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Tolstoy on ShaJ^espeare .

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Tolstoy on Shakespeare A critical Essay on Shakespeare By LEO TOLSTOY Translated by V. BERNARD SHAW NEW YORK 19c i3' LONDON FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY 7 . Followed bv ShaKespeare's Attitude to the By Working Classes ERNEST CROSBY And a Letter From G. F. M. Tchertkoff and I.

sole representati've outside Russia. Tchertkoff.This Volume literary is issued by arrangement •with of Leo Tolstoy V. ^ . and Editor of " TAe Free Age Press. Noi' ember ^ I gob 949597 ." Christchurch. NO RIGHTS RESERVED Published. Hants.

I . . G. . by Ernest Crosby. . PART I. II.CONTENTS PART Tolstoy on Shakespeare . II Appendix Shakespeare's Attitude toward the Working Classes. Bernard Shaw. 127 IGt! Letter from Mr.

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PART I TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE .

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in direct opposition. disagreement universal and. the struggle of doubt and myself to Shaketo efforts to attune I went through owing with this my complete adulation. and the more I so as the conclusions to which of came.— Mr. mind all speare —which — European world.) 3 . (Trans. presuming that many have I experienced and are experiencing the same. to that established in all the whole Calling to self-deceit. when examining the causes my disagreement 1 This essay owes its origin to Leo Tolstoy's desire to contribute a preface to the article he here mentions by Ernest Crosby. opposed to that of the majority. think that it may not be unprofitable to exthis press definitely and frankly view of mine. which latter follows in this vol- ume. as is. Crosby's article* on Shakespeare's attitude toward the working classes suggested to nie the idea of also expressing my own it long- established opinion about the works of Shakespeare.

or whether the significance which this civilized world attributes to the works of Shakespeare was itself senseless. not without interest and sitrnificance. works regarded as his best " King Lear. and doubted as to whether I was senseless in feeling works regarded as the summit of perfection by the whole of the civilized world to be trivial and positively bad." not only did I feel no delight. remember the astonishment I I when I read Shakespeare." Romeo and Juliet. it seems to me. My disagreement with the established opinion about Shakespeare is not the result of an accidental frame of mind. are. but is the outcome of many years' repeated and insistent en- deavors to harmonize speare with civilized I first my own views of Shake- those established amongst felt all men of the Christian world. but having read.4 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE with the universally established opinion. nor of a light-minded attitude toward the matter. one after the other. My consternation was increase d by the fact that I ah^ ays keenlv felt the beauties *' . expected to receive a powerful esthetic pleasure. but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium." " Hamlet and " Macbeth.

but be disagreeable to me ? For a long time I could not believe in myself. test myself.. I have. Several times I read the dramas and the comedies and historical plays." and I have felt. indubitable conviction that the unquestionable glory enjoys. — this time. however. artistic — — German and was advised.TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE of 5 in every form then why sliould works recognized by the whole woild the works of Shakeas those of a genius. the same feelings. and bewilderment. not of be\\ilderment. as I before writing this preface. and during fifty years. speare. in Russian.^dN«rv4 /. I several times recommenced reading Shakespeare in every possible poetry . not only fail to please me. again read the whole of Shake-»J kJ^ plays. to a great genius which Shakespeare and which compels writers of our time imitate him and readers and spectators to of U^ a-. being desiipus once more to speare." the "Tempest. in in English.^ Ur»vK - Tit. weariness." "Troilus and Cressida. and I invariably underwent the same feelings: repulsion. including the historical "Henrys.J1>^ yjM. with even greater force. in Schlegel's translation. as an old man the / V/ Jp of seventy-five. in order to test myself. At the present time. VU^^ . but of firm. form." " Cymbeline.

— as is every untruth. nevertheless I will endeavor." says Hazlitt." "There is perhaps no says Dr. and interests our curiosity." the among "We wish that we could pass this play over and say nothing about it. as well as I can. not admit even the possibility of will and to not give it the slightest attention. the majority of critics agree. Johnson. " King Lear. is "The brated tragedy of Lear deservedly cele- dramas of Shakespeare. "all that we can say must fall far short of the subject. For illustration of my purpose I will take one of Shakespeare's most extolled dramas. thereby esthetic and ethical undera great evil.G TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE him non-existent merits. which so much agitates our passions. or even of Avhat we ourselves conceive of . Altho I know that the majority of people so firmly believe in the greatness of Shakespeare that in reading Avill tliis judgment of mine they its justice. discover in distorting — their is standing." in the enthusiastic praise of which. play which keeps the attention so strongly fixed. or even as an average author. show why I believe that Shakespeare can not be recognized either as a great genius.

" says Hallam." or "Othello." It diverges more from the model of regular tragedy than "Macbeth. The place they have in our lives and thoughts "I not minded to say says ." but the fable structed than in the last of these full is better con- as much of and it displays the almost superhuman inas the per- spiration of the poet as the other two.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE '\ it. it is then. the best of Shakespeare's playsjfor the one in which he was the most in earnest. we might say that this great prerogative of genius." says Shelley. It is. is mere impertinence yet we must say sometmng. Another of these is Cordelia. "There are one or two figures in the world of his work of which there are no words that would be fit or good to say. "that to name one as the most seems a disparagement to others." "If the originahty of invention did not so much stamp almost original every play of Shakespeare. was exercised above all in "Lear. ])lay itself. much of ShakeSwinburne." . 7 To attempt to give a description of the or of its effects upon the mincl." and even more than " Hamlet. ." " ' King Lear may be recognized ' fect model of the dramatic art of the whole world.speare's am Arthur.

. who.8 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE not one for talk. and Memory." says "Maternity of the daughter toward the father. in the depths of a prison. . so admirably rendered by the legend of that Roman the girl. inhabit in our secret hearts not penetrable by the lights and noises of common There are chapels in the cathedrals of inmost life. keep charge for us in silence of some beloved names. Shake. breast near spectacle nurses her old father. that it can add to the number of these and en- grave on the very heart of our remembrance fresh tion. speare created his drama. be set open to the eyes and feet of the world. There filial not a is more This breast of Cordelia. The young is white beard! holy. Shakespeare. Love. and Death. to is The niche set apart for is them day. created that ." names and memories is of its own crea- "Lear Victor the occasion for Cordelia. as in that of his man's highest not made to the final miracle and transcendent gift of poetry. It is the crowning glory of genius. profound subject. maternity Hugo. art. Once this figure dreamed and found. carrying Cordelia in his thoughts. venerable among all other maternities.

nor giddiness. the wail wilder. saysBrandes. with its of the ceiling of frescoes Michael Angelo. As to impartially as possible.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 9 tragedy like a god who. at the sight. having an aurora to put forward. a feeling of On awe by comes over one." " In 'King Lear. is —only that the suffering here and the far more intense.' Shakespeare's vision sounded the abyss of horror to its very depths." " the threshold of this work. but some- thing quite different. makes a world expressly for it." Such are the judgments of the critics about this drama. harmonies of beauty more definitely shattered by the discords of despair. and therefore I believe I am not wrong in selecting it as a type of Shakespeare's best. I will endeavor to describe the contents of the drama. as on the threshold Sistine Chapel. nor faintness. . and then is show why it is not that acme of perfection it is represented to be by critics. and his spirit showed neither fear.

II Lear " begins with a scene giving the conversation between two courtiers." "I have another. a legitimate son. Not mention of the coarseness of these words of Gloucester. Kent. "but altho this one came into the world at his before he was sent for. they are. and to therefore I acknowledge this one also. out of place in the mouth a ." the introduction. pointing to a young man present. and had a son for her cradle ere she had a husband for her bed." says: Then Gloucester in the presence of this son of his "The fellow's mother could." continues Gloucester. his mother was fair and there was good sport Such is making. farther. and grew round-wombed. asks Gloucester whether that is not his son. Kent says he "can not conceive him. Kent and Gloucester. but has now ceased doing so. Gloucester says that he has often blushed to acknowledge the young The drama of " man as his son.

were to merely public intended as a communication the — in a humorous form —of the fact that Gloucester has a legitimate son and an illegitimate one. he wishes to retire from the cares of business and divide his kingdom between his daughters. owing to old age. But this is not so. in his monolog about the injustice of those who despise him for his birth. and therefore these words of critics that these Gloucester at the very beginning of the piece. and. he announces that to the one who most. would have mentioned such words from his father. says she loves he will give The eldest . After this. and utters a speech to the effect that. secondly. he should give to each daughter. it would first have been unnecessary to make the father express the contempt felt by men in general. In order to know how much him most daughter. Were this so. trumpets are blown.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE One can not agree with the opinion of 11 person intended to represent a noble character. Edmund. and King Lear enters with his daughters and sons-inlaw. some words are given to Gloucester in order to show the contempt for his illegitimacy from which Edmund suffers.

according to his expression. as the eldest two place. space." that is. but she wall also love her husband. Regan. and is if she marries. enough. he asks Cordelia how.she loves — him. who all personifies all the virtues. in The king rewards and then asks ess'd his youngest. whose hand is being claimed by the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy. Cordelia. as if the vices.12 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Goneril. and asks the same question of the second daughter. her portion of fields. says that her pressed her has correctly exonly not strongly own is feelings. says that words can not express the extent of her love. whom. also. and meadows. woods. and honors him. loves her father so much that everything aljhorrent to her except his this daughter. love. yet will not on purpose to irritate her father. The second sister daughter. the favorite. She. and liberty. loves him so much that it "makes her breath poor. says. Regan. rivers. that she loves her father more than eyesight." King Lear immediately allots his daughter on the map. . are " inter- the vines of France and the milk of Burgundy. all her love belong to her father. quite out of that altho she loves grateful to him.

there and then entering into conversation. As thou. "The barbarous Scythian. for instance. shall to my bosom Be as well neighbour'd.TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE Hearing these words. prepare to injure their father who had endowed them. Thus ends the first scene. the elder sisters. but the King of France takes her without dowry and leads her away. little saying. he that makes his generation messes gorge his appetite. and relieved. rebukes his injustice. The Kent. pitied." courtier. banishes him under pain of death. the Duke of Burgundy and the King of France. him for and says reasonable things about the evil of flattery. and calling to him Cordelia's two suitors. After this. . and curses this favorite daughter with and strange maledictions. Lear. and desiring to appease the King. proposes to them in turn to take Cordelia without dowry. unmoved by Kent. that he will henceforth love his daughter as as he loves the man who devours Or To his own children. my sometime daughter. defends Cordelia. the King the most dreadful loses 13 his temper. The Duke of Burgundy frankly says that without dowry he will not take Cordelia.

For this purpose. with whom he had her. Edgar enters and Edmund suades him that his father for some reason . but deprive the them. or reader. in which the to latter expresses a desire murder his father. and the father imme- diately believes that his son Edgar. passed his his favorite and not believe daughter. the same in which all Shakespeare's ever old and Kings stupid he speak. Awaiting his father's as if approach.14 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Not to mention the pompous. desires to kill him. and he determines to usurp his place. or spectator. The father per- goes away. but curse and banish whole life. the reader. can not conceive that a King. shows him this letter.pating in this unnatural scene. characterless language of King Lear. could believe the words of the vicious daughters. soliloquizing on the injustice of men. illegitimate son of who concede and respect to the legitimate son. Edmund. against his will. and therefore the spectator. how- may be. J with The second scene opens Edmund. rights X '^ Gloucester's illegitimate son. can not share the feelings of the persons partici. he forges a letter to himself as from ruin Edgar. and to Edgar. whom he tenderly loves.

this 15 Edgar immediately believes from his parent. Lear asks who he is." from Lear's position. evidently .neither after dinner. so disguised that Lear does not recognize him. nor his relation to Kent. e^c. and therefore still more difficult for the spectator to transport himself into the mental condition of Gloucester and it is and sympathize with them. liLs which very in a tone quite inappropriate to position: "A —" To honest-hearted fellow and as poor as the King. woman." If a King. one doesn't know why. and the feelings of these characters and flees are as unnatural as Lear's relation to his it is daughters. than do so into that of Lear and his daughters. his sons to presents himself to Lear. I will not part These speeches into the from thee yet. "Not so young. Kent answers. but are put mouths of Lear and Kent. who is already staying to with Goneril. thou to love a this thou be as poor for a subject as he is for art poor enough How old art — thou.'^" asks the King. nor so old to dote on her." the King says. the banished Kent. In the fourth scene.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE desires to kill him. " If I like thee no worse follow. or even more so. Sir. The relations between Gloucester and his two sons.

for which Kent knocks him down. thou borest thine ass on thy back o'er the dirt: thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou If I speak like gavest thy golden one away. let him be whipp'd that first begins thereupon — finds it so. and eat up the meat. gives The King." says the fool. " Give me an ess and ril give thee two crowns. utterly unsuited to the position and serving no purpose. him money for this and takes him into After this appears the fool. myself in this. and his service. for instance. . "after I have cut the egg \ the middle. Thus. " What crowns shall they be ? " Why." In this manner lengthy conversations go on calling forth in the spectator or reader that wearisome uneasiness which one experiences when listening to jokes which are not witty.16 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE because the author regards them as witty and amusing. the middle. a prolonged conversation between the fool and the King. Goneril's steward appears. the two crowns When thou clovest thy crown i' of the egg. and behaves rudely to Lear. the fool savs. and gavest away both parts. still not recognizing Kent." The King " asks.

At this suggestion. but I-^ear curses Goneril. Avishes Goneril's to appease husband then enters and Lear. his discernings I And Are lethargied. and asks "Doth any here know me Does Lear walk thus his eyes ? ? This is not Lear: speak thus r Where are ? . Ha! 'tis not so. Who is it that can tell me who I so forth.Either his notion weakens. She demands of her father that he should diminish his retinue.STOY OX SHAKESPEARE 17 This conversation was interrupted by the approach of Goneril.: TOT. These words which express a genuine feeling. But they arc lost among long and high-flown her either sterility . this goes am •'" While on the fool does not cease to interpolate his humorless jokes. Lear gets into a strange and unnatural rage. invoking for fant-monster as or the birth of such an inwould return laughter and contempt for her motherly cares. that he should be satisfied with fifty courtiers instead of a hundred. might have been touching had they stood alone. and would thus show her all the horror and pain caused by a child's ingratitude.

"Why. the usual effect of unsuccess- drawn out as to be positively dull." I either.ster makes his shell. and his notwithstanding the despair he has just manifested." "Canst tell how an oy. " upon the head daugh- or desires his curse to "pierce every sense about her.''" "No.18 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE He either invokes of his speeches. he may spy out. lose to temper clay. and besides creating an unpleasant ful witticisms. "blasts and fogs ter." "Nor house. but I can tell why a snail lias a . he will pluck them out and " cast them with the waters that they And so on. and elicits jokes. they are also so similar to shame. The jokes continue to be mirthless feeling. what a man can not smell out." After this. he talks Avith the fool. says that should they weep. that to keep one's eyes of either side 's nose. whom he still fails to recognize." or else appealing to his own eyes. which Lear keeps incessantly utter- ing quite inappropriately. Thus tell the fool asks the one's nose stands ? King whether he can in the why middle of one's face Lear says he can not. Lear sends Kent. to his other daughter.

and laughs at my departcut ure.second . fool say^': The "She that's a maid now. unless things be shorter. when their father enters. After this lengthy scene. not to give it away to daughters and leave his horns without a case. a gentleman enters and annonnces that the horses are ready.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE "Why?" "Why. Edmund scratches his Edgar flies and arm to draw blood and . Edgar consents. altho is utterly incomprehensible father finds why he should do so.so on." The . liis 19 to put his head in." And . to pretend that they are fighting with their it swords. The reason seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason." " Be my horses ready?" asses "Thy why the are gone about "em. Shall not be a maid long." "Because they are not eight?" "Yes. indeed: thou would'st make a good fool.second part of the first scene of the act begins by the villain Edmund per- suading his brother. The them fighting.

unrecog- nized by Lear. hearing of this. without any reason. three-suited. still In the second scene. a rascal. he continues to give vent — — lo the strangset abuse." so on. saying that a tailor made Oswald. hundred-pound. in front of Gloucester's palace. The Duke. Gloucester believes everything. proud. an eater of broken meats a base. words which no commentators can explain. worsted-stocking knave. Then drawing his sword. shallow. filthy. also rewards Edmund. curses Edgar and transfers all the rights of the elder and legitimate son to the illegitimate Edmund. calling him. had refused and that then Edgar flew at him and wounded his arm. " A knave. When he is stopped. tho they had been but two hours o' the trade " He further says ! .20 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE persuades his father that Edgar was working charms for the purpose of killing his father and had desired Edmund to help him. but that he. And the son and heir of a mongrel bitch. begins to — abuse Oswald. as "a stone-cutter or a painter could not have made him so ill. Lear's new servant. saying that he will make a " sop o' the moonshine " of him. beggarly. Edmund. Goneril's steward. Kent. he demands that Oswald should fight with him.

he will "tread unbolted villain into mortar and daub the wall of a Jakes with him. Edgar. The castle. this if 21 only leave be given him. ought to know him well. Enter Lear and the in the stocks.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE that. fourth scene again before Gloucester's fool. flying from the persecutions of his father. scream with wild voices and enforce and says that he wishes to simulate such a lunatic in order to save himself from charity. Having communicated is this to the public. . in the character of I^ear's new servant. as well as Gloucester who is present. still Lear sees Kent him. The third scene takes place on a heath. the not recognizing is inflamed with rage against those who dared so to insult his messenger. he retires. until he is both the King and the taken and put in the stocks. whom nobody recognizes. continues to brawl. thrust wooden pricks and pins into their flesh. and." Thus Kent. persecution. hides in a wood and tells the public what kind of lunatics exist there —beggars who go about naked. The fool goes on with his jokes. and calls for Duke and Regan. altho Duke of Cornwall.

But Regan says she will receive him only with twenty-five and then I^ar makes up his mind to go back to . when Regan tells hira he had better return to her sister. he does not say anything. however. Lear becomes yet more exasperated and again curses Goneril. but when he is told that it was the Duke himself who ordered the stocks. and.22 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Lear with difficulty restrains his ire. Goneril arrives. Lear again curses Goneril and does not want to go to her. he is indignant and says " Ask her forgiveness ? " and falls down on his knees demonstrating hoAV indecent it would be if he were abjectly to beg food and clothing as charity from his own daughter. : Before Regan can answer. with. Lear curses Goneril. the Duke and Regan. Enter Lear complains of Goneril but Regan justifies her sister. continuing to hope that Regan will accept him with the whole hundred servants. Regan and but tells him that she can not receive him now and receive fifty that he had best return to Goneril. and he curses Goneril with the strangest curses and asks who put his servant in the stocks. because. that in a month's' time she herself will him. at this moment. not a hundred servants.

adds that there is who plays Lear's no need for a lady's finery. unnatural speeches which. Avhich does not keep her warm. or rather the actor part. he is not to be distinguished from a beast. and so he departs. Lear's vacilla- — between pride. about being tions daughters' 'UGx^ ji^uA xjU^" >JL^ 1*^*^ ^^"^'-^ X . is A storm begins. put into the mouth of Lear. moreover. Lear. giving in. After this he flies into a mad fury and says that to take vengeance on his daughters he will do something dreadful but that he will not weep. of Such events.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE (ioneril ( 23 who admits fifty. and finishing with a scene between Lear and his daughters which might have been powerful if it had not been permeated with the most absurdly foolish. the second act. Lear fluous pours forth a long argument about the superand the needful being relative and says if I that man is not allowed more than he needs. have no relation to the subject. would be exceedingly touching if it were not spoilt by the verbose absurdities to which he gives vent. not flowing from the position of the characters. and the hope of his. But when Goneril says that even twenty-five are too many. anger. full unnatural ^^ and yet more unnatural speeches.

ords of the characters in the piece. and that none but the fool is with him. Lear walks about the heath and says words which are meant to express his despair: he desires that the winds should blow so hard . having communicated this intelligence. liffht- ning.24 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE ready to divorce himself from Regan's dead mother. The third act begins with thunder. banis ished by his daughters from their homes. according to the v. a gentleman tells Kent that I^ear. upon the head of his daughter. In return Kent tells the gentleman that the dukes have quarrelled. The second scene of the third act also takes place on the heath. but in another part of it. and that the French army has landed at Dover. running about the heath alone. On the heath. a storm of some special kind such as. had never before taken place. he despatches the gentleman to Dover to meet Cordelia. and. should Regan not be glad to receive frogs " his calling down "fen suck'd which he invokes. or about the heavens being obliged him. —or about to patronize old people because they themselves are old. tearing his hair and throwing it to the wind.

bovel. Learning decides to accuse his father of :his. having a tempest in his mind. this point the fool pronounces a prophecy in no ungrateful fool still make man!" The more senseless words. that he Joes not feel it. xpressed in simple words. French King has already landed with and intends to help Lear. •ailed forth by the ingratitude of his daughters. The fourth scene is again on the heath in front of the hovel. wise related to the situation and they all depart. still unrecognized by Lear. Edmund treason in order that he may get his heritage. ivhich extinguishes all else. might elicit sym- . This true feeling. and the thunder [flatten the world and destroy all germens " that jing keeps utterEnter Kent. but Kent invites Lear into the Lear answers that he has no reason :o shelter himself from the tempest. iLear says that for some reason during this storm all criminals sliall be found out and convicted. endeavors At to persuade him to take refuge in a hovel. Gloucester Edmund troops. iKent. to The that the liis third scene is again transferred tells Gloucester's castle.TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE that they should crack their cheeks 25 and that the rain should flood everything. that lightning should singe his white head.

Then the scene Kent. all Edgar comes have known recog- out of the hovel. led. says that the madman is a king. who also does not recognize either Kent or his son Edgar. begin to say senseless things which continue with interruptions for many In the middle of this scene. naked. and kill tells them how is his son Edgar wanted to him. turns out The to hovel into which Lear be the same which Edgar has entered. This scene Gloucester's again cut short by another in castle. —and Ejdgar. /.. the madman is the veoman . dis- guised as a madman. The fool says: "Tell me whether a .'' madman be a gentleman or a yeoman " Lear. no one recognizes nizes him. Duke promises to on Gloucester. and tells meNero is an angler in the lake of darkness : . during which Edmund betrays his father and the shifts avenge himself back to Lear. . having lost his mind. Lear. altho him.2() TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE pompous raving is pathy. enter Gloucester. and. and the fool are at a farm and talking.t'. Lear. but amidst the incessant. and the fool pages. Edgar. Gloucester. The fool says no.—as no one Kent. Edgar says " Frateretto calls me. it escapes one and loses its significance.

: . most learned justicer. " : Bring robed in their "Thou man of take thy place." says he." To this sit here. addressing the naked Edgar." Edgar goes on in his own strain. sapient Noav. Lear screams: "To have a thousand with red burning spirits." —while Edgar shrieks that the foul fiend bites At this the fool remarks that one can not believe in the tameness of a wolf. a boy's love. Bessy. Come hissing in upon 'em. and thou " (to the fool) " his yoke-fellow of equity." addressing Kent." Then Lear imagines he is judging his daughters. but I^ear conhis trial imaginarv evidence. '' " Sit thou here. to me. you she foxes." he cries. " while the fool sings "Her boat hath a leak And she must not speak Why gests that she dares not come over to tliee.^ ! "Come o'er the bourn. " . his back." he says to Edgar. bench by his side. madam sir. a horse's health. tinues justice. sit vou too. "Thou. You are o' the commission. Edgar says " Look where he stands and glares Wantest thou eyes at trial.: " TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE who has allowed his son to 27 become a gentleman. or a whore's oath. Kent sugLear should lie down.

dying. tis "Arraign her " I here take " first. Goneril. The Duke of Cornwall plucks out one of his eyes and sets his foot on it. why hast thou her 'scape " ? This raving terminates by Lear falling asleep and Gloucester persuading Kent. her father. suddenly takes Gloucester's part some and wounds the Duke. He is brought forward and bound. tion in the place! let fire! "Stop Corrup- Fal." The Duke some wishes to pluck servant. addressing the "And h(Mv\s another. my oath before this honorable mistress." cries her there! arms.seat.se justice. says to Gloucester that he has "one eve left to see some mischief on him. (ioneril!'" says the fool. who." shouts Edgar. "One side will mock another. The castle. name . sword." .28 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE " Purr. Regan kills the servant. to carry Lear to Dover. still without recognizing him." cries Lqar. Regan says. and Kent and the fool carry ofl^ the King. Is assembly." Come hither. your Lear. the other too. for the other out also. she kicked the poor king. arms. the cat is gray. but reason. scene is transferred to is Gloucester's (iloucester himself about to be accused of treason.

his leave him. the In blinded Gloucester. The fourth act is again on Edgar. did not wish to Thus ends the third act. prevent it." tears out Gloucester's other eye on the ground. old old his He tells the man who leads him to man points out to him way. soliloquizts in stilted terms about the instability of fortune and the advantages of a humble lot. and Here Regan says his father was Edmund who hetrayed and then Gloucester immediately understands that he has been kill deceived and that Edgar him. "Lest it see more. but the that he can not see Gloucester says he has no way and he argues therefore does not require eyes. — about the instability of fortune. led by an old man. And about about defects having stumbled when he sau\ and often proving commodities. his father. . the chief peculiarity of Avhich is that the thoughts are bred either by the consonance or Gloucester also speaks the contrasts of words. the heath. Then there comes to him somehow into the very place on the heath where he is.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Tbe Duke and he throws that it it 29 says. that characteristic Shakespearean language. still attired as a lunatic.

30 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE adds." and he insists on dismissing the old man. who does not recognize his voice. he puts in utterly unnecessary interjections which Shake- speare might know." Edgar naked. Notwithstanding Edgar has just seen his blinded father. having read them in Haro- book. and above all. " Five friends have been in poor Tom at once: of lust. which it was quite unnatural for him to repeat net's of in his present position. does not disclose himself to his father. but merely in order. hearing this." he hve to see thee in my touch. the aged guitle He takes the place of and talks with his father. He says. as . when left alone with Edgar. but which Edgar had no means becoming acquainted with. I'd say I had eyes in again. to enact the later scene of the imaginaiy leaping from the cliff. "might I but the character "Ah! dear son Edgar. and still of a lunatic. but regards him as a wandering " madman. Gloucester avails himself of the opportunity to deliver himself of a witticism: 'Tis the times' plague when madmen lead the blind. obviously not from motives which might be natural to (Gloucester at that moment. and has learnt that his father repents of having banished him.

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
Mahu,

31

Obidient; Hobbididance, prince of dumbness;

Modo, of murder; Flibbermopping and mowing; who since possesses chambermaids and waiting women." Hearing these words, Gloucester makes a
of stealing;
tigibbet, of
[)resent of his

purse to Edgar, saying:

"That

I

am

so wretched
still.

Makes

thee the happier; heavens, deal so

Let the superfluous and lust-dieted man. That slaves your ordinance, that will not see Because he doth not feel, feel your power quickly. So distribution should undo excess, And each man have enough."

the blind

Having pronounced these strange words, Gloucester requests Edgar to lead him to a certain cliff overhanjjino; the sea, and

they depart.

The second
place

scene of the fourth act takes

before the
is

Duke

of

Albany's palace.

Goneril

not only cruel, but also depraved.

She despises her husband and discloses her
love to the villain

Edmund, who has

inherited

the

title

of

his

father Gloucester.

Edmund

leaves,

and a conversation takes place between Goneril and her husband. The Duke oi\y

Albany, the only figure with

human

feelings.

32

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
ah'eady previously been dissatisfied

who had

with his wife's treatment of her father,

now

resolutely takes Lear's side, but expresses his

emotion in such words as to shake one's confidence in his feeling. He says that a bear would lick Lear's reverence, that if the heavens do not send their visible spirits to tame these vile ofl^enses, humanity must prey on itself
like monsters, etc.

Goneril does not listen to him, and then he
begins to abuse her

"See thyself, devil! Proper deformity seems not So liorrid as in woman."

in the fiend

"O
and
the

vain fool," says Goneril.
self-cover'd thing, for

"Thou changed shame," continues

Duke:

"Be-monster not thy feature. Were't my fitness To let these hands obey my blood, They are apt enough to dislocate and tear Thy flesh and bones; lioweer thou art a fiend,

A woman's
that the

shape doth shield thee."

After this a messenger enters, and announces

Duke

of Cornwall,

wounded by

his

.servant whilst

plucking out Gloucester's eyes.

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
had
died.

33

Goneril

is

glad but already antici-

pates with fear that Regan,

now

deprive

her of

Edmund.

a widow, will Here the second

scene ends.

The

third scene of the fourth act represents

the French camp.

From

a conversation be-

tween Kent and a gentleman, the reader or spectator learns that the King of France is not
in

the

camp and

that Cordelia has received

is greatly grieved by what she has learned about her father. The gentleman says that her face reminded one of sunshine and rain.

a letter from Kent and

"Her smiles and tears Were like a better day; those happy smiles That play'd on her ripe lip .seem'd not to know What guests were in her eyes; which parted thence, As pearls from diamonds dropp'd."

And so forth. The gentleman
ashamed

says that Cordelia desires

to see her father, but

Kent says

that

Lear

is

of seeing this daughter

whom

he has

treated so unkindly.

In the fourth scene, Cordelia, talking with

a physician,
that he
3
is

tells

quite

him that Lear has been seen, mad, wearing on his head a

Goneril's steward. lies in Gloucester's Regan is talking with Oswald. She is informed that the forces of the Dukes are approaching. pretends to is lead his father to the Gloucester walk- ing along on level land but Edgar persuades him that they are with difficulty ascending a . adding that she desires all secret remedies to spring Avith her tears. tells him that it was very unreasonable to blind Gloucester and yet leave therefore advises kill Gloucester. to him alive. and she she Further begs him to persuade her sister of this. should he meet him. and she announces to him that she also loves Edmund and that. that he roaming about and that she has sent soldiers in search of him. and the like. The fifth scene of the fourth act castle. who (now in the guise of a peasant) cliff. but she is concerned only about her father and departs.34 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE is Avreath of various weeds. it is better for her to marry him than for Goneril to do so. Gloucester again appears with his still unrecognized son Edgar. being a widow. and Oswald. who is carrying a letter from Goncril to Edmund. promising him a great reward if he does this In the sixth scene.

addressing the gods. utterance "I know not how conceit may rob The treasury of life when life itself Yields to the theft. imagining that he has jumped off the cliff. On this occasion. he leaps on the level ground and falls. tells his father that the noise of the sea a level place Edgar stops on and persuades his father that he has ascended the cliff and that in front of him lies a dreadful abyss. Having said this.: — 3. says that he shakes he can bear it no and that he does not condemn them the gods.5 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE >tocp hill. (Gloucester believes this also. had he been where he thought. Gloucester believes this. Gloucester. gives vent to a yet more entangled off his affliction as longer. Edgar. Gloucester believes that he has fallen and prepares to die." He approaches ishment Gloucester. at the latter not and expressing astonbeing hurt by his fall from such a dreadful height. and leaves him alone. By this had thought been past. in the character of yet a different person. but he feels that he is alive and begins to doubt Then that he has fallen from such a height. soliloquizing. Edgar persuades him that he has indeed . is Edgar heard.

"Ay. senses He his and says things wilder than before. Edgar immehim with the words "Sweet Lear says. and is perhorns." Gloucester. too. divinity. He gives speaks about coining. he saw. for some reason has lost covered wuth wild-flowers. " Pass. but will (juietly await death." and the blind not recognized either his who has son or Kent. about the moon. after his disconnected utter- suddenly flatterers. and no. and diately answers marjoram.36 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE the dreadful height and tells jumped from him at that the individual who had been with him had eyes like two full moons and a thousand noses and wavy Gloucester believes this. Then ances. suaded that his despair was the work of the devil. recognizes the King's voice.all this was not and then goes on to . when he got into a storm without shelter." but. the King. and therefore decides that he will hencethe top was the devil. Then he suddenly demands the password from Edgar. Avhich he Avishes to entice by a piece of cheese. begins to speak to all ironically about who agreed he said. Hereupon enters I^ear. some one a yard then he cries that he — sees a mouse. was no good true. as he forth despair no more.


TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
say that as
all

87

creation addicts

itself to

adultery,

and Gloucester's bastard son had treated his father more kindly than his daughters had treated him (altho Lear, according to the development of the drama, could not know how Edmund had treated Gloucester), therefore, let dissoluteness prosper, the more so as, being a
King, he needs soldiers. He here addresses an imaginary hypocritically virtuous lady who acts the prude, whereas

"The
All

fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
riotous appetite.
inherit the

With a more

women

gods only to the girdle

Beneath

is all

the fiend's"

Lear screams and spits from monolog is evidently meant to be addressed by the actor to the audience, and probably produces an effect on the stage,
and, saying
this,

horror.

This

but

it

is

utterly uncalled for in the

mouth

of

Lear, equally with his words: "It smells of
mortality," uttered while wiping his hand, as

Gloucester expresses a desire to kiss
Gloucester's

it.

Then
which

blindness

is

referred

to,

gives occasion for

a play of words on eyes, about blind Cupid, at which Lear says to Gloucester, "No eyes in your head, nor no

38

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE

money

Your eyes are in a in your purse? heavy case, your purse in a light.'' Then Lear declaims a monolog on the unfairness of legal judgment, which is quite out of place in
the

mouth
a

of

the

insane

Lear.

After this,

gentleman with attendants sent by Lear continues Cordelia to fetch her father. The gento act as a madman and runs away. tleman sent to fetch Lear, does not run after
enter
describes to Edgar the French and British armies. Oswald enters, and seeing Gloucester, and desiring to receive the reward promised by Regan, attacks him, but Edgar with his club kills Oswald, who, in dying, transmits to his murderer, Edgar, Goneril's letter to Edmund, the delivery of which would insure reward.

him,

but

lengthily

position of the

In

this

letter

Goneril promises to

kill

her

husband and marry Edmund. Edgar drags out Oswald's body by the legs and then ?-cturns and leads his father away.

The

seventh scene of the fourth act

takes

place in a tent in the French camp.
asleep on a bed.
still

in

disguise.

Lear is Enter Cordelia and Kent, Lear is awakened by the

music, and, seeing Cordelia, does not believe

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
she
is

39

a living being, thinks she

is

an appais

rition,

does not beheve that he himself
is

alive.

Cordelia assures him that she

his daughter,
falls

and begs him

to bless her.

He

on

his

knees before her, begs her pardon, acknowledges that he is as old and foolish, says he is ready to take poison, which he thinks she has

probably prepared for him, as he
she mu^t hate him.
says,

is

pei'suaded

"have done me
to his senses

("For your sisters," he wrong: you have some

cause, they have not.")

Then he

gradually

comes

His daughter suggests that he should take a walk. He consents and says " You must bear with me. Pray you now forget and forgive: I am
to rave.
:

and ceases

old and foolish."

They

depart.

The

gentle-

man and Kent, remaining on the scene, hold a conversation which explains to the spectator that Edmund is at the head of the troops and that a battle must soon begin between Lear's defenders and his enemies. So the fourth
act closes.

In this fourth act, the scene between Lear

and
if it

his

daughter might have been touching

had not been preceded in the course of the earlier acts by the tediously drawn out, monot-

as his duty to fight with the his country. saying that he can produce a champion who will confirm the contents of the letter. the latter jealous of her sister come (xoneril. and hands Duke of Albany the letter he had received from Goncrirs dying steward. destroying the impression which the previous scene might have produced. still disguised. Then her husband. In the second scene. and tells him if he gains the victory to sound the trumpet. onous ravings of Lear. the former coldly pom- pous. seats goes is him by a tree. and scene. Albany. and away himself. Edgar runs back and says that the is battle lost and Lear and Cordelia are pris- . to the and so he pre- Then Edgar enters. French who have invaded pares for battle. and makes an offer. The noise of battle heard. altho pitying The Duke regards it of Lear. The first scene of the fifth act at first is represents Edmund and Regan. Edgar enters leading his father Gloucester. artificial ravings of Lear go on again. this expression of his feehngs constituted the last But the scene fifth is not the last. In the act.40 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE if. and some soldiers. moreover.

that he will not weep. that he and Cordelia are will which the gods . and that he that parts them "shall bring a brand from heaven and fire them like foxes. and Gloucesttr immediately agrees with him. they will Avear out " packs and sects of great sacrifices upon throw incense. And he further says that. than they shall make them weep. Avithout disclosing himself to his counsels endurance. Edgar. flesh and fell. that prison he will sing with Cordelia." Edmund orders Lear and his daughter to be led away to prison. having called the oflficer to do this. inappropriate Avords. Lear. The third scene opens with a triumplrd of progress the victor Edmund. while they are living in prison. for example. says he requires another duty and asks him whether he'll do it ? The ones " . continues to utter the as. blessing. altho no longer insane. in Cordelia are prisoners. and. and that the plague shall sooner devour his eyes. father. 41 Gloucester still again falls into despair.TOLSTOY ON SIIAKESPEARK oners. same Lear and senseless. she will ask his and he will kneel is down (this process of kneeling down repeated three times) and will ask her forgiveness.

and if she wishes to marry. sounded and Edgar enters with a vizor concealing his face. being jealous of Here everything becomes so conit is difficult to follow the action. he will fight him Here Regan. Regan must give up her claims on Edmund. . therefore. Regan. poisoned. orders the trumpet to be sounded. without giving his name. Having said this. should marry him. The Duke of Albany wishes to chamit. Edmund throws all the abuses back on Edgar's Goneril head. the Duke of Albany calls of Edmund. and. but Edmund does not allow The daughters Edmund. and tells Regan that Edmund has long ago entered into guilty relations with his wife. falls whom deadly Goneril has evidently Trumpets are sick. Goneril. the Duke of Albany. Edgar abuses Edmund.4^ TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE can not draw a cart nor eat be men's work he can do Enter the Duke of Albany. They fight and Edmund falls. no one appears. pion Lear. himself. and lie if it captain says dried oats. and that. if saying that. but it. The Duke Albany wishes to arrest Edmund. challenges Edmund. fused that take part in the dialog and begin to abuse each other.

but at this moment the trumpet sounded twice and Edgar left him tranced " '" and this was Kent. eyesight. The dying Edmund ' his op- ponent was his brother. and told the most piteous tale about Lear and himself. and. disclosed everything to his father. Edmund is not yet dead.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE is 4:5 in despair. relates that. having begotten his illegitimate it son Edmund. threw himself on the body of Edgar's father. shouting as loudly he wished to burst heaven. Edgar raises his vizor and pronounces a moral lesson to the effect that. while he Then Edgar closely if was sit- ting over his father's body. and as that while relating this the strings of life began to crack. The Duke of Albany shows GonGoneril departs. and Avants to know all that has taken place. Edgar has hardly finished in this narrative when a gentleman rushes with a bloody . discovers tliat eril her letter. before entering on the recent combat. the father has paid for with his After this Edgar tells the Duke of Albany his adventures and how he has only just now. and the father could not bear it and died from emotion. a man came and embraced him.

sh()utin<ij knife. and Regan are brought Ed- mund sake. gentleman having it. Lear demands that all should Lear and J howl. has been killed. is belicA'cs that Cordelia j dead and that she is alive." Then he who hanged Cordelia. and at this moment the corpses in. Again begins Lear's awful ravings. and pretend that she had taken her own life. "Who killed?" the says that Goneril sister. "Had I your tongues and eyes. here says that the sisters evidently loved him. After this enters Lear with the dead Cordelia in his arms. At the same time kill he confesses that he had given orders to hang Cordelia in prison. as one has poisoned the other for his and then to slain herself. poisoned her of Goneril she has confessed Enters Kent. altho he is more than eighty years old and ill. and. alternately. "Help!" is In answer to the (jucstion. at which one feels ashamed as at unsuccessful jokes. but now he wishes to prevent these deeds. and is carried away. Next he says that his eyes ." he savs " Fd use them so that heaven's vault should says that he killed the slave crack. and having said this he dies.44 TOLSIOY ON SHAKESPEARE .

tells everyone to look at dies. The oklest hath borne most we that are young Shall never see so much. nor live so long. having survived the others. but at the 45 same time he recognizes Kent whom all along he had not recognized. feel. not what we ought to say. of Albany says that he will resign Lear and that he will reward Edgar and Kent and all who have been faithful At this moment the news is brought to him. begs that they will undo one of his buttons the same request which he had made when roaming about the heath. . the Duke of Albany. that Edmund is dead. and thereupon In conclusion. something. says "The weight of this sad time we must obey.: TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE see badly. continuing his ravings. and Lear. and the drama." Speak what we : All depart to the music of a Thus ends the fifth act dead march. He expresses of durinff the life The Duke — his thanks for this.

will also receive exactly the same impression from all the other extolled dramas of Shakespeare. I is may yet if confidently say that in the original it more absurd. "Pericles. time.Ill Such is this celebrated drama. which." "Twelfth Night." free . can not evoke among us anything but of our -aversion and weariness. wdio is Every reader from the influence of suggestion. time. not to mention the senseless. However absurd it may appear in my rendering (which I have endeavored to make as impartial as possible). — he were not under the hypnoticthe height drama suggestion that would be enough to read perfection — of our time it it to its end (were he to have it sufficient patience for this) to be convinced that far is from being the a very bad. this is For any man of . carelessly composed production. if it could have been of interest to a certain pul^lic at a certain height of perfection. dramatized tales.

but does not satisfy the most elementary demands of art recognized by all. has been inoculated with the idea that Shakespeare is a genius. in consequence of actions proper to their characters." " 47 Cymbeline. demands that the persons represented in the play should be. on account of speare. and a dramatist. it all his writings are the hopeless may seem. and that height of perfection.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE "The Tempest. Every of our society and time. a man ^ poet. placed in positions requiring them to struggle with the surrounding in world to which they find themselves oppo- ." Cressida. I will Yet. however endeavor to de- monstrate in the selected drama — " King Lear " — all those faults equally characteristic also of and comedies of Shakewhich he not only is not representing a model of dramatic art. not inoc- But such free-minded to \^ idated with Shakespeare-worship." "Troilus and individuals. according to the laws established by those very critics who extol Shakeall the other tragedies speare. Dramatic art. from the first period of his conscious Hfe. are^oTongelr" be found in our Christian society. and owing to a natural course of events.

and therefore can not produce on the reader the illusion which represents the essenquite arbitrarily established tial condition of art. The positions of Gloucester and Edgar flow from the circumstance that Gloucester. also. immediately believes the coarsest un- and does not even endeavor to inquire whether what he is accused of be true. - by the author. but at once curses and banishes him. and they struggle with it^ ^ But but their strife does not flow from th^natural course of events nor from their is own characters. should display their inherent qualities. yet upon this built the is whole tragedy of is his position. The fact that Lear's relations with his daughtruth of his injured son . having lived his with daughters. tthe Similarly unnatural the subordinate action relation of Gloucester to his sons. In "King Lear" the persons represented are indeed placed externally in opposition to the outward world. his / ^ Lear has no necessity or motive for all his life abdication.48 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE and in this struggle sition. just like ^i Ijcar. has no reason to believe the words of the two elders and not the truthful statement of the youngest.

speak. and therefore the relations between Lear and Kent fail to excite the sympathy of the reader or spectator. to sj'mpathiz"e^ with their sufferings interested in Avhat he reads or sees. in Shakespeare. and yet the .TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE ters arc the 49 same as those of Gloucester to his sons makes one feel yet more strongly that in both cases the relations are quite arbitrary. The same. natural course of events. when in reality Gloucester jumps on level ground.which the iire characters are placed quite. The action of " King I^ear" takes place 800 years B.C. unrecognized by any one. These positions. into . Kent. the other dramas of live. the characters think. this. leads his blind father and persuades him that he has leapt off a cliff. holds true of the position of Edgar. as in all Secondly.. and do not flow from tlie characters nor the Equally unnatural. in a yet greater degree. and act quite unconformably with the given time and place. and obviously invented. who. ^jj^itrarily. This in the first place. is the fact that all through the tragedy Lear does not recognize his old courtier. that the reader or spectator to be so unnatural is unable not only but even .

and illegiti- mate children. and knights that such an- with vizors. etc. but in our time is no longer possible to follow with interest the development of events which one knows could not take place in the conditions which the au^ thor describes in detail. or the fool's speeches. the positions. The artificiality of not flowing from the natural course of events. and gentlemen. Lear roams about the heath. doc- soldiers. and their is want of conformity with time and space. or from the nature of the characters. courtiers. dukes.50 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE are characters placed in conditions possible only in the Middle Ages: participating in the drama tors. or the grass which for some reason he puts on his head like Ophelia in "Hamlet" or Edgar's attire. are kings. officers. or the appearance of the helmeted horseman. farmers. It is possible achronisms (with which Shakespeare's dramas abound) did not injure the possibility of illusion in the sixteenth century and the beginit ning of the seventeenth. further increased by those coarse embellishments which are continually added by Shakespeare and intended pear particularly touching. Edgar — . armies. to ap- The extraordinary storm durin<j which Kino.

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE all . It often happens that even during these obviously intentional efforts after effect. the dragging out by the legs of half a dozen corpses. " Man sieht die Absicht und man wird verstimmt." as Goethe says. .51 fail to enhance the an opposite effect. as. but produce rather to laugh. instead of feeling fear and pity. one is tempted these effects not only impression. with which all Shakespeare's tragedies terminate. for instance.

arc inappropriate to time and space these personages. while exhibiting the characteristics of a given individual. I always . It is erally asserted that in Shakespeare's dramas the characters are specially well expressed. This is asserted with such confidence and repeated by all as indisputable truth. notwithstanding their vividness. act in a way gen- which is out of keeping with their definite character. that. they are many-sided. but however much I endeavored to find confirma- tion of this in Shakespeare's dramas.IV But it is not enough that Shakespeare's characters are placed in tragic positions which arc impossible. features of man in general of it is usual to say that the is delineation character in Shakespeare the height of perfection. besides this. and is (juite arbitrary. do not flow from the course of events. they at the same time wear the . that. like those of living people.

and unnatural language.' TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 53 found the opposite.. not their own. or use similar unnatural exall pressions with which the speeches of the . but always one and the same Shakespearian. In reading any of Shakespeare's dramas whatever. as the gentleman describes the storm.e. All his characters speak. means of portraying characters: individuality of lan- guage. if not the only. but in which no living man ever has spoken being natural to his character. or that the winds would burst. from the very first. Edgar says. pretentious. or that the heavens would crack with shouting. or that one's grief ings it is easier to bear suffer- and the soul leaps over many when grief finds fellowship. or that the wind wishes to blow the land into the sea. No says. I was. instantly convinced that he was lacking in the most important. or that the curled waters wish to flood the shore. as Lear in the that he would divorce his wife grave should Regan not receive him. the style of speech of every person This is absent from Shakespeare. or does speak. or that Lear has as become childless while I am fatherless. in which not only they could not speak. living men could or can say. i.

Lear raves exactly as does Edgar when feigning madness. TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE all tharacters in Shakespeare's dramas overthe characters Again.M flow. who are preparing for death. Also in one and the the different dialogs — same Shakespearian. Thus Shakespeare always speaks for kings in one and the same inflated. empty language. They speak all alike. lies speare's various merely in which are pronounced for these characters again by Shakespeare and not by themselves. and by the character of the speech it would be rather than impossible there is to distinguish who it speaks. The words of one of the personages might be placed in the mouth of another. all alike speak much and unexpectedly about subjects utterly inappropriate to the occasion. it is not enough that in all speak did in a way which no living men ever or could speak —they of all suffer from a <-ommon intemperance language. being evidently guided Avords by consonances and play of by thoughts. Both Kent and the fool speak alike. who are dying. Those who are in love. artificially sentimental . If a difference in the speech of Shakecharacters. who are fighting.

only a secondary means. of If gesticulation be also a means this if is expressing character. stand out as characters. lago. ^Moreover. in Shakespeare there is no the action of gesticulation fore."and random and in a ranone and the same diction. So that in Shakespeare there is no Ianguage of living individuals that language^ which in the drama is the chief means of setting — I forth character. speeches of the Avords.> TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE language speak to all 55 the women who are intended Desdemona. then even is wasted. Cordelia. as in ballets. Macbeth. all in the characters speak at dom as is way. expression character. Yet more similar are the be poetic: Juliet. in his . Imogen. it is Shakespeare alone who speaks for his villains: Richard. expressing for them those vicious feelings which villains never express. also. Edmund. the case in Shakespeare's work. Marina. of who. and they are mostly depicted. Therewhatever the blind panegyrists of Shakespeare may say. madmen with their horrible and those of fools Avith their mirthless puns. Those personages dramas. In the same way. are characters borrowed by him from former works which have served as the foinidation of his dramas.

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE whieh each person speak with con." by an unknown author.sists not by the draniatic method in makin<. In the older drama. they are 'and spoilt. and especially of Cordelia. that of King Lear. having become a widower. He asks his daughters as to . are taken by him from dramas. The characters of drama.5(. and romances anterior to him. as well as all the others. in most cases. as compared with their appearance in the older drama. of " but. and Hamlet.. But all these characters. l)ut in the epic method which of one person descriliing the features of another. but have been strikingly weakened and deprived of force by him. insteading of belonging to Shakespeare. Desdemona. not only were not created by Shakespeare. Othello. " which we are examinino-. The perfection with is Shakespeare expresses character asserted chiefly on the ground of the characters of Lear. "King Leir. Falstaff. he thinks only of saving his soul. All these characters not only are not rendered more powerful by him. Leir abdicates because. chronicles. Cordeha. This is very striking in this weakened drama taken by him from the drama this King Lear.- his own diction.

but hopes that her Goneril and Regan actions will prove it. when. he his may retain favorite daughter on island. while youngest does not wish to contract a loveless whom union with any of the neighboring suitors Leir proposes to her. are by means of a cer- tain device he his has invented.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE their love for 57 him — that. marry the he will indicate on his island. and he is afraid that she may marry some distant potentate. that she will not give her father all her love. according drama. device which he has invented. Perillus is (Shakespeare's this. remark that Cordelia's answer is not an an- — — . Cordelia does not say. but will love her husband. Leir asks his daughters about their love for him. to the old Then. The Kent). these motives for Lear's conduct are absent in Shakespeare's play. in proof of her love. as Shakespeare has it. he will her All that she must. The the elder daughters betrothed. too. should she marry which is quite unnatural but simply says that she can not express her love in words. as he informs his courtier. that she loves when Cordelia tells him him more than any one or as that tell much prince as her elder sisters do.

there comes the King of Gaul. still in the guise of grief. there follows in the older drama a scene between Cordelia and the King of Gaul.58 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE swer.. and looking forward to earn her bread by her labor. is —k?xists in the old drama. in the disguise of a pilgrim. and selfWhile Cordelia. character of a very and attractive sacrificing youngest daughter. without grieving that she has been deprived the truthful. sits sorrowing at having lost her father's love. who. tender. setting the forth. and offers to arrange a marriage for her with the King of . and eldest daughters him still more. of a portion of the heritage. After the division of kingdom between the elder daughters. a pilgrim.e. She tells him the cause of her The King of Gaul. so that what is wanting in Shakespeare i. instead of the colorless definite Cordelia of Shakespeare. the explanation of Lear's anger which caused him to disinherit his youngest daughter. his Leir annoyed by the failure of the poisonous words of his irritate scheme. desires to choose a bride from among Leir's daughters. He asks Cordelia why she is sad. and that the father can not meekly accept such inditt'erence. falls in love with her.

but under no disguise. as in Shakespeare's. notwithstanding the poverty that awaits her. so also in the older drama. and Cordelia marries him.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Cxaul. and humbly submits. the courtiers. As in Shakespeare's drama. accepts her. Lear. in the old drama. offers will marry only a man still whom guised. but simply as a faithful old servant who does not abandon his king in a moment of need. into these insults in a very different : — — . 59 but she says she she loves. and one cynically refuses. Leir undergoes the insults of Goneril. one does not know why. Leir tells him what. according to Shakespeare. whose house he has removed. Then the pilgrim. discloses to her that he it is Then the pilgrim who is the King of Instead of Gaul. offers Cordelia's two suitors to take her without dowry. he has deserved this. After this. but he bears way from that represented by Shakespeare he feels that by his conduct toward Cordelia. while the other. this scene. Perillus Kent who had interceded for Cordelia and was therefore banished comes to Leir and assures him of his love. dis- her his hand and heart and Cordelia confesses she loves the pilgrim and consents to marry him.

Leir. according to the older drama. But Perillus Kent assures the King of his love toward him. and. but there is the weakened and humbled old man. if Cordelia in the daughters whom he has benefited hate him. sell their clothes in order to pay for their crossing over the sea. again. Turned out by his elder daughters. a retainer to whom he has done no good can not love him. Leir. overpowered with grief. in the older dran iiu their journey to —^during France. there follows in the older drama a natural . pacified. goes on to Regan. In the older drama there are no tempests nor tearing out of gray hairs. goes with Perillus to Cordelia. Lear. that. exhausted by cold and hunger. he the last scene. instead of the unnatural combined ravings of the fool. and Edgar. who even Avishes to kill him. (^yei2__nalu- rally reach the last degree of destitution. and Leir. and banished by his other daughter also. as represented by Shakespeare. as a last — — resource. Here. approach Cordelia's house. in the attire of fishermen. with Perillus. In- stead of the unnatural banishment of Lear during the tempest.60 OLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE tells according to Shakespeare. Leir. and his roaming about the heath.

kind-hearted as thou art. has all the time been grieving about her father and praying to sisters who had done him in his God to forgive her so much wrong him. ere I do begin. order She accepts the counsel and takes Leir into her house without disclosing herself to him. notwithstanding^. all he has suffered from his and says that now he wishes find shelter with the child who would be the right even were she to condemn him to Leir relates . her happiness.: — Gl TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE scene of i-eunion between the daughter and father. and nurses him. and wishes to immediately to disclose herself to husband advises her not do this. Leir gradually revives. and then the daughter asks him who he is and how he lived not to agitate her w^eak father. And thou. formerly "If from the first. j)oor soul. Cordelia: I'll tell Dost weep already. "I should reLate the cause. I would make a heart of adamant to weep. but her in meets her father extreme want. tlie Cordeha —who." "For God's love tell it. and when you have done the reason why I weej) so soon." And to in elder daughters." says Leir.

yet the whole of this old drama is incomparably and in every respect superior to Shakespeare's adaptation." —"How canst thou know this without knowing her." says Leir. for thy pardon on Is there my knees for all my sins me." am thy The father recognizes her l)ut and says thee. death. dear father.G2 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE ''If." it he will says. — and falls on her knees. know. "look on me: I loving daughter. receive hoAvever." she says." : " It is not for thee." says Cordelia. if I were only to see his white head." not be. I know for certain that thy daughter will lovingly receive thee. but not says: my merit. I would " No. be God's and her work. this creep to meet him on my knees. . to beg toward anything approaching this exquisite scene in Shakespeare's drama ? However strange this opinion may seem to worshipers of Shakespeare. "because not far "I from here. " Look here." To this Cordelia "Oh.0 cruel as mine." says Cordelia. I had a father who acted toward me as badly as thou hast acted toward her." "Do not condemn all for the sins of some. "she will me with love. "for there are no chilcan — dren in the world . vet.'" says Lcir.

and Cordelia. Therefore. failures to recognize. who effects only distract one's attention. and all these impossible disguises. unequaled by any in all Shakespeare's dramas. there is in the older drama. old drama also terminates more natand more in accordance with the moral demands of the spectator than does Shakespeare's. restoring Leir to his former position. because in this drama there is the simple. by the King of the Gauls urally The conquering the husbands of the elder sisters. and. the exquisite scene of the interview be- tween Leir and Cordelia. of both absent in Shakespeare. secondly because has not got the completely false " Lear running about the heath. instead of being killed. his conversations with the fool. and deeply touching character of Leir and the yet more touching and clearly defined character of Cordelia. namely. and accumulated deaths." TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE It is 63 so. instead of Shakespeare's long-drawn scene of Lear's interview with Cordelia and of Cordelia's unnecessary murder. natural. because it has not got the utterly superfluous characters of the villain Edmund and it unlifelike Gloucester and Edgar. first. . above all.

all. lago. Cassio. above whatever. Plutarch's " Lives. The same with Antony. the same also with the famous Hamlet. as with Lear. moreover. while by characters already given in predramas. on the contrary. or romances. which Shakespeare has borrowed from the drama "King Leir. taken from an Italian romance. but the least bad and the volubility. less according Shakespeare. Richard. Cleopatra. perhaps. all taken from some antecedent work." altho that is. to utter speeches natural neither to them nor to any one Thus. •profiting Shakespeare." not only fails to render them truthful and vivid. Emilia. always weakens them and often completely destroys them. Shylock. chronicles or. Brutus. as his eulogists affirm. of which he has an at- tack on the stage. least encumbered by pompous of to the characters Othello. and all Shakespeare's characters. and. ceding . not say the best. compelling his characters to commit actions unnatural to them. I will in "Othello.(ii TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Thus it is in the drama we are examining. more but." So it is also with Othello. are much from natural and lifelike than in the Italian romance. fers Shakespeare's Othello suf- epilepsy. in Shakespeare's .

Othello perceives the escaping Cassio. Cassio.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE version. and violates the unity of the character. confirms his suspicions. Othello's monolog over the sleeping Desdemona. successful machinations and treacherous words. according to Shakespeare. founded entirely on lago's persistent. knowing whose is. approaching the back-door of Desdemona's house. goes to Desdemona to but. and this. All this is erratic. and yet this casual incident explains Othello's jealousy more than anything this else.. about his going to love her even dead. 5 A man who preparing for the . Shakespeare has not got this. which Othello blindly believes. a negro and not a Moor. sees Othello and flies from him. In the romance. and now wishing jealousy is With Shakespeare. is Othello. inflated. unnatural. more than anything." is etc. about his desiring her when killed to look as she is alive. the handkerchief return it. to smell her "balmy breath. In that romance the reasons for Othello's jealousy are represented more naturally than in Shakespeare. All this is absent in the romance. 65 the strange Desdemona's murder is preceded by vow of the kneeUng Othello. is utterly impossible.

phrases. one's conception of Othello's character is constantly infringed by his false pathos and the unnatural speeches he pronounces. and of the globe yawning.66 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE of a beloved being. inviting them to burn him in hot sulphur and so forth. absent in the romance. and again in his scenes with Desdemona. address devils. does not utter still less such committing the murder would he speak about the necessity of an eclipse of sun and moon. and about his eyes dropping tears " as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gum''. Lastly. about the pearl. negro tho he may be. smote hiva—thiis! So that notwithstanding the powerful expression of emotion in Othello when. after it murder completely destroys the conception of his defined character. under the influence of lago's hints. Othello. and yet less about the Turk's beating an Italian and how he. Othello. jealousy rises in him. he would intending to kill himself. fered from grief and remorse. nor can he. So it is with the chief character. but notwithstanding its alteration and the dis- . pronounce phrases about his own services. If clearly he indeed sufnot. however effective may be the suicide.

deceiver. promising him Desdemona's love. a robber who is robs Roderigo and always succeeds even in his most impossible designs. but Whereas in the romance there is but one simple and clear motive. thirdly. secondly. him the post he and. and whom he forces to fulfil all he com- Desdemona. Yet more unnatural is the utterly unnecessary Roderigo whom lago deceives and robs. first. this character still remains a character. transmitted into hatred toward her and Othello after she had preferred the Moor to him and resolutely repulsed him. but all the other personages are com- pletely spoiled by Shakespeare. lago's passionate love for Desdemona. he feels a strange kind of love for they are There are many motives.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE ()7 advantageous features which it is made thereby to present in comparison with the character from which it was taken in the romance. is lago. an un- mitigated villain. and therefore person quite apart from real life. according to Shakespeare. that he suspects Othello of an intrigue with his wife as he says. the motive of his villainy that Othello did not give is. a In Shakespeare. desired. all vague. and thief. that. .

ridiculing this martyr for his faith and representing him as a good-for-nothing man. "But all Falstaff. and it . wrote a comedy or drama. has not even the slightest semblance of a live character. But afterward he was condemned and burned at the stake for his religious beliefs. "of him." Falstaff. the wonderful Falstaff. but had been saved by his friend the duke. provoke and kill Cassio." Shakespeare's eulogists will say. It was on this same Oldcastle that an anonymous author. has been weakened. who had been the This Oldcastle had friend of some duke. written on a really living person.. which did not conform with Catholicism. was taken from a drama or comedy by an unknown author. in order to please the Catholic public. the boon companion of the duke. Sir John Oldcastle. like all Shakespeare's characters. havinj.68 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE : mands then to intoxicate Cassio. once been convicted of heresy. at events. one can not say that he is not a livinof character. or that. been taken it from the comedy of an unknown author. Emilia. who says anything it may occur to the author to put into her mouth.

when this character ap- peared. also a historical figure. but also his own ironical first it In Shake" Oldcastle. of all Shakespeare's charit acters. and depraved character . unnatural to is all Shakespeare's other of the characters." speare's works. when Protes- was awkward to bring out with mockery a martyr in the strife tantism again triumphed. but then typical it is perhaps the only natural and character depicted is by Shakespeare. in that being ful. full of mirthless jokes and unamusing puns which. known at having is. besides. quite in harmony with the boast- distorted. and Shakespeare cordingly altered the for name of Oldcastle to that of Falstaff. alone speaks a language proper to it And speaks thus because it speaks same Shakespearian language. not only the character of Falstaff. and. itself. Falstaff indeed. was frankly called in Elizabeth's time. with Catholicism. it but later. And this character natural and typical because.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE is G9 from this comedy that Shakespeare borrowed. fled from the field of battle Agincourt. quite a natural and typical character. Oldcastle's ac- relatives had protested. attitude toward it.

his personages a typical character so strikingly manifest as let. cality. relating: "Avec quelle ruse Amlette qui depuis fut . I will not say incapacity to give. but utter in indifference to giving. the artistic acter is cflFect spoilt by the fact that it is so repulsive by its gluttony. drunken For this reason alone does of this char- this figure truly represent a definite character. Ham- and in connection with none of Shake- speare's works do we see so strikingly displayed that blind worship of Shakespeare. drunkenness. cult to share the feeling of and cowardice. debauchery. Thus it is with But in none of Shakespeare's figures is his. that it is diffigay humor with treats it. new and deeply conceived char- its Shakespeare takes an old story. that un- reasoning state of hypnotism owing to which the mere thought even is not admitted that any can be wanting in genius. not bad in way.70 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEx\RE Falstaff. or that any of the principal personages in his dramas can fail to be the of Shakespeare's productions expression of a acter. rasdeceit. which the author Falstaff. Unfortunately.

his written on this theme fifteen On this sul)ject he writes inappro- own drama. introducing quite priately (as indeed he always does) into the mouth of the principal person all of his those thoughts own which appeared to him worthy of And putting into the mouth of his attention." or a drama which was years before him. about women. without character.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Roy de Dannemarch. about death life (the grave- (To be or not in to be) his the same which are expressed is sixty- sixth sonnet —about the theater. and naturally turns out that the person expressing these thoughts is a mere phonograph of Shakespeare. and wishes to revenge himself his uncle father. whose actions all and words do not agree. occis par et 71 la mort do son Fengon son frere. autre occurrence de son histoire. . may kill upon them. unconcerned as to the circum- He it utterly stances under which these words are said. Hamlet's personality is quite comprehensible: he is indignant at his mother's and his uncle's deeds. but is him as he had afraid killed his Therefore he simulates insanity. hero these thoughts: about digger). In the old legend. vengea pere Horwendille.

7^2

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
l)i(le

desiring to

his

time and observe

all

that

goes on in the ])alace.

Meanwhile,

his unele

and mother, heing

afraid of him, wish to test whether he is feigning or is really mad, and send to him a girl whom he loves. He persists, then sees his mother in private, kills a eourtier who was eavesdropping, and convicts his mother Afterward he is sent to England, of her sin. but intercepts letters and, returning from England, takes revenge of his enemies, burning

them

all.
is

All this

comprehensilile and flows from

Hamlet's character and position. But Shakespeare, putting into Hamlet's mouth speeches

which he himself wishes to express, and making him commit actions which are necessary to the author in order to produce scenic effects,
destroys
all

that constitutes the character of
of the legend.
is

Hamlet and
of the

During the whole
doing, not what he
is

drama, Hamlet
really

would

wish to do, but what

necessary

for the author's plan.

struck at his father's

One moment he is aweghost, another moment

be begins to chaff it, calling it " old mole " one moment he loves Ophelia, another moment he teases her, and so forth. There is no pos-

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
sibility

73

of

finding any explanation

whatever
to

of Hamlet's actions or words, and therefore

no

possibility

of attributing

any character

him.

But

as

it

is

recognized that Shakespeare the
the powers of their

genius can not write anything bad, therefore
learned people use
all

to find extraordinary beauties in

what

minds is an

obvious and crying failure, demonstrated with

"Hamlet," where the prinno character whatever. And lo profound critics declare that in this drama, in the person of Hamlet, is expressed singularly powerful, perfectly novel, and deep personality, existing in this person having no character; and that precisely in this absence
especial vividness in
cipal figure has
!

of character .consists the genius of creating a

deeply conceived character. Having decided this, learned critics write volumes upon volumes, so that the praise and explanation of the greatness and importance of the representation of the character of a man who has no It character form in volume a library. is
true that

some

of the critics timidly express
is

the idea that there
figure, that

Hamlet

is

something strange in this an unsolved riddle, but

74

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
to say
(as
is

no one has the courage
i.e.,

in

Hans

Andersen's story) that the King
that
it is

naked

as clear as

day that Shakespeare

did not succeed and did not even Avish to give

any character
stand that

Hamlet, did not even underwas necessary. And learned critics continue to investigate and extol this puzzling produc-tion, which reminds one of the famous stone with an inscription which Pickwick found near a cottage doorstep, and which divided the scientific world into two hostile camps. So that neither do the characters of Lear nor Othello nor Falstaff nor yet Hamlet in any way confirm the existing opinion that Shakespeare's power consists in the delineation of
to
this

character.

Shakespeare's dramas one does meet having certain characteristic features, for the most part secondary figures, such as Polonius in " Hamlet " and Portia in " The Merchant of Venice," these few lifelike characIf in

figures

ters

among

five

hundred or more other

sec-

ondary
all

figures,

with the complete absence of
the

character in the principal figures, do not at

prove

that

merit

of

Shakespeare's

and the combination of many contrary feelings. the very play of emotion.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE /Iramas acter. or changes of feeling taking place in the persons represented. as expressed cor- and powerfidly in some of Shakespeare's and in the play of good actors. and the repetition of words. So that. evokes even. in many instances. and an intelligent man. consists in the expression of char- That is a threat talent for depicting. gesture. for superficial observers and This play of good consists actors. but of exclamation. states of mind and developments rectly scenes. t:. and alteration. however featureless they are. himself an actor. knew how to express by the means not only of speech. cliaracter attributed to Sliakesj)eare arises from his possessinga actually peculiarity in the which. its increase. if only for a time. . may appear character. However unnatto may be in which he places however improper them the language which he makes them speak. ural the positions his characters. Shakespeare. sympathy with the persons represented. to be the capacity of de- picting in peculiarity the capacity of representative scenes ex- pressing the play of emotion.

merely make an exclamation. or in the middle of a monolog. as do Othello. and others. in demonstrate the pain of their position as Lear asks some one to unbutton him). by means of gestures. of a or several times demand the word which has particularly struck them. repeat a question times. a single scene can not give the character of a fioure when this figure.7() TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Shakespeare's characters. often mistaken by many critics for the expression of character. moments several repetition of great agitation. giving good actors the possibility of demonstrating their powers. or weep. Such clever methods of expressing the development of feeling. to volubly utter words which are neither necessary nor in character. Macduff. (just or. harmony with its . at the author's arbitrary will. instead of speaking. and are. of feeling But however strongly the play may be expressed in one scene. begins in a language not its own. after a correct exclamation or gesture. Cleopatra. were.

which they do not. do not constitute the merits of an artistic. these speeches. even did they contain very many deep and new thoughts." Thoughts and sayings may be appreciated. but tlie profound utterances and sayings expressed by Shakespeare's characters. can only spoil artistic works. the object of which is to elicit sympathy with that which is represented. Kent's speech about vengeance. or Edgar's about his former life. . and. On the contrary. but not in an artistic dramatic production. a collection of aphorisms.r's panegyrists will retort. and others. in a prose work. expressed in inmatural conditions.V " Well. in an essay." Shakespeare's Lei'. Therefore the monologs and sayings of Siiakespeare. I will answer. the famous monologs of Ilandet. in other dramas. Antony. poetic pro(hiction. Gloucester's reflections on the instability of fortune. "See monolog on punishment.

78 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE An artistic. so as not to destroy be. and sometimes. or to take aAvay the lamp from a magic lantern: the attention of the reader or spectator is distracted. his illusion is what is even increased. poetic work. however eloquent and profound they may Avhen put into the if mouth of dramatic characters. must first of all excite in the reader or spectator the illusion that whatever the person repre- sented lived is living through. but to say superfluous is the same as to overthrow a statue composed of separate pieces and there- by scatter them. or experiencing. destroy the dition of dramatic art —the illusion. Speeches. chief con- they be superfluous or unnatural to the position and character. oiie may leave will much unsaid himself fill —the reader or spectator this up. owing to this. owing in to which the reader or spectator lives the feelings of the persons represented. is - through or experienced by himself. the illusion of the reader or spectator. particularly a drama. Without putting an end to the illusion. the reader . For this purpose it is as important for the dramatist to know precisely what he should make his characters both do and say as what he should not make them say and do.

His characters continually do and say what is not only unnatural to them. because I believe that he who does not himself see this striking deficiency in all Shakespeare's dramas Avill not be persuaded by any examples and It is sufficient to read " King Lear. it is sometimes impossible. plucking out of eyes. the spectator sees the actor. complet<ly . murders. " Schonheit's sinn. with its insanity." but all Gervinus's proofs prove is only that he himself. therefore without the feehng of measure there can not be an artist. alone. Gloucester's jump. and wranglings not to mention '* Pericles. Shakespeare is devoid of this feeling." Gervinus endeavors to prove that Shakespeare possessed the feeling of beauty." or so mercilessly drama "King Leir. and to restore 71) sees the author." " The Winter's Tale. its poisonings.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE the ilhision disappears. and especially a dramatist. but utterly unnecessary." " The Tempest" to be convinced of this." "Cymbeline. Gervinus." proofs. -^"^o not cite examples of this. Only a man devoid of the sense of measure and of taste could produce such types as "Titus Andronicus" — — or " Troilus mutilate the old and Cressida.

however they may he enraptured by Shakespeare's works. but he was not an artist. and therefore.e.. In Homer. the speeches of the characters are exaggerated. ^productions. destitute of In Shakespeare everyjtliing is exaggerated: the actions are exaggerated. i. to judge about Shakespeare. so are their consequences." say his admirers. " But one should not forget the time at which Shakespeare wTote. a time of the then fashionable euphemism. there never was nor can be an artist. arti'" way of expressing oneself a time of forms of life strange to us. It Avas a time of cruel and coarse habits. but this does not prevent us ciating the beauties of from appreHomer. Shakespeare might have been whatever you like. one should have in ficial — view the time when he wrote. as in Shakespeare. as without the feeling of rhythm there can not be a musician. whatever merits they may attril)utc to them. it is perfectly certain that he was not an artist and that his works are not artistic Without the sense of measure. and therefore at every step the possibiHty of artistic impression is interfered with." sav these . Whatever people may say. there is much which is strange to us.80 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE it.

that infinite distance which separates true poetry from manifests itself semblance with is especial force. we can. he i believes in what he says and speaks seriously. How- ever distant Homer from us. and therefore he never exaggerates. Priam's embassy. and the! sense of measure never abandons him. of Achilles. This] is the reason why. and are living. lifelike. with- out the slightest life effort. not to speak of the wonder- fully distinct. return. One what sees at once that he does not believe in . however alien to us may be Homer describes. exaggerat/on is seen: the ex- aggeration of events. 81 But in comparing Shakespeare with its Homer. transport ourselves into the he describes. Hector. the exaggeration of emotion. of Odysseus's and others the whole of the "Iliad" and still more the "Odyssey" are so humanly near to us that we feel as if we~onrselves had lived. and the exaggeration 6 of effects. as does Gervinus. and beautiful characters and the eternally touching scenes of Hector's leaveof taking. Odysseus.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE admirers. Priam. From his first — words. and the events we can thus transport ourselves because. among its gods and heroes. Not so with Shakspeare.

. or in the suffer- ings of the characters. like m^osaics. that he invents the events he describes. externally. and is indifthat he lias conceived ferent to his characters them only for the stage and therefore makes them do and say only what may strike his public. or in the actions. poetic. and. Nothing demonstrates so clearly the complete absence of esthetic feeling in Shakespeare as comparison between The works which we call works of Homer are artistic.82 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEAllE he says. — as they are. original the works. and therefore we do not believe either — in the events. Uved through by the author or authors. that it is of no necessity to him. whereas the works of Shakespeare borrowed him and Homer. artificially fitted together piecemeal from bits invented for the occasion ever in —have nothing what- common with art and poetry.

to an explanation of this." In what. Shakea speare being the very greatest judge of the human represents teacher of most indisputable ethical authority and the most select leader in the world and in consists life. . all his fail- in consideration of its an artist become imperceptible. admirers. importance. then. indeed. the height conception of life is of Shakespeare's discloses to us such that. in the sphere of Epos. he a view of ures as life so new and important for men that. about pages. Shakespeare equals "Homer soul. this indisputable authority of the most select leader in the world and in life . say Shakespeare's Gervi- nus says distinctly that besides Shakespeare's significance in the sphere of dramatic poetry in which.VI But. tho he does not satisfy the esthetic demands. So. according to his opinion. perhaps.'' Gervinus devotes the concludfifty ing chapter of his second volume.

with various characters activity. are placed in contrast. says Gervinus. sondern trotz ihrer geringeren Anlage stellt sich ihre Thatkraft an sich iiber die L nthiitigkeit der Anderen hinaus. like Fortinbras.e. are attained by individuals possessing this active character. to that man is gifted with of all. who do not exliibit energetic And happiness and success. Bolingbroke. aus wie schlechter jene Thiitigkeit fliesse. active people. Boling- broke.84 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE The ethical authority of this supreme teacher of Hfe consists in the following: The starting of life. Alcibiades. by Shakespeare. gleichviel aus wie schoner Quelle diese Passivitiit. first according it Gervinus. Fortinbras.. of activity. point of Shakespeare's . Alcibiades. Shakespeare regarded for as good and necessary (as if it man that he should act were possible for a man not to act) Die thatkniftigen Miinncr. nicht ihre Charaktere ver" dienen ihnen Allen ihr Gliick und Gedeihen etwa durch cine grosse Ueberlcffenheit ihrer Natur. Octavius. not at owing . accordall ing to Shakespeare.-conception is says Gervinus." I. Octavius spielen hier die gegensiitzlichen Rollen gegen die verschiedcnen thatlosen. powers and therefore.

He . to that and murder due abstinence and wisdom. Shakespeare. According to Gervinus. he ambition. that of Shakespeare prefers Gervinus. did not approve of to exaggerated limits duty exceeding the intentions of teaches the golden mean between heathen hatred to one's enemies and Christian of nature. he allows himself deny even Christian morality. the principle of Alexander (of Macedonia) to Diogenes. Shakespeare believes humanity need not set up ideals. Shakespeare is so penetrated by this conviction that. Indeed. according to Gervinus. but that only healthy activity and the golden mean are necessary in everything. says prefers death In other to words. Activity transforms evil into good. quite independ- ent of any consideration whether the inactivity of pulses some persons flows from excellent imand the activity of others from bad ones. as we read." says Shakespeare. S5 on the con- trary. which makes demands on human nature. accord- ing to Gervinus 's assertion.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE to the superiority of their nature. the capacity of activity itself always gives them the advantage over inactivity. notwithstanding their inferior gifts. inactivity is evil. is " Activity good.

. while Antonio's moderate generosity confers honor. o6'-2). excessive becomes harmful and can not prevent crime. says Gervinus. nature to the excessive exertion of its He did not admit that the limits of duties should exceed the biddings of Nature. precepts. who surround him. of love toward Thus excessive generosity ruins Timon.v far love toward them (pp.86 TOLSTOY ON SIIAKESrEAllE IIo'. can be seen from the fact that he has the courage to express himself even against the Christian rules which prompt human powers. 5G1. and hatred toward them on the other. between Christian and heathen one's enemies 0:1 the one hand. Therefore he preached a reasonable mean natural to man. on the other hand tlie divine element in man. great. in those severity create crime. if it be excessive. whereas it ruins Percy. normal aml)ition makes Henry V. can and if. Shakespeare was penetrated with this fundamental principle of reasonable moderation. in whom it has risen too high. excessive virtue leads Angelo to destruction. even charity. That one may do too much good (exceed the reasonable limits of good) is convincingly proved by Shakespeare's words and examples.

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 87 Shakespeare taught.. from They arc comprehensible and accessible only to the whom one can expect that they should acquire the healthy tact of life and selfconsciousness by means of which the innate guiding powers of conscience and reason. educated. says Gervinus. one can not establish any principles (p. are suitable for nine nine one-thousandths of and laws hundred and ninetymen) but for the edu- cated " ity : of There arc classes of men whose moralis best guarded by the positive precepts religion and state law. 568). that one mxiy he too good. and in this with Bacon and Aristotle tive religious —there are he agrees no posicreate and moral laws which may principles for correct moral conduct suitable for all cases. owing to the complexity of circumstances and motives. ^ Gervinus most clearly expresses the whole of Shakespeare's moral theory by saying that Shakespeare does not write for those classes for whom definite religious principles (i. uni- . is a matter in which. to such persons Shakespeare's creations are inaccessible. He teaches that morahty.e. Hke pohtics.

the practical wisdom men could not have a higher object than the introduction into society of the greatest spontaneity and freedom. In order thus to accept one should under- stand that. for such educated people. it is stupid and harmful for the individual to revolt against.88 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE But even ting with the will. its or endeavor to overthrow." says Gervinus. in all parts. Shakespeare's teach- not always without danger. but the most clear and faidtless and therefore the most worthy of confidence of all moral teaching" (p. lead us to the definite at- tainment of worthy aims in ing is life. but precisely l^ecause . without Then it is not only without danger. the limestablished religious of and state forms. with a powerful spirit. According to of his views. 564). all. is that should be accepted in its pleteness. should struggle against all convention in politics and morality and overstep that union between religion and the State wdiich has for thousands of years supported society. The con- dition is on which it his teaching is quite harmless all its comany omission. according to his teaching. "Shakespeare. "would abhor an independent and free individual who.

'*the motives for all high undertakings if be stifled". with all the destruction of degrees. inculcate its rational sides. continually verifying it. that of the ignorant cease. to the greatest calami- one struggled more than Shakespeare against the privileges of rank and position. are sacred.^ the attraction of honors and false Even power could all vio- treacherously obtained were to lence. not overlooking nature for the sake of culture. but could this freethinking man resign himself to the privileges of the wealthy and educated being destroved in order to give room to the poor No and ignorant ? How could a man who ors. and. or vice _erty. but. of aspiration toward the recognition Its the\ equality of men is insanity. 566). reahzation would bring humanity ties. the poet admit of the most dreadful of crowd ? He saw . versa"'' (p. so eloquently attracts people toward hon- permit that the very aspiration toward that which was great be crushed together with rank and distinction for services. the state. Propj the family.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE of this Olio 89 irrefragable the natural should safeguard as sacred and laws of society one — should respect the existing order of things and.

to be that impossible " nothing. but evil 1 " Shakespeare Brandes. for e([uality possible. Even pen with mankind when if this does not hap- attains equality the love of nations and eternal peace prove not Alonso exif.90 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE thanks to this that. can conserve his life quite pure from evil. from deceit. and the end the world will if it swallow itself up. Such is Shakespeare's view of life strated by his greatest exponent Shakespeare. and that." by George . forth:' " Another of the most modern admirers of George Brandes.d attainment of aspirations to- ward deem would and extinction of the world had approached. it is not worth while to live as demonand admirer. 572). then the poet that the old age active individuals. and violence into arbitrary acts and thence in unchecked passion Avhich will rend the world as the wolf does its prey. and deceit are not and His Writings. the actu. (pp. 571. therefore." as pressed it in "The Tempest" — but is on the contrary. further sets No one. into everything may pass into violence. of course. and from the injury of others. equahty now preached.

: . as it were. do not depend upon their enactment or infringement. he did not doubt tional duties. according to Brandes. nor uncondiFor instance. nor even his right to stab Polonius to death. not to speak of a character. a legitimate Aveapon. at the moment of his decision and on his own responsibility. in his mind there was formed. the quality and significance of an act. Now. Shakespeare always held that there are no unconditional prohibitions. a right. and even the caused to others. looking around.STOY always is ON SHAKESPEARE evil it !)1 vices. fills up the form of these laws. . Shakespeare at last clearly saw that the moral of the aim is the only trui> and possible one so that.TOr. and yet he could not restrain himseli' from an over- whelming feeling of indignation and re[)ulsi()n when. he saw everywhere how incessantly the most elementary moral laws were being infringed.'' In other words. a closely riveted ring of thoughts concerning which he had always such miconditional commandvaguely felt ments do not exist. And indeed. the whole substance lies in the contents with which the separate individual. Hamlet's right to kill the King. often merely a not necessarily a vice: is necessity.

. Englishmen always vanquishing the French. expressed in all the historical dramas.e.'vm. the absence of all ideals. the . And he who will attentively read Shakespeare's works can not fail to recognize that the description of this Shakespearian view of life by his ad- — mirers is quite correct. If you add to this a Chauvinist English to patrioti. i. are heroes. and so forth. Joan of Arc regarded as a witch. is —action at all costs. the higher is the work. a patriotism according which the Enolish throne is something sacred. from whom the English came. the conservation of the forms of life once established. killing thousands and losing only scores. and the belief that Hector and all the Trojans.such is the view of life of the wisest teacher of life according to his greatest admirers. and the end justifying the means.s- Shakespeare's fundamental principle.92 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE that the end iusiifies the mcan. The (1) merit of every poetic work depends on three things The subject of the work: the deeper the to subject. moderation in everything. while the Greeks are cowards and traitors. . for which he extols him. life of the more important it is mankind.

the author should himself keenly feel what he expresses. the technical art. in all that (3) is and the feeling of measure represented. With- out this condition there can be no work of art. a natural. despises the crowd. the lords of the world as a genuine distinction.. does^notjexperience any feeling. in dramatic art. corresponding to the characters. The subject of Shakespeare's pieces. as the essence of art consists in the contemplation of the work of art being infected with the If the author's tually feel feeling.e. and the production can no longer be classified as a work of art. the working classes . and nical at the same time touching plot. author^doegjiot ac- what he expresses. method will be a true individuality of language. i-c. life.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE (2) 93 The external beauty achievetl by techmethods proper to the particular kind of Thus. a correct scenic rendering of the demonstration and developmeiil of emotion. most \ailgar view of which regards the external elevation of i. that Sincerity. then the recipient can not become infected with the feeling oTlTre author. as is \(]) ' seen from the demonstrations of his greatest admirers. is the lowest.

nor the feeling of measure without which no work can be artistic. nor the language of the persons represented. He does not grasp the natural character of the positions of his personages. sincerity. quite absent in Shakespeare.94 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE all repudiates not only religious. The third and most important condition. . but that he is playing with words. is completely absent in In all of all Shake- speare's works. hut also all humanitarian. with the exception of the rendering of the scenes in of feelings is which the is expressed. tional artifice. them one is sees inten^ one sees that he noTwTearne^i. strivings directed to the hetter- ment of the existing order. The second movement condition also.

and every time attitude toward I encountered one and the same my I objection to the praises of I Shakespeare. pointed out Shakespeare's defects they only condoled with me for urged upon the my me want of comprehension. besides this. not only with people to poetry. and others. Fet. and. remarkable for the delicacy of his works. and the necessity of recognizing extraordinary supernatural grandeur of Shakespeare. was not refuted when . and they did not explain to ^ me A Russian poet. but with those sensitive who keenly felt poetic * beauty. . such as Turgenef. What then signifies the great fame these works have enjoyed for more than a hundred years ? Many times during my life I have had occasion to argue about Shakespeare with his little admirers. their tendency is of the lowest and most immoral.VII Shakespeare's works do not satisfy the demands of all art.

jreneral.!)() TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE what the beauties of in Shakespeare consisted. absurd. "wherever you like. you will see that you will never find ten consecutive lines which are compreartistic hensible. in- comprehensible. extolling some favorite passages : the unbuttonlying. natural to the character that says them. but were merely vaguely and exaggeratedly enraptured with the whole of Shakespeare. Hamlet's hortation to his father's ghost. Falstaff's Lady ex- Macbeth's ineffaceable spots. or according dramas." I used to say to these it admirers. unartificial." etc. and Shakespeare's admirers opened pages as to in Shakespeare's without paying any attention to my criticisms why the selected ten lines did not satisfy the most elementary demands of esthetic and common sense. and when I endeavored to get So that. to their And either own choice. "forty thousand brothers. (This experiment may be made by any one. or wherever may chance. and which produce an at impression.) random. ''Open Shakespeare. in from Shake- speare's worshipers an explanation of his great- . ing of Lear's button. they were enchanted with the very thing which to me appeared inartistic.

It is this which admirers toward which may be seen also in all the mistily indefinite essays and conwhich gave me versations about Shakespeare the key to the understanding of the cause of Shakespeare's fame. As aittitude of Shakespeare's attitude their object —an — glaring instances. but even children. but through faith. I 97 met I in tliem exactly the same attitude have met. not only adults. and the individual " suggestions. in the defenders of any dogmas accepted not through reason. the search for the elixir of life. There is but one explanation of this wonderful fame: it is one of those epidemic " suggestions " to which men constantly have been and are subject. Such "suggestion" always has existed and does exist in the most varied spheres of life. in the utility of torture for the discovery of the truth. Such irrational " suggestions " always have been exfor tulips 7 .' startling in their senselessness. considerable in scope in deceitful influence. and one may cite the medieval Crusades which afflicted. such as faith in witches. and which is usually met. or the passion valued at several thousand guldens a bulb which took hold of Holland. the philosopher's stone.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE ness.

political. in —and people clearly see the insanity of when they free these suggestions only them- But. owinof to casual circumstances. competing with one another. immediately the organs of the press announce this sigAs soon as the press has brought nificance. artistic. life exist. literary scientific. as long as they are selves from them. became especially With the development of the press. to pass that so soon as it has any event. philosophical. The attention of the public prompts the press to examine the event with greater attention and in greater detail. and. in all spheres of human ecogeneral. now come . so true. influence. nomical. and the organs of the press. satisfy The public is still more the public demand. receives an especially prominent significance.98 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE and still isting. ing press. forward the significance of the event. the puljlic devotes more and more attention to it. the suggestions appear under their to them so certain. that to argue about them is regarded as neither necessary nor \Yith the development of the printpossible. — religious. The interest of the public further increases. these epidemics striking.

mutual influence of press and is attached to the most insignificant subjects. There are innumerable examples owing to the of such an inappropriate etuimation which. and this is appre- ciation. So that the importance of the event. A striking example of such mutual influence of the public and the press was the excitement in the case of Dreyfus. in our time. like a lump of snow. continually growing. receives an appreciation utterly inap- propriate to its real significance. the press attached a somewhat prominent interest to this event. the press attributes yet !)9 more sig- nificance to the event. because this particular some captain of Whether captain was a Jew. often exaggerated to insanity. still less the whole world. whose like is continually occurring without attracting any one's attention. or because of some special internal party disagree- ments in French society. and without being able to interest even the French military. retained so long as the conception of of the press life of the leaders and of the public remains the same. which lately caught hold of the whole world. The public turned . The suspicion arose that the French staff was guilty of treason.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE interested. public on one another.

100 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE attention to this incident. r|uite correctly expressed the attitude of the whole of the reading world to the question about Dreyfus. examine. began to describe. till liefore our eyes it attained such a bulk that there was not a family where controversies did not rage about "I'affaire/' The caricature by Caran d'Ache of the pul)lic. like exasperated furies. People of foreign nationalities. years Only to after the lapse of some they did people begin to awake from the "suggestion" and understand that . who could not be interested in the question whether a French officer was a traitor or not —people. of the who of could know nothing development the case — all divided themselves for and and the moment they met they and argued about Dreyfus. demand began to representing at to talk first a peaceful family resolved no more about Dreyfus. his guilt with assurance. the organs of the its press. mutually competing. some asserting talked against Dreyfus. the public was yet more interested. discuss the event. and then. moreover. the press answered to the and the lump of snow grow and grow. members of the same family fighting with each other. others denying it with equal assurance.

as the press naturally occupies more keenly with the affairs of the and they are particularly powerful in our time when the press has received such an itself the press. these works do not corre- spond to the prevailing view of life. and Georges Sand. and then. in the forties. Comte and Hegel in the scientific sphere. there was in the sphere of art the laudation and glorification of Eugene Sue. It continually hap- pens that people suddenly begin to extol some most insignificant vsorks. and forget both the works themselves and their former attitude toward them. So within my recollection. Such infatuations take place but they are especially noticeable in the sphere of literature. Georges Sand is being forgotten and replaced by the Avritings of . Darwin. in the philosophical sphere. Sue is quite forgotten. 101 sands of know whether Dreyfus wms and that eac-h one had thousubjects much more near to him and in all spheres. interesting than the case of Dreyfus. in exaggerated if lan- guage. unnatural development. they suddenly become utterly indifferent to them.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE coukl not possibly guilty or not. . and in the social sphere Fourier.

misty. enormous undeserved success notwithstandThe saying arose: "pro . Beaudelaire. A erlaine. his place be- ing taken by Marx. and Darwin with his law of struggle. correspond in such a degree to the views of life spread in society. having arisen in consequence of special reasons accidentally favoring to their establishment. Maeterlinck. yet corresponds better with existing tendencies. and ing their triviality. lacing replaced by the teaching of Nietzsche. who denied the religious activity in mankind. which. artistic. it own very strange in As far back as in the time of was remarked that often books have fates : consisting in failure notwithstanding their high merits. but are beginning to be forgotten. still hold on. existing Hegel. suddenly arise and are as quickBut it also happens that such crazes. and others.102 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Zola and the Decadents. that tiiey are maintained for a long time. who justified the order. altho utterly extravagant. philosophic. and. Fourier with his phalansteries is quite forgotten. and especially in literary circles. their Rome. Thus some- literary crazes ly forgotten. unconsidered. in general. and times vicious in its bearing. necessity of and Comte.

Beaumont... And maintained this fame has been. This happened for the following reason Art.e. but was valued less than his Ben Jonson. its and object was men a clearer conception of that relation of man to God which had. labor. bound to be from its own nait was and so. as a matter of fact. Fletchcontemporary dramatists : er. was always religious. was harmony between Shakespeare's writings and the view of hfe of those amongst whom . its demanding for realization great preparations. His fame originated in Germany. especially dramatic art.e. habent sua fata libelli that the fate of books depends on the underThere/ standing of those who read them. and owing to Shakespeare's works continuing to correspond concept of those Until the to the Hfe who support of this fame. outlays. So ture. and thence was transferred to England. been attained by the leading men of the to stimulate in circles interested in art. at that time. i.: — lOS "' » TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE captu lectoris i. his still fame is. has it always . century end the eighteenth Shakespeare not only failed to gain any special fame in England. and others. arose.

in the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- turies. This deviation of art from its true and high vocation took place everywhere. describing those events which were regarded as the most im- portant in the Christian religious view of life. and. strove for worldly aims. the aims of recreation and amusement.lot TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE been among all nations Egyptians. i. and even in connection with Christianity. with the coarsening of religious — — forms. first manifestations in of : Christian the art were services of churches in adminis- the sacraments and the ordinary forms When. Chinese. the worship . art has more and more diverged from original object (according to which be regarded as an important function its it could —almost an act of worship). Hindus. there appeared the Mysteries.e. in course of time. the center of gravity of Christian teaching was more and more transferred. When. And it has always happened that. the of art as used in worship became insufficient. instead of serving it religious objects. Greeks commencing in some remote period of human life.. seeking to satisfy the demands of the crowd or of the powerful. The tration liturgy.

not simply the masses of common people. This deviation was. As the expression of the aspirations which gave rise to these changes. encouraged by the circumstance . dramatic art. l)ut the majority of immoral or unmoral men. Hence. and the interpretation and following of His teaching. there tations in appeared the Moralities. moreover. could not replace the former religious dramas. and. it was regarded as a teachhad yet boon found. instead of serving God. according to which problems of human life). I mean. it took to serving the crowd (by crowd. owing to the very fact of their being works of art of a lower order. came in all Christian countries to sv/erve farther and farther from its proper use and object. indifferent to the higher ing of life. and yet no new forms of dramatic art corresponding to the conception now entertained of Christianity. dramatic represenwhich the characters were personifi- cations of Christian virtues vices. the form of teries Mysevents describing external Christian became insufficient.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE of Christ as 105 God. and their opposite But allegories. having no foundation. and new forms were demanded.

which formerly had such a lofty and religious significance. at the same time. that. satisfying audience. not only utterly indifferent to the questions of religion. but in most in cases completely the of depraved therefore. hitherto unknown in the Christian world.lOG TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE (ircek thinkers. the poets. From all this it followed that. princes. recthe writers of the ognizing the previous form of Mysteries and Moralities as fifteenth insufficient. in their search for a new form. attracted by their elegance and novelty. and dramatists. the least religious people. were discovered and brought back into favor. on this . demands of its the fifteenth and six- teenth and seventeenth centuries^ntirely gave up all religious It came to pass that the drama. began to imitate the newly discovered Greek models. Since the those who of could principally avail themselves of dramatic representations were powerful this world: kings. not having yet had time to work out their own form of dramatic art corresponding to the new conception entertained of Christianity as being a teaching of life. at this very time. and. courtiers. and sixteenth centuries. and which can. the drama aim.

an amusement. drama were and and popular. but they their own countries. drama had Euroenjoyed success in General fame. English. six- and seventeenth centuries they were meant for depraved kings and the Tiigher classes. Italian. that in Rome spectacles existed for the whole people. as in the time of 107 condition alone. whereas in the Christian Avorld of the fifteenth.— TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE human became. Such Avas the case with the Spanish. and French drama. Rome. battles taking place on the stage. with complicated plots and historical heroes. naturally reflected the characteristics of their respective alities : nation- in Italy comedies were chiefly elabpositions orated. The dramas of that time. or taken from poems. humorous interludes. owing to all . in ancient legends. The peculiarities of the English the coarse incidents of murders. all these countries. In Spain there flourished the worldly drama. according to Greek models. Neither the Italian nor the Spanish nor the English pean fame. a recreation only with this difference. the a spectacle. or biographies. principally comteenth. with humorous and persons. occupy an important place in life. principally posed. executions.

new The members of group.^05 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE the elegance of its its language and the talent of was possessed only by the French drama. bowed down before the French pseudo-classical drama. being utterly indifferent to religious c[ues- thought that heroes.. Hans Sachs). if the Greek drama. So it continued till the end of the eighteenth century. at which time this happened: In Ger- many. of the three Unities. all educated peo- ple. they influence of the Greek classics. then such a description of the and the struggles would be . like all the upper classes of the Christian world at that time.stri( t adherence to the (lireek models.sufferings ideal. together with Frederick the Great. who. feeling the falsity and coldness of the French drama. distinguished' by its . Avere under the charm and tions. Yet at this very time there appeared in Germany a group of educated and talented writers and poets. describing the calamities and sufferings and strife of its represented the highest of heroes dramatic . and. endeavored to find a and this freer dramatic form. which had not produced even passable dramatic writers (there was a weak and little known writer. and especially to the law writers.

the These men. not understrife and of their heroes had a religious sigimagined that they needed only to reject the inconvenient law^ of the three Unities. Thereupon. too. they chose Shakespeare's dramas in preference to all other English dramas. at strong human Exactly this kind of drama existed the that time amons: kindred English it. excluding those which were not in the least inferior. of personages and. standing that. people. without introducing into the drama any religious element corresponding to their time. becoming acquainted with precisely Germans decided that such should be the drama of the new the period. and. to Shakespeare. who was then the dictator of public opinion in . but were even superior. in order that the drama should have sufficient scope in the representation of various moments in the lives of historical eral. for the Greeks. because of the clever development of scenes which constituted Shakespeare's peculiarity. in genpassions. sufferings nificance. if only the narrow demands of pseudo-classic- alism were rejected.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 100 a sufficient subject in the Christian world. At the head of the group stood Goethe.

began to whole of Shakespeare indiscrimsuch passages as struck them by their effects. was Avho. German esthetic critics. These men acted as blind men . especially distinguishing is called art. imagining that these effects and ofwhat these thoughts constitute the essence praise the inately. all those esthetic critics who did not understand art threw themselves on it like crows on carrion and began to discover in Shakespeare beauties which did not exist. Avithout that simple. partly owing to his desire to give a greater scope to his own dramatic writing. direct artistic sensibility which. When this error was announced by an authority like Goethe. clearly distinall guishes esthetic impressions from others. and to extol them. These men. but chiefly through the agreement of his view of life with Shakespeare's. declared Shakespeare a great poet. or which expressed thoughts corresponding to their views of life. for people with a feeling for art. partly ow- ing to a desire to destroy the fascination of the false French art. for the most part utterly devoid of esthetic feeling. but believing the authority which had recognized Shakespeare as a great poet.110 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE He it esthetic questions.

. As the bUnd man would for a long lime strenuously handle the stones and in the end would come to no other conclusion than that all stones are precious and especially so the smoothest. that for the purpose of the drama the representation of human passions and characters was quite sufficient. without artistic feeling. it naturally turned out that the height of perfection. so also these esthetic critics. and especially for the drama. should represent events independently of any judgment of good quite be objective. they invented esthetic theories according to which it appeared that no definite religious view of life was necessary for works of art in general. ^^ ^ and evil. As these theories were founded on Shakespeare's satisfied own views of life. To give the greater force to their praise of the whole of Shakespeare. could not but come to similar results in relation to Shakespeare. works of Shakespeare these theories and therefore were the .TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 111 would act who endeavored to find diamonds by touch among a heap of stones they were fingering. that not only was an internal religious illumination of what was represented unnecessary. but art should i.e.

was principally interaction owing to expressed in their writings that the took place between writers and public which itself. These esthetic critics have written profound treatises about Eleven thousand volumes have Shakespeare. and which. and the learned critics. art. So that the first cause of Shakespeare's fame was that the Germans wished to oppose to the cold French drama. The third and principal cause was the activity of the learned and zealous esthetic German critics without esthetic feeling. a livelier and freer one. while the public. gave further and further explanations. been written about him.112 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE these people It is who are chiefly responsible It for Shakespeare's fame. who invented the theory of objective deliber- . of which they had grown weary. was tedious enough. The second cause was that the young German writers required a model for writing their own dramas. adding to the confusion. no doubt. on the other hand. an insane worship of Shakespeare which has no rational foundation. on the one hand. and is still expressing itself. and a whole science of Shakespearology composed. took more and more interest.

or didactics. and something which of the great- importance for them about man's relation to God. a thing incompati' ble with true art " 'i I reply that by the religious essence of art I understand not the direct inculcation of any religious truths in an artistic guise. be called ' tendency. to the knowledge of So it has and so it is with every true artist in general and especially the dramatist. and not an allegorical demonstration of these truths. penetrates. always been with true — ing to the essence of the matter — that man to alone can write a est drama who has something is : say to men. but the exhibition of a definite view of life corresponding to the highest religious understanding of a given time. serving as the motive for the composition of the drama. through all of his work. 8 . which. and as it should be accordthe author. what do you understand by the word's religious essence of INIay not what you are demandtiie drama ? But. art. to the All. religious instruction. ing for the drama.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE ately " 113 rojoctiug the religious essence of " tlie tlrama. to the Universe. Hence as it was when the drama was a serious thing." I shall be asked. the Eternal.

theories estabUshed that.e. thanks to the German about objective art. But these are all external reasons.. fooleries. the idea was this tlie Infinite. horrors." i. unnecessary. for the drama. had no convictions at all. who. . then it was quite is obvious liow a writer who had not got developed mind the rehgious convictions proper to his time. and Hke Shakespeare in his effects — — could appear to be a dramatic v/riter of the greatest genius.114 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE But when. discussions. The fundamental inner cause of Shakespeare's fame was and is this: that his dramas were "pro captu lectoris. in fact. they corresponded to the irreligious and immoral frame of mind of the upper classes of his time. but heaped up in his drama all possible events.

like a lump of snow. wrote new and ever new essays about Shakespeare. up this praise and took writing their lengthy. the readers and spectators on their side were increasingly confirmed in their admiration. either even ap- among the old or the new . The esthetic critics caught to les. and endeavoring to compete with one another.VIII At the beginning of the lust century. until in our time it has attained that insane worship which obviously has no other foundation rival. misty. of series of casual when Goethe was dictator and esthetic laws. The critics. answering to the popular interest." Shakespeare finds no proximately. a stances philosophic thought circum- made him praise Shakespeare. kept growing and growing. and Shakespeare's fame. learned arti- and the great European public began to be enchanted with Shakespeare. than not ""sugges- tion.

He possesses penetration both in the world of fiction and of reality." Shakespeare such many-sidedness and such objectivism that they carry him beyond the limits of time and nationality. idyll." " Shakespeare is the greatest genius that has hitherto existed. passing piece of not only wields he is the only man." " To Shakespeare the epithet of Great comes of itself. for the profoundest presentation. but he po. of the tributes paid to him. become the . of a horrifying and an amusing character. humor. He an unlimited power over our mirth and our tears. or for any casually thrown verse. esthetic idyll. " Poetic truth the brightest flower in the crov/n of is Shakespeare's exhibits merits " all . and the same spirit of humanity. thought. idyllistic comedy. history. comedy. and if one adds that independently of his greatness he has. over all the workings of passion. and observation. further. off. and above this reigns one and the same truthfulness to character and to nature.ssesses also an infinite region full of the phantasy of fiction.110 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Here are some is writers. " Shake- speare ' the greatest morahst of times." "For the creation of trag- edy.

by the genius of thought which floated in the air has prophetically forestalled the direction that the social spirit was going to take in the future (of —one may. Suggestion is alwaysa deceit. it has become the subject of suggestion. Shakespeare is not merely a good writer. and that in the vvhich in his works he ex- sphere of poetic creation his only worthy rival was that same life pressed to such perfection. if only lower. the emptier a The more trivial. say that Shake- speare was not only a great poet. The Pope is not merely So saintly." The it obvious exaggeration of this estimate proves more conclusively than anything that is the consequence. and. and so forth. and every dc- .TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE reformer of in his all 117 literature. but of suggestion. without of all which we see a striking example in Hamlet). moreover. has works not only expressed the phenomenon of life as it was in his day. the more supernatural and exaggerated is the significance attributed to it. the phenomenon is. not of common sense. but also. but the greatest poets who ever existed. but most saintly. hesitation. the eternal teacher of man kind. but the greatest genius.

118 TOT>ST()Y is OX SHAKESPEARE ceit an evil In truth. should serve the development of religious consciousness. for imitation. presenting the height of both esthetic and ethical perfection. The development of the religious consciousness of men is accomplished through all the sides of man's spiritual activity. perhaps the most influential. the only element which permanently unites men. the fall of the drama. great injury to men. But upon the appearance of Protestantism in its broader . the suggestion that Shakespeare's works are great works of genius. This injury is twofold: first. and is causing. Therefore the drama. the drama. and the rej)lacement of this important weaj>on of j)rogress by an empty and immoral amusement and secondly. One is sec- tion of art. Such has the drama always been. and such it was in the Christian w^orld. the direct depravation of men by presenting to them false models . has caused. in order to deserve the importance attributed to it. One direction of this activity is in art. Human life is perfected only through the development of the religious consciousness.

to have a right to exist and to be a serious thing. as indeed it is now beginning to do. But the discovery of this arrested by the teaching arising new form was among Gerand to man writers at the end art. had not been exaggerated praise of Shakespeare's dramas. presenting them as the most perfect models. its new form corresponding to the change in the understanding of Christianity. 115) the appearance of a new understand- ing of Christianity as of a teaching of hfe..TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE sense. must If there . but the tendency was bound to pass.e. This was most natural.. of the eighteenth beginning of the nineteenth centuries so-called to —as objective evil i. and partly served as material for it. which corresponded to the esthetic teaching of the Germans. and the men of the Renaissance were carried away by the imitation of classical art. the dramatic art did not find a form corresponding to the new understanding of Christianity. and art had to discover. the men of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would have had to understand that the drama. art indifferent good or —and therein the exaggerated partly praise of Shakespeare's dramas.e. i.

characters. Alexis Tolstoy. as it always has served and can not but do otherwise. or the chronicles of Ostrovski. Hugo. trivial understanding of the significance of the drama that there appears among us that infinite quantity of dramatic works describing men's actions. perfection . significance. and an innumerable numlicr of other more or less celeV)rated dramatic productions which fill all the theaters. then all writers of dramas in imitation of him began to compose such empty pieces as are those of Goethe. and can be prepared wholesale by any one who happens to have the idea or desire to write a play. It is only thanks to such a low. they would have searched for a new form of drama corresponding standing. but even without any moral. and frames of mind. in Russia. but often of any human sense. not only void of any spiritual substance. to their religious under- But when it was decided that the height of was Shakespeare's drama. not only without any religious. And having understood this. the development of the religious consciousness. of Pushkin. Schiller.1^0 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE serve. and that we ought to write as he did. positions. and.

and the press this last publishing in the most serious tone reports of theatrical — theaters and operas —and the rest. v( ry The drama . The drama. I recognize them. of art.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Let not the reader think that i 121 I exchide from the the- his estimate of contemporary drama have myself incidentally writIcn. become the trivial and trivial is. Dramatists. that to it dramatic art. The public of our time is like those who mercilessly amuse themselves over this man once so great and now in the loMTst stage of his fall. is still attributed an elevated significance no longer appropriate to it. fallen as low as possible to fall. are all perfectly certain that they are doing something worthy and important. managers. as well as all the rest. in then. as not having that religious character which nmst form the foundation of the drama of the ntrical pieces I future. the most important branch our time. lio has reached the last degree of his degradation. and at the same time continues to pride himself on his past of which nothing now remains. has. immoral amusement of a crowd. in our time is a great man fallen. and immoral is The worst of it moreover. actors.

aji the model of moral perfection. that he was the greatest poet. the young man can to Shakeno longer whether not remain free from this pernicious influence. the greatest teacher of life. When he is reading or listening is speare the question for him Shakespeare be good or bad. If people wrote of Shakespeare that for his time he was a good writer. was an intelligent actor and good stage manager even were this appreciation incorrect and somewhat exaggerated if only it were worship the presentation to of false men — — moderately true. concerning is whom l)y it has been decided and handed down learned men from generation to generation. that he had a fairly good turn for verse. not the religiousi and moral teachers of mankind. this Another is deplorable result of a model for imitation. but only: In what consists that extraordinary beauty. but firsf of life all Shakespeare. into But when every young man entering in our time has presented to him. both .12^2 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE Such is one of the mischievous effects of the epidemic suggestion about the greatness of Shakespeare. as an incontest- able truth. people of the rising generation might remain free from Shakespeare's influ ence.

Then critical artistic impression. the better will be. The longer this continues. But. he loses the capacity of distinguishing good from And the error of extolling an immoral its insignificant.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE esthetic 123 and ethical. . more does his esthetical and ethical feeling become distorted. of which he has been respects. but in He no is longer believes what said by the learned I have experienced examinations of the dramas and extracts from books with explanatory comments. he tries to conform to the ruling opinion. he begins to imagine that he feels something of the nature of an people all whom he respects. and distorting his esthetic and ethical feeling. but direct—executes destructive work. assured by learned men whom he and which he himself neither sees nor feels ? And constraining himself. reading this. having assimilated the immoral view of life which penetrates evil. in himself. it This is why I think that the sooner people free themselves from the false glorification of Shakespeare. all Shakespeare's writings. He ceases to distinguish directly and clearly what is artistic from an the artificial imitation of art. above all. inartistic writer ly —not only not moral.

Having understood this. the teaching of sources. Secondly.124 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE men having freed themselves from this dewill come to understand that the drama which has no religious element at its foundation is not only not an important and First. can not possibly represent the teaching of life. having freed themselves from this hypnotic state. they will have to search for. good thing. a new form of modern drama. ceit. as it is now supposed to be. and that. but the most trivial and despicable of things. w4iile there is no true religious drama. men will understand that the trivial and immoral w^orks of Shakespeare and his imitators. and work out. aiming merely at the recreation and amusement of the spectators. a drama which will serve as the development and confirmation of the highest stage of religious consciousness in men. life should be sought for in other .

PART II APPENDIX .

Shakespeare's Attitude toward the Working Classes.APPENDIX CONTENTS I. . by Ernest Crosby. . 127 1G6 Letter from Mr. Bernard Shaw. II. G.

" cries Browning." nor of Shelley. Shelley were with There can. be no question of the fidelity to democracy "Shakespeare was — — of Milton." while lamenting the defection of Wordsworth from the ranks of progress and liberalism "Milton was for us. Burns. wherefore plow For the lords who lay ye low ?" of line in But Shakespeare ? Shakespeare ? Shakespeare to entitle him ? — — where is is there a to a place in this brotherhood Is there anything in his plays that is in the least inconsistent with all that reactionary ? A glance at Shakespeare's lists of dramatis per- ceive of show that he was imable to conany situation rising to the dignity of tragedy in other than royal and ducal circles. us they watch from their graves!" indeed. the who sang to such as Burns "Men England.SHAKESPEARE'S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE WORKING CLASSES By Ernest Crosby of us. fact that "a man's a man awakened for a' that. It may be said in explanation of this partiality for high rank aonoE is sufficient to . nor of Burns. the proud plowman. the republican pamphleteer. who proclaimed the aristocrat. in his "Lost Leader.

which connnemoi-ated the rise of Sir and another. but this is of the drama- tists of his a poor ])lea for a man of great genius. lapse of more than a century and a half might have enabled a man of honor. and a very stalwart one. the "Pinner of Wakefield. common peoj)le ever pre- sented of itself to a dramatist to than to Shakespeare of when he undertook Arc in the draw the character Joan second part of "Henry VI. but he deliberately insults her memory with Surely the the coarsest and most cruel calumnies. entitled "The History of Richard of his Low Birth. to do justice to an enemv of the weaker sex. if not of genius. his (ireaf Fortune"." but his humble origin is only mentioned incidentally as something to be ashamed of. of a mere pound-keeper. er's son. Nor is the explanation altogether accurate. who proudly refuses knighthood at the hands of the king." printed in 1599.128 that he TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE was only following the custom time. Whittington. and if Joan had been — — . but he carefully avoided such material in seeking Cardinal Wolsey."? He knew how to create noble women that is one of his but he not only refuses to see anyspecial glories thing noble in the peasant girl who led France to victory. for instance. the merchant "s son. is indeed the hero of "Henry VHL. whose business it is precisely to lead and not to follow. What greater opportunity for idealizing the Thomas Gresham. the butchplots for his dramas. Robert Greene makes a hero. first In his play. in There were other and earlier plays in vogue Shakespeare's day treating of the triumphs of men of the people. one.

you have still girds at citizens. and he shall do admirable things. and to demand that he "present something notably in honor of the commons of the city. will not an- swer. therefore. The authors adopted the device of having a Citizen leap upon the stage and interrupt the Speaker of the Prolog by shouting "Hold your peace. and it was not It revived for the many years thereafter. for at the first representation of the play in 1(511 the citizens its satire it was cried down by not appreciate and apprentices. and they resented the courtly prejudices of their pla}'\\Tights and their upon the stage. The Prolog in Beaumont and Fletcher's "Knight of the Burning Pestle" gives sufficient evihabit of holding up plain citizens to ridicule dence of this. I have observed it. goodman boy!" Speaker of rrolog: "What do you mean." The Citizen goes on to inform the S[)eaker of the Prolog that he is a grocer. There was a good deal of democratic feeling in the burghers of London-town.TOLSTOY ON SIL\KESPEARE a 129 member that she of the French roval family we may be sure would have received better treatment. whenever they deigned to present them at all. to say that the idea of celebrating middle and lower classes never occurred to . sir?" "That you have no good meaning. this seven Citizen: year there hath been plays at this house. who did upon them." But this proved to be a joke over too serious a matter." For a hero he will have "a grocer. The question of the aristocratic tendency of the drama was an active one in Shakespeare's time.

fishermen (though these last two appellations may be mere nicknames) Potpan. Peter Thump. Feebee.ses appear for the main part only His opinion of them occasionally and incidentally. the tailor. at once a recruit and a woman's tailor. Nvm. and Bull-calf. Sneak. indicated more or less picturesquely by the names which he selects for them.130 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Shakespeare. In the other plays of Shakespeare the humbler clas. Gobbo. Quince. the carpenter. . the joiner. Simple. Shadow." and we can hardly wonder that they felt a grievance against the dramatic profession. constables. citizens. country justices. Shallow and Silence. and populace. tinkers. for it was a subject of discussion among his contemporaries. Snug. Pistol. the bellows-maker. Speed. Snout and Sly. W^art. servants. recruits. clownish servant". Smooth. Dogberry and Verges. There are. Fang and Snare. sheriflTs' officers. Flute. Pilch and Patch-Breech. and Susan Grindstone. and at the same time preserve the verisimilitudes of life. and it is said that the "Merry Wives of Windsor" was only written at the request of Queen Elizabeth. Starveling. the weaver. Elbow and Hull. the silkman. trayed them ? In one play alone has he given up the whole stage to them. who wished to see Sir John Falstaff in love. Bottom. It is from beginning to end one prolonged "gird at citizens. It is hardly possible to construct a play with no characters but monarchs and their suites. Mouldy. Shakespeare was obliged to make some use of serHow has he porvants. "a is . for example. Slender.

" "you cur. Such a system of nomenclature as we have exposed is enough of itself to fasten the stigma of absurdity upon the characters subjected to it." and Froth. in "As You I^ike It". rather as an of the times than as indication of the manners an expression of his but even so it must have been a little galling to the poorer of his auditors. perhaps. Moth." in "Measure for INIeasure." feeling. '2). Costard. Act 3. "Whoreson dog. . is made Labor Lost. But it is not necessary to rehearse the various familiar scenes in which these fantastically their named individuals raise a laugh at own expense." l)ut none of these personages quite deserves to rank as an aristocrat." "whoreson peasant. Sc. 131 Jane Smile. the vicar." Shakespeare rarely gives names of this character to any but the lowly in life. altho perhaps we should cite as exceptions Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Ague-Cheek in "Twelfth Night"." "dunghill.. and their occujiations. "a foolish gentleman. Seacoal. Pistol. ridiculous in "Love's of the middle-class Holofernes." "rogue. Sir Oliver Mar-Text. in "Love's Labor Lost." and we are told Nym.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Doll Tear-sheet. the schoolmaster. The language employed by nobility and royalty station in in addressing those of inferior Shake- speare's plays may be own taken. the page." "slave. Oatcake." "rascal. Most of the trades are held up for ridicule in "Midsummer Night's Dream". and varions anonymous "clowns" and "fools. and Bardolph that "three such antics do not amount to a man" (Ilenry V.

The Duke of York accosts Thomas Horner." "jaded groom. that he is born to be hanged (Two Gentlemen of Verona. who is guilty of nothing but giving a true report of her lord's deposition and who shows himself a kind-hearted fellow.. blasphemous. Act 1. (Henry VI. Act 4." and "base slave. Gloster speaks — Tower as "dunghill grooms" Part 1. Act 1. Sc. an armorer. 3). Speed.. 3)." a "whoreson. 1). and Hamlet of the gravedigger as an "ass" and "rude knave." Valentine tells his servant. 1. 1). Part 2. and for his pains is called a "brawling." and declares that his own head would ' Than "sooner dance upon bloody pole . uncharitable dog. doing his best to save the ship in the "Tempest" (Act 1. This boatswain is not sufficiently impressed by the grandeur of his noble cargo." Richard HI.132 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE "crack-hemp." "thou wretch"! Henry VIH. abject drudges." inui "notorious villain" these are a few of the epithets with which the plays abound.'s Queen says to a gardener. "Thou little betterthing than earth. as "base dunghill villain and mechanical" (Henry VI. Sc.) Petruchio "wrings Grumio bv the ear. and Gonzalo pays a like compliment to the boatswain who is of the warders of the (lb. talks of a "lousy footboy.." and a "wide-chapped rascal." a "cur. calls him "obscure and lowly swain. Sc. Sc. Part 2." and Kath- ." dubs his crew "paltry. Sc. Act 2." and the Duke of Suffolk.stand uncovered to a \ailgar groom. servile. when he is about to be killed by his pirate captor at Dover. insolent noise-maker.

3. Braved in my own house by a skein of thread! Away. thou quantity. and afterward. thou thimble. nail.) Joan of Arc speaks of her "contemptible estate" as a shepherd's daughter. thou rag. thou remnant!"' (Taming of the Shrew." and "whoreson malthorse drudge"" in addressing him. Sc. in Henry IV. cries out to his servants. Sc. 2). Act 1. "off wilh my boots. thou winter cricket thou. Part 1. or when Juliet's nur. thou nit. thou thread. Thou yard. Act 1." "peasant swain. Sc.. you villains!" and strikes them.stage merely to raise a laugh (as. half-yard. you rogues. Sc. ignoble (Henry VI. the flea-bitten carriers in the inn-yard at Rochester. 1). Act 4. He pays his compliments to a tailor in the same unlucky indulges in such following lines: 'O monstrous arrogance! Thou liest. Act 2. denying her father. They amuse us when they become hopelessly entangled in their sentences (vide Romeo and Juliet. but occasionally they are scamps as well as fools. calls him "Decrepit miser! base. 4.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE erine beats the ter 133 servant. Tliou flea. Part 1. 2. His masterms as " foolish knave.se blunder- . Sc.) would have so frequently allowed his characters to express their contemj^t for members of the lower orders of society if he had not had some sympathy with their opinions. three-quarters. for instance. quarter. and Act wretch!"' It is hard to believe that Shakespeare 5. Shakespeare usually employs the common people whom he brings upon the ..

13^

TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE
makes
s lier tliink tliat

ingly

Romeo
same

is

slain instead

of Tybalt; but

when

this

lady, after taking

money, espouses the cause of the County on the eve of Agincourt we are introduced to a group of cowardly English soldiers
Paris
or

Romeo

— or when
troops,

when Coriolanus
"but

points out the poltroonery of the
all

Roman
lost

and says that

would have been
feel detesta-

for our gentlemen,"

we must

tion for them.

Juliet's nurse is not the only dis-

loyal servant. Shylock's servant, Launcelot Gobbo, helps Jessica to deceive her father, and IVIargaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, brings about the disgrace of her mistress by fraud. Olivia's waitingwoman in " Twelfth Night " is honest enough, but she

none too modest in her language, but in this reDame Quickly in " Henry IV." can easily rival her. Peter Thump, when forced to a' judicial comis

spect

bat with his master, displays his cowardice, altho in the end he is successful (Henry VL, Act 2, Part 2, Sc. 3), and Stephano, a drunken butler, adorns the stage in the "Tempest." We can not blame Shakespeare for making use of cutthroats and villains in developing his plots, but we might have been

spared the jokes which the jailors of Posthumus perwhen they come to lead him to the scaffold, and the ludicrous English of the clown who supplies Cleopatra with an asp. The apothecary who IS in such wretched plight that he sells poison to Romeo in spite of a Draconian law, gives us another unflattering picture of a tradesman; and when Falstaff declares, "I would I were a weaver; I could
petrate

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE
sing psalms or anji:hing,"
flection

i:5,5

we have a premature reon the Puritan, middle-chiss conscience and In "As You Like It," Shakespeare came reUgion. near drawing a pastoral sketch of shepherds and shepherdesses on conventional lines. If he failed to do so, it was as much from lack of respect for the
keeping of sheep as for the unrealities of pastoral poetry. Rosalind does not scruple to call the fair Phebe "foul," and, as for her hands, she says:
"I saw her hand; she has a leathern hand. A freestone colored hand; I verily did think That her old gloves were on, hut 'twas her hands; She has a housewife's hand."

No one with a high respect for housewifery could have written that line. When in the same play Jaques sees the pair of rural lovers. Touchstone and Audrey, approaching, he cries: "There is, sure, another flood, and these couples are coming to the ark! Here come a pair of very strange beasts, which in all The tongues are called fools" (Act 5, Sc. 4). clown. Touchstone, speaks of kissing the cow's dugs which his former sweetheart had milked, and then marries Audrey in a tempest of buffoonery. Howl)eit, Touchstone remains one of the few rustic characters of Shakespeare who win our affections, and at the same time he is witty enough to deserve the title which Jaques bestows upon him of a "rare
fellow."

who

Occasionally Shakespeare makes fun of persons are somewhat above the lower classes in rank. I have mentioned those on whom he bestows comi-

i;3(>

TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE

names. He indulges in humor also at the expense of the two Scottish captains, Jamy and Macmorris, and the honest Welsh captain, Fluellen (Henry V., Act 3, Sc. 2 et passim), and shall we forget the inimitable Falstaff ? But, while making every allowance for these diversions into somewhat nobler (juarters (the former of which are explained by national ])rejudices), do they form serious exceptions to the rule, and can Falstafi' be taken, for incal

stance, as a representative of the real aristocracy

?

As Queen and courtiers watched his antics on the stage, we may be sure that it never entered their heads that the "girds" were directed at them or
their kind.

of

The appearance on Shakespeare's stage of a man humble birth who is virtuous without being ridic-

ulous is so rare an event that it is worth while to enumerate the instances. Now and then a servant or other obscure character is made use of as a mere lay figure of which nothing good or evil can be predicated, but usually they are
surd.

Only

at long intervals

made more do we see

or less ab-

persons of

As might have been expected, it is more often the servant than any other member of the lower classes to whom Shakespeare attributes good qualities, for the servant is a sort of attachment to the gentleman and
this class at

once serious and upright.

shines with the reflection of his virtues.

The

noblest

quality which Shakespeare can conceive of in a servant is loyalty, and in " Richard H." (Act 5, Sc. 3)

he gives us a good example in the character of a

he was a fool. I is.sympathy for the unfortunate earl. 3). 1). Timon's servant. a noteworthy example of the k)yal servitor. if an unusual array of good servants. "Master. and his reply "Sir.) In " King Lear " a good servant protests against the Regan and Cornwall toward Gloucester.TOLSTOY ON SliAKI. but it is doubtful Shakespeare wrote the play. "Give me my sword. Flaminius." who follows his young master Orlando into exile. at your will. Sc. a trusty servant. Sc. his servants stand by him. and these characters make his authorship more doubtful. but. 3. even when CvmbeHne " we The king orders without Pisanio. go on. and I will follow thee To the last gasp with truth and loyalty. 2)." (Act 2. then. the good old servant in "As You Like It. was true to Lear. Sc. of course." (Act 4. Sc." cries Regan. Sc. " Yet do our hearts wear Timon's livery" (Act 4. Adam. "A peasant stand up thus!" (Act 3. life is my humbly set it yours. In " are treated to loyalty ac/ )iaiisi-atu. like Lear's fool. 3. In " Timon of Athens" we have cruelty of and is killed for his courage. 7). rejects a bribe with scorn (Act 3. is. We all remember the fool who. Sc.SPKARE groom who remains the hitter is 137 faithful to the king cast into prison. Another of his servants expresses his contempt for his master's false friends (Act 3. and when Timon finally loses his fortune and his friends forsake him. almost alone. to be tortured cause. And other servants also show .) .

content with my harm." good old man. When none will sweat but for promotion.1. 2).0". owe no man in short. And in "Antony and Cleopatra" we make the acquaintance of several exemplary common soldiers.) Sir. TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE But Shakespeare takes care to point out that such is most uncommon and a reHc of the good old times fidcHty in servants "O in thee appears constant sennce of the antique world. but he savors a little of burlesque. Sc. get that hate. 2). Act 3. There is a good old man in the second act (Sc. how well The Outside the ranks of domestic servants we find a few cases of honorable poverty in Shakespeare. envy no man's happiness. . 2. and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck. Sc. says: I wear. who brings the news of and uses language to him such as Shakespeare's yeomen are not accustomed to hear (Act 1. and a good King Duncan messenger in the fourth (Sc. "Macbeth" has several humble worthies. the old shepherd. 3). Shakespeare puts flattering words praises highly the sergeant Macbeth's victory. I earn that I eat. 2). Sc. an ideal proletarian from the point of view of the aristocrat. When service sweat for duty. The "Winter's Tale" can boast of another good shepherd (Act 3." (As You Like It. Corin. nor for meed Thou art not for the fashit)n of these times. glad of other men's good. In the play just quoted. I am a true laborer.

Atkins. be he ne'er so vile This day shall gentle his condition. Montjoy." should like to add some instances from Shakeworks of serious and estimable behavior on the part of individuals representing the lower classes. But I it's file always fare well before a battle. But to return to Tommy Atkins. comes to the English king imder a flag of truce and asks that they be permitted to bury their speare's dead and "Sort our nobles from our common men. Atkins after the battle. shew The metal of your pasture let us swear That you are worth your breeding. and 'Tommy ' this' 'Tommy that' an' ' Tommy. He is no longer Mr. For many of our princes (wo the while!) . which I doubt not." (Act 4. good yeomen. Sc. For there is none of you so mean and base That hath not noble luster in your eyes.) my And "And at Harfleur he is even more complaisant us here you. or of considerate treatment of them on the part of their "betters." (Act 3. it's Thank you. the French herald." but I have been unable to find any. Sc. and the meager list must end here. when he addresses the troops before Agincourt "For he to-day Shall be that sheds his blood witli me brother. Mr.' when the band begins to play. 4. 1. . Whose limbs were made in England.) The rank and "Oh.: : TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE into the V39 mouth of Henry V. go away'.

a "hateful fool. for they shall hang out And. scum of and runaways. he thinks. or garlic. the "shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort" (Midsummer Night's Dream. ra. and at his hands a crowd of plain workingmen fares worst of all." Bottom. 1 and 2. 3. Bretagne and base lackey peasants. Sc. In blood of princes. eat no onion for the lion's claws.) But Shakespeare does not limit such epithets to Having.) With equal courtesy Richard III. and let not him that plays the lion pare his nails. on Bosworth field. it is a sweet comedv. for we are to utter sweet breath.fe.140 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE Lie drowned and soaketl in mercenary blood. still worse of them taken en mas. for bread upon Athenian stalls. So do our vulgar drench their peasant limbs (Henry V. 1). Sc. "Hempen home-spuns." (Act 5.scals. if anything. most dear actors.. and again armies.. taken man by man. Act .) . Sc. and I do not doubt to hear them say. Act 4." and according to Puck. according to Oberon." 7. So. is. "A That work crew of patches.S. a poor opinion of the lower classes. their leader. Act 4. speaks of his opponents to the gentlemen around him: "Remember what you are to cope withal A A sort of vagabonds. 2." (lb. as we have seen. rude mechanicals." Puck calls them. Scs. Act 4. Bottom's advice to his players contains a small galaxy of compliments: "In any case let Thisby have clean linen.

3). 2. Cleopatra shn<lders at the thought that "mechanic shives. 1)." iiate and he goes on 3. and keep their teeth clean" (Act 2. Act 5. Sc.) And he and their laughs at the "apron-men" of Cominius When replies "breath of garlic-eaters" (Act 4." (Antony and Cleopatra. Sc. Sc. greasy caj>s. in their thick tireatlis Rank of {jross diet. in hooting at Coriolanus's e." (Act 4. With greasy aprons. 7. are they. 3). Sc. many" (Act 3. I banish you. And forced to drink their vapor. to taunt them with cowardice (Act "mutable. Coriolanus is asked to address the people. rank-scented His friend Menenins is Sc. whose love I jirize As the dead carcasses of unbm'ied men That do corrupt the air. when you Your stinkiiiff. whose breath 1 As reek of rotten fens.xile. he : by saying " Bitl them wash their faces. "You cast "That make the air unwholesome. Sc. They are the 1). 7). rules and hammers. says "You common cry of curs. shall we t)c enclouded. Sc." says he. equally complimentary to his fellow citizens. and in another place veloped.: TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 141 The matter of the breath of tlie poor weighs upon Shakespeare and his characters.) Coriolanus has his sense of smell especially deHe talks of the "stinking breaths" of the people (Act 2. shall Uplift us to the view. According .

who desires most that Which would increase his e\i\. the advance populace had made no between Co- the ofler of the Casca gives a vivid picture of and his rejectit)n of it: "And still as he refused it the rabblement shouted. He that trusts to you. The hero calls them the "beast with many heads" (Act 4. Thar! is the coal of fire upon the ice. no. Sc." And he calls them the riolanus and Caesar. Where he would find you lions.^ The one affrights you. and again he says to the crowd: "A\ hat's the tnatter. deser\-es greatness Deserves your hate. 2).s rogues. you curs. Act 1. Or hailstone in the sun. geese. \Ve iiave ever your good word. lie that will give good words to ye will flatter Beneath abhorring. finds you hares. and your affections are A sick man's appetite. The other makes you proud. And for mine own part I durst not laugh. for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air. that it had almost choked Ca-sar. 3). because Caesar refused the crown. and threw up their sweaty n'ght-caps. crown to JuUus. play of " Coriolanus " is a mine of insults to the people and it becomes tiresome to quote them. you are no surer. and uttered such a deal of stinking breath. \Vhere foxes. you That rubbing tlie poor (iissentiou. Sc. Your virtue is To make him worthy who. Coriolanus. ^Vhat would you have. The "tag-rag people" (Julius Caesar. for he swooned and fell down at it.se offense subdues him.142 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Roman in cleanHness in the centuries to Shakespeare. itch of your opinion yourself scabs ? First Citizen. He that depends Make Who . and clapped their chapped hands. That like not peace nor war. And curse that justice did it.

that's certain. Menenius calls them "beastly plebeians" (Act 2. the stage directions show that the "citizens steal away. Sc. Sc. Sc. 1). 2). . the tribune of the people '"Twas you incensed the rabble. Nay. 2)." (Act 1. She says to Junius Brutus. Brutus and Antony sway them for and against his assassins with ease "First Citizen. swims witli fins of lead. 2). Sc. . . And call him noble that was now your hate. Sc. She calls "our general louts" (Act 3. so is that of Caesar's. the people is of like mind. We are blessed that Rome is rid of him. Cats. When the mob cringe before Cohe appears.) His mother. And hews down oaks with rushes. 1. Voluninia. Sc. This Caesar was a tyrant. The dramatist makes riolanus. refers to their "multiplying spawn" (Act 2. Sc. 9). Hang ye! Trust ye? With every minute you do change a mind." (Act 1." (Act 1. 2). . and says to the crowd: " Rome and her rats are at the point of battle. Second Citizen.: : TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 143 Upon your favors. Sc. that can judge as fitly of his worth As I can of those mysteries which Heaven Will not leave Eartli to know.) As the Roman crowd of the time of Coriolanus is fickle. Him vile that was your garland. 1." (Act 4. In the same play Cominius talks of the "dull tribunes" and "fusty plebeians" (Act 1.

Their over greedy love hath surfeited.sight! ! '2 burn. Sc.sest metal be not moved?" (Act 1. Flavius. der." He persuades them not to favor Cjesar.5 piteous . Cit.) — The Tribune Marullus ing forgotten reproaclies call.144 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE (After lieariiig a description of the First Citizen. if "The commonwealth is sick of their own choice. () woful day! Cit.) •i mur- .spectacle! () noble Caesar! Cit. Cit. you you wor. 'i. them with havthem "You blocks. The Archbishop of York.s Pompey. get "Hence. thus soliloquizes: The populace Rome. against Henry IV.) of of England is as changeable as that Shakespeare is to be believed. whe'r their ba. 1. I O O kill traitors.sc than senseless things. revenge! about not a traitor live " seek (Act 3. An habitation giddy and unsure Hath he that buildeth on the vulvar heart. home. and when they leave him he asks his fellow tribune. you Is this a holiday? you home. "See. who had espoused the cause of Richard II. .. — — slay — We be revenged. What! you know not. Sc. Being mechanical.) Flavius also treats them with scant courtesv: idle creatures. and stones. you ought not walk Upon a laboring day without the sign Of your profession ? " (lb. fire O 4 Cit. villains! most bloody will let .

of " Henry VI.) 10 . so. Before he was what thou would'st have him be! And now being trimmed in thine own desires. a term Again. 3. That thou provokest thyself to cast him up. Sc. That erst did follow thy proud chariot wheels When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets. III. ill can thy noble mind abrook abject people." The When she arrives upon the scene in disgrace. Part 2. dressing his absent wife: "Sweet Nell. So. And howlst to find it. thou common dog. 4) He says. Gloster. Thou. how the giddy multitude do their point And nod heads and throw their eyes on thee." (Henry IV." CliflFord.).) notes Gloucester in " Henry VI. 6. Sc. cries: "The common people swarm like summer flies.. 5). hide thee from their hateful looks. dying field she calls the crowd a "rabble" (lb.. And whither fly the gnats but to the sim ? And who shines now but Henry's enemies?" (Act 2. Sc. art so full of him. didst thou disgorge Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard." (Part 2. she says to him: See "Look how they gaze. adthe fickleness of the masses. And now thou wouldst eat thy dead vomit up. Sc. beastly feeder. laughing at thy shame. Ah. in part on the battlewhile fighting for King Henry." And also used in "Hamlet " (Act4.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE O thou fond many! U5 \Yitli what loud apphiuse Didst tliou beat Heaven with blessing Bolingbrokc. gazing on thy face With envious looks. Act 2. Act 1.

who had pretended to be lame and blind. Part 2. words "Away. Act 3. Act 3. as I you know not what you swear. L) Suffolk." (lb. Such is the lightness of vou eonmion men.. talks of "worthless peasants. rude uiipolislied hinds Could send such message to their sovereign. Act 1. perha|)s.) and says: " 'Tis like the Commons. simple men! Look.same trilogy (Act 5. Sc." (Part ^2." meaning. o). And as the air blows it to me again." Cardinal Beaufort mentions the "uncivil kernes of Ireland" (lb. Commanded always by the greater gust. Queen Margaret receives petitioners with tlie 1). Sc. 2. Act 3.. "property-less peasants. Obeying with my wind when I do blow. base culliens" (lb. he him "the Lord Ambassador Sent from a sort of tinkers to the king. And yielding to another when it blows. Sc. blow this feather from my face. says: "Ah.. and . 1). Sc. and in the same play the crowd makes shouting. in the First Part of the . jumps over a stool to escape a whipping (Act 2." when the fraudulent beggar Simpcox. itself ridiculous by "A miracle. conversing with the keepers who have imprisoned him in the name of Edward IV." and when Salis- bury comes calls to present the demands of the people. 3).14(5 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE And Henry himself. Sc. Sc..

Standing on slippers (which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet). Another lean. whom he "We are men. with his shears and measure in his hand. and who say to him. With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news. curs. Told of a many thousand warlike French That were embattailed and rank'd in Kent. Sc. 2. ye rude slaves. spaniels. and that of "lazy knaves" given by the Lord Chamberlain to the porters for having bert. Sc.) As Coriolanus of noble bearing is held up to our view as a pattern toward the people. Cuts off his tale. in let in picture a "trim rabble" (Act 5. so Richard II.. thus. Who. 3). on his way into banishment. water-sugs. are cleped All by the name of dogs." (Act 3." addressed to a crowd by a porter in Henry VIII.: TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE among there to the lower classes 147 other flattering remarks applied here and we may cite the epithets "ye rascals. mongrels. 1. presents us with an unvarnished of the common people receiving the news of I'rince Arthur's "I death The saw a smith stand with his hammer. HuKing John.) Macbeth. ye go for men As hounds and greyhounds. Shoughs. unwashed artificer. and demi-wolves. in the catalogue. and talks of Arthur's death. while sounding the murderers intends to employ. He says: . condemns the courteous behavior of the future Henry IV. whilst his iron did on his anvil cool." (Act 4." answers: "Ay. my liege. Sc.

" There can easily be "too too much liberty. in "Air.) The King of France. my loving friends. How he did seem to dive into their hearts With humble and familiar courtesy.. "(Act 1." cominends to Bertram the example of his late father in his relation. And bowed his eminent top to their low Making them proud Might be a copy of his humility ranks. Act 1. Despising the masses. my countrymen. he galls his kibe.se 2.' '(Richard II.s with his inferiors: "W'ho were below him He used as creatures of another place. he had no sympathy with the idea of improving their condition or increasing their power. that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier. Bagot here and Green Observed his coiu-tship to the common people. In their poor praise he luunbled. Horatio. \Miat reverence he did tin-ow away on slaves. " W^ith 'Thanks. the." with their increasing suggestion of democracy. to these Such a man yoimger times. these three years I have taken note of it. As' twere to banish their effects with him. Wooing poor c-rai'tsnien with the craft of smiles And patient overbearing of his fortune. Sc. according to Shakespeare — .148 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE "Ourselves. as did his hero. 4. Sc. the age has grown so picked.) Shakespeare had no fondness ior "younger times. Off goes his bonnet to an oyster-wench A brace of draymen did God speed him well And had the tribute of his supple knee. He saw the signs of the times with foreboding. Hamlet: "By the Lord. and Bushy.s Well that Ends Well.

horrors. whose med'cinable eye Corrects the ill aspects of planets evW. like the commandments of a king. And therefore is the glorious planet. changes.sses. rend and deracinate The unity and married calm of states Quite from their fixture! Oh. "Degree l)eing vizarded. Insisture. Th' unworthie.Sc. Commotion of the winds. himself under arrest. yet still 'tis just. liberty" (Measure fur Measure. ." (lb. Sans check. Divert and crack. Sol. Claudio. to good and bad.) I'ly. shaking of the earth. The enterprise is sick. In noble eminence enthroned and sphered Amidst the other. But when the planets. Lucid. f delivers a long panegyric degree. Observe degree. so. How could comnnmities. Act aTithority is but the idea of too much foreign to him. form. Sc. and place. Ofhce and custom. and this center. in all line of order. W my 1. rank. In evil mixture. And posts. — on whom it will.3). which j may upon authority. Heaven. course. What plagues and what portents! what mutiny! What raging of the sea.: — 1 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE much liberty. by weight. Degrees in schools. frights. it will.st shews as fairly The heavens . and be taken as Shakespeare's con- fession of faith 1 f in the mask. and brotiierhoods in cities. to disorder wander. season. in " Troilus and Cressida " (Act l. when degree is shaked. themselves. priority. Peaceful commerce from dividable shores. Which is the ladder of all high designs. proportion.'?). On whom j will not. Authority. the planets. sings its praises: Make 'I'he "Thus can the us pay down words of it for our otfense denii-god.

Follows the choking And It this neglection of degree it is. crowns. So doubly seconded with will and power. The Prerogative of age. nor of the fact that the actual arrangements. lanrels." That by a pace goes backward. Exampled by the first pace that is sick Of his superiors. untune the string. so every step. appetite. he by the next. right and wrong. There is no hint in this eloquent apo-strophe of the difficulty of determining among men who shall be the sun and who the satellite. and so should justice too.self. And last eat up him. And the rude son should strike his father dead Force should be right. at any rate. Not her own sinews. Must make perforce an luiiversal prey. And 'tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot. Great Agamenuion. This chaos. or. grows to an envious fever Of pale and bloodless emulation. To end a tale of length. That next by hun beneath. (Between whose endless jar justice resides) Should lose their names. not in her strength. a universal wolf. depended altogether upon that very force . But by degree stand in authentic place ? Take but degree away. Then everything includes itself in power. Power And into will. when degree is suffocate. And make a sop of all this solid globe Strength should be lord of imbecility. Troy in our weakness stands. will into appetite. the bounded waters Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores. rather. in a purpose hath to climb. The General's disdained By him one step below. in Shakespeare's time.1. what discord follows! each thing meets In mere oppugnancy. scepters.50 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE primogenity and due of birth. And hark.

In another scene in tlie same play the wily Ithacan again gives way to passion for authority and eulogizes somewhat his ex- travagantly the paternal. Does thoughts imveil in their dumb cradles. Would feed on one another ?" (Act 2. There is a mystery (with which relation Durst never meddle) in the soul of state.) llie Stale to which Ulysses refers is of course a monarchical State.should have no voice in the govern- "This double worship. keep you in awe. who. That in these several places of the city You cry again. Which hath an operation more Than divine breath or pen can give cxpressuro to. — . it follows. like the Rods. Sc. \\hicli else Under the gods. Where one part does disdain with cau. title. 3. Keeps place witli thourjht. the other Insult without all rea.) The ment people . Sc. it must omit Real necessities. in th' incoinprehcnsive deeps. but by the yea and no Of general ignorance. 1. and the idea of democracy is abhorrent to Shakespeare.st the noble Senate. and almost.se. Can not conclude. prying. Purpose so barred." (Act 3.son. where gentry. omnipresent State "The providence that's in a Knows almost every {^rain Finds bottom watchful state of Plutus' f^old. Coriolanus expresses his opinion of it when he says to the people: "What's the matter. wisdom.— — TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE : 151 which Ulysses deprecates. and give away the while To vmstable slightness.

Sicinus Velutus. therefore. a "trilon of the minnows". that prefer noble life before a long. but Coriolanus has no patience with him. Act 3. that will be less fearful than discreet. them!" Sc." (lb.) is Junius Brutus tries in vain to argue with him. That love the fundamental part of state More than you doubt the change on't. Suffer't and live with such as can not rule. it will in time Win \ipon power. beseech j'ou. at once pluck out The multitudinous tongue: let them not lick The sweet which is their poison.152 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE is done to purpose. and wish Nothing You A a body with a dangerous physic That's sure of death without it. Nor ever will be ruled. and throw forth greater themes. Sc.) It is To jump the nobility a who should rule 'Tt purposed thing and grows by plot To curb the will of the nobility. and I know not 'Sdeath! The rabble should have first unroofed the city." (lb." their Of own — And again file. and the very fact that there should be tribunes appointed for the people disgusts him "Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms.) (Act Shakespeare took liis material for the drama of " Coriolanus " from Plutarch's " Lives." and it is significant that he selected from that list of worthies the most conspicuous adversary of the commonalty that . 1. one's Junius Brutus. choice. "The common a plague! —Tribunes for 1. Ere so prevailed with me. 6.

" (Act 3. better yet. some Agis or Cleomenes." "He never dreamed that such obstinacy is rather the effect of the weakness and effeminacy of a distempered mind. the friend of the people and the . one of the Gracchi. He presents him to us as a hero." speare everdreamof it either. which breaks out in violent passions ity . When Menenius says t)f him: "His nature is too noble for the world. which are the chief political virtues and the fruits of reason and education." "Indeed. "there is no other advantage to be had from a liberal education equal to that of polishing and softening our nature by reason and discipline. Sc. 1. so far as he can.) he is evidently but registering the verdict of the author. It is a pity that the great dramatist did not select from Plutarch's works some hero who took the side of the people." he adds." He also tells us that Coriolanus indulged his "irascible passions on a supposition that they have something great and exalted in them. or. but he ' ' [ does not hesitate to speak of his "imperious temper and that savage manner which was too haughty for a republic. What a tragedy he might have based on the life of Tiberius. different. altho he had Plutarch's sage observations before him. and. Plutarch's treatment of Coriolanus is far He exhibits his fine qualities. Nor apparently did Shakelike so many tumors.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Rome 153 produced." and that he wanted "a due mixture of grav- and mildness. enlists our sympathy for him from beginning to end.

in Well. . he Wlien Jack Cade. the ten hoops. and its promptings would have met with no response there. to which Shakespeare has assigned the character of the rising under W'at Tyler. George Bevis.s never is merry world not regarded England since gentlemen came up. Two of the popular party speak as follows: When do in "John Holland. it wa. in handicraftsmen. and Shakespeare presents the history of his country as a mere pageant of warring royalties and their trains. comes on the shows himself to be a braggart and a fool." scene.54 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE in their cause! But the spirit which guided William Tell for a hero was a stranger to Shakespeare's heart. they are made the subject of burlesque. There shall be loaves sold for a penny. The nobility think scorn to go in leather aprons. and I will make it three-hooped pot shall have a felony to drink small beer. martyr Schiller in the choice of — — the people are permitted to appear. O miserable age! Virtue John. as they Cade's rebellion.1. for your reformation. alias Wat Tyler. All but two of his English historical dramas are devoted to the War of the Roses and the incidental struggle over the French crown. The motive of this prolonged strife so attractive to Shakespeare had much the same dignity which distinguishes the family intrigues of the Sublime Porte. says: captain in is brave and vows England seven half-penny He "Be brave then. Even moi'e striking is the treatment which the author of "Coriolanus" metes out to English history. I say.

beside which the struttings of kings and courtiers sink into insignificance. all shall eat and drink on my score. "Enter Cade and his rabblement. and in my will palfrey go to grass.) . Shakespeare shows his own opinion of the mob by writing. Part 2."> realm shall be in rommon. ! Marked for the gallows.\11. and cast accounts. and Cade ejaculates disconsolately. God I Cade. Sc. " O monstrous ") Sir Humphrey Stafford calls them "Rebellious hinds. that they occasionally have just grievances..— TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE All the }." (lb. Sc. — The crowd wishes to kill the clerk of Chatham because he can read. that they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.. the filth and scum of Kent. and I will apparel them all in one livery. 8.) Clifford succeeds without much difficutly in turning the enmity of the mob against France. Act 4. good people there shall be no money. are the most serious parts of history. "Was ever a feather so lightly blown to and fro as this multitude?" (lb." (Henry VI. so far from being ludicrous. (Cade. 2. One of the popular songs in Tyler's rebellion was the familiar couplet: "When Adam Who was then delved and Eve span. and that their efforts to present them." One looks in vain here as in the Roman plays for a sug- gestion that poor people sometimes suffer wrongfully from hunger and want. Act 4. And when I am Cheapside shall king asking 1 be save your majesty! thank you. the irentleman?" .) In the stage directions of this scene. write.

Reverend Father. 1." Came like itself. and each of them treats of a period momentous in the annals of English liberty. What.156 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Sliakespeare refers to it in " Hamlet. he: Savs "If that rebellion base and abject routs.'' That Shakespeare's lion is caricature of Tyler's rebel- a fair indication of his view of all popular risings appears from the remarks addressed by in the Westmoreland to the Archbishop of York Second Part of " Henry IV. Second Clown. my spade." where the grave-diggers speak as follows: "First Clown. they hold up Adam's profession. Was he a gentleman ? First Clown. Sc. and these noble lords Had not been here to dress the ugly form Of base and bloody insurrection With your fair honors. 1). in and last of Shakespeare's English hisKing John " and " Henry VIIL. guarded with rags. native. There is no ancient gentleman but gardners. Adam (Act 5. ditchers and grave-makers. and most proper shape." (Act 4. He was the first that ever bore arms. In his true. imderstand the Scripture The Scripture says. Sc. " . he had none. art a heathen ? How dost tliou First Clown. could he dig without arms?" . Why. You." lie beyond the limits of the civil wars. Come. Second Clown. And countenanced by boys and beggary. I say if damned commotion so appeared. a fact which Shakespeare absolutely first The torical plays.) digged. Led on by bloody youth.

the king. and shining dimly in the birth of a national church under the eighth Henry. and consequently we have the king presented on the stage as meekly receiving the crown from the papal legate England was freed from the Roman Henry \TIL. reing flected in Wyclif and John Ball and Wat Tyler. John as king had two great misfortunes Tlie first suffered disgrace at the hands of his barons of the pope. and in the drama of that name Shakespeare might have balanced the indignity forced upon King John. was a triumph of authority. Sc. Shakespeare passes A sense of national pride might have excused it the omission of the hitter humihation. Oliver Cromwell was already seven- teen years of age and John Hampden twenty-two. . As Shakespeare wrote. event. the wringing of Magna Charta from over. Nothing must be said against authority. that justice and the rights of man were assert- themselves.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 157 —he and ignores. it was preparing for a new and conspicuous outburst. exhibiting itself at Runnymede. but no. and the play culminates in the pomp and parade of the christening of the infant Elizabeth! Such is Shakespeare's conception of history! Who could guess from reading (x\ct 5. and as such Shakespeare must record it for the edification of his hearers. while despotism was gradually curbed and limited ? This is the one great glory of English history. even against that of the pope. yoke in the reign of these English historical plays that throughout the period which they cover English freedom was growing. but now he is silent. 1). When he died.

It has in all ages been a pastime of noble minds Eorty to try to depict a perfect state of society. years before Shakespeare's birth. and even then he makes the common. that hath no kind of traffic. no respect of kindred.158 TOLSTOY OX SHAKESPEARE spirit of preeminently the Engwhich has given distinction to the Anglo-Saxon race and he and Shakespeare were contemporaries. no . Sir Thomas J\Iore published his " Utopia " to the world. and we quote from Florio's translation. mistake of overlooking the genuinely democratic leanings of Julius Caesar and the antipopular character of the successful plot against him. published in 1603." but never completed the work. no name of magistrate nor of political superiority. no intelligence of numbers." ISlontaigne makes a similar essay. and yet of this spirit not a vestige is to be found in the English historical plays and no opportunities lost to obliterate or distort its manifestations. would I answer Plato. no contracts. but natural. no apparel. Only in Brutus and his fellow-conspirators of all Shakespearian characters do we find the least consideration for liberty. and perhaf)s in his time the lish spirit The — the Hampden was spirit — — — unavoidable. or of poverty. Chapter "It is a nation. the following passage 30) (Montaigne's "Essays. of riches. Bacon intended to do the same thing in the " New Atlantis. no dividences. but idle. no knowledge of letters. no succession. no occupation. while Sir Philip Sidney gives us his dream in his " Arcadia." Book I. no u.se of service. but common.

pike. or metal. poverty. gun. feed my innocent people. corn or wine or oil admit. Nature should produce Without sweat or endeavor. No occupation. falsehood. all men idle. Gon. Bourn." We may readily infer that Shakespeare found little to sympathize with in this somewhat extravagant outline of a happy nation. r I Execute all things. — all. No marrying 'niong his subjects ? Ant. no name Letters should not be known. or need of any engine. Antonia. And use of service. To 'xcel the golden age. No use of metal. hold the following language to the inevitable king (Shakespeare can not imagine even a desert island without a king !) "Had I plantation of this isle. all idle. Seb. for th' commonwealth I would by contraries no kind of traffic Would of magistrate. I would with such perfection govern. : TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE The 159 manuring of lands. And women but innocent and pure. but Nature should bring forth Of its own kind. envy. corn. too. vineyard. my lord. none. All things in common. very words that import lying. No sovereignty. felony. all abundance. but he goes out of his way to travesty it. dissimulation.. man. treason. knife. Sebastian. bound of land. covetousness. Yet he would be king on't. To . In " The Tempest " he makes Gonzalo. succession. None. Sword. detraction. contract. sir. the noblest character in the play. no use of wine. none. and knaves. Would I not have. tilth. and pardon were never heard among them. whores. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning. Gonzalo. treason. all foison. riches.

he had no conception of the unity of the human race. . 1. and Pericles. Gon." They compare landlords to whales who swallow up everything." and here at least A . is impressed by their weight. Sc. 'Twas you we laughed at. 1).160 Seb. Sc. so far from being shocked at such revolutionary and vulgar sentiments. "For princes are model.) all That all things are not for the best in the best of would seem to result from the remarks made by the fishermen who enliven the scene in "Pericles. am nothing vou. to Gon. who are of such sensible and nimble lungs that they always use to laugh at nothing. may have been into the hearts of his high-born characters. in this kind of merry fooling." says King Simonides in " Pericles. and suggest that the land be purged of "these drones that rob the bee of her honey". who in shipwrecked prince all of w hich un-Shakespearian matter adds doubt to the authenticity of this drama (Act 2. King. Ant. For him the prince and the peasant were not of the However keen the insight of Shakespeare same blood. I do well believe your Highness and did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen." (Tempest. Gon. Act 2. And do you mark me. and possible worlds w^ise their turn are hospitable to the — speaks kindly of the humble philosophers. TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE 'Save his Majesty! Long live Gonzalo! sir ? . Pr'ythee. Ant. which heaven makes like to itself. so you mav continue and laugh at nothing still. Prince of Tyre. no more thou dost talk nothing to me. Who.

and the servants who see Coriolanus in disguise are struck by his noble figure Bastards are villains as (Coriolanus. from the rise to set." (Hem-y VI. 3). show their royal origin (Cynibeline.." 1. Does not the king have to lie awake and take thought for his subjects ? Thus Henry V. Act 3. Guiderius and Arviragus. (Henry VI. 5).. Gets him to rest. Sweats in the eye of Pha?hiis. Sc. a matter of course. Part Act 4. thought Shakespeare. 1. crammed with distressful breafl. Sc. Never sees horrid night. Act 4.) In so far as the lower classes had any relation to it was one. brought up secretly in a caye. of dependence and obligation. Sc. but rather the lord who supported the peasant. 1. with a body filled and vacant mind. IGl to see the hand of Sliakespeare (Act 'i.: TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE we seem 2). The two princes. and all night Sleeps in Elysium Who 11 . complains that he can not the upper classes. witness Edmund in " Lear " and John in " Much Ado about Nothing. And find no harbor in a royal heart. sleep "so soundly as the wretched slave. of York says is "Let pale-faced fear keep with the mean-born man. It was not the tiller of the soil who fed the lord of the manor. Sc. the child of Hell. But like a lackey." and no degree of contempt is too high for a "hedge-born swain That doth presume to boast of gentle hlood. So. Act 3. Part 2.) Courage The Duke only to be expected in the noble-born.

. His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade.162 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE slave. 1." (Henry VI. but in gross brain Httle wots What watch the king keeps to maintain the peace. Enjoys it." (Henry VI. Part 1. and cold. 5. . but savors of cant men who fought long and hard to maintain themselves upon their thrones." He makes this admission. As All of in the far beyond a prince's delicates. also invokes sleep (Part 2. Sc. His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle. The 1. Act 2. All which secure and sweetly he enjoys." (Henry V. and the French sentinel finds occasion to speak in the same strain: "Thus are poor ser\ators (When others sleep upon their quiet beds) Constrained to watch in darkness. Sc. a member of the country's peace. Act 2. rain. methinks it were a happy life. in a moment of danger and depression. Part 3. Whose hours the peasant best advantages. Act is 2..) Henry VI. 1) vile "O thou dull god! In loathsome beds. Henry IV. is also attracted by the peasant's lot: "O God. Sc.^" why liest thou with the But plain people have to watch at times.) And these lines occur at the end of a passage in which the king laments the "ceremony" that oppresses him and confesses that but for it he would be "but a man.) which mouths of natural enough. Act 4.. Sc. To be no better than a homely swain The shepherd's homely curds. however.

Cervantes has given us the admirable Sancho Panza. With the knight and the friar were gathered together ficient to explain classes. where should it be rather than in proud. "An A haberdasher and a carpenter. we shall see that he was running coimter to all the best traditions of our literature." cook and the miller take rank with those of the squire and lawyer. From the time of Piers Plowman down. were inferior to antl the tales of the ' . was in Shakespeare's hands. and has spread his loving humor in equal measure over servant and master. and he must have been familiar with shepherd kings and fishermen-apostles. who beat back the Armada. a work was published in Spain which was at once translated into English. The English Bible. webbe. aristocratic Spain. and yet. In the very year in which " Hamlet first appeared. a work as well known to-day as Shakespeare's own writings. the peasant had stood high with the great writers of poetry and prose alike. a deyer and tapiser.'J We have already sliown by references to the contemporary drama that the plea of custom is not sufShakespeare's attitude to the lower but if we widen our survey to the entire field of English letters in his day. If the peasantry was anywhere to ])e neglected and despised. Are we to believe that the yeomen of England. to place beside Shakespeare's Bottoms and Slys.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE Ki. Chaucer's famous circle of story-tellers at the Tabard Inn in Southwark was eminently democra'ic. too.

"What justice is there in this. and it is in all-embracing love that Shakespeare was deficient. he never held the mirror up to nature. but knew that he He could never have represented the down-trodden followers of Cade-Tyler nor the hungry mob in " Coriolanus" with the utter lack of sympathy which Shakespeare suffered from unjust social conditions. should live luxury and splendor upon what is so ill ac([uired. not only believed in the workingman. a banker. ? the English dramatist It was love that opened Cervantes's eye. that works harder even than the beasts themin things that are of in great . rose above the prejudices of his class. a carter. and a mean man. But the book of all others which might have suggested to Shakespeare that there was more in the claims of the lower classes than was dreamt of in his philosophy was More's "Utopia. or is it not rather true that the Spanish author had a deeper insight into his country's heart than was allotted to Cervantes. that a nobleman. manifests. the richest and most powerful man in England after the king. that either does nothing at all or at best is employed great — no use to the public." which in its English form was already a classic. More. the soldier and adventurer. As far as the common people were concerned." asks the Lord Chancellor. or any other man. a plowman. while Shakespeare never lifted his eyes beyond the narrow horizon of the Court to which he catered. a goldsmith. a smith. whose character stood the test of death "what justice is there in this.l(H TOLSl^OY ON SHAKESPEARE the Spanish peasantry whom tliey overcame.

and for him wlio toils Dav-long and night-Ion}' dark in the earth for thee ?" . and must lead so miserable a beasts is life. We'll \'isit Caliban Yields us kind answer. rank-scented many." Is it his type of the masses. that the condition of the much better than theirs?" How After a different from this is Shakespeare's concepin tion of the place of the full workingman society! and candid survey of his plays.5 and is employed on labors so necessary that no commonwealth could hold out a year without them. to look on." (Tempest. 2. But as 'tis. remains his type of the artizan and the "mutable. 10. can only earn so poor a livelihood. I 'Tis a villain. the weaver with the ass's head. and serve in offices That profit us. unfair to take the mishis last shapen "servant-monster" Caliban as on the subject ? "Prospero. Bottom. do not love Prospero. Sc.) We can To which "Who art I would fain reply in the words of Ed- ward Carpenter: thou With thy faint sneer for him who wins thee bread And him who clothes thee.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE selves. Fetch in our wood. Mirander. word never my slave who sir. not miss him! he does make our fire. Act 1.

. lish have striven hard to open Eng- eyes to the emptiness of Shakespeare's philosophy. I place Shakespeare with Dickens. to his weakness and incoherence as a thinker." In that preface I define the first order in Literature as consisting of those works in which the author. as well as to belles' letters. thereby making his book an original contribution to morals.. his vulgar prejudices. to the superficiality and second-handedness of his morality. . . his ignorance. I think. . Dumas pere.LETTER FROM MR. Scott. found in a . 166 G. is. writes from an original moral standpoint of his own. instead of accepting the current morality and religion ready-made without any question as to their validity. preface to my "Three Plays for Puritans" contains a section headed "Better than Shakespeare ?" which . BERNARD SHAW (Extracts) I As you know. etc. . the only utterance of mine on the subject to be book. his disqualifications of all sorts for the The philosophic eminence claimed for him. and sociology. There is at present in the press a new preface to an old novel of mine called "The Irrational Knot. religion. to his snobbery.

"Hamlet. You should also look is up the history of the Ireland forgeries. and I point out that the one play. giving Napoleon's opinions of the drama. on Rowe's part. an apology for him as a writer with obvious and admitted shortcomings (very ridiculously ascribed by Rowe to his working by "a mere light of nature")." in which Shakespeare made an attempt to give as a hero one who was dissatisfied with the ready-made morality. T.— (V. on Johnson's. unless. their tlio tkey are enormously morahty is ready-made. A French book. Johnson contain. The preface of Nicholas Rowe to his edition of Shake peare. because. as very probable. altho Hamlet's revolt is unskilfully and inconclusively suggested and not worked out with any philosophic competence.TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE in the 167 entertaining.) ^ Shaw has . His insistence on the superiority of Corneille to Shakespeare on the ground of Corneille's Besides the prefaces here referred to. Bernard at various times written other articles on the subject. is the one which has given the highest impression of his genius. right hard-hitting criticism. G. Mr. and the various prefaces of Dr. Tolstoy has anticipated you in this.^ May I suggest that you should be careful not to imply that Tolstoy's great Shakespearian heresy has no other support than mine. has appeared within the last ten years. and. Among nineteenth-century poets Byron and William Morris saw clearly that Shakespeare was enormously overrated intellectually. a good deal of down- second order. which has been translated into English.

interesting. I. in which capacity I do not think he will stand a moment's examination from so tremendously keen a critic and religious Unfortunately. and you will find that the English fun. Shaw had seen the essay in question. — press will in. so that it is quite impossible to make them understand that Shakespeare's extraordinary literary power. his mimicry. great artists quite indiscriminately and abjectly. which are the more noteworthy because Voltaire began with an extravagant admiration for Shakespeare. Tolstoy will certainly treat that side of his reputation with the severity it deserves. by Tolstoy. 'J'. for one. shall value Tolstoy's criticism all the more because who can it is the criticism of a foreigner not possibly be enchanted by the mere word- music which makes Shakespeare so irresistible in England. is power and of seeing men in their relation to the state. Finally.]()8 TOLSTOY ON SHAKESPEARE of grasping a political situation. Shakespeare must fall or stand as a thinker. his and the endearing qualities that earned him the title of "the gentle Shakespeare" all of which.) — .stantly announce that T'olstoy considers 1 It should he borne in mind that tin's letter was written before Mr. whatever Tolstoy may say. now published in this volume. the English worship their realist. (V. B. and got more and more bitter against him as he grew older and less disposed to accept artistic merit as a cover for philosophic deficiencies. Of course you know about Voltaire's criticisms.^ In Tolstoy's estimation. are quite unquestionable facts do not stand or fall with his absurd reputation as a thinker. G.

Only a few of the best of our journalist-critics will say anything worth reading on the subject. and that he has attempted to stigmatize our greatest poet as a har. a vagabond. a Yours faithfully. . a Hbertine. man. and even a man of quesYou must not be surprised or tionable gentility. by the way). a fool. a drunkard.rOLSTOY ox SHAKESPEARE his HiJ) own works greater tliaii Shakespeare's (which in some respects they most certainly are. a murderer. an incendiary. Bernahd Shaw. G. indignant at this: it is what is called "dramatic criticism" in England and America. a forger. a mad- coward. a thief.

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' ' modern book approaches Sevastopol in the completeness and directness with which it unveils the realiThere are picturesque ghnipses hi Mr. other and directness.. cover design in gold. This book relates the author's own experiences. photogravure portrait of Tolstoy from a daguerreotype taken in 1855." ti(m of Sevastopol. 325 i. Kipling can provide is"^milk for babes beside Count Tolstoy's seemingly casual sketches." The Morning Leader. London.) FUNK <& WAGNALLS COMPANY.50. both fur knowledge guages and for penetration into the very matter translated. gilt top. simplicity. pp. approved by the author. specially racy. extra-qual- ity ribbed olive cloth. Publishers NEW YORK and LONDON . map of Sevastopol. and yet more the conscientiousness witli which all this has been done. who has specially commended it for its accutranslation a NEW "No war. ties of What Count Tolstoy Says of the Translators and Translation of the two lanmeaning of tbe Of their transla- "Better translators. But the strongest meat Mr. which yet comprehend with merciless amplitude the whole atmosphere of war. Kipliiijr"s vulgar stories of lighting. Tolstoy.Sev2kstopoI AND OTHER MILITARY TALES By LEO TOLSTOY by Louise and Aylnier Maude. $1. and chietly the translation. could not be invented.'' Handsomely printed on deckle-edge paper. lii + xlviii.Tli'i" hiinl. nnf far sii!f hij us in Oreiif Jjri/ai/i. sensations. and reflections during the most noted siege of modern hisThe translation has been authorized by Count tory. Tolstoy also says: " I wrote you how nnusually "the first volume I)leases nie. : think I already of j-our edition All in it is excellent the edition auvi the remarks.

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" It is the ablest and most scholarly writing of a great thinker. or so questionable. joining them together in the same feelings. sounds or arrangements of words an artist infects other people so that they share hisfeelings.What aRT is Is Art? The obcertain external signs Translated from the Original Manuscript. the startling origand carry him.. grip the reader "The book. The test of art is infection. the work that has so infected you is a work of art."—PaW Mall " The discussion ' ' Gazette. if you are so united to him in feeling that it seems to you that he has expressed just what you have long wished to express. " No recent book on the subject is so novel. colors. Publishers NEW YORK and LONDON 563 4 ." New York Times Saturday Jieriew." Without adequate expression there is no art. and to result in a considerable readjustment of theories. is bound to shake the whole world to its very center. 268 pp. declares Tolstoy. so readable. — A POWERFUL WORK FULL OF GENIUS AND ORIGINALITY powerful personality of the author. By movements. lines." Chicago Inter Ocean. Small 12mo. postpaid FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY. with an Introduction by AYLMER MAUDE a human activity. If an autlior has moved you so that you feel as he ft'lt. Pittsburg Times. no transference to others of the author's feeling. for there is no infection. ject of this activity is to transmit to others feelings the artist has experienced.s. protesting through the his inality of his view. 80 cts. Cloth. thus. though deepest convictions be outraged. " art is ameans of union among men.

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