Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Corin, on the other hand, the faint incipient realism of Lodge's Corydon is skilfully heightened, and that rustic in embryo becomes an admirable study of the sententious old shepherd of real life. His name associates Corin with the Arcadians, Phæbe and Silvius; but his character consorts him with the homelier couple, William and Audrey, the goatherd of Shakespeare's invention, who represent the naïveté of the English rustic without any softening charm.

A far subtler transformation has befallen the courtly denizens of Arden, who in Lodge belong to literary Pastoral like the rest, but in Shakespeare mediate exquisitely between reality and romance. They, again, form two sub-groups which at moments meet and scintillate, but do not mingle till the close, the banished duke and his lords, and Rosalind and Orlando. The exhilaration of free woodland life, which is one of the ultimate springs of all Pastoral, has entered into both; but in the duke it begets a benign philosophy, in Rosalind exuberant humour. Both Rosalind and Orlando retain an outward resemblance to their conventional prototypes. Both pursue their loves by the fantastic devices of Pastoral ; Orlando mars the trees with sonnets, and Rosalind wins him by feigning the truth. But these fantastic elements are drawn within the sphere of human nature by virtue, above all, of the delightful character of Rosalind herself, an original blend of playfulness and passion. A less ardent Rosalind would have shown less enterprise in her love; a duller or a graver one would have been less ingeniously indirect in its execution. The lyric apostrophes of Juliet are only an exquisite form of the conventional speech of loverapture; Rosalind's speech is from first to last absolutely individual, a love-language entirely her own, and

,

' lending itself to the utterance of no other tongue.

465

VOL. II

2 H

The exquisite lyrics of Lodge's Rosalind were necessarily lost.

Lodge's Rosader-half ruffler, half sentimental shepherd-presented a perhaps more difficult problem. It is in his story that Shakespeare has made most changes, especially in the part of it which Lodge drew most directly from Gamelyn. Orlando is the nearest approach in Shakespeare to the fresh young knight of chivalry, or to such a figure as Chaucer's Squier, steeped in the romance of the woods and of love. He has lost both the rustic simplicity of Rosader and his rustic violence. He neither loses his senses under the spell of Rosalind's beauty, nor brings a posse of roysterers to batter his brother's door.

His character, like his name, is caught from the traditions of a highbred and courtly valour, heightened by the peculiarly Shakespearean trait that it springs rather from race than from training, for his brother has neglected their father's charge—to bring him up in 'all gentlemanlike qualities.' His father's spirit triumphs over his ‘peasant' training, as it does in Arviragus and Guiderius and Perdita, though the psychological subtlety shown in tracing the conflict of birth and breeding in the Winter's Tale is wholly wanting in the earlier creation. In keeping with the fine cortesia communicated to the figure of Orlando, the whole

1

1 In this prescription, as in assume that what Lodge cer. one or two other points, the play tainly knew cannot have been resembles Gamelyn and diverges known to Shakespeare. Lodge from Lodge. Whether Shake- probably read the MS. in some speare knew Gamelyn has, in Oxford library, but the close consequence, been warmly de. correspondences of his version bated. The question must re- suggest that he had made a copy main undecided. The resem

or notes. The negative view blances are not marked enough has been closely argued by to compel the assumption (made Delius (Jahrbuch, vi. 247 f.) and by Knight, Grey, Upton), but Zupitza (ib. xxi. 93 f.). they suggest it; and it is rash to

plot has been lifted into a blither atmosphere. Tragic harms still loom on the horizon, but they rouse no foreboding, and approach only to disperse. Their contrivers, Oliver and Frederick, are from the first less grave offenders than their prototypes, and they repent on yet slighter provocation. Even Charles the wrestler is stunned, not slain.

It is to this third group—the courtly inmates of Arden—that Shakespeare has made his most important original additions. Touchstone and Jaques, profoundly as they differ, stand in a somewhat similar relation to the sub-groups to whom they are directly attached. Touchstone is the foil to Rosalind's humour, Jaques to the duke's philosophy; Touchstone parodies Orlando's verses, Jaques Amiens's song; Touchstone is the court-jester, Jaques ‘has a mind to the same office, and thinks motley the only wear.' Something of Shakespeare's early symmetry of design lingers in the mode of their introduction into the plot : Touchstone has followed Celia into exile, Jaques the duke; and both relations are probably modelled on the devotion of old Adam to Orlando,— a trait retained from the oldest extant form of the story. Both represent a

new departure in Shakespeare's dramatic technique. In Touchstone he for the first time utilised the professional court-fool as a medium of wit and humour. In Jaques he for the first time introduced a character of the first rank, whose entire rôle is that of the contemplative observer. Both figures are

1

Frederick, though slightly introduces a telling parallelism sketched, is more intelligible between him and Oliver. Toristhan Torismond. It was an mond, with the insensate fury of admirable stroke to make him the stage-despot, banishes his the brother of the rightful duke. daughter as well as his niece; This makes more natural his Celia's flight is the beginning of retention of Rosalind at his court Frederick's repentance. after her father's banishment, and

set like boulders in the pellucid stream of the drama, contributing nothing to its movement, but making its hidden tendencies, its currents and cross-currents, visible and explicit. The contrasts of court and country, of society and nature, which the other persons embody but hardly express, are forced into prominence by the dry jests of the ex-court fool and the biting sarcasms of the disillusioned worldling. Touchstone is a shrewd rustic who has served at court, and armed himself with its accomplishments, without foregoing his native blunt humour. He conveys his buffooneries through the formulas of courtly wit. He makes game of the simplicity of Corin and Audrey, and parodies the 'strange capers' of the courtly lovers. Jaques's relations with the rustics are of the slightest, but he serves as a most effective foil for the courtiers. His philosophy is a sort of heightened and distorted version of the duke's, and the duke despises his character but loves his company. If the duke sighs over the stricken stag, Jaques moralises its fate into a thousand similes ; if the duke makes a passing comparison of the world to a stage, Jaques follows it up with the famous 'seven ages of man.' If Touchstone is allowed a momentary advantage over. Orlando and Rosalind, the fresh and robust good-nature of the one and the buoyant wit of the other are far more emphatically opposed in two nearly adjacent scenes, iii. 1. and iv. 1.) to Jaques's cynical gloom. Will you sit down with me? We two will rail against our mistress the world,'—is his invitation to Orlando. ‘I will chide no breather in the world but myself, in whom I know most faults.'

Jaques has clearly morbid traits; yet he represents a type very characteristic of the early seventeenth century, and one which, as the minute and elaborate drawing shows, greatly interested Shakespeare. The

a

staple of his 'melancholy' was the vague sadness of a sated brain, the despondent waking after the glorious national revelry of Elizabeth's prime. But there are glimpses in it of a profounder and nobler melancholy, which Shakespeare himself, it can hardly be doubted, came to share, melancholy of a profound sensitiveness to wrong and to suffering. Jaques's effusive pathos over the wounded stag, strange and untimely note as it sounds among the blithe horns and carols of the hunters, preludes a deeper, more comprehensive pity, -the stuff of which; in the next years, the great tragedies were to be wrought.

« AnteriorContinuar »