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form which admits of general sympathy. There is none for perfect heroes, who are so complete that they are beyond pity—and belief.

We have called the cycle of our poet's life, which closes with this great love-tragedy, the Elementary and Impulsive period. The elements disclosed by our analysis are of the noblest, highest, most active, and most vital in the composition of human character. We have watched their gradual growth, their combination, and the manner in which they have coalesced with other powers, and blended foreign elements in the various products of the young poet's mental activity:

His sympathies have associated with him all that was refined in the learning of the time, and the men of genius and virtue by whom it was adorned. Nor have his impulses been less worthy. The spirit of progress has witnessed with his spirit, and both unite in the sublime effort of delivering man from superstition and tyranny. The moving forces of his mind have been those generous and natural feelings which attend the workings of the principle of productivity, by which the world is continued and society is renewed. The ascetic prejudices, which, if universally adopted, would not only stop the moral and mental progress of the race, but destroy the race itself, are the objects of his ridicule and condemnation. All the resources of his rich wit and humour are in every possible variety of shape directed against them. Nor does he stand alone. A brotherhood of great men is engaged in the same task;—such men as Bacon, Raleigh, Spenser, SydLaws of Epic and Drama.

89 ney, and others too numerous to mention. Of these great men the after-age recognises him as the greatest; an intellect broad and expansive, an imagination prodigal in its creativeness, a fancy boundless in its associations, a conscience versant with the highest intuitions, and a heart throbbing with the purest emotions. Of such elements, of such impulses, the works of Shakspere are the products; and we may trace in these the evidence of those. The inner life of his own soul struggles for expression in these, and gradually emerges from the mechanical into the organic, from the individuate to the individual. From the first attempts at art the incipient poet not only gains facility by sedulous practice, but by the exercise of his living forces, gradually acquiring strength, becomes at length a consummate artist; one of those of whom you cannot judge by rules, but from whose works themselves you must derive the laws whereby they are to be judged. The critic must take the laws of the epic from Homer; he must take those of the drama from Shakspere.

CHAPTER III.

Theatrical performances in Stratford-Nash-Spenser -- Regularity

and prudence of Shakspere's life—The two lives of men of genius – Turner-Rembrandt-Consistency of Shakspere's outer and inner life-Polonius and Laertes-Earls of Southampton, Pembroke, and Montgomery-Shakspere, according to Greene, “civil and honest” -Hamlet and Laertes-Law of duality in the drama.

The two previous chapters have traced the life of Shaksperc, both internally and externally, to the year 1591. Four years previously (1587) the Queen's Players made their first appearance in Stratford. This, in fact, was Burbadge's company, which had been incorporated as the Queen's in 1583; and it has been imagined that Shakspere had already become connected with it. The merit of its members was recognised at Stratford, since it appears that they were more highly rewarded than any troupe that had previously performed in the town. Shakspere might have been at this time a sharer in the Blackfriars' theatre; but the proof alleged of this fact has not been lately held satisfactory. Three years afterwards, at any rate, Shakspere's reputation had begun to culminate; for Thomas Nash, in his Anatomie of Absurditie, published in that year, has some injurious remarks about " songs and sonnets," in connexion with some one or more writers, whose education The Lament of Thalia.

91 extended no further than " a little country grammar knowledge,” which it is judged could only apply to Shakspere or Thomas Greene, his fellow-townsman. If applicable to Shakspere, the passage may be accepted as testimony of his having been brought up in the Stratford free school. Spenser, the following year, rendered a more favourable witness to the rising of the new poetic star, in a poem entitled The Tears of the Muses. Thalia is here made to lament that the poet had ceased to write comedy ;—which, for the last three years, Shakspere had indeed done, -unless we must necessarily place All's well that ends well in that category ;-and employed his pen upon the sorrows of the prince of Denmark and the lovers of Verona, and a play in which the principal interest is serious. The words of the poem are these:

“ And he-the man whom Nature's self had made

To mock herself, and Truth to imitate,
With kindly counter under mimic shade,

Our pleasant Willy, ah! is dead of late,
With whom all joy and jolly merriment
Is also deaded and in dolour drent."

If these verses really refer to Shakspere, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, and Love's Labour's lost, must have been very highly esteemed. The last, we know, was printed with Shakspere's name eight years afterwards; and if intended by the above verses, we may conclude that the demonstration therein made in favour of learning, and in opposition to celibacy, had for the time thoroughly done its appointed work. Spenser seems not to have appreciated the “ dolour" of Hamlet and of Romeo and Juliet; and after this period Shakspere was for some years mainly occupied with his chronicle and historical plays; so that the admirers of his comedy, among whom it appears was Spenser, had to wait, perhaps impatiently, before they met with him again on their favourite ground.

Up to this period, pursuing the light lent to us by his works, and by registered documents in official archives, the life and progress of Shakspere appears to have been remarkably regular and consistent, and not affording the slightest colour to the absurd traditions usually associated with his early years.

His course, indeed, is marked by extraordinary prudence and caution. This statement, the reader will recollect, is corroborated by that of Ratseis Ghost, though in no very complimentary terms. According to this authority, the players of the time were, what conventional people would scarcely have suspected, 'frugal and thrifty;" and of these Shakspere the most so. The suggestion conveyed by Ratsey's words is, that his general course was “to feed upon all men, to let none feed upon him, to make his hand a stranger to his pocket, his heart slow to perform his tongue's promise;" and also that “when he felt his purse well lined,” he “bought him a place of lordship in the country.” There are some who, accepting these words even in their best sense, would be disposed, with Delia Bacon, to think that they suited rather the character of a manager than a poet, and would have the latter painted rather as a profligate than a miser. Yet be it remembered the most thrifty habits, and

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