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Caught on the word's sharp angles flash the bright hues of his
fancy; Grandly the thought rides the words, as a good horseman his
9. Now, clear, pure, hard, bright, and one by one, like to hailstones,
Short words fall from his lips fast as the first of a shower;
10. Flexile and free in thy gait and simple in all thy construction,
Yielding to every turn, thou bearest thy rider along;
11. Thou art not prisoned in fixed rules, thou art no slave to a
grammar; Thou art an eagle uncaged, scorning the perch and the chain. Hadst thou been fettered and formalized, thou hadst been tamer
and weaker; How could the poor slave walk with thy grand freedom of gait ? Let, then, grammarians rail, and let foreigners sigh for thy sign
posts, Wandering lost in thy maze, thy wilds of magnificent growth.
!2. Call thee incongruous, wild, of rule and of reason defiant;
I in thy wildness a grand freedom of character find.
smoothness; Bearing the flowers in their clefts, losing their peaks in the
13. Therefore it is that I praise thee and never can cease from re
joicing, Thinking that good stout English is mine and my ancestor's
Give me its varying music, the flow of its free modulation,
W. W. STORY
CHARACTERIZATION BY DR. JOHNSON. 1. SHAKESPEARE is, above all writers—at least, above all modern writers—the poet of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life. His characters are
The correct spelling of the poet's name has long been a matter of dispute among scholars. “The name is found in the manuscripts of his period spelled
not modified by the customs of particular places, unpractised by the rest of the world ; by the peculiarities of studies or professions, which can operate but upon small numbers; or by the accidents of transient fashions or temporary opinions : they are the genuine progeny of common humanity, such as the world will always supply and observation will always find. His persons act and speak by the influence of those general passions and principles by which all minds are agitated and the whole system of life is continued in motion. In the writings of other poets a character is too often an individual ; in those of Shakespeare it is commonly a species.
2. It is from this wide extension of design that so much instruction is derived. It is this which fills the plays of Shakespeare with practical axioms and domestic wisdom. It was said of Euripides that every verse was a precept; and it may be said of Shakespeare that from his works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence. Yet his real power is not shown in the splendor of particular passages, but by the progress of his fable and the tenor of his dialogue ; and he that tries to recommend him by select quotations will succeed like the pedant in Hierocles, who, when he offered his house to sale, carried a brick in his pocket as a specimen.
3. Upon every other stage the universal agent is love, by whose power all good and evil are distributed, and every action quickened or retarded. But love is only one of many passions ; and as it has no great influence upon the sum of life, it has little operation in the dramas of a poet who caught his ideas from the living world, and exhibited only what he saw before him. He knew that any other passion, as it was regular or exorbitant, was a cause of happiness or calamity. This, therefore, is the praise
with all varieties of letters and arrangement of letters which express its sound or a semblance of it.” On this matter there are two points of interest-first, how the poet himself wrote the name, and, secondly, how it was printed under his eye. Touching the first point, Sir Frederic Madden has shown that in the acknowledged genuine signatures in existence “the poet always wrote his name SHAKSPERE.” On the other hand, the printers, during his life, and in the folio of 1623, spell the name SHAKESPEARE; and this spelling is now generally followed, on the theory that the poet thus gave it a sort of formal recognition.