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So perfect, and so peerless ; seem'd created
TEMPEST, iii. 1.
We must, however, give one trait of his intimate knowledge of the innate qualities, and apparent states, of the human mind. The case is a medical one, and his analysis of it is so clear, and so concise, that the President of the College of Physicians, in a Lecture to that body, introduced it, to illustrate his own discourse upon Insanity; as an exemplary definition of that disease. It is in the scene where Hamlet rebukes his mother for her marriage with his uncle, and she charges him with being “in ecstacies,”—he says in reply,
HAMLET, iii. 4.
Can any thing be more definite or more lucid upon the subject ?
The distinguished beauties in the language of Shakespeare, his vast conceptions, his boundless
ideas, his innate knowledge of human nature, his inimitable descriptive powers, have been so often and so ably analysed and portrayed, that it would be supererogation to enter upon those themes; we only request permission to repeat Dr. Johnson's illustration of his powers, as conveyed in his celebrated prologue at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre, in 1747, viz.
When Learning's triumph o'er her barbarous foes
It delights the mind to read such an encomium from the pen of the most eminent writer of the age in which he lived, acknowledging the pre-eminence of his gifted predecessor.
Previous to entering upon the presentation of the following religious extracts from the works of Shakespeare (which may be justly termed his moral beauties), it is proper that the cause or motive should be stated which gave rise to the selection, and the publication of them.
Upon visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, the Compiler observed in the room where “Shakespeare's Relicks” are exhibited, a large written paper, in a gilt frame, (designedly presented to the view), termed “ a copy of Shakespeare's Will,” but drawn up in the Roman Catholic form ; representing itself, as a faithful copy of the real Will, deposited at Doctors' Commons.
Having repeatedly seen printed copies of his genuine Will, fraud was immediately apparent; and as it was manifestly placed there for the purpose of deceiving the world, by the insidious attempt to prove him a Papist, the Compiler resolved, in justice to Shakespeare's memory—in justice to the Reformed Religion and in justice to the divinity of Truth,to expose the fraudulent design, by proving from Shakespeare's own writings, that he lived and died a true Protestant.
With this view, the following extracts from his works, and from the Scriptures, have been collected, and placed together in parallel positions, to shew the close affinity that exists between the sentences there exhibited, from his works, and passages taken from Holy Writ.
It has been thought right, however, antecedently to present to the reader, copies of the preambles to the true and the fraudulent Wills, in order that he may, himself, judge of the motive for the fabrication, and of the motive for the refutation.
TRUE COPY OF THE PREAMBLE TO
Extracted from the Registry of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“ Vicesimo quinto die Martii, anno regni domini nostri
Jacobi, nunc Rex Angliæ, &c. decimo quarto, et
Scotiæ quadragesimo nono. Anno Domini 1616. “ In the name of God, Amen! I, William Shakespeare,
of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the County of Warwick, · Gentleman, in perfect health and memory, (God be praised !) do make and ordain this my last will and testament, in manner and form following :—that is to say,—
“ First-I commend my soul into the hands of God, my
Creator ; hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting ; and my body to the earth whereof that is made.
N.B.—This Preamble has been minutely compared, and it correctly corresponds with the true original last will and testament of Shakespeare, deposited in the Prerogative Office, at Doctors' Commons.