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by Sir Joshua Reynolds, another votary of the Beautiful. The Beautiful is the Sublime after a less strict manner,—in a less intense development, that is all. Compare, for an illustration of this point, the Midsummer-Night's Dream with The Tempest. The Beautiful has more variety in the expression, but the idea is the same.
Raffaelle never sacrificed conception to treatment, careful as he was of propriety, whether in invention, composition, or expression. Neither has Shakspere, who is nevertheless the Raffaelle or Sophocles of English drama. Beautiful as all these are, they are scarcely less grand or sublime than Michael Angelo, or Æschylus, themselves, as ideal artists.
To attain either Beauty or Sublimity, the ArtPoet must unreluctantly ascend to their source:
"Mind-mind alone-(bear witness, Heaven and Earth!)
Of Beauteous and Sublime." He must be willing, like Akenside whom I have just quoted, or Shakspere who is the pervading theme of this entire book, to thread “the dim-discovered tracts of mind”—to soar with Plato or to travel with Humboldt-interpreting the secret of the universe by the oracle of the individual soul. We must know first what belongs to ourselves; what treasures are hidden in the depths of our own being. Self-knowledge is the root of all other knowledge.
The Kenilworth festivities-Shakspere's early associations, and his
first steps toward attaining a social position—The “Two Parts of Henry IV.”—Sir John Oldcastle—Sir John Falstaff, a special individuality—Its idea-Its basis classical, its final outcome romantic Hotspur-Concealed myths—" Henry V."-Shakspere's estimate of French character-National Individualities.
A DISCOVERY made in the last chapter compels retrospection. Thereby we are carried back to an early period of Shakspere's youth; when, at the Kenilworth festivities, he saw and heard the Mermaid on the Dolphin's back, swimming and singing such strains as unsphered the stars. The boy of eleven was impressed for ever with the vision—which, in the person of Oberon, he describes, when he had himself indeed become the monarch of Faery-land. Other circumstances are connected with the incident by a German writer. We have already alluded to the intercourse of Leicester with the Countess of Essex, whom, after her husband's death in 1576, he married. This intercourse was going on when, at the festivities at Kenilworth, Leicester was entertaining and wooing Elizabeth. Probably the queen discovered the real state of affairs, as she departed suddenly from the gay scene without any known cause. Now, Shakspere on his mother's side was connected with the family of the Ardens, one of the most considerable and opulent in Warwickshire, and the rival of the Dudleys, when Leicester stood at the height of his power.
The feud between the two families was deadly in the person of one individual, Edward Arden, who had gone so far as to remonstrate with Leicester about his intercourse with the countess previous to their marriage. The earl is stated to have resented his interference, and in consequence to have entangled him in a charge of high treason, so that Edward Arden was executed in the year 1583. Shakspere was then in his nineteenth year, and the circumstance was likely to recall the scenes of festivity at which he was a witness eight years before. Whatever doubt, however, may rest on the influence of these events on his outward life, none is possible in regard to their effect on his inward development. The spark, at eleven years
age, had lighted on the altar of the boy's heart, and the enthusiast feeling had been excited, which in after life was destined to such “fine issues.” We have, therefore, no reason to wait till a later period and a supposed crime, operating as a necessity, for the motive-impulse wherefore Shakspere visited London, and then, according to the common mistaken notion, accidentally became a player and a poet. No! from his earliest boyhood he was filled with poetic enthusiasm, and his mind brooded on poetic images and poetic themes, the fitting preparatives for his ultimate employment in life. A temperament is indicated in this averse from any such conduct as is attributed to him by vulgar tradiEarly Reminiscences.
191 tion, and advocated by men who seem to think that they have not remanded genius within the pale of humanity, until they have fixed on it some shameful accusation, and proved it guilty of vice, or even crime. Such is not the way in which the poetic life is trained. Doubtless it takes a path of its own, which to the conventional may appear eccentric; but it is not such a life as requires robust and active exertion in immoral or lawless ways. The boy-poet, on the contrary, is shy, reserved, retiring; and when not gazing on the silent face of nature, or observing with a calm smile the anomalous in the character and conduct of his fellow-men, is engaged with his books, and learning from the example of earlier poets what to imitate, what to avoid, and what to originate from the genial store of his own natural gifts. That Shakspere must have been an earnest student from his earliest days is sufficiently proved by the relative amount of information contained in his earliest work, and the comparative knowledge of art which it implies.
That this information and knowledge was gained in an irregular manner is probable from the alleged fact, that, at the age of fourteen, Shakspere was thrown into the school of adversity, by the decline of his father's fortunes, and the calamity which fell on the family of the Ardens. From the impoverished condition of the two houses, the lad was cast on his own resources, and had so far worked them well that he was enabled to marry, at the age of nineteen, Anne Hathaway, a young woman seven or eight
years older than himself, with adequate experience of life, and such a standing in the world that she was not likely to throw herself away on a profligate youth. She was, in fact, the daughter of a wealthy freeholder in Shottery, near Stratford. As in manhood Shakspere was careful to maintain an habitual correspondence with men of rank and mark, so in boyhood, as by a genial instinct, his relations were with persons of wealth and station. In the circumstance of his marriage we detect no tendency towards low life, but the direct contrary. However poor he might have been, or whatever were his occupation, he sought the society of the rich, and gained so much esteem that he was enabled to win a wife from among them.
them. In that exclusive circle, to which he had providentially obtained admission, he probably secured friends who had both assisted and advised the young married couple, and who, when they found the lady had twins, gave such prudent counsel to Shakspere and his wife, as led to his enterprising journey to London, and her laudable and self-denying stay at Stratford. So far from believing, therefore, in Shakspere's marriage being an unhappy one, I believe it to have been eminently happy, commenced and conducted in prudence, and terminated with satisfaction to both husband and wife. They were living in union and accord at the period of the poet's death; and at no period do we perceive any indication of intended desertion on his part; but the contrary. In the midst of his London employments, Shakspere's thoughts and affections all turned to