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TO DR. GUY,
DEAN OF THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, KING'S COLLEGE,
THIS PRIZE ESSAY
IS MOST RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,
BY HIS OBLIGED SERVANT,
King's College, London, June 24th, 1850.
“Ex noto carinen sequiter fictum, ut sibi quivis
Sperat idem; multùm sudet, frustràque laboret, Ausus idem."
Hor. Ep. ad Pis., 240-242. THE PRIZE ESSAY
“ON THE HISTORICAL PLAYS OF SHAKSPEARE.”
WRITTEN FOR THE STEPHEN ENDOWMENT PRIZE,
SHAKSPEARE was born in the year 1564, and died in the year 1616. The humblest individuals have the year in which they were born and the year in which they died recorded on their tombstones; and of the greatest of Englishmen we know little more. His history must be sought in his works, as indeed the life of every truly great man ought to be. For it is not by what a man has once been, but by what he has done, that he is ultimately to be remembered. All great men write their history on the surface of the earth, or in the hearts of their fellow-men. That an individual had sprung from ancestors who had spilled their blood in the battle of Hastings, that he had been nurtured with great care, that he had been affectionately loved by his parents, that he had studied at Oxford, that he had married, that he had gathered a family around him, and had at length sunk into his long repose, are facts in themselves of little importance to mankind. They may be unquestioned. But after all this the world will roll on, men will pursue their different roads through life, the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening, the days will shorten