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The original quarto edition of Troilus and difference in the characterisation, the whole Cressida' was printed in 1609. No other story under the treatment of Shakspere edition of the play was published until it becomes thoroughly original. In no play appeared in the folio collection of 1623. does he appear to us to have a more com
“The original story,” says Dryden, “was plete mastery over his materials, or to written by one Lollius, a Lombard, in Latin mould them into more plastic shapes by the verse, and translated by Chaucer into Eng- force of his most surpassing imagination. lish; intended, I suppose, as a satire on the The great Homeric poem, the rude romance inconstancy of women. I find nothing of of the destruction of Troy, the beautiful it among the ancients, not so much as the elaboration of that romance by Chaucer, name of Cressida once mentioned. Shak- are all subjected to his wondrous alchemy; spere (as I hinted), in the apprenticeship of and new forms and combinations are called his writing, modelled it into that play which forth so lifelike, that all the representations is now called by the name of Troilus and which have preceded them look cold and Cressida."" Without entering into the ques- rigid statues, not warm and breathing men tion who Lollius was, we at once receive the and women. Coleridge's theory of the prin* Troilus and Creseide' of Chaucer as the ciple upon which this was effected is, we have foundation of Shakspere's play. Of his per- no doubt, essentially true :fect acquaintance with that poem there can "I am half inclined to believe that Shak. be no doubt. Chaucer, of all English writers, spere's main object (or shall I rather say his was the one who would have the greatest ruling impulse ?) was to translate the poetic charm for Shakspere. Mr. Godwin has heroes of Paganism into the not less rude, justly observed that the Shaksperean com- but more intellectually vigorous, and more mentators have done injustice to Chaucer in featurely, warriors of Christian chivalry, and not more distinctly associating his poem to substantiate the distinct and graceful with this remarkable play. But although profiles or outlines of the Homeric epic into the main incidents in the adventures of the the flesh and blood of the romantic drama, Greek lover and his faithless mistress, as in short, to give a grand history-piece in the given by Chaucer, are followed with little robust style of Albert Dürer." a deviation, yet, independent of the wonderful
. Literary Remains,' vol. ii. p. 183.
Dryden, we have seen, speaks of Shak. the exception to Shakspere's general idea! spere's 'Troilus and Cressida' as a work of of the female character. She is beautiful, his apprenticeship. Dryden himself aspired witty, accomplished,—but she is impure. to reform it with his own master-hand. The In her, love is not a sentiment, or a passion, notion of Dryden was to convert the 'Troilus —it is an impulse. Temperament is stronger and Cressida' into a regular tragedy. He than will. Her love has nothing ideal, complains that "the chief persons who give spiritual, in its composition. It is not name to the tragedy are left alive: Cressida constant, because it is not discriminate. is false, and is not punished.” The excite. Setting apart her inconstancy, how altoment of pity and terror, we are told, is the gether different is Cressida from Juliet, or only ground of tragedy. Tragedy, too, must Viola, or Helena, or Perdita ! There is have “a moral that directs the whole action nothing in her which could be called love : of the play to one centre.” To this standard, no depth, no concentration of feeling, then, is Shakspere’s ‘Troilus and Cressida' nothing that can bear the name of devotion. to be reduced. The chief persons who give Shakspere would not permit a mistake to name to the tragedy are not to be left alive. be made on the subject; and he has thereCressida is not to be false ; but she is to die : fore given to Ulysses to describe her, as he and so terror and pity are to be produced. conceived her. Considering what his intenAnd then comes the moral :
tions were, and what really is the high mo“Then, since from home-bred factions ruin springs, rality of the characterisation, we can scarcely
Let subjects learn obedience to their kings." say that he has made the representation too The management by which Dryden has
prominent. When he drew Cressida, we accomplished this metamorphosis is one of think he had the feeling strong on his mind the most remarkable examples of perverted which gave birth to the 129th Sonnet. A ingenuity. He had a licentious age to French writer, in a notice of this play, says, please. He could not spare a line, or a “Les deux amants se voient, s'entendent, et word, of what may be considered the objec- sont eureux." Shakspere has described such tionable scenes between Pandarus, Troilus, happiness :and Cressida. They formed no part of the
“ A bliss in proof,—and prov'd, a very woe; “rubbish” he desired to remove. He has
Before, a joy propos'd; behind, a dream : heightened them wherever possible; and All this the world well knows; yet none knows well what in Shakspere was a sly allusion be
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell." comes with him a positive grossness. Now It was this morality that Shakspere meant to let us consider for a moment what Shak-teach when he painted this one exception to spere intended by these scenes. Cressida is the general purity of his female characters.
PRIAM, King of Troy.
HECTOR, son to Priam.
TROILUS, son to Priam.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 3; sc. 4; sc. 5.
PARIS, son to Priam.
Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 4; sc. 8.
DEIPHOBUS, son to Priam.
HELENUS, son to Priam.
Appears, Act I. sc. l; sc. 2; sc. 3.
Act V. sc. 2; sc. 11.
Appears, Act III. sc. 3.
Act IV. sc. 2; sc. 4. Act V. sc. 3; sc. 11.
Appears, Act V. sc. 8.
Act IV. sc. 5. Act V. sc. l; sc. 5; sc. 10.
MENELAUS, brother to Agamemnon. Appeurs, Act I. sc. 3. Act III. sc. 3. Act IV. sc. 5.
Act V. sc. 1; sc. 8; sc. 10.
Appears, Act II. sc. 1; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 3.
AJAX, a Grecian commander.
ULYSSES, a Grecian commander. Appears, Act I. sc. 3. Act II. sc. 3. Act III. sc. 3.
Act IV. sc. 5. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 2; sc. 5.
NESTOR, a Grecian commander. Appears, Act I. sc. 3. Act II. sc. 3. Act III. sc. 3.
Act IV. sc. 5. Act V. sc. 1; sc. 5; sc. 10.
Act IV. sc. 1; sc. 3; sc. 4; sc. 5.
PATROCLUS, a Grecian commander.
Act IV. sc. 5. Act V. sc. 1.
Act V. sc. 1; sc. 4; sc. 8.
Appears, Act I. sc. 2.
Servant to Troilus.
Servant to Paris.
Appears, Act V. sc. 5.
Appears, Act III. sc. 1.
Appears, Act V. sc. 3.
Appears, Act II. sc. 2. Act V. sc. 3.
Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act III. sc. 2.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE,—TROY, AND THE GRECIAN CAMP BEFORE IT.