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last century; much has been done, but not enough. Germany has remained tolerably free from foreign or scholastic canons of criticism ;-the bane of every country, if a distinction exists in its language and character from others. Our public could, and can, sit and applaud patchwork degrading representations, profanely called Shakespeare's plays, when, had they a genuine understanding for his works, they would resent an addition, though of half a line, with hisses and tumult. To Mr. Macready To Mr. Macready we are indebted for a return to the text of several plays. He is the first manager of a theatre, for these hundred and fifty years, from the days of Dryden, Tate, and Cibber, with their factitious notions of the stage, who has comprehended the apparently easy doctrine, that alterations, unless confined to judicious curtailments, must be for the worse, if applied to a dramatist, whom none has approached as an artist any nearer than as a poet. Mr. Macready's success, according to the newspapers, and to what I hear at the distance where I reside, has been in proportion to his superior knowledge and courage; this fills me with good hopes.

About twenty years since, in the midst of our qualified admiration, Morgann's Essay having been unheeded, we beheld a translation of a German criticism on our own boasted but unjustly used poet. While it was eagerly read, a sense of national humiliation pressed forcibly upon us. Schlegel has given us the noblest, and altogether the best work on his genius. Compile as diligently as we can to form a Preface, still extracts from Schlegel and Morgann would stand above others.

Schlegel's eloquence has cast suspicion on his criticism. So grand a strain of unremitting praise must be, we were then willing to think-resenting a foreigner's reproachful interference with our remissness and neglect of Morgann-excessive and enthusiastic. Yet, on examination, at least in the present day, I hope, we should still farther resent any abatement, any attempt to lessen it on a single separate point. Hazlitt himself, who studied the feeling of the public, so as not violently to offend, wrote his volume in partial restraint. Knowing his unqualified praise of Shakespeare in conversation, I once ventured to express surprise at some parts of his volume, when the answer he gave me amounted to this: "The public would not bear it; they would not read a book of unalloyed praise. Unpopular books may sometimes be the best; but it is not my business to write them." Accordingly he met Schlegel no more than half way in his assertion of the dramatist's art being consummate, and the effect of deep study; and he felt satisfied with bestowing transcendent admiration on the popular characters, allowing others to sink into comparative obscurity. Perhaps he was in the right; the public was to be humoured by degrees to their benefit.

For the same reason that I desire a Preface of collections, I would gladly possess the characters of the plays from a variety of authors classed together, so as to form an assembly of critical observations on each play, and, if possible, on every one of the dramatis personæ, by different critics, taking from them those passages wherein they have excelled. Thus,

Mrs. Montague's Essay, and Morgann's Essay on Falstaff, (the two best of the last century, still frequently studied) and Richardson, who, though too much of a professor, would be found useful, might be made to contribute their best. Then we should enjoy some choice passages from Lamb, and other late writers, together with Mrs. Jameson's delightful and well-defined illustrations of the female characters, and the brilliant works of Schlegel and Hazlitt. The worst that can be said of all these, is, that attention is generally confined to the principal acting characters, leaving almost unnoticed the less popular, but not less admirable ones, for disquisition, far as their truth in individuality and profound metaphysical distinctions consist. Aware of this want, many years ago endeavoured to draw attention to what are termed the inferior plays, and I should be proud to continue in that humbler office as an assistant.

In the observations I am about to offer, I shall rather take for granted that the above-mentioned works are well known to my reader, than presume, without consent, to avail myself of what is not my property. Something, little or much, in the way of remark, if not of criticism, I shall write on most of the plays, more, according to my plan, in the spirit of doing that which others have left undone, than in controverting or adding to their opinions. Yet I shall not forbear, when I feel myself entirely opposed, to state a reason for my objection. Should any reader chance to recognize an old acquaintance, drawn from some bygone periodical publication, I claim it as my own. Anxious to offer something on certain neglected

plays and characters, I could not do better than retain, nearly in the same form, my former writing; another, but not myself, may do better.

From his dramas we attain our only knowledge of his character as a metaphysician. By studying his dramatic creations in detail, as recommended by Morgann, we arrive at his philosophy of the human mind, independently of his excellence either as a dramatist or as a poet. Whatever notice I may bestow on stage-alterations, committed in ignorance, or without reflection, is for the purpose of displaying his character, and shielding it from misrepresentation before the public.

The plays will be considered in a sort of chronological order of my own, without a wish of inflicting my opinion on others. We may all judge for ourselves on subjects where no judgment can be pronounced definite. I shall not attach a positive date to any, unless on tolerably established authority, ascribing its first appearance to within a year of it. Mr. Collier's discoveries render it necessary to invent a new chronology.

Beyond all that has hitherto been observed on the morality of Shakespeare's works, this passage from Hazlitt is most to the purpose. It is in his criticism on Measure for Measure: "Shakespeare was, in one sense, the least moral of all writers; for morality (commonly so called) is made up of antipathies; and his talent consisted in sympathy with human nature, in all its shapes, degrees, depressions, and elevations. The object of the pedantic moralist is to find out the bad in everything: his was to show that there is some




"soul of goodness in things evil !" In one sense, Shakespeare was no moralist at all; in another, he was the greatest of all moralists. He was a moralist in the same sense in which Nature is one. He taught what he had learnt from her. He showed the greatest knowledge of humanity, with the greatest fellowfeeling for it."

I. Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.-Mr. Skottowe informs us," The plot of the Two Gentlemen of Verona is taken from the story of Felismena, in the second book of the Diana, a Spanish pastoral romance, by George of Montemayor, translated into English by one Thomas Wilson." It should rather be said, many incidents comprised in the plot; for Mr. Skottowe allows that the entire character of Valentine, the principal one, is superadded in the play.

Every one agrees in placing this as the earliest, or among the earliest, of his plays; but it is impossible to fix on the year in which it was written. My belief is, as I have stated, that the chronologists have fixed the commencement of his career as a dramatist at too late a date. I not only rank this as his first known dramatic production, but I imagine it might have been written at Stratford, probably played there; and was his chief recommendation to the Blackfriars company-with whom, I conjecture, he left his native town for London. We are certain he was a shareholder, with four names below him on the list, in 1589, about four years after his arrival in London. To attain this post in so short a space of time, he

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