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had been exclusively among the vicious. What a transition, good heavens! from the fragrant outpouring of the soul of Imogen, to Iachimo's “ If you buy ladies' flesh at a million a dram, you cannot prevent it from tainting.
The truth is, that Posthumus, under the first shock and provocation of this revolting encounter, behaves both modestly and patiently—"as calm as virtue,”
, according to Iachimo's penitent admission. He does not propose the wager: it is forced upon him by the scoffs and taunts of the Italian; and is accepted at last with a view to punish them,—first, by the repulse which his addresses are sure to sustain,-secondly, by the loss of his property,—and thirdly, by the duel . which is to follow. They who have so violently objected against the husband's procedure on this occasion, have judged of it according to the cool, calculating habits of feeling belonging to the modern time,-ignorant of, or overlooking, the real character of that chivalric love, that truly religious faith and devotion of the heart, which Shakespeare found it here his business to paint.
Iachimo, in his repentance, gives the right version of the matter ;for, according to the code of chivalry, so far from its being regarded as an insult and profanation on the husband's part, to permit such an experiment to be made upon the constancy of his wife, it was looked upon as the highest proof of his confidence in her virtue, and therefore as the most decided homage he could pay to it; and the attempting seducer, in such a case, was afterwards to be called to account by the husband, not so much for the attempt itself, as for the disbelief in the lady's fidelity, which it implied. Therefore says Iachimo,
He, true knight,
This account, which absolves Posthumus from impropriety and rashness in this proceeding, is given, let us remember, by the same accomplished man of the world who, but that he is stricken with remorse, has every interest in representing him as much as possible to have been in the wrong. In the present instance, too, it must be borne in mind, that the lady is a princess, surrounded by all the personal safeguards of à court, and therefore secure against there being offered to her the slightest personal violence.
So far concerning Posthumus's wager and his challenge. In another paper we shall speak of his character as shown in the course of his deception, his despair, his revenge, and his repentance.
2.- POSTHUMUS AND JACHIMO.
[March 18th, 1843.]
They who are disposed to regard the dramatist as making Posthumus shew foolish credulity, in allowing himself to be convinced of his wife's infidelity by the evidence which Iachimo adduces, should attend to the sequel of that confession, from Iachimo's own lips, of which, in our preceding paper, we have cited the former part. Still addressing Cymbeline, he says:
Away to Britain
your chaste daughter the wide difference
Mine Italian brain
My practice so prevail'd,
I having ta'en the forfeit.
'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly,
The treasure of her honour.
My husband's hand !
And he's at some hard point !
It cannot be,
Hath done you both this cursed injury.
To shew that, in fact, Iachimo has been elaborately delineated by the poet as a villain most “singular in his art,” becomes requisite, in order to place the character and conduct of Posthumus in a light perfectly just and true.
In the banquet scene, indeed, wherein they first become acquainted, only one side of the Italian's character is brought out — the easy and familiar assurance of the libertine man of the world, sceptical as to all merit in men, and incredulous regarding feminine virtue. It is in his opening scene with Imogen that the powers of insinuation and deceit possessed by this “noble gentleman of Rome” begin to unfold themselves. Certain it is, that his very first glance at the princess whose virtue he has undertaken to assail, gives him an impression such as he has never before received from woman; and herein we find one of the master-strokes by which the poet exalts the ideal perfection of his heroine :
All of her that is out of door, most rich !
Boldness, be my friend!
Rather, directly fly.
lord, and in them is commended to her by his own hand as
one of the noblest note, to whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your truest Leonatus.” Well may she tell him, then,
You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I
In all that I can do.
How exquisite a masterpiece of insidious oratory do we find in his ensuing addresses! There is, first, the engaging her curiosity and attention by the acting of abstracted astonishment_" What ! are men mad ?" &c. ;-then, the giving her to understand that he is occupied with a comparison between herself and some absent lady
It cannot be i' the eye; for apes and monkeys,
'Twixt two such shes, &c.then, the vague insinuation
The cloyed will, That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, &c.until Imogen's question
Continues well my lord ?—his health, beseech you ?informs him that he has succeeded in rousing in her breast obscure apprehension concerning her husband. Then, we see the dexterity with which he touches this tender string, her anxiety for her husband's health and cheerfulness, till he makes his account of her lord's mirthful humour so naturally introduce the sentence wherein he attributes to him exactly one of his own voluptuary sentiments :
Assured bondage ! Then comes his “pity” for them both;-next, his more direct insinuation of her husband's infidelity