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true Phobian liquor.” Alas! to a love of wine, soiling his better nature, we may trace his occasional overbearing and irascibility.

Before I close these observations on Shakespeare's moral character, it may be expected I should offer some opinion respecting his religious tenets. For this purpose I have a list, prepared long ago by myself and others, of quotations from his works, with doubtful hints of many kinds; but I have changed the intention I once had of applying them, and, in fact, we can gather nothing satisfactory from him, as a dramatist, in confirmation of his creed. His father, we believe, was a Roman Catholic. It is a subject on which I would rather not pretend to decide ; nor, perhaps, is it praiseworthy in any one to inquire particularly into those opinions which he has not thought fit directly to avow. Whether he was Roman Catholic, Protestant, or Deist, as some contend, cannot be determined; but, whatever his faith, his reverence for the Creator, putting aside certain expressions not considered profane till the reign of James the First, his goodwill towards man, his love for every created thing, his charity, his natural piety,--all these are as observable in his works as they are remarkable in the poems of Cowper, but entirely without gloom.

Still, if in his dramas it was essential to identify his feelings with those of others, have we nothing in his volume of Poems where he willingly expresses his own religious feelings? Yes, one entire sonnet, and no more, proving his strong faith in the immortality of the soul, and possibly, as a friend has observed, imbued with arguments from Saint Paul. It stands

in his Poems, sonnet 146th; the same which I remarked, while speaking of the Sixth PoEM, To his Mistress, as certainly out of its place, and probably introduced, together with the foregoing octosyllabic stanza, precisely where the Sixth POEM was originally divided into two parts.


“ Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,

Fool'd by those rebel pow'rs that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within, and suffer dearth,

Painting the outward walls so costly gay ?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,

Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend ?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,

Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body's end?
Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,

And let that pine to aggravate thy store:
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross ;

Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on death, that feeds on men,
And, Death once dead, there's no more dying then."

In my Introduction I offered an opinion that much might be gleaned of Shakespeare's character from his works. The numerous passages I had marked with this intention have been well nigh appropriated in the general observations already made under various heads; while every one of his principal Dramatis Personæ, by a careful analysis, might be brought forward in evidence of his peculiar character as a philosopher, though never of his character as an individual.

Conscious of enthusiasm, and well aware how closely it is allied to error, I have written under the influence of self-repression. Carefully as I could, I have sifted the authorities and conjectures before me ; not cast to the winds an objection because I did not feel its weight; and sometimes I have pointed to a circumstance, hitherto passed by, though against my own argument.

Our common complaint is that we know scarcely anything of our greatest poet; but the truth is, we know much if we properly avail ourselves of all we have, and if we do not admit the prejudices of others to intervene; if we bestow a reasonable reliance on the documents in our hands, and turn a suspicious, if not a deaf ear, to the baseless suppositions of those who cannot endure the thought that so mighty a genius should not own more than our common share of frailty, while they cannot prove, or justly suppose, he had one tenth part. “On this hint I spake,” endeavouring to untwist the cords that have long bound down his name as a man.

Some happy accident, or patient researches like those of Mr. Collier, may bring to light more facts. For myself, recollecting how swiftly the discovery rushed through my mind, the explanation of his miscalled Sonnets must be ascribed to accident rather than research.

Many may think me deficient in observations on these newly brought to light Five POEMS TO HIS FRIEND,—on their merits generally, their beautiful stanzas, and on the thousand subjects to which they give rise; but in that direction I most

suspected my enthusiasm, and I feared lest it should be said I was striving to magnify a molehill into a mountain. This could hardly have been true; yet I did not like the anticipation of such a reproof, groundless or not. With the key given, I leave others to explore and more fully expatiate at their will.


No more Prefaces should be offered to Shakespeare until we have culled the best parts from those we already possess, adding the many admirable views of his genius and writings which have been presented, from time to time, incidental or otherwise, by a diversity of authors. One of my cherished hopes is, that such a collection may be skilfully united into one Preface, free from error or prejudice of any sort, taking from each writer that only in which he has shown himself a master. A Preface from one mind cannot suffice for the myriad-minded Shakespeare, as Coleridge called him. For a becoming and due admiration of him, strange as it may sound in our ears, the crowd still stands in need of a combined and strong authority. He is our greatest boast, but somehow he is not fashionable; too many drawbacks are alleged or insinuated. In England his excellence is not so acknowledged, the reverence paid to his memory is not so absorbing, as in Germany. We are not yet cleansed from the thick scurf which overran our proper national taste in poetry during the

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