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As he thereon stood gazing, he might see
Born 1564-Died 1617.
SHAKSPEARE's father was a dealer in wool at Stratford upon Avon. With a family of ten children he was able to give his eldest son, the poet, only a limited education. Shakspeare was early taken from the free school at which he had been placed, and marrying very young, followed the same occupation with his father. He continued for some time in his native village, till, having engaged with his young associates in robbing the park of a neighbouring baronet, he was prosecuted for this misdemeanor, and wrote in revenge a satirical ballad upon his prosecutor. This piece, probably his first attempt in poetry, was so bitter, that the prosecution was renewed against him, and he was compelled to fly from his business and family, and shelter himself in London.
Here commenced his acquaintance with the stage, both as a writer and an actor. In the latter character, his highest performance is said to have been the part of the Ghost in his own Hamlet. He was favored by Queen Elizabeth, and generously patronized by the Earl of Southampton, who, it is related, presented him at one time with a thousand pounds.
The latter part of his life was spent in ease, retirement, and plenty at his native Stratford, amidst the conversation of his friends and the society of the gentlemen in his neighbourhood. It was passed, however, without any additional effort of his genius, and perhaps, without any preparation for that future existence, in which his allotment was to be final and eternal.
Ben Jonson, his contemporary, thus characterizes him. 'I loved the man, and do honor his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature: had an excellent fancy, brave notions and gentle expressions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped. His wit was in his own power, would the rule of it had been so too. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues; there was ever more in him to be praised than pardoned.'
Shakspeare seems to have been totally unconscious of his own powers. He never wrote for display, but from the natural impulse of his genius, which was so unbounded, that he is placed by the common consent, not only of his own countrymen, but of foreign nations, at the head of all dramatic writers, and in many respects of all poets in the world. While in the developement of human character his skill is completely alone and unequalled, we can scarce name a single characteristic of exquisite poetry in all its varieties which his works do not somewhere exhibit in a striking degree. Dryden has pourtrayed the genius of Shakspeare in the following concise and admirable paragraph:
'To begin then with Shakspeare. He was the man who, of all modern, and perhaps all ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul: All the images of nature were still present to him; and he drew them, not laboriously, but luckily; when he describes anything you more than see it, you flel it too. Those, who accuse him to have wanted learning, give him the greater commendation: he was naturally learned; he needed not the spectacles of books to read nature; he looked inwards and found her there. I cannot say he is everywhere alike; were he so, I should do him injury to compare him with the greatest of mankind. He is many times flat, insipid; his comic wit degenerating into clinches; his serious swelling into bombast. But he is always great, when some great occasion is presented to him; no man can say he ever had a fit subject for his wit, and did not then raise himself as high above the rest of poets,
Quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.'*
Of the moral tendency of Shakspeare's dramatic writings it is extremely difficult to speak with justice. Perhaps their general, predominating influence may with truth be called pure and elevated, and sometimes the whole drama is a continued burst of moral sublimity. Yet there are some entire plays, whose moral effect upon the mind of the reader must be positively injurious; and there are scenes and passages and sentences too often scattered through his most exquisitely poetical productions, of such a nature as to wound the refinement of the soul and disgust its healthy sensibilities. His works are therefore to be studied with very great caution and with much judgment in the selection. In their entire form they should never be put into the hands of children; but it gives pleasure to be able to state that the pupil may be referred with safety to 'Bowdler's Family Shakspeare,'- -an edition which retains all that is truly beautiful, while it excludes everything injurious in its tendency.
As the cypresses are wont to do among the slender shrubs.
ARIEL'S MUSIC HEARD BY FERDINAND.
Fer. Where should this music be? i' the air, or the
It sounds no more;-and sure, it waits upon
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Those are pearls, that were his eyes;
SCENE FROM AS YOU LIKE IT.'
Duke Senior, and Jaques. Enter Orlando with his sword drawn.
Scene.-The_Forest of Arden.
Duke S. What would you have? Your gentleness shall force,
More than your force move us to gentleness.
Duke S. Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time,
If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church;
If ever sat at any good man's feast;
If ever from your eye-lids wip'd a tear,
→ Shakspeare writes owes for owns.
Let gentleness my strong enforcement be:
Orl. Then, but forbear your food a little while,
Duke S. Go find him out,
And we will nothing waste till you return.
Orl. I thank ye; and be bless'd for your good comfort! Exit.
Duke S. Thou seest, we are not all alone unhappy : This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Jaq. All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
Even in the cannon's mouth: And then, the justice;
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
KING JOHN DIRECTING HUBERT TO THE MURDER OF
King John. Come hit Hubert. O my gentle Hubert
Hub. I am much bounden to your majesty.
King John. Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet:
Had bak'd thy blood, and made it heavy, thick;
Or if that thou could'st sec me without eyes,
Hub. So well, that what you bid me undertake,
King John. Do not I know, thou would'st?