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given to any of his plays a fifth act, worthy of those that preceded; the interest generally decreases after the third.
Shakespear is also liable to the charge of obscurity. The most sagacious critics dispute to this very hour, whether Hamlet is or is not mad, and whether Falstaff is a brave man or a coward. This defect is perhaps partly to be imputed to the nature of dramatic writing. It is next to impossible to make words, put into the mouth of a character, develop all those things passing in his mind, which it may be desirable should be known.
I spoke, a short time back, of the language of Shakespear in his finest passages, as of unrivalled excellence and beauty; I might almost have called it miraculous. 0, si sic omnia! It is to be lamented that this felicity often deserts him. He is not seldom cramp, rigid and pedantic. What is best in him is eternal, of all ages and times ; but what is worst, is crusted with an integument, almost more cumbrous than that of any other writer, his contemporary, the merits of whose works continue to invite us to their perusal.
After Shakespear, it is scarcely worth while to bring forward any other example, of a writer who, notwithstanding his undoubted claims to excellencies of the highest order, yet in his productions fully displays the inequality and non-universality of his genius. One of the most remarkable instances may be alleged in Richardson, the author of Cla
rissa. In his delineation of female delicacy, of highsouled and generous sentiments, of the subtlest feelings and even mental aberrations of virtuous distress strained beyond the power of human endurance, nothing ever equalled this author. But he could not shape out the image of a perfect gentleman, or of that winning gaiety of soul, which may indeed be exemplified, but can never be defined, and never be resisted. His profligate is a man without taste ; and his coquettes are insolent and profoundly revolting. He has no resemblance of the art, so conspicuous in Fletcher and Farquhar, of presenting to the reader or spectator an bilarity, bubbling and spreading forth from a perennial spring, which we love as surely as we feel, which communicates its own tone to the bystander, and makes our very hearts dance within us with a responsive sportiveness. We are astonished however that the formal pedant has acquitted himself of his uncongenial task with so great a display of intellectual wealth; and, though he has not presented to us the genuine picture of an intellectual profligate, or of that lovely gaiety of the female spirit which we have all of us seen, but which it is scarcely possible to fix and to copy, we almost admire the more the astonishing talent, that, having undertaken a task for which it was so eminently unfit, yet has been able to substitute for the substance so amazing a mockery, and has treated with so much copiousness and power what it was unfit ever to have attempted.
OF THE DURABILITY OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENTS
There is a view of the character of man, calculated more perhaps than any other to impress us with reverence and awe.
Man is the only creature we know, that, when the term of his natural life is ended, leaves the memory of himself behind him.
All other animals have but one object in view in their more considerable actions, the supply of the humbler accommodations of their nature. Man has a power sufficient for the accomplishment of this object, and a residue of power beyond, which he is able, and which he not unfrequently feels himself prompted, to employ in consecutive efforts, and thus, first by the application and arrangement of material substances, and afterward by the faculty he is found to possess of giving a permanent record to his thoughts, to realise the archetypes and conceptions which previously existed only in his mind.
One method, calculated to place this fact strongly before us, is, to suppose ourselves elevated, in a balloon or otherwise, so as to enable us to take an extensive prospect of the earth on which we dwell. We shall then see the plains and the everlasting hills, the forests and the rivers, and all the exuberance of production which nature brings forth for the supply of her living progeny. We shall see multitudes of animals, herds of cattle and of beasts of prey, and all the varieties of the winged tenants of the air. But we shall also behold, in a manner almost equally calculated to arrest our attention, the traces and the monuments of human industry. We shall see castles and churches, and hamlets and mighty cities. We shall see this strange creature, man, subjecting all nature to his will. He builds bridges, and he constructs aqueducts. He “goes down to the sea in ships," and variegates the ocean with his squadrons and his fleets. To the person thus mounted in the air to take a wide and magnificent prospect, there seems to be a sort of contest between the face of the earth, as it may be supposed to have been at first, and the ingenuity of man, which shall occupy and possess itself of the greatest number of acres.
We cover immense regions of the globe with the tokens of human cultivation.
Thus the matter stands as to the exertions of the power of man in the application and arrangement of material substances.
But there is something to a profound and contemplative mind much more extraordinary, in the effects produced by the faculty we possess of giving a permanent record to our thoughts.
From the development of this faculty all human
science and literature take their commencement. Here it is that we most distinctly, and with the greatest astonishment, perceive that man is a miracle. Declaimers are perpetually expatiating to us upon
the shortness of human life. And yet all this is performed by us, when the wants of our nature have already by our industry been supplied. We manufacture these sublimities and everlasting monuments out of the bare remnants and shreds of
The labour of the intellect of man is endless. How copious is the volume, and how extraordinary the variety, of our sciences and our arts! The number of men is exceedingly great
civilised state of society, that make these the sole object of their occupation. And this has been more or less the condition of our species in all ages, ever since we left the savage and the pastoral modes of existence.
From this yiew of the history of man we are led by an easy transition to the consideration of the nature and influence of the love of fame in modifying the actions of the human mind. We have already stated it to be one of the characteristic distinctions of our species to erect monuments which outlast the existence of the persons that produced them. This at first was accidental, and did not enter the design of the operator. The man who built himself a shed to protect him from the