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that the sympathy of the audience ought to go with the "honest” ancient. Archbishop Whateley has, however, fully exposed the tricks employed in such sophistical arguments in his “Proofs of the nonexistence of Napoleon Buonaparte." Such dialectical exercises may be disregarded as harmless flourishes of a disputatious mind.
The author of the present refutation has fairly met his opponent, without transferring the dispute, as he very well might, to any "removed ground” of a metaphysical or æsthetical kind. The assertion was made in a plain logical manner, and it has been answered in the same mode, and the question is thus argued with as much formality (and we must say as little genius) as any two advocates could have done before the lord chief justice.
Neither party shows sufficient consideration for the peculiar circumstances of the author ; of the prevailing spirit and belief of his time; nor of the æsthetical necessities in the construction of the drama. Neither is there any attention paid to the bibliographical part of the subject. Arguments are drawn on both sides from passages of which it may very fairly be doubted if Shakespeare was the author. For instance, great stress is laid and the lines are many times quoted of, Macbeth. Prythee peace :
I dare do all that may become a man,
Who dares do more is none. without any allusion or apparent knowledge that this is an amended and disputed passage, and that the words, or at least the sentiment, is perhaps more Southern's than Shakespeare's. There is no quarto edition of Macbeth; and it was, says Collier, (the very best authority on such a matter), first printed in the folio edition of 1623; he also adds, " It has been handed down in an unusually complete state, for not only are the divisions of the acts pointed out, but the subdivisions of the scenes carefully and accurately noted.” Probably, therefore, it was printed from the manuscript. These oft-quoted lines, so much relied on as indicative of character, stand in the oldest and most authoritative folios of 1623, 1632, and 1665 as follows: Macbeth. Prythee peace :
I dare do all that may become a man,
Who dares no more, is none, Lady. What beast was't then, &c. The alteration to “who dares do more ” was made by Southern in editing the edition of 1685. The Rev. Mr. Hunter in the second part of his very searching and interesting work entitled “Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare," proposes a reading quite as plausible as Southern's, and as both are conjectures, quite as much entitled to credit. He would read Macbeth. Prythee peace :
I dare do all that may become a man.
Lady. Who dares no more is none.
What beast, &c. A reading entitled to especial regard inasmuch as it removes an unShakespearian rant, and leaves the actual text in the state it was received through three editions by the intimate admirers and contemporaries of the poet. Southern's alteration is exactly accordant with the Dryden and Lee bombast of his day.
We have adduced this example of verbal criticism to prove how a contemptuous neglect of it must overthrow the finest-spun æsthetical speculation.
It is too far out of our way to enter on the character of Macbeth, and when it is considered what has been done from Richardson to Coleridge, and by the German critics, we fancy it will not be a matier of regret to our readers that we do not attempt to add to the long and able list. We cannot however refrain from a few remarks. Of the stage appreciation of Shakespeare, with Charles Lamb we have complete horror : all seems to us erroneous. The versification is dislocated, the speeches are cut into points, the scenes into climaxes, the whole play into gaudy shreds and patches. The stage and the drama have long been irrevocably divorced. Any actor's opinion on the subject is of no value ; except indeed it might be a low comedian's in his private capacity--in this way one would prefer Grimaldi's to John Kemble'sand if any one thinks this a preposterous assertion let him read the latter's alteration of Shakespeare for the stage. The whole matter therefore of the Westminster reviewer's dissertation is at once obliterated. However, neither of the authors have considered the character in its dramatic point of view : they have considered as a reality what is a portion of art, and therein so transcendently great. The action of the play comprises many years, vast events, great changes, various contrasts, all which by art are brought into one stream of interest. The principle that gives the ever-enduring popularity to the four great tragedies (for Richard III. is not acted as written) is the tremendous interest derived from the conflict of the passions and the feelings. Of this powerful agent no writer had a greater appreciation than Shakespeare, and it cannot be doubted he made as much of it in Macbeth as in Othello, Lear, or Hamlet. It is this constant surge and fluctuation that has moved successive generations of audiences with as lively emotion as if the first night of production : it is this human feeling which renders them imperishable. It is the fight of good and evil, weakness and strength, constancy and change, which has been shadowed out in all great religious and poetical enunciations.
The pamphlet that has led us thus far is worthy of perusal on its own account; and if it were not, it would be as leading us back to the consideration of one who is ever fresh, ever great, and ever grandly instructive.
CONFESSIONS OF A PRETTY WOMAN. By Miss PARDOE, Authoress of “ The
City of the Sultan," &c. 3 vols. post 8vo. London: H. Colburn. To pourtray the various characteristics, and the infinite vicissitude of feeling through which a pretty woman will probably have passed, would require a very delicate and a very powerful pen. The subject is highly attractive, not so much on account of the natural attraction of beauty itself, as that a beautiful woman possesses a power which to a certain extent gives her a character. “Most women have no character at all,” said the jilted and disappointed poet ; but, perhaps, it might be added, most women have no character (not in the ignominious sense) because they have no power; no will but self-will. A beautiful woman is placed in a situation of independence by the natural aristocracy of her qualification, and she is not compelled to assume a virtue in order to please. This very freedom gives, when joined to amiability of temperament and vivacity of intellect, a power of charming which is irresistible. She is thus exposed to a thousand temptations ; her vanity is stimulated ; her faculties enlarged, and her mind bewildered by all manner of false representations. The surly and the proud are courteous and humble to her; and all passions, and even many interests, vail themselves to her powerful spell. Beauty is one of the aristocracies of earth, and very justly have the conventional distinctions often been subdued by it. To pourtray the characteristics of a being so situated, to mark with the finest appreciation, but with the most distinct delineation, her alternations of feelings, and the operation of circumstances upon her character, is a difficult task, and it would be a truly interesting revealment. Miss Pardoe has attempted nothing of the kind, and she has been so far wise, as she does not indicate in this work any capability of so doing.
The juster title of the book would have been “ Memoirs of a Pretty Woman," forthese“Confessions" reveal no more than an author is always supposed to know about the creature of his fabrication. The commonplace side of the question is taken up, and the “Pretty Woman" is made selfish and unamiable. At least she is so represented, though she really seems no worse, even if so bad, as her neighbours. All the characters have a criminal tendency, the men being unutterably base and sensual, and the women weak and malignant. The beauty is very ill used, being duped by two “ monsters which (it is hoped) the world ne'er saw," and whose conduct is such as no men of decent breeding could be guilty of : not that they might not be as criminal, but they could not be as vulgar.
The style is not felicitous. It has been compared with that of Mrs. Gore, but it wants her felicitous ease and brilliancy which compensate for so many defects. It is clogged with epithets, and garnished with innumerable French phrases, which give it the same sort of relish that the pinch of curry powder may be supposed to convey to the potato soup. It has abundance of self-sufficiency, but very little true power; and the morality is of that conventional kind taught in respectable boarding
schools, and enforced in fashionable chapels. There is, altogether, very little that can be conscientiously praised, for there is not much description in it, in which we should have supposed, from the previous works of this authoress, she would have excelled. There is no novelty of character, and scarcely any interest, though in the last volume some is felt for the heroine, and the narrative there flows more easily and pleasantly.
Nor is there, apparently, the same actual knowledge of the class of life treated of as in the novels of Mrs. Gore and others, styled “ fashionable novelists;” and, therefore, we cannot cite it with any surety of the fidelity of its representations, otherwise we might add what we so often had forced upon our notice, that the aristocracy as represented by the novelists appear to be the worst-bred and most illconducted class of society. It used to be the other way at the commencement of novel writing, and aristocracy was painted couleur du rose. The undoubted testimony of their own class, however, is the only one from which any prejudicial argument can be fairly drawn, and of this there is abundance.
TAE EMBASSY ; OR, THE KEY TO A MYSTERY : An Historical Romance.
Being the Second Series of The Chronicles of the Bastile. 3 vols., p. 8vo. London : C. Newby.
This is an historical novel manufactured after the approved modern fashion. The subject is the intrigue of the handsome Duke of Buckingham, with the (as here represented) sentimental Anne of Austria ; the result of which is made out to be a son, who afterwards becomes the mysterious creature of the iron mask. Historical probability and chronological accuracy are so openly avowed by the author to be violated to suit his fiction, that it is scarcely necessary to mention the fact. There are, however, violations of the probabilities of common occurrences and of character which call for more serious remark. The Duke of Buckingham, a character, which, in the hands of a master, would afford many opportunities for interesting developments and powerful writing, is treated in the most common-place manner. That he was unscrupulous, arrogant, vain, licentious, and vindictive, we know from history; but that he was in the habit of brawling in pot-houses, that he pursued his disgraceful intrigues in the manner here narrated, or that his conduct was so entirely without the graces of the cavalier cannot be believed.
We have often had occasion to remark that this kind of novel has long since sank to the standard of the Surrey Theatre Melodrama Ferrymen with smart sons or handsome daughters, discontented and assassinating military officers, whose daughters are always placed in a disreputable situation by some gentleman in silk hose, and with an amazing large plume of feathers, have long been the property of both. The novelist, indeed, has the advantage of being able to spin out his three volumes with a transcript or two from history, and the opportunity of bringing in the speculations of a statesman. Here the unfortunate Richelieu is dragged forth, who, whatever his sins - may have been, has surely fully expiated them in the long-suffering he has endured at the hands of the modern historical novelist.
There is generally to be found in the feeblest of these kind of productions, some small portion of information respecting the manners and characters of the period treated of, but here there is really nothing of the sort, beyond what every diligent student of the circulating library must have long been acquainted with. The merest gossip of the time, set afloat from political or malicious motives, is taken as the groundwork of the scenes and events, and every great occurrence referred to a private notive. It is one of the mysteries of that most mysterious craft, publishing, how such works can repay the cost of production, or, being produced, how they can be charged the price they are, whilst their kindred brothers of the shelf, the minor theatre dramas, may be had for sixpence, or seen with music and dancing for a shilling.
The Queen's LIEGES. A Romance. In 4 volumes, p. 8vo. London:
T. C. Newby. This is also an historical novel, but is entitled to more consideration than the one we have just noticed, inasmuch as it has a purport, beyond the mere spinning a story by involving common-place personages in an improbable and uninteresting plot. We cannot admire either its style or its principles, but inasmuch as it has somewhat of both it is more endurable than the faint imitations of a weak prototype, that are now usually given as historical romances.
The author is evidently an enthusiast-not to say a fanatic-in his opinions of the middle-age form of society; and so perverted is this view, that whilst he isnarrating one of the most revolting and barbarous instances of despotic tyranny ever perpetrated-the violation of the profoundest affections, and the open and wilful murder of a lovely and amiable woman, the unhappy Ines de Castro, he can see nothing in the middle ages but a form of government and religion which fostered the noblest feelings and produced the perfection of humanity. He is in fact either of the school of Lord John Manners, or a defender of the Roman Catholic doctrines. He has consequently all the usual perversion of argument, and unconscious misrepresentation of facts that characterise that school. The romantic ideal that they follow has doubtless amiabilities and points of attraction, but it is so entirely the result of faith in an idea, instead of a sound deduction from facts, that it must ever appear absurd when endeavoured to be wrought into practice as a reasonable theory.
The style is not so elevated and informed with genius as that of some of the writers of the “Young England School," and conse