put her son to

death

may

then

she decides upon a hor-

rible course of action,

proposing to him that he

should put her son to death on the spot:


Puisqu'il faut qu'il perisse,
il

vaut mieux tot que

tard

Que Que

sa

mort

cette

soit un crime, ombre innocente

et

non pas un hazard

a toute heure m'anime,

Me

demande

a toute heure une grande victime;

Que ce jeune monarque, immole de ta main, Te rende abominable a tout le genre humain
Qu'il t'excite par tout des haines immortelles;

Que

de tous tes sujets


lors, et

il

fasse des

rebelles.

Je t'epouserai

m'y viens

d'obliger,

Pour mieux servir ma haine et pour mieux me venger, Pour moins perdre des voeux contre ta barbarie, Pour etre a tous moments maitresse de ta vie,

THE POETRY
Pour avoir I'acces libre a pousser ma fureur, Et mieux choisir la place ou te percer le coeur.
Voila

421

mon

desespoir, voila ses justes causes:

ces conditions, prends

ma

main,

si

tu I'oses.

Her husband
to be dead,

Pertharite,
is

who had been


and

believed
Is

alive: he returns

made

prisoner by Grimoalde, and Rodolinde, fearing


ruin, decides to

avenge him or to perish with

him.

But he

sees the situation In


In

which he
different

finds

himself with his consort


objectively:

light

he sees

It

as

conquered king,

who bows
ever aloft

his

head

to the decision of destiny,

recognises the right of the conqueror and holds


In his soul
It

the Idea of regal majesty.

So he asserts
ing beyond

with firmness and serenity, gopersonal feelings, In order that

all

he

may

consider only what appertains both to

the rights and duties of a king:

Quand ces devoirs communs ont d'importunes La majeste du trone en dispense les rois;

lois,

Leur gloire est au-dessus des regies ordinaires, Et cet honneur n'est beau que pour les coeurs vulgaires. Sitot qu'un roi vaincu tombe aux mains du vainqueur,
II a

trop merite la derniere rigueur.

Ma
Le

mort pour Grimoald ne peut avoir de crime:


soin de s'affermir lui rend tout legitime.
j

Quand

'aural dans ses fers cesse de respirer,

Donnez-lui votre main sans rien considerer;

422
Epargnez

THE POETRY
les efforts

d'une impuissante haine,


faire encor reine.

Et permettez au Ciel de vous

The courageous and


calculated to arouse

sagacious

Nicomede
lift

speaks kingly words of a different sort, well

him and make him

up

his head, to the vacillating father,

who

wishes

to content both

Rome and

the queen, establish

agreement between love and nature, be father

and husband:

Seigneur,
Ne

voulez-vous bien vous en

fier

moi?

soyez I'un ni I'autre.

Et que

dois-je etre?

Roi.

Reprenez hautement

ce noble caractere.

Un
II

veritable roi n'est ni mari ni pere;


et rien

regarde son trone,

de plus.

Regnez;
la craignez.

Rome

vous craindra plus que vous ne

Malgre cette puissance et si vaste et si grande, Vous pouvez deja voir comme elle m'apprehende, Combien en me perdant elle espere gagner,
Faroe qu'elle prevoit que je saurai regner.

Let us
tian

listen also for a

moment

to the Chris-

to choose

Theodora, who has been granted the time between offering incense to the gods
to the soldiery in the pub-

and being abandoned


lic

brothel:
si

Quelles sont vos rigueurs,

v'ous les

nommez

grace!
fasse,

Et que choix voulez-vous qu'une chretienne


Reduite a balancer son esprit agite

Entre

I'idolatrie et I'impudicite?

THE POETRY
Le choix
est inutile 011 les
et

423

maux

sont extremes.

Reprenez votre grace,

choisissez

vous-memes:
honteux.

Quiconque peut

choisir consent a I'un des deux,


est seul lache et
lit

Et

le

consentement

Dieu, tout juste et tout bon, qui

dans nos pensees,

N'impute point de crime aux actions forcees; Soit que vous contraigniez pour vos dieux impuissans

Mon

corps a I'infamie ou

ma main

a I'encens,

Je saurai conserver d'une ame resolue

I'epoux sans macule une epouse impollue.

She really does balance herself mentally at the


parting of the ways placed before her, analyses
it

as

and formulates her determination, rejecting cowardly both the choice of the sacrilege and
it

of the shameful punishment and casting


the teeth of her unworthy oppressors. the only answer

in
is

It

that befits the Christian virgin,

firm in her determination of saving her con-

stancy in the faith and modesty, which resides

not only

in the will,

but also

in desire

itself.

The

expression of her intention has just such a

tone and adopts just the formulae of a the" le consentologian speaking by her mouth " " V epouse immacule," sans I'epoux ment,"
pollue."

In Theseus of the Oedipe the poet himself


protests against a conception that menaces the

foundation of his

spirit itself,

because

it

offends

424

THE POETRY
makes unsteady the

the idea of free choice and

consciousness that

man

has of being able to de-

termine upon a
reason.

line

of conduct according to

He

is

protesting against the ancient


its

idea of fate, or rather against

revival in

modern form,
grace

as

the

Jansenist

doctrine

of

Quoi la necessite des vertus et des vices D'un astre imperieux doit suivre les caprices, Et Delphes, malgre nous, conduit nos actions
!

Au

plus bizarre effet de ses predictions?


est

L'ame
Vers

done toute esclave: une

loi

souveraine

le

bien ou le mal incessamment I'entraine;


ni crainte ni desir

Et nous ne recevons

De

cette liberte qui n'a rien a choisir,

Attaches sans relache a cet ordre sublime,

Vertueux sans merite

et vicieux sans crime.

Qu'on massacre

les rois,

qu'on brise

les autels,

C'est la faute des dieux et non pas des mortals:

De

toute la vertu sur la terre epandue


le

Tout

prix a ces dieux, toute la gloire est due:

lis agissent

en nous quand nous pensons agir;


fait

Alors qu'on delibere, on ne

qu'obeir;

Et notre volonte n'aime,

bait, cherche, evite,


la precipite!

Que

suivant que d'en haut Icur bras

D'un tel aveuglement daignez me dispenser. Le Ciel, juste a punir, juste a recompenser, Pour rendre aux actions leur perte ou leur salare.
Doit nous
offrir son aide et puis

nous

laisser faire.

THE POETRY
What
indignation,

425

a revolt of the whole being against the thought that " qiiand on delibere, on ne fait qu' obeir " How he defends
!

what

the liberty, not only of the the " vices," the liberty
''

''

virtus," but also of

de nous laisser faire " !


will

This eloquence of the


singing declamation,
neille,
is

and of

liberty, this

the true lyricism of Cor-

intimate and substantial, and not the so-

called " lyrical pieces," which he inserted into


his tragedies here
cal in the

and

there.

These are

lyri-

formal and restricted scholastic sense accomhe

of the term, but they are often as affected as


the

monologue of Rodrigue, which


an
accurately
analytical

is

panied by a refrain.
in

Others have demonstrated

manner
with

that

lacks lyricism or poetry of style; that the construction of his phrase


is

logical,

its

" be-

cause,"

its

" but,"

its

" then,"

that he over-

abounds

in

maxims and altogether ignores metaBut the


has also
this,

phor, the picturesque and musicality.

same writer who has maintained


declared that his poetry
in the
is

to be found, if not

coloured image and in the musical sound, then certainly " in the rhythm, in the wide or
transports the thought " (Lanson)

rapid vibration of the strophe, which extends or


:

that

is

to

426
say, in

THE POETRY
making
this admission,

he has confuted

his previous

ing poetry and lyricism.


is

mean and narrow theory concernThe other judgment


is

to the effect that Corneille

not a poet by

style,

but by the conception and meaning of his

works

that he

is

a latent poet or
in prose.

one

who
un-

dressed up his thought

But

it is

thinkable that there should exist latent poets,

who do not manifest themselves in poetic form. The truth of the matter is that where Corneille
felt as a poet,

he expressed himself as a poet,

without many-coloured metaphors, without musical


trills

and softnesses of expression, but


conjunctive particles,

with

many maxims, many

declaratory and expressive of opposition.

He

employed the
former.

latter rather than the former, be-

cause he had need of the latter and not of the

His rhythm too, which has been so much praised and owing to which his alexandrine rings out so differently from the mechanical

alexandrines
is

of

his

imitators,

the

rhe-

toricians,

nothing but his

spirit itself,

noble

and solemn, debating and deliberating, resolute,


unafraid and firm
in its rational

determinations.

Corneille's keenest adversaries have always

been compelled to recognise

in

him

a residuum,
criticism.

which

withstood

their

destructive

THE POETRY
Vauvenargues said that " he
has more loftly
traits,

427
ex-

sometimes

pressed himself with great energy and no one

no one has

left

behind

him the

idea of a dialogue so closely compacted and so vehement, or has depicted with equal
felicity the

power and the inflexibility of the soul, which come to it from virtue. There are astonishing flashes that come forth even from the disputes and upon which I commented unfavourably, there are battles that really elevate the
heart,

and

finally,

although he frequently
nature,
it

re-

moves himself from


vigour
in

must be confessed and


an
he to
is

that he depicts her with great directness

many

places,

and only there

is

be admired."
indictment,
tate or to

Jacobi, in an essay which

was however, compelled

to excogi-

beg for the reason of such fame; he

found himself obliged to praise the many vivacious scenes, the depth of discourse, the lofti-

ness of expression, to be found scattered here

and there
ler did

in

those tragedies.
all,
is

Although
he

Schil-

not care for him at

made an

ex-

ception for " the part that


Note.
der
I

properly speaking
because
I

draw
it

attention to
it

it

in this note,

have
einer
I,

never seen

mentioned:

is

to be

found

in the
. .

Charaktere

vornehmsten

Dichter

aller

Nationen..

von

Gesellschaft von Gelchrten


pp. 38-138.

(Leipzig, 1796), Vol. V, part

428

THE POETRY

was " felicitously treated," although he added that " even this vein, which is not rich in itself, was treated monotonously." Schlegel was struck with certain passages and with the style which is often powerful and concise and De Sanctis observed that Corneille was
heroic," which
in his

own

field,

when he portrayed

greatness

of soul, not
" as nature
sion."

in its

gradations and struggles, but

and

habit, in the security of posses-

A German
the

philologist, after he has run

down

tragedies

of

the

" quadrilateral,"

judges Corneille to be " a jurist and a cold


of intellect, although
nity of soul,
full

man

of nobility and dig-

but without clearness as to his

own
in his

aptitudes,

power."
laughs at

and without original creative This writer declares that " nowhere
feel the

works do we
all

breath of genius that

restraints," but he goes

on to make

exception for the splendour of his " language."


It

seems somewhat

difficult to

tion for the language, precisely

make an excepwhen discussing


in the

the question of poetical genius!

We

certainly find
sets

monotony present

figures that he

before us, repetitions of


in the

thoughts and of schemes, analogies


ter

mat-

of

process.

concordantia

corneliana,

explicatory of this side of his genius could be

THE POETRY
this

429

constructed and perhaps the sole reason that

has not been done


easy.

Is

because

It

would be
this.

too

Stelnweg,

whom we

have quoted

above, has provided a good Instance of

But even the monotony of Cornellle must not


be looked upon altogether as a proof of poverty, or a defect, but rather as

an Intrinsic char-

acteristic of his austere Inspiration,

which was
Cor-

susceptible of assuming but


I

few forms.

cannot better close

this discussion of

nellle

than with the citation of a youthful page


but this comparison has

of Sainte-Beuve, which contains nothing but a


fanciful comparison,

much more

to say to us,

who have now comIn

pleted the critical examination of his works,

than Salnte-Beuve was himself able to say


for he there shows himself to be at one
inclined to be uncertain

his various critical writings relative to the poet,

moment

and

to oscillate, at an-

other Inclined to yield to traditional judgments

and conventional enthusiasms.


another proof,
if

This

affords
It

such be necessary, that

Is

one thing to receive the sensible Impression


aroused by a

poem and another

to understand

wrote "Cornellle" explain it. " a pure genius, yet an IncomSainte-Beuve,

and

to

plete one, gives me, with his qualities

and

his

430

THE POETRY

defects, the impression of those great trees, so

naked, so gnarled, so sad and so monotonous as

regards their trunk, and adorned with branches

and dark green leaves only

at their

summits.

They
little

are strong, powerful, gigantic, having but


foliage; an abundant sap nourishes

them;

but you must not expect from them shelter,

shade or flowers.
late, lose

They put

forth their leaves

them early and live a long while half dismantled. Even when their bald heads have abandoned their leaves to the winds of autumn,
their
vital

nature

still

throws out here and

there stray boughs and green shoots.

When

they are about to die, their groans and creakings are like that trunk, laden with arms, to

which Lucan compared the great Pompey."

INDEX
Action,

226

Shakespeare

women

as his

single pas-

and, 200, 206.

sion, 20;

minor works, 67;


objectivism,

Adonis, 192.
Aesthetic theory, 300.
Affinities,

naturalism,
76,
78,

79;

need of love,

112,

113, 114.

30; negative qualities, 21;


octaves, 71, 82; pains taken

Alexandra,

20.

Alexandrines, 426.
Alidor, 387, 388, 403.
All's Well, 169.

with Orlando Furioso, 30;


philosophy, 48,
cal sentiments,

65; 59;

politi-

princiart,

Amaranthe,

387.

pal accent of his


reflection, 75
;

46
27;

Angelica, 108, 168.

religious outsatires,

Anthony, 244, 249, 258.

look,
193,

64;

Anthony and Cleopatra,


242.

Shakespeare
with,
145,
154,

compared
165;
life,

style,

Ariosto, Lodovico, as poet of

69;

wisdom

of

15.

harmony,
phy, 27;
love,

45; autobiogracharacter of his


character of his
9; circumstances,

Art, essence, 39, 40; for art's


sake, 10, II, 12; futile

and
idea,

52;
8,

material,
35,

12;

in

its

poetry,

38;

musical character,
or
content,

character
18,

and

associates,

277; of Shakespeare, 274.


Artist,

22; comedies, 23; comcontent,


epic-

end

35;

parisons with other poets,


95;
ity,

poet and, 41, 44.

13,

15;

As You Like
Astolfo, 109.
Attila, 344.

It,

170, 198.

80; eroticism, 26; feel-

ing toward the Estes, 60,


61
;

harmony which he
94; 29;
70,

at-

At til a,

419.

tains,

heart

of

his

Augustus, 343, 344, 345, 366.

heart,
irony,

humanism, 37;
;

Italian 75 25; jealousy, 53; Latin poems, 24, 26 love

Baconian hypothesis,
Barnadine, 265.
Beatrice
(Dante's),

131.

poems,
of

Balzac, Honore de, 391.

harmony, 48

love

of

178.

431

432

INDEX
Cervantes, Saavedra Miguelde, 9S39.

Beatrice and Benedick, 170.

Beauty,

Bembo,

Pietro, 359.

Characters, Ariosto's, 80, 82


Corneille's, 410,

Bentivoglio, Hercules, 20.

Bibbivena, Cardinal, 190.

Chasles, Michel, 136.

Biography, details of
Boiardo,

poets',

Chateaubriand, F. A.
Shakespeare, 285.

R.,

on

133; Shakespeare, 157.

M. M.,

95,

97,

106,

Chimene, 382.
Chivalry, Ariosto and,
15; poets
13, 14,
of, 95.

112; Orlando Innamorato,


105.

and poems

Boileau-Despreaux,
86.

Nicolas,

C'^. 339. 340, 342, 348, 380,


402, 414.

Bolingbroke, Henry
207, 208.

St.

John,

Cinna,

343,

344,

355,

383,

402, 414.

Brandes, G.
134-

M. C,

126, 127,

Cinr/ue Canti, 88, 90.


Cinzio, Giraldi, 31, 41, 87.
Classicists,
35, 37.

Brunello, 109.
Brunetiere, Ferdinand, 402.

Claudio, 264.
Cleopatra, 242.
Coleridge,
S.

Brutus, 248, 258, 317.

Burlesque
198.

in

Shakespeare,

T.,

on Shake-

speare, 174, 287, 297, 303,


331-

Comedies, Ariosto's, 23.


Caesar, Julius, 249.

Calandria, 190.
Caliban, 261.

Comedy Comedy
Comic,

of Errors, 189. of

love

in

ShakeCor-

speare, 163.
214,

Camilla, 343, 345. Canello, U. A., 7.

216;

in

neille, 400.

Canova, Antonio,
Cantu, Cesare,
Carlyle,
7.

36.

Complexity, 222.

Concepts
7,

in

Shakespeare,

Carducci, Giosne,

10, 30.

149, 151.

Thomas,

302.

" Confidential air," 69.


Conflict,
38,

Cassius, 249.

39;

in

Shake-

Castro, Guillen de, 339, 346,


347. 380.

speare, 148, 155.

Constance, Queen, 213.

Casuistry, 390.

Corday, Charlotte, 378.


Cordelia, 230.

Catherine
168.

(Shakespeare's),

Coriolanus, 212, 218.

INDEX
Coriolanus, 294.
Corneille,
Pierre,

433
238, 282,
308,

Desdemona,
basis
of
316, 317.

tragedies,

356; characters,

Discord, 226, 227.

410;

critic

and defenders,
390,

Don

Quixote, 189.

337; deliberative will, 366,


369.

Dorchain, Auguste, 362.

389.

423;

eu-

Dream,

172.
in

logy, 358; ideal, 362; love,


350, 369, 371, 387, 388, 416,

Dualism, 4;
Duty, 372;
in

Shakespeare,

155, 287, 288.


in Hamlet, 248; Macbeth, 225.

417, 418;

mechanism
390,

of his

tragedy,

397;

miscel-

laneous

works,

386;

moper373,

notony, 428;

politics,

sonages, history,
37S>

Emerson, R. W., on Shakespeare, 298.

372,

378;

practical

pas-

sionality

and

Emilia, 401, 411.


Epicity, Ariosto's, 80; Shakespeare's, 202, 204.

its

results,

393

rational

will,

349,

reputation, 351; 337; source of inspiration, 376; suppression of life, 393;

Eroticism in Ariosto, 26.


Ethics,

Shakespeare's,

155.

where

his poetry lies, 408,

Eurydice, 413 Evil, as perversity in Othello,

413, 425-

Cosmic poetry,
Cressida, 180.
Criticism,

237; in Macbeth, 223.


146.

office,

146,

147;

see

also

Shakespearean

Fagnet, mile, 398, 410. Falstaff, Sir John, 214, 309,


317-

criticism.

Curiace, 411.

Fate,
155-

424;

in

Shakespeare,

Cymbeline, 196, 199, 294.

Fauriel, C.

C,

346.

Faust, 84.

Dante, 41, 151, 156, 178, 324. Davenant, William, 123.

Ferdinand and Miranda,


261.

184,

Death, 178, 210, 242, 263, 411,


412.

Ferrara, 21, 24, 62. Ferrara, Duke of, 22.

De

Sanctis, Francesco, lo, 11,


21,

Ferrarese Homer, 114.


Fiordiligi, 55, 58, 91.
Fitton,

13,

40, 41,

82,

93,

96,

339, 428.

Mary,

123, 129, 152.

Descartes, Rene, 353, 377.

Florence, 25, 96.

U4
Form and
speare, 274.
Fragility, 258.

INDEX
content, In Shake-

Gundolf
353-

(writer

on

art),

France,
378;

military

spirit,

Hamlet,
318.

193,

194,

248,

314,

misunderstanding

of

Shalcespeare, 321.

Hamlet, 248.
Hamlet-L'ttteratur, 313.

French Shaliespeare, 404. French theatre, 359. Friar Laurence, 175.


Friendship, 57.
Furnivail, F.
J.,

Harmony, Ariosto
45
;

as poet of,

Ariosto's

attainment,
34,

94;
304.

concept,

48;

cos-

n^'c, 39,

42; realisation, 69.

Harrington, Sir John, 21.


Harris, Frank, 129, 134, 297.

Gaillard, G. H., on Corneille,


341.

Hazlitt,

William, on Shake-

speare, 142, 303.

Galilei, Galileo, 80, 98.

Hegel, G.
35553.

W.

F., 13, 174, 177,

Garfagnana,

21.

Garofaio, the Ferrarese,

Heine,

Heinrich,

on

Shake-

German

criticism

of

Shake-

spearean comedy, 166.

speare, 139, 306, 323, 325.

Gerstenberg, H.

W.

von, 320.
156, 307,

Henry V, 209. Henry VUI, 259.


Heraclius, 412.

Gervinus,
308, 309,

G.

G.,

323.
6.

Herder,

J.

G. von,
plays,
202,

302.

Gerusalemme,

Hero, 211.
143,

God

in

Shakespeare,

Historical
speare's,

Shake;

154, 162.

Goethe,

J.

W.

von, 16, 85;


136,
149,

Shake293 speare's, personages, 211.


in

on
331.

Shakespeare,

Historical romance, 205.


Historicity,
156, 159.

Shakespeare,
and, 375,

Goneril, 231.

Good and
in

evil,

tragedy

of,

History,

Corneille

Shakespeare, 221.
in

378; Shakespeare and, 206.

Goodness,
in

King Lear, 230;


in

Horace

(Corneille's), 411.

Macbeth, 229;
143,

Shake-

speare,

162; material

Horace, 342, 383, 402, 414. Hotspur, 211, 218.


Humanists,
35, 37.

world and, 235.


Greatness, 223.
Grillparzer, Franz, 318.

Humboldt, K. Hugo, Victor,

W.
302.

von, 43.

INDEX
Humour,
145.

435
Gustave,
362, 394,

Lanson,
425.

Hyacinth, 196, 199.


lago, 236, 316, 330.
Ideals, in Shakespeare, 139.
Idyll, 187.

Laurence, Friar, 175.


Lemaitre, Jules, 362, 373. Leopardi, Giacomo, 312. Leopold Shakespeare, 304. Lessing, G. E., 83; on Corneille,

Imagination, 291.
Improvisation, 189.

338.

Indulgence,
260, 263.

in

Shakespeare,

Liberty, 425.
Life,
in

Corneille,

50,

351,

Innamorato, 105.
Inspiration,
112.

393 ; love of life in Shakecharacters, speare's 263;

Irony, Ariosto's, 70, 75.


Isabella, Ariosto's octaves on

Shakespeare's sense
147.

of, 141,

the name, 93.


Italy,

Shakespeare's
to,

indebt-

Literary style, 305. Literature in Shakespeare's


time, 188, 192.

edness

325.

Logic, 396.
JacobI, 427.

Jealousy, Ariosto's, 53.


Jessica

and Lorenzo, 180.

Love, 255; Ariosto's love of woman, 20; Ariosto's need,


30; character of Ariosto's,
52;

Jew, 2i6, 217.


Juliet, 175.

comedy

of,

in

Shake-

Julius Casar, 248.

speare, 163; Corneille, 350,

Jussurand,

J.

A.

A.

J.,

on

Shakespeare, 285.
Justice,

393

in Shakespeare,

369; 371, 387, 388, 416, 417, 418; highest, 34; Orlando Furioso matter, 55,
56.

258.

Ludwig,
Lear, 230, 282, 286, 295,
Lyricism.

Otto,

on

Shake-

King

speare, 147, 275.

303.

See Poetry.

Kings, 209, 307, 374, 421. Klein, J. L., on Corneille,


340.

Macbeth, Macbeth,
280.

310, 315.
134,

135,

222,

Knightly romance,

62.

Kreyssig, Friedrich, 307, 323.

Macbeth, Lady, 315. Macduff, 281, 310.


Machiavelli, Niccolo, 24, 60,
79.

La Bruyere, Jean
364.

de,

351,

157, 373-

436

INDEX
Much Ado About
170.

Maeterlinck, Maurice, 321. Malvolio, 169.

Nothing,

Mandragola
24.

of

Machiavelli,

Mystery,

Music, 43, 149, 179, 180, 243. in Shakespeare, 148.

Manzoni, Alessandro, 16, 85; on Shakespeare, 161.


Marfisa, 109.

Names, Ariosto's
79-

use, 74.

Naturalism, Ariosto's, 76, 78,


191,

Margutte, 102.

Marino,

Giambattista,
Christopher,

Nature,

in

Ariosto,

83;

in

192, 194.

Marlowe,
191.

184,

Shakespeare, 319. Neoplatonism, 40.

Material

of

the

Orlando

Nicomede, 422. Nicomede, 394, 395.


Nietzsche, Friedrich, 365, 379.

Furioso, 50, 52, 66.

Matrimony,

53.

Mazzini, Giuseppe, on Shakepeare, 296.

Oberon, 172.
O'Brien, Florence, 303. Octaves, Ariosto's, 71.

Measure for Measure,


264, 294.

197,

Mechanism,
397-

Corneille's,

390,

Medoro, 58, 78, 91. Melodrama, 399. Menander, 165. Mental presumptions, Shakespeare's, 152, 157, 160.

Oedipe, 423. Olympia, 72, 77. Ophelia, 255, 314, 315. Orlando, 101, 109; madness,
81.

Orlando Furioso, character and personages, 80, 82; emocritical problem, 3


;

Merchant
217, 295.

of

Venice,

180,

tional passages, 91
ity

frivol-

and

seriousness,
parts,
55,

85;
love

Midsummer
171.

Night's

Dream,

languid
matter,
50, 52,
;

89;

56;

material,

Miranda, 184, 261. Mocedades, 339, 340.


Moderation, 292.

66;

obsolete prob-

lems, 7
of,

reading, methods
relation
to

84;

Ari;

Monotony, in Cornellle, 428. Montaigne, M. E., 136, 157.


Monti, Vincenzo,
36.
7.

osto's

minor works, 28
93
of
;

reat-

straint,

scrupulous
its

tention
spirit

author,

30;

Morf, Heinrich, Morgante, 98.

which animates, 34;

toning down, 90.

INDEX
Orlando Innamorato,
Othello, 236, 282, 308.
105.

437
354;
ra-

426; non-lyrical,
tionalistic,

Othello, 238, 288, 316, 317.

352,

354.

Politian, Angelo, 36, 99, 112,

Othon, 355. Ovid, 112.


Painting, 43.

"3,

194in

Politics,

Ariosto,

59;

in

Corneille,

372;

in

Shake-

speare, 156.

Pandarus, 181.
Parrizzi, Antonio,
7.

Polyeucte, 342, 343, 383, 402,


414.
377,

Passions,
390,

349,

371,

372,

Pontano, G. G.,
Portia, 179.

36.

391,

392.

Past, love of, 36, 37; nostal-

Power, will
speare's,

for, 365,

379.

gia for, 205.


Pastiche, 37.

Pre-philosophy,
160.

Shake84, 85.

Pauline, 342.
Pellissier,

Promessi Sposi,
J.

G.

M., 284.
to

Pembroke theory as
Pcrtharite, 420, 421.

Shake-

Prospero, 260, 273. Puck, 172.


Pulcherie, 415, 416. Pulcherie, 384.
Pulci,

speare's Sonnets, 122.

Petrarch, Francesco, 41, 112.


Petruchio, 168.

Luigi,

95, 98.

98,

112;

Morgante,

PhlHberta of Savoy, 25.


Philocleon, 392.

Quickly, Mistress, 220.

Philologism, 50, 78, 121, 132,


133-

Quixote, Don, 187.


Rabelais, Fran(;ois, 76, 181.

Philosophy, Ariosto's, 48, 65; Shakespeare's, 149, 159,


252.

Racine, Jean,
364-

341,

349,

358,

Picaresque romance, 100.


Place Royale, 387, 403. Platen, August, 296, 298.
Plautus, 190.

Rajna, Pio,

7,

97.

Rape
351-

of Lucrece, 191.
in

Reason,

Corneille,

349,

Pleasure, 242.

Reflections of Ariosto, 75.

Poet and
Poetry,
35i>

artist, 41, 44.

Regan, 231.
307,

276,
357>

278,

305,

Religious beliefs, in Ariosto,


64.

4041

Corneille's,

408, 413, 425; cosmic, 146;


didactic, 355;
latent poets,

Renaissance, 65; Shakespeare


and, 158, 298, 325.

438
Rhythm,
Richard Richard
in Corneille,

INDEX
426; of
Schlegel,

Frederick,

on

the universe, 42, 43.


II,

French tragedy, 352.


Scientific study, 8.
Scott,

208.

III, 213, 307.

Walter, 205.

Rinaldo, loi, 109.

Sculpture, 43.
critic),

Rio

(Shalcespearean

152.

Seneca, 191, 379, 396. Sentiment, Shakespearean,


138, 143- 149-

Rodogune,

338, 342, 364, 367.

Rodolinde, Queen, 420, 421. Rodrigo, 347.

Seriousness, Ariosto's 85.

Rodrique, 382.

Ser tortus, 355. Shakespeare, William, analysis

Romance,
in

in

Corneille, 404;
;

and
as

eulogy
a

of

plays,
poet,

Shakespeare, 261

Shakeplays,

280;

German
145,

speare's
185.

romantic

319, 320, 323, 325; Ariosto

compared with,
95.

154,

Romances,

165; art
cal

Romeo and
Riimelin,
287, 308.

Juliet, 174, 288.

274; biographiproblem, 157; biograof,

Gustav,

137,

286,

phy,

useless

labours
122;

and
121;
of

conjectures,
of, 131.

chronol119,

Rutland, Earl

ogy
love,

of

plays,

classical,

291;

comedy

163;

comparisons

Sadoleto, Cardinal, 85.

with certain painters, 147;


conceptions, 149, 151; conflict,

Sainte-Beuve, C. A., on Corneille,

429;

on

French

155;

Corneille
of

and,
lesser

tragedy, 353. St. John, Ariosto's representation, 77.

404;

distinction

and
221; 288;
to,

greater

Shakespeare,
155,

dualism,

287,

Salvernini, Signor, 96.

English

indifference

Sannazaro, Jacopo,
Sarcasm, 231.
Schack, A.
339F.,

36.

in

errors

former times, 322 and defects, 289,

on Corneille,

295; ethics, 155; excellence long disputed, 284; Fate,

Schiller, J. C. F. von, 297;

on

Corneille, 338, 427.


Schlegel, A.
338,

Nature, fidelity to 155; 319; French judgments on


his art, 284;

373;

W., on Corneille, on Shakespeare,

goodness and
162;
his-

God,
torical

143,

154,

I39 174. 32i 384. 428.

plays,

293;

histor-

INDEX
icity,

439

156,

159;

ideal

de-

universality, 138, 150; useless

velopment and chronological


series,

conjectures 123;
useless

about
philol-

266;
in

idealism,
practical
historical

plays,

139;

interest

ogy, 121.

action,

and

his

Shakespearean
criticism

criticism, 300;

plays, 200; justice

and
of

in-

dulgence as motives
plays,
time,
tion,

in his

258;
158;

life

his

by images, 302; exclamatory criticism, 301 French and Italian, 321,


324;

literary

educa-

German

school,

306,

325; literature of his

320, 322; objectivistic, 312;

time and his literary plays,


188, 192;

philological,

303

present

mass of work de333; mental pre130;

3ge,
305-

333;

rhetorical,

voted

to,

suppositions, 152, 157, 160;

Shylock, 2i6.
Sleep, 227.

models, 292
;

moderation,
poetry,
;

motives and developof


his

Sonata form, 277.


Sonnets,
192.

ment
plays,

163;
of

Shakespeare's,

122,

mystery,

148

order

266; ourselves and,

Sources, 50.

328; philosophy, 149, 159,

Southampton,
131-

Earl
theory

of,

122,

252;

political

faith,

156;

practical
poetical

personality
personality,

and
117;

Southampton

as

to

Shakespeare's Sonnets, 122.


Stanley, William, 132.
State, 391.

pre-philosophy,
ing,

160; read-

Shakespeare's

course

of, 136,

157; religion, 152;

Steinweg
429.

(philologist),

428,

Renaissance and, 158, 298 roromance, 261; 32^;

Stoveisus, 375, 418.


Stories
62. Strife, 38,

mance
of
life,

as a motive

and the

of knightly romance,

romantic plays, 185; sense


141, 147; sentiment,

39;

in

Shake-

138, 143, 149; society of the

speare, 146, 147.

time,

135;
soul
strife,

Sonnets,
theories of
his

192;
about,

Sturm und Drang,


osto's style, 69.

320.

Sonnets,

Styles of writing, 305; Ari-

122;

poetry,

306;
rical

conflict,

war,

Sulzer, J. G., 10, 86.

147, 148; taste, 291; theat-

Surena, 411.

representation,

330;

Surena, 413.

/440

INDEX
Universal,
138, 150.
in

Swinburne, A. C, on Shakespeare, 270, 301.

Shakespeare,

System, 359, 360, 361.

Universe, rhythm
Unreality, 196.

of, 42, 43.

Taine, H. A., 135; 357; on


Shakespeare, 142.

Vauvenargues,
427.

L. de

C,

340,

Taming
199.

of the Shre^v, 168.

Venus and Adonis,

191, 194.

Tasso, Torquato, 90, 98, 114, Tears, 418.

Verdi, Giuseppe, 330.


Vico, Giambattista, 290.
Virtue, in Shakespeare, 162.

Technique, 275.

Vischer,

F.

T. von,
F.

10,

43,

Tempest, 184, 260, 307.


Theseus, 423. Timnti of Athens, 294.
Titania, 172.
Titus Andronicus, 190. Tolomei, Claudio, 32.
Tolstoi, Leo, on Shakespeare,
139, 285.
in Ariosto, 90. 99-

139. 307-

Voltaire,

J.

M.

A.,

on
355,

Corneille,
358, 385,

340,

346,

398;

on Shake-

speare, 284, 321.

Voluptuousness, 241.

War,
369,

in

Shakespeare, 148.

Toning down,

Tornabuoni, Lucrezia,

Will, 425; deliberative, 366,


378, 389, 390, 423; pure, 364; rational, in Corneille,

Tragedy, Corneille's mechanism, 390, 397; French rationalistic,


ter,

352; of charac-

349,

351;

resolute,
of,

360; of good and evil, of the in Shakespeare, 221


;

sophistry 413; tragedy of, 241

226;

" will for

power," 365, 379.

will, 241.

Winckelmann,
180,

J.

J.,

43.

Trammels, 404. Troilus and Cressida,


295.

Winter's Tale, 198, 199, 29J.

Wisdom
15-

of

life,

in

Ariosto,

Tivelfih Night, 169, 190.

Two
167.

Gentlemen

of

Verona,

Wofflin, Heinrich, 49. Woman, as object of


osto's

Ari-

love,

20;

love

and

politics, 356.

Ulrici,

Hermann,

156,

307,

310.

Unity, 39-

Zerbino, 58, 91.

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