« AnteriorContinuar »
Galileo. I am well acquainted with the Scriptures; but as I do not suppose they were meant to instruct mankind in astronomy, I think there is no sacrilege in attempting to discover more of the nature of the universe than what is revealed in them.
Monk. So you believe yourself capable of succeeding in the attempt? Galileo. Perhaps I do.
Monk. Would not your time be better employed, my son, in perusing some rational book of devotion? Do not allow yourself to be led away by the idle suggestions of self-conceit. What is there to be seen about you, which should enable you to penetrate farther into the secrets of the universe than me or the rest of mankind? I do not ask this question with a view to wound your pride, but with a sincere wish for your good.
Galileo. Upon my word, you are too kind to me. Pray, father, is there any book of devotion which you would recommend in particular?
Monk. Recommend in particular!There is a book which it would not become me to but no-recomm mend in particular!-Hum-I know not.
Galileo. Something trembles at your tongue's end. Have you yourself written any book of devotion?
Monk. Far be it from me to speak of my own writings. Of all books of devotion, my own was the remotest from my thoughts. But since you desire to see it
Galileo. What are the subjects treated of in it?
Monk. Life, death, and immortality. There is also a treatise upon the habitations of good men after death, and the delights to be found there.
Galileo. Your notions concerning these subjects must be in a great measure fanciful.
Monk. By no means. Good reasons are given for every tittle that is advanced.
Galileo. And where do you suppose the habitations of good men to be? Monk. Why, in heaven, to be sure. Galileo. Is it not possible that their abode may be situated in some of the constellations? When gazing, as I was wont to do, at midnight, upon Arcturus, or the brilliant orbs of Orion, I have sometimes thought, that in the blue depths there might exist worlds
suitable for the habitation of an immortal spirit.
Monk. My son, my son, beware of futile conjectures! You know not upon what ground you are treading.
Galileo. Does not the galaxy shed forth a glorious light? How gorgeous is its throng of constellations!—To me it seems like a procession of innumerable worlds, passing in review before their Creator.
Monk. If the galaxy moves, why may not the sun?
Galileo. My judgment is, that they may both move, for aught I know, although at a very slow pace. I
Monk. Now you speak sense. knew I should bring you round; for, to say the truth (and I say it between you and me), if it had not been for my enemies, whom Heaven pardon, I should have been wearing a red hat before now. Good night and I shall immediately bring the book, which will help to put your thoughts in a proper train again.
Rembrandt solus. Too much light here still. I must deepen the shadows even more, until the figures begin to shine out as they ought. And now for Pharoah's Baker, whose dream is not yet interpreted; so that he looks up earnestly in the face of Joseph, and receives a strong gleam through the iron bars. So-and again-so. Now for the shadows again. To talk to me of Guido, with his shallow, gray, and trivial open-lights! Ah ha! 'tis I who am Rembrandt-and there is no other. (a knock at the door.) Heaven send a purchaser! Come in.
Dutch Trader. Good morrow, friend. I wish to have a picture of yours to leave to my wife, before I go to sail the salt seas again.
Rem. Would you have your own face painted?
Trader. My face has seen both fair and foul, in its time, and belike it may not do for a canvass, for I am no fresh water pippin-cheek.
Rem. Bear a good heart. Your face of the kind I like. There is no room for tricks of the pencil upon too smooth a skin.
Trader. By this hand, I know nc
thing of these things; but my wife shall have a picture.
Rem. A large hat would serve to shadow your eyes; and there should be no light till we come down to the point of your nose, which would be the only sharp in the picture. Nothing but brownness and darkness every where else. Pray you, sit down here, and try on this great hat.
Trader. Nay, by your leave, I will look at these pictures on the wall first. What is this?
Rem. It is a Turk whom I have seen in the streets of Amsterdam. I like to paint a good beard; and you see how angrily this man's beard is
Trader. A stout Pagan, and a good fighter, I warrant you. I feel as if I could fetch him a cut over the crown; for my ship was once near being run down by an Algerine.
Rem. Look at the next. "Tis the inside of a farmer's kitchen.
Trader. Nay, I could have told you that myself; for these pails of milk might be drunk, and there is an old grandam twirling her spindle. When next I go to live at my brother Lucas's farm, I shall persuade him to buy this picture. It shews the fat and plenteous life which he lives, when I am sailing the salt seas.
Rem. Here is a sea-piece. Trader. Why, that is good also; but this sail should have been lashed to the binnacle; for, d'ye see, when a vessel is spooning against a swell, she pitches, and it is necessary to
Rem. You are right; I must have it altered. How does this landscape please you?
Trader. Why, it is a good flat country; but exhibits none of those great rocks which I have seen in foreign parts. I have seen burning mountains, which would have made the brush drop from your hand. I have sailed round the world, and seen the waves rising to the height of Haerlem steeple, and nothing but cannibals on shore to make signals to.
Rem. Well-and which of the pictures will you have? you shall have your choice of them for forty ducats.
Trader. Nay, now you are joking. Who will give you forty ducats? When at dinner with the burgo-master lately, I heard a collector putting prices on your works. He said, if we would wait, your market would cer
tainly fall, for you had too many on hand.
Rem. My market shall not fall. I will see this collector at the bottom of the ocean first. But come now, let us be reasonable together. I will paint your portrait for thirty. Take your seat.
Trader. Not so fast. My wife must be conferred with, and, if she approves, perhaps I may come back. Mean while, good morning. (Exit.)
Rem. A curse on these picturedealing babblers. How shall I be revenged on them? My pictures are as good as the oldest extant, and, if I were dead, every piece would sell for as much gold as would cover it. But I see what must be done. Come hither, wife, and receive a commission. straight to the joiners, and order him to prepare for my funeral.
Rembrandt's Wife. What is the meaning of this? Are your wits turned?
Rem. My wits are turned towards money-making. I must counterfeit myself dead, to raise the price of my works, which will be valued as jewels, when there is no expectation of any more.
Wife. Now I perceive your drift. Was there ever such a contrivance! You mean to conceal yourself, and have a mock funeral?
Rem. Yes; and when my walls are unloaded I shall appear again. So that after the picture dealers have been brought to canonize me for a dead painter, and when they have fairly ventured out their praise and their money, they shall see me come and lay my hands upon both.
Wife. How will it be possible for me to cry sufficiently, when there is no real death?
Rem. Make good use of the present occasion to perfect yourself in your part, for you may one day have to repeat it.
Oh! many a bright existence we have seen
Cropt ere its leaves were breath'd upon by time.
The Chastener's hand is on us-we may weep,
Her voice hath been th' awakener, and her
The gathering word of nations, in her might,
Hath guided Europe thro' her darkest hour. -Away, vain dreams of glory-in the dust Be humbled, Ocean Queen! and own thy sentence just!
I PERFECTLY agree with your correspondent J. H. that "the commentator of Shakspeare will succeed but indifferently, who cannot identify himself in some measure with the personage whose language and sentiments he would develope;" nor can the correctness of this observation be more apparent than when applied to a character such as Iago,-a knave who was always acting, a wretch who performed his whole part, to the closing scene of his life, behind the mask of integrity, so successfully, as to be styled, almost proverbially, "honest Iago," one who says of himselfFor when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and vigour of my heart, In compliment extern, 'tis not long after, But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve, For daws to peck at:-I am not what I am. We do not expect a man such as this to speak as he thinks; his words have little to do with his real meaning; and it is only by endeavouring to discover his exciting motive to action, and to trace the crooked associations of his depraved mind, that we are able at all
to understand or develope his language and sentiments. Guided by this clue, I receive the passage which has called forth the communications in two late numbers of your Magazine, verbatim as it stands. To adopt the emendation of your first correspondent, would, in my opinion, be to give a meaning altogether different from that which Shakspeare intended it should convey. In substituting the reading of J. H., I think we weaken the force, without rendering the meaning of the passage more obvious.-The latter emendation certainly is, in my judgment, much the less objectionable; and were there any necessity for exchanging fair for frail, your correspondent is quite right as to the sense in which he proposes to use the word. It is the sense in
which Shakspeare again and again uses it. It is the sense in which it is still used. "A frail one" is a phrase, I believe, perfectly well understood by every one at the present day. But I contend, that the passage does not require any alteration to render it intelligible. I see not any difficulty as it now stands:
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife.
Let us follow J. H. in his examination of the contest. Iago is relating to Roderigo the causes of complaint against Othello, in order to convince him of his hatred towards him, and therefore of the improbability that he should be privy to his flight with Desdemona. Foremost on the list is the circumstance of Cassio's appointment to the lieutenancy, whilst Iago remained an ancient. Next, the character of the man thus put over him, stings him as an indignity offered to his own superior military courage, skill, and experience. And what was he?
Forsooth, a great arithmetician; one Michael Cassio, a Florentine." This contemptuous account of Cassio's qualifications for the appointment he has obtained, lights up at once all Iago's hatred towards him as his successful rival. For a moment he forgets his first object, that of convincing Roderigo that he was not privy to Othello's escape with Desdemona, and is hurried away by the impulse of this more newly awakened feeling. After endeavouring to make Cassio appear ridiculous as a soldier, by stating him to be a mere arithmetician, he suddenly recollects the account he has