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displaying the earnestness of revolt, was artificial, While substantially agreeing with Mr. Arnold, morbid, and depressing. The sympathies which it may be possible to take exception to the form every great work of art stimulates tend in the of his definition. He lays too great stress, percase of Shakespeare's play to foster, in the case haps, on the phrases, application of ideas, and of Machiavelli's to stunt, the all-essential elements criticism. The first might be qualified as misof social happiness and vigor. In point of form, leading, because it seems to attribute an ulterior the “ Mandragora" has better right to be a clas- purpose to the poet; the second as tending to sic comedy than the “Merry Wives of Windsor.” confound two separate faculties, the creative and But the application of ideas to life in it is so un- the judicial. Plato's conception of poetry as an sound and so perverse that common sense rejects inspiration, a divine instinct, may be nearer to it: we tire of living in so false a world.
the truth. The application of ideas should not Without multiplying instances, it can be af- be too conscious, else the poet sinks into the firmed, with no dread of opposition, that all art, preacher. The criticism of life should not be to be truly great art, to be permanent and fresh too much his object, else the poet might as well and satisfying through a hundred generations, to have written essays. What is wanted is that. yield the bread and wine of daily sustenance to however spontaneous his utterance may be, men and women in successive ages, must be however he may aim at only beauty in his work, moralized-must be in harmony with those prin- or "sing but as the linnet sings,” his message ciples of conduct, that tone of feeling, which it is should be adequate to healthy and mature huthe self-preservative instinct of civilized humanity manity. His intelligence of what is noble and to strengthen. This does not mean that the art- enduring, his expression of a full, harmonious ist should be consciously didactic or obtrusively personality, is enough to moralize his work. It ethical. The objects of ethics and of art are dis- is even better that he should not turn aside to tinct. The one analyzes and instructs; the other comment. That is the function of the homilist. embodies and delights. But, since all the arts We must learn how to live from him less by his give form to thought and feeling, it follows that precepts than by his examples and by being in the greatest art is that which includes in its syn- his company. It would no doubt be misunderthesis the fullest complex of thoughts and feel- standing Mr. Arnold to suppose that he estiings. The more complete the poet's grasp of mates poetry by the gnomic sentences conveyed human nature as a whole, the more complete his in it, or that he intends to say that the greatest presentation of life in organized complexity, the poets have deliberately used their art as the vehigreater he will be. Now the whole struggle of cle of moral teaching. Yet there is a double the human race from barbarism to civilization is danger in the wording of his definitions. On the one continuous effort to maintain and to extend one hand, if we accept them too literally, we run its moral dignity. It is by the conservation and the risk of encouraging that false view of poetry alimentation of moral qualities that we advance. which led the Byzantineś to prefer Euripides to The organization of our faculties into a perfect Sophocles, because he contained a greater numwhole is moral harmony. Therefore artists who ber of quotable maxims; which brought the huaspire to greatness can neither be adverse nor manists of the sixteenth century to the incomindifferent to ethics. In each case they proclaim prehensible conclusion that Seneca had improved their own inadequacy to the subject-matter of upon the Greek drama by infusing greater gravity their art, humanity. In each case they present a into his speeches; which caused Tasso to invent maimed and partial portrait of their hero, man. an ex post facto allegory for the “Gerusalemme,” In each case they must submit, however exqui- and Spenser to describe Ariosto's mad Orlando, site their style, however acute their insight, to the triumphant climax of that poet's irony, as "a be excluded from the supreme company of the good governor and a virtuous man.” On the immortals. We need do no more than name other hand, there is the peril of forgetting that the chiefs of European poetry_Homer, Pindar, the prime aim of all art is at bottom only preÆschylus, Sophocles, Virgil, Horace, Dante, sentation. That, and that alone, distinguishes Shakespeare, Molière-in order to recognize the the arts, including poetry, from every other operafact that they owe their superiority to the com- tion of the intellect, and justifies Hegel's general pleteness of their representation, to their firm definition of Art as "Die sinnliche Erscheinung grasp upon the harmony of human faculties in der Idee." Poetry is not so much a criticism of large morality. It is this which makes classical life as a revelation of life, a presentment of life and humane literature convertible terms. It is according to the poet's capacity for observing this which has led all classes and ages of men and displaying it in forms that reproduce it for back and back to these great poets as to their his readers. The poet is less a judge than a seer familiar friends and teachers, “the everlasting and reporter. If he judges, it is as light, falling solace of mankind."
upon an object, showing its inequalities, discov. ering its loveliness, may be said to judge. The sion. The very greatest poets of the world have greatest poet is not the poet who has said the combined all these qualities, together with that best things about life, but he whose work most grand humanity which confers upon them imfully and faithfully reflects life in its breadth and mortal freshness. Of Homer, Pindar, Sophocles, largeness, eliminating what is accidental, trivial, Æschylus, Dante, Virgil, Shakespeare, Molière, temporary, local, or rendering insignificant details Goethe, it is only possible to say that one or the mirror of the universal by his treatment. He other element of poetic achievement has been teaches less by what he inculcates than by what displayed more eminently than the rest, that one he shows; and the truth of Plato's above-men- or other has been held more obviously in abeytioned theory is that he may himself be unaware ance, when we come to distinguish each great of the far-reaching lessons he communicates, master from his peers. But lesser men may rest From Shakespeare we could better afford to lose their claims to immortality upon slighter merits ; the profound remarks on life in “Timon” or and among these merits it will be found impos“Troilus and Cressida” than the delineation of sible to exclude what we call form, style, and the Othello's passion. The speeches of Nestor in several poetic qualities above enumerated. the “Iliad” are less valuable than the portrait of . Achilles; and what Achilles says about fame, The final test of greatness in a poet is his heroism, death, and friendship, could be sooner adequacy to human nature at its best; his feelspared than the presentment of his action. ing for the balance of sense, emotion, will, intel
The main thing to keep in mind is this, that lect in moral harmony; his faculty for regarding the world will very willingly let die in poetry what the whole of life, and representing it in all its does not contribute to its intellectual strength largeness. If this be true, dramatic and epical and moral vigor. In the long run, therefore, poetry must be the most enduring, the most inpoetry full of matter and moralized wins the day. structive monuments of creative genius in verse. But it must, before all else, be poetry. The ap- These forms bring into quickest play and present plication of the soundest moral ideas, the finest in fullest activity the many-sided motives of our criticism of life, will not save it from oblivion, if life on earth. Yet the lyrist has a sphere scarcely it fails in the essential qualities that constitute a second in importance to that of the epic and work of art. Imagination, or the power to see dramatic poets. The thought and feeling he exclearly and to project forcibly; fancy, or the presses may, if his nature be adequate, embrace power to flash new light on things familiar, and the whole gamut of humanity; and if his expresby their combination to delight the mind with sion be sufficient, he may give the form of, uninovelty; creative genius, or the power of giving versality to his experience, creating magic mirrors form and substance, life and beauty to the fig- wherein all men shall see their own hearts rements of the brain; style, or the power to sus- flected and glorified without violation of reality tain a flawless and unwavering distinction of ut- or truth. terance; dramatic energy, or the power to make
J. A. SYMONDS (Fortnightly Review). men and women move before us with self-evident reality in fiction ; passion, sympathy, enthusiasm, or the power of feeling and communicating feeling, of understanding and arousing emotion ;
IRVING'S SHYLOCK. lyrical inspiration, or the power of spontaneous THAT no artist has so much actual enjoyment singing—these are among the many elements of success as the actor, and that no fame is so that go to make up poetry. These, no doubt, evanescent as his, has been generally accepted are alluded to by Mr. Arnold in the clause refer- as a truth. But only the first part of the saying ring to “poetic beauty and poetic truth.” But is altogether true; the last part will, at least, bear it is needful to insist upon them, after having modification. Were it entirely and unfailingly true, dwelt so long upon the matter and the moral neither actors nor spectators would be beset by tone of poetry. No sane critic can deny that the traditions, no fulfilled renown would interpose its possession of one or more of these qualities in laurels between the student-artist and the dramany very eminent degree will save a poet from atist's creation, or stir the air about his audithe neglect to which moral revolt or indifference ence with the distant echo of its trumpets. On might otherwise condemn him. Ariosto's vul- the contrary, the traditions of the great actors of garity of feeling, Shelley's crude and discordant the past are always with us—and, although we opinions, Leopardi's overwhelming pessimism, can not point to handiwork of theirs in stone or Heine's morbid sentimentality, Byron's superfi- on canvas, they are the most interesting of memciality and cynicism, sink to nothing beneath the ories, because the aiguillon of curiosity and quessaving virtues of imagination, lyrical inspiration, tion pricks all discussion of them. Did Garrick poetic style, humor, intensity, and sweep of pas- give this passage so? Did the Siddons make that point? And what was Edmund Kean's justifies his plain mistrust of her, an odious, imreading ? They come to the play with us, when modest, dishonest creature, than whom Shakeit is a great play, and the actors are great actors, speare drew no more unpleasant character, and to or approaching greatness, and is not that the sur- whom one always grudges the loveliest love-lines vival of fame? Of all plays, “The Merchant of that ever were spoken, especially when it is borne Venice" is that one which the spectator would, in mind that the speaker, Lorenzo, was at best a we fancy, go to see with the “historical ” asso- receiver of stolen goods. Mr. Irving's Shylock is ciation most strongly in his mind, and also that a being quite apart from his surroundings. When one in which the actors of the great parts would he hesitates and questions with himself why he be most pressed and overshadowed by the tra- should go forth to sup with those who would dition of their predecessors. That was, how- scorn him if they could, but can only ridicule ever, no “historical” Shylock which Mr. Irving him, while the very stealthy intensity of scorn of set before the closely-packed audience assem- them is in him, we ask, too, why should he? He bled on last Saturday evening to see Shake- would hardly be more out of place in the “ wilspeare's finest comedy put upon the stage of the derness of monkeys,” of which he makes his sad Lyceum as it has certainly never previously been and quaint comparison, when Tubal tells him of put upon any stage, and acted as it has not often that last coarse proof of the heartlessness of his been acted. Probably, to every mind, except daughter “wedded with a Christian”--the barthat of Shakespeare himself-in which all poten- tering of his Leah's ring. What mean, pitiful tial interpretations of his Shylock, as all poten- beings they all are, poetical as is their language, tial interpretations of his Hamlet, must have had and fine as are the situations of the play, in coma place—the complex image which Mr. Irving parison with the forlorn, resolute, undone, baited, presented to a crowd more or less impressed with betrayed, implacable old man, who, having pernotions of their own concerning the Jew whom sonified his hatred of the race of Christians in Shakespeare drew, was entirely novel and unex- Antonio, whose odiousness to him, in the treble pected; for here is a man whom none can de- character of a Christian, a sentimentalist, and a spise, who can raise emotions both of pity and reckless speculator, is less of a mere caprice than of fear, and make us Christians thrill with a ret- he explains it to be! He reasons calmly with the rospective sense of shame. Here is a usurer dullards in the court concerning this costly whim indeed, but no more like the customary modern of his, yet with a disdainful doubt of the justice rendering of that extortionate lender of whom that will be done him ; standing almost motionBassanio borrowed “moneys" than the mer- less, his hands hanging by his sides—they are an chants dei Medici were like pawnbrokers down old man's hands, feeble, except when passion Whitechapel way; a usurer indeed, and full of turns them into griping claws, and then that pas“thrift,” which is rather the protest of his dis- sion subsides into the quivering of age, which is dain and disgust for the sensuality and frivolity like palsy—his gray, worn face, lined and hollow, of the ribald crew, out of whom he makes his mostly averted from the speakers who move him “Christian ducats,” than of his own sordidness; not, except when a gleam of murderous hate, a usurer indeed, but, above all, a Jew! One of sudden and deadly, like the flash from a pistol, the race accursed in the evil days in which he goes over it, and burns for a moment in the lives, but chosen of Jehovah in the olden time tired, melancholy eyes! Such a gleam there wherein lie his pride, and belief, and hope—the came when Shylock answered Bassanio's palliabest of that hope being revenge on the enemies tive commonplace with— of himself and all his tribe, now wearing the
“ Hates any man the thing he would not kill ?” badge of sufferance, revenge, rendered by the stern tenets of a faith which teaches that “the At the wretched gibes of Gratiano, and the Lord, his God, is a jealous God, taking ven- amiable maundering of the Duke, the slow, cold geance," not only lawful, but holy. A Jew, in smile, just parting the lips and touching their intellectual faculties, in spiritual discipline, far in curves as light touches polished metal, passes advance of the time and the country in which he over the lower part of the face, but does not touch lives, shaken with strong passion sometimes, but the eyes or lift the brow. This is one of Mr. Irfor the most part fixed in a deep and weary dis- ving's most remarkable facial effects, for he can dain. He is an old man, but not very aged, so pass it through all the phases of a smile, up to that the epithet “old " used to him is not to be surpassing sweetness. Is it a fault of the actors mistaken for anything but the insolence it means; or of ours that this Shylock is a being so absoa widower his one pathetic mention of his lutely apart that it is impossible to picture him as “ Leah " was as beautiful a touch as ever has a part of the life of Venice, that we can not been laid upon the many-stringed lyre of human think of him “on the Rialto" before Bassanio feeling—the father of a daughter who amply wanted “moneys,” and Antonio had “plunged," like any London city-man in the pre-“ depres- passions. Both are present always, and his last sion” times, that he absolutely begins to exist effort to clutch the gold when the revenge has with the “ Three thousand ducats-well!” These escaped his grasp, his cunning, business-like are the first words uttered by the picturesque “Give me my principal, and let me go," is an personage to whom the splendid and elaborate admirable point. Throughout the entire perscene, whose every detail we have previously been formance the actor's best qualities are at their eagerly studying, becomes merely the back- best, and his characteristic faults are hardly apground. He is wonderfully weird, but his weird. parent. The picturesqueness of his appearance ness is quite unlike that of any other of the im- is largely assisted by the grave, flowing robe and personations in which Mr. Irving has accustomed shawl-girdle which he wears; his self-restraint us to that characteristic; it is impressive, never fails not before his Christian foes; Shylock's pasfantastic—sometimes solemn and terrible. There sionate agony is in soliloquy, or when only Tubal, was a moment when, as he stood in the last a Jew, like him, who understands him and their scene with folded arms and bent head, the very common holy faith, and what dogs these Chrisimage of exhaustion, a victim, entirely convinced tians are, as well as “ Father Abraham" himself of the justice of his cause, he looked like a Span- understands it, is with him. In the scene with ish painter's “Ecce Homo.” The likeness passed Tubal, the sentence, “ The curse never fell upon in an instant, for the next utterance is :
our nation till now, I never felt it till now!" is “ My deeds upon my head. I crave the law,
as finely delivered as Mr. Irving's “I know, I The penalty and forfeit of my bond.”
know-I was a dauphin myself once,” in his
“Louis XI.” There was a fine effect-and it, In the opinion of the present writer, his Shy- too, thrilled the house—in the third scene of the lock is Mr. Irving's finest performance, and his first act. In the striking of the terrible bargain final exit is its best point. The quiet shrug, the between Antonio and the Jew, Shylock touches glance of ineffable, unfathomable contempt at the Christian lightly on the breast; Antonio rethe exultant booby Gratiano, who, having got coils, and Shylock, without breaking his discourse, hold of a good joke, worries it like a puppy with bows low, in apologetic deprecation of his own a bone, the expression of defeat in every limb daring and the merchant's indignation, while his and feature, the deep, gasping sigh as he passes face is alight for an instant with a gleam of haslowly out, and the crowd rush from the court tred and derision truly devilish. to hoot and howl at him outside, make up an ef. All those liberties which Mr. Irving has taken fect which must be seen to be comprehended. with the text of the play are not only allowable, Perhaps some students of Shakespeare, reading but welcome. It is to be wished that his good the Jew's story to themselves, and coming to the taste had suggested just one more alterationconclusion that there was more sentiment than only one, for we suppose the heavy fooling of legality in that queer, confused, quibbling court, Launcelot Gobbo must remain, like those detestawhere judge and advocate were convertible terms, ble rhymes in “Hamlet," on pain of accusation may have doubted whether the utterer of the of treason against Shakespeare, who was, no most eloquent and famous satirical appeal in all doubt, proud of his bad puns. That one is the dramatic literature, whose scornful detestation of omission of Gratiano's horrid jest when Shylock his Christian foes rose mountains high over what is whetting his knife on the edge of his shoethey held to be his ruling passion, drowning ava- “Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew, rice fathom-deep in hatred, would have gratified thou mak'st thy knife keen." Could not this flathose enemies by useless railing, and an exhibi- grant vulgarity be discarded ? tion of impotent rage. But there is no “tradi- Of Miss Ellen Terry's Portia, it is almost sution" for this rendering, in which Mr. Irving puts perfluous to speak, for it has been long and well in action for his Shylock one sense of Hamlet's known to be of an excellence without rival or words—"The rest is silence!” The impression compeer. Probably no more beautiful sight than made by this consummate stroke of art and touch the “casket scenes" has ever been beheld on of nature upon the vast audience was most re- any stage, with this consummate actress, in her markable; the thrill that passed over the house golden-hued, gold-fringed, satin robes, with her was a sensation to have witnessed and shared beautiful face, her sweet, flexible voice, her grace
Although Mr. Irving sinks the usurer in the ful, exquisitely appropriate movements and gesJew in a quite novel manner, he does not do so tures, her sweet, womanly perplexity, girlish fun, too entirely, departing from Shakespeare's inten- swiftly growing passion, and gracious wifely surtion arbitrarily; he only reverses the general es- render, amid surroundings which are almost timate of the intensity of Shylock's two master ideally perfect.
system in order to carry on the ordinary business of the PROPOSED FEDERATION OF THE BRIT. country. Nor would this rearrangement require that ISH EMPIRE
any violence should be done to the English Parliamen
tary system ; it would not introduce any new principle THE “Westminster Review" has discussed in
such as would be the case if a large part of the empire
were to be represented by an advisory board, as has been 1 recent numbers the urgency and the feasibility
y suggested; it would simply be to adopt the confederaof a federation of the British Empire. It is pro- tion system that has been found to work so smoothly in posed to create an Imperial Parliament, in which Germany and the United States. A scheme of this narepresentatives from the colonies are to sit, and to ture to facilitate the dispatch of Parliamentary business separate local from imperial measures by forming was put forward some years ago by Earl Russell, and a local House of Parliament for the consideration the fact that so experienced a Parliamentarian as he of the former, leaving the Imperial House to deal favored the idea is somewhat of a guarantee that it is exclusively with matters that pertain to the empire not impracticable. at large. Local colonial Legislatures would re. It will be recalled by many of our readers that main much as at present. An Irish local Parlia- numerous English critics have condemned our Amerment is suggested, but the writer's plan seems to can federal system as cumbersome. they have
even suppose that the English local House would in- laughed at the notion that in order to carry on the clude Scotland in its jurisdiction. Apart from many business of the country there must exist nearly forty direct advantages that would arise from the pro- different legislative bodies and as many executives. posed plan, is the consideration that the present These critics did not consider the tremendous stress Parliament is burdened with business beyond its Congress would be under if all local questions, power to transact. Every year, it is affirmed, nu. arise in our extended country were brought to its merous measures are shelved without, from lack of chambers and now all at one
om lack of chambers ; and now all at once we find our system time, having been considered at all. But this evil is gravely held up as a guide and example. The partly due to the fact that on certain popular questions (Westminster” even supposes the creation of a “the time of the House is utterly wasted in listen- sort of under-executives—its plan, for either Eng. ing to the repetition ad nauseam of the same ideas land or Ireland, being as follows: and opinions, by members who feel it to be their duty to make speeches, in order to have them read The country would be under a Viceroy or Governor, by their constituents"-which shows that Buncombe appointed by the Queen in Council. The advisers of
power at Westminster as well as at Washington. the Viceroy would be drawn from the members of the This is an evil which is likely rather to increase than
local House, and the relations of the Viceroy to his Min
isters would be precisely analogous to those of the Queen otherwise, and hence a remedy must be found for it,
to her Ministers. All measures passed by the local which the “ Westminster Review" thinks is secured
House would require the assent of the Viceroy before in its proposed plan:
they could become law. But any measure of doubtful
constitutionality could be “reserved " by the Viceroy, in The gain to Parliamentary legislation by this course which case the bill would be remitted for the considerawould be immediate and direct. The local House would tion of the Queen in Council, and either passed or vetoed. be of manageable and compact proportions ; its mem- Also any measure passed by the local House, and as. bers would be able to devote their time and energies to sented to by the Viceroy, could be annulled if vetoed by the proper treatment and consideration of various local the Queen in Council within two years from the time of questions; the dissatisfaction caused at present through- assent. These provisions have been adopted in Canada out the country by the constant burking of local measures as between the Governor-General and the Lieutenantwould be allayed; and we might even hope that the Governors, and as between the Queen and the GovernorIrish difficulty would be set at rest, perhaps by the for- General, so as to preserve a proper control over provinmation of an Irish local Parliament, but in any case, by cial or local legislation. Copies of all bills assented to reason of the House being able to devote proper time by the Viceroy would be immediately forwarded to the and attention to the consideration of Irish grievances. Secretary of State for her Majesty's consideration. In a similar manner, the Imperial House would be much reduced in bulk and proportionately increased in activity It will doubtless be a long time before we shall and vitality. Its time would be occupied in the consid- see as radical a change as this in the English Parliaeration of imperial questions; its energy would not then mentary system ; but it is easy for us at this distance be frittered away upon petty local matters ; nor would to see the advantages that would arise from such a the business of the House be obstructed by members scheme, and difficult to understand what rational obanxious to force the consideration of some local griev.
jection there can be to it. Such a system would asance. Such a rearrangement of the Parliamentary system
suredly bind the colonies closer to the mother-counwould expedite public business to a degree that could not
try, without overthrowing her supremacy; for, accordbe attained by any other system ; and, considering the ing to a schedule laid down in the “Westminster" arconstant and steady growth of Parliamentary business, ticle, in a House of three hundred members, one hunit would seem that recourse must be had to some such dred and eighty-five members would be allotted to