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acter of Prospero in “ The Tempest.” Did it ever strike you to identify that great enchanter with Shakespeare himself in the closing years of life? The thought is surely a fruitful one. For
The Tempest," the latest of all his plays, is an ideal allegory of human life, with under-meanings everywhere, in every line of it, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear; but with all its lessons unforced, unsophisticated, illusive, unperceived indeed by those whose eyes are closed, whose ears are dull of hearing; the scene of it nowhere, anywhere, for it is in the Fortunate Island of the soul of man, that vexed land of Imagination hung between the upper and the nether world; the characters of it, types, abstractions-Womanhood, Youth, the People—all of them more or less, victims of illusion, all of them losing their wat in this enchanted Realm of Life, except only Prospero, the great Mage, absolute lord of the Island, who could summon to his service, at a moment's notice, every shape of merriment or of passion, every figure in the great tragi-comedy of life, and who, being none other surely than Shakespeare himself, “not one, but all mankind's epitome,” could run easily through the whole scale of human passion and thought, from “ Nature's wood-notes wild," or the homely commonplaces of existence, the chimney-corner wisdom of “Master Goodman Dull," to the transcendental subtilties of
“ No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change,
Thy pyramids built up with newer light
It is not only because Prospero was a great enchanter, about to break his magic staff, to “ drown his book deeper than ever plummet sounded," to dismiss his "airy spirits," and to return to the practical service of the State, that we
identify the Philosopher Duke with Shakespeare the Poet Prophet. It is rather because the temper of Prospero is the temper of Shakespeare in those last days, when he came back to the dear old English home here in Stratford, to its sweetest, simplest, homeliest things, finding the daily life of this little place, the men and women here, the Nature all around, the green fields, the sweet hedgerow flowers, the quiet woods, the softly flowing Avon, good enough for him; despising nothing as common or unclean; curious of all things and of all men, but never scornful; humorous, sympathetic, tolerant; his wide-viewing mind at last looking back from the altitudes of thought to which he had attained, on all the pageantry of the lower world which he had abandoned, through a strange, pathetic, ideal light.
“Our revels now are ended: these our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
To still my beating mind.” And so he ends-Prospero or Shakespeare. In the epilogue to the play you have the keynote of this self-mastered character, this self-possessed grandeur of a completely disciplined will which is common to both, to Shakespeare as to Prospero—Forgiveness and Freedom.
“ And my ending is despair,
And so, too, I will end-how better?with those lessons of Freedom and Forgiveness; the true Freedom which only comes from service, the true Pardon which only comes to those who forgive, because they have been forgiven.
Have you learned those lessons ? The root of all true religion, believe me, lies there. What do you know of the
service which is perfect freedom”? What is your definition of life? How do you conceive of it to yourself ? Is it, do you think, as Shakespeare has elsewhere said—“ a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing ” ? or is it a mission of service to your fellows for Christ's sake?
God grant you may answer—Life is service! Life is duty! Life is mission! All for Love and the world well lost. For Jesus said—“Whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall save it.”
And the lesson of Pardon-have you made that, too, yours? “ The tongues of dying men ”-our poet says—"enforce attention like deep harmony.” And from the Cross of Jesus and his last dying prayer—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do ”—we have all learnedGod grant it !—to recognize the ethical beauty of the spirit of forgiveness; but do we equally acknowledge its moral power? its redeeming power? “Father! ... forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.”
So daily we pray. Brothers ! Sisters ! do we truly realize this power of forgiveness, this social power of remitting or retaining sins, this priestly power of humanity ?
Ah! believe me, just so far as we exercise it lovingly and wisely in our lives and with our lips we help men away from sin; just so far as we do not exercise it, or exercise it wrongly, we drive men into sin. And, my friends, from which of your Christian teachers will you learn of that un
strained " quality of mercy”—of that earthly power of free forgiveness “ which then shows likest God's when mercy seasons justice "--more unerringly than you will from Shakespeare? He was no priest, I repeat; he waved no censer. But just as in regard to that other lesson of Freedom, Shakespeare does seem to give to each one of us courage, and energy, and strength to dedicate ourselves and our work to that service, to that mission—whatever it may be—which life has revealed to us as best, and highest, and most real, -50, also, with regard to this other lesson of the redemptive power of a priestly humanity, this social force of true forgiveness, I do not hesitate to say that in Shakespeare's censer there burns truly, and fragrantly, and steadily
“ Such incense as of right belongs
To the true shrine,
In light Divine.”
people have ever known, with the doubtful exception of O'Connell, was born at Avondale, County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1846. His father was a country gentleman of good estate, belonging to an old and well-known Protestant family. Through his mother C. S. Parnell was a grandson of Commodore Stewart of the United States Navy. He was sent to the English University of Cambridge, and for some years after he obtained his baccalaureate degree it seemed likely that he would lead a quiet life on the paternal acres.
In 1875, however, he entered Parliament as a supporter of the Home Rule movement, which was at that time directed by Mr. Isaac Butt. Mr. Parnell soon became convinced that Mr. Butt's method of furthering the agitation was academic and futile, and that Englishmen would never listen to Irish claims until they should be compelled to do so by the stoppage of the whole machinery of legislation through parliamentary obstruction. To offering such obstruction 'he devoted all his efforts, and with such effect as presently to wring from Englishmen as well as Irishmen an admission that he had discovered an almost irresistible instrument of constitutional propaganda. In 1879 he was made President of the Irish Land League, and under the Coercion Act of 1881–82 he was temporarily imprisoned. Thereafter he so thoroughly gained the confidence of his countrymen that at the general election of Decem. ber, 1885, he succeeded in returning to the House of Commons a compact band of 86 Home Rulers, and thus acquired the balance of power in that body, where the Liberals and the Conservatives were nearly equal in respect of numbers. The outcome of the situation was an alliance between Mr. Parnell and Mr. Gladstone and the latter's introduction of the first Home Rule Bill, which, however, was defeated by the secession of the Unionist-Liberals. Some years later Mr. Parnell was deposed from the leadership of the Irish Nationalist Party by a majority of his followers, owing to his implication in the O'Shea divorce case as co respondent. He was shattered in body as well as spirit by the blow, and died in October, 1891, the year preceding that in which Mr. Gladstone was restored to power with a majority of 40 in the House of Commons. Had Parnell lived and remained the head of an undivided Nationalist party, the majority would probably have been a hundred instead of forty, and the second Home Rule bill, notwithstanding the opposition which it oncountered in the House of Lords, would probably have become a law.