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my days as it were a span long,' xxxix. 5, P. B. version, so we read in As you like it,

How brief the life of man!
The stretching of a span
Buckles in his sum of age.

Act iii. Sc. 2. Such, then, being our life-so short-how nobly apposite to us all are the words of Hotspur !

O gentlemen, the time of life is short;
To spend that shortness basely were too long,
If life did ride upon a dial's point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.

K. Kenry IV., 1st Part, Act v. Sc. 3. And in truth it does so, in the estimate of a wise man. Again, such being our life-so transitory, so uncertain-to'fear always,'* to 'watch and pray always,' are Divine precepts, which need nothing to recommend them to a thoughtful mind. Even a heathen poet like Horace saw reason more than enough for unceasing caution and watchfulness :

Quod quisque vitet, nunquam homini satis
Cautum est in horas :-

And it is Hecate who, in addressing the three witches, is made by Shakspeare to declare :

You all know security +
Is mortals' chiefest enemy.

Macbeth, Act iii. Sc. 5.
The well-known passage, I in which the world' is

* See Prov. xxviii. 14; xxiii. 17. + See above, p. 42.

I In As you like it, Act ii. Sc. 7. See also Merchant of Venice, Act i. Sc. 1; Macbeth, Act v. Sc. 7.

described by Shakspeare as a stage,' was doubtless derived from no other source than imagination acting upon his own experience as a player; but the elaborate and melancholy, not to say painful picture of life, which we read in Measure for Measure, is no less certainly indebted to the Bible for more than one touch of its colouring. The Duke, disguised as a friar, visits Claudio in prison, when condemned to death, and thus addresses him :

Reason thus with life,-
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skiey influences,
That doth * this habitation, where thou keep'st,
Hourly afflict.

Happy thou art not:
For what thou hast not, still thou striv'st to get;
And what thou hast, forget’st. Thou art not certain ;
For thy complexion shifts to strange effects,
After the moon. If thou art rich thou art poor ;
For, like an ass, whose back with ingot bows,
Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey,
And death unloads thee.

+ Thou hast nor youth nor age;

* Thus I venture to read, instead of dost' (which Hanmer changed into do '), in preference to Porson's suggestion of putting the line above in a parenthesis. I take ‘doth’ to be the plural form, which anciently was in common use; as in ‘Manners makyth man.' Compare Much Ado, etc., Act iv. Sc. 1 :

Trust not my reading nor my observations

Which with experimental seal doth warrant, etc. + In the lines here omitted there is an evident reference to 2 Sam. xvi. 11, “My son which came forth of my bowels, see keth my life.'

But as it were an after dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both.

Act iii. Sc. I. Malone has remarked upon this passage that 'an ass bearing ingots' is an eastern image, and was probably derived from the Scriptures. See Isaiah xxx. 6. But however gloomy the view which our poet might sometimes take of human life, he does not allow us to hesitate respecting the duty imposed upon every man that lives, to do all he can to preserve the precious gift which God has given him.

The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,

To keep itself from 'noyance. Hamlet, Act iii. Sc. 3. And there is nothing in which he is more emphatic than in representing the act of suicide as a direct violation of the Divine law; first, in that same play

O! that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter ;-

Act i. Sc, 2. Again in Cymbeline :

Against self-slaughter
There is a prohibition so divine,
That cravens my weak hand.

Act iii. Sc. 4. I am not aware that such a prohibition is to be found in Holy Scripture;* and in the latter of these plays any reference to Revelation would have been out of place. The 'canon,' therefore, to which our poet refers must be one of natural religion; and this

* Unless it be in the Sixth Commandment. See below, Addit. Illustr. p. 367, and comp. K. John, Act ii. Sc. I, where canon' is used in reference to the Second Commandment.

is confirmed by a similar sentiment being attributed to Gloster in King Lear, and to Brutus in Julius Cæsar,* though, in the latter case, with something of subsequent appearance of contradiction in word, and still more of inconsistency in deed. That such an one as Cleopatra is represented should first call in question the law, and then pronounce it noble to disobey it, is in perfect harmony with her bold bad character:

Is it sin
To rush into the secret house of death,
Ere death dare come to us? ...

What's brave, what's noble,
Let's do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us.

Ant. and Cleop., Act iv. Sc. 13. and again :

It is great
To do that thing that ends all other deeds,
Which shackles accidents and bolts up change.

Ibid., Act v. Sc. 2. I must not omit to add that great and various as are the merits of Romeo and Juliet, the pleasure and admiration excited by that play, and the interest felt in the hero and heroine, are all marred in some degree by the suicide which they both commit,t being Christians, and shortly after they had been united in holy matrimony

See below, Sect. 13, p. 237 sq. + I am surprised that this should have been overlooked by so acute and sound a critic as Schlegel, who speaks of them as 'still appearing enviable in their deaths.

Sect. 5. Of Sin and Repentance. I have already spoken of the cause of sin, and of its existence, both original and actual, as universal. It follows to trace it in its operation, and then to speak of its necessary corrective-so far as the correction of it lies within our own power and agency-viz., Repentance.

The subtlety of the Tempter, and the craft with which he adapts his temptations, so that he may bring evil out of good, and that virtue itself may be made to minister to sin, for the overthrow of those who could not otherwise be assailed, is very forcibly expressed in Measure for Measure:

01 cunning enemy, that to catch a saint,
With saints doth bait thy hook! most dangerous
Is that temptation, that doth goad us on
To sin in loving virtue.

Act ii. Sc. 2. It was thus that the beloved apostle was tempted to worship the angel, who had shown him, in the Revelation, the things which he had seen and heard (xxii. 8); and countless multitudes of Christians have since been tempted only too successfully to worship the Virgin Mary and other saints, because they remembered not the injunction given on that occasion to S. John, 'See thou do it not!'

In like manner we are warned of the danger of entering upon evil courses from the insecurity which attends them, from the distraction and instability

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