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As he thereon stood gazing, he might see
The blessed angels to and fro descend,
From highest Heaven in gladsome company,
And with great joy into that city wend,
As commonly as friend does with his friend;
Whereat he wondered much, and gan enquire,
What stately building durst so high extend
Her lofty towers into the starry sphere,
And what unknowen nation there empeopled were.


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:

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'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.


Fer. Where should this music be? i' the air, or the

It sounds no more;-and sure, it waits upon
Some god of the island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the king my father's wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters;
Allaying both their fury, and my passion,
With its sweet air; thence I have follow'd it,
Or it hath drawn me rather:-But 'tis gone.
No, it begins again.


Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls, that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs, hourly ring his knell :
Hark! now I hear them,-ding-dong, bell.

[Burden, ding-dong.
Fer. The ditty does remember my drown'd father:-
This is no mortal business, nor no sound
That the earth owes:*-I hear it now above me.



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.
Orl. I almost die for food, and let me have it.

pray you:

Duke S. Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
Orl. Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I
I thought that all things had been savage here;
And therefore put I on the countenance
Of stern commandment: But whate'er you are,
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,

Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time,
If ever you have looked on better days;

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,
And know what 'tis to pity, and be pitied;

→ Shakspeare writes owes for owns.

Let gentleness my strong enforcement be:
In the which hope, I blush and hide my sword.
Duke S. True is it that we have seen better days;
And have with holy bell been knoll'd to church;
And sat at good men's feasts; and wip'd our eyes
Of drops that sacred pity hath engender'd:
And therefore sit you down in gentleness,
And take upon command what help we have,
That to your wanting may be ministered.

Orl. Then, but forbear your food a little while,
Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn,
And give it food. There is an old poor man,
Who after me hath many a weary step
Limp'd in pure love; till he be first suffic'd,-
(Oppress'd with two great evils, age and hunger,)
I will not touch a bit.

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
Wherein we play in.

Jaq. All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then, the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school: And then, the lover;
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow Then, a soldier ;
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth: And then, the justice;
In fair round belly, with good capon lin❜d,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,
And so he plays his part: The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound: Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,


Is second childishness, and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.



King John. Come hit Hubert. O my gentle Hubert
We owe thee much; within this wall of flesh
There is a soul, counts thee her creditor,
And with advantage means to pay thy love:
And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath
Lives in this bosom, dearly cherished.
Give me thy hand. I had a thing to say,-
But I will fit it with some better time.
By heaven, Hubert, I am almost asham'd
To say what good respect I have of thee.

Hub. I am much bounden to your majesty.

King John. Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet:
But thou shalt have; and creep time ne'er so slow,
Yet it shall come, for me to do thee good.
I had a thing to say,-But let it go:
The sun is in the heaven, and the proud day,
Attended with the pleasures of the world,
Is all too wanton, and too full of gawds,
To give me audience :-If the midnight bell
Did, with his iron tongue and brazen mouth,
Sound one unto the drowsy race of night;
If this same were a church-yard where we stand,
And thou possessed with a thousand wrongs;
Or if that surly spirit, melancholy,

Had bak'd thy blood, and made it heavy, thick;
(Which, else, runs tickling up and down the veins;
Making that idiot, laughter, keep men's eyes,
And strain their cheeks to idle merriment,
A passion hateful to my purposes ;)

Or if that thou could'st sec me without eyes,
Hear me without thine ears, and make reply
Without a tongue, using conceit alone,
Without eyes, ears, and harmful sound of words;
Then, in despite of brooded watchful day,
I would into thy bosom pour my thoughts;
But ah, I will not :-Yet I love thee well;
And, by my troth, I think, thou lov'st me well.

Hub. So well, that what you bid me undertake,
Though that my death were adjunct to my act,
By heaven, I'd do't.

King John. Do not I know, thou would'st?
Good Hubert, Hubert, Hubert, throw thine eye
On yon young boy: I'll tell thee what, my friend,

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