The Works of Heinrich Heine/Vol. 1/Shakespeare's Maidens and Women

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The Works of Heinrich Heine  (1906)  by Heinrich Heine, translated by Charles Godfrey Leland
Shakespeare's Maidens and Women




It is a rule with rare exceptions that the more a literary work is inspired with genius, the more necessary it is for us to form a true conception of the habits of thought of the author, his principles or "morals," his excellences or demerits. This is particularly the case with writers who gossip about themselves, who take wild or eccentric flights of fancy, and above all with those who, believing themselves to be perfectly informed or correct, often unconsciously mingle error and prejudices with great truths, and also noble inspirations, and the combination of great learning with the charm of poetry. Henry Heine was pre-eminently such a writer, and the work on Shakespeare's "Maidens and Women" by him, which is here presented in English, deserves careful study, as being from this point of view the most characteristic of all his works. It is a small book, it bears intrinsic evidence of having been a pièce de manufacture recklessly put together, and it is professedly merely "written up" to supply the letterpress for a series of engravings. The fact that all the female characters of the comedies of Shakespeare are only illustrated by quotations, would seem to indicate either that the author's or publisher's original intention was to confine the text to such citations, or that the former, becoming weary of his task, finished the work with this lame and impotent conclusion. In several chapters the lady character serves as a mere peg whereon to hang some brilliant garment of an essay, behind which she is quite concealed, and in many cases the citations from the comedies are far from being apt or well chosen. That carelessness prevailed is shown in the fact that none of the numerous quotations in the tragedies are given in the German original, with references to act or scene—an omission which has been a cause of annoyance to many a reader— while several of these references in the comedies are incorrectly numbered.

On the other hand, it may be fairly said that, making every allowance for every error of commission or omission, there is probably no small work of the kind in any language which is so well worth reading. The tribute to the genius of Shakespeare, whom the author sincerely believed to be immeasurably the greatest genius in the world, as contrasted to his narrow-minded hatred of the English, is in the highest degree interesting and piquant. Not less able are his accounts of the development of the influence of Shakespeare in Germany and France, while the vivacity of expression, the brilliancy of tone and colour, and the accurate though miraculously rapid sketching of outline of the tragical characters, or of others connected with them, is not surpassed, if it be equalled, by any writer of this century. If it be a test of the original merit or character of men or books that we can remember something of them, this work should rank among the best, since few who read it will ever forget its valuable information, or the brilliant style in which it is conveyed—apples of gold on plates of silver.

These apples are not all, however, of purest gold, and I have, I trust judiciously, pointed out in notes what I believed to be the admixtures of baser metal. It is so much the habit of translators, like biographers, to swallow their subjects whole "without winking," and to exalt them as perfect in every conceivable respect, that the idea of pointing out or admitting errors in mine will seem to many to be simply an unpleasant paradox. This will certainly be the case with those who read merely for pastime, and who dislike anything which calls for thought or disturbs the even current of their waking dream, and still more so with the fanatical æsthete or Heine worshipper, who believes, like all idolaters, that his idol is perfection and all solid gold, even though the wooden core appears visibly through cracks in the plating. But the sensible critic knows that it is after all of immense value, and makes allowance for defects.

I believe that Heine himself would have approved in his heart of such fair treatment. He was as a rule only an enemy to such as had reviled him with personal insult, as did Platen. In the chapter on Anna Bullen he praises Queen Elizabeth because she desired that Shakespeare should set forth the English sovereigns, including her own father, with perfect impartiality. Heine knew his own defects—his contradictions of character, inconsistencies, and errors—he admits them sadly and sincerely enough, and rather touchingly attempts, like a child, to put them off on something else—"on this horrid age."

But Heine was also conscious of his own stupendous genius, and knew that the bell, though it had a flaw in it, could ring forth tones which should be heard to all times. Therefore he would not have objected even to the closest criticism, if it were truthful, and accompanied with sincere and enlightened appreciation of his merits. The latter indeed speak for themselves so loudly and clearly as to require no comment. With his errors its is another affair, and one of these glides so subtly into all his works, and into every expression of opinion, be it on subjects social, political, or aesthetic, that the reader should be in all fairness now and then reminded of it. This error is the inconsistency which sprang from his education and life. Professedly a revolutionary or radical, ami du peuple or socialist, more or less here and there—or now and then and an exile for liberty, et cetera, there seldom lived a man who loved aristocracy or "gentility" more, and this is shown in an absolutely amusing manner in several passages in this work, especially in his comments on Queen Margaret, where he taunts English chivalry as being tainted with the shop-keeping spirit, and sneers at the battle of Cressy, as I have pointed out in a note. Bearing this in mind, the reader need not be puzzled, as many have been, with apparent contradictions. With less genius and more settled principles Heine would have been unquestionably a far greater man, and probably not less brilliant. There is a popular belief that without some inconsistency or eccentricity there can be no genius; but Shakespeare, the very type of genius, is a proof to the contrary.





I know a good Hamburg Christian who can never reconcile himself to the fact that our Lord and Saviour was by birth a Jew. A deep dissatisfaction seizes him when he must admit to himself that the man who, as the pattern of perfection, deserves the highest honour, was still of kin to those snuffling, long-nosed fellows who go running about the streets selling old clothes, whom he so utterly despises, and who are even more desperately detestable when they—like himself—apply themselves to the wholesale business of spices and dye-stuffs, and encroach upon his interests.

As Jesus Christ is to this excellent son of Hammonia, so is Shakespeare to me. It takes the heart out of me when I remember that he is an Englishman, and belongs to the most repulsive race which God in His wrath ever created.

What a repulsive people, what a cheerless, unrefreshing country! How strait-ruled, hide-bound, home-made; how selfish, how angular, how Anglican![1] A country which would long ago have been swallowed up by the sea if it had not feared that it would cause internal pain . . . a race, a grey gaping monster, which breathes only nitrogen[2] and deadly ennui, and which will certainly at last hang itself with a colossal cable.

And in such a land and among such people William Shakespeare first saw the light in 1564.

But the England of those days where—in the Northern Bethlehem called Stratford-upon-Avon—the man was born to whom we are indebted for the world's gospel known as the Shakesperian Drama that England was certainly very different from that of to-day; it was even termed Merry England, and it flourished in gleaming colour, masque-merriment, deep meaning frolicsome folly, sparkling earnest action, transcendent-dreaming passion. Life was there still a gay tournament, where the knight of noble birth certainly played in jest or earnest the leading part, but where the clear ringing trumpet-tone also thrilled the heart of the citizen. Instead of heavy beer, people then drank light-hearted wine, that democratic drink which makes all men alike when inspired by it, though they still on the sober stages of real life divide themselves according to rank and birth.

All of this gay and many-coloured life has faded; silent are the joyful trumpet-tones, the sweet intoxication is gone for aye! And the book which is called the "Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare" is now a consolation in evil times, and a proof still extant in the hands of the people that a merry England really did exist.

It is lucky for us that Shakespeare came just at the right time, that he was a contemporary of Elizabeth and James, while Protestanism, it is true, expressed itself in the unbridled freedom of thought which prevailed, but which had not yet entered into life or feeling, and the kingdom lighted by the last rays of setting chivalry still bloomed and gleamed in all the glory of poetry. True, the popular faith of the Middle Ages, or Catholicism, was gone as regarded doctrine, but it existed as yet with all its magic in men's hearts, and held its own in manners, customs, and views. It was not till later that the Puritans succeeded in plucking away flower by flower, and utterly rooting up the religion of the past, and spreading over all the land, as with a grey canopy, that dreary sadness which since then, dispirited and debilitated, has diluted itself to a lukewarm, whining, drowsy pietism. Nor had the kingdom, any more than the religion, in Shakespeare's time, suffered that heavy languid change now known to us as the constitutional form of government, which, however it may have benefited European freedom, has in no way advanced or aided Art.[3]

With the blood of Charles I., the great, true, and last king, all the poetry ran from the veins of England, and thrice happy was the poet who did not live to witness this sorrowful event, which he had perhaps foreboded. Shakespeare has in our time often been called an aristocrat. This I would not deny. I would very much rather excuse his political inclinations when I reflect that his foreseeing poet's eye perceived the dead-levelling Puritan times which were to make an end, with the kingdom, of all enjoyment of life, all poetry, and all bright and cheerful Art.

Yes, during the rule of the Puritans in England, Art was outlawed; as when the evangelical zeal raged against the theatre, and even the name of Shakespeare was long extinguished in popular remembrance. It awakens our astonishment when we read in the current literature of that time—for instance, in the "Histrio-Mastix" of the famous Prynne—the outbreak of wrath with which the anathema of the drama is croaked. Shall we blame the Puritans too severely for such zealotry. Truly not; every one is, in history, in the right if he remains true to his indwelling principle, and the gloomy Roundheads only followed the consequences of that anti-artistic spirit which had already manifested itself in the first centuries of the Church, and made its iconoclastic power felt more or less to this day.

This old, irreconcilable antipathy against the theatre is nothing but one side of that enmity which for eighteen hundred years has raged and ruled between two utterly dissimilar views of life, one of which first grew on the arid, barren soil of Judæa, and the other in blooming Greece. For full eighteen hundred years has the grudge and rancour between Jerusalem and Athens, between the Holy Sepulchre and the cradle of Art, between life in the spirit and the spirit in life, prevailed, and the irritation or friction, and public and private feuds which it has caused, reveal themselves plainly to the esoteric reader in the history of mankind. When we read today in the newspapers that the Archbishop of Paris has refused Christian burial[4] to a poor dead actor, such action is not influenced by any priestly caprice, and only a short-sighted person can perceive in it narrow-minded malice. What here inspires is rather the spirit of an ancient strife, a battle to death against Art, which was often employed by the Hellenic spirit as a rostrum from which to preach life against deadening, benumbing Judaism—the Church persecuted in the actors the agents of Hellenism, and this persecution often followed the poets who derived their inspiration only from Apollo, and assured a refuge to the proscribed heathen gods in the land of poetry.

Or was there perhaps some spite in the game? The most intolerable foes of the oppressed Church, during the first two centuries, were the players, and the Acta Sanctorum often tell how these "infamous actors" often devoted themselves for the amusement of the heathen mob to mocking the manner of life and mysteries of the Nazarenes. Or was it a mutual jealousy which begot such bitter enmity between the servants of the spiritual and the worldly word?

Next to ascetic, religious zeal was the republican fanaticism which inspired the Puritans in their hatred for the old English stage, in which not only heathenism and heathenish tastes, but also royalism and nobility were exalted. I have shown in another place[5] how much resemblance there was in this respect between the Puritans of those days and the Republicans of ours. May Apollo and the eternal Muses protect us from the rule of the latter!

In the whirlpool of the priestly and political upsettings and revolutions described, the name of Shakespeare was long lost, and it was nearly a century ere he again rose to fame and honour. Since then his renown has risen from day to day— and he was indeed as a spiritual sun for that country where the real sun is wanting twelve months in the year, for that island of damnation, that Botany Bay without a southern climate, that stone-coal-stinking,[6]machinery-buzzing, church-going, and vilely drunken England! Benevolent nature never quite disinherits her creatures, and while she denied the English all which is beautiful or worthy of love, and gave them neither voice for song nor sense of enjoyment—and perhaps endowed them with leathern porter bottles or jacks, instead of human souls—bestowed on them for recompense a large portion of municipal freedom, the talent to make themselves comfortably at home, and William Shakespeare.

Yes, this is the sun which glorifies that land with its loveliest light, with its gracious beams. Everything there reminds us of Shakespeare, and by it the most ordinary objects appear transfigured and idealised. Everywhere the wings of his genius rustle round us, his clear eye gleams on us from every significant occurrence, and in great events we often seem to see him nod—nod gently—softly and smiling.

This unceasing memory of and through Shakepeare became significantly clear to me during my residence in London, while I, an inquisitive traveller, ran about from early morn till deep into the night, to see the so-called noteworthy objects. Every lion recalled the greater lion Shakespeare. All the places which I visited live an immortal life in his historical dramas, and were known to me from my earliest youth. But these dramas are known in England not only by the cultivated, but by the people, and even the stout beefeater who with his red coat and red face acts as guide to the Tower, and shows you behind the middle gate the dungeon where Richard caused the young princes, his nephews, to be murdered, refers you to Shakespeare, who has described minutely the details of this harrowing history. Also the verger who leads you round through Westminster Abbey always speaks of Shakespeare, in whose tragedies those dead kings and queens whose stony counterfeits here lie stretched out on their sarcophagi—and whom he shows to you for eighteenpence—play such a wild or lamentable part.

He himself, or the image of the great poet, stands there the size of life, a noble form with a thoughtful head, holding in his hand a roll of parchment. There may be magic words inscribed on it, and when he moves at midnight his white lips, and calls the dead who rest in the vaults below, they rise with rusted armour and antiquated court dresses—the knights of the white and red rose; even the ladies come forth sighing from their resting-place, and a clatter of swords, laughter and curses, rings around, just as at Drury Lane, where I so often saw Shakespeare's historical dramas p'ayed, and where Kean moved my soul so mightily when he rushed desperately across the stage crying

"A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"

But I must copy the Guide-book of London if I would mention every place where Shakespeare was brought to my mind. This happened most significantly in Parliament; not so much because its place is the Westminster Hall, so often spoken of in the Shakesperian dramas, but because while I there listened to the debates, Shakespeare was alluded to several times, and his verses were quoted, not with reference to their poetical, but to their historical importance. To my amazement, I remarked that Shakespeare is not only celebrated in England as a poet, but recognised as a writer of history by the highest state or parliament officials.

This leads me to the remark that it is unjust, when reading the historical dramas of Shakespeare, to require what only a poet can give, or one to whom poetry and its artistic surroundings are the highest aim. Shakespeare's theme, or task, was not merely poetry, but also history. He could not model the subject-matter as he chose, he could not create events and characters at his caprice, and just as little as he could determine unity of time and place could he regulate that of interest for particular persons or deeds. And yet in these historical dramas poetry streams forth more powerfully, richly, and sweetly than in the tragedies of those writers who either invent or vary their own plots at will, who aim at the most perfect symmetry of form, and who in "art proper," especially in the enchainement des scènes, far surpass poor Shakespeare.

Yes—there we have it—the great Briton is not only a poet, but a historian; he wields not only the dagger of Melpomene, but the still sharper stylus of Clio.[7] In this respect he is like the earliest writers of history, who also knew no difference between poetry and history, and so gave us not merely a nomenclature of the things done, or a dusty herbarium of events, but who enlightened truth with song, and in whose song was heard only the voice of truth.[8] The so-called objectivity of which we at present hear so much is nothing else than a dried up lie; it is not possible to sketch the past without giving it the colour of our own feelings. Yes, the so-called objective writer of history, directing his words to the men of his time, writes involuntarily in the spirit of his time; and this spirit will be perceptible in his writings, just as in letters which betray not only the character of the writer but of the receiver. That so-called objectivity which, puffed up with its lifelessness, enthrones itself on the Golgotha of actual deeds, is on that very account to be rejected, because we need for historical truth not only the exact statement of facts, but also certain information of the impression which a fact produced on contemporaries. To give such information is, however, the hardest problem, since it requires not only the usual imparting of actual facts, but also the capacity of perception[9] in the poet to whom, as Shakespeare says, the being and the body of past times have become visible.

And not only had the phenomena of his own national history become visible to him, but also

those of which the annals of antiquity have given us knowledge, as we behold to our amazement in the dramas where he paints the Roman realm, long passed away, with truest colours. As he saw to the inner life the knights of the Middle Ages, so did he that of the heroes of the antique world, and bade them speak out the deepest word of their souls. And he always knew how to raise Truth to Poetry; and how to set forth in poetic light that hard and sober race of prose, those combinations of rude rapine and refined legal shrewdness, that casuistic soldatesca, the unsentimental Romans.

But yet as regards his Roman dramas, Shakespeare must needs incur the reproach of being without form, and a highly-gifted author, Dietrich Grabbe, even called them[10] "poetically adorned chronicles," wherein all central motive was wanting, where no one knew who was the leading or side character, and where, even if we dispensed with unity of time and place, we can find no unity of interest. A strange error of the shrewdest critics! For neither is this last-named unity, nor those of place and time, at all wanting to our great poet. Only that the ideas[11] are somewhat broader in his mind than in ours: the stage of his dramas is the whole wide world, and that is his unity of place; eternity is the time in which his pieces played, and that is his unity of time; and in keeping with both is the hero of his dramas, who forms the central point, and represents the unity of interest. And humanity is that hero who ever dies and comes to life again; who ever loves and hates, yet loves the most; who bends like a worm to-day, and soars to-morrow like an eagle to the sun—deserving to-day a cap and bells, to-morrow a laurel wreath, and oftener both together: the great dwarf, the little giant, the homœopathically prepared divinity, in whom that which is divine is indeed terribly diluted, but still there. Ah! let us not speak too much of the heroism of this hero, out of very modesty and shame.

The same fidelity and truth which Shakespeare manifests as regards history is found as to Nature. People are wont to say that he held the mirror up to it. The expression is incorrect, for it leads us astray as to the relations of the poet to Nature. In the poetic soul not only Nature is mirrored, but an image of it which, being like the most faithful reflection of a looking-glass, is born in the spirit of the poet; he brings at the game time the world forth unto the world, and if he, awaking from the dreaming age of childhood, attains to self-consciousness, then every portion of the outer world of seeming is at once grasped by him in all its mutual relations, for he bears a likeness of the whole in his soul, he knows the deepest foundation of all phenomena which are riddles to common minds, and which, when investigated by the ordinary methods, are understood with difficulty, or not at all. And as the mathematician, when only the smallest portion of a circle is given, infallibly deduces from it the whole circle and the centre, so the poet, when only the merest fragments of the world of things which seem is presented, then to him appear clearly all that is connected with it; he knows at once the periphery and centre of all things, yea, he understands them in their widest comprehension and deepest central point.

But some fragment of the outer world must always be given before the poet can develop that wonderful process of completing a world; and this perfect apprehension of a part of the world of perception is effected by sensation, and is simultaneously the external occurrence, the inner revelations of which are determined, and to which we owe the art-works of the poet. The greater these works, the more anxiously desirous are we to know those external occurrences which inspired the motive. We gladly investigate memoranda of the actual life of the poet. This curiosity is the more ridiculous because, as appears from what has been said, the greatness of external events is in no proportion to the greatness of the creations thereby called forth. These events may be very trifling and invisible, and, in fact, generally are so, just as the external life of the poet is usually small and unnoted—I say small and unnoted, for I will not use harsher expressions. The poets show themselves to the world in the splendour of their works, and it is specially when one sees them from afar that the beholder is dazzled by the rays. Let us never look too closely into their ways. They are like the lovely lights which gleam so gloriously of summer evenings from grassy banks and foliage, that one might believe they were the stars of the earth, or diamonds and emeralds, or jewels rich and rare, which kings' children who had been playing in the garden had left hanging on the bushes and there forgotten; or glowing sun-drops lost amid the grass, and which now, revived by the cool night, awake and gleam with joy till the morning returns, and the red flaming star draws them up again unto himself. Ah, seek not by broad daylight the traces of those stars, jewels, and sun-drops! In their place you will find a poor miscoloured wormlet which crawls wretchedly along, whose look repels you, and whom you do not tread under foot out of sheer pity.

And what was the private life of Shakespeare? In spite of all research we have learned almost nothing of it, and it is fortunate that we have not. Only all kinds of unverified, foolish tales have been told continually about his youth and life. So he is said, while employed by his father who was a butcher, to have slaughtered oxen. This was probably the surmise of certain English commentators who, probably out of ill feeling, attribute to him general ignorance and want of art. Then he was a dealer in wool, and did not succeed. Poor fellow, he thought perhaps that from wool he would come to sit on the woolsack. I do not believe a word of it all—'tis simply a great cry and little wool. I am more inclined to believe that he was a poacher, and came to prison through a fawn; for which, however, I do not condemn him. "Even Honour once stole a calf," says a German proverb.[12] Then he fled to London, and held gentlemen's horses for a fee before theatre doors. Something like this are the fables which one old woman chatters after the other in literary history.

The sonnets of Shakespeare are more authentic documents as to his life, which I, however, would not discuss, yet which, from the deep human misery which is therein revealed, tempted mo into my previous remarks as to the private life of the poet.

The want of more accurate information as to Shakespeare's life is readily explained when we recall the political and religious storms which burst wildly out soon after his death—calling forth for a time an absolute Puritan dominion, which long after had a cold, deadening influence, and not only destroyed the golden age of Elizabethan literature, but brought it into absolute oblivion. When in the beginning of the last century the works of Shakespeare again came to the full light of day, all traditions which could aid in analysing the text were utterly wanting, and commentators were obliged to take refuge in a criticism which drew from superficial empiricism, and a more lamentable materialism, their last dregs. With the exception of William Hazlitt, England has given us no commentator of any consequence; in all the works of all the others we find only petty huckstering of trifles, self-reflecting shallowness, enthusiastic mysticism, pedantic puffed-upness which threatens to burst for joy, when they can convict the poor poet of an antiquarian, geographical, or chronological error, and thereby bewail that he unfortunately did not study the ancients in the original tongues, and had thereunto but little schooling. He makes his Romans wear hats,[13] lets ships land in Bohemia, and suffers Aristotle to be quoted in the time of Troy! Which was more than an English scholar who had graduated Magister Artium at Oxford could endure! The only commentator on Shakespeare whom I cited as an exception, and who is indeed unique in every aspect, was the late Hazlitt, a mind which was as brilliant as deep, a commingling of Diderôt and Börne, combining flaming zeal for the revolution with the most glowing sense of art, ever sparkling with verve and esprit.

The Germans have comprehended Shakespeare better than the English. And here I must again recall that great name which is ever to be found where there is question of a great beginning. Gottlob Ephraim Lessing was the first man who raised his voice in Germany for Shakespeare. He it was who bore the first and greatest stone for a temple to the greatest of all poets, and, what was more praiseworthy, he took the pains to clear the ground on which this temple was to be raised of all its ancient rubbish. Without pity he tore down the light French stage-show which spread wide over the place, so inspired was he with a genial love of building. Gottsched shook the locks of his peruke so despairingly that Leipzig trembled, and the cheeks of his spouse grew white with fear—or from pearl-powder. One may say that the whole dramaturgy of Lessing was written in the interest of Shakespeare.

Next to Lessing we have Wieland. By his translation of the great poet he increased more practically the recognition of his merits in Germany. Strange that the poet of Agathon and of Musarion, the trifling, toying cavaliére servante of the Graces, the hanger-on and imitator of the French, was the man who all at once grasped the British earnestness so powerfully that he himself raised on his shield the hero who was to put an end to his own supremacy.

The third great voice which rang for Shakespeare in Germany was that of our dearly-loved Herder, who declared himself with unconditional enthusiasm for the British bard. Goethe also paid him honour with a grand flourish on his trumpet; in short, it was an array of kings, who, one after the other, threw their votes into the urn, and elected William Shakespeare the Emperor of Literature.

This Emperor was already firmly seated on his throne when the knight August Wilhelm von Schlegel and his squire, Count Councillor Ludwig Tieck, succeeded in kissing his hand, and assured all the world that now his realm and reign were really sure the thousand-year-long rule of the great William.

But it would be unjust should I deny to A. W. von Schlegel the merit which he won by his translation of Shakespeare's dramas, and his lectures on them. Honourably confessed the latter lack the philosophic basis, they sweep along too superficially in a frivolous dilettantism, and certain ugly reserved reflections or back-thoughts came too visibly fcrward for me to pronounce unreserved praise over them. Herr A. W. von Schlegel's inspiration is always artificial, a deliberately intended shamming one's self into an intoxication without drunkenness; and with him, as with all the rest of the romantic school, the apotheosis of Shakespeare is indirectly meant for a degradation of Schiller. Schlegel's translation is certainly the best as yet, and fulfils every requisition which can be made for a metrical version. The feminine nature of his talents is here an admirable aid to the writer, and in his artistic ready skill without character, he can adapt himself admirably and accurately to the foreign spirit.

And yet I confess that, despite these merits, I often prefer to read the old translation of Eschenburg (which is all in prose) to that of Schlegel, and for these reasons:——

The language of Shakespeare is not peculiarly his own, but was derived from his predecessors and contemporaries; it is the traditional theatrical language which the dramatic poet of those days must use, whether he found it fitted to his genius or not. One has only to look superficially over Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, and observe that in all the tragedies and comedies of the time there prevails the same manner of speech, the same euphuism, the same exaggeration of refinement, the same forced meaning of words, and the same "conceits," jests, witty flourishes, and elaborate fancies which we find in Shakespeare, and which are blindly admired by men of small or narrow minds, but which are excused by the intelligent reader—when he does not blame them—as extraneous, or belonging to the conditions of an age which exacted them. Only in the passages where his highest revelations are shown, and where the whole genius of Shakespeare appears, does he voluntarily strip away that traditional language of the stage, and show himself in grandly beautiful nakedness, in a simplicity which vies with unadorned Nature and fills us with delighted awe.

Yes, in such passages Shakespeare manifests, even in language, a decided originality, but one which the metrical translator who comes limping along behind on the feet of the measure fitted to the thought cannot faithfully reflect. With such a translator these unusual passages are lost in the ordinary wheel-ruts of theatrical language, and even Schlegel cannot avoid this fate. But why then take the trouble to translate metrically, when the best work of the poet is thereby lost and only the faulty reproduced. A prose translation which more easily reproduces the unadorned, plain, natural purity of certain passages therefore deserves preference to the metrical.[14]

While directly following Schlegel, Ludwig Tieck deserves credit as an elucidator of Shakespeare. This was set forth, in his Dramaturgic Pages, which appeared fourteen years ago in the Abendzeitung, and which awoke the utmost interest in "the theatre-going public," as well as among actors. Unfortunately there prevails in these pages a wide-ranging or straying, wearisome, pedantic tone, which the delightful good-for-nothing, as Gutzkow called him, assumed with a certain lurking spirit of roguery. What he lacked in a knowledge of classic tongues, or even in philosophy, he made up in decorum and gravity, and we are reminded of Sir John in the chair, when he delivers his harangue to the Prince. But in spite of the puffed-out doctrinal gravity under which little Ludwig sought to conceal his philologic and philosophic deficiencies or ignorantia, there are to be found here and there in these leaves the shrewdest comments on the character of the Shakespearean heroes, and ever and anon we find that poetic power of perception which we ever admired in his earlier writings, and recognised with joy.

Ah, this Tieck, who was once a poet, and reckoned, if not among the highest, at least with those who had the highest aims, how low has he fallen since then! How miserably mournful is the negligently reeled off task, which he gives us annually, compared to the free outpourings of his muse from the early moonlit time of Fairy Tale! As dear as he once was, even so repulsive is he now—the powerless Neidhart,[15] who calumniates the inspired sorrows of German youth in his gossiping novels. Unto him are truly applicable those words of Shakespeare:——

"For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds:
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds"[16]

Among the German commentators on the great poet, the late Franz Horn should not be omitted. His elucidations of Shakespeare are certainly the fullest, and are in five volumes. There is, indeed, in them the spirit of wit and intelligence, but it is a spirit so diluted and thinned down, that it is even less refreshing than the most spiritless narrow-mindedness. Strange that this man, who out of love for Shakespeare devoted a whole life to his study of him, and was one of his most zealous worshippers, was a pitifully petty pietist. But it may be that a sense of his own wretched weakness of soul awoke in him an endless amazement at Shakespeare's power, and so, whenever and anon the British Titan, in his most passionate scenes, piles Pelion on Ossa and storms the heights of heaven, then the poor elucidator in awe lets fall his pen and pauses, mildly sighing and grimacing. As a pietist he must naturally, according to his canting-pious nature, hate the poet whose soul, inspired with the spring-like air of the gods, breathes in every word the most joyous heathenism—yes, he should hate that believer in life, to whom the faith of death is in secret detestable, and who, revelling in the most enchanting delirium of antique heroic power, shuns the pitiful pleasures of humility, self-denial, and abasement! And yet he loves him all the same, and in his unwearied love would fain convert Shakespeare to the true Church; he comments a Christian sense into him—be it pious fraud or self-delusion; he finds this Christian feeling everywhere in Shakespeare's dramas, and the holy water of his commentary is also a bath of baptism in five volumes, which he pours on the head of the great heathen.

And yet, I repeat, these comments are not quite without wit and sense. Many a time Franz Horn brings forth a happy thought,—then he makes wearisome, sweet-sourish grimaces, and groans and twists and twines himself round on the stool of childbirth; and when finally the clever idea has come to light, he looks at it with emotion and wearied smiles, like a midwife who has got through with her job. It is really both vexatious and amusing that just this weak and pious Franz commented Shakespeare. In a comedy by Grabbe the affair is delightfully reversed, and Shakespeare is represented in hell as writing explanations of Horn's works.[17]

But all the glosses and explanations and laborious laudation of commentators was of less practical use as regarded making Shakespeare known to the public than the inspired love with which talented actors produced his dramas, and thereby made them a subject for popular judgment. Lichtenberg, in his letters from England, gives us important intelligence as to the skill and method by which Shakespeare's characters were given on the London stage in the middle of the last century. I say characters not the works in their fulness, since to this day British actors have only felt or known what is characteristic, not the poetry, and still less the art. Such one-sidedness of apprehension is found, but in far more limited degree, among the commentators, who were never able to see through the dusty spectacles of erudition that which was the simplest and nearest, or the nature which was in Shakespeare's dramas. Garrick saw more clearly into the Shakespearean thoughts than did Dr. Johnson the John Bull of Learning, on whose nose Queen Mab doubtless cut the drollest capers while he wrote on the "Midsummer Night's Dream;" truly he never knew why he, when at work on Shakespeare, felt more tickling o' the nose and wish to sneeze than over any other poet whom he criticised.

While Dr. Johnson dissected the Shakespearean characters like dead corpses, dealing out thereby his dullest dogmatisms in Ciceronian English, balancing himself with heavy self-conceit on the antitheses of his Latin periods, Garrick on the stage thrilled all the people of England, as he called with thrilling invocation the dead to life, that they might set forth to all their fearful, bloody or gay, and festive work. But Garrick loved the great poet, and as reward for that love he lies buried in Westminster near the pedestal of Shakespeare's statue, like a faithful dog at the feet of his master.

We are indebted to the celebrated Schröder for a transference of Garrick's acting to Germany. He also adapted several of Shakespeare's best dramas to the German stage. Like Garrick, Schröder understood neither the poetry nor art which is revealed in those dramas—he only cast an intelligent glance at the nature which expresses itself in them; nor did he so much attempt to reproduce the charming harmony and inner perfection of a piece, as to give the single characters with the most one-sided truth to nature. I am guided in this opinion by the traditions of his plays as they are preserved till to-day in the Hamburg theatre, and also his "make up" of the dramas for the stage, in which all poetry and art are wiped out, and in which only a certain generally attainable naturalness and sharp outline of character appears to be developed by a combination of the most striking traits.

The method of the great Devrient was developed out of this system of naturalness. I saw him once at Berlin at the same time with the great Wolf, who, however, in his play manifested a deeper feeling for art. But though they took opposite directions—one from nature, the other from art—both were one in poetry, and they thrilled or enraptured the souls of their audience by the most dissimilar methods.

The muses of music and of painting have done less than might have been expected to exalt Shakespeare. Were they envious of their sisters Melpomene and Thalia, who won their most immortal[18] wreaths by means of the great Briton. With the exception of Romeo and Juliet and Othello, no play by Shakespeare has inspired any composer of any note to any great creation. The value of those sweetly sounding flowers which sprung from the exulting nightingale heart of Zingarelli I need not praise, any more than those sweetest sounds with which the swan of Pesaro sung the bleeding tenderness of Desdemona, and the black flames of her lover! Painting, and especially the arts of design, have still more scantily sustained the fame of our poet. The so-called Shakespeare gallery in Pall Mall shows a good will, but at the same time the chilly weakness of British painters. There we see sober portrayals, quite in the spirit of the old French school, but without the taste which the latter never quite lost. There is something in which the English are as ridiculous bunglers as in music. That is, painting.[19] Only in portraits have they shown the world anything remarkable, and when they execute them with the graver—not with colours they surpass the artists of the rest of Europe. What can the cause be that the English, to whom sense of colour is so scantily allotted, are still the most remarkable draughtsmen and produce masterpieces of copper and steel engraving? That this last remark is shown by the portraits of Women and Maidens from the dramas of Shakespeare which are given with this work.[20] Their superior excellence requires no comment, but the question or subject here is not of comment at all. These pages are only intended as a fleeting introduction or greeting to the delightful work, as use and custom go. I am the porter who opens this gallery to you, and what you have so far heard is only the rattling of my keys. And while I lead you round I shall often intrude a brief word of gossip on your reflections, and often imitate the cicerone who never allows a man to become too deeply inspired amid his own reflections while looking at a picture, and is ever ready with a trivial word to wake you from your contemplative dream.

In any case, I trust with this publication to cause some pleasure to my friends at home. May the sight of these beautiful women's faces drive from their brows the shadows, which at present have only too much cause to be there! Ah that I could offer you more substantial consolation than is afforded by these shadowy forms of beauty!—alas that I cannot give you the rosy reality! Once I would fain have broken the halberds with which the Gardens of Delight are guarded; but my hand was too weak, and the halberdiers laughed and thrust their points against my breast, and the too forward, great-souled heart was silent for shame, if it was not from fear. Ye sigh!




It is the strictly honourable daughter of the priest Calchas whom I here present to the most honourable public. Pandarus was her uncle, a most admirable pander indeed; but his active aid, as regarded his calling, was here hardly called for. Troilus, a son of the very productive Priam, was her first lover. She fulfilled with him all the usual formalities, swore him endless truth, broke her oath with befitting propriety, and delivered a mournful monologue on the weakness of the female heart before transferring herself to Diomed. The eavesdropper Thersites, who ever ungallantly calls a spade a spade, speaks of her as a strumpet; but he should certainly have softened the word, for it may come to pass that the beauty, transferred from one hero to another, and ever sinking lower, will at last fall as a sweetheart to him.

Not without good and many reasons have I placed the portrait of Cressida at the portal of this gallery. Truly it was not for her virtue, and not because she is a type of the ordinary average woman, did I give her preference to so many glorious and ideal forms of Shakespeare's art; no I opened the dance with that dame of dubious fame because I, should I publish Shakespeare's works, would begin with the drama entitled Troilus and Cressida. Steevens, in his magnificent edition, did the same; I do not know why, but I conjecture that this English publisher had a reason, which I will here set forth.

Troilus and Cressida is the only drama by Shakespeare in which he puts upon the stage the same heroes which the Greek poets also chose for a subject of their dramas, so that the method of Shakespeare is very clearly revealed by comparison with the manner and style in which the elder poets treated the same theme. While the classical poets of Greece strove for the most elevated transfigurations of real life and soared to ideality, our modern tragedian penetrates more into the depth of things, digging with a sharply whetted spiritual spade into the silent soil of what appears to be, and lays bare before us its hidden roots. In opposition to the ancient tragedians who, like the sculptors of their time, only aimed at beauty and nobility, and glorified the form at the expense of the subject, Shakespeare directed his views first to truth and the thing in itself, hence his mastery of the characteristic, whence it comes that he often touches on tho most provoking caricature, and strips the glittering armour from his heroes, showing them in the most ridiculous of dressing-gowns. Therefore critics who judge of Troilus and Cressida by the principles which Aristotle drew from the greatest dramas of Greece, must fall into great perplexity, if not into the absurdest errors. As a tragedy the piece was not sufficiently serious or sad, because everything in it went so naturally from the beginning, just as in our own life, and the heroes behaved just as stupidly, not to say vulgarly, as we ourselves do—and the hero is a puppy, and the heroine just such a common bit of calico[21] as we have met many a time among our most intimate acquaintances. Even the most famed bearers of great names, renowned in the heroic olden time, for example, the great Achilles, the brave son of Thetis—how wretchedly they seem before us here! And yet, on the other hand, the piece cannot be treated as a comedy, for the blood flows through it in tremendous stream, and the longest speeches of wisdom ring therein with grand dignity—as, for instance, in the remarks which Ulysses makes as to the necessity of Authority, and which to this day deserve the most serious consideration.

"No, no—a play in which such speeches are interchanged can be no comedy," said the critics; and still less could they admit that a poor rogue, who, like the teacher of gymnastics, Massmann, had small Latin and less Greek,[22] could dare be so bold as to use the great classic heroes to a comedy.

No, Troilus and Cressida is neither a comedy nor tragedy, in the common sense of the words; it does not belong to any determined class of the drama, and still less can it be measured with the current standard rules—it is Shakespeare's own and most peculiar creation. We can only in general principles recognise its eminent excellence; for a close criticism of it we need an Aesthetic, which is not as yet written.

Since I have registered this drama under the heading of Tragedy, let me first show how strictly I hold to the title. My old teacher of poetry in the gymnasium of Düsseldorf once remarked very shrewdly that all plays in which the melancholy of Melpomene prevailed over the gay and joyous spirit of Thalia, belonged to the realm of tragedy. Perhaps I had that comprehensive definition in my mind when it occurred to me to place Troilus and Cressida among the tragedies. And in truth there prevails in it an exultant bitterness, a world-mocking irony, such as we never met in the merriment of the comic muse. It is the tragic goddess who is very much more before us in this play, only that she here would fain be gay for once, and move to mirth. It is as if we saw Melpomene at a grisette-ball, dancing the chahut, bold laughter on her pale lips and death in her heart.



It is the prophetic daughter of Priam whose picture is here preesented. She bears in her heart the awful foreknowledge of the future, she announces the fall of Troy, and now she stands and wails where Hector weapons himself to battle with the dreadful Pelides. She sees in the spirit her beloved brother bleeding from the open wound of death, she groans and grieves—in vain! No one heeds her counsel, and as hopeless of rescue as the whole deluded race, she sinks into the abyss of a dark destiny.

Shakespeare gives the beautiful seeress scanty and not very significant speech; she is to him only an ordinary prophetess of evil who, with her cries of woe, sweeps about in the outlawed town——

"Her eyes madly rolling,
Her hair wildly flying,"

as the picture indicates.

Our great Schiller has exalted her in more attractive form in one of his sweetest poems. Here she laments to the Pythian god, with the keenest cutting tones of grief, that fearful fate which he holds over his priestess. Once I had to declaim in school in public trial that poem, and I stopped and could get no further than the words——

"What avails to lift the curtain,
Hiding danger dire and dread ?
Life's an error that is certain,
Knowledge puts us with the dead."



This is the beautiful Helen, whose whole history I cannot tell, or make clear; for then I must really begin with Leda's egg.

Her titular father was called Tyndarus, but her real and secret begetter was a god, who in the form of a fowl fructified her blessed motheras very often took place in the olden time. Married when very young, she went to Sparta, and, as is easy to suppose, was there, owing to her extraordinary beauty soon seduced, and cuckolded her husband Menelaus.

Ladies—the one among you who is perfectly conscious of purity, will please cast the first stone at the poor sister! I do not say here that there can be no really true women. The first wife, the celebrated Eve, was a pattern of conjugal fidelity. Without the least idea of adultery, she wandered in Eden by the side of her husband (the celebrated Adam), who was then the only man in the world, and wore an apron of fig leaves. She conversed willingly with the Serpent, but that was only to learn the beautiful French language, which she thereby acquired, because she was so desirous of culture. Oh, ye daughters of Eve, what a beautiful example did your first mother leave behind her!

Dame Venus, the undying goddess of all delight, managed for Prince Paris the favour of fair Helen; he violated the holy law of hospitality, and fled with his charming booty of beauty to Troy the safe citadel as we all under the same circumstances should doubtless have done.[23] We all, by which I specially mean we Germans, who, being more learned than other races, busy ourselves more from youth upwards with Homer's songs. The beautiful Helen is our first love, and even in our boyhood's days, when we sit on the school-bench and the master explains to us the exquisite Greek verses in which the Trojan grey-beards were enraptured at the sight of Helen, the most enchanting feelings beat in our young inexperienced breasts—with blushing cheeks and stammering tongues we answer the questions in grammar put by our preceptor. Later in life, when we are older and fully taught, and have ourselves become wizards, and can raise the very devil himself, then we exact from our attendant sprite that he shall obtain for us the beautiful Helen from Sparta. I have already said[24] that John Faust is the true representative of the Germans, of the people, who satisfy their deepest longing in knowledge and not in life. Although this famed doctor—the normal German—craves and yearns for sensual pleasure, he by no means seeks the subject of his gratification in the flowery fields of reality, but in the learned mould of the world of books ; and while a French or Italian necromancer would have demanded of Mephistopheles the fairest woman living, the German wants one who died thousands of years ago, and who smiles at him as a lovely shade from ancient Greek parchment times—the Helen of Sparta. How deeply and significantly does this yearning set forth the inner being of the German people!

In Troilus and Cressida Shakespeare has treated of Helen as sparingly as he did Cassandra in the previous chapter. We see her appear with Paris, and she exchanges with the grey-haired pander, Pandarus, a few lively mocking passages. She rallies him, and at last asks that he shall sing, with his old bleating voice, a love-song. But sad, sorrowful shadows of forebodings, the foregoing feelings of a terrible end, often come before her frivolous heart; the serpents stretch out their black heads from the rosiest jests, and she betrays her deeper feeling in the words:——

"Let thy song be love. This love will undo us all. O Cupid! Cupid! Cupid!"[25]



She, the wife of Coriolanus, is a shy dove who dares not so much as coo in the presence of her over-haughty husband. When he returns victorious from the field, and all is exultation and loud rejoicing over him, she in humility looks down, and the smiling hero calls her "My gracious Silence!"[26] In this silence lies her whole character; she is silent as the blushing rose, as the chaste pearl, as the yearning evening star, as the enraptured human heart a perfect, precious, glowing silence, which tells more than eloquence, more than all rhetorical bombast.[27] She is an ever mild and modest dame; and in her tender loveliness forms the clearest contrast to her mother-in-law, the Roman she-wolf Volumnia, who once suckled with her iron milk the wolf Caius Marcius. Yes, the latter is the real matron, and from her aristocratic nipples the young brood sucked nothing but wild self-will, unbridled defiance, and scorn of the people.

How a hero may win the laurel crown of fame from the early imbibing of such virtues and vices, but on the other hand lose the civic oaken wreath, and finally descending to the most atrocious crime, or treason to his native land, disgracefully perish, is shown by Shakespeare in his drama entitled Coriolanus.

After Troilus and Cressida, in which our poet took his material from the old Greek heroic time, I take up Coriolanus, because we here see how he understood treating Roman affairs. In this drama he sketches the partisan strife of the patricians and plebeians in ancient Rome.

I will not directly assert that this portrayal agrees exactly in every detail with the annals of Roman history; but our poet has understood and depicted the real life and nature of that strife with deepest truthfulness. We can judge of this the more accurately because our own times afford so many subjects which recall those of the troubled discord which once raged in old Rome between the privileged patricians and the degraded plebeians. We might often deem that Shakespeare was a poet of the present day, who lived in the London of our own life, sketching the Tories and Radicals of our own time disguised as Romans. What might confirm us in such a fancy is the great resemblance which really exists between the ancient Romans and modern Englishmen, and the statesmen of both races. In fact, a certain prosaic hardness, greed, love of blood, unwearying perseverance and firmness of character, is as peculiar to the English of to-day as to the old Romans, only that the latter were more land-rats than water-rats; but in the unamiableness, in which both attained the utmost height, they are perfectly equal and alike. The most striking elective affinity is to be observed between the nobility of both races.[28] The English nobleman, like the same character of yore in Rome, is patriotic; love for his native land keeps him, in spite of all political-legal differences, intimately allied to the plebeian, and this sympathetic bond so brings it about that the English aristocrats and democrats, like the Romans before them, form one and an united race. In other countries where nobility is bound, less to the land than to the person of him who is their prince, or are devoted to the peculiar interests of their class, this is not the case. Then again we find among the English, as once among the Roman nobles, a striving towards established authority as the highest, most glorious, and also indirectly the most profitable—I say indirectly the most profitable, because, as once in Rome, so now in England, the management of the highest offices under government are made profitable only by misuse of influence and traditional exactions, that is to say, indirectly. Those offices are the aim of youthful education in the great families of England, just as they were among the Romans, and with the one as with the other, skill in war and oratory avail as the means to future position. So among the English, as it was among the Romans, the tradition of reigning and of administration is the hereditary endowment of noble families, and through this it may be that the English Tories will long be indispensable—yes, and so long in power as were the senatorial families of old Rome.

But nothing under present circumstances in England is so resemblant as the "soliciting suffrages," as we see it depicted in Coriolanus. With what bitter and restrained sourness, with what scornful irony, does the Roman Tory beg for the votes of the good citizens whom he so deeply despises in his soul, and whose approbation is to him so absolutely necessary that he may become consul. There being, however, this difference—that most English lords have got their wounds, not in battle but in fox-hunting, and being better trained by their mothers in the art of dissimilation, do not when electioneering manifest their ill-temper and scorn as did the stubborn Coriolanus.

As in all things, Shakespeare has exercised in this drama the strictest impartiality. The aristocrat is here quite in the right when he despises his plebeian masters of votes, for he feels that he was braver in war—such bravery being among the Romans the greatest virtue. Yet the poor electors, the people, are withal quite right in opposing him, despite this virtue, for he distinctly declared that as consul he would oppose giving bread to the people, although bread is the people's first right.[29]



THE chief basis of Caesar's popularity was the magnanimity with which he treated the people, and his generosity. The multitude felt that in him might be the founder of those better days which they were to know under his descendants the Emperors; for these secured to the people its just right—they gave them their daily bread. We willingly forgive the Cæsars the bloodiest caprices by which they arbitrarily disposed of hundreds of patrician families and mocked their privileges; we recognise in them, and that gratefully, the destroyers of that aristocratic rule which gave the people for the hardest service the least possible payment; we praise them as worldly saviours who, humiliating the lofty and exalting the lowly, introduced a civic equality. That advocate of the past, the patrician Tacitus, may describe as he will the private vices and mad freaks of the Cæsars with the most poetic poison, we know better things of them—they fed the people.[30]

It was Cæsar who led the Roman aristocracy to ruin, and prepared the victory of democracy. Meanwhile there were many old patricians who still cherished in their hearts the spirit of republicanism; they could not endure the supremacy of a single man, they would not live where one raised his head above all theirs, even though it were the lordly head of Julius Cæsar so they whetted their daggers and slew him.

Democracy and monarchy are not enemies, as people falsely assert, in these our times. The best democracy will ever be that where one person stands as incarnation of the popular will at the head of the state, like God at the head of the world's government, for under that incarnate will of the people, as under the majesty of God, blooms the safest human equality, the truest democracy. Aristocracy and republicanism are not really opposed to one another, and that we see most clearly in the drama before us, where the spirit of republicanism speaks directly out with its sharpest traits of character in the proudest aristocrats. These traits are even more marked in Cassius than in Brutus. We have long since observed that the spirit of republicanism consists in a certain asthmatic close jealousy which will tolerate nothing over itself, in a dwarfish envy which hates all that is higher than itself, which would not willingly see even virtue represented by a man, for fear lest such a representative would turn his high personality to private profit. The republicans are therefore to-day the humblest of deists, and see in humanity only paltry figures of clay, which, kneaded all in one common likeness by the hands of a Creator, have no right whatever to proud distinctions and ambitions, or displays of splendour. The English republicans once cherished such a principle in Puritanism, and such was the case with the old Romans, who were Stoics. If this be borne in mind, we cannot fail to be struck by the shrewd sagacity with which Shakespeare has sketched Cassius in his dialogue with Brutus, when he hears how the people have greeted with hurrahs Cæsar, whom they wish to raise to kingship:—

"Cas. I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favour.
Well, honour is the subject of my story.—
I cannot tell, what you and other men
Think of this life ; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be, as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Cæsar; so were you:
We both have fed as well; and we can both
Endure the winter's cold as well as he:
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Cæsar said to me, Dar'st thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?—Upon the word,
Accouter'd as I was, I plunged in,
And bade him follow; so, indeed, he did.
The torrent roar'd ; and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews; throwing it aside,
And stemming it, with hearts of controversy.
But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
Cæsar cried, Help me, Cassias, or I sink.
I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so, from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Caesar: And this man
Is now become a god; and Cassius is
A wretched creature, and must bend his body,
If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him.

He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And, when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake : 'tis true, this god did shake:
His coward lips did from their colour fly;
And that same eye, whose bend doth awe the world,
Did lose his lustre: I did hear him groan:
Ay, and that tongue of his, that bade the Romans
Mark him, and write his speeches in their books,
Alas! it cried, Give me some drink, Titinius,
As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone."

Cæsar himself knows his man well, and on this subject lets fall deeply significant words in a dialogue with Anthony.

"Cæs. Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Ant. Fear him not, Cæsar, he's not dangerous;
He is a noble Roman, and well given.
Cæes. 'Would he were fatter:—But I fear him not:
Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much;
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music ;
Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such a sort,
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.

Such men as he be never at heart's ease,
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves;
And therefore are they very dangerous."

Cassius is a republican, and, as we often see in such men, is more attracted by noble friendship in men than by the tender love of women. Brutus, on the contrary, sacrifices himself for the republic—not because he is by nature a republican, but because he is a hero of virtue, and sees in sacrifice the highest demand of duty. He is susceptible to all soft feelings, and clings with tenderest love to his wife, Portia.

Portia, a daughter of Cato, altogether a Roman woman, is, however, worthy of love, and even in her highest flights of heroism betrays the most feminine feeling and shrewdest womanly nature. With anxious looks of love she watches every shadow on the brow of her husband, betraying his troubled thoughts. She will know what torments him, she will share the burden of the secret which oppresses his soul; and when at last she knows it, she is after all a woman, and being well nigh conquered by the frightful care, cannot conceal it, and must needs confess.

"I have a man's mind, but a woman's might.
How hard it is for a woman to keep counsel!"



Yes, this is the famed Queen of Egypt who ruined Antony.

He knew perfectly that this woman was leading him to destruction, and he would fain tear himself away from the magic fetters:—

"I must with haste from hence!"

He flies—only to return all the sooner to the flesh-pots of Egypt, to his serpent of old Nile, as he calls her; soon finding himself again with her in the luxurious mud of Alexandria, and there, as Octavius relates—

"I' the market-place, on a tribunal silver'd,
Cleopatra and himself in chairs of gold
Were publicly enthron'd : at the feet sat
Cæsarion, whom they call my father's son,
And all the unlawful issue, that their lust
Since then hath made between them. Unto her
He gave the 'stablishment of Egypt; made her
Of lower Syria, Cyprus, Lydia,
Absolute queen.. . .
I' the common show-place, where they exercise,
His sons he there proclaim'd the kings of kings:
Great Media, Parthia, and Armenia,
He gave to Alexander; to Ptolemy he assign'd
Syria, Cilicia, and Phœnicia: she

In the habiliments of the goddess Isis
That day appear'd; and oft before gave audience,
As 'tis reported, so.[31]

The Egyptian sorceress holds not only his hand captive, but even his brain, and bewilders his talent as a general. Instead of fighting on firm land where he had always conquered, he gives battle on the treacherous sea, where his bravery was of less avail; and there, where the capricious woman obstinately followed him, she fled with all her ships in the critical instant of the combat, and Anthony, "like a doting mallard,"[32] with out-spread sail-wings fled after her, leaving fortune and honour in the lurch.

But it was not merely from the womanish caprices of Cleopatra that the unfortunate hero suffered the most disgraceful defeat; for she afterwards treated him with the blackest treason, and in complicity with Octavius went with her whole fleet over to the enemy. She betrayed him in the most despicable manner, either to save her own goods in the shipwreck of his fortunes, or to fish some greater advantage for herself out of the troubled waters. She drives him to despair and death by deceit and lies, and yet to the very last he loves her with all his heart—yes, after every treachery his love flashes up the more wildly. He curses her of course after every trick, lie knows all her faults, and his better judgment expresses itself in the coarsest abuse, when he says with bitterest truth:—

"You were half blasted ere I knew you:—Ha ?
Have I my pillow, left unpress'd in Rome,
Forborne the getting of a lawful race,
And by a gem of women, to be abused
By one that looks on feeders?
Cleo. Good my lord,—
Ant. You have been a boggler ever:
But when we in our viciousness grow hard,
(O misery on 't!) the wise gods seal our eyes;
In our own filth drop our clear judgments; make us
Adore our errors; laugh at us, while we strut
To our confusion.
Cleo. is it come to this ?
Ant. I found you as a morsel, cold upon
Dead Cæsar's trencher : nay, you were a fragment
Of Cneius Pompey's ; besides what hotter hours,
Unregister'd in vulgar fame, you have
Luxuriously pick'd out:—For, I am sure,
Though you can guess what temperance should be,
You know not what it is."[33]

But like the spear of Achilles, which could heal the wounds which it gave, the mouth of the beloved one can heal again with its kisses the deadliest stabs which his sharp words had given to her feelings. And after that infamy which the serpent of old Nile had inflicted on the Roman wolf, and after every curse which he had howled at her—the pair kiss à la Florentine the more tenderly,[34] even in dying he presses on her lips the last of so many kisses.

And she, the Egyptian snake, how she loves her Roman wolf! Her betrayals are only the external irrepressible twinings and coils of her evil serpent nature; she practises them mechanically, because they are in her inborn or habitual habit, but in the depth of her soul there is the deepest unchanging love for Antony. Yes, she herself knows not how strong it is. Many a time she thinks she can conquer or play with it, but she errs, and the error will appear to her at the moment when she loses the man whom she loves, and her agony bursts forth in the sublime words: —

" Cleo. I dream'd, there was an emperor Antony ;
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man !
Dol. If it might please you, —
Cleo. His face was as the heavens ; and therein stuck
A sun, and moon ; which kept their course, and lighted
The little O, the earth.
Dol. Most sovereign creature,—

Cleo. His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in 't, an autumn 'twas,
That grew the more by reaping: His delights
Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
The element they lived in: In his livery
Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
As plates diopp'd from his pocket "[35]

For Cleopatra is—a woman. She loves and betrays at the same time. It is a mistake to believe that women when they betray us have ceased to love. They only follow their inborn nature; and if they will not empty the forbidden cup, they like at least a sip from it, or lick the brim, just to see what poison tastes like. Next to Shakespeare, no one has sketched this fact so well as old Abbé Prevost in his novel "Manon Lescaut." The intuition of the greatest poet here coincides with the sober observation of the coldest writer of prose.

Yes, this Cleopatra is a woman in the blessedest and cursedest sense of the word! She reminds me of that saying of Lessing, "When God made woman He took clay of too fine a quality!" The extreme tenderness of His material does not agree with the requirements of life. This creature is at once too good and too bad for this world. The most charming attractions are here the cause of the most repulsive frailties. With enchanting truth Shakespeare sketches even at the first appearance of Cleopatra the variegated fluttering spirit of caprice which is always rioting in the brain of the beautiful queen, which often jets and sprays in the most notable questions and fancies, and is perhaps really the basis of all her actions and behaviour. Nothing is more characteristic than the fifth scene of the first act, where she asks her maid for mandragora, so that this narcotic may fill up her time while Antony is gone. Then the devil teases her to call her eunuch Mardian. He humbly asks what his mistress requires. I will not hear singing, she says, for naught that an eunuch can do pleases me now ; but tell me, Dost ever feel passion ? "Hast thou affections?"

"Mar. Yes, gracious madam.
Cleo. Indeed?
Mar. Not in deed, madam, for I can do nothing
But what, in deed, is honest to be done :
Yet have I fierce affections, and think,
What Venus did with Mars.
Cleo. Charmian,
Where think'st thou he is now ? Stands he, or sits he?
Or does he walk? or is he on his horse ?
O happy horse, to bear the weight of Antony !
Do bravely, horse ! for wot'st thou whom thou mov'st?

The demi-Atlas of this earth, the arm
And burgonet of men.—He's speaking now,
Or murmuring, Where's my serpent of old Nile ?
For so he calls me ; Now I feed myself
With most delicious poison :—Think on me,
That am with Phœbus' amorous pinches black,
And wrinkled deep in time? Broad-fronted Caesar,
When thou wast here above the ground, I was
A morsel for a monarch : and great Pompey
Would stand, and make his eyes grow in my brow;
There would he anchor his aspect, and die
With looking on his life."[36]

If I may boldly speak out all my thought, fearing no slanderous sarcastic smiles, I would say that, candidly confessed, this helter-skelter thought and feeling of Cleopatra—the result of an irregular, idle, and troubled life—reminds me of a certain class of spendthrift women, whose expensive housekeeping is defrayed by an out-of-wedlock generosity, and who torment and bless their titular spouses very often with love and fidelity; though not seldom with love alone, but always with wild whims. And was she in reality different from them—this Cleopatra, who could not maintain her unheard-of luxury with the Egyptian crown-revenue, and who took from Antony, her Roman entreteneur, the squeezed-out treasures of whole provinces for "presents"—and in the true sense of the word, was a kept—queen!

In the ever excited, irregular mind of Cleopatra, made of extremes tossed together by reckless chance, a soul oppressively sultry, there flashes like heat-lightning all the time a sensuous, wild, and brimstone-yellow wit, which rather frightens than pleases. Plutarch gives us an idea of this wit, which shows itself more in deeds than words, and even in school I laughed with all my heart at the mystified Antony, who went with his queenly love fishing, but drew up on his line a salt fish—the crafty Egyptian dame having employed divers, one of whom had fastened it on his hook. Our teacher indeed frowned at this anecdote, and blamed the wicked wantonness with which the queen risked the lives of her subjects, the poor divers, to carry out a jest ; but our teacher was not a friend to Cleopatra, and he made us specially observe how Antony, through her, destroyed his whole public career, got himself involved in domestic difficulties, and at last plunged headlong into ruin.

Yes, my old teacher was quite right—it is utterly dangerous to enter into intimate relations with such a person as Cleopatra. A hero can go to the devil in this way, but only a hero. Good commonplaceness suffers no danger here—nor anywhere.

The position of Cleopatra was as intensely droll as her character. This capricious-peevish, pleasure-seeking, weather-vain, feverishly coquettish woman, this Parisienne of the olden time, this goddess of life, juggled and ruled over Egypt, the stark silent land of the dead. You know it well, that Egypt, that Mizraim full of mystery, that narrow Nile strip, looking like a coffin. In the high reeds still grinned the crocodile or the deserted child of Revelation. . .. Rock temples with colossal pillars, on which recline grotesque wild forms of horribly varied hues . . . in the portal nods the monk of Isis, with hieroglyphed head-gear . . . in luxurious villas, mummies are taking their siestas, and the gilded masks protect them from the swarms of flies of decay . . . there stand the slender obelisks and plump pyramids, like silent thoughts . . . in the background we are greeted by the mountains of the Moon of Ethiopia, which hide the sources of the Nile—everywhere death, stone, and mystery. And over this land, the beautiful Cleopatra ruled as queen.

How witty God is !



In Julius Cæsar we see the last throbs of the republican spirit, which struggles in vain with the monarchy ; the republic has outlived itself, and Brutus and Cassius can only murder the man who first grasped at the royal crown, but are in no degree able to kill the royal form of government which is deeply rooted in the needs of the age. In Antony and Cleopatra we see how, in place of a fallen Cæsar, three other Cæsars stretch forth daring hands to the sovereignty of the world, the problem of principles is solved, and the strife which breaks out between these triumvirs is only the personal question, " Who shall be Emperor, lord of all men and lands ? " The tragedy entitled Titus Andronicus shows us that even unlimited autocracies in the Roman realm follow the law of all earthly events, that is, to pass into decay, and nothing is more repulsive than those later Cæsars who, to the madness and crimes of Nero and Caligula, added the windiest weakness. Nero and Caligula indeed grew giddy on the vast height of their power ; thinking themselves above humanity they became inhuman, believing they were gods they became godless ; but in contemplating their monstrosity we can no longer measure them with the rule of reason. The later Cæsars, on the contrary, are rather subjects of our pity, our dislike, our disgust ; they are wanting in the heathen self-deification, the intoxication of a sense of their own majesty, their terrible irresponsibility ; they are Christianly crushed, and the black confessor has crept into their consciences and spoken, and they feel that they are only poor worms, that they die dependent on the grace of a higher God, and that they in due time for their earthly evil doings must bo boiled and roasted in hell.

Although the outer stamp of heathendom still prevails in Titus Andronicus, still the character of the later Christian time begins to show itself in this piece, and the perversion in moral and civic relations which it displays is already quite Byzantine. The play certainly belongs to Shakespeare's earliest productions, though many critics deny it to him altogether ; for there is in it that cruelty, that cutting predilection for the repulsive, a Titanic struggle with divine powers, such as we are wont to find in the first works of great poets. The hero, in opposition to his utterly demoralised surroundings, is a real Roman, a relic of the stern and hard old time. Did such men then still exist ? It is possible, for Nature loves to preserve examples of all the creatures whose kind is perishing or undergoing change, though it be in petrifactions, such as we find on mountain-tops. Titus Andronicus is such a petrified Roman, and his fossil virtue is a real curiosity in the time of the latest Cæsars.

The disgrace and mutilation of his daughter Lavinia belongs to the most horrible scenes to be found in any author. The history of Philomela, in Ovid's " Metamorphoses," is not by far so awful, for the very hands of the wretched Roman maiden are hacked off lest she should betray the prime movers of the dreadful piece of wickedness. As the father by his stern manliness, so the daughter by her grand feminine dignity, reminds us of the more moral past; she dreads not death but dishonour; and deeply touching are the words with which she implores mercy of her enemy, the Empress Tamora, when the sons of the latter will defile her person :

"'Tis present death I beg ; and one thing more,
That womanhood denies my tongue to tell :
0, keep me from their worse than killing lust,
And tumble me into some loathsome pit,
Where never man's eyes may behold my body :
Do this, and be a charitable murderer."[37]

In this virginal purity Lavinia forms the fullest contrast to the Empress Tamora; and here, as in most of his dramas, Shakespeare places two entirely different types of woman together, and renders their characters clearer by the contrast. This we have already seen in Antony and Cleopatra, where our dark, unbridled, vain and ardent Egyptian comes forth more statuesquely by the white, cold, moral, arch -prosaic and domestic Octavia.

And yet that Tamora is a fine figure, and I think it is an injustice that the English graver has not traced her portrait in this Gallery of Shakespearean ladies. She is a magnificently majestic woman, an enchanting and imperial figure, on whose brow are the marks of a fallen deity, in her eyes a world -devouring lust, splendidly vicious, panting with thirst for red blood. Pitying and far-seeing as our poet ever is, he has beforehand justified, in the first scene where Tamora appears, all the horrors which she at a later time inflicted on Andronicus.[38] For this grim Roman, unmoved by her most agonised mother's prayers, suffers her son to be put to death before her eyes; and as soon as she sees in the wooing favour of the young Emperor the rays of hope of future vengeance, there roll forth from her lips the exultant and darkly foreboding words :

" I'll find a day to massacre them all,
And raze their faction and their family,
The cruel father and his traitorous sons,
To whom I su6d for my dear son's life ;
And make them know what 'tis to let a queen
Kneel in the streets, and beg for grace in vain."[39]

As her cruelty is excused by the excess of sufferings which she endured, so the harlot-like looseness with which she abandons herself to a disgusting negro is to a degree ennobled by the romantic poetry which is manifested in it. Yes, that scene in which the Empress, having left her cortege during a hunt, finds herself alone in the wood with her beloved black, belongs to the most terribly sweet magic pictures of romantic poetry

" My lovely Aaron, wherefore look'st tliou s;xd,
When everything doth make a gleeful boast?
The birds chaunt melody on every bush ;
The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun ;
The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind,
And make a chequer'd shadow on the ground :
Under their sweet shade, Aaron, let us sit,
And, whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,
Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns,
As if a double hunt were heard at once,
Let us sit down and mark their yelling noise ;
And, after conflict, such as was suppos'd
The wandering prince and Dido once enjoyM,
When with a happy storm they were surprisM,
And curtain'd with a counsel-keeping cave,
We may, each wreathed in the other's arms,
Our pastimes done, possess a golden slumber ;
Whiles hounds, and horns, and sweet melodious birds,
Be unto ts, as is a nurse's song
Of lullaby, to bring her babe to sleep."[40]

But while the gleams of passion flash from the eyes of the beautiful Empress and play on the black form of the negro, like decoy lights or curling flames, he thinks of far more serious things on the execution of the most infamous intrigues, and his answer forms the rudest contrast to the impassioned appeal of Tamora.



It was in the year 1827 after the birth of Christ that I gradually went to sleep in the theatre in Berlin during the first representation of a new tragedy by Herr E. Raupach.

For the highly cultured public which does not go to the theatre, and only reads that which is strictly literature, I must here remark that the Herr Raupach referred to is a very useful man, who supplies tragedies and comedies, and provides the stage of Berlin every month with a new masterpiece. The Berlin stage is admirable, and one especially useful for Hegelian philosophers who wish to refresh themselves by repose in the evening after hard work during the heat of the day. The soul reinvigorates itself there far more in accordance with nature, than by Wisotzki. One goes into the theatre, stretches himself carelessly on the velvet seat, looks through his opera-glass at the faces of his fair neighbours or the legs of the lady-dancers, and if the fellows on the stage don't shout too loudly, he goes to sleep comfortably and peaceably even as I did on the 29th of August 1827. P. M. C.

When I awoke all was dark and drear around me, and by the light of a dim flickering lamp I saw that I was alone in the theatre. I determined to pass the rest of the night there, and tried to softly sink again to slumber, which did not succeed so easily as it had done some hours before, when the poppy perfume of the Raupach rhymes had risen to my brain ; and I was, moreover, much disturbed by the squeaking and cheeping of mice. Near the orchestra rustled and bustled a whole colony of the gens Mus ; and as I understand not only Raupachian verses, but also the languages of all other kinds of animals, I involuntarily overheard all the mice said. They conversed on subjects such as would naturally interest a thinking being the ultimate basis of all phenomena, the nature of things in and for themselves, fate, freewill, foreknowledge absolute, and the great Raupachian tragedy, which had with all conceivable horrors not long before unfolded, developed itself, and ended before their very eyes.

"You young people," slowly said an old mouse of stately and commanding presence, "you have only seen a single play—at best but a few—but I am grey, and have lived through many and marked them all with care. And I have found that in reality they are all alike, that they are generally variations on the same theme; and that very often the same situations, entanglements, and catastrophes are set before us. They are always the same men with the same passions, who only change costumes and figures of speech. There are always the same motives of action, love or hate, or ambition, or envy or jealousy, whether the hero wears a Roman toga or old German mail, a turban or a felt hat, and whether he speaks simply or in flowery verse, in bad iambics, or even worse trochees. The whole history of mankind, which people are so prone to divide into different dramas, acts and entrances, is after all one and the same story, only a masked come-round-again procession of the same natures and occurrences, an organic rotation in orbit, which begins anew from the same initial; and when one has once realised this, he no longer bewails the bad nor rejoices too readily over the good—he smiles at the folly of the heroes who sacrifice themselves for the perfection and prosperity of the human race, and amuses himself, with calm composure."

A tittering, giggling little voice, which seemed to be that of a small shrewd mouse, here quickly interposed.

"I too have seen a thing or two, and that not merely from a single place or view. I never spared myself in jumping high nor balked a leap for knowledge I left the pit and looked at things behind the stage itself, where I made startling discoveries. The hero whom I had just admired is no hero, for I saw how a young fellow called him a drunken rascal, and gave him kicks which he quietly received. The virtuous princess who appeared as sacrificing her life to save her virtue, is no more a princess than she is virtuous; I have seen how she took red powder from a china cup to colour her cheeks—and this passed in the play for the blush of modesty; and, after all, she threw herself yawning into the arms of a lieutenant of the guards, who told her on his word of honour she'd find in his room a stunnin' herrin' salad and a glass of punch.[41] What you thought was thunder and lightning is only the rolling of tin cylinders and the burning of a few crumbs of pulverised rosin. Even that portly, honourable citizen who seemed to be all unselfishness and generosity, quarrelled most miserly about money with a meagre man whom he called the chief manager, and from whom he wanted a few thalers of extra pay. Yes, I have seen all with my own eyes, and heard with my own ears, all the greatness and nobility which is acted before us is all sham and flam. Self-interest and selfishness are the secret springs of all actions, and an intelligent being will not let itself be humbugged by outside show."

Here, however, there rose a sighing, sorrowful voice which seemed familiar to my ears, though I know not whether it was of a mouse male or a mouse feminine. She began with a wail over the frivolity of the age, lamented its unbelief and scepticism, and said a great deal about her love for everything and everybody. "I love you," she sighed, "and I tell you the truth. And Truth revealed itself to me through grace in a blessed hour. I was on a pilgrimage, going about here and there trying to attain to a revelation or comprehension of the various deeds which are done on this earthly stage, and also to pick up some crumbs to satisfy my bodily hunger—for I love you. And it came to pass that I found a spacious hole—yes, my friends—a chest, in which there sat crouching a thin grey dwarf,[42] who held in his hand a roll of paper, and with a slow monotonous voice he repeated to himself all the speeches which are declaimed before us so loudly and passionately on the stage. A mystic shudder flurried all my fur. I knew that, despite my unworthiness, I had attained grace to see into the Holy of Holies. I found myself in the blessed presence of the mysterious First-being the pure Spirit who rules the corporeal world with his will, who creates it with a word, inspires it with a word, and with a word destroys for I saw that the heroes on the stage whom I had a little while before so greatly admired, only spoke confidently when they, in absolute confiding faith, my dear friends, repeated the text exactly as he gave it—yea, and that they stumbled and stuttered when they in their pride turned from his ways and listened not unto the sound of his voice. All beings I beheld depended on him. He was the only self-existent one in his all-holiest ark. On every side thereof glowed the mystic lamps, rang the violins, and softly pealed the flutes; around him was light and music he swam in harmonious rays and flashing harmonies." . . .

Then the speech became so nasal and weepingly whispering that I understood but little more, only now and then I caught the words, "Deliver us from cats and mouse-traps give us each day our daily bread crumbs I love ye— in eternity. Amen!"

By giving this dream I endeavour to set forth my views as to the different philosophical points of view whence men regard history, at the same time showing why I do not load these light leaves with any peculiar philosophy of English history.

For I will not, above all things, analyse or dogmatically elucidate that in which Shakespeare has ennobled the great events of English chronicle, but only decorate with a few arabesques of words the portraits of the women who bloom in those poems. And as in these English historical dramas the women play anything but chief parts, and as the poet never lets them appear as female characters and figures, as we generally see them in other plays, but simply because the plot requires their presence, so will I speak the more sparingly of them.

Constance begins the dance, or is first in the procession, and that sorrowfully enough. She bears her child, like a Mater dolorosa, on her arm—the oppressed boy

" Who is not plagued for her sin,[43]
But God hath made her sin and her the plague
Of this removed issue."

I once saw the part of this mourning queen admirably acted on the Berlin stage by Madame Stich. Much less brilliant was the queen, Maria Louisa, who, during the French invasion, played Queen Constance in the royal French theatre. But miserable beyond all measure in this part was a certain Madame Caroline, who acted about in the provinces. She wanted neither beauty, talent, nor passion unfortunately she had too big a belly, which always injures an actress when she must act grandly tragic parts.[44]



I had imagined her face, and especially her form, less plump, or embonpoint, than is here represented. But it may be that the sharp traits and slender form which are apparent in her words, and which her spiritual physiognomy presents, contrast the more interestingly with her well-rounded outer form. She is cheerful, cordial, and sound in body and soul. Prince Henry, who would fain make a jest of this agreeable personage, thus parodies her and her Percy:—

"I am not yet of Percy's mind, the Hotspur of the North ; he that kills me some six or seven dozens of Scots at a breakfast, washes his hands, and says to his wife—Fy upon this quid life! I want work. O my sweet Harry, says she, how many hast thou killed to-day? Give my roan horse a drench, says he; and answers, Some fourteen, an hour after ; a trifle, a trifle."[45] This scene, in which we see the real domestic life of Percy and his wife, is as delightful as it is succinct a scene in which she checks the boisterous hero with the boldest words :

"Lady Percy. Come, come, you paraquito, answer me
Directly unto this question that I ask :
In faith, I'll break thy little finger, Harry,
An if thou wilt not tell me all things true.
Hotspur. Away,
Away, you trifler ! Love? I love thee not,
I care not for thee, Kate : this is no world
To play with mammets, and to tilt with lips :
We must have bloody noses and crack'd crowns,
And pass them current too.—Gods me, my horse !—
What say'st thou, Kate? what wouldst thou have with me?
Lady Percy. Do you not love me? do you not, indeed?
Well, do not, then ; for since you love me not,
I will not love myself. Do you not love me?
Nay, tell me if you speak in jest or no.
Hotspur. Come, wilt thou see me ride 1
And when I am o' horseback, I will swear
I love thee infinitely. But hark you, Kate ;
1 must not have you henceforth question me
Whither I go, nor reason whereabout :

Whither I must, I must ; and, to conclude,
This evening must I leave you, gentle Kate.
I know you wise ; but yet no farther wise
Than Harry Percy's wife : constant you are ;
But yet a voman : and for secrecy,
No lady closer ; for I well believe
Thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know,
And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate."[46]



Did Shakespeare really write the scene in which the Princess Katharine takes a lesson in the English language, and are all the French phrases in it with which John Bull is so much pleased, his own ? I doubt it. Our poet might have produced the same comic effect by means of an English jargon, and all the more easily because the English language has this peculiarity, that, without being ungrammatical, it can by the mere use of Latin[47] words and constructions bring out a certain French expression of thought. In the same manner an English dramatist could indicate or suggest a German style of thought, if he would use old Saxon expressions and inflections. For the English language consists of two heterogeneous elements, the Latin and the German, which, being merely squeezed together, do not form an organic whole, and which easily fall apart when we cannot decide as to which side the real English belongs. One has only to compare the language of Doctor Johnson or of Addison with that of Byron or Cobbett. It was really quite unnecessary for Shakespeare to let the Princess Katharine talk French.

This leads me back to a remark which I have already made. It is a defect in the historical drama of Shakespeare that he does not contrast the Norman French spirit of the higher nobility with the Saxon British spirit of the people by means of characteristic forms of speech. Walter Scott did this in his novels, and thereby attained his most startling effects.

The artist who has contributed to this gallery the portrait of the French princess has, perhaps inspired by English malice, given her features more expressive of drollery than beauty. She has here a true bird face, and her eyes look as if they belonged to some one else. Are those parrot's feathers which she wears on her head, and are they intended to indicate her babbling echoes and docility ? She has little white inquisitive hands, her whole soul is the vain love of adornment and coquetry, and she can flirt most charmingly with her fan. I would wager that her feet coquet with the ground on which she walks.



Hail to thee, great German, Schiller, who didst purify gloriously the great monumental statue from the smutty wit of Voltaire, and the black spots with which it was libelled even by Shakespeare's song.[48] Yes, whether it was British national hatred or mediæval superstition which darkened his mind, our poet has represented the heroic maid as a witch allied to the dark powers of hell. He makes her evoke the demons of the underworld, and her dire and cruel execution is justified by this assumption. A deep discontent is always in my mind when I walk over the little market-place of Rouen, where the Maid was burned, and where a bad statue immortalises the bad deed. To put to death by torture! That was your fashion then towards fallen foes ! Next after the rock of St. Helena, the market-place of Rouen gives the most revolting proof of the magnanimity of Englishmen.

Yes, even Shakespeare sinned against the Maid, and if he does not manifest decided enmity, he treats the noble virgin who freed her fatherland in a manner which is both unfriendly and unamiable. And, had she done it with the help of hell, she would have deserved for it honour and admiration.

Or are the critics in the right when they deny that the play in which the Maid is introduced, as well as the second and third parts of Henry VI., were not written by the great poet? They declare that this trilogy belongs to the older dramas, which he only worked over. I would gladly, if it were only for the sake of the Maid of Orleans, assent to this. But the arguments adduced are not tenable. These disputed dramas manifest in many places far too decidedly the perfect stamp of the genius of Shakespeare.[49]



Here we see the beautiful daughter of Count Reignier as yet a maid. Suffolk enters, leading her as captive, but ere he himself is aware she

has enchained him. He quite reminds us of the recruit who cried from the guard-post to his captain that he had made a captive. "Bring him here then to me!" answered his chief. " I can't," was the reply, "for he won't let me."[50]

Suffolk speaks :

" Be not offended, nature's miracle,
Thou art allotted to be ta'en by me :
So doth the swan her downy cygnets save,
Keeping them prisoners underneath her wings.
Yet, if this servile usage once offend,
Go and be free again as Suffolk's friend.
[S/ie tunis away as going.
O stay ! I have no power to let her pass ;
My hand would free her, but my heart says no.
As plays the sun upon the glassy streams,
Twinkling another counterfeited beam,
So seems this gorgeous beauty to mine eyes.
Fain would I woo her, yet I dare not speak :
I'll call for pen and ink, and write my mind :
Fie, de la Poole ! disable not thyself ;
Ha-t not a tongue ? is she not here thy prisoner ?
Wilt thou be daunted at a woman's sight ?
Ay ; beauty's princely majesty is such,
Confounds the tongue, and makes the senses rough.
Mar. Say, Earl of Suffolk, if thy name be so,
What ransom must I pay before I pass ?
For, I perceive, I am thy prisoner.

Suf. How canst thou tell, she will deny thy suit,
Before thou make a trial of her love? [Aside.
Mar. Why speak'st thou not ? what ransom must I pay?
Suf. She's beautiful ; and therefore to be woo'd :
She is a woman; therefore to be won." [51]

He at last finds it best to keep the prisoner, and, wedding her to his king, become at once her public subject and her private lover.

Has this connection of Margaret with Suffolk any historical basis? I do not know. But Shakespeare's eye of divination often sees things of which chronicles say nothing, yet are none the less true. He knows even those fleeting dreams of bygone days which Clio forgot to write. There lie perhaps upon the stage of events all kinds of varied images or forms, which do not flit as common shadows with the real shapes, but come like ghostly things upon the ground, unnoted by the busy world of men who, naught surmising, carry on their work. Yet they are often visible enough, as clear in colour as distinct in form unto the eyes of seers born on Sunday whom we call poets !



In this likeness we see the same Margaret as queen, and as wife of the sixth Henry. The bud has blossomed ; she is now a full-blown rose, but a repulsive worm lies hid therein. She hag become a hard-hearted, evil-minded woman. Horrible beyond all comparison, be it in the world of reality or poetry, is the scene where she gives to the weeping York the ghastly handkerchief dipped in the blood of his son, and jeering bids him dry his tears on it. The words are dreadful :

" Look, York ; I staiuM this napkin with the blood
That valiant Clifford with his rapier's point
Made issue from the bosom of the boy :
And, if thine eyes can water for his death,
I give thee this to dry thy cheeks withal.
Alas, poor York ! but that I hate thee deadly, 1 should lament thy miserable state.
I pr'ythee, grieve to make me merry, York ;
Stamp, rave, and fret, tliat I may sing and dance."[52]

Had the artist who designed the beautiful Margaret for this gallery represented her with more widely opened lips, we might have seen that she has teeth like a beast of prey.[53]

In the next drama, or in Richard III., she appears as personally repulsive, for the sharp teeth have been broken, she can no longer bite, but only ban, and so as a ghostly old woman wanders through the royal chambers, and the toothless old mouth murmurs words of evil omen and execrations.

Yet through her love for Suffolk—"the wild Suffolk"—Shakespeare awakes in us some spark of sympathy even for this un-woman. Sinful or shameful as this love may be, we cannot deny it truth nor earnestness. How apturously beautiful are the two lovers' parting words, and what tenderness in those of Margaret!

" Q. Mar. 0, let me entreat thee, cease! Give me thy hand,
That I may dew it with my mournful tears ;
Nor let the rain of heaven wet this place,
To wash away my woful monuments.
O, could this kiss be printed in thy hand ;
[Kisses his hand.
That thou might'st think upon these by the seal,
Through whom a thousand sighs are breathed for thee !
So, get thee gone, that I may know my grief ;
'Tis but surmised whilst thou art standing by,
As one that surfeits thinking on a want.

I will repeal thee, or, be well assured,
Adventure to be banislied myself:
And banislied I am, if but from thee.
Go, speak not to me ; even now be gone.
O, go not yet ! Even thus two friends, condemn'd, ,
Embrace, and kiss, and take ten thousand leaves,
Loather a hundred times to part than die.
Yet now farewell ; and farewell life with thee 1
Suf. Thus is poor Suffolk ten times banished,
Once by the king, and three times thrice by thee.
'Tis not the land I care for, wert thou hence :
A wilderness is populous enough,
So Suffolk had thy heavenly company :
For where thou art, there is the world itself,
V/ith every several pleasure in the world :
And where thou art not, desolation.
I can no more : Live thou to joy thy life ;
Myself no joy in nought, but that thou liv'st."[54]

And later, when Margaret, bearing the bloody head of her beloved in her hand, wails forth the wildest despair, she reminds us of the terrible Chrimhilda of the " Nibelungenlied." What iron-mailed agonies whence all words of comfort glance aside in vain!

I have already shown in the introduction that I intended as regarded the English historical dramas of Shakespeare to refrain from historical and philosophical reflections. The theme of those dramas will never be fully discussed, so long as the strife of the modern requirements of indusindustrial development with that of medi{{ae]}val feudalism in all its various surviving forms continues. It is not so easy here as in the Roman dramas to express a decided opinion, and every bold free utterance might meet with a dubious or displeased reception. But I cannot here refrain from one remark.

It is unintelligible to me how certain German commentators take side with the English party, and that very decidedly, when they speak of those French wars which are depicted in the dramas of Shakespeare. For, in truth, in those wars the English had with them neither justice nor poetry. For they partly concealed the coarsest spirit of robbery under worthless claims of succession, and in part made war as mean mercenaries in the vulgar interests of mere merchants or shopmen just as they do to-day in these our times, only that in the nineteenth century they deal more in coffee and sugar, whereas in the fourteenth and fifteenth it was in sheep's wool.[55]

Hichelet, in that genial work, his " History of France," remarks very truly :

"The secret of the battles of Cressy, Poitiers, &c., is to be sought in the counting-houses of the merchants of London, of Bordeaux and Bruges. . . . Wool and meat founded the original England, and the English race. Before England became a great woollen-mill and iron factory for the whole world, it was a meat factory. From the earliest times this race busied itself with cattle- raising and nourished itself with meat. Hence the freshness of complexion of this (snub-nosed and back-of-the-head-less) beauty. May I here be permitted to mention a personal experience.

"I had seen London and a great part of England and Scotland; I had stared with amazement at more than I had understood. And it was on my return journey, as I went from York to Manchester, cutting across the breadth of the island, that I first began to form a true idea of England. It was a damp, foggy morning, when the country seemed not to be merely surrounded but inundated by the ocean. A pale sun hardly lit up half the landscape. The new tile-red houses would have contrasted harshly with the sap-green banks if these screaming colours had not been subdued by the fleeting sea-mists. Fat farm meadows, covered with sheep, over-topped by the flaming chimneys of factories. Cattle-raising, agriculture, industry, all were crowded together in this little space, one over the other, one feeding the other the grass fed by the fog, the sheep by the grass, and man by blood.

"Man in this devouring climate, where he is always tormented by hunger, can only sustain life by hard work. Nature compels him to it. But he knows how to revenge himself on her; he compels her to work, and subdues her with iron, and fire. All England pants with this strife. Man there seems to be enraged, and as if beside himself. See yon red face, that wildly gleaming eye! One might suppose that he was drunk. But his head and hand are firm and sure. He is only intoxicated with blood and strength. He manages himself like a steam-machine, which he crams to excess with fuel, to get from it as much work and speed as is possible.

"During the middle ages the Englishman was much the same as he now is, far too well fed, driven to trade, and warlike when industrial pursuits were wanting.

"England, though vigorously pursuing agriculture and cattle-raising, did not then manufacture. The English produced the raw material, other people turned it to profit. Wool was on one side of the Channel and workmen on the other. But while princes quarrelled and fought, the English cattle-dealer and the Flemish cloth-factors lived in the best accord, and in an undisturbed alliance. The French, who wished to break this bond of union, atoned for the beginning of it with a hundred years of war.[56] The English kings wished to conquer France, but the people wanted only freedom of trade, free ports, free markets for English wool. Gathered round a great wool-sack, the commons consulted over the king's demands, and willingly granted him subsidies and armies.

"Such a mixture of industry and chivalry imparts a strange and wonderful aspect to all the history of the time. That Edward who swore on the Round Table a proud oath to conquer France, those solemn and silly knights who in pursuance of their vows covered one eye with red cloth, were not, however, such fools as to go to war at their own expense. The pious innocence of the Crusaders was no longer in keeping with the age. These knights were in reality mercenaries, paid mercantile agents, and armed and armoured commercial travellers for the merchants of London and Ghent. Edward himself was obliged to give pledges, to lay aside all pride, to flatter the clothier and weaver guilds, to hold out his hand to his gossip the beer brewer Artevelde, and mount the desk of a cattle-dealer to address the multitude.

"The English tragedies of the fourteenth century have very comical sides. There is always something of Falstaff in their noblest knights. In France, in Italy, in Spain, in the fair lands of the South, they always show themselves as rapacious and gluttonous as they are brave. It is Hercules, the devourer of oxen. They came to devour the land, in the literal sense of the word. But the land retaliates and conquers them with fruit and wine. Their princes and armies surfeit themselves with food and drink, and die of indigestion and dysentery."

Compare with these hired and gluttonous heroes the French, that most temperate race, which was less intoxicated with its wine than by innate enthusiasm. This, indeed, was the cause of their misfortune, and so we can see how it happened that even in the middle of the fourteenth century they, by the very excess of chivalry, succumbed to the English foe. It was at Cressy where the French appear more glorious in their defeat than do the English by their victory, which they in unknightly fashion gained by employing infantry. Hitherto war had been only a great tournament of knights of equal birth ; at Cressy this romantic cavalry, this poetry, was disgracefully shot down by modern infantry, by prose in strongest disciplined order of battle yes, even cannon here appear. The grey-bearded King of Bohemia, who, blind and old, was in this battle as a vassal of France, marked well that a new era had begun, that all was at an end with chivalry, that in future the man on horseback would be beaten by the man on foot, and so said to his knights: 'I beg you most earnestly, carry me so far into the fight, that I may once more strike one good blow with my sword!' They obeyed him, bound their horses to his, rushed with him headlong into the wildest of the fray, and the next morning all were found dead on their dead horses, all still bound together. And as this King of Bohemia perished with his knights, so the French fell at Cressy ; they died but on horseback. England won the victory, France the fame. Yes, even in their defeat, the French cast their conquerors into the shade. The triumphs of the English are ever a shame to humanity, from the days of Cressy and Poitiers to that of Waterloo. Clio is always a woman in spite of her impartial coolness, she is sensitive to knighthood and heroism, and I am convinced that it is with gnashing teeth that she inscribes in her tablets the victories of England.[57]



She was a poor widow who came trembling before King Edward, and begged him to restore to her children the small estate which, after the death of her husband, had reverted to the enemy. The licentious king, who could not stir her chastity, was so enchanted by her beauty, that he placed the crown on her head. Her history, known to all the world, announces how much misery to both came from this match.

Did Shakespeare really describe the character of this king with strict regard to history ? Here I must repeat the remark that he perfectly understood how to fill historical gaps. His royal characters are all drawn with such truth, that, as an English writer remarked, we might often suppose that he had been all his life the Chancellor of the monarch whom he makes act in many dramas. My own memories of the striking similarity between his ancient kings, and certain kings of the present day, whom as contemporaries we can best judge, are tests of his truth to life.

What Friederich Schlegel says of the writer of history holds good of our poet. He is a prophet looking into the past. Were it permissible to hold the mirror up to one of the greatest of our crowned contemporaries, every one would perceive that Shakespeare made out his public notification[58] two hundred years ago. In fact, when we contemplate this great, admirable, and certainly also glorious monarch, a certain strange thrill comes over us, such as we might experience should we in broad daylight meet a form which we had before seen only in nightly dreams. When we saw him eight years ago, riding through the streets bare-headed, humbly greeting all on every side, we thought continually of the passage in which York describes Bolingbroke's entry to London. is cousin, the later Richard II., knew him well, studied him closely, and expressed himself once very accurately :

"Ourself, and Bushy, Bagot here, and Green,
Observed his courtship to the common people :
How he did seem to dive into their hearts,
With humble and familiar courtesy ;
What reverence he did throw away on slaves ;

Wooing poor craftsmen, with the craft of smiles,
And patient underbearing of his fortune,
As 'twere, to banish their effects with him.
Off goes his bonnet to an oyster-wench ;
A brace of draymen bid God speed him well,
And had the tribute of his supple knee,
With Thanks, my countrymen, my loving friends ; :
As were our England in reversion his,
And he our subjects' next degree in hope."[59]

Yes, the likeness is startling. The present Bolingbroke develops himself before our eyes accurately like the one of yore who, after the fall of his royal cousin, mounted the throne, and little, by little made firm his seat a clever, crafty hero, a creeping giant, a Titan of dissimulation, terribly, yes, tremendously calm, the claws in a velvet glove, and while caressing with it and cajoling public opinion, watching his prey far in the distance, and never leaping on it till it is near. May he ever conquer his blustering enemies, and keep peace in his kingdom until the hour of his death, when he may address his son in the words which Shakespeare long ago wrote for him :

" Come hither, Harry, sit thou by my bed ;
And hear, I think, the very latest counsel,
That ever I shall breathe. Heaven knows, my son,
By what by-path?, and indirect crook'd ways,
I met this crown : and I myself know well,
How troublesome it sat upon my head :

To thee it shall descend with better quiet,
Better opinion, better confirmation;
For all the soil of the achievement goes
With me into the earth. It seem'd in me,
But as an honour snatch 'd with boisterous hand;
And I had many living, to upbraid
My gain of it by their assistances;
Which daily grew to quarrel, and to bloodshed,
Wounding supposed peace: all these bold fears,
Thou seest, with peril I have answered :
For all my reign hath been but as a scene
Acting that argument ; and now my death
Changes the mode ; for what in me was purchased,
Falls upon thee in a more fairer sort ;
So thou the garland wear's! successively.
Yet, though thou stanu'st more sure than I could do,
Thou art not firm enough, since griefs are green ;
And all my friends, which thou must make thy friends,
Have but their stings and teeth newly ta'en out ;
By whose fell working I was first advanced,
And by whose power I well might lodge a fear
To be again displaced : which to avoid,
I cut them off ; and had a purpose now
To lead out many to the Holy Land ;
Lest rest, and lying still, mi^ht make them look
Too near unto my state. Therefore, my Harry,
Be it thy course, to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels ; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days.
More would I, but my lungs are wasted so,
That strength of speech is utterly denied me.
How I came by the crown, God, forgive !
And grant it may with thee in true peace live!"[60]



The favour of fair women, like fortune, is a free gift—we receive it without knowing how or why. But there are men who know how to force it with iron will from fate, and these attain their aim either by flattery or inspiring terror in women, by awaking their sympathy, or by artfully giving them opportunities to sacrifice themselves. This last—that is, self-sacrifice—is the favourite part of women in the play of love, for it sets them off so well before the world, and assures them so many raptures of tears and woe when alone.

Lady Anne is impelled by all these forces at once. Words of flattery flow like virgin honey from his terrible lips. Richard flatters her—that same Richard who inspires her with all the horrors of hell—he who has murdered her loved husband, and the paternal friend whose corpse she is accompanying to the grave. He commands the pall-bearers with imperious voice to set down the coffin, and at this moment begins to woo the beautiful sufferer. The lamb sees with dread the gnashing teeth of the wolf—but the terror at once tunes his voice to the sweetest sounds of flattery, and this flattery from a wolf works so prevailingly, so like intoxication on the poor lamb's soul, that every feeling in it is reversed.

And King Richard speaks of his sufferings, of his grief, so that Anne cannot withhold her pity, all the more because this wild being is far from being of a plaintive nature. . . . And this wretched murderer has qualms of conscience speaks of repentance a good woman might perhaps lead him to the better path if she would sacrifice herself for him! And so Anne determines to be Queen of England.



I cherish an insuperable prejudice against this queen, to whom I must, however, ascribe every virtue. As a wife she was a pattern of domestic fidelity. As queen she bore her part with the highest dignity and majesty. As a Christian she was piety itself. But Doctor Samuel Johnson was inspired by her to the most extravagantly soaring laudation. She is, among all Shakespeare's women, his choicest darling ; he speaks of her with tenderness and emotion . . . and that is intolerable. Shakespeare has employed all the might of his genius to glorify her, but all this is in vain when we see that Doctor Johnson, that great pot of porter, falls into sweet rapture at her sight and foams with eulogy. If she had been my wife such praise would have induced me to get a divorce. Perhaps it was not the charms of Anna Bullen which tore the poor king from her, but the enthusiasm with which some Doctor Johnson of the time spoke of the faithful, dignified, and pious Katharine. Did Thomas More, perhaps, who, with all his surpassing excellence was rather pedantic, hide-bound, and indigestible—even as Doctor Johnson was—exalt the queen too much towards heaven? The brave Chancellor, however, paid rather too dearly for his enthusiasm; the king exalted him for it to heaven itself.

I do not really know at which I am most amazed—that Katharine endured her husband for fifteen years, or that he so long put up with her? The king was not only very full of whims, irritable, and in constant contradiction with all his wife's inclinations—that is common enough in marriages, which, however, endure in admirable fashion till death makes an end of all—but the king was also a musician and theologian, and both to perfect wretchedness! I heard not long ago, as a delightful curiosity, a choral composed by him, which was quite as bad as his treatise, De Septem Sacramentis. He certainly did bore his poor wife terribly with his musical compositions and theological authorship. The best in Henry was his feeling for plastic art, and it may be that his worst sympathies and antipathies were due to his predilection for the beautiful. Katharine of Arragon was still attractive in her twenty- fourth year when Henry at eighteen married her, though she was the widow of his brother. But her beauty in all probability did not increase with years, all the more since she, from pious motives, chastised the flesh with flagellation, fasting, vigils, and afflictions sore. Her husband bewailed bitterly these ascetic practices, and truly they would have been a source of desperation to any of us.

And there is something else which strengthens my prejudice against this queen. She was the daughter of Isabella of Castile, and the mother of Bloody Mary. What could come from a tree which grew from such sinful seed, and which bore such evil fruit?

And though we find in history no evidences of her cruelty, still the wild pride of her race breaks out on every opportunity where she will vindicate her rank or press its claims. In spite of her long-practised Christian humility, she bursts into almost heathen wrath when any one offends the etiquette due to her, or refuses her the queenly title. Even to death she retains this unquenchable pride, and Shakespeare himself gives these as her last words

" Embalm me, Then lay me forth : although unqueen'd, yet like A queen, and daughter to a king, inter me. I can no more."[61]



It is generally believed that King Henry's gnawings of conscience for his marriage with Katharine were due to the charms of the beautiful Anne. Even Shakespeare betrays this opinion, and when the new queen appears in the coronation procession he puts these words into the mouth of a young nobleman :

" Heaven bless tliee !
Thou hast the sweetest face I ever look'd on.
Sir, as I have a soul, she is an angel ;
Our king has all the Indies in his arms,
And more, and richer, when he strains that lady ;
I cannot blame his conscience."[62]

The poet also gives us an idea of the beauty of Anne Bullen in the next scene, where he depicts the enthusiasm which her appearance at the coronation produced.

How deeply Shakespeare was devoted to his sovereign, the stately Elizabeth, shows itself perhaps most beautifully in the precision of detail with which he represents the coronation of her mother. All of these details gave colour and sanction to the royal rights of the daughter, and the poet well knew how to make the contested legitimacy of his queen clear to the entire public. And this queen deserved such zealous attachment. She thought it no sacrifice of queenly dignity when she authorised the poet to present on the stage with absolute impartiality all her ancestors and even her own father. And it was not only as a queen but as a woman that she proved she would never encroach on the rights of poetry, and as she had granted our poet the greatest liberty of speech in political matters, so she permitted him the boldest expression as to the relations of the sexes. She was not shocked at the most reckless jests of a healthy sensuality, and she, "the maiden queen," the royal virgin, even requested that Sir John Falstaff should show himself as a lover. To her smiling nod[63] we owe the Merry Wives of Windsor.

Shakespeare could not have brought his English historical dramas to a better conclusion than by having the new-born infant, Elizabeth, carried over the stage the glorious future of England in swaddling-clothes.

But did Shakespeare really depict to the life Henry VIII., the father of his queen? Yes, for though he did not set forth the truth so vigorously, or in such harsh utterances as in his other dramas, he did at least present it fairly and honestly, and the subdued tone only makes the shadows more impressive. This Henry VIII. was the worst of all kings, for while other evil princes only raged against their foes, he was furious at his friends, and his love was even more dangerous than his hatred. The matrimonial history of this royal Bluebeard is horrible. And with all its horrors he mingled a certain imbecile and cruel gallantry. When he ordered the execution of Anne Bullen he sent her word that he had provided for it the best headsman in all England. The Queen thanked him obsequiously for such a delicate attention, and in her trifling, merry manner, spanned her throat with both hands and said, "It will be easy to behead me, for I have but a little neck!"

Nor is the axe with which she was decapitated a very large one. It was shown me in the armoury of the Tower, and as I held it in my hands a strange thought struck me.

"If I were Queen of England, I would have that axe sunk in the depths of the sea."

LADY MACBETH. [MACBETH.] I TURN from the authentic historical drama to those tragedies whose plots are either purely invented or else drawn from old legends and romances. Macbeth forms a transition to such poems, in which the genius of the great Shake- speare spreads its wings most freely and boldly. The substance of it is taken from an old legend, it does not belong to history, and yet the drama makes some demand on historical faith, because the ancestor of the royal house of England played a part in it. For Macbeth was first played before James I., who, as is well known, descended from the Scottish Banquo. In this relation the poet has interwoven several prophecies in honour of the reigning dynasty. Macbeth is a favourite subject with critics, who here find opportunity enough to set forth in widest opposition their views as to the antique fatalistic tragedies in comparison with concep- tion of fate by modern tragedians. On this sub- ject I will make merely a fleeting remark. Shakespeare's idea of destiny differs from that of the ancients, just as the prophetic sorceresses who in the Norse legend meet Macbeth promising sovereignty, differ from the witch-sisterhood which appears in Shakespeare's tragedy. Those wondrous women in the Northern tale are plainly Valkyries, terrible divinities of the air, who, sweeping over battle-fields, determine victory or defeat, and who are to be regarded as the true directresses of human destiny, the last, in the warlike North, being dependent on the issue of battle. Shakespeare changed these into mischief- making witches, stripped them of all the terrible grace and chartn of Northern enchantment, made of them hybrid half-women who practise tremen- dous ghostly delusions, and brew destruction from malicious mischief or at the bidding of hell. They are servants of the evil one, and he who is be- fooled by their sayings goes body and soul to destruction. Shakespeare has therefore trans- lated the old heathenish deities of fate and their dignified magic blessing into Christian, and the ruin of his hero is therefore not a predetermined necessity, or something absolutely and sternly unavoidable, as in the ancient fate, but the result of those allurements of hell which cast their nets around the human heart. Macbeth succumbs to Satan, the prime evil. 1 It is interesting to compare the witches of Shakespeare with those of other English poets. We observe that Shakespeare after all could not 1 Dem Urbosen. free himself from the old heathen view, and hia magic sisters are far more strikingly grand and respectable than those of Middleton, who show far more a meanly malicious, beggarly nature, who practise smaller and more spiteful tricks, who vex the body but have far less power over the soul, and at their utmost can only crust our hearts over with envy, spite, lust, or wantonness, or similar skin eruptions on the heart.

The notoriety of Lady Macbeth, who for two centuries passed for a very bad character, about twelve years ago in Germany took a turn in her favour. The pious Franz Horn—videlicet—made the remark in the "Conversations-Lexicon of Brockhaus" that the poor lady had been quite misunderstood, that she was devotedly attached to her husband, and, above all, was really a remarkably amiable person. Herr Ludwig Tieck soon after supported this view with all his science, erudition, and philosophical depth, so that it was not long before we saw Madame Stich on the royal court stage, cooing and turtle-doveing so feelingly, that every heart in Berlin was touched by such tones of tenderness, and many a lovely eye was moved to tears at the sight of that dear sweet Macbeth.[64] This happened, as I said, twelve years ago, in the soft times of the Restoration when we all had so much love in our hearts. Since then there has been a great bankruptcy, and if we do not now allot to many crowned personages the transcendent love which they de- serve, those people are to blame who, like the Queen of Scotland in the period of the Kestora- tion, made utter booty of our hearts. Whether men still defend in Germany the amiability of this lady, I do not know. Since the revolution of July many views of many things have greatly changed, and it may be that even in Berlin they have learned to perceive that that dear nice Lady Macbeth may be an awfully horrid beast, don'cher know. 1 In this paper our author has a little too authori- tatively, though very ingeniously, set forth a theory of Macbeth, which will hardly bear examination. That the weird sisters were derived from the Valkyries, is just possible. But at a very early time there were, in the North, variations on these, down to witches of the vulgar devilish sort, and all the accounts which were current in Shakespeare's time represent these of Macbeth as being of the latter kind, and as deliberately deceiving and leading him to deadly ruin. That this was so under- stood in the sixteenth century is absolutely shown by the fact that Grosius, in his Magica sen mirabilium Historiarum de Spedris et variis Proestigiis et Impos- 1 Das die jute Macbeth eine sehr lese Ecslie sint. Iposturis malorum Dœmonum (1597), gives under the heading of "Prophecies of devils or evil spirits," the following from Cardanus' De Rerum Varietate, lib. 16, cap. 93:—

"Machabæus (i.e., Macbeth) was in fear, being warned by soothsayers. And a prophetess—fatidica mulier—foretold that he would not be slain by a hand born of woman, nor conquered till the wood of Birnen should come to the fortress of Donusin nam, not far from where he was. Yet before he was conquered the wood of Birnen came thither, being cut down and carried, so that it surrounded the fortress. And he was finally slain by Magduffus, who was not born but cut from his mother's belly."

Cardanus took the story from Hector Boethius, who simply states that the prophecy was uttered by three women with unusual faces—tres mulieres insolda faciæ. Boethius, who was Shakespeare's authority, evidently regarded them as common witches. The same Boethius (Lib. 2, Hist. Scotorum) tells us that Duffus, King of the Scots, had a mistress—cujus mater veneftca erat—whose mother was a poisoning or malicious witch, that is, of the lowest and vilest type. There are a hundred stories in the Norse sagas and chronicles which plainly show that Shakespeare had much more reason to make his prophetesses vulgar witches than Valkyries. And it is certainly absurd to accuse him of stripping from certain characters a furchtbaren Grazie, or terrible grace, which he certainly did not find in his originals. So far from degrading these originals, the poet actually elevated them, by bestowing that terrible grace, and refining them above the witches of his own time.—Translator.

OPHELIA. [HAMLET.] THIS is the poor Ophelia whom Hamlet the Dane loved. She was a beautiful blonde girl, and there was especially in her speech a magic which touched my heart, most of all when I would journey to Wittenberg, and went to her father to bid him farewell. The old lord was so kind as to give me on the way all the good counsels of which he himself made so little use, and at last called Ophelia to give us the parting cup. When the dear girl modestly and gently approached me with the salver, and raised her gleaming eyes to mine, in my distraction I grasped an empty instead of a full cup. She laughed at my mis- take. Her smile was so wondrous gleaming, and there stole over her lips that intoxicating, melt- ing softness which doubtless came from the kiss- fairies who lurked in the dimples of the mouth. When I returned from Wittenberg, and the smile of Ophelia gleamed on me again, I forgot all the crafty casuistry of the scholastics, and my deep researches were only on the charming ques- tion : " What does this smile set forth what is the inner meaning of that voice with its mysterious deeply yearning flute-tones? Whence do those eyes derive their blessed rays ? Is it a gleam of heaven, or is heaven but the reflect of those eyes? Is that sweet smile in concord with the silent music of the spheres in their unending dance, or is it but the earthly signature 1 of the most super-sensual harmony ? " One day while we wandered in the castle garden of Helsingor, tenderly jesting and wooing, our hearts in the full bloom of hopeful love, it will ever live in my memory how beggarly the song of the nightingales contrasted with the heavenly breathing voice of Ophelia, and how flat and poor the flowers seemed with their variegated faces without smiles, when I by chance compared them with her excelling- sweet mouth. And the fair slender form like wandering grace swept around and near me all as in a dream ! Ah ! that is the curse of weak mortals, that they ever, when a great mischance occurs, vent their ill temper on the best and dearest. And so poor Hamlet, with his reason that glorious jewel flawed, cast himself by a feigned aberration of mind into the most terrible abyss of real madness, and tortured his poor love with scornful jeers. Poor child ! All that was wanting was that the beloved should take her father for a rat and stab 1 Signature, mystical correspondence of the thing created to its archseus or archetypal creator e.g., Siynatura Rerum, of S wedenborg. Tra nslator. him dead. Then she must of course go mad. But her madness is not so black and gloomily brooding as that of Hamlet, since it deludes, soothing with sweet songs her poor distracted head. Her soft voice melts away in music, and flowers, and still more flowers, entwine themselves in all her thoughts. She sings while plaiting wreaths to deck her brow, and smiles with gleam- ing smiles alas, poor child ! Laer. Drown'd ! 0, where ? Queen. There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook, That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream ; Therewith fantastic garlands did she make Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies" and long purples, That liberal shepherds give a grosser name, But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them : There on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke ; When down her weedy trophies, and herself, Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide ; And, mermaid -like, a while they bore her up : Which time, she chanted snatches of old tunes ; As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued Unto that element : but long it could not be Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death." * Yet why should I tell you this sad history ? You all knew it from your childhood, and have 1 Hamlet, act iv. sc. 7. 362 SHAKESPEARE'S MAIDENS AND WOMEN. wept often enough over the old tragedy of Hamlet the Dane, who loved the fair Ophelia far more than a thousand brothers could, with all their united love, and who went mad because the ghost of his father appeared to him, and because the world was out of its course and he felt himself too weak to set it straight, and because he in German Wittenberg had from too much thinking for- gotten practical business, and because he had the choice to go mad or do something desperate and finally because he, as a mortal man, had above all things in himself a strong tendency to madness. We know Hamlet as well as we do our own face, which we so often see in the mirror, and yet which is far less known to us than one would think; for if we were to meet any one in the street who looked exactly like ourselves, we would gaze at the startling, strange, familiar face only instinctively, and with a secret dread, without remarking that it is our features which we have just seen. CORDELIA. [KIXG LEAR.] THERE are in this play," says an English author, " man-traps and spring-guns for the reader." Another remarks that this tragedy is a labyrinth in which the commentator may go astray and be in danger of death from the Minotaur who lurks therein, therefore he should only use the critical scalpel in self-defence. And as it is indeed always a delicate and doubtful task to criticise Shakespeare, from whose words the sharpest criticism of our own thoughts and deeds laughs out, so it is almost impossible to judge him in this tragedy, where his genius leaped and climbed to the giddiest height. I dare venture no further than the gate of this marvellous mansion, only to the introduction, which of itself awakens our astonishment. The introductions in Shakespeare's tragedies are in- deed worthy of all wonder and admiration. In these first scenes we are at once rapt out of our work-day feelings and business thoughts, and transported to the midst of the vast events with which the poet will convulse and purify our souls. So the tragedy of Macbeth begins with the meet- ing of the witches, and their weird sayings subdue not only the heart of the Scottish war-chief, who appears intoxicated with victory, but also the hearts of us the spectators, so that we are bound fast till all is fulfilled and ended. As in, Macbeth the desolate, sense-and-soul-benumbing horror of the bloody world of magic at once seizes on us, so we are frozen by the awe of the pale realm of shadows in the scene of Hamlet, and we cannot free ourselves from the spectral feelings of the night, or from the nightmare pressure of the uncanny gloomy dread, till all is accomplished, and till the air of Denmark, which was redolent of human corruption, is once again made pure. In the first scenes of Lear we are in like manner directly drawn into the strange destinies which are announced, unfolded, and ended before our eyes. The poet here gives us a drama which is more appalling than all the horrors of the world of magic and the realm of ghosts; for he shows us human passion breaking all the bounds of reason, and raging forth in the royal majesty of a monarch's madness vieing with stormy nature in her wildest commotion. But I believe that here there is an end to the immense power, the wondrous play of will, with which Shakespeare ever masters his material. Here his own genius bears him away, and sways him far more than in Macbeth and Hamlet, where he, with perfectly artistic self-possession, depicts the darkest shadows of the night of the soul mingled with the rosiest gleams of wit, and the brightest and most cheer- ful still-life by the wildest deeds. Yes, in the tragedy of Macbeth a soft and soothing nature smiles on us ; to the turrets of the towers of the castle where the bloodiest deed is done cleave quiefswallows' nests; a cheerful Scottish summer air, not too warm or cool, blows through the whole play ; everywhere there are beautiful trees and green foliage, and at the end an entire forest comes marching in, when Birnam wood doth come to Dunsinane. In Hamlet also the loveli- ness of nature contrasts with the heat of the action ; though it may be black night in the heart of the hero, the sun rises not less beauti- fully in morning red, and Polonius is an amusing fool, and comedies are calmly played, and pooi Ophelia sits among green trees, and with pretty motley posies binds her wreath. But in Lear no such contrasts prevail between the action and nature, and the unbridled elements howl and storm in emulation with the mad king. Does a moral event of most unusual kind also act on the so-called soulless nature ? Is there indeed between this and the mind of man au external visible relationship ? Had our poet ever experienced this, and did he strive to depict it ? With the first scene of this tragedy we are, as I have said, put at once into the midst of events ; and clear as the sky may be, a sharp eye can foresee the coming storm. There is a little cloud already in the intellect of Lear, which will thicken anon to the blackest mental night. He who in, such fashion gives all away, must be already mad. We learn perfectly the spirit of the hero, and the character of the daughter, even in the first act, 366 SHAKESPEARE'S MAIDENS AND WOMEN. and we are deeply moved by the mute tenderness of Cordelia, the modern Antigone, who in depth of soul and feeling surpasses her antique sister. Yes, she is a pure soul, as the king first sees when he is mad. Quite pure ? I believe that she is a little self-willed, and this small spot is a birth-mark from the father. But true love is very modest, and hates all cram of words ; she can only weep and bleed. The sad bitterness with which Cordelia plays upon the hypocrisy of her sisters is of the most delicate kind, and has all the char- acter of that irony which the Master of all Love, the hero of the gospel, sometimes employed. Her soul relieves itself of the j ustest indignation, and displays all her nobility in the words : " Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters, To love my father all." l JULIA. [ROMEO AND JULIET.] EVERY Shakespearean play has its peculiar climate, its own time of year, and its local attributes. And like the characters in every one of these dramas, so have the soil and sky their own marked physiognomy. Here, in Romeo and Julia, 2 we 1 King Lear, act i. sc. I. 2 Heine nives this name as Julie, Shakespeare as Juliet. JULIA. 367 have crossed the Alps, and find ourselves in that fair garden called Italia : " Know'st thou the country where the lemon blows, And in dark leaves the golden orange glows 1 " It is sunny Verona which Shakespeare has chosen for the stage of the great deeds of love which he has glorified in Romeo and Julia. Yes, it is not this loving pair, but Love himself, who takes the leading part in this drama. Here we see love rising in youthful daring, defying all opposing circumstance, and all conquering. For he fears not in the great battle to take refuge with his most terrible, yet truest ally, Death. Love hand in hand with death is invincible. Love! It is the highest and most victorious of all passions. But its world-subduing strength lies in its illimi- table grandeur of soul, its almost supernatural unselfishness, in its unsacrificing scorn of life. There is for it no yesterday, and it thinks of no to-morrow. It asks only for to-day, but asks for it all in full and free from care untroubled, un- diminished. It will save nothing up for future time, and scorns the warmed-up leavings of the past. " Night be before me and the night behind." It is a wandering flame between two darknesses. Whence came it ? From an infinitely petty spark. How will it end ? Without a trace, and unin- telligibly. The wilder it burns the sooner it ia quenched. But that does not hinder it when it has once given itself up to the flaring impulse, as if the fire would last for ever. Ah, when one feels for the second time in life the great glow, unfortunately the faith in its eternal durance fails, and the bitterest recollec- tion whispers to us that this in the end, too, will devour itself. Hence the difference in melancholy in the first love and in the second. In the first, we think that our passion can only end tragically by death, and indeed when the opposing threaten- ing difficulties are invincible we easily make up our minds to hurry with the loved one to the grave. On the contrary, in a second love we know that our wildest and noblest feelings will turn with time into a tender tameness, and that we shall yet regard with calm indifference the eyes, the lips, the limbs which now inspire us so wildly. Ah, this thought is more melancholy than that of death. For it is a sad comfortless feeling when we in the glow of intoxication think of future sobriety and coolness, and know from experience that the highly poetic heroic passion must have such a pitifully prosaic end ! These highly poetic heroic passions ! How the princesses of the theatre bear themselves, and warmly rouged, splendidly dressed, laden with flashing gems, walk proudly o'er the scene de- claiming in measured iambics. But when the curtain falls the poor princess once more puts on her common clothes, washes the rouge from her cheeks, hands over her adornments to the one who has care of the costumes, and dangling slovenly she hangs on the arm of the first best young third-rate legal official l who may come along, talks bad Berlin German, climbs with him up to a garret, and yawns, stretching herself out, hardly heeding the sweet assurance that Sie spielten jettlich, auf Ehre ! "You played divinely you just did 'pon honour ! " I do not venture to find the least fault with Shakespeare, and would only express my wonder that he makes Romeo feel a passion for Rosalind before he brings him to Julia. Though he gives himself up utterly to this second love, there still nestles in his heart a certain scepticism, which makes itself known in ironical expressions, and often reminds us of Hamlet. Or is the second love the strongest in the man because it is coupled with clear self -consciousness ? With woman there is no second love, her nature is too tender to suffer her to survive a second time the most terrible earthquake of feeling. Look at Julia! Is she able to twice endure the 1 Und schlotlernd hangt sie sick an dcm Arm dcs ersten besten Stadtyerichtsrcfcrendarii. This portentous name is ap- plied to a lawyer without salary attached to the municipal administration of justice ; naturally a man of limited means. 2 A transcendent raptures and terrors, and, defying all anguish, empty again the dreadful cup. I believe she had quite enough of it the first time, the poor blest creature, this pure sacrifice of the great passion. Julia loves for the first time, and loves with the full healthiness of love and soul. She is fourteen years old, which in Italy means as much as seventeen by the Northern standard. She is a rosebud which is kissed before our eyes by Romeo's lips, and which blossoms out in youthful fulness and beauty. She has not learned what love is from worldly or religious books, the sun has told it to her and the moon repeated it, and her heart re-echoed it when she by night believed herself to be alone. But Romeo stood beneath the balcony and heard it all, and took her at her word. The character of her love is truth and earnestness. The maid breathes honesty and truth, and it is touching to the heart when she speaks thus : "Jul. Thou know'st the mask of night is on my face ; Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek, For that which thou hast heard me speak to-night. Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny What I have spoke ; but farewell compliment ! Dost love me ? I know, thou wilt say Ay ; And I will take thy word : yet, if thou swear's! Thou mayst prove false ; at lovers' perjuries, They say, Jove laughs. gentle Romeo, If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully : Or if thou think'st I am too quickly won, I'll frown and be perverse, and say thee nay, So thou wilt woo ; but, else, not for the world. In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond ; And therefore thou mayst think my haviour light : But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true Than those that have more cunning to be strange. I should have been more strange, I must confess, But that thou overheard'st, ere I was ware, My true love's passion : therefore pardon me ; And not impute this yielding to light love, Which the dark night hath so discovered." l In this paper there is a great relapse from excellence, so much so that it may be almost classed as a pure piece de manufacture. The remarks on first love are merely a repetition of commonplaces which have been better uttered "many a time and oft" by others, and the actress princess, with her rouge and third-class lover, and Berlin dialect, is a careless repetition of the same simile, in almost the same words, in the comment on Constance. Heine assumes in these remarks that all men have their full mental development at the time of their first love, and that it is the same tremendous and overwhelming phase of passion in all, whereas in most cases it is true that no man ever became a fully developed lover, any more than a fully fledged criminal, all at once. For the development even of a critical taste in food and wines is a matter of education and 1 Romeo and Juliet, act ii. so. 2. experience, and love, like every passion, is guided, though it may not be created, by culture, on which view Heine himself could have written congenially, genially, and ingeniously, had his heart been, like the Irish poet's, " in his pen." Shakespeare has shown in every utterance which he has given to lovers the fullest conviction that the greatest love occurs where highly cultivated intellect combines with passion and of this idea there is not a trace in the present remarks of Heine. Heine ex- presses astonishment that Shakespeare makes Romeo first feel a passion for Rosalind, because he had not learned that the poet wished to show that in a man "who is like Hamlet " passion and culture go hand in hand and advance. And though this is less the case with women, yet in Cleopatra love's strongest passion is its last. DESDEMONA. [OTHELLO.] I HAVE incidentally remarked in the foregoing paper that the character of Romeo has in it something of Hamlet. In fact, a Northern serious earnestness casts its side-shadows on this glowing mind. And if we compare Julia with Desdemona, the same Northern element appears in all the power of her passion ; she is always self-conscious, and in clearest self- consciousness mistress of her deeds. Julia loves and thinks and acts Des- demona loves, feels and obeys not her own will, but the stronger impulse. Her admirable excel- lence lies in this, that the bad can in no respect act on her noble nature like the good. She would certainly have remained in the palazzo of her father, a modest child fulfilling household duties ; but the voice of the Moor was heard, and though she looked down she saw his countenance in his words, in his stories of his life, or, as she says, in his soul, and this suffering, magnanimous, beautiful white face of the soul wrought on her heart with irresistibly attracting magic. Yes, her father, the dignified and wise Brabantio, was quite in the right ; she was so bound in chains of magic that the timid, tender child felt herself drawn to the Moor, and had no fear of the hideous black mask which the multitude regarded as the face of Othello. Julia's love is active, that of Desdemona passive. She is the sunflower, herself uncon- scious that her head is ever turned toward the high star of day. She is a true daughter of the South tender, sensitive, patient, like those slen- der, great-eyed lights of women who beam so lovingly, so softly and dreamily, from the Sanscrit poems or plays. She ever reminds me of the Sakuntala of Kalidasa, the Indian Shakesj/eare. The English engraver to whom we are indebted for the present picture of Desdemona has given to her great eyes a somewhat too strong expres- sion of passion. But I believe that I have already remarked that the contrast between face and char- acter always has its peculiar charm. In any case this face is very fair, and it must specially please the writer of these pages that it recalls that noble and beautiful woman who, thank God ! never found any deep defect in his own face, and who as yet has only seen it in his soul. . " Othello. Her father loved me ; oft invited me ; Still questiou'd me the story of my life, From year to year ; the battles, sieges, fortunes, That I have pass'd. I ran it through, even from my boyish days, To the very moment that he bade me tell it. Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances, Of moving accidents, by flood and field ; Of hair-breadth 'scapes i' the imminent deadly breach ; Of being taken by the insolent foe, And sold to slavery ; of my redemption thence, And portance in my travel's history : Wherein of antres vast, and deserts idle, Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven, It was my hint to speak, such was the process ; And of the Cannibals that each other eat, The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders. These things to hear. Would Desderaona seriously incline : But still the house affairs would draw her thence ; Which ever as she could with haste despatch, DESDEMONA. 375 She'd come again, and with a greedy ear Devour up my discourse : Which 1 observing, Took once a pliant hour ; and found good means To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart, That I would all my pilgrimage dilate, Whereof by parcels she had something heard, But not intentively : I did consent ; And often did beguile her of her tears, When I did speak of some distressful stroke, That my youth suffer'd. My story being done, She gave me for my pains a world of sighs : She swore, In faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange ; 'Twas pitiful, 'tvas wondrous pitiful : She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd That Heaven had made her such a man : she thank'd me, And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her, I should but teach him how to tell my story, And that would woo her. Upon this hint, I spake ; She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd ; And I loved her, that she did pity them. This only is the witchcraft I have used ; Here comes the lady, let her witness it." 1 This tragedy is believed to be the last work of Shakespeare, as Titus Andronicus was the first. In both the love of a fair lady for an ugly negro is treated with predilection. The man matured, returned to the problem which had busied his youth. Has he here found the solution of it? Is this solution as true as it is beautiful? A gloomy grieving seizes me when I give place to 1 Othello, act i. sc. 3. the thought that the honourable lago, with his evil comments on the love of Desdemona for the Moor, is not all in the wrong. Most repulsive of all to me are Othello's remarks on the damp hand of his wife. There is just such a marvellous and significant example of love for a negro, such as we see in Titus Andronicus and Othello, in the " Arabian Nights' Entertainments," where a beautiful prin- cess, who is also a sorceress, keeps her husband bound in a statue-like immovability, and beats him daily with rods because he slew her negro lover. Heartrending are the wails of the princess over the bier of the black corpse, which she by her magic art keeps in a kind of apparent life and covers with the kisses of despair, and which sho would fain, by the greater magic of love, wake from its twilight-dimmering half death to the full truth of life. Even as a boy I was struck in reading the Arabian tale with this picture of passionate and incomprehensible love. 1 1 There are among the legends of the peasants in the Romagna Toscana two which strangely recall this comment. One is of a lady who becomes enceinte by merely looking at a black or Moorish wizard, the other is of a young girl who keeps under her bed in a chest the petrified body of her dead lover, which she every night " covers with the kisses of despair," aa Heine describes it Translator. JESSICA. [THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.] WHEN I saw this piece played in Drury Lane there stood behind me in the box a pale British beauty who, at the end of the fourth act, wept passionately, and many times cried out, "The poor man is wronged ! " It was a countenance of noblest Grecian cut, and the eyes were large and black. I have never been able to forget them, those great black eyes which wept for Shylock ! When I think of those tears I must include the Merchant of Venice among the tragedies, although the frame of the work is a composition of laughing masks and sunny faces, satyr forms and amorets, as though the poet meant to make a comedy. Shakespeare perhaps intended originally to please the mob, to represent a thorough going wehr-wolf, a hated fabulous being who yearns for blood, and pays for it with daughter and with ducats, and is over and above laughed to scorn. But the genius of the poet, the spirit of the wide world which ruled in him, was ever stronger than his own will, and so it came to pass that he in Shylock, despite the glaring grotesqueness, expressed the justifica- tion of an unfortunate sect which was oppressed by providence, from inscrutable motives, with the hatred of the lower and higher class, and which did not always return this hate with love. 1 But what do I say ? The genius of Shakespeare rises still higher over the petty strife of two re- ligious sects, and his drama shows us neither Jews nor Christians, but oppressors and oppressed, and the madly agonised cries of exultation of the latter when they can repay their arrears of injuries with interest. There is not in this play the least trace of difference in religion, and Shakespeare sets forth in Shylock a man whom nature bade hate his enemies, just as he in Antonio and his friends by no means expresses the disciples of that divine doctrine which commands us to love our enemies. When Shylock says to the man who would borrow money of him : " Signer Antonio, many a time and oft, In the Biulto, you have rated me About my monies and my usances : Still have I borne it with a patient shrug ; 1 This assertion that Shakespeare meant to make a wild beast of Shylock, but was compelled nolens rolcns by his better nature to depict him as "the only decent man in the play," recalls the fact that when the German army entered Paris there was a small part of the city to which the invaders did not penetrate. On which the local press declared that the barbarian foe, struck by the moral grandeur of the French, had not dared to advance further. It is probable, if not certain, that Shakespeare knew what he meant to write quite as well as any critic of the present day, or even Heine. For su {Trance is the badge of all our tribe : You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, And all for use of that which is mine own. Well, then, it now appears you need my help : Go to, then ; you come to me, and you say,

  • Shylock, we would have monies : ' you say so ;

You, that did void your rheum upon my beard, And foot me, as you spurn a stranger cur Over your threshold : monies is your suit. What should I say to you ] Should I not say 1 Hath a dog money ? Is it possible, A cur can lend three thousand ducats ?' or Shall I bend low, and in a bondman's key, With 'bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness, Say this, ' Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last ; You spurn'd me such a day ; another time You call'd me dog ; and for these courtesies I'll lend you thus much monies I'" 1 To which Antonio replies : " I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too." Where is the Christian love in this? Truly Shakespeare would have written a satire against Christianity if he had made it consist of those characters who are the enemies of Shylock, but who are hardly worthy to unlace his shoes. The bankrupt Antonio is a weak creature without energy, without strength of hatred, and as little 1 Merchant of Venice, act i. sc. 3. of love, a melancholy worm-heart whose flesh ia really worth nothing save "to bait fish withal." He does not repay the swindled Jew the three thousand ducats. Nor does Bassanio repay him this man is, as an English critic calls him, a real fortune-hunter ; he borrows money to make a dis- play so as to win a rich wife and a fat bridal portion, for as he says to his friend : " 'Tis not unknown to yon, Antonio, How much I have disabled mine estate, By something showing a more swelling port Than my faint means would grant continuance : Nor do I now make moan to be abridg'd From such a noble rate ; but my chief care Is, to come fairly off from the great debts, Wherein my time, something too prodigal, Hath left me gag'd. To you, Antonio, I owe the most, in money and in love ; And from your love I have a warranty To unburihen all my plots and purposes, How to get clear of all the debts I owe." 1 As for Lorenzo, he is the accomplice of a most infamous theft, and according to the laws of Prussia he would have been branded, set in the pillory, and condemned to fifteen years' imprison- ment, notwithstanding his susceptibility to the beauties of nature, landscapes by moonlight, and music. As for the other noble Venetians who appear as allies of Antonio, they do not seem to have 1 Merchant of Venice, act i. sc. I. any special antipathy to money, and when their poor friend is in difficulties they have nothing for him but words or minted air. Our good pious friend Franz Horn here makes the following very thin and watery, but still quite correct, remark : " Here it is but fair to inquire : How is it possible that Antonio's misfortune went so far? All Venice knew and esteemed him, his excellent acquaintances knew all about 1 the terrible bond, and also that the Jew would not abate so much as a point of punctuation from it. Yet they let one day pass after another, till at last the three months expired, and with them every hope of rescue. Surely it would have been an easy thing for those good friends, of whom the royal merchant had a multitude, to raise three thousand ducats to save a human life and such a life ! but such a thing is always rather inconvenient, and so the dear good friends, because they are only so-called friends, or half or three-quarter friends, do nothing, nothing still and naught again. They pity the excellent merchant who formerly gave them such fine feasts ; scold terribly with all their hearts and tongues, though only at fitting opportunity, at Shylock, a thing incurring no danger, and then think they have done all that friendship requires. Much as we must hate Shylock we can hardly take it amiss of him that he despises this folk a little, as he well may do. Indeed he seems to confuse even Gratiano, who is excused by his absence, in one and the same class, when he dismisses sum- marily the previous lack of deeds and present fulness of words with the remark : " Till thou canst rail the seal from off my bond, Thou but oflend'st thy lungs to speak so loud : Repair thy wit, good youth, or it will fall To cureless ruin. I stand here for law." 1 Or is, perhaps, Launcelot Gobbo here the repre- sentative of Christianity ? Singularly enough, Shakespeare has nowhere expressed himself so clearly as to this, as in the dialogue which this rogue holds with his mistress. To Jessica's as- sertion " I shall be saved by my husband ; he hath made me a Christian." Launcelot Gobbo replies " Truly, the more to blame he : we were Christians enow before ; e'en as many as could well live, one by another. This making of Christians will raise the price of hogs : if we grow all to be pork-eaters, we shall not shortly have a rasher on the coals for money." 2 In fact, with the exception of Portia, Shylock is the most respectable person in the whole piece. He loves money, he does not conceal it he cries it aloud in the public market-place. But there is one thing which he esteems above money, it 1 Merchant of Venice, act iv. sc. I. a Ibid., act Hi sc. 5. is satisfaction for his injured feelings the just retribution for unspeakable insults ; and though the borrowed sum be offered him tenfold he refuses it, and he does not regret the three thousand, or ten times three thousand, ducats if he can buy a pound of the flesh of the heart of his enemy. " Thou wilt not take his flesh : what's that good for ? " asks Salarino. And he replies : "To bait fish witlial : if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me of half a million ; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies ; and what's his reason 1 I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes ? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions ? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is ? if you prick us, do we not bleed 1 if you tickle us, do we not laugh ? if you poison us, do we not die ? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge ? if we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility ? revenge : if a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his suffrance be by Christian example ? why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute ; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." J No, Shylock loves money, but there are things which he loves more, among others his daughter, 1 Merchant of Venice, act iii. sc. I. "Jessica, my child." Though he curses her in the greatest passion of wrath, and would fain see her dead at his feet, with the jewels in her ears and with the ducats in her coffin, he still loves her more than all ducats and jewels. Excluded from public life and Christian society, and forced into the narrow consolation of domestic happi- ness, there remain to the poor Jew only family feelings, and these come forth from him with the most touching tenderness. The turquoise, the ring which his wife Leah once gave him, he would not exchange for " a wilderness of monkeys." When in the judgment scene Bassanio speaks thus to Antonio :

    • Antonio, I am married to a wife

Which is as clear to me as life itself ; But life itself, my wife, and all the world, Are not with me esteem'd above thy life : I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all Here to this devil, to deliver you." To which Gratiano adds : " I have a wife, whom, I protest, I love : I would she were in heaven, so she could Entreat some power to change this currish Jew." l Then there awakes in Shy lock a dreadful appre- hension as to the fate of his daughter, married 1 Merchant of Venice, act iv. sc. I. among men who will sacrifice their wives for their friends, and aside, not aloud, he says to himself: " These be the Christian husbands ! I have a daughter ; Would any of the stock of Burrabas Had been her husband, rather than a Christian I" 1 This passage this casual word is the basis of the condemnation which we must pronounce of the fair Jessica. It was not an unloving father whom she robbed and abandoned. Shameful deceit ! She even makes common cause with the enemies of Shy lock, and when they at Belmont say all manner of evil things of him, Jessica does not cast down her eyes, nor do her lips grow white no, Jessica herself says the worst things of her father. Atrocious wickedness ! She has no feeling, only a love of what is remarkable and romantic. She is wearied and ennuyfo in the closely shut " honourable " house of the stern and bitter Jew, which at last appears to her to be a hell. Her frivolous heart was all too easily attracted by the lively notes of the drum, and the wry-necked fife. Did Shakespeare here mean to sketch a Jewess ? Indeed no ; what he depicts is only a daughter of Eve, one of those beautiful birds, who, when they are fledged, fly away from the paternal nest to the beloved man. So Desde- 1 Merchant of, act iv. sc. i. 2 B mona followed the Moor, so Imogene Postbomuk That is woman's way. We may remark in Jessica a certain timid shame which she cannot over- come when she must put on a boy's dress. It may be that in this we recognise the remarkable chastity which is peculiar 1 to her race, and which gives its daughters such a wonderfully lovely charm. The chastity of the Jews is perhaps the result of an opposition which they always main- tained against that Oriental religion of sense and sensuality which once nourished among their neighbours the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Assyrians, and Babylonians in rankest luxuriance, and which in continual transformation has survived to the present day. 1 The Jews are a chaste, temperate, I might say an abstract race, and in purity of morals they are most nearly allied to the Ger- manic races. The chastity of the women among Jews and Germans is perhaps of no real value in itself, but its manifestation makes the most 1 Eigcn, own, proper. Eiycns, particularly, especially. a Of all which charming chastity and opposition to sensual worship, Heine elsewhere in many places expresses a very sin- cere detestation ; as, for instance, in the " Rabbi of Bacharach," where he unquestionably portrays himself as the Spanish Jew, and declares that if he had lived of old in Judea he would have skipped over some fine morning to jolly Babylon. As he cer- tainly would have done. And it may be also remarked, as regards the next sentence, that it is hardly consistent to declare that anything can be in itself worthless and yet always produce marvellous results ! Translator. fascinating, charmingly sweet, and deeply moving impression. It is touching even to tears when we read that after the defeat of the Cimbri and Teutones, the women begged Marius not to give them over to the soldiery, but to make them slaves in the temple of Vesta. It is indeed wonderful what a deep elective affinity prevails between both races, Jews and Germans. This chosen alliance did not originate in a historical course, because the great family chronicle of the Jews, or the Bible, was used by the whole Germanic world, nor because both races were from early times foes to the Romans, and were thereby naturally allies; it has a deeper ground, the two being so much alike that one might regard primaeval Palestine as an Oriental Germany, just as one might regard the Germany of to-day as the home of the Holy Word, for the mother-soil of prophetdom, for the citadel of the Holy Spirit. 1 But it is not Germany alone which bears the physiognomy of Palestine; all Europe raises itself to the Jews. I say raises itself, because in the beginning the Jews had the modern principle in themselves which is at the present day developing itself for the first time. Greeks and Romans held as if inspired to their native soil to the Fatherland. The later 1 Gcistkeit, spirit-hood, spirituality. Northern immigrants to the Greece-Roman world were attached to the persons of their chiefs, and instead of antique patriotism the Middle Ages witnessed the faith of vassals and loyalty to princes. But the Jews always held to and reverenced that Law or an abstract conception, like our new cosmopolite republicans, who care neither for the country of their birth nor the .persons of princes, but regard laws as leading principles or the highest. Yes, cosmopolitanism sprung from the land of Judea alone, and Christ, who, despite the displeasure of the before-men- tioned Hamburg grocer, was a real Jew, actually founded a propaganda of cosmopolitanism. As for the republicanism of the Jews, I remember to have read in Josephus that there were in Jeru- salem republicans who opposed the royally-in- clined Herodians, fought them fiercely, and called no man "master," and hated lioman absolutism most bitterly. Freedom and equality was their religion. What madness! But what is the real reason for that hatred which we see here in Europe between the adherents of the Mosaic law and the teaching of Christ to the present clay, and of which the poet, illustrating general principles by facts, gives us a terrible picture in The Merchant of Venice. Is it the original fraternal hatred which we saw flame forth between Cain and Abel caused by different methods of sacrifice ? Or is religion only a, pre- tence, and do men hate one another simply to hate, just as they love to love ? On which side is the guilt in this animosity ? I cannot here refrain from giving as an answer to this question an extract from a private letter, which also justi- fies the foes of Shy lock : l "I do not condemn the hatred with which tin common people persecute the Jews, I condemn the unfortunate errors which caused that hatred. The people are always in the right ; in their hate as in their love there is always at bottom a perfectly correct instinct, but they do not know how to put emotions properly into shape, and so, instead of the proper subject, their grudge falls on the innocent scapegoat of the disorders and dissensions of time or place. The mob is in want, it lacks the means to enjoy life, and though the high priest of the religion of state assures it that man is here on earth to endure and suffer, and to obey the authorities in spite of hunger and thirst, still the people have secret yearnings for what gratifies their senses, and they hate those in 1 Our author here appears to have quite forgotten that he has already perfectly and very piously accounted for all the persecution of the Jews, by informing us that it was due to "a mysterious dispensation of Providence." Die Vorschung aus gehcimnissvollen Grunden. Surely after this it was hardly consistent to attempt to explain it like a mere irreligious rationalist ! whose chests and safes their means thereunto lie hoarded up, they hate the rich, and are glad when religion permits them to give full swing to this hatred. The common people hated in the Jews only the owners of money it was always the heaped-up metal which attracted the lightning of popular wrath to the Jews. The spirit of the times gave its password or parole to that hatred. In the Middle Ages it bore the gloomy colour of the Catholic Church and people, killed Jews and plundered their houses because they crucified Christ, with quite the same logic certain black Christians at the time of the massacre in San Domingo paraded about with a picture of Christ on the cross and fanatically cried : Les Wanes I'ont ttid, tuons nous les Uancs 1 1 My friend, you laugh at the poor negroes ; but I assure you that the West Indian planters did 1 Heine would have been charmed (had he ever heard of it) with an incident which once occurred in California. A China- man who had heard some dim account of the Crucifixion, and of which all he remembered was that it had been an exceedingly discreditable transaction to all concerned, had a quarrel with a Jew, and in anger, cried: "My savvy you you one-piecee bad man you velly bad man you killee Melican man's Joss." The conduct of the St. Domingo blacks recalls a passage from a negro sermon which was delivered in Philadelphia : "My hyarers bress de Lawd, dere was'n no cullered folks at de Crucifixion. De Bible doesn't mention one single nigga's bein' dar. Of cose dere w:;s plenty of 'em in Jerusalem, else who'd a done de wite-washin" an' waitin'? But dey had too much sense to 'tend to any such doin's as crucifyiu' folks." Translator. JESSICA. 391 not laugh when they were massacred in expiation to Christ, as the European Jews had been a few centuries before. But the black Christians of San Domingo were quite in the right. The whites lived idly in full enjoyment of all plea- sures, while the negro who worked for them in the sweat of his black brow got for pay a little rice-meal and very many lashes the blacks were the common folk. "We no longer live in the Middle Ages; the common folk themselves are more enlightened, they no longer kill the Jews dead at sight, nor palliate their hatred with religion; our age is no longer so hot with religious zeal, the traditional grudge veils itself with modern figures of speech, and the lower orders in the pot-houses declaim against the Jews, like their betters in the chamber O ' of deputies, with mercantile, industrial, scientific, or even philosophical arguments. Only utter hypocrites continue to give their hatred a religious hue and persecute Jews on account of Christ; the great multitude confesses that material interests are what are really at stake, and will by all possible means make the realisation of their in- dustrial capacities impossible to Jews. Here in Frankfort, for example, only twenty-four believers in the law of Moses can be married annually, lest their population should increase and thereby too much competition with Christian business people be created. Here the real reason for hating the Jews shows itself with its true face, and this face lias not the gloomy fanatical features of a monk, but the flabby tricky traits of a tradesman who with fear works in business, as in behaviour, to keep from being beaten by the Jewish commercial spirit. " But is it the fault of the Jews that this business-spirit has twined itself round them in such a threatening manner ? The guilt lies entirely in that lunacy with which man in the Middle Ages ignored the meaning of industry, regarding trade as something ignoble, even that in money as something accursed, and therefore gave that most profitable part of all business over to the Jews, so that these latter, being excluded from all other occupations, necessarily became the most refined and expert merchants and bankers. The world compelled them to become rich, and then hated them for their wealth, and though Christianity has laid aside its prejudices against industry, and the Christians have become in trade and industry as great rascals and as rich as the Jews, still the old popular hatred against the latter survives, the people persist in seeing in them always the representatives of money, and hate them. You see that in history every one is in the right, the hammer as well as the anvil." It is much to be regretted that our author should in this paper have so much lost sight of his text or subject, or that, as regards these last sentences, his "friend" should, in his lofty scorn for "finance" and "tradesmen," have employed the worn-out, false, and feeble plea that Jews were forced into becoming bankers and men of business. In this fin de siecle, when business is regarded as a great and noble science, and allied to, when not identical with, diplomacy, social science, and philanthropy, it is no discredit to have been the great agents of commerce, even in the days of chivalry. It is very evident, indeed, that the Jews, in common with the Phoenicians and all Semitic races, were always keen men of business, even while they were warriors. The buying up of grain by Joseph, and the testimony of Latin writers, indicate that this was recognised long before the Middle Ages. A race who could have in- vented, or introduced, bills of exchange in the tenth century, but who were in all probability familiar with them in the great banking houses of Assyria during the Captivity, probably required no extreme pressure to make them discount bills. As Heine informed the reader in the paper on Queen Margaret, that all the English chivalry and knighthood w'as mere greed and managed in the interests of bankers and shopmen, he should in fairness have made this exception when subsequently declaring that gentlemen in the Middle Ages never had anything to do with such repulsive occupations. The Jews were not forced into business, they entered Europe already passed grand-masters of it to their great credit be it spoken and, aided by other influences, they forced society into it. It never seems to have occurred to Heine that this was a subject for pride ; he invariably appears like the swell in Punch, who had a great horror of business. And he also forgets something, of which his text should have reminded him, that in Italy, especially in Venice, the noblest and most aristocratic Christian families were engaged in commerce and banking. It is not yet settled whether the three balls of the pawn- brokers were derived from the arms of the Lombards, or from the pills of the Medici. PORTIA. [THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.] " IT is probable that all art-critics are so dazzled and captured by the astonishing character of Shylock that they fail to do justice to Portia, although Shylock is not richer artistically, nor more complete in his way, than Portia in hers. The two brilliant figures are both worthy of honour, worthy to be placed in the rich realm of enchanting poetry and admirable charming forms. By the terrible, unpitying Jew, against his mighty shadow, strongly contrasted with her brilliant light, she hangs like a magnificent Titian, breath- ing beauty, near a glorious Rembrandt. "Portia has her full share of the agreeable qualities which Shakespeare has given to many of his female characters ; but with the dignity, the sweetness, and tenderness which especially characterise her sex, she possesses quite peculiar or special endowments great intellectual power, in- spired mind, decided firmness, and a sprightliness which plays over all. These are inborn, but she lias still other remarkable external gifts, which result from her position and relations. Thus she is heiress to a princely name and incalculable wealth; she is always surrounded by a host of gay pleasures ; from infancy she has breathed an atmosphere spiced with perfume and the fragrance of flattery. Hence a commanding but charming manner, an aristocratic elevated tenderness, a spirit of magnificence in all which she does and says, as of one familiar from birth with splendour. She wanders ever as if in marble palaces, under gold- embroidered canopies ; on floors of cedar and mosaics of jasper and porphyry ; in gardens with statues, flowers, and fountains, and spiritual whis- pering music. She is full of penetrating wisdom, truest tenderness, and lively wit. And never having known poverty, grief, fear, or adversity, her wisdom has no trace of gloom or sadness ; all her actions are inspired with faith, hope, and joy, and her wit is not in the least malicious or biting." 1 1 These are not Mrs. Jamieson's own words, but a close translation of Heine's version of them. Translator. I Lave taken the foregoing passnges from a work by Mrs. Jamieson, entitled, " Moral, Poetical, and Historical Characters of Women." In this work only the women of Shakespeare are discussed, and what is here cited indicate the spirit of the writer, who is probably a Scotch lady. What she says of Portia, as opposed to Shylock, is not only beautiful but true. Should we take the latter, according to the usual conception, as the representative of the stern, earnest, art- detesting representative of Judea, Portia, on the contrary, appears to us as setting forth thab after-blossoming of Greek spirit which spread forth its delicious perfume in the sixteenth cen- tury from Italy all over the world, and which we love and esteem to-day as the Renaissance. Portia is also the type of gay prosperity in anti- thesis to the gloomy adversity which Shylock presents. How blooming, rose-like, pure ringing, is her every thought and saying, how glowing with joy her every word, how beautiful all the figures of her phrases, which are mostly from the mythology. And how dismal, sharp, pinching, and ugly are, on the contrary, the thoughts and utterances of Shylock, who employs only similes from the Old Testament. His wit is cramped and corroding, he seeks his metaphors amid the most repulsive subjects, and even his words are discords squeezed together, shrill, hissing, and whirring. As the people, so their homes. When we see how the servant of Jehovah will not endure an image of either God or man in his "honourable house/' and even closes its ears the windows lest the sounds of heathenish masquerading should pierce therein, and then see on the contrary the costly and exquisitely tasteful villegiatura-life in the beautiful palace of Belmont, where all is light and music, where among pictures, marble statues, and high laurel-trees, the elegantly clad wooers wander and discuss enigmas of love, while through and amid all this splendour fair Signora Portia gleams like a goddess whose sunny locks " Hang on her temples like a golden fleece." * By such a contrast the two chief personages of the drama are so individualised that one might swear they were not the feigned fantasies of a poet, but real people and of woman born. Yes, they seem to us to be even more living than the common creatures of the world, for neither time nor death have part in them, and in their veins runs immortal blood, that of undying poetry. When thou goest to Venice and wan- derest through the Doge's palace, thou k newest well that neither in the hall of the senators, nor on the Giant's Stair, wilt thou meet Marino 1 Merchant of Venice, act i. sc. I. Faliero. Of the old Dandolo thoa wilt indeed be reminded in the Arsenal, but on none of the golden galleys wilt thou seek the blind hero. Seest thou on one corner of the Via Santa a snake carved in stone, and on the other a winged lion, which holds the head of the serpent in his claws, you may remember the proud Carmagnolo, but only for an instant. But far more than all such historical persons wilt thou think in Venice of Shakespeare's Shylock, who is ever living while they are long mouldered in the grave. And when thou Grossest the Ilialto thine e}'e will seek him everywhere, and thou deemest he must be there behind some pillar with his Jewish gaberdine, his mistrusting, reckoning face, and thou believest many a time that thou canst hear his harsh voice " Three thousand ducats well ! " I at least, a wandering hunter of dreams, looked around me on the Rialto to see if I could find Shylock. I had something to tell him which would have pleased him ; which was, that his cousin Monsieur de Shylock in Paris had become the greatest baron of all Christendom, and re- ceived from their Catholic Majesties the Order of Isabella, which was originally instituted to celebrate the expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain. But I found him not on the liialto, so 1 determined to look for my old acquaintance in the Synagogue. The Jews happened to be just then celebrating their holy Feast of Expia- tion, and stood wrapped up in their white Schau- fdden-Talaren, 1 with strange, mysterious noddinga of their heads, looking like a company of spectres. The poor Jews who stood there fasting and pray- ing since early in the morning had not tasted food nor drink since the yester-evening, and had also first of all begged pardon of all their acquaint- ances for any evil things which they might have said of them during the past year, that God might in like manner forgive them their sins a beautiful custom, which very strangely exists among this race, which has, however, remained afar from the teachings of Christ. But while looking round for old Shylock and passing in careful review all the pale suffering faces of the Jews, I made a discovery which I more is the pity! cannot suppress. I had the same day visited the madhouse of San Carlo, and now it occurred to me in the Synagogue that there glimmered in the glances of the Jews the same dreadful, half staring, half unsteady, half crafty, half stupid expression which I had previ- ously seen in the eyes of the lunatics in San Carlo. This indescribable, perplexing look did not so much indicate absence of mind as rather the supremacy of a fixed idea. Has perhaps the 1 A peculiar head-dress, worn by Jews in the synagogue. 400 SPIAKESPEARE'S MAIDENS AND WOMEN. faith in that extra-mundane thunder-god whom Moses preached, become the fixed idea of a whole race, so that, though they have for two thousand years suffered from it in strait-jackets and shower- baths, yet for all that will not give it up like that lunatic lawyer whom I saw in San Carlo, who would not be persuaded but what the sun was an English cheese, the rays of which were long red maggots, and that one of these worm- rays was eating away his brain. I will here by no means deny the value of that fixed idea, but I will only say that those who Lave it are much too weak to manage it, and therefore being oppressed by it have become incurable. What tremendous martyrdom have they suffered from it! what greater martyrdoms await them in future ! I shudder at the thought, and an infinite pity ripples through my heart. During the whole Middle Ages, till to-day, the predominant view of all things was not in direct contradiction with that idea with which Moses burdened the Jews, lashed it into them with holy straps, and cut it deeply into their flesh in fact, they did not differ materially from Christians and Mahometans, nor by an antagonistic synthesis, but only by analysis and shibboleth. But if Satan, or the sinful pantheism from which may all the saints of the Old and New Testament as well aa the Koran protect us ! should conquer, there will PORTIA. 401 fall on the heads of the poor Jews a tempest of persecution which will far surpass all their previous sufferings. Though I looked all around in the synagogue of Venice, on every side I could nowhere see the face of Shylock. And yet it seemed to me he must be there, hidden under one of those white talars, praying more fervently than any of his fellow-believers, with stormy, wild passion, yes, with madness, to the throne of Jehovah, the severe, divine monarch. I saw him not. But towards evening when, according to the belief of the Jews, the gates of heaven are closed and no further prayer can enter, I heard a voice in which tears ilowed as they were never wept from eyes. There was a sobbing which might have moved a stone to pity there were utterances of agony such as could only come from a breast which held shut- within itself all the martyrdom which an utterly tormented race had endured for eighteen centuries. It was the death-rattle of a soul which, weary to death, sinks to the ground before the gates of heaven. And this voice seemed to be well known to me as if I had heard it long long ago, when ifc wailed just as despairingly, "Jessica, my child !"

2 C





[THE TEMPEST, Act III. Scene i.J Fer. "Wherefore weep you ? Mira. At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer What I desire to give, and much less take What I shall die to want. But this is trifling 5 And all the more it seeks to hide itself, The bigger hulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning 1 And prompt me, plain and holy innocence 1 I am your wife, if you will marry ine ; If not, I'll die your maid : to be your fellow You may deny me ; but I '11 be your servant, Whether you will or no. Fer. My mistress, dearest, And I thus humble ever. Mira. My husband then ? Fer. Ay, with a heart as willing As bondage e'er of freedom : here's my hand. Mira. And mine, with my heart in 't. And now farewell Till half an hour hence. TIT AN I A. [MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, Ad //. Scene 3.] Enter TITANIA, with her train. Tita. Come, now a roundel, and a fairy song ; Then, for the third part of a minute, hence ; Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds ; Some, war with rear-mice for their leathern wings, To make my small elves coats ; and some, keep back The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders At our quaint spirits : Sing me now asleep ; Then to your offices, and let me rest. PERDITA. [WINTER'S TALE, Act IV. Scene 3.] Per. Come, take your flowers : Methinks, I play as I have seen them do In Whitsuu' pastorals : sure, this robe of mine Does change my disposition. Flo. What you do, Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet, I'd have you do it ever : when you sing, I'd have you buy and sell so ; so give alms ; Pray so ; and, for the ordering your affairs, To sing them too : "When you do dance, I wish you A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do Nothing but that ; move still, still so, and own No other function : Each your doing, So singular in each, particular, Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds, That all your acts are queens. IMOGENE. [CYMBELINE, Act II. Scene 2.] Imo. To your protection I commend me, gods ! From fairies, and the tempters of the night, Guard me, beseech ye ! [Sleeps. IACHIMO, from the trunk lach. The crickets sing, and man's o'erlabourVl sense Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd The chastity he wounded. Cytherea, How bravely thou becomest thy bed ! fresh lily ! And whiter than the sheets ! That I might touch ! But kiss ; one kiss 1 Kubies unparagon'd, How dearly they do 't ! 'Tis her breathing that Perfumes the chamber thus. The flame o' the taper Bows towards her : and would under-peep her lids, To see the enclosed lights, now canopied Under those windows, white and azure, laced With blue of heaven's own tinct. JULIA. [Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, Act IV. Scene 4.] Jul. How many women would do such a message ? Alas, poor Proteus ! Thou hast entertain'd A fox to be the shepherd of thy lambs : Alas, poor fool ! why do I pity him That with his very heart despiseth me ? Because lie loves her, he despiseth me ; Because I love him, I must pity him. This ring I gave him, when he parted from me, To bind him to remember my good will : And now am I (unhappy messenger) To plead for that which I would not obtain ; To carry that which I would have refused ; To praise his faith which I would have dispraised. I am my master's true confirmed love ; But cannot be true servant to my master, Unless I prove false traitor to myself. Yet I will woo for him ; but yet so coldly, As, Heaven it knows, I would not have him speed. SILVIA. [Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, Act IV, Scene 4.] Here, youth, there is my purse ; I give thee this For thy sweet mistress' sake, because thou lovest her. Farewell. [Exit Silvia. IN THE COMEDIES. 409 Jul. And she shall thank you for 't, if e'er you know her. A virtuous gentlewoman, mild, and beautiful. I hope my master's suit will be but cold, Since she respects my mistress' love so much. Alas, how love can trifle with itself ! Here is her picture : Let me see ; I think, If I had such a tire, this face of mine Were full as lovely as is this of hers ; And yet the painter flatterM her a little, Unless I flatter with myself too much. Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow : If that be all the difference in his love, I'll get me such a colour'd periwig. Her eyes as grey as glass, and so are mine : Ay, but her forehead's low, and mine's as high, "What should it be, that he respects in her, But I can make respective to myself, If this fond love were not a blinded god ? HERO. [MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Act IV. Scene i.j Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accused of ? Hero. They know, that do accuse me ; I know none : If I know more of any man alive, Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, Let all my sins lack mercy I my father, Prove you, that any man with me conversed At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight Maintain'd the change of words with any creature, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death. BEATRICE. [MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Act III. Scene i.] Hero. God of love ! I know, he doth deserve As much as may be yielded to a man : But nature never framed a woman's heart Of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice : Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes, Misprising what they look on ; and her wit Values itself so highly, that to her All matter else seems weak : she cannot love, Nor take no shape nor project of affection, She is so self endeared. Urs. Sure, I think so ; And therefore, certainly, it were not good, She knew his love, lest she make sport at it. Hero. Why, you speak truth : I never yet saw man, How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured, But she would spell him backward : if fair-faced, She'd swear, the gentleman should be her sister ; If black, why nature, drawing of an antic, Made a foul blot ; if tall, a lance ill-headed ; If low, an agate very vilely cut ; If speaking, why a vane blown with all winda ; If silent, why, a block moved with none. So turns she every man the wrong side out ; And never gives to truth and virtue that Which simpleness and merit purchaseth. Urs. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable. Hero. No : not to be so odd, and from all fashions, As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable : But who dare tell her so ? If I should speak, She'd mock me into air ; 0, she would laugh ine Out of myself, press me to death with wit. Therefore let Benedick, like coverM fire, Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly : It were a better death than die with mocks ; Which is as bad as die with tickling. HELENA. [ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, Act L Scene 3.] Hel. Then, I confess, Here on my knee, before high Heaven and 3-011, That before you, and next unto high Heaven, I love your son : My friends were poor, but honest ; so's my love ; Be not offended ; for it hurts not him, 412 SHAKESPEARE'S MAIDENS AND WOMEN That he is loved of me : I follow him not By any token of presumptuous suit ; Nor would I have him, till I do deserve him ; Nor yet know how that desert should be. I know I love in vain, strive against hope ; Yet, in this captious and intenible sieve, I still pour in the waters of my love, And lack not to lose still : thus, Indian-like, Religious in mine error, I adore The sun that looks upon his worshipper, But knows of him no more. My dearest madam, Let not your hate encounter with my love, For loving where you do : but, if yourself, Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth, Did ever, in so true a flame of liking, Wish chastely, and love dearly, that your Dian Was both herself and love, then give pity To her, whose state is such, that cannot choose But lend and give, where she is sure to lose ; That seeks not to find that her search implies, But, riddle-like, lives sweetly where she dies. CELIA. [As You LIKE IT, Act I. Scene 2.] Ros. From henceforth, I will, coz, and devise sports : let me see, What think you of falling in love 1 Cel. Marry, I pr'ythee, do, to make sport withal : but love no man in good earnest ; nor no farther in sport neither, than with safety of a pure blush thou may'bt in honour come off again. Eos. What shall be our sport then ? Cel. Let us sit and mock the good housewife, Fortune, from her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally. Jtos. I would we could do so : for her benefits are mightily misplaced : and the bountiful blind woman doth most mistake in her gifts to women. Cel. "Pis true : for those that she makes fair, she scarce makes honest ; and those that she makes honest, she makes very ill-favour'dly. llos. Nay, now thou goest from fortune's office to nature's: fortune reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments of nature. ROSALIND. [As You LIKE IT, Act III. Scene 2.] Cel. Didst thou hear these verses ? Itos. yes, I heard them all, and more too ; for some of them had in them more feet than the verses would bear. Cel. That's no matter ; the feet might bear the verses. Ros. Ay, but the feet were lame, and could not bear themselves without the verse, and therefore stood lamely in the verse. Cel. But didst thou hear, without wondering how thy name should be haug'd and carved upon these trees ? Eos. I was seven of the nine days out of the wonder before you came ; for look here what I found on a palm- tree : I was never so be-rhymed since Pythagoras' time, that I was an Irish rat, which I can hardly remember. OLIVIA. [TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT You WILL, Act /. Scene 5.] Vio. Good madam, let me see your face. OIL Have you any commission from your lord to nego- tiate with my face ? you are now out of your text : but we will draw the curtain, and show you the picture. Look you, sir, such a one as I was this present. Is 't not well done? [Unveiling. Vio. Excellently done, if God did all. Oli. 'Tis in grain, sir ; 'twill endure wind and weather. Vio. 'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on : Lady, you are the cruel'st she alive, If you will lead these graces to the grave, And leave the world no copy. VIOLA. [TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT You WILL, Act II. Scene 4.] Vio. Too well what love women to men may owe ; In faitli, they are as true of heart as we. My father had a daughter loved a man, As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship. Duke. And what's her history ] Vio. A blank, my lord. She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek : she pined in thought ; And, with a green and yellow melancholy, She sat like Patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love, indeed ? We men may say more, swear more : but, indeed, Our shows are more than will ; for still we prove Much in our vows, but little in our love. Duke. But died thy sister of her love, my boy ? Vio. I am all the daughters of my father's house, aui all the brothers too. MARIA. [TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT You WILL, Act I. Scene 3.] Sir And. An' you part so, mistress, I would I might never draw sword again. Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand ? Mar. Sir, I have not you by the hand. Sir And. Marry, but you shall have ; and here 'a my hand. Mar. Now, sir, thought is free. I pray you, bring your hand to the buttery-bar, and let it drink. Sir And. Wherefore, sweetheart? What's your meta- phor ? Mar. It's dry, sir. Sir And. Why, I think so : I am not such an ass, but I can keep my hand dry. But what's your jest ? Mar. A dry jest, sir. Sir And. Are you full of them! Mar. Ay, sir : I have them at my fingers' ends : marry, now I let go your hand, I am barren. ISABELLA. [MEASURE FOR MEASURE, Act II. Scene 4 ] Ang. Admit no other way to save his life, (As I subscribe not that, nor any other, But in the loss of question,) that you, his sister, Finding yourself desired of such a person, Whose credit with the judge, or own great place, Could fetch your brother from the manacles Of the all- binding law ; and that there were No earthly mean to save him, but that either You must lay down the treasures of your body To this supposed, or else let him suffer : What would you 1 fxak. As much for my poor brother, as myself. That is, were I under the terms of death, The impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies, And strip myself to death, as to a bed That longing I have heen sick for, ere I 'd yield My body up to shame. Aug. Then must your brother die. Isdb. And 'twere the cheaper way : Better it were, a brother died at once, Than that a sister, by redeeming him, Should die for ever. THE PRINCESS OF FRANCE. [LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, Act IV. Scene i.] Cost. God dig-you-den all 1 Pray you which is the head lady 1 Prin. Thou shall know her, fellow, by the rest that have no heads. Cost. Which is the greatest lady, the highest? Prin. The thickest and the-tallest. Cost. The thickest, and the tallest ! it is so ; truth is truth. An your waist, mistress, were as slender as my wit, One of these maids' girdles for your waist should be fit. Are not you the chief woman ? you are the thickest here. 2 D THE ABBESS. [COMEDY OF ERRORS, Act V. Scene i.'j Adr. It was the copy of our conference : In bed, he slept not for my urging it ; At board, he fed not for my urging it ; Alone, it was the subject of my theme ; In company, I often glanced it ; Still did I tell him it was vile and bad. Abb. And thereof came it, that thy man was mad : The venom clamours of a jealous woman Poison more deadly than a mad dog's tooth. It seems, his sleep was hinder'd by thy railing : And therefore comes it, that his head is light. Thou say'st, his meat was sauced by thy upbraiding* Unquiet meals make ill digestions, Tliereof the raging fire of fever bred ; And what's a fever but a fit of madness? Thou say'st his sports were hinder'd by thy brawls : Sweet recreation barr'd, what doth ensue, But moody and dull melancholy, (Kinsman to grim ami comfortless despair ;) And, at her heels, a huge infectious troop Of pale distempemtures, and foes to liie ? In food, in sport, and life-preserving rest To be disturb'd, would mad or man, or beast ; The consequence is then, thy jealous fits Have scared thy husband from the use of wits. MRS. PAGE. [MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, Act II. Scene 2.] Quick. That were a jest, indeed ; they have not so litlle grace, I hope : that were a trick, indeed ! But Mrs. Page would desire you to send her your little page, of all loves ; her husband lias a marvellous infection to the little page : ancl, truly, Master Page is an honest man. Never a wife in Windsor leads a better life than she does ; do what she will, say what she will, take all, pay all, go to bed when she list, rise when she list, all is as she will ; and, truly, she deserves it : for if there be a kind woman in Windsor she is one. You must send her your page : no remedy. MRS. FORD. [MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, Act /. Scene 3.] Fal. No quips now, Pistol : Indeed I am in the waist two yards about : but I am now about no waste ; I am about thrift. Briefly, I do mean to make love to Ford's wife ; I spy entertainment in her ; she discourses, she carves, she gives the leer of invitation : I can construe the action of her familiar style; and the hardest voice of her behaviour, to be English'd rightly, is, I am Sir John Falstnffs. Pint. He hath studied her well, and translated her well out of honesty into English. ANNE PAGE. [MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, Act I. Scene i.] Anne. Will't please your worship to come in, sir. Slen. No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily ; I am very well. Anne. The dinner attends you, sir. Slen. I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth. Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go, wait upon my cousin Shallow : [Exit Simple.'] A justice of peace sometime may be beholden to his friend for a man. I keep but three men and a boy yet, till my mother be dead : But what tliough ? yet I live like a poor gentleman born. Anne. I may not go in without your worship : they will not sit till you come. KATHARINA. [TAMING OF THE SHREW, Act II. Scene i.J Pet. I pray you do, I will attend her here, And woo her with some spirit when she comes. Say, that she rail, why, then I'll tell her plain, She sings as sweetly as a nightingale ; Say, that she frown, I'll say, she looks as clear As morning roses newly wash'd with dew ; Say, she be mute, and will not speak a word, Then, I'll commend her volubility, And say she uttereth piercing eloquence ; If she do bid me pack, I '11 give her thanks, As though she bid me stay by her a week ; If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day When I shall ask the banns, and when be married. But here she comes ; and now, Petruchio, speak. Enter KATHA.KINA. Good-morrow, Kate ; for that's your name, I hear. Hath. Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing ; They call me Katharine that do talk of me. Pet. You lie, in faith ; for you are call'd plain Kato, And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst ; But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom, Kate of Kate-Hall, my supper-dainty Kate, For dainties are all cates : and therefore, Kate, Take this of me, Kate of my consolation, Hearing thy mildness praised in every town, Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded, (Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs,) Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife. In the introductory pages to this picture-gallery I have related how the popularity of Shakespeare spread over England and Germany, and how, here and there, appreciation of his works was developed. Unfortunately I could impart no such pleasant information as regards the Latin lands. In Spain, the name of our poet has re- mained even to this day unknown. Italy ignores him probably intentionally, in order to protect the fame of its own great poet from transalpine rivalry ; and France, the home of traditional taste and refined tone, long believed it had sufficiently honoured the great Briton when it called him a genial barbarian, and made as little mockery as might be of his strange roughness. Meantime the political revolution which animated this country also developed a literary one, which, as regards Terrorism, perhaps surpasses the first; and when it came. Shakespeare was lifted on the shield. Of course, just as in their attempts at political changes, the French are seldom quite honourable in their literary revolutions in the one as in the other they praise and exalt a hero, not for hia true innate worth, but on account of the momen- tary advantage which their cause may gain by such exalting and glorifying, and so it happens that they to-day praise what they to-morrow cast down, or the contrary. For ten years Shake- speare has been for the party of the present literary revolution a subject of the blindest adora- tion. But whether he has had among these men of the Movement a truly scientific recognition, or even a proper comprehension, is the great question. The French are too truly the children of their mother, they have taken in social falsehoods with their mothers' milk too much to absolutely give their taste or even full intelligence to the poet who breathes the truth of nature in every word. It is certainly true that for some time there lias prevailed among their writers an unbounded striving towards such naturalness ; they have even torn the garments of conventionalism from their limbs, and show themselves in hideous naked- ness. Yet ever some rag of fashion which clings to them betrays the old unnaturalness, and awakens in the German looker on an ironic smile. These writers put me in mind of the copperplate engrav- ings in certain novels where the indecent amours of the eighteenth century are imitated, and where, in spite of the Eden costume of nature of gentle- men and ladies, the former keep their queued periwigs, and the latter their towering frisked head-dresses. It is not by direct criticism, but indirectly in dramatic compositions which are more or less imitations of Shakespeare, that the French attain to some knowledge of the great poet. As a mediator in this manner Victor Hugo deserves great praise, not that I regard him, however, as a mere imitator of the Briton. Victor Hugo is a genius of the highest order, and his powers of flight and of creation are wonderful ; he has the form and the word, he is the greatest poet of France, but his Pegasus has a morbid fear of the roaring torrents of the present, and goes most unwillingly to water where the light of day is mirrored in fresh floods he loves far better to seek among the ruins of the past those forgotten springs where of old the majestic winged horse of Shakespeare once quenched his immortal thirst. Whether it is that those ancient springs, half ruined and half bogged, no longer supply pure draughts, it is enough to say that Victor Hugo's dramatic poems contain more of the turbid mud than of the reviving spirit of the old English Hippocrene there is wanting in them its joyous brightness and harmonious health ; and I must confess I am often seized with the dreadful thought that this Victor Hugo is the ghost of some English poet of the golden age of Elizabeth, a dead poet who has risen from his grave in an ill-temper to write some posthumous works in a time and country where he will be safe from competition with the great William. 1 In truth, Victor Hugo reminds me of such people as Marlow, Decker, or Heywood, who in language and manner were so much like their great contemporary, and only lacked his deep perception and sense of beauty, his terrible and laughing grace, his revealing mission from nature. And, ah ! to all the short- comings of Marlow, Decker, and Heywood there is in Victor Hugo the saddest want of all that of 1 Can it be that the well-known French expression "le grand Williams," attributed to Janin, originated in some recollec- tion of Heine's German phrase, " dcr Konkurrenz des grosscn Williams " T The genitive may possibly have been taken for a nominative. Translator. life. They suffered from an over-boiling copious- ness, the wildest fulness of blood, and their poetic creation was written breath, shouting for joy or sobbing with woe ; but Victor Hugo, with all the honour which I grant him, I must confess has something dead, uncanny, ghostly, grave-risen, vampyre-like in him. He does not awaken in- spiration in our hearts he sucks it out ; he does not win our feeling by poetic transfiguration, but terrifies it by repulsive grotesques. He suffers from death and horrors. A young lady with whom I am very intimate expressed herself recently as to this craving for horrors by Hugo's muse in very apt words. She said, " The muse of Victor Hugo reminds me of the eccentric princess who was determined to marry only the ugliest man alive, and so sent forth through the land a summons that all young men who were remarkably misshapen should on a certain day repair to the royal castle as candidates for marriage. As may be supposed there was a fine collection of cripples and grotesques, and one might have supposed that he had before him all the caricatures I mean characters of one of Hugo's novels. But Quasimodo bore the bell and took the bride home." l 1 Aber Quasimodo, fuhrte die Braut nach Hausc. A neat adaptation of the old proverb : Wer's yhiclc hat, der fuhret die Braut hdm, und wer's Rccht hat, der sckldft bci ihr. Also English. Translator. 426 SHAKESPEARE'S MAIDENS AND WOMEN Next to Victor Hugo I must mention Durrms ; and he also has to a certain degree promoted an appreciation of Shakespeare in France. If the former by extravagance in ugliness accustomed the French, to seek in the drama not merely a beautiful garb for passion, Dumas so influenced them that they took great pleasure in the natural expression of it. But this passion passed with him for the highest ideal, and in his poems it took the place of poetry. The natural result was that he had all the more effect on the stage. He familiarised the public in this sphere, and in the representation of passions, with the boldest conceptions ot Shakespeare, and he who had once found pleasure in Henri/ III. and Richard Darlington, could no longer complain of want of taste in Othello and Richard III. The accusa- tion of plagiarism which was urged against him was as foolish as it was unjust. It cannot be denied that Dumas has here and there in his passionate scenes taken something from Shake- speare, but our Schiller had done this more boldly without incurring the least reproach. And as for Shakespeare himself how much was he indebted to his predecessors ! Yes, and it happened even to him that a sour-souled pamphleteer once assailed him with the charge that "the best of his dramas were taken from earlier writers." Shakespeare, according to this amusing incident, appears as a jackdaw dressed out in peacock's feathers. The Swan of Avon was silent, and probably thought in his divine mind " I am neither daw nor pea- cock ! " and rocked himself carelessly in the blue waves of poetry, oft smiling at the stars, those golden thoughts of heaven. Count Alfred de Vigny must also be mentioned here. This writer, quite familiar with the English idiom, studied Shakespeare most thoroughly, trans- lated with great cleverness several of his dramas, and this study exercised a most favourable influ- ence on his own works. Owing to the ready ear and keen perception of art, which it must be admitted de Vigny possessed, we may assume that he heard and saw more deeply into the spirit of Shakespeare than most of his compatriots. But the talenfc of this man, like all his manner of thought and feeling, is in the dainty, delicate, and miniature-like, and his works are chiefly valuable for their elaborate finish. Therefore I can well imagine that he often stood stupefied before those stupendous beauties which Shakespeare had hewed, as it were, from the most tremendous granite blocks of poetry. . . . He certainly gazed at them with anxious admiration, like a goldsmith who in Flor- ence stares at the colossal gates of the Baptistery which, though made at one cast of bronze, are still as delicate and dainty as if cut by hand, and which look like the finest jewellery. 1 If it be hard enough for the French to under- stand Shakespeare's tragedies, it must be admitted that an appreciation of his comedies is almost utterly denied to them. The poetry of passion is to them intelligible, and they can also to a certain extent comprehend the truth of the char- acteristic, for their hearts have learned to glow, the impassioned is their own peculiar line, 2 and with their analytical intelligence they can separate every given character into its minutest elements, and calculate the phases or situations into which that character would fall when reduced to the realities of life. But in the magic garden of the Shakespearean comedy all this empirical know- ledge is of no avail. At its very gate their under- standing fails them, their heart knows nothing definite, and they lack the mysterious divining rod at the touch of which the lock opens. There they stare with amazed eyes through the golden grate, and see how lords and ladies, shepherds and shepherdesses, fools and sages, wander about under the tall trees; how the lover and his loved one rest in the cool shadows and exchange tender

  • "Jewellery in iron" has also been very happily applied to

the great lanterns of the Strozzi Palace in Florence. There ia something of this grand elaborateness in Cellini's " Perseus." Translator. 2 Das passionirfc ist so rccJit ihr Fuck. words ; how now and then a fabulous animal, perhaps a stag with silver horns, comes by, or else a chaste unicorn, leaping from the thicket, lays his head in the lovely lady's lap. And they see how the water-ladies rise with green hair and glittering veils, and how all at once the moon rises, and they hear how the nightingale trills and they shake their wise heads at all the incom- prehensibly nonsensical stuff! Yes, the French can comprehend the sun but not the moon, and least of all the rapturous sobbing and melancholy ecstasy of the nightingales. Yes, neither their empirical familiarity with human passions, nor their positive knowledge of the world, is of any avail to the French, when they would unriddle the visions and sounds which gleam and ring forth from the magic gardens of Shakespearean comedy ; they often think they see a human face, yet when near by it is a landscape fair what they believed were eyebrows was a hazel-bush, and the nose was a rock, and the mouth a little fountain, as we see them in changing puzzle-pictures. And, on the other hand, what the poor Frenchmen mistake for a strangely gnarled old tree, or marvellous stone, appears on closer view to be a real human face of tremendous expression. And if they succeed in overhearing with strained ears some dialogue which two lovers are holding in the forest-shade, they are still more bewildered, for they hear familiar words in changed sense, and so they swear that these people know nothing of flaming feeling, and the great passion. What they had ordered for refreshment was witty water- ice, not a blazing bowl of love-drink. Nor do they observe that these people are only disguised doves, who converse in a jargon of their own, 1 which one can only learn in dreams or in earliest infancy. But it is worst of all for the French standing outside the grated gate of Shakespearean comedy, when ever and anon a pleasant west wind sweeps over a garden-bed and wafts to their noses most unknown perfume " What's that ? " Justice demands that I here mention a French writer who, with a cleverness quite his own, imi- tated Shakespearean comedies, and manifested even in the choice of his models a strange sus- ceptibility to true poetry. This is Alfred de Musset. He wrote, about five years ago, several small dramas which, so far as construction and style are concerned, are altogether after the comedies of Shakespeare. And he has with French facility mastered the caprice, not the humour, of his original. And what is more, 1 KotcricspracJie, the peculiar language of a set. "Society slang," and, as Heine here suggests, nursery-talk. Jargoning is specially applied to the language of birds by old English poets. Liebcstrunk or Liebestrank, " love-drink," also means a philtre to cause love. Translator. there is not wanting in these pretty trifles some of the pure gold of poetry, though it be drawn into the thinnest wire. It was only to be re- gretted that the then youthful composer had read, in addition to a French translation of the works of Shakespeare, also a version of Byron's poems, and was thereby led into affecting in the costume of the spleeny lord that satiety and weariness of life which it was the fashion of French youth to assume. The rosiest little boys, the healthiest saucy striplings, 1 declared in those days that their sense of enjoyment was quite blunted ; they feigned the coldness of old age, and affected a distrait and yawning expression. Since which time our poor Monsieur de Musset has seen the error of his ways and returned from them, and now plays no more the part of Used- up in his poems ; but, alack, those poems now contain, instead of simulated ruin, the far more inconsolable traces of a real decline of bodily and mental power. Ah, this writer reminds me of those artificial ruins which we see in castle- gardens of the eighteenth century, which were 1 Gelbschnalel, a yellow bill, so called from certain birds whose bills are yellow while very young. A greenhorn, a freshman, an innocent, an unsophisticated gosling, or, in some parts of America, a loppus. The Byronism which Heine here ridicules has had its parallel of late years in the pessimism of certain popular philosophers, which unfortunately lacks its By ron. Translator. once weak inventions of a childish fancy, but which in the course of time awaken in us a mournful pity, when they have become weather- beaten and mouldering in earnest, and run into real decay. The French are, as I have said, little inclined to grasp the spirit of the Shakespearean comedy, and I have found, with one exception only, none among their critics who has even a vague idea of it. Who is this man ? Who is the exception. Gutzkow says that the elephant is the doctrinaire among animals. And just such a reasonable and perfect paragon of a ponderous elephnnt has most sagaciously grasped the real being of the Shake- speare comedy. Yes, one can hardly believe it, but it is Monsieur Guizot who has best written on those graceful and most mischievously wanton airy images of the modern muse, and hereupon I translate for the amazement and edification of the reader a passage from a work which was pub- lished in 1822 by Ladvocat in Paris, and which is called De Shakespeare et de la Poesie dramatique, par F. Guizot : " The Shakespearean comedies resemble neither those of Moliere, nor of Aristophanes, nor of the Romans. Among the Greeks, and in modern times among the French, comedy was the result of a free but careful study of the real world of life, and the problem, or result, was its representation on the stage. The distinctions between comedy and tragedy are to be found in the beginning of dramatic art, and as they were de- veloped the division became more marked. The reason for this lies in the things themselves. The destiny of man, like his nature, his passions and pursuits, character and occurrences, all in and around us, have serious as well as comic sides, and may be ranged as one or the other, accord- ing to our special point of view. This double- sidedness of man and the world has pointed out to dramatic poetry naturally enough two very different paths, but while men chose this or that as a place for rivalry or action, art never deviated from the study and representation of reality. Though Aristophanes lashes with un- restrained freedom of fancy the vices and follies of the Athenians, though Moliere censures and cuts the errors or abuses of scepticism, avarice, envy, pedantry, courtly etiquette, and of virtue itself all there is in it is that the two poets handle very different subjects, one bringing on the stage a whole life and people, the other on the contrary the incidents of private life, or the inner life of families, and what is laughable in individuals this difference in comic material being a result of a difference in time, place, and civilisation. But to Aristophanes, as to Moliere, reality or the real world is always the stage of their representations. What inspire and sustain their poetic mood are the customs and ideas of their age, the vices and follies of their fellow-citizens above all, nature and the life of man. Comedy therefore springs from the world which surrounds the poet, and she adapts herself fur more closely than tragedy to the ex- ternal action of reality. " Not so with Shakespeare. In his time, in England, the material of the drama, Nature and human action, had not yet received from the hands of Art that distinction and classification. When the poet pleased to work this material up for the stage, he took it as a whole with all which was mixed with it, with all the contrasts which were gathered round, and public taste found no fault with such proceeding. The comic, an element of human reality, could mani- fest itself wherever truth required or would tolerate it, and it was quite in accordance with the character of that English civilisation that even tragedy, with which the comic was to a certain degree associated, lost in nothing the dignity of truth. In such conditions of the stage, and such tastes in the public, what kind of comedy would be likely to manifest itself? How could the latter be considered as a special kind, and bear its settled name as 'Comedy'? It suc- ceeded in doing this by freeing itself from those realities or conditions in which the limits of its natural realm wei'e neither defended nor denned. This comedy did not confine itself to the represen- tation of accurately described manners and exact characters, it sought no more to depict men and things in a manner laughable yet true to life, it became a fantastic and romantic spirit-work, 1 a refuge for all delightful improbabilities, which Fantasy, from idleness or inertness, freak or fancy, strings on the thinnest of threads, so as to form all kinds of varied combinations which delight and interest us, without being consistent with the judgment of reason. Pleasant pictures, surprises, jovial intrigues, excited curiosity, disappointed hopes, changes, witty problems, which lead to disguises. Such was the material of those inno- cent, easily combined plays. The fabric of the Spanish pieces, which the English people began to like, gave these plays all kinds of varied frames and patterns, which applied well to those chronicles and ballads from those French and Italian novels which, next to romances of chivalry, were the favourite reading of the public. It is intelligible how this rich mine and this easy style soon attracted the attention of Shakespeare. No 1 Geisteswerk, or work of genius. The very Hibernian mixture of similes in this sentence is neither the fault of the translator, much less of Heine, but of Guizot himself. A spirit- work refuge for improbabilities, strung lVn beads, could only occur to the sublime genius of an academician. Translator. one need wonder that his youthful and brilliant imagination gladly cradled itself in those materials where, freed from the strong yoke of reason, it could produce every variety of serious or startling effects in defiance of probability. This poet, whose spirit and hand moved with equal restless- ness, whose manuscripts had hardly a trace of correction or improvement, must certainly have abandoned himself with special delight to that unbridled and adventuresome play of the imagina- tion in which he could develop without restraint all his varied powers. He could cast with a free hand all things into his comedies, and indeed he did pour in everything except what was utterly intolerable in snch a system that is, that logical connection which subordinates every part of the piece to the main object, and sets forth in every detail the depth, extent, and unity of the work. In the tragedies of Shakespeare we seldom find a conception, a situation, an act of passion, a degree of crime or of virtue, which one cannot also find in one of his comedies; but what there expands itself in the abysmal depth, what manifests itself abundantly in overwhelming results, what weaves itself powerfully into a series of causes and effects, that is here hardly intimated it is only cast in for an instant, to produce a fleeting effect, to lose itself as quickly in a new combination." In truth the Elephant is in the right : the soul of the Shakespearean comedy is in the gaily- varied butterfly humour in which it flits from flower to flower, seldom touching the ground of reality. Only in opposition to the realistic comedy of the ancients, and of the French, can anything definite be declared of the Shakespearean comedy. Last night I meditated long as to whether I could not give some positive explanation or clearing up of this infinite, illimitable kind of the comedy of Shakespeare. Thereupon, after long thinking here and there, I fell asleep and dreamed : Dreamed that it was a starry night, and I swam in a small boat on a wide, wide sea, where all kind of barks filled with masks, musicians, and torches gleaming, music sounding, many near or afar, rowed on. There were costumes of all countries and ages, old Greek tunics, medi&val knightly cloaks, Oriental turbans, shepherd's hats with fluttering ribbons, masks of beasts wild or tame now and then I thought I saw a well- known face, sometimes I heard familiar greetings but all passed quickly by and far away, and the merry music grew softer and fainter, when instead of the gay fiddling I heard near me the mysterious, melancholy tones of hunters' horns from another boat. Sometimes the niglit-wind bore the strains of both to my ear, and then the mingled melody made a happy harmony. The water echoed ineffably sweet sounds and burned as with a magical reflection of the torches, and the gaily -pennoned pleasure-boats with their wondrous masquerades swam in light and music. A lovely lady, who stood by the rudder of one of the barks, cried to me in passing, " Is it not true, friend thou would'st have a definition of the Shakespearean comedy ? " I know not whether I answered "Yes," but in that instant the beautiful woman dipped her hand in the water and sprinkled the ringing sparks in my face, so that there was a general laughter, and I awoke. Who was that charming woman who in such wise made merry with me in my dream? On her ideally beautiful head was a horned cap 1 of variegated colours with bells, a white satin gar- ment with fluttering ribbons enclosed her almost too slender limbs, and on her breast she bore 1 In allusion to the hcnnin, or the two-horned cap, often worn by ladies during the Middle Ages, but which was charac- teristic of witches, and termed " the triumphal barret of the devil " (vide La Sorcitre de G. Michdet, vol. L chap. v.). By the thistle, Heine refers to what is thus expressed by Friedrich (Symbolik d. Natur), "It is an emblem of sarcastic, biting wit," and is associated with the mottoes Non nisi aculeos (nothing if no*, stinging) and Nemo me impunc lacessit (Acsthetik der Pjlanzenwdt, p. 241). It is also an emblem of Venus, of beauty, and in elfin lore signifies the presence of a fairy. Heine has here with exquisite ingenuity and grace employed the symbols of witchcraft, piquancy and beauty, as attributes of his imagined goddess. Translator. a red, blooming thistle. Perhaps it was the Goddess of Caprice, that strange muse who was present at the birth of Rosalind, Beatrice, Titania, Viola, and all the rest, however they may be called, of the dear charming children of the Shakespearean comedy, and kissed their brows. She, indeed, kissed all the freaks and fancies, dainty dreams and droll devices into their young heads, whence they passed to their hearts. As among the men so with the women in Shake- speare's comedies, passion is entirely devoid of that terrible earnestness, quite without the fatal- istic necessity with which it reveals itself in the tragedies. Cupid, indeed, is there blind, and carries a quiver with arrows. But these arrows are far more gaily-feathered than deadly-tipped, and the little god often squints roguishly at us over his blind. Even the flames give far more light than heat, but they are always true flames, and in the tragedies of Shakespeare, as well as in his comedies, love always beai-s the character of truth. Yes, truth is the token of Shakespearean love, no matter what the form may be in which it appears, be it called. Miranda, or Juliet, or Cleopatra. While I mention these names rather by accident than with intension, it occurs to me that they really represent the three most deeply significant types of love. Miranda is the representative of a love which, without previous influences of any kind, could only develop its highest ideality as the flower of an unpolluted soil which only the feet of spirits had trodden. Ariel's melodies have trained her heart, and sensuality has never been known to her, save in the horribly hideous form of a Caliban. The love which Ferdinand awakes in her is therefore not really naïve but of a happy true-heartedness, of an early-world-like, almost terrible purity. Juliet's love shows like her age and all around her, a more romantic-mediæval character, and one blooming into the Reenaissance: it glitters in colours like the court of the Scaligeri, and yet is strong as of those noble races of Lombardy which were rejuvenated with German blood and loved as strongly as they hated. Juliet represents the love of a youthful, rather rough, but of an unspoiled and fresh era. She is entirely inspired with the sensuous glow and strength of belief of such a time, and even the cold decay of the burial vault can neither shake her faith nor cool her flame. Our Cleopatra!—ah, she sets forth the love of a sickly civilisation—an age whose beauty is faded, whose locks are curled with the utmost art, anointed with all pleasant perfumes, but in which many a grey hair may be seen, a time which will empty the cup held out to it all the more hastily because it is full of dregs. This love is without faith or truth, but for all that none the less wild or glowing. In the vexed consciousness that this heat is not to be subdued the impatient woman pours still more oil into it, and casts herself like a Bacchante into the blazing flame. She is cowardly, and yet inspired with desire for her own destruction. Love is always a kind of madness, more or less beautiful; but in this Egyptian queen it rises to the most horrible lunacy. Such love is a raging comet, which with its flaming train darts into unheard-of orbits through heaven, terrifies all the stars, even if it does not injure them, and at last, miserably crackling together, is scattered like a rocket into a thousand pieces.

Yes, thou wert like a terrible comet, beautiful Cleopatra, and thou didst glow not only unto thine own ruin, but wert ominous of evil for those of thy time! With Antony the old heroic Roman spirit came to a wretched end.

But wherewith shall I compare you, O Juliet and Miranda? I look again to heaven, seeking for a simile. It may be behind the stars where my glance cannot pierce. Perhaps if the glowing sun had the mildness of the moon I could compare it to thee, O Juliet! And were the gentle moon gifted with the glow of the sun, I would say it like thee, Miranda!

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  1. Wie eng, wie Englisch. Literally, how narrow or close; implying also angular, contracted movements. Heine was much given to these little, old-fashioned quodllibets and puns which are so much admired by certain readers as "untranslateable graces," and brilliant points of "ineffably graceful style" or "wealth of imagery." Out of justice to Heine it may be here recalled that, many years after, he expressed to Lady Duff Gordon deep regret for all this early abuse of everything English, confessing that it was mere ill-tempered caprice, and that he was quite ignorant of the people.—"Ich habe sie auch nicht gekannt." It is probable that false second-hand ideas as to English "Puritanism," and a desire to please his French readers, had a great deal to do with it.—Translator.
  2. Nitrogen. In German, Stickstoff, literally strangling-stuff.
  3. In this passage we perceive to perfection Heine's great weakness, that is, his inconsistency and his real inability to be a leader in politics or thought. He was fond of assuming to be the first of the reformers of his time, but no London "æsthete" ever surpassed him in practically preferring "Art," or what he found personally agreeable, refined, and elegant, to great principles, or in being now one thing and then another. He was very vain of his intimate knowledge of everything English, but it did not go beyond superficial characteristics. He curses the Anglican in the beginning of this chapter as "the most repulsive race ever created by God in His wrath," apparently because he did not like their beer, cookery, and piety, and manifests in his amusing attempts at political economical criticism an incredible ignorance of, and indifference to, the real influence of the national debt and commerce. He was a genius within his sphere, but unfortunately he too often attempts to show himself as one without its limits. A brave and leading soldier of freedom who deserves the name does not regard it as inferior to "Art." In the next sentences the reader will find him bewailing the death of Charles I. as a great calamity and outrage, while in other places he exults in the guillotine, the French revolution, and regicide. "The age" is no excuse for such inconsistency. The more chaotic an age is, the more it becomes a genius to form inherent principles, and act or write up to them.—Translator.
  4. Gebräumluchlichen Begräumlnissehren, "the usual honours of burial."
  5. In discussing the characters in Julius Cæsar in the following pages.—Note by H. Heine.
  6. Steinkohlenqualmige.
  7. The stylus for writing was often used as a dagger among the Romans (Adams).—Translator.
  8. Herein lies the value of folk-lore as an aid to the study of history, that it supplies the inner life of the people in all things —that is to say, it does this so long as its students do not turn it into mere tables of comparison of tales and superstitions.—Translator.
  9. Anschauungsvermögen.. Selbstanschauungsvermögen, the faculty of self-perception (Kant). Kritik der reinen Vernunft.Translator.
  10. In an essay on the Shakespearomania, in the second volume of "Dramatic Poems," by Grabbe, Frankfort, 1827.—Note by thee German Publisher.
  11. Begriffe, conceptions.
  12. There is a pun here, something of the spirit of which may be given by translating this as "even Pride once fawned."—Translator.
  13. Which they certainly did, occasionally. The putting on a hat was the ceremony by which a slave was made free."—Translator.
  14. Heine is here far too sweeping and "general," assuming that faults which are few and far between in Schlegel and Tieck's translation are universal. Nor is the principle absolutely true. Shelley's translation of a portion of Goethe's "Faust" is incomparably better than that of Hayward.
  15. Neidhart, grudger, grumbler.
  16. Sonnets, xciv.
  17. Scherz, Satire, Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung. A comedy in three acts. Dramatic Works of Grabbe, vol. ii. The passage occurs in the second scene of act ii. p. 125.—Note by the German Publisher.
  18. Unsterblichsten/
  19. As Heine generally wrote intelligently and well on art, I can only attribute the absolute absurdity of this sweeping remark to great ignorance. He might with quite as much truth have extended the remark to British engraving.—Translator.
  20. The original German edition was accompanied by forty-five steel engravings, illustrating the text.—Translator.
  21. "Der Hauptheld ist ein Laps und die Heldin eine gewöhnliche Schürze." Schürze is literally a petticoat; jocosely, a girl or woman.
  22. This was originally said of Shakespeare himself by Ben Jonson. In Heine's text it reads, "Blutwenig Latein und gar kein Griechisch."—Translator.
  23. We, id est, I (Heine).—Translator.
  24. In referring to Goethe's Faust. Romantic School, first book.—Note by the German Publisher.
  25. Troilus and Cressida, act iii. sc. I.
  26. Coriolanus, act ii. sc. i.

    "My gracious Silence, hail!
    Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
    That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
    Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
    And mothers that lack sons."

  27. Wortschwall, bounding billows of talk. "But 'rigmarole' I deem the better word."—Translator.
  28. These are true comparisons on the whole. Many years ago I remarked the astonishing likeness between many busts of old Romans of the better class and certain modern Englishmen.—Translator.
  29. Heine here indicates an opinion, which he manifests in other passages of his works, that the rich possess, and keep from the poor, abundant means to support the latter. —Translator.
  30. That is to say that on the evil principle of unlimited "out-of-door relief," they, like the monks of later date with their doles, deliberately created an army of incurable paupers, who were thereby forced into being retainers and partisans. They plundered the world to feed a lazy mob of Roman citizens.—Translator.
  31. Antony and Cleopatra, act iii. sc. 6.
  32. Ibid., act iii. sc. 8.
  33. Antony and Cleopatra, act. iii. sc. II
  34. Züngeln, to kiss, touching the tongues together—the baisér à la Florentine. In that remarkable work, Delle Bizzarerie Academiche, by Gio. Francesco Loredano, Venice, 1667, there is a chapter on this subject, but according to him this peculiar osculation is effected by holding the ears of the subject, and kissing lip to lip. French writers define it as I have done.
  35. Antony and Cleopatra, act v. sc. 2.
  36. Antony and Cleopatra, act i. sc. 5.
  37. Titus Andronicus, act ii. sc. 3.
  38. This sympathy with Tamora and her vindication are not creditable to Heine. It is difficult to understand how the sacrifice of Alarbus, in accordance with the custom of the times, justifies the outraging and mutilation of Lavinia. The traces of divinity in Tamora are indeed very faint.—Translator
  39. Titus Andronicus, act i. sc. 2.
  40. Titus Andronicus, act ii. sc. 3.
  41. Einen juten Heringsalat nebst einem Glase Punsch. J (i.e., Y) for G is characteristic of the Prussian dialect.
  42. This refers to the prompter in his box.—Translator.
  43. That of Queen Elinor. King John, act i. sc. 2.
  44. Notwithstanding the cleverness of the fable of the mice, these comments on Constance must be pronounced an utter failure as regards appreciation of the character, while the conclusion, containing an allusion to a political personage, which is not worth explaining, is like the last whoop with an unseemly gesture of a clown leaving the ring.—Translator.
  45. first Part of King Henry IV., act ii. sd. 4.
  46. First Part of King Henry IV., act ii. sc. 3.
  47. Romanische Worter, not literally Latin words, but those of Latin derivation.—Translator.
  48. Den schwarzen Flecken, die ihm sogar Shakespeare angedichtet. Dichten, to compose as an author. Andichten, to invent a charge against one, to libel, to impute falsely against.—Translator.
  49. Heine in this paper assumes as a settled thing that all the details and truths as regards Joan of Arc are perfectly known, and that they are fully set forth by Schiller. In fact it is a very doubtful matter whether the Maid was ever burned at all, and whether she did not marry and become the mother of a large family. As regards witchcraft, had Heine lived in Shakespeare's time he would certainly have believed in it heart and soul. But there is no proof that Shakespeare was superstitious in any respect. Joan of Arc gave it out, and perhaps herself believed, that was was visited by spirits, and in a credulous age she naturally brought upon herself the charge of being a sorceress. Shakespeare simply used the generally accredited tradition as a dramatist. Heine appears here to have totally forgotten that in Germany, long after the time of Joan of Arc, many thousands of witches, who did not pretend to supernatural gifts, and who had not made themselves violently obnoxious to great political powers, were put to death far more cruelly. If the very doubtful death of Joan of Arc in a very Catholic age is a proof of British barbarism, what do the witch burnings of the Protestants in the seventeenth century indicate as regards German humanity?
    It may be remarked that in the concluding paragraph Heine remarks that Shakespeare could not have worked over or retouched (bearbeitet) this play on Henry VI. because they bear 'in many parts' the Vollgepräge or perfect stamp of his genius. It might be asked to what purpose he reworked or finished up the dramas, if it was not to give them such a stamp or effect? The whole article indicates that it was intended to flatter the Germans through Schiller, and especially to gratify the French by abuse of England.
  50. As usually told, the soldier cried that he had caught a Tartar. "Bring him in then." "He winna let me go!" This is the usually accredited sense of the saying, "He has caught a Tartar."—Translator.
  51. First Part of King Henry VI, act v. sc. 3.
  52. Third Part of King Henry VI., act i. sc. 3.
  53. "She-wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France."—Third Part of King Henry VI., act i. sc. 4.
  54. Second Part of King Henry VI., act iii. sc. 2.
  55. Or, as men say in the American stock-market, "lambs," meaning victims. The allusion may be taken to drawing the wool over one's eyes, to blind a victim to its fate, as well as to literal trade in wool. —Translator.
  56. Heine has previously declared that the English begun these wars, vide p. 331.—Translator.
  57. Of this chapter it may be said emphatically, "fine writing but foolish." For there can be no greater folly than to rake into the remote past for reasons to ridicule the present conditions of society, which are now entirely changed. And when we consider that all this exaltation of pure aristocracy and chivalry over base mechanicals and mere money-making merchants comes from Heine, who elsewhere modestly requests the world to lay a sword on his grave because he had been such a brave soldier in the war against aristocracy and ancient wrongs in the cause of the people, this abuse of the English for not being knightly is simply comic. But when we find him wailing over the first great manifestation of the power of the people in the employment of infantry at Cressy, and speaking with blue-blooded, bitter scorn of vulgar foot-soldiers and cannon, the inconsistency rises to broad absurdity. Our author asserts that in this battle the victory was with the English and its glory to the French; but in truth it was a double victory and glory to the former ; one over the enemy, and another and far more glorious over the old order of things, in which all renown was for the few and none for the many. It was absolutely this battle which has since made England victorious in a thousand fields, and it was the rise of the "wool-growers and merchants," or of the middle class, which sustained and supported the national military spirit.—Translator.
  58. Steckbrief, writ of arrest, the public notice of a runaway, including a description of him.
  59. King Richard II., act i. sc. 4.
  60. First Part of King Henry IV., act iv. sc. 4.
  61. This paper suggests the reflection that to Heine every woman who disregarded the seventh commandment was an angel, and every one who kept it a devil. He finds something divine, adorable, or attractive in Tamora, Cressida, and Cleopatra, even in Margaret, hut Queen Katharine is to him altogether repulsive. And all her great and noble qualities are to him absolutely nothing because Doctor Samuel Johnson admired her! All the power of Shakespeare's genius, he declares, failed to exalt her, because " this great pot of porter" praised her. Call you this criticism? It is not even excellent fooling, it is the fade frolicking of a freshman trying to seem wicked, while the suggestions that Henry bored his wife with his accomplishments, and she him with her virtues, are wretchedly forced fun of a kind which "has not even novelty for merit." This misapplied trifling is carried out to the very end, for the last words of Queen Katharine, as given in full in the original text, are inspired with anything but the heathen wrath and evil pride which Heine directly declares are to be found in them. They are as follows :

    " I thank you, honest lord. Remember me
    In all humility unto his highness :
    Say, his long trouble now is pass-ing
    Out of this world : tell him, iu death I bless'd him,
    For so I will. Mine eyes grow dim. Farewell,
    My lord. Griffith, farewell. Nay, Patience,
    You must not leave me yet. I must to bed ;
    Call in more women. When I am dead, good wench,
    Let me be used with honour ; strew rne over
    With maiden flowers, that all the world may know
    I was a chaste wife to my grave : embalm me,
    Then lay me forth : although unqueen'd, yet like
    A queen, and daughter to a king, inter me.
    I can no more." (King Ilenry VIII., act iv. sc. 2.)

    Truly a singular specimen of heathen wrath and unquenchable pride ! Even the garbling or misrepresentation is very bunglingly done, for the Queen declares that she has no longer the title, but simply wishes to be buried as becomes one of her royal birth only this and nothing more not as a queen, but like one. The heathen wrath is here all on the side of Heine. lie was a great genius and a learned scholar, but he had his limits, and a character like that of Katharine was as much out of his range of comprehension as his would have been to her.— Translator

  62. King Henry VIII., act iv. sc. I. It is remarkable that a passage extremely like this occurs in a poem by one of the earlier Icelandic skalds. Vide notes to Thorstens Saga. Also another in the Carmina Burana.
  63. Wink, a sign of intelligence, nod, hint, or wink. In German a nod is truly "as good as a wink."—Translator.
  64. Beim Anblick der juten Macbeth. Berlin provincialism.—Translator.