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I'll believe as soon
THE Antipodes, in Shakespeare's day, were beings for whom the world, and all which pertains to it, were turned upside down. The ideas entertained of them were of the very vaguest kind; the capacity of belief in regard to them was restrained by no ordinary limits of experience or analogy. The most that could be affirmed with any confidence in regard to them, seemed to be that they must exist under conditions in all respects the reverse of our own ; and with their heads, if not absolutely where their heels should be, yet somewhere else than on their shoulders. The sun was below, and the earth above them. They were manifestly beings with which fancy had free scope to sport at will.
• The cannibals that each other eat,' concerning whom Othello discoursed to his admiring auditors, are now very familiar to us. Of that other class of 'anthropophagi, whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders, ocular testimony seems more remote than ever. “When
we were boys,' says Gonzalo, in ‘The Tempest,” who would believe there were such men whose heads stood in their breasts ;' of which, nevertheless, now every New World adventurer will bring us good warrant.' Later explorations, either in the regions of actual travel, or in those of scientific research, have failed to confirm such warranty. But somewhere outside the old world of authenticated fact, Shakespeare found, or fashioned for us, a being which has come, in our own day, to possess an interest, undreamt of either by the men of the poet's age, or by that profane generation for which Dryden and D'Avenant revived “The Tempest,' with changes adapted to the prurient court of the later Stuarts.
It will need no apology to the appreciative student of Shakespeare that 'the missing link' in the evolution of man should be sought for in the pages of him 'whose aim was to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature ;' nor, if it is to be recovered anywhere, will he wonder at its discovery there. Ben Jonson said truly
• He was not of an age, but for all time.'
Much that he wrote was imperfectly appreciated even by the men of his own day. It was too refined, too noble, too lofty in its marvellous range of thought and feeling, for later generations of the Restoration and Revolution
It will ever fail of adequate comprehension by a frivolous or a faithless age. Shakespeare is indeed capable of proving the source, not merely of pastime, but of supreme delight to the mere pleasure seeker. But