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i! straight into the reddest heart of the tire.
"I see it. I thought as much," Antonio muttered. "Ay, my Lord,—'too good for the Popinjay'!"
As the letters flamed, carrying their secret in smoke up the chimney. Harry Marlowe turned on the hearth, bold, graceful, laughing, to face the frowning brow and angry puzzled eyes of the old man in the chair.
But a great noise which had been
(To be con
growing for some minutes before, now stormed the shallow staircase and poured into the room. A crowd of Christmas mummers masked and in antic dresses, St. George, the Dragon, and the rest, with loud shouts and songs and clatter of halberds and tin swords, prancing round in their time- honored, privileged revels, effectually interrupted my Lord Marlowe's lovomaking.
THE SONNETS OF SHAKESPEARE.'
There is no more perilous emprise in literature than the editing of Shakespeare's Sonnets. In an antrc vast, approached by CLIV. slippery and breakneck steps, the Friend and the Lady sit shrouded in a horror of thick darkness, and the bones of the commentators whiten around them. No one has achieved the adventure, few have even essayed it with impunity. Happy the wight who has come forth from that sorry place without leaving his sanity, his logic, or at the very least his manners, behind him. Mr. Beeching is one of the fortunate few. His edition of the Sonnets is a model of ripe scholarship, sound judgment, and temperate utterance. "In 'rther words," says the cynical reader,his conclusions happen to agree with yonrs!" In the main, they do; but even were it otherwise, I hope I should have the grace to recognize the closeness of Mr. Beeching's reasoning and the urbanity of his style.
It to a testimony to the hutnaner
'"The Sonnets of Shakespeare." With an Introduction and Notes by H. C. Beeching, M.A., "Utt. (Atheojeum Presa Series. Boaton, U. S. sod London: Glnn and Co., 1904.)
spirit of latter-day scholarship that the book should be dedicated in the most cordial terms to Mr. Sidney Lee, whose luckless theory of the Sonnets it controverts on almost every page. Mr. Beeching fully acknowledges the great service Mr. Lee has rendered in demonstrating the close relationship of the Elizabethan sonnet in general to the Italian and French models which set the fashion. In this field, as in so many others, Mr. Lee's labors have been invaluable. But Mr. Beeching shows (though he might, perhaps, have made the point more explicitly) that, while they doubtless present certain conventional features, Shakespeare's Sonnets are distinguished from the innumerable quatorzains of his contemporaries precisely by their unconventionally. "Perhaps," says Mr. Beeching, "Mr. Lee a little overstates the case, strong as it is, for the artificiality of the emotion displayed in the Elizabethan sonnets." But we need not insist on this peradventure. If every
"Shakeapeare Self-Revealed tn His 'Sonnets' and 'Phoenix and Turtle.'" The Texts with Introduction and Analyses by J. M. (London and Manchester: Sherratt and Hughes, 1904.)
other sonnet in the language were purely artificial it would not alter the fact that the majority of Shakespeare's Sonnets manifestly are not. The story they set forth, though baffling as regards the personality of the actors, is otherwise clear, definite, consistent, bound down at many points to details of common life, and utterly remote, in all its characteristic passages, from Platonism or make-believe. Who would dream of inventing such a story? Who would deliberately compose so pitiful a drama and then cast himself for the pitiful lest part? Strange indeed, as Mr. Beeching points out, are some of the "flatteries" Shakespeare addresses to his munificent "patron"; and though reproaches to his mistress are doubtless part of the conventional rhetoric of the ordinary sonnetteer, what Delia, or Diana, or Idea was ever reproached in the terms in which Shakespeare lashes and brands the Dark Lady? There is realism, psychological and physical, in every line of these sonnets. Mr. Beeching puts the case mildly, but very happily, when he says:
It by no means follows because a poet uses a fashionable and artificial form of verse that the emotion he puts into it is merely fashionable and artificial. It may be or it may not be. We must not forget that, although the sonnet was fashionable at this epoch, the passion of love had perhaps as great a vogue as the sonnet.
Mr. Beeching adduces a new argument for assigning the bulk of the sonnets to the very last years of the sixteenth century. He says:
Every writer knows the perverse facility with which a phrase once used presents itself again; and Shakespeare seems to have been not a little liable to this literary habit. It Is not uncommon for him to use a word or a phrase twice in a single play, and never after
wards. There is a strong probability, therefore, if a remarkable phrase or figure of speech occurs both in a sonnet and in a play, that the play and the sonnet belong to the same period.
He then cites several striking instances of this word-recurrence, which would seem to make the Sonnets contemporary with Henry IV., Hamlet, and other plays of the middle period in Shakespeare's career. This argument (which must not be confounded with the argument from "parallel passages") is ingenious and interesting; but it has a logical defect which will be hard to overcome. Before we can attach much weight to the word-recurrences which Mr. Beeching points out, we must be satisfied that similar word-recurrences are not to be found on comparing the Sonnets with plays of an earlier period. It is notoriously difficult to prove a negative; and until this negative is proved, Mr. Beeching's reasoning remains inconclusive.
Mr. Beeching decidedly rejects the Southampton theory of the Sonnets, and doubtfully inclines to accept the Pembroke theory. In both cases his argument is delightfully acute and concise. Every word tells. One may perhaps except the suggestion that the phrase "onlie begetter" in Thorpe's dedication could not refer to the procurer of the manuscript, because "'only begotten* Is so familiar an English phrase that 'only' could hardly be used with 'beget' if the verb had an unusual sense." That "begetter" did not mean "procurer" I cordially agree; but the force of this particular argument eludes me. On the other hand nothing could be more cogent than Mr. Beeching's remarks on the suggestion that Thorpe addressed Lord Pembroke as "Mr. W. H." on purpose to conceal his identity from the uninitiated:
Mr. Lee argues that for a publisher to have addressed any peer as plain "Mister" would have been defamation, and a Star Chamber matter, as it well might if the publisher intended an insult. But in any case the peer would have had to set the Star Chamber in motion; and there might be good reasons for not doing so. . . . Those who on the ground of this derogation from Herbert's dignity have denied the possibility of his being the "begetter" of the Sonnets have, perhaps, not always sufficiently considered the impossibility of dedicating them. "To the Right Honorable William, Earle of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlaine to His Majestie, one of his most honorable Privie Counsell, and Knight of the most noble order of the Garter." Had Thorpe ventured upon such a dedication as that, I can conceive the Star Chamber taking action of its own accord.
This could not possibly be better put; and yet Mr. Beeching confesses himself unconvinced. "There is a smug tone," he says, "about the dedication which suggests that while Mr. W. H. was far above Thorpe's own social position, he was yet something less than so magnificent a person as the Earl of Pembroke." The most ardent Pembrokist will scarcely deny that this is delicately and perhaps justly felt
At one point only does Mr. Beeching's sobriety of statement fail him for a moment. He will not countenance any attempt to identify the "Dark Lady." He says:
The number of brunettes in the capital at any time is legion, and the Sonnets supply no possible clue by which the particular person can be identified. The attempt, therefore, to fix upon someone with whom Pembroke is known to have had relations is merely gratuitous; and it rejoices the heart of any sane spectator to learn that this supposed "dark lady," Mistress Mary Fitton, turns out, when her portraits are examined, to have been conspicuously fair.
Now, In this paragraph one cannot but
feel a touch of uncalled-for asperity. If Mary Fitton was "conspicuously fair," her claims to the doubtful honor of having been Shakespeare's "worser spirit" are certainly knocked on the head. But, apart from this damning discrepancy, the case in her favor seems to me exceedingly strong; and I may, perhaps, be pardoned for doubting whether this opinion deserves to be lightly dismissed as "insane." It is manifestly excessive to say that "the Sonnets supply no possible clue" to the identity of the Dark Lady. They supply one very important clue: namely, that she was the mistress of "Mr. W. H." If "Mr. W. H." cannot be identified, the clue, of course, fails. But if, "W. H." meant William Herbert—and Mr. Beeching sees nothing "Insane" in that view—then Mary Fitton, Herbert's mistress, surely becomes a "not impossible she" to take the third place in the trio. For a long time the phrase "in act thy bed-vow broke" seemed to rule her out; while there was nothing to show that she had a third lover of the name of William, as Sonnet CXXXV. not obscurely suggested. But when it appeared from the Arbury records that she was persecuted by the attentions of Sir William Knollys, and was actually (by an almost incredible arrangement) regarded as being betrothed to him, then the case in her favor became, in my eyes, almost overwhelming. It crumbles to naught, of course. If Mary Fitton can be proved to have been fair; and the testimony of all who have examined her portraits at Arbury seems to agree, if not that she was "conspicuously fair," at least that she could not be called dark. That granted, one can only say that chance has played us an elaborate practical joke in heaping coincidence upon coincidence to lead us astray. Had her complexion been dark, one could almost have retorted the accusation of—infirmity of judgment—upon anyone who, ac■
cepttng Pembroke, could still reject the exquisitely dovetailed evidence in favor of Mary Fltton.
"J. M.," the author of Shakespeare Self-Revealed, has a short and simple method of interpretation which relieves us of all further need to discuss Southampton, Pembroke, the Dark Lady, or any other historical question in relation to the Sonnets. In his eyes Shakespeare's "better angel" was the Love of Beauty, and his "worser spirit" the Love of Fame. To these warring tendencies (but why warring?) all the
Sonnets are addressed; and J. M. goes through them one by one, fitting them, not without ingenuity, into his attractive scheme. According to this interpreter, "Mr. W. H." meant "Mr. Will Himself"—a theory at which J. M. arrived quite independently of the learned German who (as he afterwards ascertained) had anticipated him. It is gratifying to find that even in the extraction of sunbeams from cucumbers England can still hold her own with Germany.
THE FALL OF
The Japanese have finally succeeded in the first, and perhaps greatest, of the many feats of arms in which they must succeed before they can completely triumph over their mighty enemy. Aided by the formation of the ground, and by the genius of an engineer who has in some mysterious way missed his due meed of fame, the Russians had constructed at the eastern tip of the Liao-tung Peninsula a fortress which they intended to be their base for great conquests in the Northern Pacific, which they believed to be impregnable, and which great experts declare would have been impregnable to any besiegers but the Japanese. It was a system of forts, three lines of them, rather than a fortress, which had to be taken. No other generals, even if commanding German or French or British troops, would have ventured to expend so many trained men on such an effort, or would have been so uninfluenced by the fear that the hideous slaughter which marked every repulse and every partial victory might demoralize their soldiery, or so appal their people at home that a continuance of
the policy of attack would become impossible. The place, remember, was not defended by Chinese or by natives of India, but by Russians, who behind fortifications are among the best troops in the world, who were provided with artillery at least as good and as plentiful as that of their assailants, who had a hero to command them, who had risen to the temper in which death seems a mere occurrence in life, and who believed almost to the last that relief either by land or sea was certain to arrive. The Power which could carry across sea an army capable of such an achievement, of such a siege of eight months, of making a series of storming assaults, few of which completely succeeded, without discouragement, and of carrying it all through to a triumphant conclusion, as a mere incident in a greater campaign, has proved herself, whatever her future history, to be one of the Great Powers. There is no State in existence whose soldiers would encounter the victors of Port Arthur in equal numbers with any certainty of victory. Indeed, there have been incidents in the siege, like
the storm of Xaushan or of 203-Metre Hill, which have compelled experienced soldiers to doubt whether the Japanese are not the finest fighters in the world, and whether Kuropatkin is not right in demanding a grand superiority in numbers as the first, indeed the essential, condition for any victory by the troops under his command. It will be a more necessary condition than ever now, for the news cannot be long concealed from the troops on the Sha-ho; and little as the Russian soldier is demoralized by suffering, it is inconceivable that the spirits of the men, and especially of the officers, should not be depressed by a defeat which they have been taught to consider iraIiossible, at least while the hero of Russian imaginations remained to conduct the defence.
This, the rise of Japan into the position of a successful fighting Power, as strong in all the elements of strength as any Power in the world, is, we conceive, the first and greatest result of the surrender of Port Arthur. It will make the Island Empire the object of universal international attention, of a hundred hopes and fears, which will develop into elaborate combinations and intrigues, and will for the moment directly, perhaps painfully, affect the relations of the European Powers to each other. The owners of the Philippines, of Indo-China, or Kiao-chow, of Java, perhaps even the owners of India and Australia, will recognize with a more perfect certainty that a new and most powerful State has been born into the world. They knew that before, it will be said, and it is true; but the knowledge was impaired in completeness by an element of uncertainty, by a doubt whether the great fortress might not after all be relieved by Admiral Rozhdestvensky, or delivered by a victorious march of General Kuropatkin. We have noticed the doubt even in England; and on the Conti
nent, where the belief in the invincibility of Russia is stronger than in this country, it has affected every expression of opinion. The difference between the fact, and the fear or hope of the fact, is often very wide, and it will, we think, prove to be so in this case. The world discounts most things, but it cannot discount a thunderbolt or an earthquake, or even an assassination. Mankind in general will first shudder, as at some event of the greatest moment which the majority had never foreseen, and then begin discussing its immediate consequences. Will there be peace, it will be asked, and what will be the effect upon the prospects of revolution in Russia?
It is impossible to answer either question with complete confidence, because the replies depend upon two unknown quantities,—the inner character of the Russian Czar, and the silent opinion of the huge mass of the Russian peasantry. We should say ourselves that it was next to impossible for a Government like the Russian, which rests for internal affairs firstly upon the army, and secondly upon the prestige of the Czar among his own people, to make peace until General Kuropatkin has made his grand effort, and either been defeated, or what is quite as possible, has been so weakened by a series of sanguinary battles that his army has ceased to be a factor in the problem. The rulers of Russia have been aware for some time that Port Arthur must fall, and regard its surrender as part of the defeat of a Navy which they have not been accustomed to consider a prime element in their own greatness. They will think it safer to risk an army, which they can replace, than to admit that this army cannot defeat an Asiatic people, and that they themselves do not know how to organize victory by land. Their repute with the Army would be gone, as much gone as the repute of