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ABRIDGED AND REVISED
FOR THE USE OF GIRLS.
BOOK THE FIRST,
THE TRAGEDIES AND HISTORICAL PLAYS.
T. J. ALLMAN, 463, OXFORD STREET.
In these days, when Shakespeare's noble and pathetic utterances have become "familiar in men's mouths as Household Words," it would be idle to enlarge on those qualities which entitle him to be considered our greatest dramatic poet; besides, so numerous and able have been his admiring commentators, that to do so would be, on my part, but "to gild refined gold."
It will, however, I think, be admitted, by even the most enthusiastic admirers of Shakespeare, that though his works are comparatively free from the gross indelicacy of contemporary dramatists, they yet contain passages which render them, for the reading of young girls, somewhat objectionable. With this view it had been my intention to produce a volume of selections from Shakespeare; but as, by so doing, one of the greatest charms in Shakespeare the fitness of the sentiment in the mouth of the speaker-would be entirely lost, I afterwards determined to present each drama in an abridged form, but retaining, as far as possible, the action, and consequently the interest, of the play.
It may be objected that in this abridgement one salient quality of our great poet is not adequately represented-I mean his humour, of which no poet has more; the vein of satire which pervades the writing of his sardonic contemporary, Ben Jonson, gives to his humour the flash and sting of wit, whilst for genuine humour, irresistible because so spontaneous and hearty, Shakespeare is surpassed by none. Yet, as it is precisely in the humorous scenes that the greatest freedom of expression is to be found, and as, moreover, humour is the quality least appreciable by the class of readers for whom I have laboured, these omissions have not been made unadvisedly. The few examples which I have given of this vein in our poet will be found in the play of Hamlet, but in most of these the humour is dominated by pathos.
From "Antony and Cleopatra," "Othello," and other plays, which, from
Thunder. Enter the three Witches. Enter also MACBETH and BANQUO.
Macb. So foul and fair a day I have not seen. Ban. How far is't call'd to Forres ?-What are these,
So wither'd and so wild in their attire;
Speak, if you can ;-What are you?
1 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis !
2 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane
3 Witch. All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.
Ban. Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
Things that do sound so fair?—I' the name of truth
Are ye fantastical, or that indeed
Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace, and great prediction Of noble having, and of royal hope,
That he seems wrapt withal; to me you speak not: If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say, which grain will grow, and which will not,
Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
1 Witch. Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.
So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!
1 Witch, Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!
Ban. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, And these are of them: Whither are they vanish'd? Mach. Into the air: and what seem'd corporal melted
As breath into the wind.-'Would they had staid!
Ban. To the self-same tune and words. Who's here?
Enter RossE and ANGUS.
And, for an earnest of a greater honour,
What, can the devil speak true? Mach. The Thane of Cawdor lives: Why do you dress me In borrowed robes ?
Who was the thane, lives yet: But under heavy judgment bears that life
Macb. Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me Which he deserves to lose, for treasons capital,
Confess'd and prov'd, have overthrown him.