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founded upou Truth and Nature, than Wordsworth him The critics of the last century have passed away:


"Peor and Baalim

Forsake their temples diin."

By the operation of what great sustaining principle is it that we have come back to the just appreciation of "the treasures contained in those little pieces"? The poet-critic will answer :—

"There never has been a period, and perhaps never will be, in which vicious poetry, of some kind or other, has not excited more zealous admiration, and been far more generally read, than good; but this advantage attends the good, that the individual, as well as the species, survives from age to age whereas, of the depraved, though the species be immortal, the individual quickly perishes: the object of present admiration vanishes, being supplanted by some other as easily produced, which, though no better, brings with it at least the irritation of novelty, with adaptation, more or less skilful, to the changing humors of the majority of those who are most at leisure to regard poetical works when they first solicit their attention. Is it the result of the whole, that, in the opinion of the writer, the judgment of the people is not to be respected? The thought is most injurious; and could the charge be brought against him, he would repel it with indignation. The people have already been justified, and their eulogium pronounced by implication, when it is said, above - that, of good poetry, the individual, as well as the species, survives. And how does it survive but through the people? What preserves it but their intellect and their wisdom?

'Past and future are the wings

On whose support, harmoniously conjoined,

Moves the great spirit of human knowledge.' — MS.

The voice that issues from this spirit is that vox populi which the deity inspires. Foolish must he be who can mistake for this a local acclamation, or a transitory outcry

transitory though it be for years, local though from a nation! Still more lamentable is his error who can believe that there is any thing of divine infallibility in the clamor of that small, though loud portion of the community, ever governed by factitious influence, which, under the name of the PUBLIC, passes itself, upon the unthinking, for the PEOPLE."*

It is this perpetual mistake of the public for the people that has led to the belief that there was a period when Shakspeare was neglected. He was always in the heart of the people. There, in that deep, rich soil, have the Sonnets rested during two centuries; and here and there in remote places have the seeds put forth leaves and flowers. All young imaginative minds now rejoice in their hues and their fragrance. But this preference of the fresh and beautiful of poetical life to the pot-pourri of the last age must be a regulated love. Those who, seeing the admiration which now prevails for these outpourings of “ exquisite feelings felicitously expressed," talk of the Sonnets as equal, if not superior, to the greatest of the poet's mighty dramas, compare things that admit of no comparison. Who would speak in the same breath of the gem of Cupid and Psyche, and the Parthenon? In the Sonnets, exquisite as they are, the poet goes not out of himself, (at least in the form of the composition,) and he walks, therefore, in a narrow circle of art. In the Venus and Adonis, and the Lucrece, the circle widens. But in the Dramas, the cen. tre is the Human Soul, the circumference the Universe.

Preface to Poetical Works




THE German critic, Horn, concludes some remarks upon Shakspeare's King John with a passage that may startle those who believe that the truth of history, and the truth of our great dramatic teacher of history, are altogether different things:

"The hero of this piece stands not in the list of personages, and could not stand with them; for the idea should be clear without personification. The hero is England.

"What the poet chose to express of his view of the dignity and worth of his native land he has confided to the Bastard to embody in words:

'This England never did, nor never shall,

Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.'

But Shakspeare is immeasurably more than Falconbridge, and he would have the reader and the spectator more also. These lines are not intended to be fixed upon England at the beginning of the fourteenth century alone; they are not even confined to England generally. They are for the

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elevation of the views of a state-of a people. Happy for England that she possesses a poet who so many years since has spoken to her people as the highest and most splendid teacher! The full consequences of his teaching have not yet been sufficiently revealed; they may perhaps never wholly be exhibited. We, however, know that in England a praiseworthy zeal for their country's history prevails ainongst the people. But who first gave true life to that history?"

In the three great dramas that are before us, the idea, not personified, but full of a life that animates and forms every scene, is ROME. Some one said that Chantrey's bust of a great living poct was more like than the poet himself. Shakspeare's Rome, we venture to think, is more like than the Rome of the Romans. It is the idealized Rome, true indeed to her every-day features, but embodying that expression of character which belongs to the universal rather than the accidental. And yet how varied is the idea of Rome which the poet presents to us in these. three great mirrors of her history! In the young Roms of Coriolanus we see the terrible energy of her rising am bition checked and overpowered by the factious violence of her contending classes. We know that the prayer of Coriolanus is a vain prayer :

The honored gods

Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among us!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace.
And not our streets with war!"

In the matured Rome of Julius Cæsar we see her riches and her glories about to be swallowed up in a domestic conflict of principles: --

"Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age, since the great flood,
But it was famed with more than with one man?
When could they say, till now, that talked of Rome,
That her wide walks encompassed but one man ?”

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