« PředchozíPokračovat »
When Warwick dies, in what a fine strain of metaphor, drawn from natural objects, he makes him lament:
Thus yields the cedar to the axe's edge,
When Wolsey falls from his high state, how beautifully he moralizes, comparing man to a tree, liable to be stripped of its leaves and blossoms, and rendered fruitless by the vicissitudes of the seasons :
This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
Henry VIII., iii., 2. In another passage he likens his fall to a bright exhalation in the evening,” which passes swiftly away, and is no more seen; another fine simile from nature, equally well selected with the former, to express the suddenness with which worldly glory and prosperity frequently disappear.
Not less admirable are the natural comparisons with which he portrays the fascinating beauty, excellence, and general character of woman, the fairest part of the creation! If she is beautiful he gives her “ doves' eyes,” and “
roses in her cheeks,” with lips like "kissing cherries," and face of “lily tincture.” She is “ straight as a wand;" her fingers are white as milk, and soft as flowers ; her embraces like the encircling of woodbine and honeysuckle ; and to express her superiority over others of her sex, she is compared to a “snowy dove trooping with crows." Her voice is melodious,
More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear
when hawthorn buds appear.”
If she be angry, she is like a “fountain troubled;" if she be deceitful, her false tears prove “ crocodiles." After all, when time and beauty are over, from her “fair and unpolluted flesh.” the "violets spring."
In the details of sculpture and profile variety is essential to the relief of the form of any object, whether natural or artificial. Shakespeare recognized this all-important principle, and he describes Cleopatra as chiefly admirable for its possession :
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. In every age a well-developed forehead has been regarded as indicating an expanded intellect. If we look at the ancient statues of the Greeks, we find that their sculptors considered an advanced forehead as one of the characteristics of dignity and beauty, implying a refined and exalted nature. Hence, in their personifications of ideal sublimity, with the boldness of genius, acting on the indications of nature, they overstepped her boundary, and, feeling that a facial angle of 85 would fail to embody their conceptions, they advanced it to 100 degrees, and thus impressed the statues of their gods and heroes with an air of superhuman grandeur. That is the maximum degree to which the facial line can be raised without falling from the sublime to the distorted. If the high forehead was a beauty, the low forehead must have been a blemish, denoting an uncultivated brute nature. A forehead " villanous low," is Shakespeare's expression respecting the ape. (Tempest, iv., 1.) Julia, drawing a comparison between herself and Silvia, saysAy, but her forehead's low, and mine's as high.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv., 4.
And her forehead is
Antony and Cleopatra, iii., 3.
Duke. There is written in your brow, Provost, honesty and constancy; if I read it not truly, my ancient skill beguiles me; but in the boldness of my cunning, I will lay myself in hazard.
Measure for Measure, iv., 2.
“Let forehead joyfull be and full,
It shewes a merry part;
The Book of Demeanor. “ Roo. But I have heard your tongue exalted much,
When you have brushed away the hairy pent--house,
The Ball, by Shirley, 1632, 4to., i., 2.
Cleopatra says that for the most part “ they are foolishi” that have round faces. Antony and Cleopatra, iii., 3.) So in Hill's Pleasant History, &c. (1613, p. 218.) “The head very round to be forgetful and foolish,” “ the head long to be prudent and wary," "a low forehead," &c.
P. OF MOROCCO. Mislike me not for my complexion,
The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun,
Midsummer Night's Dream, ii., 1.
“ In what part or membrane of the body," says Dr. Robertson, " that humour resides which tinges the complexion of the negro with a deep black, it is the business of anatomists to enquire and describe. The powerful operation of heat appears manifestly to be the cause which produces this striking variety in the human species." (History of America, Book iv.) “Circa oceani oram non nisi Æthiopes habitant quos
usque ad speciem nigri coloris exurit." - Macrobius in Somn. Scipionis, lib. ii., p. 125, edit. Lugd.
CLEOPATRA. Let him not leave out the colour of her hair.
Antony and Cleopatra, ii., 5. This is one of Shakespeare's masterly touches, as the colour of a person's hair is indicative not only of the age and beauty, but of the peculiar temperament of the individual.
ROSALIND. His very hair is of the dissembling colour.
As You Like It, iii., 4.
Judas was anciently represented with red hair. So in Quevedo's Visions, made English by R. L. [Sir Roger l'Estrange], sixth edition, 1678 "I do believe what the Church says of Judas, that he had a carrot beard and a red head,” p. 227. Red hair was once so much the fashion, that they used to die different hair of that colour. St. Jerome forbids the ladies of his age, “Ne capillos in rufes, & ei aliquod de gehenne ignitus aspergas." Drayton makes Edward IV. enter into an enraptured description of the red hair of his mistress, Jane Shore:
" When they which doe thy angell-locks behold,
But that it is so like unto thy haire." Certain differences in the cut of the beard, in Shakespeare's time, announced the differences of professions. Hence, he describes the justice with “beard of formal cut,” and the soldier “bearded like the pard,” which word is a contraction for leopard, whence the comparison is derived. Ben Jonson, in The Fountain of Selfe-Love, or Cynthia's Revels, 4to, 1601, says, “the grace of your soldier's face consisteth much in a beard.”
The soldier's beard is again thus noticed by Shakespeare :
GOWER. And what a beard of the general's cut, and a horrid suit of the camp, will do among foaming bottles, and ale-washed wits, is wonderful to be thought on! but you must learn to know such slanders of the age, or else you may be marvellous mistook."
King Henry V., iii., 6. In the Merry Wives of Windsor (i., 4.) Mrs. Quickly asks if Slender “ does not wear a great round beard like a glover's paring knife?" Simple replies, “ No, forsooth; he hath a little wee face, with a little yellow beard ; a Cain-coloured beard.”
Merry Wives of Windsor, i., 4. Ancient paintings represent Cain with a yellow beard. In old portraits, particularly those of the Earls of Essex and
Southampton, we perceive that beards assumed very whimsical shapes, such as of spades, stilettoes, &c.
Several instances are recorded in which great mental suffer: ing has caused the human hair to turn gray or fall off almost immediately. Shakespeare makes Falstaff say, " Thy father's beard is turned white with the news.” (Henry IV., Part i., Act ii., Scene 4.) Nashe, too, in his work entitled Have With You to Saffron Walden, 1596, says, “You shall find a gray hair for every line I have writ against him; and he shall have all his beard white too by the time he hath read over this book.” According to the saying of Pindarus
" It sometimes happens in our way,
To meete a young man turned gray.” And Homer to this purpose
Care, sorrow, griefe, and dire distresse
Gives the young head the old man's dresse." Very feare itself, horrour, and the apprehension of an inevitable death have so farre seized upon some men, as we read of a kinsman of Francis Gonzagus, Prince of Montana, who, accused of treason, became gray in the prison, betwixt the evening and the morning."
Borrelli relates that a French gentleman was so greatly agitated on being thrown into prison, that his hair turned completely gray in the course of the night. Dr. O'Connor has recorded the case of a healthy boy, twelve years of age, entirely losing his hair from the effects of a horrible dream, in which he thought he was being murdered, and from which he awoke screaming with terror. On the following morning his hair began to fall off, and in a fortnight he was quite bald, and he continued in that plight for several years. There are three other remarkable instances on record of persons whose hair suddenly turned, one froin red to white, upon the apprehension that they should be put to death.+
Mrs. Catherine Davies, writing in 1841, says that a woman
• Basset's Curiosities, or Cabinet of Nature, London, 1637, p. 75.
+ See Daniel Turner's work, De Morbis Outaneis, third edition, 1726, chap. xii., pp. 163-4, and Spectator, No. 615. Other instances of the same phenomena occur in Montaigne, and in Grimstone's translation of Goulart's Memorable Histories, p. 489.