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O! when I think of the inexhaustible mine of virgin treasure in our Shakspeare, that I have been almost daily reading him since I was ten years old, -that the thirty intervening years have been unintermittingly and not fruitlessly employed in the study of the Greek, Latin, English, Italian, Spanish and German belle lettrists, and the last fifteen years in addition, far more intensely in the analysis of the laws of life and reason as they exist in man, -and that upon every step I have made forward in taste, in acquisition of facts from history or my own observation, and in knowledge of the different laws of being and their apparent exceptions, from accidental collision of disturbing forces,—that at every new accession of information, after every

successful exercise of meditation, and every fresh presentation of experience, I have unfailingly discovered a proportionate increase of wisdom and intuition in Shakspeare;—when I know this, and know too, that by a conceivable and possible, though hardly to be expected, arrangement of the British theatres, not all, indeed, but a large, a very large, proportion of this indefinite all-round which no comprehension has yet drawn the line of circumscription, so as to say to itself, • I have seen the whole')-might be sent into the heads and hearts – into the very souls of the mass of mankind, to whom, except by this living comment and interpretation, it must remain for ever a sealed volume, a deep well without a wheel or a wivdlass ;—it seems to me a pardonable enthusiasm

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et to steal away from sober likelihood, and share in so rich a feast in the faery world of possibility! Yet

Shake even in the grave cheerfulness of a circumspect hope, much, very much, might be done; enough, assuredly, to furnish a kind and strenuous nature with ample motives for the attempt to effect what Sie may be effected.

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SHAKSPEARE, A POET GENERALLY.

LOTHED in radiant armour, and authorized

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speare came forward to demand the throne of fanie, as the dramatic poet of England. His excellences compelled even his contemporaries to seat him on that throne, although there were giants in those days contending for the same honour. Hereafter I would fain endeavour to make out the title of the English drama as created by, and existing in, Shakspeare, and its right to the

supremacy

of dramatic excellence in general. But he had shown himsel a poet, previously to his appearance as a dramatic poet; and had no Lear, no Othello, no Henry IV,, no Twelfth Night ever appeared, we must have admitted that Shakspeare possessed the chief, if not every, requisite of a poet,--deep feeling and exquisite sense of beauty, both as exhibited to the

eye

in the combinations of form, and to the ear in sweet and appropriate melody; that these feelings were under the command of his own will; that in his

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very first productions he projected his mind

out of his own particular being, and felt, and made others feel, on subjects no way connected with himself, except by force of contemplation and that sublime faculty by which a great mind becomes that, on which it meditates. To this must be added that affectionate love of nature and natural objects, without which no man could have observed so steadily, or painted so truly and passionately, the very minutest beauties of the external world :

And when thou hast on foot the purblind bare,
Mark the poor wretch; to overshoot his troubles,
How he outruns the wind, and with what care,
He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles ;
The many musits through the which he goes
Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.

Sometimes he runs among the flock of sheep,
To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell;
And sometime where earth-delving conies keep,
To stop the loud pursuers in their yell;
And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer:
Danger deviseth shifts, wit waits on fear.

For there his smell with others' being mingled,
The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt,
Ceasing their clamorous cry, till they have singled,
With much ado, the cold fault cleanly out,
Then do they spend their mouths; echo replies,
As if another chase were in the skies.

By this poor Wat far off, opon a hill,
Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear,
To hearken if bis foes pursue him still :

Anon their loud alarums he doth hear,
And now his grief may be compared well
To one sore-sick, that bears the passing bell.

Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch
Turn, and return, indenting with the way:
Each envious briar bis weary legs doth scratch,
Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay.
For misery is trodden on by many,
And being low, never relieved by any.

Venus and Adonis.
And the preceding description :-

But lo! from forth a copse that neighbours by,

A breeding jennet, lusty, young and proud, &c. is much more admirable, but in parts less fitted for quotation.

Moreover Shakspeare had shown that he possessed fancy, considered as the faculty of bringing together images dissimilar in the main by some one point or more of likeness, as in such a passage as this :

Full gently now she takes him by the band,
A lily prisoned in a jail of snow,
Or ivory in an alabaster band :

So white a friend ingirts so white a foe! 16.
And still mounting the intellectual ladder, he had
as unequivocally proved the indwelling in his mind
of imagination, or the power by which one image
or feeling is made to modify many others, and by
a sort of fusion to force many into one;-that which,
afterwards showed itself in such might and energy

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in Lear, where the deep anguish of a father spreads the feeling of ingratitude and cruelty over the very elements of heaven ;-and which, combining many circumstances into one moment of consciousness, tends to produce that ultimate end of all human thought and human feeling, unity, and thereby the reduction of the spirit to its principle and fountain, who is alone truly one.

Various are the workings of this the greatest faculty of the human mind, both passionate and tranquil. In its tranquil and purely pleasurable operation, it acts chiefly by creating out of many things, as they would have appeared in the description of an ordinary mind, detailed in unimpassioned succession, a oneness, even as nature, the greatest of poets, acts upon us, when we open our eyes upon an extended prospect. Thus the flight of Adonis in the dusk of the evening :

Look! how a bright star shooteth from the sky;

So glides he in the night from Venus' eye! How many images and feelings are here brought together without effort and without discord, in the beauty of Adonis, the rapidity of his flight, the yearning, yet hopelessness, of the enamored gazer, while a shadowy ideal character is thrown over the whole! Or this power acts by impressing the stamp of humanity, and of human feelings, on inanimate or mere natural objects :

Lo! here the gentle lark, weary of rest,
From his moist cabinet mounts up on high,

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