Lectures and notes on Shakespere and other English poets

9780217008686: Lectures and notes on Shakespere and other English poets

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1883 edition. Excerpt: ...for, and yet commit, the error. Shakspere has represented this character in a very peculiar manner. He has not made him amiable with counterbalancing faults; but has openly and broadly drawn those faults without reserve, relying on Richard's disproportionate sufferings and gradually emergent good qualities for our sympathy; and this was possible, because his faults are not positive vices, but spring entirely from defect of character. Act ii. sc. 1. "K. Hich. Can sick men play so nicely with their names?" Yes! on a death-bed there is a feeling which may make all things appear but as puns and equivocations. And a passion there is that carries off its own excess by plays on words as naturally, and, therefore, as appropriately to drama, as by gesticulations, looks, or tones. This belongs to human nature as such, independently of associations and habits from any particular rank of life or mode of employment; and in this consist Shakspere's vulgarisms, as in Macbeth's--"The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!" &c. This is (to equivocate on Dante's words) in truth the nohile volgare eloquenza. Indeed it is profoundly true that there is a natural, an almost irresistible, tendency in the mind, when immersed in one strong feeling, to connect that feeling with every sight and object around it; especially if there be opposition, and the words addressed to it are in any way repugnant to the feeling itself, as here in the instance of Richard's unkind language: "Misery makes sport to mock itself." No doubt, something of Shakspere's punning, must be attribut ed to his age, in which direct and formal combats of wit were a favourite pastime of the courtly and accomplished. It was an age more favourable, upon the whole,...

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