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Work has been got up in an elegant manner, and no expense has been spared to render it as attractive and complete as possible.
It is hoped that the countless readers of the great bard, will here find an additional incentive to their admiration of his works; whilst those who have hitherto only picked up the choicest of his gems, may be induced to dip deep into the mine of wealth which lies hidden beneath them. The hasty traveller may pluck, here and there, a brilliant flower by the way-side; but it is by him alone who tills the ground that the richest fruit is gathered. Thus, with the productions of the great dramatist, the beauties are not found by one who dips into them at chance times, but are rather unfolded to the student who ardently and persistently seeks them out.
We subjoin a list of the Engravings which will be given in the course of the Work, with the names of the painters.
A. Johnston King Lear.
J. W. Wright As You Like It. BEATRICE J. W. Wriglit Much Ado.
CONSTANCE J. W. Wright King John.
A. Johnston Coriolanus.
J. W. Wright Merchant of Venice. JULIET
J. Hayter Romeo and Juliet. ROSALIND K. Meadows As You Like It. LADY PERCY J. W. Wright King Henry IV. HELENA
J. W. Wright All's Well. JULIA
Two Gentlemen. MARGARET J. W. Wright King Henry VI. MOPSA
Winter's Tale. MRS. PAGE J. W. Wright Merry Wives. ANNE BULLEN J. W. Wright King Henry VIII. MARIANA J. W. Wright Measure for Measure. OLIVIA W. P. Frith Twelfth Night. TITANIA
K. Meadows Mids. Night's Dream. ANNE PAGE J. W. Wright Merry Wives.
K. Meadows Troilus and Cressida. LADY GREY J. W. Wright King Henry VI. KATHERINE
Taming of the Shrew, MRS. FORD E. Corbould Merry Wives.
J. W. Wright Julius Cæsar. SILVIA
J. W. Wright Two Gentlemen. JOAN OF ARC J. W. Wright King Henry VI. VIOLA
A. Egg Twelfth Night. LADY ANNE J. W. Wright King Richard III. HERO J. W. Wright Much Ado.
Othello. LAVINIA J. W. Wright Titus Andronicus. LADY MACBETH K. Meadows Macbeth, ISABELLA J. W. Wright Measure for Measure. CLEOPATRA K. Meadows Antony and Cleopatra. MARIA
“I hold you as a thing ensky'd and sainted
As with a saint." The character of ISABELLA has been a subject of great difference of opinion amongst critics. By some, she has been held up as the model of everything proper and admirable in a woman. On the other hand, there are those who have considered her as prudish, austere, destitute of feeling, and a mixture of intolerance and pride. It is probable that both sets of critics are in error. If we turn from a PORTIA or JULIET, to ISABELLA, the contrast of character is so striking, as to make her somewhat repulsive, in the severity of her manner. But Shakspeare introduces her in situations far different from theirs; and in them her virtue stands out in such prominence, by its comparison with the evils with which she is surrounded, that it almost appears a vice in its excessive strength. The scene of the play is at Vienna; and the Duke, having deputed his authority to ANGELO and Escalus, under pretence of leaving the country, connects himself with a monastery; and, in the guise of a friar's habit, has the opportunity of freely moving amongst his subjects, without being known by them.
ANGELO puts into force some almost obsolete laws, and CLAUDIO, the brother of ISABELLA, is condemned to death, on account of his having transgressed them. ANGELO sustains a high character for possessing a serenity of virtue, that neither sins, nor can permit sinning.
All efforts to procure a remission of the sentence against CLAUDIO are unavailing; but, at last, ISABELLA appears, entrcating Angelo for her brother's life. The fourth scene of the second act is taken up with an interview between him and ISABELLA ; during which he offers to pardon her brother on certain conditions only, which are inconsistent with her honour. In the third act we meet with the DUKE, disguised as a friar, and ISABELLA communicating to CLAUDIO what had passed between her and ANGELO. The DUKE contrives to procure the escape of Claudio, and also to do justice to Mariana, whom ANGELO had sorely wronged.
Passing over the minor incidents of the play, we arrive at the day appointed for the return of the DUKE. MARIANA and ISABELLA throw themselves in his way, not knowing that, under his assumed disguise, they had all along been directed by him. ISABELLA, in passionate terms, complains of ANGELO, and is at first disbelieved; MARIANA also pours out her griefs. The Duke, on pretence of other business, leaves ANGELO to judge the case, and rehabits himself as a friar, so as to add his testimony to the guilt of ANGELO. Thus disguised, he is, with the rest, ordered to prison, for falsely accusing ANGELO; when his cowl falls off, and he then appears in his true character. The dénouement then takes place. ANGELO is condemned to death, it being just that he should receive Measure for Measure; but, at the intercession of MARIANA, he is pardoned. The last scene ends in the Duke liberating CLAUDIO, and offering his hand to ISABELLA.