Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

conspicuous in Lear. In these latter days, no man, save Kean, has succeeded in giving even a faint idea of the craz’d monarch ; all other attempts have been little better than pitiable. I do not say this dictatorially. There are many, I doubt not, better qualified to judge than myself, who think differently. I quarrel with no man's opinion, but claim the right of expressing and retaining my own. Those who are much in the habit of attending the theatre, get inured to dramatic butchery of all sorts, and can sit and see, even with a smile on their countenance, Othello, Richard, Hamlet, Macbeth, and other of their acquaintance,“ savagely slaughtered;" but even the most seared and case-hardened play-goer must feel that an ill-judged attempt in Lear is little better than profanation.

I am by no means contending that Lear should never be played, but have only been endeavoring to point out some of the difficulties and disadvantages attendant thereon: yet I had almost forgotten the principal drawback. On the stage, the Fool, (so called) the best and wisest, if not the wittiest, of Shakspeare's fools, is altogether omitted. All his pithy sayings—his scraps of doggerel, with a deep meaning in them-his shrewd commentaries on the folly of the king, and the ingratitude of his daughters-all gone " at one fell swoop." We miss hiin sadly, for he is not only the most sensible, but best hearted of fools; and there is something peculiarly touching in his unflinching adherence to the fortunes of his master, at the same time that he has judgment to see his interest lies the other way,

, and shrewdness to give such keen and bitter counsel as this for the desertion of fallen greatness- Let go thy hold when a great wheel runs down a hill, lest it break thy neck with following it; but the great one that goes up the hill, let him draw thee after. When a wise man gives thee better counsel, give me mine again. I would have none but knaves follow it, since a fool gives it." He seems too, to have a quicker insight than any around as to “how the world wags ;" for when Kent asks,

“How chance the king comes with so small a train ?" he chides his dullness of perception by answering, " An thou hadst been put in the stocks for asking that question, thou hadst well deserved it.” In the last extremity, when the poor monarch is “unhouseld,” and exposed to all the fury of the elements, we still hear of poor Motley--

Kent.-But who is with him?
Gent.-None but the Fool; who labors to outjest

His heartfelt injuries.

What a picture is presented to the imagination by

these few words--- none but the fool” of fallen greatness on the one hand, and unswerving fidelity on the other. It is gratifying to know that this affection is at least reciprocated; for Lear, even after his “wits begin to turn," exclaims-

“ Poor fool and knave! I have one part in my heart
That's sorry yet for thee !"

But we might pursue this subject to “ the crack of doom ;" or at least, to speak more prosaically and sensibly, we might continue it to a most tiresome and unreasonable length. The gist of what we have been endeavoring to show, is, - not that Shakspeare should be played less, but that he should be read more ; to point out to those who are contented to become acquainted with him for the most part through the medium of the stage, how much they lose by such a procedure; and to prove that some of his plays, from their high and peculiar nature, are fitted for the closet alone; and to expose a few of the drawbacks upon the pleasure of seeing him acted, occasioned by the carelessness or incapability of those who have the charge of dramatic entertainments.

MONEY.

Alas! what a thing is Poverty
Among the fallen on evil days :
'Tis crime, and fear, and infamy,
And houseless want; in frozen ways
Wandering ungarmented; and pain,
And worse than all, that inward stain,
Foul self-contempt, which drowns in sneers
Youth's starlight smile, and makes its tears
First like hot gall, then dry for ever!

"Riches are not happiness,” say many old prosers generally " well-to-do” in the world—granted; neither is Poverty directly and absolutely misery; but if she be not, she is near akin—she is “ mother of miseries," and has, in truth, as swarming and illfavored a progeny, of all shapes and sizes, as can well be conceived, from full-grown evils down to small, petty nuisances. As it often happens, the junior portion of her offspring are the worst to be endured. They have not the deadly stings and matured malignancy of the elder evils, but are more fretful, teazing, irritating, and annoying; and are that set of imps that are perpetually pestering men in middling circumstances, or rather, on the borders or confines thereof, but whom an increasing deficiency of, and an increasing necessity for, the circulating medium, is gradually dragging down to that class of “despisable vagabonds," as Cooper's housekeeper calls them—the poor. Be not afraid, ye men of millions, am not about to make any drafts upon your sympathy, I am not about to attempt to draw, a-la-Banim, any fearful, loathsome, haggard picture of poverty and its effects. Such pictures do little good, and much harm. They have the tendency to sere and render callous the feelings rather than excite pity, or open the well-springs of divine charity. Besides, the superlative is not my line; the positive or comparative is quite high or low enough for one who neither deals in celestial bliss nor ineffable woe, but am content to peddle in the small ware of mere human troubles and inconveniences.

To want money is to want “honor, love, obedience, troops of friends;" it is to want respect and sympathy, and the ordinary courtesies of society, besides, occasionally, victuals. The possession or non-possession of it makes the difference whether life has to be an enjoyment or a task; whether it has to be a walk over a smooth, verdant lawn, amid fragrant flowers, and aromatic shrubs, and

« AnteriorContinuar »