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which, even where they appear more definite, might easily have been inserted by the poet or the actor upon certain occasions, and subsequently come to be employed in the text-is now proved by a Diary, discovered by Hunter and belonging to a certain Manningham (probably John Manningham) a barrister of the Middle Temple. By this diary it is authentically established that. What You Will' had been played before the benchers as early as the 2nd of February, 1602, at the feast of Candlemas. * Collier thinks that it may have appeared on the boards of Blackfriars shortly before. This, however, is a mere hypothesis which cannot prevent our fixing the date one year earlier. The play of · What You Will' was first printed in the folio edition of 1623.

Whether Shakspeare borrowed his subject from one of Bandello's novels or from Rich’s translation of it (under the title of Apollonius and Silla') in ‘His Farewell to Militarie Profession’(1581), or from the old Italian comedy Inganni to which Manningham refers, is difficult to decide. It is possible that Manningham confounds the Inganni with another Italian comedy, Gľ Ingannati, commedia degli Academici Intronati di Siena, which was also founded upon Bandello's novel, and likewise appeared as early as the sixteenth century. The latter, at all events as regards the relative position of the characters, the situations and the course of the action, has more affinity to · What You Will’ than to the Inganni Probably, however, Shakspeare followed Rich's version of Bandello's novel, and the greater resemblance of his work to the comedy of the · Academician of Siena,' is owing to the latter having likewise closely followed Bandello. And yet Shakspeare might also have become acquainted with the main features of the story from Belleforest's French translation in his Histoires Tragiques. J. Klein, in his excellent history of the drama, makes the remark that Rich's History of Apollonius and Silla,' which Shakspeare made use of in `What You Will,' cannot be called a translation of Bandello's novel, for it keeps much closer to Cinthio's novel (the eighth of the 3rd Decad.), whereas Bandello's probably followed the earlier comedy of

* Collier's History, i. 327, and his Shakespeare, iii. 317.


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Ingannati. By a careful analysis of the latter comedy, as well as of the one entitled Inganni by Nice Secco (which also comes into consideration here), Klein * proves

that neither can be regarded as the source of What You Will,' but that Shakspeare evidently made use of Rich's parrative and dramatised it in his own fashion.

In what way Shakspeare has made use of the novel, the reader may discover for himself by consulting Echtermeyer, Henschel and Simrock,f or Bandello himself (ii. 36). It will be found that in this case, also, the piece, as regards invention, is almost entirely Shakspeare's own. I

* Geschichte des Dramas, vol. iv. p. 749 ff. 801 ff. † Simrock, ii. 161, iii. 254 f.

Rich's Apollonius and Silla has been reprinted by Collier in tho second volume of his Shakespeare's Library.





1. As You LIKE IT.

This charming comedy is also one of the mixed species, but with a decided preponderance of the fanciful element. Even a summary estimate of the contents of the piece will, I think, prove this most clearly.

We have two royal dukes, one of whom has unlawfully (we are not told how) driven the other from the throne; the exiled Duke has thereupon fled into the Forest of Arden where, with his followers, he leads a free and fantastic sort of life; two other aristocratic brothers, the elder of whom 80 persecutes the younger that he seeks refuge with the exiled Duke in the Forest of Arden; two princesses, the daughters of the two dukes, deeply attached to one another, one of whom is exiled and is accompanied by the other, likewise wend their way to the Forest; two fools, a merry one and a melancholy one; and lastly shepherds and shepherdesses described according to an idealised view of nature-such are the principal characters of the play. Their graceful groupings and the contrast in which they stand to one another enliven the romantic wildernesses of the Forest, and their various situations, relations and characters determine all that takes place in the play. Taken singly nothing that happens is actually contrary to nature, there are no extraordinary or unusual beings or phenomena; taken singly every character, every situation and action might belong to ordinary reality. It is only the introduction of lions and serpents into the mountainous scenery of Europe which gives us a gentle intimation that we are standing upon the ideal soil of poetic fancy. And still more emphatically is this expressed in the development and the composition—the style and the tone, the spirit and

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the character of the piece in general, and in the position and relation of the individual parts in particular-in short, in the totality of the circumstances and situations, actions and events. We are clearly given to understand that the drama is not a picture of common experience, but that it conceives life from a peculiarly poetical point of view, and that it is intended to exhibit a fantastic reflex of life in the mirror of caprice and humour. For if we consider the whole somewhat more closely, we shall at once have to admit that such things as the play presents, do not and could not happen in actual experience ; that such a romantic mode of life in the loneliness of a forest is but a poetical dream ; that, in fact, real life cannot be carried on or treated in the manner in which it is by almost all the persons represented; that the good Duke, Orlando, Rosalinde, Celia, Jacques and Touchstone, are figures which the realistic mind would call oddities, enthusiasts, romancists ; that, in reality, a character like the unrighteous Duke would not readily be converted by a recluse hermit, or a man like Oliver de Bois be wholly changed by a single magnanimous action on the part of his persecuted brother.*

It may, therefore, be asked wherein, amid this apparent unreality, lies the poetical truth of the piece? And which is the internal bond that gathers together all the confused and strangely involved threads, forming them into one harmonious whole? We must bear in mind that it is the comic view of life, which here forms the basis of the drama, and accordingly that the truth of human life is not represented directly, but by means of contrast, that is, by accident, caprice and waywardness paralysing one another, and by the true agent of human life-the eternal order of things-being brought vividly into view. This becomes clearly evident when we consider how the unrighteous caprice (whatever may have been its motive), which suddenly drove the good old Duke into exile, as suddenly reverts against itself, destroying its own work and restoring what it had wronglully appropriated ; how, in like manner, by a similar change of sentiment, the right relation between the two brothers de Bois is also brought about; how the love between Orlando and Rosalinde, between Celia and Oliver-which arose suddenly by the concurrence of circumstances—attains its object by an equally sudden change of circumstances and relations; and lastly, how the coyness of the shepherdess Phvebe is overcome much in the same way, and she is in the end united to her faithful, good-natured simpleton of a lover.

* Gervinus, Shakespeare Commentaries, finds both cases quite natural and in accordance with the characters. But even thouglı internal motives and inducements might be imagined for such changes, still they are not given in the piece itself, not even intimated in the fain test manner; the change of sentiment takes place suddenly without either preparation or development. Therefore, if we take the two characters, not in the sense in which Gervinus conceives them, but as Shakspeare presents them to us, they appear inconstant, changeable, and slaves to their caprices and inclinations.

Thus the general comic view of life is reflected throughout the whole play, and forms the foundation and platform upon which the action moves. If, however, it be now asked what is the special standpoint from which the poet has here taken his view of life, or—what is the same thing—where is the central point of unity which gives the play its peculiar stamp, we shall again find that the title furnishes us with some clue. For the title is so striking, so original, so completely without any reference to the action reprosented, as such, that we have to declare it to be, either utterly senseless and meaningless, or assign to it a concealed reference to the internal significance and to the ideal meaning of the whole. * Like the similar title of · What You Will,' it has been referred to the relation between the play and the public (A. W. von Schlegel), and has been so interpreted as to convey the meaning that the piece was intended to present itself to the spectators in any form

* Gervinus decides in favour of the first alternative, because the title does not suit his conception and interpretation of the drama, so that either his conception or the title must be meaningless.

But why Shakspeare-quite contrary to his usual habit, and contrary to the theatrical custom of the day (which was fond of a very elaborate title, describing the contents of the pitce)-should be supposed to give just this play (which Gervinus thinks preaches a serious moral) a completely senseless and unmeaning title, when, in fact, he did not readily pen an unmeaningless word, and why he should be supposed to stick suel at the head of one of his lays, is to my mind perfectly unin. telligiile.

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