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“What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!”
Shakspere, unconsciously describing himself.
“In Hamlet he seems to have wished to exemplify the moral necessity of a due balance between our attention to the objects of our senses, and our meditation on the workings of our minds, an equilibrium between the real and the imaginary worlds. In Hamlet this balance is disturbed; his thoughts and the images of his fancy are far more vivid than his actual perceptions, and his very perceptions, instantly passing through the medium of his contemplations, acquire, as they pass, a form and a colour, not naturally their own. Hence we see a great, an almost enormous intellectual activity, and a proportional aversion to real action, consequent upon it, with all its symptoms and accompanying qualities. This character Shakspere places in circumstances under which it is obliged to act on the spur of the moment :-Hamlet is brave and careless of death ; but he vacillates from sensibility, and procrastinates from thought, and loses the power of action in the energy of resolve."
Coleridge, unconsciously describing himself.
Not being acquainted with any parties critically conversant with Elizabethan literature, I am urged by a sense of duty, like Nelson, or rather with the devotion of a Curtius, to publish these discoveries, be they true or imaginary; I have no theories to defend, and can readily subscribe to the words of the Reverend Mr. Halpin :
“If I have anywhere used the unbecoming language of absolute certainty, or assumed the unauthorized tone of dictation to others,- I would plead, in bar of judgment, the difficulty of conveying the result of one's own conviction, [and without conviction, such an essay were an impertinence not to be excused] without either appearing over-confident, or employing such a multiplicity of words and forms of deprecation as would eventually amount to a worse abuse of the Liberty of the Press. That I think I have arrived at a true splution, my appearance in print is sufficient evidence." ---Oberon's Vision ; Shakspere Society.
I would also gladly join the reverend gentleman in the following request, “I shall be deeply obliged to any one who will kindly set me right;" but, oh! what a fond idea, how precious green !—nothing can slake the rabid thirst for revenge, nothing can mollify the wounded prejudices of a Shaksperian critic ;-oh, my prophetic soul! I see myself rushing, like Cassandra, into the house of destruction, into a den of murderers, like France's England, a hotbed of assassins ;
Woe's me, woe's me ; Apollo, oh, Apollo !
. that hath saved thy life, says Marlowe ;* and so say all my critics, kindness and forgiveness beaming in their celestial visages; or as a pilgrim at a higher shrine than Apollo's hath sung :
“But mercy is above this scepter'd sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
doth then show likest God's, When
mercy seasons justice.”
* Vide Annotation, page 27.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL .
LYLY's SAPHO AND PHAO, CAMPASPE, GALLATHEA
Love's LABOUR's Lost .
LYLY's MIDAS .
SPENSER, HENRY VI., ROMEO AND JULIET
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
ROBERT GREENE .
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM .
MERCHANT OF VENICE, TAMING OF THE SHREW, TAMING
OF A SHREW, KING John, HENRY V.