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Of thought, association, passion, will;
And all the subtile, nice affinities

Of matter traced; its virtues, motions, laws;
And most familiarly and deeply talked
Of mental, moral, natural, divine.

Leaving the earth at will, he soared to heaven,
And read the glorious visions of the skies;
And to the music of the rolling spheres
Intelligently listened; and gazed far back
Into the awful depths of Deity;

Did all that mind assisted most could do;
And yet in misery lived, in misery died;
Because he wanted holiness of heart.

A deeper lesson this to mortals taught;
And nearer cut the branches of their pride;
That not in mental, but in moral worth
God excellence placed; and only to the good,
To virtue, granted happiness alone.


73. On Shakspeare.

SHAKSPEARE is a name so interesting, that it would be indecent to pass him without the tribute of admiration. He differs essentially from all other writers. Him we may profess rather to feel than to understand; and it is safer to say, on many occasions, that we are possessed by him, than that we possess him. And no wonder. He scatters the seeds of things, the principles of character and action, with SO cunning a hand, yet with so careless an air, and, master of our feelings, submits himself so little to our judgment, that every thing seems superior. We discern not his course; we see no connection of cause and effect: we are wrapped

in ignorant admiration, and claim no kindred with his abilities. All the incidents, all the parts, look like chance, while we feel, and are sensible, that the whole is design.

His characters not only speak and act in strict conformity to nature, but in strict relation to us: just so much is shown as is requisite, just so much is impressed; he commands every passage to our heads and to our hearts, and moulds us as he pleases; and does it with so much ease, that he never betrays his own exertions. We see these characters act from the mingled motives of passion, reason, interest, and habit, in all their proportions, when they are supposed to know it not themselves; and we are made to acknowledge that their actions and sentiments are, from those motives, the necessary result. He at once blends and distinguishes every thing; every thing is complicated, every thing is plain. I restrai the further expressions of my admiration, lest they should not seem applicable to man; but it is really astonishing, that a mere human being, a part of humanity only, should so perfectly comprehend the whole; and that he should possess such exquisite art, that whilst every woman and every child shall feel the whole effect, his learned editors and commentators should yet so very frequently mistake, or seem ignorant of the cause. A sceptre or a straw is, in his hands, of equal efficacy; he needs no selection; he converts every thing into excellence; nothing is too great, nothing is too base.

Is a character efficient, like Richard? It is every thing we can wish. Is it otherwise, like Hamlet? It is productive of equal admiration. Action produces one mode of excellence, and inaction another: the chronicle, the novel, or the ballad; the king or the beggar; the hero, the madman, the sot, or the fool; it is all one: nothing is worse, nothing is better. The same genius pervades, and is equally admirable in all. Or is a character to be shown in progressive change, and the events of years comprised within the hour? With what a magic hand does he prepare and scatter his spells! The understanding must, in the first place, be subdued; and, lo! how the rooted prejudices of

the child spring up to confound the man! The weird sisters rise, and order is extinguished. The laws of nature give way, and leave nothing in our minds but wildness and horror. No pause is allowed us for reflection; horrid sentiment, furious guilt, and compunction, air-drawn daggers, murders, ghosts, and enchantment shake and possess us wholly. In the mean time, the process is completed. Macbeth changes under our eye; the milk of human kindness is converted into gall: he has "supped full of horrors;" and his "May of life has fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf;" whilst we, the fools of amazement, are insensible to the shifting of place and the lapse of time, and, till the curtain drops, never once wake to the truth of things, or recognize the laws of existence.


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Hor. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever

Ham. Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you;

And what make you from Wittemberg, Horatio?

Hor. A truant disposition, good my lord.

Ham. I would not hear your enemy say so;
Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,
To make it truster of your own report
Against yourself. I know you are no truant;
But what is your affair in Elsinore?

We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.

Hor. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Ham. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student⚫

I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

Hor. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

Ham. Thrift, thrift, Horatio; the funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage table.
Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven,
Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio.

My father methinks I see my father.
Hor. Where, my lord?

Ham. In my mind's eye, Horatio.

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Hor. I saw him once: he was a goodly king.
Ham. He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.

Hor. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
Ham. Saw! who?

Hor. My lord, the king your father.

Ham. The king my father!

Hor. Season your admiration for a while, With an attent ear; till I deliver,

Upon the witness of these gentlemen,

This marvel to you.

Ham. For Heaven's love, let me hear.

Hor. Two nights together had these gentlemen, Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch,

In the dead waste and middle of the night,

Been thus encountered: A figure like your father,
Armed at points exactly, cap-a-pie,
Appears before them, and with solemn march
Goes slow and stately by them; thrice he walked
By their oppressed and fear-surprised eyes,

Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distilled
Almost to jelly with the act of fear,

Stand dumb, and speak not to him. This to me
In dreadful secrecy impart they did,

And I with them the third night kept the watch,
Where, as they had delivered, both in time,
Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
The apparition comes. I knew your father ·
These hands are not more like.

Ham. But where was this?

Hor. My lord, upon the platform where we watched
Ham. Did you not speak to it?

Hor. My lord, I did;

But answer made it none. Yet once methought
It lifted up its head, and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
But even then the morning cock crew loud,
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,
And vanished from our sight.

Ham. 'Tis very strange.

Hor. As I do live, my honored lord, 'tis true;
And we did think it writ down in our duty
To let you know of it.

Ham. Indeed, indeed, sir, but this troubles me.
Hold you the watch to-night?
Hor. We do, my lord.
Ham. Armed, say you ?
Hor. Armed, my lord.
Ham. From top to toe? -
Hor. My lord, from head to foot.

Ham. Then saw you not his face?

Hor. O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.

Ham. What, looked he frowningly?

Hor. A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

Ham. Pale, or red?

Hor. Nay, very pale.

Ham. And fixed his eyes upon you?

Hor. Most constantly.

Ham. I would I had been there!

Hor. It would have much amazed you.

Ham. Very like, very like. Staid it long?

Hor. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred

Ham. His beard was grizzled?


Hor. It was, as I have seen it in his life,

A sable silvered.

Ham. I'll watch to-night; perchance 'twill walk again. Hor. I warrant 'twill.

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