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the poet, so injurious to the dramatist, so unworthy of the man !

Plato, describing the poetic inspiration, says that it loves to visit a tender and solitary spirit.* How happily do these epithets describe the poet of whom we speak. How tender was his nature to every impulse and contact! It was like one sensorium. It was the cloud of spring, pliant to every form, reflective of every hue, and tremulous with every gale.—It, too, with all its fellowships, dwelt apart. How it soared above, and was unlike all common things. It walked amidst the haunts of men in a sweetly contemplative loneliness. It was the star, it rose and set, its glory was of itself, but it still moved to the harmony of a system and shed a living lustre all around. Or, if this imagery be thought too elated, we may think of his birth-place and its variegated scenes, and still speak of him as the tender and the solitary. His genius was, as his Avon, rippled by every breath, and throbbing with every impulse,—it flowed alone, as that lovely stream, its simple self, but was a mirror to every eye, and a harmony to every ear,—dulcet as the nightingale in the grove along its margin, and majestic as the swan which glided on its bosom!

• « Απαλην και αβατον ψυχην.”-Phedrus.

-she may be presumed to be a bearing mother still.

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If what Macduff says, when Malcolm urges him to rouse from his grief for the slaughter of his children, apply to Macbeth,– the matter is settled. But I conceive that he then turns from the prince as one who cannot enter into his feelings,—and therefore can be no suitable comforter,-and remarks, as it were to Rosse,

“ He has no children."

Neither parent was destitute of the instinctive fondness of offspring. She has already confessed her yearning. He feels a momentary relenting, and thinks of

Pity, like a naked new-born babe.”

The opinion which I rather favour, derives some colour from the tyrant's dread of Fleance. He cannot endure that Banquo's children should be kings. He glooms over his “barren sceptre" and “ fruitless crown.” He dwells upon the prediction,

“ No son of mine succeeding."

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Now, had he no heir, nor reasonable hope of one, this complaint would be absurd. He had not issue to ascend his throne, and yet grudges the “unlineal” successor. But the failure of the monarchy in his blood, the rise of another dynasty, is his constant theme of agonised suspense:

“ Yet my heart Throbs to know one thing."

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Why should he care, if there be no child of his who can take the royal inheritance ? Child or children there have been,—there may be yet. Death may have withered the young shoots of this accursed stock. If they survive, they are, it is imagined, very young. With their parents, all their expectations must perish. It seems probable, then, that in one of those minute pencillings which are so perfectly Shakspearean, the idea is suggested that such little ones have been timelessly and judicially cut off; or that, if living, too infant for any part in the action, they are

not introduced unnecessarily to pain us by the helplessness of their nature, and the misfortune of their orphanage. Still the moral is raised by that storm of vengeance which falls upon the devoted House, which spares neither root nor branch, between whose rudest bursts the cry of the young

child

may be heard, and upon the ruins which it heaps may be seen the blood of the poor innocents !

There is an order of Shakspeare's plays which may be called Classical. Julius Cæsar is probably the greatest. Its language might become the Senate, and its action is like the march of the rival levies hastening to the field. This has been cursorily reviewed before.—Coriolanus is a noble picture of military and aristocratic pride. He stands lofty, firm, towering, abrupt as the Tarpeian rock, from which his enemies would hurl him.In Antony and Cleopatra there is much fine expression, but the heroine disgusts us too loathingly to allow our pity, and the enervate soldier provokes our contempt. How might he have envied his murdered friend, once a captive in these toils too, but who had rent them, and who when he fell, fell greatly, “stricken by princes.”—Troilus and Cressida is the principal failure. We want something more Homeric. Achilles and Agamemnon speak unworthily of their fame. Ulysses is best supported, and next Thersites. The camp is not well pitched, and the warriors are not well harnessed. The Mæonian sublimity is not approached. And why is this? It is a well-merited retribution that the genius of the author should forsake him, and that he should be degraded in the degradation of such polluted scenes.

When Aristotle defined it to be the province of Tragedy to move pity and terror, he did not intend that the excitement of these emotions was its ultimate use. These are the instruments it employs to impress its moral. It woos and urges thus our attention and sympathy. Where, then, can such a Tragic Bard be found as this? Where can we trace the same power to soften and to alarm the heart ? Where are the same strokes of pathos and images of horror ? Never was simplicity more sweet, never was pomp more magnificent. Beauty unfolds before us modest as the violet, fair as the lily, lovely as the rose : Greatness rises up, fearful as the incantation, daring as the battle, terrible as the storm. He is every thing that he describes : wand could not wave more awfully from magician's hand, crook could not recline more easily on shepherd's arm, diadem could not rest more gracefully around monarch's brow, wing could not flap more buoyantly in spirit's flight. The mask is no portion of his tragic paraphernalia, and he but strikes, for his most touching and most stirring chords, the strings of the human heart !

In drawing these annotations on this incomparable Genius to a close, I must be allowed to say, that I have wished nothing to extenuate and to set down naught in malice. Conscientiously adverse to theatrical amusements, I see no reason why a poem should become dangerous to morality, because cast into scene and dialogue, the true dramatic shape. Shakspeare has obtained such a mastery of the human mind, such a throne in the world of letters, that it is impossible to banish him from our libraries : he is so singularly impressive, is so readily remembered, that it is equally impossible to chase him from our memory. Read and quoted he will ever be. His descriptions, like rich hangings and tapestries, fill our minds. We think through him,-by him we speak. He belongs to our national treasures—he controls our manners, and modulates our expressions, even still. For more than two centuries has his name been glorifying. Ever-strengthening is his spell. The guardian of youth and the minister of religion have here no easy path to walk, nor unhesitating counsel to enunciate. It cannot be denied that, in perusing him, there is danger of moral contamination. It is vain to say that his worst evil is his fidelity, that he calls the spade the spade. There is sometimes a lavish pruriency. His power is occasionally for evil as well as good. Explore his deep lore of human nature, study the principles and laws which he so clearly expounds, mark how even he can only make vice look frightful and leprously deformed, and, as our taste passes by his verbal conceit and idle pun, let our better and purer sensibilities reject and spurn the oblique, and the too often undisguised, grossness which blots his page,-grossness so uncongenial with the poet, so injurious to the dramatist, so unworthy of the man !

Plato, describing the poetic inspiration, says that it loves to visit a tender and solitary spirit.* How happily do these epithets describe the poet of whom we speak. How tender was his nature to every impulse and contact! It was like one sensorium. It was the cloud of spring, pliant to every form, reflective of every hue, and tremulous with every gale.--It, too, with all its fellowships, dwelt apart. How it soared above, and was unlike all common things. It walked amidst the haunts of men in a sweetly contemplative loneliness. It was the star, it rose and set, its glory was of itself, but it still moved to the harmony of a system and shed a living lustre all around. Or, if this imagery be thought too elated, we may think of his birth-place and its variegated scenes, and still speak of him as the tender and the solitary. His genius was, as his Avon, rippled by every breath, and throbbing with every impulse,—it flowed alone, as that lovely stream, its simple self, but was a mirror to every eye, and a harmony to every ear,—dulcet as the nightingale in the grove along its margin, and majestic as the swan which glided on its bosom!

" « Απαλην και αβατον ψυχην.”-Phedrus.

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