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what different title after having remodelled it. If this supposition be accepted—which is indeed simply an hypothesis-W
-we may perhaps also assume that the earlier work and especially the scenes with the shepherds were left more or less unchanged ; this would also explain its fresh colouring as compared with The Tempest,' ,
" •Cymbeline' and Timon of Athens.'
THE TEMPEST AND A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S. DREAM.
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. • THE Winter's Tale,' forms, as it were, the point of transition to a couple of purely fantastic comedies, The Tempest' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream ;' both are internally and externally of the fairy-tale character, both also, as regards subject, are, as it seems, the poet's own invention.* As they are the only two purely fantastic
* Oberon and Titania, and the whole elf tribe who are derived from the old northern religion and legends, had, indeed, been long known to the English, partly from popular superstition, and partly from the oll French romance of Theon and Auberon. The legend of the love potion is also ancient. Chaucer's Knight's Tale and his Tysbe of Babylone, or Golding's translation of Ovid's Pyramus and Thisbe have therefore probably been regarded as the sources of A Midsummer Night's Dream, (Compare Halliwell: An Introduction to S.'s Midsummer Night's Dream. London, 1841, p. xi. f. xxiii. f.) And yet what these sources offered could at most act as suggestions; they in reality do not at all contain the substance and invention of the play. Of The Tempest also, most commentators have assumed that the substance was Shakspeare's own invention. And certainly no safe source has yet been discovered from which he might have drawn his materials. For Tieck's conjecture (Deutsches Theatre, 8. xxii.) that it is remodelled from an old English Play, is a mere conjecture; there is no trace of any such piece, and J. Ayrer's play Die schöne Sidea, which exhibits some similarities with The Tempest, is no adequate support for Tieck's supposition. Nevertheless it is very doubtful whether Shakspeare did not draw from the old ballad (discovered by Collier), or from an earlier sourco (common to him and to the author of the ballad, perhaps also of Ayrer, the Nürenberg poet), it may be from an old Spanish novel. It is true that no such novel was yet been discovered, in spite of zealous investigations; but after reading the ballad (in Collier's Farther Particulars regarding the Life and Works of S., and printed herefrom in the Quarterly Review, No. cxxx., 1840, p. 478), it must be admitted that the substance in the simpler form in which it is there given, has quite the character of one of those novels of which Shakspeare made such various use, by dramatising them in his own fashion, that is, not only by furnishing them with new characters, and placing these in dit-, ferent circumstances, but also by giving a deeper significance to the ideal substance of the action, as well as to the various characters. At all events, it is inconceivable why the ballad-poet (if he drew from Shakspeare) should have so curtailed the matter, and entirely omitted many significant incidents. Moreover he had no conceivable reason for changing the dramatic personages from Italians into Spaniards, whereas Shakspeare, owing to the political relations between Eny. land and Spain in 1610–11, and King James' love of peace, and his endeavours to bring about a good understanding with Spain, night have found pressing ocrusion to convert the Spaniards of the ballad .. novel into Italians. He, however, it may be intentionally, gave them Spanish names, to remind the spectators that the personages were real Spaniards, and that, accordingly, the political allusions interspersed were to be referred to Spain. The fact that the printing, as well as the diction of the ballad, speak in favour of a somewhat later date than 1610-11, cannot matter much, partly because new +ditions of ballads thus handed down traditionally, were always changed in accordance with the language and character of the time, partly, also, I think, because even the ballad followed an earlier Spanish novel, and, accordingly, may have been known to Shakspeare from an earlier lost print. As long as this novel remains undiscovered, the question must remain undecided.
comedies, and Shakspeare, so to say, first invented the whole species, they have attracted more attention than any others of his comedies, and, accordingly, must here also be submitted to a somewhat closer examination.
Every person of an imaginative or poetical turn of mii probably knows from his own experience that peculiar state of mind, in which everything appears so strange, so mysterions and mystic that we can become wholly absorbed in the contemplation of a wild flower, of a murmuring brook, or of the hurrying clouds; a mood in which we feel as if, at every moment, something unheard-of must happen, or in which, at least, we lony from the depths of our heart for some kind of wonderful occurrence, although in our immediate neighbourhood everything moves on in its usual course, nay although we ourselves feel perfectly content and happy in the everyday relations of our life and in our ordinary activity. There are, in fact, hours in which-illuminated only by single scattered stars——the deep darkness of the
Mysterious and the Mystic struggles with the brigit daylight of the well-known, for the possession of our soul, -hours, in which the dark, wonder-seeing eye of the imagination confronts the clear, sober look of reason, and man, as it were, beholds himself and the world around him from two entirely opposite points of view, as if he himself were two entirely different individuals. This state of mind forms, we may say, the psychological foundation of that fantastic, poetical picture which has in the case of Shakspeare's Tempest' and A Midsummer Night's Dream'—blends into one, two perfectly heterogeneous and contradictory forms of existence, in order to shape them into a new, strange, half-known, half-unknown world. On the one side we are met by figures with which we are perfectly well acquainted—human faults and failings, feelings, passions and thoughts-all in the usual form of actual reality; we fancy we see ourselves and our surroundings but reflected in the mirror of poetry. On the other side, however, the magic power of the marvellous reveals its whole force, the laws of nature are set aside, the figures represented are at most but the imitations of common reality; their nature, and frequently also their appearance, is wholly different; everything contradicts the experience of every-day life, or at all events, exceeds its limit on either side.
And yet we seem, nevertheless, to feel ourselves at home in this abnormal, unknown world of wonders. It is not pure illusion, for it touches a chord in our hearts, which forms an harmonious accompaniment to the mysterious sounds that reach us from that other world; we find ourselves possessed of a mysterious feeling that sympathises with the wonderful beings. The imagination of the true poet, in fact, only throws life into the unexplained wonder which is reflected in the heart of man. The world of wonders into which the poet leads us, does not contradict the laws and customs of common reality, but merely common, external reality ; it is in perfect accordance with the higher laws of a reality which is indeed not common, but certainly general and ideal; the physical laws of nature are set aside, but they are replaced by the ethical laws of the mind. Bith are, in fact, one in their origin and ain; we mentally perceive and feel this unity, and on this very account find ourselves equally at home in both spheres.
Shakspeare's fantastic drama is distinguished from the fairy tale by this double foundation, this double view of life which forms its basis. 1 The fairy tale has but one world in which it moves, and this world is wholly won derful, wholly a play of fancy. The fairy tale does not pretend to describe reality, but envelopes it in that gay, half-dazzling, half-transparent veil of haziness and mustiness, of light and colour, of which its own structure is composed. Its thoughts are but assonances of thought, so to say, but separate tones of a rich harmonious chord, the missing notes of which have to be discovered by the reader's own imagination. It does not intend to express one definite view of life, one idea, but to allude to the whole substance of thought and of life, to touch and to strike it every now and again, so that the bell (which is cast of a combination of all the different metals) gives back the separate sounds, which must harmonisé among one another in spite of the looseness of their connection. It is this harmony alone, which, as it were,
floats over the whole, that constitutes the general meaning and the truth of the fairy tale, because, in fact, it expresses the one side of real life. The fairy tale, accordingly has no desire to be explained, it does not wish to appeal to the reason but merely to the imagination. To presume to explain it, would be much the same thing as anatomically to dissect a flower to seek for its scent.
Plays like “The Tempest' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' however, are particularly in need of explanatory criticism, for, on the one hand, they possess the character of the fairy tale, which is apparently quite beyond explanation, but, on the other hand, this fairy-tale character of the representation is merely woven into common reality like a couple of fragrant, exotic flowers into a northern wreath of oak leaves. The Wonderful is so closely blended with the Natural and the Real, that the one cannot become clear if the other is not also explained. To leave the dramas uninterpreted would be to acknowledge them mere tales or fairy tales. But mere fairy tales they are evidently not. For while the fairy tale never expresses