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spere's age has satirically recorded the events of his life in a brief but pregnant sentence, worth all the traditions to which his biographers have given such undue prominence. The passage occurs in a curious tract, dated 1605-6, and entitled Ratseis Ghost. Ratsey was a highwayman who was executed at Bedford in March 1606; and in this tract he is supposed to counsel the leading player of a strolling company to try his fortunes in London, in the following terms: “ There thou shalt learn to be frugal (for players were never so thrifty as they are now about London); and to feed upon all men, to let none feed upon thee, to make thy hand a stranger to thy pocket, thy heart slow to perform thy tongue's promise, and when thou feelest thy purse well lined, buy thee some place of lordship in the country, that, growing weary of playing, thy money may then bring thee to dignity and reputation, that thou needest care for no man; no, not for them that before made thee proud with speaking their words on the stage." To which advice the player is made to reply: “Sir, I thank you for this good counsel. I promise you I will make use of it; for I have heard, indeed, of some that have gone to London very meanly, and have come in time to be exceeding wealthy." The allusions here refer unmistakably to Shakspere; and these translated out of the language of malignant satire into that of sober fact, trace the life-progress of the poet exactly in the manner more fully developed in the following pages. The name of the writer of the tract is unknown; but he was evidently some playwright, envious of Shakspere's reputation, and probably one who had written a play in which Shakspere had acted.

“Envy will Merit as its shade pursue,

And like the shadow prove the substance true.” At the period when this nameless lampooner discharged his venom on his worthier contemporary, Shakspere had yet to write Lear, Troilus and Cressida, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Julius Cæsar, Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest, Timon of Athens, and Henry the Eighth. These great, perhaps the greatest, of his works, were produced when he had attained to a serene condition of life, and had no longer to strive with fortune. They bear witness to what Juvenal states of easy circumstances being expedient for the poet. All are marked with the happy audacity which distinguishes a prosperous independence, and show a “sovereign sway and masterdom,” only pertaining to those who have conquered a position in the world, and know themselves able to maintain it.

Thenceforth Shakspere, during his life, had little to suffer from envy and slander. But after his death his memory was assailed by both. No cosmic mind—and such was Shakspere's—but has to prove its mission by successfully surviving the opposition of antagonist forces in the intellectual world, the battle-field wherein the wars of Truth and Beautywhich is the full and complete expression of Truth, or the Lovelike—are waged against Error and Imperfection. That such men as Dryden, the Earl of Shaftesbury, and Voltaire, should be among his post

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humous calumniators, proves that, in whatever degree, the lesser intelligence is always an enemy to the greater. The spiritual man can endure and compassionate the natural man, because he comprehends him; but the natural man, not being able to discern spiritual things, usually hates the mind to whom they are familiar. He is irritated by being virtually taunted with his blindness, sometimes indeed voluntary, when he thinks that he sees well enough, and resists the guidance of a superior as an insult. He hates the privileges that he can or will not enjoy, and, as one means of abrogating them, ignores their existence. Dryden, Shaftesbury, Voltaire, demonstrate their inferiority to Shakspere, whose existence they were compelled to recognise, but whose merit they failed to appreciate. Failure-fatal to them!-indifferent to him, whose greatness it only served to attest more strongly. There is always an opposition between the different classes of mind, each class representing certain degrees of development;—for even in the individual mind the same contest prevails between the faculties represented by them. The reason meets with contradiction from the intellect, and the intellect from the senses; so that the philosopher, the savant, and the mere observer, bear a different testimony, the two former affirming what the last ignores, and the second denying or questioning the principles of which the first is thoroughly assured. This happens because the first has the largest sphere, inclusive of the others, and the last the smallest. We find, on fully investigating the works of Shakspere, that he has the highest and the broadest mind; and that it is owing to its breadth and elevation that other minds, though great, yet not so great as his, have miscalculated its power and its proportions. From these misapprehensions proceeded the martyrdom of the Hebrew prophets, whose tombs, on after reflection, were nevertheless erected in the Salem wherein they suffered. Nor were the poets of Greece exempt from the operation of this law. Eschylus was banished from Athens, and died in exile;—then the repentant city raised to his memory a statue of bronze. Milton appears to have convinced for a time English half-thinkers that men of genius need no monument, and Shakespere least of any, whose works would prove sufficient for his fame. They have

But Athens felt that if her poet needed no memorial, yet she needed one,—if only as an atonement for neglect or wrong. But higher reasons command this species of recognition: as an acknowledgment to Providence for the gift of a man of genius to a nation; as an assurance that such nation in some sort merits such a gift, if only for having the capacity to appreciate its value; and as an evidence that the state has done its duty by the people, in providing for them an education which enables them to admire and to appropriate the teachings of the most philosophical and religious of poets. The national ingratitude which neglects so obvious a duty is a species of impiety, which, worse than blasphemy, assails the

done so.

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throne of the Eternal; treats with despite the ministers whom He has sent forth out of the bosom of the Infinite to enlighten and redeem the lost in the dark wastes and narrow prisons of time; and relegates to perpetual ignorance, concerning the highest and holiest of man's relations with the universe, the multitude who are condemned by their poverty, unless helped by their rulers, to “sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” Now that the conscience of the people has been awakened to the shame of this continued indifference to the services rendered by poets and sages to our country and the world, as the founders of the civilisation which, onward from the sixteenth century, has laboured to ameliorate the condition of mankind, it will be no longer safe to defer to an indefinite period the public expression of that thankfulness which it would be no less than ignominious for the nation not at heart at all times to feel. The people will not consent to be supposed guilty of complicity with the powerful and wealthy, who (though invited and guaranteed in a worthy work by the magnates of their own order, associated with literary names of high eminence) have declined to contribute from their ample means to the support of a sentiment in which, however honourable to the mind that entertains it, they took no special interest. Oh, how can they who serve Mammon serve God ? But there are hearts, --- there are souls, - in some

poor men's cottages,” which should have been “ princes' palaces,” whereinto the poet's words, like

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