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nating in the fulness of a gigantic strength. And this tragical Titan, who storms the heavens, and threatens to tear the world from off its hinges, who, more fruitful than Æschylus, makes our hair to stand on end, and congeals our blood with horror, possessed at the same time the insinuating loveliness of the sweetest poetry; he plays with love like a child, and his songs are breathed out like melting sighs. He unites in his existence the utmost elevation and the utmost depth; and the most foreign, and even apparently irreconcileable properties subsist in him peaceably together. The world of spirits and nature have laid all their treasures at his feet : in strength a demigod, in profundity of view a prophet, in all-seeing wisdom a protecting spirit of a higher order, he lowers himself to mortals as if unconscious of his superiority, and is as open and unassuming as a child.



Lectures on Dramatic Literature, Black's Translation, vol. 2. p. 132, et seq. Exalted as this eulogium is, I know not that it surpasses what must have been frequently felt and acknowledged by every poetical mind in reading Shakspeare.

No. XV.



Dr. Johnson praises Shakspeare's characters upon the ground of their being species, not individuals. Johnson could not, from some strange peculiarity in the constitution of his great mind, perceive the individual traits induced upon the general nature presented by the poet. All the persons, for instance, of the play of Henry the Eighth are, in a remarkable degree, individuals: this constitutes its greatest charm; though, most likely, it was the thing that occasioned the contemptuous criticism thereon pronounced by our great critic. “The meek sorrows,' says he, 'and virtuous distress of Katherine have furnished some scenes, which


be justly numbered among the greatest efforts of tragedy. But the genius of Shakspeare comes in and goes out with Katherine. Every other part may be easily conceived and easily written.' We cannot subscribe to this verdict. In our opinion, the genius of Shakspeare is equally exhibited in Cardinal Wolsey.

Cardinal Wolsey was a 'bold bad man ;' his ambition, that scarlet sin,' prompted him to remove all obstructions in the way of his preferment,

and he is suspected of practising against the Duke of Buckingham :

-He was a man
Of an unbounded stomach, ever ranking
Himself with princes;

but not without reason, for if he had faults, he had
virtues :-

-From his cradle
He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one;
Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading:
Lofty and sour to them that loved him not;
But to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.
And though he were unsatisfied in getting,
(Which was a sin,) yet in bestowing

He was most princely. Such a man is not without a claim upon our sympathies—he is within the sphere of our common humanity. The last acts of his life redeem the preceding. We have often admired the patience which he displays when Norfolk, Suffolk, and Surrey produce to him

-the grand sum of his sins, The articles collected from his life ;

while, in their malice, they exultingly specify the charges against him in the king's possession, he stands in silent endurance, until they leave him with the taunting valediction

So fare you well, my little good Lord Cardinal; -then follows his fine soliloquy, beginning with

So farewell to the little good you bear me;
Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness :
This is the state of man, &c.-

and the touching dialogue with Cromwell, wherein he tells him that he has recommended him to the king, and warns him against ambition :

By that sin fell the angels; how can man then,

The image of his Maker, hope to win by it? and concludes with

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Oh! Cromwell! Cromwell!
Had I but served my God with half the ze al
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

The circumstances of his death are equally affecting :

After the stout Earl of Northumberland
Arrested him at York, and brought him forward
(As a man sorely tainted) to his answer,
He fell sick suddenly, and grew so ill
He could not sit his mule.
At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodged in the abbey, where the reverend abbot,
With all his convent, honourably received him,
To whom he gave these words, O father abbot,
An old man,

broken with the storms of state,
Is come to lay his weary bones amongst ye;
Give him a little earth for charity!'
So went to bed, where eagerly his sickness
Pursued him still; and three nights after this,
About the hour of eight, (which he himself
Foretold should be his last,) full of repentance,
Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows,

He gave his honours to the world again,

His blessed part to heaven, and slept in peace. Thus it is always with Shakspeare. His worst characters have some claim upon our kindly feelings. Genius is the power of reflecting nature; for genius, as the word imports, is nature. The mind of Shakspeare was as a magic mirror, in which all human nature's possible forms and combinations were present, intuitively and inherently

- not conceived—but as connatural portions of his own humanity. Whatever his characters were besides, they were also men. Such they were in the world of his imagination--such they are also in the world of reality. It is this harmony and correspondence between the world without and the world within, that gives the charm to his productions. His characters are not the mere abstractions of intellect from an understood class or species, but are generated in his own mind, as individuals having personal being there, and are distinctly brought out, not so much as representatives of character in actual nature, as the original productions of a plastic genius, which is also nature, and works like her. This is to be a poet; this is what is meant by a creative imagination.


No. 70.

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