Imágenes de páginas

“ come in competition with him, is, that his men are men; his “ sentiments are living, and his characters marked with those “ delicate, evanescent, undefinable tinctures, which identify “ them with the great delineations of nature." -- " Yet,” says he, « after every degree of homage has been paid to the glorious “ and awful superiorities of Shakspeare, it would be unpardon* able to forget one particular in which the play of Triolus and “ Cressida does not eclipse, but, on the contrary, falls far short " of the poem of Chaucer. This, too, is a particular in which, * as the times of Shakspeare were more enlightened and refined " than those of Chaucer, the preponderance of excellence might “ well be expected to be found in the opposite scale. The fact, “ however, is unquestionable, that the characters of Chaucer “ are more respectable and love-worthy than the corresponding

personages in Shakspeare. In Chaucer, Troilus is the pattern « of an honourable lover, choosing rather every extremity, and " the loss of life, than to divulge, whether in a direct or indi. " rect manner, any thing that might compromise the reputation of his mistress, or lay open her name as a topic for the com ments of the vulgar. Cressida, (as Mr Urry has observed,) « however she proves at last a false inconstant whore, yet in “ the commencement, and for a considerable time, preserves “ those ingenuous manners, and that propriety of conduct, which “ are the brightest ornaments of the female character. Even Pandarus, low and dishonourable as is the part he has to play, “ is, in Chaucer, merely a friendly and kind-hearted man, so

easy in his temper, that, rather than not contribute to the “ happiness of the man he loves, he is content to overlook the ** odious names and construction to which his proceedings are “ entitled. Not so in Shakspeare. His Troilus shows no re “ luctance to render his amour a subject of notoriety to the “ whole city. His Cressida (for example, in the scene with the " Grecian chiefs), assumes the meanness of the most abandoned “ prostitute; and his Pandarus enters upon his vile occupation, “ not from any venial partiality to the desires of his friends, " but from the direct and simple love of what is gross, impu« dent, and profligate.”

Now, without stopping to consider which of these delineations of character is more natural, or which of them is most pleasing, we can predicate that the former (that of Chaucer) bespeaks more Conscientiousness and Ideality in the author than that of Shakspeare. Conscientiousness would make the better and more amiable view of the characters congenial to the mind; while Ideality would lead to the endeavour, if they could not be presented to the reader in all the beauty of virtue, at least to avoid in the representation of them much of the deformity of vice.

Two points are mentioned in which this poet was defective; the first is the power of description, in which he is said to yield by many degrees to Spencer. This must have been owing to an inferior endowment of the pictorial organs, (Form, Size, Locality, &c.) which give to their possessor a vivid and a lasting impression of the scenery of external nature. The other defect spoken of is the want of power to produce terror, or to depict the constancy of resentment and repulse. This must have been owing to a deficiency of the power of Destructiveness, which, in no part of Chaucer's works, appears to have been a predominating quality in his mind. He never seems to delight in blood, or to revel in the work of destruction ; and though, when his story requires it, he endeavours to describe the encounters of valorous knights, these are not given in the con amore style, which distinguishes his pathetic and humorous scenes; the patience and long endeavour of Grisildis, the soft affectations of the tender-hearted pun, or the hearty and well-conditioned temperament of the “ Wife of Bath."

From the superior Conscientiousness and Ideality of Chaucer, and his inferior powers of description and raising terror,-probably arises his apparent inferiority as a poet to Shakspeare. Though there is much about ' him that is truly excellent, he wants also much of that which gives the piquante relish to Shakspeare's delineations,-the salt which is necessary to season the mass of the poet's conceptions,--and without which, as man is constituted, a predominance even of what is most excellent and praiseworthy will render a work as insipid as a too liberal supply of sugar, and deficiency of lemon and spirit, will spoil the harmonious mixture in a bowl of punch. But, inferior as he must be allowed to be, in these respects, to Shakspeare, Chaucer is a true poet; and in those two great constituents of poetry, Ideality and Wit, he has never been surpassed. In the portrait before us, the temporal regions where Ideality is situáted, on the left side of the head next the spectator, will be seen to be considerably elevated, and even swelled out in a lateral direction, and his hood is, as it would almost appear, purposely raised up, in order to afford a view of it. On the opposite side there is seen, in profile, the organ of Wit, rising square and perpendicular above the corner of the eyebrow. The whole forehead is well developed, and corresponds exactly with what we have seen of the poet's character.

The middle portrait is one of WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, ætatis 46, anno 1610. It is given in Mr Boaden's excellent inquiry into the authenticity of various pictures and prints offered to the public as portraits of Shakspeare. · This įs represented as the most genuine, being copied from an original picture by Cornelius Jansen, in the collection of his Grace the Duke of Somerset. The great height of the forehead, indicating prodigious intellectual power, first attracts attention. In proceeding to the details of the head, we per: ceive the eyes projecting and depressed, indicating a large development of the organs of Language. The eyebrow is arched, indicating Colouring large ; and the distance between the

eyes is considerable; indicating Form, also amply developed. The head appears to fall in a little at the organ of Constructiveness, the cheek-bones being more prominent than the temples at the seat of that organ.

It then swells out at the regions of Tune and Ideality. This last organ will Þe perceived to be greatly larger than the same part in Locke and Cobbett, but somewhat less than in Chaucer ; and we have ventured the opinion, that in the manifestations of this faculty, the superiority must be assigned to Chaucer, In following the outline of Shakspeare's head, an immense expansion appears in the regions of Wonder and Imitation. The former faculty would produce the witches in Macbeth, and, combined with Ideality, it would inspire him with the conception of Ariel in the Tempest. Imitation is essential to the power of writing in dialogue and dramatizing. Highest of all, in the outline, stands the organ of Benevolence, which also is very large. The middle and lateral parts of the upper region of the forehead are greatly developed, indicating corresponding vigour in the faculties of Comparison,

Causality, and Wit. On the principle, that power of mani. festation bears a relation to size in the organ, this forel head indicates gigantic greatness. The phrenologist ceases to wonder that, with such a development, Shakspeare should have been a prodigy in dramatic genius.

The fourth portrait represents J. J. ROUSSEAU. The organ of Language is here largely developed, as also that of Causality; but the chief feature for which we have selected it is the organ of Ideality, which stands prominently forth at the upper and anterior angle of the head. In Rousseau this faculty appears to have been in a state of almost dis eased excitement; and it communicates to his conceptions, an exquisiteness of beauty and refinement, contrasting, in a remarkable degree, with the manner of thinking and writing of Cobbett and of Locke.



: MR EDITOR, Sir,--The subject of this letter, when a child, was remark: able for an active spirit, combined with much good nature, and the purest simplicity, amounting even to bluntness of manner. When sent to school to learn to read, he made the least possible progress, and afterwards, when an attempt was made to teach him Latin, he stood absolutely still. His father and mother were almost in despair, and feared that he would turn out a blockhead, fit for the mortar-tub, or the pick and shovel, but destitute of capacity for any liberal pursuit. As a last effort, they sent him to board with a celebrated teacher in the country, in the hopes that the discipline of his seminary might rouse his latent faculties, if, in fact, he possessed' any. Here, however, his progress was ‘as little flattering as

We are able to certify that this is a real case. -Ed.

before. He was made the fag of boys older and stouter than himself, or even, I suspect, of some of his own age; and, as for learning, he could not be brought to comprehend a single rule of Latin, and scarcely was able to master three sentences of French : in geography and arithmetic he was very little more successful.

In this state of matters, Dr Spurzheim arrived in this country, and a gentleman who attended his lectures imagined that the case might not be so hopeless as was conceived. He examined the boy's head, and declared that the mystery was cleared up. He found the organ of Language very decidedly deficient, and the knowing organs in general not large; while the reflecting organs were far above an average in point of size for that period of life. Combativeness he found rather small, while Cautiousness, Conscientiousness, Self-esteem, Love of Approbation, Firmness, Adhesiveness, Benevolence, and Ideality, were all amply developed, and Destructiveness was not deficient. Tune also was large. He pointed out that the boy's proneness to active sports indicated a healthy condition of the brain; that his softness of disposition arose from deficient Combativeness joined with large Conscientiousness, Cautiousness, Benevolence, and Love of Approbation; that his inaptitude for languages was owing to the small de velopment of the organ connected with this faculty; and that his general dulness arose from the knowing or percep. tive organs being on the whole but moderate in size, while those of reflection, which were decidedly large, did not come into full activity till a later period of life, and did not, till then, meet with studies and pursuits suited to their gratification. He advised, therefore, that the youth should be taken from school, and sent for three or four years to learn the trade to which it was intended to bring him up; and that, thereafter, namely, at the age of seventeen or eighteen, his education should be begun anew.

This accordingly was done, and with the happiest effects. When he had passed the age of puberty his manner greatly changed. Instead of the raw, blunt, timid boy, he acquired

« AnteriorContinuar »