« 上一頁繼續 »
at pleasure by their lords. In war, which was the great sport of the times, those brave knights, of whose prowess we hear, cased themselves and their horses in armor, so as
to be almost invulnerable, whilst the common people on 5 foot, were left, without protection, to be hewn in pieces or trampled down by their betters.
Who, that compares the condition of Europe a few years ago, with the present state of the world, but must bless
God for the change. The grand distinction of modern 10 times, is the emerging of the people from brutal degrada
tion, the gradual recognition of their rights, the gradual diffusion among them of the means of improvement and happiness, the creation of a new power in the state, the
power of the people. And it is worthy of remark, that this 15 revolution is due in a great degree to religion, which, in
the hands of the crafty and aspiring, had bowed the multitude to the dust, but which, in the fulness of time, began to fulfil its mission of freedom.
It was religion, which, by teaching men their near re20 lation to God, awakened in them the consciousness of their
importance as individuals. It was the struggle for religious rights, which opened men's eyes to all their rights. It was resistance to religious usurpation, which led men
to withstand political oppression. It was religious dis25 cussion, which roused the minds of all classes to free and
vigorous thought. It was religion, which armed the martyr and patriot in England against arbitrary power, which braced the spirits of our fathers against the perils of the
ocean and wilderness, and sent them to found here the 30 freest and most equal state on earth.
Let us thank God for what has been gained. But let us not think everything gained. Let the people feel that they have only started in the race. How much remains to be
done! What a vast amount of ignorance, intemperance, 35 coarseness, sensuality, may still be found in our commu
nity! What a vast amount of mind is palsied and lost!
When we think, that every house might be cheered by intelligence, disinterestedness, and refinement, and then remember, in how many houses the higher powers and af
fections of human nature are buried as in tombs, what a 5 darkness gathers over society! And how few of us are
inoved by this moral desolation! How fev understand, that to raise the depressed, by a wise culture, to the dignity of men, is the highest end of the social state! Shame on
us, that the worth of a fellow-creature is so little felt! 10. I would that I could speak with an awakening voice to
the people, of their wants, their privileges, their responsibilities. I would say to them: You cannot, without guilt and disgrace, stop where you are. The past and the present
call on you to advance. Let what you have gained be an 15 impulse to something higher. Your nature is too great to
be crushed. You were not created what you are, merely to
toil, eat, drink, and sleep, like the inferior animals. If you • will, you can rise. No power in society, no hardship in your
condition can depress you, keep you down, in knowledge, 20 power, virtue, influence, but by your own consent. Do not
be lulled to sleep by the flatteries which you hear, as if your participation in the national sovereignty made you equal to the noblest of your race. You have many and great defi
ciencies to be remedied; and the remedy lies, not in the 25 ballot-box, not in the exercise of your political powers, but
in the faithful education of yourselves and your children. These truths you have often heard and slept over. Awake! Resolve earnestly on self-culture. Make yourselves worthy of your free institutions, and strengthen and perpetuate them by your intelligence and your virtues.
XLI. — HUBERT AND ARTHUR.
SHAKSPEARE. (WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in England, April 23, 1564, and died April 23, 1616. Very little is known of the events of
his life, and of his personal character and habits. He married young, went to London soon after his marriage, became an actor, a dramatic author, and a shareholder in one of the London theatres; acquired considerable property, and retired to his native place a few years before his death, and there lived in ease and honor. Ile was the author of thirty-five plays, (rejecting those of doubtful authenticity,) written between 1590 and 1613, besides poems and sonnets.
Shakspeare is pronounced by Mr. Hallam, who was a most conscientious critic and careful writer, to be the greatest name in all literature. It would, of course, be impossible, in the compass of a notice like this, to do anything like justice to the universality of his powers, his boundless fertility of invention, his dramatic judgment, his wit, humor, and pathos, his sharp observation, and his profound knowledge of the human heart. Nor is it easy to point out to the young reader, within a reasonable compass, the best sources of information and criticism ; for the editions of Shakspeare are numberless, and the books that have been written about him would alone make a considerable library. The following works, however, may be read and consulted with profit: Drake's "Shakspeare and his Times,” “Hazlitt's Lectures,” Mrs. Jameson's “ Characteristics of Women," Dr. Johnson's preface, Schlegel's " Lectures on Dramatic Literature,” Coleridge's “Lectures on Shakspeare," the notes and introductory notices in Knight's pictorial edition, together with the biography prefixed, and, especially, the criticism upon Shakspeare contained in Hallam's Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and sey. enteenth centuries.
Shakspeare's life and writings teach two lessons; which, as they are not very obvious to the apprehension of the young, and as they have a somewhat practical bearing upon life, may be here set down. He is an instance directly opposed to the Byronic notion that great genius and great unhappiness invariably go together. We have every reason to believe that his temperament was cheerful and joyous, and that is certainly the spirit of his writings. He is often tragic, but never morbid. In the next place, Shakspeare is a proof that the highest poetical genius is not inconsistent with practical and successful business habits. There can be no doubt that he was himself an excellent man of business, for he accumulated an ample fortune within a few years, and by occupations in which punctuality, economy, and method are particularly important.
The following scene is from “ King John.” Arthur, a young boy, is lawful heir to the crown of England, which has been usurped by his uncle, the king, who employs Hubert to put out his nephew's eyes.)
Prince ARTHUR, HUBERT, and ATTENDANTS.
Scene - A room in the castle, Northampton.
Enter HUBERT and two ATTENDANTS. HUBERT. Heat me these irons hot; and look thou stand Within the arras : 0 when I strike my foot Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth,
* Tapestry, or hangings, for rooms,
And bind the boy, which you shall find with me,
[Exeunt Attendants. 5 Young lad come forth; I have to say with you.
Good morrow, little prince.
Mercy on me!
Young gentlemen would be as sad as night, 15 Only for wantonness. By my christendom,
So I were out of prison, and kept sheep,
My uncle practises more harm to me: 20 He is afraid of me, and I of him:
Is it my fault that I was Geoffrey's son?
Hub. If I talk to him, with his innocent prate 25 He will awake my mercy, which lies dead: Therefore I will be sudden, and despatch. [Aside
Arth. Are you sick, Hubert? You look pale to-day: In sooth, I would you were a little sick,
That I might sit all night, and watch with you: 30 I warrant, I love you more than you do me.
HUB. His words do take possession of my bosom.
* Christening, baptism.
Read here, young Arthur.
[Showing a paper. How now foolish rheum ! o
[Aside Turning dispiteous † torture out of door !
I must be brief; lest resolution drop
ARTI. Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect:
HUB. Young boy, I must. 10 ARTH.
And will you ?
And I will.
(The best I had, a princess wrought it me,) 15 And I did never ask it you again :
And with my hand at midnight held your head;
Saying, What lack you? and, Where lies your grief? 20 Or, What good love may I perform for you?
Many a poor man's son would have lain still,
Nay, you may think my love was crafty love, 25 And call it, cunning: do, an if you will :
If Heaven be pleased that you must use me ill,
So much as frown on you ? 30 HUB.
I have sworn to do it;
Arth. Ah, none, but in this iron age would do it !