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with her friend, only added more and more to her longings after her early habits.
The prince had proceeded in his travels as far as a castle which was situated upon a rock on the sea coast, and magnificent gondolas were prepared to undertake an excursion upon the sea. Guttula sprang lightly and joyfully in the foremost bark, and urged the rowers on to more and more speed, spreading her veil over her head to catch the wind as a sail. Thus had they sailed a great way out at sea, when the sun began to sink, and the prince gave the order to turn back, but Guttula stretching forth her arms broke out into a magnificent song, and the fishes knew the voice, and lifting up their heads, directed their looks towards their long lost mistress, and the waves swelled themselves and murmured low, and then where the setting sun shed over them a gold and purple tint, rose a wave the light froth of which, like a white veil, spread itself on every surrounding wave—" there, oh! there is my Mother," exclaimed Guttula, and sprang in the sea to meet the golden wave, calling back " farewell, farewell."—The rowers wanted to spring in after her, for Asila was weeping, and they feared the lovely maid would be drowned, but the prince made a sign to them to desist, and said, let her go; she was not happy with us—not at home—her wise Mother was right. Let every one remain in his element.
But what means this allegory ? will you ask dear reader. Beings accustomed to live in one element are certainly not fitted for another. To this I have to say that among men there are more elements than those mentioned here, and to which nature has prescribed their bounds—bounds which cannot be infringed without hostilities. Man's element is his manner of life and situation in the world; the purpose for which he has been brought up and educated; the range of activity to which his strength and acquirements are adapted; the habits which bind him to a place and to a circle of acquaintances; the occupation which he understands and in which he succeeds, these form man's element. Many allow themselves to be led astray by foolish and unreasonable desires. An unknown mode of life often appears to him better, more brilliant than his own, and in his vain glory over-rating his strength, he wishes himself out of his element in this apparently more brilliant position; but he is not happy in it, the glitter of novelty soon vanishes, and great advantages are balanced by greater cares; his spirit breaks under the consciousness of his want of strength and ability to maintain himself in his new elemerit, and a longing for the old and loved associations destroys his happiness. Few are called and fitted to live in several elements, and to the majority the precepts of the old queen of the sea will be applicable, let therefore each remain in his own element, and let him therein contentedly discharge his duty.
Goethe has told us that a whole life may be profitably spent in studying a single play of Shakespere. We need not say then that these brief notices scarcely do justice to the great Dramatist, still we believe that very much good may be effected in enlisting the attention of the sex to his impersonations of Woman. We know that when they have once glanced at the character, the words of the Poet will sink into their hearts, and they will again and again come to the glorious volume to gather new thoughts and to learn new truths.
Our present theme is Viola, and the play—Twelfth Night, in which this character is placed—rich as it is in the grace of Olivia, the humour of Sir Toby, the wit of Maria, the conceit of Malvolio, or the proud melancholy of the Duke—derives its chief charm from the sweet and gentle girl, whose touching history it tells. A history far more common than we may at first, suppose. For in many an unregarded corner of the earth there are eyes like her's, full of their own, untold, unshared grief— hearts like her's with their own quiet tale of slighted—sustained —trampled on—yet up-growing—affection.
We will briefly relate the story. Viola is shipwrecked on a strange island, with a brother, of whose safety she is ignorant. She adopts male costume, and as a Page serves the Duke, the lord of the country. When she first sees him, she becomes at once in love, but the Duke is already sick at heart for Olivia, who lives in seclusion and will not hear his suit. Viola, the Duke's page, is employed as his messenger to the lady, who in her turn, discovers a strong liking for the page. The plot is cleared by the discovery of Viola's brother, who resembles her in person; he marries Olivia and Viola is wedded to the Duke. How beautifully this play begins—its language is pure melody throughout. Shakespeare knew how fully the solace of song nurses the affections and has made the Duke say—
If Music be the food of Love, play on,
Viola, when she hears the Duke praised, is already half in love with him, at least esteem, the best foundation for love, is awakened—
I'll serve this duke, for I can sing,
And speak to him in many sorts of music,
That will allow me very worth his service.
And when a maiden's voice is sweet, there is nothing more beautiful on earth than the feeling she can throw into a ballad: the many sorts of music which she so well understands, must mean the various ways which woman has of making the social condition of man happy and harmonious.
When engaged as his page, the Duke has told her of his love for Olivia, has, indeed, in the words of the Poet
unclasped The book even of his secret soul,
in order to make his messenger a more effectual one. Viola struggles long against her fate and pleads most ingeniously not to be sent to Olivia, and beautiful is the language in which Shakespere has conveyed her distaste for the employment. When introduced to Olivia, by a most exaggerated performance of her duty, she endeavours to ruin the Duke's suit. Olivia's love for the page here appears and Viola is involved in the double misfortune of awaking a love she cannot return and nourishing a passion that is unrequited.
Although it draws us a little from our purpose, yet we must indulge in one quotation from a scene between Olivia and Viola: the lady rejects the Duke's suit, and Viola (the page) exclaims
If I did love you in my master's flame,
Olivia interrupts her with
Why, what would you?
Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
This is love.
Viola returns to the Duke, who is nursing his passion with melody. In this scene, his deep love for Music, a feeling powerful in all minds of refinement, is shewn. He exclaims
Give me some music .
. but that piece of song,
That old, antique song we heard last night:
Whilst the vocalist is sought for, the air is played. The Duke addressing Viola,
Come, hither! boy: if ever thou should'st love,
Listen to Viola's answer. How full of the eloquence of passion.
It gives a very echo to the seat
In this play every character is seized with a masterly, but nice hand. Shakespere has put into the mouth of the instable Duke a very cogent truth—he is speaking of man's affection.
Their fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
Then again how truly has he caught the spirit with which the Duke listened to the song; he likes it for its associations of hearth and home; his highest praise is, that
. it is old and plain,
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun
We wish we could give you the songs in this play. We mean to hear them often now we have learned their beauty and their truth; and one of Shakespere's songs is about as great an enjoyment as the world offers. They have all the blitheness and the freshness of the lark, coupled with the rich, deep, gushing melody of the nightingale. This for their natural music— but the words—the words—hear them sung as we have—and you will make Shakespere your household god.
To return—the prince then praises his own depth of feeling and laments the want of sympathy in Olivia; telling Viola with the characteristic injustice of disappointed love
-to make no compare
Between the love a woman can bear him,
Viola sighs out
Ah! but I know!
What dost thou know?
Too well what love women to men may owe:
What's her history?
A blank, my lord.
How truly this one word paints the silent anguish of desolation. Oh! ye, who say Woman's heart is not to be broken, go ye into the forest where on the leafless tree the widowed bird dies mateless; go ye into the neglected garden, where the flower withers beside its dead fellow; or learn your lesson of the poor dog, whose death so often follows on his master's ; and if the voiceless, soulless creatures of the earth feel this desolation, think ye not, the most delicate, the most beautiful of Heaven's creations—susceptible and sympathizing woman — will feel this destiny, which makes the heart the tomb of its own affections. The poet's touching picture of this worst of human ills should fall deep into our hearts and make us think twice ere we smile at the depth and force of woman's feeling.