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AM not aware that the attempt made in this small volume has been anticipated in any other. Even the notes of critics upon Shakspeare, superfluously full in pointing out his obligations, real or supposed, to secular authors, are singularly meagre in the references which they make to the Holy Scriptures. And yet how large is the room for such reference, and how much it may conduce to the mutual illustration of the two books, which as Christians and as Britons we should value most, will be seen, I trust, upon every page of the Second Part of the following dissertation.
With regard to the First and very much shorter Part, I must confess that it scarcely comes within the title and proper scope of my design; and that it will be found to contain little which can be new or interesting to older and more advanced readers;
who may, therefore, if they think fit, pass it over : but to the young, for whom the volume is principally intended, I trust it may prove useful; and I was unwilling to miss the opportunity of giving them information which may help to improve their knowledge of their own language and at the same time enable them to understand better, and so to read with greater profit and pleasure, both their Bible and their Shakspeare-but especially the former.
In selecting the quotations which will be found in the following pages, and in arranging them systematically, no use has been made of any previous compilation: I have trusted solely to my own complete perusal and study of our great poet, with the particular object which I have mentioned constantly in view, and with the additional motive of doing him a justice, which he has not yet fully received, ever present to my mind. On some accounts, indeed, I could have wished that my labours had been less independent; but such as they are, they are presented to the reader, in the hope that they may give him some portion of the pleasure which I have derived from them myself. In the meantime, I am fully conscious that the available material for both Parts of the work is far from being exhausted. As regards the latter Part, some handfuls at least, I
doubt not, still remain to be gleaned in the same extensive field; while the former Part contains little more than a specimen of the ore which the same mine, if thoroughly worked, might be made to produce.
'The Bible and Shakspeare,' said one of the best and most esteemed prelates that ever sat upon the English bench-Dr. John Sharp, in the reign of Queen Anne-'The Bible and Shakspeare have made me Archbishop of York.'* The Shakspeare of Greek Comedy-Aristophanes-is well known to have been a favourite author of the most celebrated preacher of the ancient church, S. John Chrysostom, some time patriarch of Constantinople. Under the shelter of high and venerated authorities such as these the present writer ventures to hope he may escape censure for allowing his name to appear upon the title-page of this volume. He had intended to put it forth anonymously, but his intention has been overruled by the publishers.
* See below. Additional Illustrations, p. 357.
HE author has availed himself of the present oppor
tunity to put together in an Appendix some
Additional Illustrations which have occurred to him since the publication of the first edition of this book in 1864, and also to reprint the Sermon which he had the honour of being invited to preach on occasion of the Tercentenary Festival held at Stratford-on-Avon in that year.
Among the remarks offered, generally in the kindest spirit, upon this volume, more than one of my critics would seem to have forgotten, or misconceived, the purpose of its First Part. I would, therefore, repeat that the proof of Shakspeare's knowledge and use of the Bible is not supposed to lie in his employing words and phrases commonly current at the time in which he lived, and still less (for chronological reasons) in his use of words and phrases peculiar to the revised Translation of the Scriptures, published in 1611. And the design of that First Part is simply to contribute to the verbal illustration of the Bible from the language of Shakspeare, and to the verbal illustration of Shakspeare from our translation of the Bible.
The main object of the publication, however, is to vindicate the name of Shakspeare from the slur cast upon him most undeservedly, as though he had been one who treated the Word of God without due respect and even with 'profaneness.' And the Author hopes that some at least of the innumerable readers of our Immortal Bard' in the rising generation will now be enabled to judge for themselves not only of the injustice he has suffered from such a reproach, but of the credit he deserves for the homage paid by him to Holy Scripture in a most remarkable degree through the manner in which he has recommended and enforced the solemn truths and lessons which it contains. March, 1880.
SHAKSPEARE'S KNOWLEDGE AND
USE OF THE BIBLE.
UCH has been said and written on the learning of Shakspeare. How far the
greatest genius of modern times was indebted to the storehouse of antiquity; whether or no he was altogether
Untutored in the lore of Greece or Rome,
is a question which a hundred years ago was agitated among men of letters with intense interest. But neither in the course of that controversy, nor at any other time, has the inquiry, I believe, been raised to which I purpose in these pages to offer a reply, viz., how far Shakspeare was conversant with Holy Scripture, and whether or no he made use of his knowledge of the Bible to guide and assist him in the production of his immortal works. When I