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SUPPOSED SOURCE OF THE PLOT.

"THE original story," says Dryden, "was written by one Lollius, a Lombard, in Latin verse, and translated by Chaucer into English; intended, I suppose, a satire on the inconstancy of women. I find nothing of it among the ancients, not so much as the name Cressida once mentioned. Shakspeare (as I hinted), in the apprenticeship of his writing, modelled it into that play which is now called by the name of Troilus and Cressida." We shall have occasion to revert to Dryden's opinion of this play, and to his transmutation of it into what he considered his own fine gold. Chaucer himself speaks of "Myne Auctor Lollius;" and in his address to the Muse, in the beginning of the second book, he says,

"To every lover I me excuse

That of no sentiment I this endite,
But out of Latin in my tongue it write."

Without entering into the question who Lollius was, or believing more than that "Lollius, if a writer of that name existed at all, was a somewhat somewhere," ,"* we at once receive the 'Troilus and Creseide' of Chaucer as the foundation of Shakspere's play. Of his perfect acquaintance with that poem there can be no doubt. Chaucer, of all English writers, was the one who would have The Rape of Lucrece is written precisely in the same versification as Chaucer's Troilus and Creseide.' When Lorenzo, in The Merchant of Venice, exclaims,—

the greatest charm for Shakspere.

"In such a night,

Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan wall,
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents
Where Cressid lay that night,"—

we may be sure that Shakspere had in his mind the following passages of Chaucer :

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Mr. Godwin has justly observed that the Shaksperian commentators have done injustice to Chaucer in not more distinctly associating his poem with this remarkable play :

"It would be extremely unjust to quit the consideration of Chaucer's poem of 'Troilus and Crescide' without noticing the high honour it has received in having been made the foundation of one of the plays of Shakespear. There seems to have been in this respect a sort of conspiracy in the commentators upon Shakespear against the glory of our old English bard. In what they have written concerning this play, they make a very slight mention of Chaucer; they have not consulted his poem for the purpose of illustrating this admirable drama; and they have agreed, as far as possible, to transfer to another author the honour of having supplied materials to the tragic artist. Dr. Johnson says, 'Shakespeare has in his

Coleridge. Literary Remains,' vol. ii., p. 130.

story followed, for the greater part, the old book of Caxton, which was then very popular; but the character of Thersites, of which it makes no mention, is a proof that this play was written after Chapman had published his version of Homer.' Mr. Steevens asserts that 'Shakspeare received the greatest part of his materials for the structure of this play from the Troye Boke of Lydgate.' And Mr. Malone repeatedly treats the History of the Destruction of Troy, translated by Caxton,' as 'Shakspeare's authority' in the composition of this drama. The fact is, that the play of Shakespear we are here considering has for its main foundation the poem of Chaucer, and is indebted for many accessory helps to the books mentioned by the commentators.

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"We are not, however, left to probability and conjecture as to the use made by Shakespear of the poem of Chaucer. His other sources were Chapman's translation of Homer, the 'Troy Book' of Lydgate, and Caxton's History of the Destruction of Troy.' It is well known that there is no trace of the particular story of Troilus and Creseide' among the ancients. It occurs, indeed, in Lydgate and Caxton; but the name and actions of Pandarus, a very essential personage in the tale as related by Shakespear and Chaucer, are entirely wanting, except a single mention of him by Lydgate, and that with an express reference to Chaucer as his authority. Shakespear has taken the story of Chaucer with all its imperfections and defects, and has copied the series of its incidents with his customary fidelity; an exactness seldom to be found in any other dramatic writer."*

Although the main incidents in the adventures of the Greek lover and his faithless mistress are followed with little deviation, yet, independent of the wonderful difference in the characterization, the whole story under the treatment of Shakspere becomes thoroughly original. In no play does he appear to us to have a more complete mastery over his materials, or to mould them into more plastic shapes by the force of his most surpassing imagination. The great Homeric poem, the rude romance of the destruction of Troy, the beautiful elaboration of that romance by Chaucer, are all subjected to his wondrous alchemy; and new forms and combinations are called forth so lifelike, that all the representations which have preceded them look cold and rigid statues, not warm and breathing men and women. Coleridge's theory of the principle upon which this was effected is, we have no doubt, essentially true :

"I am half inclined to believe that Shakspeare's main object (or shall I rather say his ruling impulse?) was to translate the poetic heroes of Paganism into the not less rude, but more intellectually vigorous, and more featurely, warriors of Christian chivalry, and to substantiate the distinct and graceful profiles or outlines of the Homeric epic into the flesh and blood of the romantic drama,-in short, to give a grand history-piece in the robust style of Albert Durer."+

Without attempting to exhibit all the materials which Shakspere has thus made his own, we shall, in the Illustrations to each act, give some passages from Chaucer's poem, Chapman's 'Homer,' Caxton's 'Destruction of Troy,' and Lydgate's 'Troy Book,' in which the reader may trace the resemblances which, however obvious or minute, equally manifest the same power in the dramatic poet of fashioning a perfect whole out of the most incongruous parts.

'Life of Chancer,' vol. i. (4to.), p. 315

Literary Remains,' vol. ii., p. 183

COSTUME.

In our notice of the costume for the Midsummer Night's Dream we have given a description of the dress and arms of the Greeks during the heroical ages, illustrated by engravings from the frieze of the Parthenon. To the information there collected may be added on the present occasion that afforded to us by the Iliad of Homer, and the vases and statues possessed or described by the late Mr. Hope. According to the latter authorities, the Trojans and other Phrygians appear to have worn the tunic with sleeves to the wrist, the tight trousers or pantaloons, and the cap with the point bending forwards, in the form of which their helmets were made. In war tho tunic of mail

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[A Trojan ]

[Phrygian Helmets.]

composed of rings sewn flat upon leather or cloth, like those of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans of the 11th century, would seem to have distinguished them in general from the Greeks, who wore the cuirass and the greaves. Homer, however, by his descriptions of the armour of the Trojan heroes, would induce us to believe that it did not always so essentially differ from that of the Greeks. He describes Paris, when arming for the combat with Menelaus, as putting on greaves,* fastened with silver buttons, a thorax, or breast-plate, and a helmet with a horse-hair crest. On an old Yet Homer Sicilian vase too, in the Hope collection, Eneas is represented in complete Grecian armour. Again, we gather from the vases that the Phrygian shield, like that of the Amazons, was the Pelta, or small semi-lunar shield, and their favourite weapon the bi-pennis, or double axe. does not make this distinction, but arms the Trojans with the large orbicular shield of the Greeks, the two spears, the sword, &c. He also describes the warriors of both armies as wearing occasionally Is it that some of the poets and painters of Greece, like the skins of beasts over their armour. all those of the middle ages, represented persons of every nation and period in the costume of In the latter case, are we the country and time in which they themselves wrote or painted; or was there really little or no difference between the Greeks and Trojans when armed for battle? § to look upon the interesting figures of Paris and other Phrygians represented on the ancient vases, &c., as things of no authority? These are questions the discussion of which would require much more time and space than can be afforded to us in the present instance, and we must content ourselves with submitting to our readers the engravings from the antique which are scattered throughout this play, with the avowal that we lean, as in duty bound, to the pictorial side, and consider The Phrygians are represented in shoes, the that there was that remarkable difference between the Grecian armour and that of the Trojans which may be observed in the specimens given.

Greeks in sandals, or with naked feet, when wearing the greaves.

Ridiculously rendered by Pope as "

purple cuishes."

↑ Phrygian helmets, with crests, both of horse-hair and metal, in imitation of the Greek, appear in Hope's collection, and so far bear out the poet's description.

Mr. Hope, however, does not give us his authority for so designating the figure, which in the edition of 1806 is termed "a Greek warrior."

§ Then wherefore "the well-greaved Greeks?" their Asiatic or other opponents?

Does not that designation imply a peculiarity distinguishing them from

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The arms of Achilles, worn by Patroclus, are said by Homer to have been of brass ornamented with gold. Those made for Achilles, by Vulcan, were of various metals,-the greaves of tin, the corslet of gold, the sword of brass, the helmet with a four-fold crest of gilded horse-hair, the shield of the most elaborate workmanship. The arms of Diomed were all brass; those of Ajax steel. Agamemnon's cuirass was composed of steel, tin, and gold, and ornamented with dragons. The hilt of his sword was gold, the sheath silver. His buckler was defended by ten circles and twenty bosses of brass, and in the centre had a Gorgon's head. The helmet was surmounted by a

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