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and we had better say first what has to be said on this side of the matter before proceeding to the more agreeable task of commenting on his many "beauties."
In the first place, it might be fairly urged that the book gives us less than we have a right to expect on the biographical side. Not a little has been done since Mr. Sidney Lee nearly ten years ago focussed the results of all previous biographies in his standard "Life of Shakespeare"; and various questions, in controversy between scholars since, ought by this time to be ripe for a summing up. The reason for Shakespeare's hasty marriage, his alleged Roman Catholicism, his knowl edge of law and of the Bible, his conduct in regard to the Welcombe enclosure are a few of the points on which it would not have been difficult to come to a final judgment. But all such matters are dismissed by Mr. Raleigh with a smile as of no importance; and the business of the Welcombe enclosure on which every biographer bases
a good deal of criticism of Shakespeare's character as a citizen, according to the view he takes, is not even mentioned. Again, when Mr. Raleigh says there is nothing to object to Aubrey's statement that Shakespeare when a boy "exercised his father's trade and when he killed a calf would do it in a high style and make a speech," we want to know whether he has considered Mr. Charles Elton's objection, that the trade guilds forbade a glover to be a butcher, and that John Shakespeare was certainly a glover; and when he quotes "that excellent antiquary Mrs. Stopes" as authority for Shakespeare's mother's descent from "Guy of Warwick and the good King Alfred" we may fairly ask to have it explained why the Arden quartering asked for was alternatively that of two disconnected families, and why in the event it was never assumed LIVING AGE.
by the Shakespeares. These are trifles, but they serve to show that on its biographical side the book does not count. Mr. Raleigh, indeed, has a brilliant man's contempt for all such detail. He speaks of Shakespeare's biography as a "scrap heap"; and, somewhat more justly, declares that "those who feel that their knowledge of Shakespeare must needs depend chiefly on the salvage of broken facts and details are his flunkeys, not his friends." In a fine passage he insists that the real Shakespeare can be discovered, and can only be discovered, in his books:
No man can walk abroad save on his own shadow. No dramatist can create live characters save by bequeathing the best of himself to the children of his art, scattering among them a largess of his own qualities, giving, it may be, to one his wit, to another his philosophic doubt, to another his love of action, to another the simplicity and constancy that he finds deep in his own nature. There is no thrill of feeling communicated from the printed page but has first been alive in the mind of the author; there was nothing alive in his mind that was not intensely and sincerely felt. Plays like those of Shakespeare cannot be written in cold blood, they call forth the man's whole energies, and take toll of the last farthing of his wealth of sympathy and experience. In the plays we may learn what are the questions that interest Shakespeare most profoundly and occur to his mind with most insistence; we may note how he handles his story, what he rejects, and what he alters, changing its purport and fashion; how many points he is content to leave dark; what matters he chooses to decorate with the highest resources of his romantic art, and what he gives over to be the sport of triumphant ridicule; how in every type of character he emphasizes what most appeals to his instinct and imagination, so that we see the meaning of character more plainly than it is to be seen in life. We share in the emotions that are aroused in him by certain situations and events;
we are made to respond to the strange imaginative appeal of certain others; we know, more clearly than if we had heard it uttered, the verdict that he passes on certain characters and certain kinds of conduct. He has made us acquainted with all that he sees, and all that he feels, he has spread out before us the scroll that contains his interpretation of the world; how dare we complain that he has hidden himself from our knowledge?
It is then in large measure as an attempt to interpret Shakespeare to us from his dramas that Mr. Raleigh's book must be studied; and with much of his interpretation, always striking and always worth serious attention, we find ourselves in agreement. with what seems to be Mr. Raleigh's main impression of Shakespeare we entirely disagree. We should be inclined to say that he reads Shakespeare in the light of Chaucer, with whom he is clearly more in sympathy. He speaks again and again of Shakespeare's wide tolerance, of his breadth and impartiality of view. That Shakespeare had wide knowledge of the human heart, and wide sympathy with all its passions, is of course a commonplace; but Mr. Raleigh means more than this. He seems to mean that Shakespeare's view of life was un-moral. "Shakespeare moves in a larger scheme of things, where the sun rises on the evil and on the good." His first illustration of Shakespeare's "impartiality" is drawn from the equal interest which he extends to the active and the contemplative life.
His pictures of the men in whom imagination is predominant-Richard II., Hamlet, Macbeth-are among the most wonderful in his gallery, the most closely studied, and intimately realized. But not even the veil of drama can hide from us the admiration and devotion that he feels for those other men to whom action is easy-Hotspur, the bastard Faulconbridge, and, chief of all, Othello. These are the natural
lords of human kind. Shakespeare holds the balance steady; a measure of the subtle speculative power of Hamlet might have saved Othello from being made a murderer; it could not have increased Shakespeare's love for him.
How finely that is said! But Mr. Raleigh's thesis is not that Shakespeare had wide sympathies, but wide tolerance; and his illustration tells against him. How was it tolerance to involve both Hamlet and Othello in catastrophe? A second illustration exhibits in even more striking form the difficulty of the thesis:
Why, all the souls that were, were forfeit once,
And he that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy,
and with Gloucester in King Lear, when from the depths of his despair he impugns the mercy of heaven:
As flies to wanton boys are we to the Gods;
They kill us for their sport.
But, surely, each of these speeches is merely in character; neither tells us anything as to Shakespeare's own belief. It would be as legitimate to say that Shakespeare was "at one" with Iago when he said "Virtue, a fig!"
But Mr. Raleigh's most striking illustration of Shakespeare's tolerance is found in his estimate of Measure for Measure, which, we venture to think, would have much surprised the dramatist.
In criticisms of Measure for Measure we are commonly presented with a picture of Vienna as a black pit of seething wickedness; and against this background there rises the dazzling, white, and saintly figure of Isabella. The
picture makes a good enough Christmas card, but it is not Shakespeare. ... The wretches who inhabit the purliens of the city are live men, pleasant to Shakespeare. . . . Pompey, the irrelevant, talkative clown, half a wit and half a dunce, is one of those humble, cheerful beings willing to help in anything that is going forward, who are the mainstay of human affairs. Even Lucio has his uses; nor is it very plain that in his conversations with the Duke he forfeits Shakespeare's sympathy. ... Lastly, to omit none of the figures who make up the background, Mistress Overdone pays a strict attention to business, and is carried to prison in due course of law.
One rubs one's eyes. Every one is perfectly familiar with the "tolerance" here described in some dramatists of our own generation; but we had thought it a new discovery. And we are not convinced that it is not. Has Mr. Raleigh forgotten that his "black pit of seething wickedness" is the Duke's own description of Vienna? Has he forgotten the way in which the dramatist manifests his "sympathy" for Lucio at the end of the play? We agree that Shakespeare makes Pompey amusing, as he does Trinculo and Stephano; but his "impartiality" is oddly displayed in degrading the one to be hangman and letting Prospero's dogs loose on the others. We cannot think, then, that Mr. Raleigh has established his main position.
Incidentally, too, there are not a few criticisms which seem too little considered, as though Mr. Raleigh had written in haste, and had not kept his book long enough by him. The inconsistencies inevitable in such an impressionist mode of working might be drawn out into a long list, and they might with advantage be reduced in a new edition. The discussion on the differences between Tragedy and Comedy is not adequate to the importance of the subject. We are told that "the crude test of life and death gives no
easy criterion," because in The Winter's Tale Mamillius dies of grief and fear. But no serious person ever proposed so crude a test as the death of a single character in a play. The test proposed is the death of the hero. Romeo and Juliet has always been reckoned a tragedy and Measure for Measure a comedy for this reason. The spectator has a right to know beforehand in what key the play is set and to what depth his feelings are to be moved. Again, is it just to say that "there is not a particle of evidence to show that Shakespeare held any views on the theory of the drama, or that the question was a live one in his mind"? Could there be stronger evidence that he had a theory of tragedy than the fact that his tragedy differs fundamentally from that of his contemporaries, and was never, at any rate after Romeo and Juliet, a tragedy of circumstance but always a tragedy of character? It might even be pleaded that when a friend of Ben Jonson goes so far as to quote Aristotle's "Politics," he may be presumed to have heard of the "Poetics." Again, to say that a profound sense of fate underlies all Shakespeare's tragedies is to use the word "fate" in a different sense from that which it usually bears. The very distinction of the Shakespearian drama is that the fate is, to the largest possible extent, the product of personality; as Mr. Raleigh admits in another place, when speaking of the witches in Macbeth.
But it is time to point out some of Mr. Raleigh's felicities. One of the very best things in the book is the passage upon Shakespeare's "surprises."
It is impossible to say when he will suddenly put forth his vital power and take away the breath of his readers by some astonishing piece of insight which defeats all expectation. He is most natural when he upsets all rational forecasts. We are accustomed to anticipate how others will behave
in the matters that most nearly concern us; we seem to know what we shall say to them and to be able to forecast what they will say in answer. We are accustomed, too, to find that our anticipation is wrong. So it is in Shakespeare. His surprises have the same convincing quality; the word once said is known to have been inevitable.
The illustrations given are Cleopatra's speech to her attendants when Cæsar has left her; Desdemona's dialogue with Emilia when she realizes Othello's suspicion; Macbeth's reply to the messenger who brings him news of the Queen's death, and Othello's speech in the bed-chamber when he looks at the sleeping wife he has come to kill. Again, the chapter on the Theatre is one of the best. The analysis of the stage effects in the second act of Julius Cæsar is masterly, and the plea for the boy-actors is one of the most original things in the book.
It may be doubted whether Shakespeare has not suffered more than The Times.
he has gained by the genius of latterday actresses, who bring into the plays a realism and a robust emotion which sometimes obscure the sheer poetic value of the author's conception. The boys were no doubt very highly trained and amenable to instruction; so that the parts of Rosalind and Desdemona may well have been rendered with a clarity and simplicity which served as a transparent medium for the author's wit and pathos. Poetry, like religion, is outraged when it is made a platform for the exhibition of their own talent and passion by those who are its ministers. With the disappearance of the boy players the poetic drama died in England, and it has had no second life.
It would not be possible in a review to follow Mr. Raleigh in his appraisement of the great Shakespearian personages. Often we agree, as often we dissent; but the charm of all his criticism is that it is fresh from the spring, and much more exhilarating than what has been over carefully distilled in the laboratory.
THE SOUL OF THE BLACK.
Next week Mr. Sydney Olivier leaves for the Governorship of Jamaica, and the hopes and best wishes of the country go with him. It is no disparagement to the high standard maintained by our Colonial, Foreign, and Indian Offices to say that the appointment is of special interest, and has been received with unusual satisfaction. There are many reasons for this, both personal and administrative. Mr. Olivier has shown that it is possible for a hard-working and trusted official in one of our rather rigid public services to follow a distinct line and keep a distinct personality, holding courageously to convictions however unpopular, and continuing to serve the State
with confidence that right reason will in the end prevail. His previous work in Jamaica as Vice-Governor has also disproved the common British fallacy that a man of high intellectual and imaginative power bungles the practical affairs of government. But we wish now to dwell only on one aspect of the appointment. In Jamaica Mr. Olivier will be face to face with one of the greatest problems before the world, and he is among the very few who not only realize its difficulty, but confront it with hope.
That problem arises from the leavings of slavery; it is the fatal inheritance bequeathed from the union of callousness with greed. In his recent
book upon "White Capital and Colored Labor," Mr. Olivier himself says: "On the countries where the white man has, with whatever philanthropic excuse or pretext, enslaved or used the black for his own economic profit, a curse still rests. They are sad lands. The harvest has been reaped and carried; the fortunes are spent; the industrial system has perished." Jamaica is one of those sad lands. The whites number barely 15,000; a halfbred stock of about 50,000 mulattoes serve as clerks, artisans, teachers, and even clergy; but outnumbering both these classes put together by about ten to one stands the solid black mass of 600,000 negroes, the descendants of the slaves our fathers imported from Africa by a lucrative and atrocious trade. There they remain, at first sight as hopeless as one of the mangrove swamps of their ancient home, where vast tree-trunks rising from the slime towards the distant sunlight rot as they grow and fall suddenly, crashing through silence, to sink again into slime among the stench and colorless creatures of the ooze. Earthquake and the ruin of the old sugar industry are bad enough; with them, too, the Governor will have to deal. But the after-growth of slavery is the great question before him in Jamaica, as it would be in the Southern States or in any country which slavery has touched. That is "the White Man's Burden"-a burden which the white man himself has laid upon the landand now he finds, to his indignation, that it is not the black man only who has to take it up.
The old solutions no longer satisfy; they are no longer possible. For centuries the cultured races believed quite simply in "slaves by nature," and found the belief convenient. When Christ's teaching of equality before God made this belief untenable, slavery was defended for centuries more
as an opportunity for baptism and an open gate by which black souls might enter the fold. That belief was also convenient, and still prevails in the clerical circles of Johannesburg. Then came Carlyle's "poor Quashee, with face deep in pumpkin squash," and an eternal right to be emancipated from idleness. The obvious advantages of forced labor still keep the "poor Quashee" theory alive in various forms. We have seen it quite lately in the proposals for labor conscription and for a taxation that will drive the Kafirs to the mines in the interests of their own moral redemption. But it is all no good. The latest refinement in excuses is seen to be inferior to the old Greek plea of "slave by nature." All such justifications betray the furtive greed lurking hardly concealed. Invoking an obvious hypocrisy, they perish of their own cant. In the best English of the negro's kinsmen upon the West Coast, "them live for die."
If we rule out the pretences of philanthropy and religion, one of two courses only remains open: either we must boldly go back to the assertion that the black races are fit for nothing but slavery, and we intend to use them for the production of white man's wealth whether they are fit or notan assertion which is growing more and more common in Africa and the Southern States; or else we must resolutely confront the question of race in all its aspects-legal equality, social behavior, possible inter-marriage. If we determine to abandon slavery in reality, as all civilized people have abandoned it in name, we must learn to understand race. But race is a hard thing to understand, and the African race one of the hardest. It is almost impossible to enter into the soul of another race, to see it lying as a constant quality beneath all the innumerable variations of men and women, and to realize in what aspect it regards