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WALES. Vol. in.] SEPTEMBER, 1896. [No. 29. SHAKESPEARE'S WELSHMEN. By SlONED PltYCE. HE reference Lately made by the Prince of Wales, in his speech at Aber¬ ystwyth, to Shakes¬ peare's " three highly finished portraits of Welshmen,—the soldier, the divine, and the feudal chieftain,"—lias freshened the interest of many in Fluellen, Sir Hugh Evans, and Owen Glen- dower. Although these are not principal parts, although not in their respective plays the central characters round which the whole plot turns, yet in the ranks of Shakespeare's side-figures and secondary characters, there are none drawn with a greater fidelity, a more appreciative grasp of national peculiarities, than Fluellen and Sir Hugh Evans. Owen Glendower is naturally less of a type than these; his individuality, indeed, is decidedly an eccentric one. Yet whoever tries to picture Glendower to himself as a Frenchman, a Spaniard,—even as a Highlander, or, most impossible of all, as an Englishman, recognises here, also, the same discernment of racial characteristics,—the " correctness " Upon which Macaulay insists. It is this accuracy that strikes a Welsh¬ man when ho comes across his countrymen in the pages of Shakespeare. True, it is not because they are Welshmen that they attract us in the first place, any more than it is because Othello is a Moor and Richard II. an Englishman that we follow their fortunes with such breathless interest, such eager sympathy. But as a side- matter, apart from the main motive and plot of the play, it delights us to find one 25 385 more proof of the genius and knowledge of the great dramatist in his accurate de¬ lineation of Welsh character. It needs but little seeking to discover what great weight Shakespeare attached to nationality. Though he realised, and teaches us, that human nature is much the same all the world over,—that " one touch of nature makes the whole world kin,"— yet he puts his finger unerringly upon national characteristics. Could the principal characters in " Romeo and Juliet" be any¬ thing but Italians ? " The characters," says Professor Dowden, speaking of the play," are Italian, with their lyrical ardour, their southern impetuosity of passion, and the southern forms and colour of their speech." Could Macbeth, with his easily swayed nature, his frantic superstition and " second sight," be anything but a High¬ lander ? If Shylock were not a Jew, to what nation could he by any possibility belong ? We notice, beyond the more evident and aggressive traits in his dis¬ position, his clannishness, his faithful affection for his dead wife, his clinging to the Old Testament. " Shylock," says Schlegel, " is everything but a common Jew; ho possesses a very determinate and original individuality, and yet we perceive a faint touch of Judaism in everything which he says and does. * * * In tranquil situations, what is foreign to the European blood and Christian sentiments is less perceivable, but in passion the national stamp is more strongly marked." And nowhere has Shakespeare shown a finer touch than in Jessica,—pretty Jessica, this " most sweet Jew," who yet in her love forgets not the jewels. Schlegel's remark that the national stamp is more strongly marked in passion, applies not