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Still a repairing; ever out of frame;
The character of Biron drawn by Rosaline and that which Biron gives of Boyet are equally happy. The observations on the use and abuse of study, and on the power of beauty to quicken the understanding as well as the senses, are excellent. The scene which has the greatest dramatick effect is that in which Biron, the king, Longaville, and Dumain, successively detect each other and are detected in their breach of their vow and in their profession of attachment to their several mistresses, in which they suppose themselves to be overheard by no one. The reconciliation between these lovers and their sweethearts is also very good, and the penance which Rosaline imposes on Biron, before he can expect to gain her cousent to marry him, full of propriety and beauty.
“ Rosaline. Oft have I heard of you, my lord Biron,
That lie within the mercy of your wit.
Biron. To move wild laughter in the throat of death?
Rosaline. Why, that's the way to choke a gibing spirit,
“ Biron. A twelvemonth? Well, befall what will befall, I'll jest a twelvemonth in a hospital.”
The famous cuckoo-song closes the play : but we shall add no more criticisms : “ the words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo."
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
This admirable comedy used to be frequently acted till of late years.
Mr. Garrick's Benedick was one of his most celebrated characters; and Mrs. Jordan, we have understood, played Beatrice very delightfully. The serious part is still the most prominent here, as in other instances that we have noticed. Hero is the principal figure in the piece, and leaves an indelible impression on the mind by her beauty, her tenderness, and the hard trial of her love. The passage in which Claudio first makes a confession of his affection towards her conveys as pleasing an image of the entrance of love into a youthful bosom as can well be imagined.
" Oh, my lord,
In the scene at the altar, when Claudio, urged on by the villain Don John, brings the charge of in
continence against her, and as it were divorces her in the very marriage-ceremony, her appeals to her own conscious innocence and honour are made with the most affecting simplicity.
" Claudio. No, Leonato,
Hero. And seem'd I ever otherwise to you?
Claudio. Out on thy seeming, I will write against it:
Hero. Is my lord well, that he doth speak so wide ?
The justification of Hero in the end, and her restoration to the confidence and arms of her lover, is brought about by one of those temporary consignments to the grave of which Shakspeare seems to have been fond. He has perhaps explained the theory of this predilection in the following lines :
“ Friar. She dying, as it must be so maintain'd,
Into his study of imagination;
The principal comick characters in Much ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Benedick and Beatrice, are both essences in their kind. His character as a womanhater is admirably supported, and his conversion to matrimony is no less happily effected by the pretended story of Beatrice's love for him. It is hard to say which of the two scenes is the best, that of the trick which is thus practised on Benedick, or that in which Beatrice is prevailed on to take pity on him by overhearing her cousin and her maid declare (which they do on purpose) that he is dying of love for her. There is something delightfully picturesque in the manner in which Beatrice is de.. scribed as coming to hear the plot which is contrived against herself
“For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs Close hy the ground, to hear our conference.”
In consequence of what she hears (not a word of which is true) she exclaims when these good-natured informants are gone,
" What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true ?
Stand I coodemn'd for pride and scorn so much ?
No glory lives behind the back of such.
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;
To bind our loves up in an holy band :