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to us and to mankind the departed brother whom we now commemorate, because his works do indeed 'praise God,' by their intellectual excellency, and by their moral worth: and because, being what they are, they form a gift of inestimable value to ourselves. It is true he is to all men the poet of humanity, master of our nature in its weakness and in its strength ; and, as such, to be honoured and admired of all; but he is moreover, as I have said, to us Englishmen the national, the domestic Poet, whom we love as we love our own homes. Above all, he is one of whom, judged of in the character up to which he grew, the Church of Christ has no need to be ashamed ;-because in him, as a poet, Poetry has filled every purpose for which in the mercy of God she was given to our fallen race as, next to Revelation, His most precious boon; and because in him, as a man, the Gospel has exemplified that truest element of the Christian character, of which it is written-and fulfilled as on this day—“Blessed are the meek,* for they shall inherit the earth. And, there. fore, though this tercentenary commemoration points con
* Our poet is well known as the 'honest Shakspeare.'
See above, p. 3. But he is also known as the gentle Shakspeare.' See Spenser, quoted in Dowden's Primer, p. 23; and Prefatory Address to the first folio, supposed to have been written by Ben Jonson :-'As he was a happy
imitator of nature, he was a most gentle expresser of it; his mind and hand I went together. My honoured relative, the late Poet-Laureate, has re.
marked, 'I cannot account for Shakspeare's low estimate of his own wiitings'-compare above, p. 394—'except from the sublimity, the superhumanity of his genius' (see Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 470). But may it
not be accounted for from his characteristic meekness, which the same 1 poet himself has elsewhere described, as
• The cherished bent Of all the truly great, and all the innocent?'
fessedly to the year of his birth, yet it was the day* of his death which we celebrated yesterday; as the Church has ever been wont to celebrate not the birthday, but the deathday—as being the truer and more glorious nativity-of her saints and confessors.
But, my brethren, if, not having seen, we honour and we love our departed brother for his works' sake, how greatly how infinitely—more ought we to love and to bless Him Who made our brother what he was, and gave him to us; not to become (as human genius, alas ! has sometimes proved) an instrument of desolation, but of culture, of refreshment, of fruitfulness; not to resemble the full but faithless reservoir, which, when it has burst its barriers, carries death and ruin in its course ;t but the varying, yet ever-faithful Nile, which, while it is the grandest of all rivers, and while it is subject no less than the feeblest rivulet to the law which regulates its boundless floods, is at the same time the most beneficent
He himself leads us to suggest this explanation where he writes, in Much Ado, &c.:
'It is the witness still of excellency
To put a strange face on his own perfection.'— Act ii. Sc. 3. At the same time it is to be remembered that Shakspeare, in his sonnets, frequently expresses himself as fully conscious that what he wrote would be read as long as time shall last. See Sonn. 18, 19, 63, 81, 101, 107. On the perplexing evidence of the sonnets, as bearing upon his moral character, see Dr. Drake's Shakspeare and his Times, vol. ii. p. 72 sq., and compare Mr. C. Knight's Studies of Shakspeare, p. 460 and p. 484 sq. For my own part I am inclined to regard them as dramatic rather than autobiographical.-Also Keightley, p. 8. Dowden, p. 394 note,
* See above, p. 397 note.
+ An accident of that kind, causing the most ruinous and melancholy results, had then recently occurred in the North of England.
in its influence, and the sweetest in its taste. And as in the surface of that majestic stream the traveller sees a true reflection of the heavens which are above his head, so in the poetry of Shakspeare the reader may behold no uncertain image of the Word of God; may behold shining in its depths the starlike truths of the Bible ; may behold and may adore the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, overclouded, we must confess, from time to time, with the mists of earth, but still shedding around His divine rays, and lighting up all with faith and hope, with love and joy.
A, an, prefixed to Numericals, &c.,
the fallen, 120
similitudes from, 330
Bacon, Lord, 25, 389 note, 395
74. 85, 91, 93, 114, 156, 230,
297, 307, 331
Cain and Abel, 58
Claudian, quoted, 311
Falstaff, his death, 226
Genitive case, sign of, 14
His omnipresence, 103
Contession to God, 162
note, 394 note
and in redemption of
His personality, 275
Ear=to plough, 34
Habits, formation of, 141
199, 298, 397